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Friday, April 25, 2014

Leitch: Anger Management

Bo más!

It’s fun when people try new things, and while it’s worth noting that the owners probably didn’t mind the payroll slashing (and fans generally are paying major league prices to watch a team bottom out on purpose), you find yourself giving the Astros the benefit of the doubt. It’s exciting to see smart people doing something different. You want to see it work out for them. You want them to, eventually, succeed.

Which is why it’s probably time for the manager to get with the program. Because all this new school innovation that’s making them so likable is being completely undone by a manager who is starting to look like a reactionary, delusional idiot. ...

It would be fair to say that the last fortnight of Bo Porter’s professional life has not been among his proudest. (It has been even worse than that time he failed to understand basic substitution patterns.) I’m beginning to wonder if losing 111 games in a season caused something in his brain to pop. ...

Basically, Bo Porter, as the public face of this supposedly likable Astros organization has decided that the fact that Jed Lowrie bunted against his shift in the first inning of a seven-run game—something almost no one other than Porter seriously thinks was wrong—means there should be a lifetime bounty out on him. Even under the vague, confusing umbrella of unwritten rules, this makes no sense. It’s reckless and moronic. He’s a toddler carrying around a gun without a safety.

I don’t know what’s going on with Porter and the Houston Astros. Maybe he has just lost too many games and has snapped. Maybe he’s just an angry person. Maybe he is a time traveler who has come to us from the future, and it turns out Lowrie, via the butterfly effect, needed to be hit to stop future Hitler or something. But right now, he’s making that whole organization look worse than 111 losses ever could.

JE (Jason) Posted: April 25, 2014 at 08:27 PM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, athletics, mental health, unwritten rules

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 26, 2014 at 01:03 AM (#4694628)
It’s exciting to see smart people doing something different.

No it's not. Even if we assume they're "smart", this is just a bunch of guys exploiting rules in the financial and labor system while putting a shitty product on the field. I'm sorry, there's nothing to celebrate in that anymore than there is ever anything to celebrate in an NFL/NHL (and NBA?) team putting together a winner only to have to let half the team go the next year due to salary cap.

The purpose of this little game is to win actual ML baseball games. Yes, plain ol aging affects all teams and financial/labor constraints inevitably affect some teams more than others such that maybe not all franchises can always compete. But a sport suffers whenever it rewards teams for not putting the best possible ML roster out there every season.

Do folks realize what a mockery this has been? The Astros have lost 100+ games for 3 straight years. Their current winning percentage is worse than those previous three years at .304 and their current pythag %age is even WORSE than that at .286. Even the 2003 Tigers had a better pythag % than that.

Even the Rays were never this bad for 4 years in a row. Or the Senators, even in the late 50s (they came close). Not even quite the new Senators of the early 60s, although they did lose 100+ 4 straight years. The Indians have never come close to this level of consistent suckitude. The A's of the late 30s and the late 10s and the Browns/O's of the late 40s/early 50s and early 10s are the Astros' competition now.

What the heck -- big chunks of the US seem to want to turn the clock back to the 50s and another chunk want a new gilded age like the 1910s-20s so I suppose they want intentionally sucky baseball teams too.



   2. rr Posted: April 26, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4694642)
I am OK with getting on Porter's case for the Lowrie thing, but trying to make the Astros' management sound like the coolest kids in school is a little Marinerfanboy6ORGish IMO.*

- the Houston Astros are surprisingly popular among intelligent baseball fans. They're run by Jeff Luhnow, the outsider who famously overhauled the Cardinals' dominant farm system, and they feature multiple former Baseball Prospectus writers, including the likeable Kevin Goldstein as director of professional scouting. This is a brain trust you find yourself cheering for: These are the barbarians who bum-rushed the gates.

The source of the Astros' appeal, though, is what we should probably call The Astros Project. The Astros are an irresistible test tube case: What would happen if you stripped everything -- everything -- away from a franchise and started completely from scratch.


Leitch also seems to be somewhat unaware that managing a team that gets beat like the Astros have been getting beat is a different experience than musing about them on the net is. That doesn't excuse some of the stuff Porter has been doing, but Leitch should probably consider it a little more if he is going to talk about Porter.


* This isn't a swipe at Cameron. It is a swipe at the tine of some of his defenders and at that tone in general.
   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 26, 2014 at 01:50 AM (#4694643)
Their current winning percentage is worse than those previous three years at .304 and their current pythag %age is even WORSE than that at .286.


