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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

MLB to blame for Seattle fire sale

Ah, yes. Exactly what the American League needed: Another team that isn’t going to be competitive.

It’s a shame to see the Mariners hitting the self-destruct button.

Seattle’s fire sale has sent Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to the Mets, James Paxton to the Yankees, Alex Colome to the White Sox, Mike Zunino to the Rays, and now, Jean Segura to the Phillies.

Talk about a total teardown. In a little over a month, they’ve gone from an 89-win team to one that looks like the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

On the one hand, I get why so many teams are trying this approach. On the other, it’s hard not to cynically note that a lot of the people who shout about the glories of this sort of thing follow teams that don’t have to do it, and that, by cutting the number of competitive teams, this helps certain high-spending teams that MLB might want to have win the World Series more often than, say, the Royals.

QLE Posted: December 04, 2018 at 07:48 AM | 121 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fire sale, mariners, mlb, the process

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   101. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: December 05, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5794182)
I think there's a few things going on with tanking that are only lightly touched here.

1) Look at the Braves. They picked up all their prospects through trade, that was always the idea. Things get much more complicated when you start talking about this kind of move. How do you stop the tank style trades? Tell teams they can't trade the guy? Make them sign a player to make up the salary difference? They've still gotten worse in most cases. Messing with the draft won't stop this, because the draft was a relatively minor part of their overall strategy to begin with.

2) People talk about, help small markets not bad teams. The problem with that is fan engagement. If there's no parity device for teams that have taken wrong turns then bad decisions will plague a team for much longer. Right now a decent team that isn't really a playoff team can look to tear down and rebuild in what? 4 years? How long would it take the same team to get there without increasing their budget? Is there any reason to think its less time?

I'm not convinced that tanking isn't actually a net positive. It might lead to more uncompetitive teams in a given year, but I think there's an argument it creates more success cycles per team per arbitrary time constraint than the alternative.
   102. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 05, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5794184)
I'm not convinced that tanking isn't actually a net positive. It might lead to more uncompetitive teams in a given year, but I think there's an argument it creates more success cycles per team per arbitrary time constraint than the alternative.

I look at it from the perspective of maximizing fan interest/revenue for the entire league. To do that, you want as few non-competitive teams as possible. You effectively don't want anyone under 70 wins, and don't care if no one gets over 100.
   103. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: December 05, 2018 at 02:43 PM (#5794233)
I look at it from the perspective of maximizing fan interest/revenue for the entire league. To do that, you want as few non-competitive teams as possible. You effectively don't want anyone under 70 wins, and don't care if no one gets over 100.


And from a league health standpoint that's entirely fair. My opinions on this are mixed, I watched the Braves tear down a team that could've made the playoffs, but also saw the writing on the wall beyond that year. Without a tear down and rebuild they likely would not be competitive yet.

But the league doesn't have that many fans. The individual teams do. There has to be some analysis of the potential damage, and creating a cast of perpetually losing teams that bleed fans should be on that list.
   104. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5794237)
I look at it from the perspective of maximizing fan interest/revenue for the entire league. To do that, you want as few non-competitive teams as possible. You effectively don't want anyone under 70 wins, and don't care if no one gets over 100.


This is the NFL paradigm and I think it sucks.

   105. Nasty Nate Posted: December 05, 2018 at 02:49 PM (#5794239)
Out of curiosity, has there been a single year in which no team was below 70 wins since the adoption of the 162-game schedule?
   106. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5794260)
Nope.

2014 had the Rangers (67) and DBacks (64) below 70. EDIT: Oops- nope, missed the Rockies at 66.

1990 had just the Yankees (67) and Braves (65) below 70.

1986 just the Mariners (67) and Pirates (64) below 70.

I went back to 1960 - and near as I can tell, those were the only times we had just 2 teams below 70.

In fact - I didn't keep count - but for all the hand-wringing over tanking? It sure felt to me like 100+ loss seasons used to be a LOT more common... like, a LOT more common. And in fact - again, just scrolling through - felt like MORE teams used to be sub-70 wins before "tanking".
   107. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 05, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5794275)
In fact - I didn't keep count - but for all the hand-wringing over tanking? It sure felt to me like 100+ loss seasons used to be a LOT more common... like, a LOT more common. And in fact - again, just scrolling through - felt like MORE teams used to be sub-70 wins before "tanking".

2017 had 8 teams below 70. That's a lot.
   108. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5794290)
2017 had 8 teams below 70. That's a lot.


Where do you get 8?

I count 5.
   109. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5794293)
Assuming you meant 2018, not 2017.

2002 had 7 including 3 100+ loss teams.

1998 had 6.

That's not exhaustive - just quickly clicking around.

I'm not going to do the analysis - but setting aside the artificiality of 70 wins, my bet is that it's no more common now than it ever was.