They have a good shot at losing less than 100 this year. Their likely best player, George Springer, has only been up 9 games and is still finding his bearings. If he starts pumping home runs over the fence things get a lot easier for everyone. And there is likely more help coming.

Even the Rays were never this bad for 4 years in a row. Or the Senators, even in the late 50s (they came close). Not even quite the new Senators of the early 60s, although they did lose 100+ 4 straight years. The Indians have never come close to this level of consistent suckitude. The A's of the late 30s and the late 10s and the Browns/O's of the late 40s/early 50s and early 10s are the Astros' competition now.


Different eras. I could argue this has become the toughest era to build a team in. Slotting has eliminated the ability to pick up superior talent that falls in the draft due to demands. The international bonus pool limits your ability to sign extra international talent. Free agency is increasingly barren of quality talent. The Astros took the best route left to rebuild and committed to it 100%.

They will probably lose more games than the Diamondbacks this year, but their future is a lot brighter than Arizona's, that's for sure.

Houston Astros Farm System

Year Wins
-Losses %
2011 337-488 .408
2012 439
-394 .527
2013 476
-360 .569
2014   47
-34 .580 
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4694672)
I'm not sure the won-lost record of minor league teams correlates very much to the quality of the prospects in the system. I remember the Pirates' farm teams used to win a lot back in the 2000s--but it was because they were all the oldest teams at their levels, well stocked with minor league veterans. They won, but it wasn't because they had any impact prospects.
   5. BDC Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4694679)
Do folks realize what a mockery this has been?

All I know is that the Athletics apparently get to play the Astros every night, and never lose to them :)
   6. Joey B. Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4694695)
Are the Cubs another one of these teams that's allegedly losing on purpose?

I ask because Theo Epstein has been made out by some people to be some kind of genius, and they suck donkey balls also.
   7. The Tarp That Ate Vince Coleman Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4694696)
Not to pick a fight with Walt Davis or anyone else...just trying to advance discussion:

Should the goal be to win MLB games? Or should the goal be to win the final MLB game of the year? I think these are two different pursuits. It's not as hard to build a .500 team as it is a team that can contend for championships. And with MLB's recent rule changes with the layered draft caps and the inability to spend outside of America, it makes going the Houston/Cubs route more logical than building a .500 team every year and hoping to catch fire.

In my mind, an example of a .500 team hoping to catch fire would be the Mariners. What has been the general view of their massive contract for Cano? Doesn't the majority think they're wasting their money and time?
   8. Publius Publicola Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4694697)
They're run by Jeff Luhnow, the outsider who famously overhauled the Cardinals' dominant farm system, and they feature multiple former Baseball Prospectus writers, including the likeable Kevin Goldstein as director of professional scouting.


Was this a good hire? I mean, writing about prospects requires a vastly different skill set than building and managing a farm system.
   9. Ron J2 Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4694700)
#4 Haven't checked recently (I do intend to) but record of AAA team used to be something useful in predicting a team's record in the upcoming season.

Yeah, probably not as useful as looking at the specific players in the pipeline. It is obviously possible to have impact players on an otherwise terrible team. Still it was true that teams with good AAA teams tended to improve.

And the Astros also have two other markers that predict improvement. Teams have a strong tendancy to move towards .500. Bad teams tend to improve, good one to decline. And they're young.

Haven't looked at the other markers.
   10. bobm Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4694707)
fangraphs.com/blogs/ranking-the-minor-league-systems-by-impact-1-15/

Ranking the Minor League Systems by Impact: #1-15
by Tony Blengino - March 14, 2014

[...]
Enough of this……let’s get on with the rankings.

1 – Houston Astros
- IMPACT (8) – RHP Mark Appel, SS CARLOS CORREA, 2B Delino DeShields, RHP Lance McCullers, RF DOMINGO SANTANA, 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Kyle Smith, CF George Springer
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strength/Weakness – Quality depth around the diamond, solid group of non-impact regular prospects, led by a group of RHPs fronted by Michael Feliz and Mike Foltynewicz, are right behind the impact guys. System is a bit light on quality LHP.
- Depth Ratio – 1.33
- One I Like More – Take your pick – Domingo Santana or Kyle Smith. Santana is a monster of a man who hit 25 HR and slugged .498 in the AA Texas League at age 20 last season. Very few positional prospects in the game can match that youth/production combo. Smith is not big at 5’11?, 175, but can really, really pitch. Plus curveball and command, and is very efficient. Will move fast, can max out as a #3 starter.
- One I Like Less – Foltynewicz. Though he can sit in the upper 90?s with his fastball, Foltynewicz has never truly dominated. The arrow is moving in the right direction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a move to the bullpen is eventually in store for the big righty.
- Observation – The Astros’ system is deepest at the top, and among the deepest in the middle and at the bottom. They’ve been flipping marginal big league talent for useful organizational pieces for a couple seasons now, and things are about to start paying off at the MLB level.
   11. SoCalDemon Posted: April 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4694711)
Re #3: They would have to go 56-82 (.406, or 66 win pace) over their last 138 games, to have fewer than 100 losses. For most teams, this is not a higher bar, but the Astros would have to improve substantially to get to that level, and so far have shown no progress in that direction. At the beginning of the season, I would have assumed they'd be in the 70 win range, but at this point, I would definitely take the under on 63 wins.
   12. base ball chick Posted: April 26, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4694777)
a person i know who is/was connected to the astros told me that the owner/GM were just blown away by bo porter and his attitude and what he would say when etc and that he was exactly what they wanted. i guess "red asss" with heavy emphasis on the last word, is what was wanted.

i will say it does look as though he hasn't lost all hope like poor millsie-poo, (and isn't brain dead like cooper) but i guess he has got to where all the losing has got on his last nerve.

and thank you walt davis, for saying what i have been saying for FOUR years

and i will also mention that the fact that the owner IS MAKING MILLIONS A YEAR BY PUTTING LOUSY SHTT ON THE FIELD is actually praised by the "intelligent thinking fans" who say - well, why should he pay any money for major league talent? he can do that years later. i remind them that that money is going into the owner's pocket, not a savings account to pay for major league talent in 5 years
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 26, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4694870)
and i will also mention that the fact that the owner IS MAKING MILLIONS A YEAR BY PUTTING LOUSY SHTT ON THE FIELD is actually praised by the "intelligent thinking fans" who say - well, why should he pay any money for major league talent? he can do that years later. i remind them that that money is going into the owner's pocket, not a savings account to pay for major league talent in 5 years


Every owner makes millions a year. Even the Diamondbacks owner makes millions.

No owner buys a team without expecting it to make him richer. Why on earth would anyone put hundreds of millions into a team and not expect that? they are forgoing tens of millions of dollars a year they could earn risk free in fixed income investments.
   14. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 26, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4694889)
Agree with #1 and this from #2:
I am OK with getting on Porter's case for the Lowrie thing, but trying to make the Astros' management sound like the coolest kids in school is a little Marinerfanboy6ORGish IMO.*

Luhnow wasn't a "barbarian who rushed the gate"; he was a friend of the Cardinals' owner who apparently used that connection to get into baseball.

I understand why this front office was popular among blogger types (and a few smarty-pants media members) in 2012, but the Astros are barely crawling toward respectability. Aside from the fact that this front office hired Porter, who didn't even know the pitching-change rules a year ago, the Astros are even more putrid this year than they were last year, despite an assurance from Luhnow & Co. that the team had made major strides. (Luhnow made a similar proclamation before last season, which also proved massively incorrect.)

One has to seriously question the brilliance of a front office that looked at last year's Astros or this year's Astros and thought the team had made major strides. Making matters more bizarre, during spring training this year, the owner went on record as "hoping to get to .500 this year," which betrays either delusions, dishonesty, or incompetence.

As a side note, I don't think I've ever seen an MLB front office with more people who literally owe their MLB careers to the GM. That, itself, is an odd experiment whose results seem unlikely to be impressive.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: April 26, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4694985)
The source of the Astros' appeal, though, is what we should probably call The Astros Project. The Astros are an irresistible test tube case: What would happen if you stripped everything -- everything -- away from a franchise and started completely from scratch.

We see this every time there's an expansion team. We don't often see it with existing teams but we saw it with the Pirates a few years ago although arguably they had a better system than when Luhnow took over -- that's hard to believe given how bad the Pirate system was under Littlefield but I'll leave it to the experts to debate.

Some other posters are confusing two things:

1) This is terrible baseball

2) Under the rules, this is the best strategy going forward.

What I am saying is that YOU AS BASEBALL FANS should be appalled by what Houston is doing and, if you believe this is forced on them by the system, you should be clamoring for changes in the system.

And with MLB's recent rule changes with the layered draft caps and the inability to spend outside of America, it makes going the Houston/Cubs route more logical than building a .500 team every year and hoping to catch fire.