   110. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 05, 2018 at 05:10 PM (#5794321)
Every season from 1962 to 2018 (excluding 1981, 1994, 1995), with # of <70 win teams.

2001 8
2018 8
1969 7
1977 7
1978 7
1999 7
2002 7
2003 7
2004 7
2010 7
2012 7
2016 7
1979 6
1993 6
1998 6
2000 6
2015 6
1971 5
1972 5
1980 5
1982 5
1985 5
1997 5
2005 5
2008 5
2009 5
2013 5
2017 5
1962 4
1964 4
1965 4
1970 4
1975 4
1987 4
1988 4
1989 4
2006 4
2007 4
2011 4
1963 3
1967 3
1968 3
1974 3
1976 3
1984 3
1991 3
1996 3
2014 3
1966 2
1973 2
1983 2
1986 2
1990 2
1992 2 
   111. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 05, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5794324)
Where do you get 8?

I count 5.


Sorry, I meant 2018. I don't know what year it is. :-)
   112. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 06:14 PM (#5794348)
Sorry, I meant 2018. I don't know what year it is. :-)


Well, I signed a check with the date of 2016 last week, so I get it... I was asked to "fix it" but WTH.... I don't think there's an expiration date on personal checks.
   113. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 05, 2018 at 06:25 PM (#5794349)
We're not talking "rebuild". We're talking stripping the team of all major league talent.

There were 5 absolutely dreadful teams in the AL last year, not making even a token effort to compete. That's 33%, and bad for the sport.


That's post-hoc reasoning. Looking at the teams with the worst records and claiming they were tanking. What about the Rays? They traded their franchise player, one of the best catchers in the game, their still young one time ace, their 27 HR left fielder, their 30 HR right fielder, and fail to resign their 38 HR first baseman. That sure as hell sounds like tanking to me. That's more tank than any other team you mentioned IMO.

But they won 90 thanks to the likes of no major league talent guys like Joey Wendle, Blake Snell, and mallet Smith.
   114. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 05, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5794380)
There were 5 absolutely dreadful teams in the AL last year, not making even a token effort to compete.


I'm assuming you include the White sox as one of the 5. The notion that they weren't even making a token effort to compete is ludicrous. Their opening day lineup was thus:

C - Welington Castillo, a 31 YO who put up 2.1 WAR in less than 100 games in 2018
1B - Jose Abreu, a 31 YOU who put up a 4.7 in 2017
2B - Yoan Moncada, a 23 YO former #2 prospect
SS - Tim Anderson, a 25 YO with a very promising rookie year, and a disappointing 2017
3B - Yolmer Sanchez, a 26 YO coming off a 3.5 WAR 2017
LF - Nicky Delmonico, a 25 YO who put up 130 OPS+ in 43 games as a rookie in 2017
CF - Adam Engle, OK, he's a black hole
RF - Avi Garcia, a 27 YO who had put up a 4.6 WAR season in 2017
DH - Matt Davidson, another weak link. He hit 26 HR with a putrid K/BB ratio in 2017.
SP - James Shields, not a hole per se. he's a cromulent #4 or #5 but not an ace. But he wasn't counted on to be one.

So, not a pennant contender, but hardly a team bereft of MLB talent. They lost 100 games because Abreu and Garcia completely collapsed, losing 8 WAR between them from 2017, the young infielders regressed or failed to make progress, their 2 (projected) best starters got injured, their highly touted (former #5 prospect) 23 YO started went from a 2.38 ERA (in 45 innings), to over 6, and their catcher got busted for PEDs.
   115. Zonk is One Individual Posted: December 05, 2018 at 07:57 PM (#5794386)
The White Sox also have had some really bad luck with SPs... Lopez, Giolito, Fullmer, and Rodon all either getting hurt or falling back (Well, Lopez was decent enough I guess). That's some awfully bad luck. Two years ago - if that was your "rotation of the future", you'd think you were sitting pretty.

Of course, being a Cubs fan - I still remember Prior/Cruz/Zambrano/Wood/about 3 others being the modern day Palmer/Torrez/Flanagan/etc... so, you know, that's always a bad thing to bank on.

In any case, I think the White Sox future is pretty bright - maybe as soon as next year (all those SPs are still young enough that they very well could still be special).

I didn't expect them to challenge the Indians - but I'm mildly surprised that they weren't touching .500.
   116. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: December 05, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5794388)
[101]
1) Look at the Braves. They picked up all their prospects through trade, that was always the idea. Things get much more complicated when you start talking about this kind of move. How do you stop the tank style trades? Tell teams they can't trade the guy? Make them sign a player to make up the salary difference? They've still gotten worse in most cases. Messing with the draft won't stop this, because the draft was a relatively minor part of their overall strategy to begin with.