No it doesn't. It makes this route less likely to help at all if the only talent you can acquire is by getting a top 3 pick in the draft by sucking for 6 years in a row ... and then watching half of those prospects flop and you sill can't acquire FAs or spend money outside of America or ... With expanded playoffs, the 500 roulette wheel is likely a better strategy ... and another one that we should find appalling.

Are we now cheering whenever a franchise makes the correct decision on whether to hit on 16 more than we cheer when a franchise actually builds a 20?

And that strategy is doubly dumb for a high-revenue team like the Cubs.



   16. Steve Treder Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:05 PM (#4695048)
I could argue this has become the toughest era to build a team in.

And you would be wrong. Prior to either free agency (introduced introduced in 1976-77) or the amateur draft (introduced in 1965), and with only the most rudimentary revenue sharing in place, in the "good" old days it was far tougher to build a team from the depths than it is today.
   17. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 27, 2014 at 08:00 AM (#4695197)
I had no idea someone named "Bo Porter" was running the Astros. I assumed their manager was still Phil Garner, or maybe Art Howe.

I'm sorry, but "Bo Porter" doesn't even sound like a real name; it sounds like a character name from some hack novel. "Bo Porter" has got to be a pseudonym...and if you were managing the Astros, you'd want one, too...
   18. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: April 27, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4695291)
No owner buys a team without expecting it to make him richer.
Only in American sports.
Why on earth would anyone put hundreds of millions into a team and not expect that? they are forgoing tens of millions of dollars a year they could earn risk free in fixed income investments.
But they get to run a baseball team.

   19. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: April 27, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4695311)
What I am saying is that YOU AS BASEBALL FANS should be appalled by what Houston is doing and, if you believe this is forced on them by the system, you should be clamoring for changes in the system.

I'm not a Houston fan, but I know that I've been having more fun as a Cubs fan in the past couple of years than in the years prior. An aging team that is going nowhere is just aggravating, and seeing young guys out there, with no expectation of success, is oddly enjoyable. Every win is a bonus, every little run of success by a player like Junior Lake is wondrous. I'm not "appalled." I'm having fun.
   20. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 27, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4695439)
It does seem odd that the team that's obviously trying to lose as many games as possible would hire a manager with this attitude.

I mean, look at the 76ers. Brett Brown has been having the time of his life.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: April 27, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4695480)
1) This is terrible baseball

2) Under the rules, this is the best strategy going forward.

What I am saying is that YOU AS BASEBALL FANS should be appalled by what Houston is doing and, if you believe this is forced on them by the system, you should be clamoring for changes in the system.


Agreed, MLB needs to set some type of rule where teams don't get revenue sharing if they post two consecutive "really" crappy seasons. I imagine a complicated formula designed to be fair to teams trying to win, but at the same time, if a team is consistently collecting money, and isn't making even a good faith effort to put a competitive team out there, then they should be financially punished.

I've always argued that as a fan, I would much prefer to see my team lose 90 games than 100(and lose 80 instead of 90 etc.... even if they aren't competing for a wild card spot, I still like to think they have a decent chance of winning a game I'm watching) , I would prefer them to lie directly to my face and say "We will be competitive this year..."(by going out and getting a couple of free agents and/or promoting young players instead of holding them back for super two status) than them saying "we suck, and we have no chance this year, so we aren't going to bother doing anything."

One of the reasons I liked the Nationals, is that when they sucked, they went out and paid for Werth, many people bad mouthed them because he wasn't going to figure into any of their contending years etc....but it signaled to the fans, that they aren't just going to lie back and be non-competitive while the talent developed.
   22. base ball chick Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:08 AM (#4695566)
the astros owner ended up paying exactly 5 million real dollars for this baseball team (once you add up all the kcikbacks and giveaways and bribe from bud selig to destroy the team by putting a DH on it)

i don't count "loans" because they don't ever get paid back

i know that the owners make zillions from the baseball team - what i object to is the fans approving of that INSTEAD of screaming that the owner should spend it on major leaguers

i keep telling people that prospects are exactly that and they are not major leaguers
   23. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4695696)
But they get to run a baseball team.


Yeah, I always liked the line about opera: "Opera isn't how you make money. Opera's what you spend money ON." (Read it in a Terry Pratchett, though I'm sure it has more distinguished origins.)
   24. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4695710)
Re #3: They would have to go 56-82 (.406, or 66 win pace) over their last 138 games, to have fewer than 100 losses. For most teams, this is not a higher bar, but the Astros would have to improve substantially to get to that level, and so far have shown no progress in that direction. At the beginning of the season, I would have assumed they'd be in the 70 win range, but at this point, I would definitely take the under on 63 wins.


Only 54-82 now, .397 or 64 win pace. This, the greatest Astros team of the decade, can do it.
   25. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4695731)
No it doesn't. It makes this route less likely to help at all if the only talent you can acquire is by getting a top 3 pick in the draft by sucking for 6 years in a row ... and then watching half of those prospects flop and you sill can't acquire FAs or spend money outside of America or ... With expanded playoffs, the 500 roulette wheel is likely a better strategy ... and another one that we should find appalling.


Yes, this strategy is all about your first every year, and has nothing to do with extra comp picks, or the value of picking at the beginning of the second, third fourth, and fifth rounds in better position than every other team.

The Astros had 7 first round picks in the last 4 years. Their system went from barren to top tier, and is starting to produce which gives them the opportunity to build much more than a mediocrity trying to get to .500 and a wildcard every few years. It's a legitimate question whether they will spend, but now spending is finally a viable option for them.
   26. bigglou115 Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4695817)
I just don't know what they were supposed to do. Sign Cano? Aside from the top 2-3 guys every year the last few FA classes have been a study in market scarcity inflating player contracts beyond reason. I saw Werth mentioned earlier, who was the Werth the Astros could have signed without a dramatic overpay? The Astros could've upped the payroll to $120 M over the last few years and still wouldn't be a particularly good team.

Look, will this work out for the Astros? I don't know. Not to draw too direct a comparison, but I imagine these comments could've been lifted straight out of a forum on the As 5 years ago. We know what it costs to spend your way out of mediocrity, the Dodgers showed us. Heck, they were better than these Astros or the ones this group inherited. That's a lot to ask, and sure you can ask for it but 27 fanbases will be disappointed waiting for it.

Let's say they went all out this past off season. Beltran, Tanaka, Kuroda, Choo, Ellsbury. Maybe add McCann in there. Your coming up on $90-100 MM is that a .500 team? Even if the answer is "yes" wouldn't you want the answer to be clearer if your spending that much all at once? Best case scenario that's, what, 20-25 wins before subtracting the guys they replace. Even if we say the current Astros are a 60 win team that makes them an 80-85 game winner and one injury from dropping to the 70s. Not terribly efficient.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4695826)
I just don't know what they were supposed to do. Sign Cano? Aside from the top 2-3 guys every year the last few FA classes have been a study in market scarcity inflating player contracts beyond reason. I saw Werth mentioned earlier, who was the Werth the Astros could have signed without a dramatic overpay? The Astros could've upped the payroll to $120 M over the last few years and still wouldn't be a particularly good team.


The point isn't about putting out the best team out there, but putting out a few major league players and not to be ripping everyone off by making this a profit venture (talking about going overboard...nobody complains about profit making, just about excessive markup/margins or whatnot in the profit making industry)

The Astros could have looked at their positions that they don't have a player likely to break the roster in the next year or two and acquired a legitimate major leaguer to play those positions. Teams should always be looking at one or two major league pitcher in the off season. They don't have to acquire a Cano type of uber star, but any 2 war type of player out there that is a free agent, at least it gives the fans the illusion of trying to be somewhat decent.

   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4695830)
The Astros could have looked at their positions that they don't have a player likely to break the roster in the next year or two and acquired a legitimate major leaguer to play those positions. Teams should always be looking at one or two major league pitcher in the off season. They don't have to acquire a Cano type of uber star, but any 2 war type of player out there that is a free agent, at least it gives the fans the illusion of trying to be somewhat decent.

Hence, the additions of Scott Feldman and Dexter Fowler.
   29. bigglou115 Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4695833)
@27 and I just don't see why they'd do that. Baseball fans like to think they're smarter than other sports fans, kind of hard to support that claim when everyone here seems to think a big portion of the Houston fanbase is going to be suckered by signing a couple league average players, who btw are going for $10+ M a pop now. Seems like a good way to spend $30 M on 3 wins to me. If they're going to go this route (and honestly go this route, not a Loria thing) then commitment is to be applauded.