2) People talk about, help small markets not bad teams. The problem with that is fan engagement. If there's no parity device for teams that have taken wrong turns then bad decisions will plague a team for much longer. Right now a decent team that isn't really a playoff team can look to tear down and rebuild in what? 4 years? How long would it take the same team to get there without increasing their budget? Is there any reason to think its less time?


I'm with Snapper ([102] and elsewhere). Non-competitive baseball games are not interesting. The more non-competition you have, the worse your league is. **

That argument settled, the answer to 'how' is also easy. Peg revenue to on-field success (ie wins), one way or another. The market used to do this, because the gate made up a proportionally much larger portion of clubs' revenues than it does today. There was a natural incentive to win. In the age of MLBAM, that is no longer the case. It's the kind of Yankee Redneck debate writ large, in a way - at any given time about a third of the league just exists to give the rich teams somebody to play against on Tuesdays. This is inarguably boring, and a garbage way to run a league. So if we can fiat MLB financial policy into existence ***, all we have to do is approximate the incentives that used to exist. It used to be that if your team sucked, you lost money. Now, for the majority of MLB teams, you're going to make more money with a $50MM payroll than a $100MM payroll, irrespective of wins or anything else.

The details, from there, are unimportant. Set a salary floor, giving any unspent payroll to the MLBPA to distribute (doesn't the NHL do something like this?). Mandate that any $$ disbursed to the teams by the league (so, shared revenue, and revenue sharing) be spent on specified baseball operations activities. Take the OOTP route and set a per-club cap on revenues or cash on hand, above which any unspent $$ goes to MLBPA. In short, remove the perverse incentives that encourage noncompetition, and the rest will follow. Any of these methods would work.



** Re the objection in [104] ('This is the NFL paradigm and I think it sucks.') - the NFL proves that even in a model designed for MAXIMUM PARITY, rank mismanagement can still torpedo a team pretty much perpetually (Browns, Jets, Lions, Bengals, Raiders, Bucs), you can still have plenty of teams that are truly awful, if not forever (Niners, Cards, Bills, Giants), and also that true excellence beats all (Patriots, ugh).

*** Which is the ONLY way any plan to attack this problem would ever actually happen, since recognizing it as a problem presupposes a worldview that prioritizes league health over profit maximization.


ETA: Zonk, include Kopech in the Sox' bad run of pitching luck. That kid was a stud.
   117. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: December 06, 2018 at 02:59 PM (#5794715)
Every season from 1962 to 2018 (excluding 1981, 1994, 1995), with # of <70 win teams.


Pre-expansion, zero <70-win teams damned near happened in the 1915 NL season, as I discovered yesterday while reading Charles Alexander's book on the Miracle Braves. The Giants' 69-83 was the worst record in the league. The Phillies' 90-62 performance gave them the pennant.
   118. Sunday silence Posted: December 06, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5794742)
I cant find his post, but I believe Snapper said he wants to follow the NFL model. But I presume that he doesnt want the NFL draft model which he seems to oppose...

So what do want to do? You want to make schedules based on last years record? So like the Pirates can play the Reds more often? I dont think many people would like jiggered schedules like that.

I mean isnt that how the NFL creates parity?
   119. MikeinMI Posted: December 06, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5794833)
Relegation solves the tanking issue.
   120. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2018 at 08:33 PM (#5794872)
I cant find his post, but I believe Snapper said he wants to follow the NFL model. But I presume that he doesnt want the NFL draft model which he seems to oppose...

So what do want to do? You want to make schedules based on last years record? So like the Pirates can play the Reds more often? I dont think many people would like jiggered schedules like that.


1) De-link top draft position from losing. Lottery among the non-playoff teams for the bottom 10 picks. Small market teams get extra ping pong balls. Seed draft picks 11-20 by best record among non-playoff teams.

2) Central fund and revenue sharing money can not exceed MLB payroll plus amateur bonuses. If your franchise would normally receive $50M from national TV, $10M from MLBAM, and $30M in revenue sharing, if you run out a $40M payroll, and spend $10M on amateur bonuses, the league takes back $40M.
   121. Howie Menckel Posted: December 07, 2018 at 12:28 AM (#5794893)
You want to make schedules based on last years record? So like the Pirates can play the Reds more often? I dont think many people would like jiggered schedules like that.

I mean isnt that how the NFL creates parity?

NFL teams now play 14 "common games" - 6 divisional games, 4 against a rotating NFC division, 4 against a rotating AFC division.

the "uncommon games" match up the other 2 conference results so that 1 plays 1, down to 4 plays 4.

the best teams do go head-to-head more often - but to them, that creates opportunity.

for the rest, it doesn't much matter. and results in "uncommon games" are at the back end of tiebreakers.
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