Edit: and as was mentioned in 28 they have done some of that, hasn't seemed to help.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4695848)
@27 and I just don't see why they'd do that. Baseball fans like to think they're smarter than other sports fans, kind of hard to support that claim when everyone here seems to think a big portion of the Houston fanbase is going to be suckered by signing a couple league average players, who btw are going for $10+ M a pop now. Seems like a good way to spend $30 M on 3 wins to me. If they're going to go this route (and honestly go this route, not a Loria thing) then commitment is to be applauded.

Edit: and as was mentioned in 28 they have done some of that, hasn't seemed to help.


It's a case of too little too late. The Astros have gone two plus years without a real major leaguer on the roster, and have made no attempt to give the illusion of having a quality team.

But as to why they would do that? Driving up fan loyalty. It's fun to go to a game, and it's nice to root for your home team, but when that team is so abysmal that there is no chance of them winning a game, (or it's very unlikely) then you lose any momentum you can build up with a loyal fanbase.

It's obviously not possible for every team to be a contender every year, but fans want the illusion that the money they are investing in the team is going into the team. When you have a corrupt owner taking tax breaks and ticket money and not putting it into the product, it pisses people off.
   31. Russ Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4695851)

The Astros had 7 first round picks in the last 4 years. Their system went from barren to top tier, and is starting to produce which gives them the opportunity to build much more than a mediocrity trying to get to .500 and a wildcard every few years. It's a legitimate question whether they will spend, but now spending is finally a viable option for them.


I actually think that the fact that free agency is tied to service time creates a lot of the problems here. I tend to believe that free agency should be tied to age (not service time), for a couple of reasons:

1) The current system puts college players at a real disadvantage, as they are generally much older than high school players when they approach free agency. A 22-year old college player will be 28 the first time he is eligible for Rule V. That seems completely unfair compared to a 24 year old player who was drafted at 18 (and a 22 year old non-US player who entered the minors at 16). Age matters a lot for EVERYTHING and to ignore it seems silly.

2) Coupling development to age also would remove the issues surrounding when players are promoted. You would then promote a guy when he was ready, because it would have no effect on when he would be eligible for free agency. I think that teams that are doing better are much better served by aggressively promoting players, as I conjecture that players, as long as they are not completely overmatched, learn more from higher levels than from lower levels. It also would enable fans of crappy teams to become more connected to the team's future than watching a bunch of bargain bin flotsam, even if the flotsam wins a couple more games than the youth would.

Age-related free agency seems to work well in the NHL... I think it is probably even more important in baseball.
   32. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4695886)
I actually think that the fact that free agency is tied to service time creates a lot of the problems here. I tend to believe that free agency should be tied to age (not service time)


QFT
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4695900)
I actually think that the fact that free agency is tied to service time creates a lot of the problems here. I tend to believe that free agency should be tied to age (not service time)


What did Mike Trout ever do to you?

The existence of the minor league system, and the staggered trips to the big leagues it creates, means that any type of FA system is likely to benefit one type of ballplayer more than another. Of course, you could make it either/or, though any system that simply benefits the players without a corresponding benefit for management is not likely to happen. OK, make that never going to happen.
   34. Russ Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4695927)

What did Mike Trout ever do to you?

The existence of the minor league system, and the staggered trips to the big leagues it creates, means that any type of FA system is likely to benefit one type of ballplayer more than another. Of course, you could make it either/or, though any system that simply benefits the players without a corresponding benefit for management is not likely to happen. OK, make that never going to happen.


Right, and the kinds of players who the current system most benefits are exactly the players who don't need the safety of an age-calibrated system (like Trout). I would argue that given the MLB age distribution that most players should be eligible for free agency at the end of the season after the year that they turn 25 (as it is in hockey). That is 4 years of minors and 3 years of majors for your standard HS player who is drafted at 18. Most players who are 22 years old coming out of college should be in the majors after 1 year in the minors (at most).

The by-the-book difference for Trout is that he becomes a free agent after age 25 instead of age ... 25. Even if MLB wants to set it to 26, who gives a ####? Baseball's system is already deeply slanted to the players at the very top of the talent pyramid. I'm not going to lose any sleep if Trout makes only eleventy billion dollars in his career rather than eleventy billion, 10 million dollars.

   35. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4695930)
Right, and the kinds of players who the current system most benefits are exactly the players who don't need the safety of an age-calibrated system (like Trout). I would argue that given the MLB age distribution that most players should be eligible for free agency at the end of the season after the year that they turn 25 (as it is in hockey). That is 4 years of minors and 3 years of majors for your standard HS player who is drafted at 18. Most players who are 22 years old coming out of college should be in the majors after 1 year in the minors (at most).


Way too aggressive of an approach. I would have no problem with 29 being the age for mandatory free agency, but 25??? No way.

   36. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4695938)
That is 4 years of minors and 3 years of majors for your standard HS player who is drafted at 18. Most players who are 22 years old coming out of college should be in the majors after 1 year in the minors (at most).


Who are these mythical players? you probably need 3 years post college on average, and 6 years for a high school player. I can see having different rules for 40 man requirement etc. for players drafted at 21 instead of 18, but one year is not enough time to develop the average college player.


3 years of major league control is nuts and would never happen, and probably never should.
   37. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4695939)

Way too aggressive of an approach. I would have no problem with 29 being the age for mandatory free agency, but 25??? No way.


And that's the issue. MLB can base it on age or base in on time served,* but each comes with its own group of players that would be treated "unfairly" by the system.

* Assuming, and it's a safe assumption, that the determination doesn't simply benefit the players. I don't see MLB negotiating into the system Russ proposes, because the tradeoff nets the league almost nothing.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4695946)
I can see somewhat of a system that Russ proposes, at least have different rules for college drafted players than high school players. Change the 3 years of minor league control before being put on the 40 man roster to 2 years for college age acquired players(this would also include international free agents etc...basically if signed after their 21st birthday) and reduce the option years from 3 to 2.

Obviously this would never happen, because the owners have no incentives to do this, and the MLBPA has very little incentive to negotiate this.
   39. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4695977)
I just don't know what they were supposed to do. Sign Cano? Aside from the top 2-3 guys every year the last few FA classes have been a study in market scarcity inflating player contracts beyond reason. I saw Werth mentioned earlier, who was the Werth the Astros could have signed without a dramatic overpay? The Astros could've upped the payroll to $120 M over the last few years and still wouldn't be a particularly good team.

Nobody thinks the Astros should have signed Cano, but their passivity internationally has put the lie to the idea that the Astros are engaged in the "most aggressive rebuild ever," as various Astros front office types like to claim (and as more than a few gullible baseball writers have parroted).

Start in late 2011, when Crane and Luhnow took over, and add any or all of Cespedes, Soler, Puig, Urrutia, Abreu, Tanaka, and Darvish, and that would have been an aggressive rebuild. All the Astros have done, however, is put putrid teams on the field and rack up high draft picks. (Hell, forget about the high-price players like Tanaka and Puig — the Astros haven't even maxed out their piddly international signing allotment. In fact, they traded some of it away last year.)
   40. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4696064)
I think the Astros have to overpay to get FA's to sign there. Way overpay. They're screwed, unless they develop their own talent.
   41. Nasty Nate Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4696067)
I think the Astros have to overpay to get FA's to sign there. Way overpay. They're screwed, unless they develop their own talent.


Trading for veterans with big contracts is the other option to use money for established major league players.
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4696081)
I think the Astros have to overpay to get FA's to sign there. Way overpay. They're screwed, unless they develop their own talent.


I've seen that mentioned over the years, and has it ever really been the case? I understand a little overpay (Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington have all pretty much admitted they had to overpay in the relative recent past) is likely, but way overpay? I just don't see it being that big of a deal. There isn't a team in baseball history that couldn't reasonably compete in three seasons with good management and smart spending, especially in this day and age with two wild cards. So any free agents acquired, could be convinced that the team will be competitive while they are still under contract.


Trading for veterans with big contracts is the other option to use money for established major league players.

Another good point, you may not be able to get a first rate player, but should be able to get a few 2-3 war players who will help legitimize your team in the fan eyes. And if they are overpaid, the cost in trade material shouldn't be that big of a deal.

   43. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4696082)
Trading for veterans with big contracts is the other option to use money for established major league players.


If they can get guys who aren't in the last year of their contracts, that's a good option.
   44. madvillain Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4696111)
There is something to be said for not absolutely cratering. Usually we assume that these total rebuilds eventually result in a turnaround, but what if you just suck for the forseeable future? It's too bad there is no threat of demotion.
   45. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4696122)
There is something to be said for not absolutely cratering. Usually we assume that these total rebuilds eventually result in a turnaround, but what if you just suck for the forseeable future? It's too bad there is no threat of demotion.


Glad there is no threat of demotion. Relegation is one of the worst concepts ever designed(along with salary caps) in sports. I would support a league wide system that could outright take the team from an owner if there isn't a good faith effort being done to be competitive, but relegation is just a slap in the face to fans of a team from the league.
   46. tshipman Posted: April 28, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4696216)
Even if MLB wants to set it to 26, who gives a ####? Baseball's system is already deeply slanted to the players owners at the very top of the talent pyramid. I'm not going to lose any sleep if Trout makes only eleventy billion dollars in his career rather than eleventy billion, 10 million dollars.


Fixed that for you.

I do think that age based FA is probably an improvement, although 25 would be a nearly impossible sell for the owners.
   47. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4696233)
I do think that age based FA is probably an improvement, although 25 would be a nearly impossible sell for the owners.


I agree with that. Set a rule...no matter what, on your 29th birthday season, you are eligible for free agency unless you have signed a multi-year contract... Anything earlier, and it just would never happen. It's ridiculous that Lohse didn't become a free agent until his 31st age season and then he got screwed over by the system.(to an extent)

   48. I'll Call'A Tony, You Colavito Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:38 PM (#4696278)
What about a restricted free agency, similar to hockey? (and basketball, I think.) Say after four years of service time, or age 25, etc., a player can solicit offer sheets from other teams, but his current team retains the right to match. If the Yankees offer Trout 10/400, the Angels have to either match it or let him go.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 10:06 PM (#4696304)
What about a restricted free agency, similar to hockey? (and basketball, I think.) Say after four years of service time, or age 25, etc., a player can solicit offer sheets from other teams, but his current team retains the right to match. If the Yankees offer Trout 10/400, the Angels have to either match it or let him go.


I don't see any purpose for ML to have a system in place that would guarantee free agency before age 28 season, that is just a pretty stupid(from the owners perspective) idea, since it takes at least 3+ seasons of minor league development just to get a player into the majors, and considering the rate of flops, you are looking at a significant amount of resources used to develop a player and then to watch them go some place else before they hit their primes?

That system of an offer sheet basically forces the dumbest idea in pro sports(okay, relegation is the dumbest idea, so this is the second dumbest) and that is a salary cap.
   50. base ball chick Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:04 AM (#4696354)
39. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4695977)

Nobody thinks the Astros should have signed Cano, but their passivity internationally has put the lie to the idea that the Astros are engaged in the "most aggressive rebuild ever," as various Astros front office types like to claim (and as more than a few gullible baseball writers have parroted).

Start in late 2011, when Crane and Luhnow took over, and add any or all of Cespedes, Soler, Puig, Urrutia, Abreu, Tanaka, and Darvish, and that would have been an aggressive rebuild. All the Astros have done, however, is put putrid teams on the field and rack up high draft picks. (Hell, forget about the high-price players like Tanaka and Puig — the Astros haven't even maxed out their piddly international signing allotment. In fact, they traded some of it away last year.)


THIS

and their refusal to even TRY to get any top notch foreigners when it was still possible tells the truth

then spending 10 mill a year on a middling FA pitcher and calling him an "ace" doesn't make him an ace anymore than ed wade's love affair with brett myers made HIM an ace.
   51. Russ Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4696729)
I do think that age based FA is probably an improvement, although 25 would be a nearly impossible sell for the owners.



I agree with that. Set a rule...no matter what, on your 29th birthday season, you are eligible for free agency unless you have signed a multi-year contract... Anything earlier, and it just would never happen. It's ridiculous that Lohse didn't become a free agent until his 31st age season and then he got screwed over by the system.(to an extent)


OK. then let's call it age 25 to become eligible for arbitration, age 29 for free agency. Remember that the goal here is to divorce service time from arbitration/free agency considerations because then teams that are losing can still be doing something interesting for fans (playing young prospects who might turn out) without it affecting their bottom line negatively.
   52. base ball chick Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4696733)
and they need to fix their stupid rule for super 2 that allows major league teams to wait until may to call up obviously ML ready players in order to keep them bound for another year
   53. Russ Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4696835)
and they need to fix their stupid rule for super 2 that allows major league teams to wait until may to call up obviously ML ready players in order to keep them bound for another year


BBC, that's what I'm trying to do!
   54. Randy Jones Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4696839)
Super 2 status is just for arbitration. It has nothing to do with FA, which is always just 6+ years of ML service time.
   55. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4696868)
Super 2 status is just for arbitration. It has nothing to do with FA, which is always just 6+ years of ML service time.

Right, but the same basic issue is involved — i.e., promotions are being delayed because of service time. Promotions are delayed longer to avoid Super Two, but they're also being delayed in order to ensure a seventh year of ML control.

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