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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Murray Chass: ABOUT SALARIES AND THEIR EVOLUTION

More than two decades later I do not feel the need to keep up with every signing. I don’t need the information as immediately as I did previously, my wife periodically reminds me that I am supposed to be retired and there are others who mine the free-agent fields for contract data, though there is actually only one reporter whose information I trust.

That is Ron Blum of the Associated Press, who has been the AP’s reporter on baseball’s business and labor matters for years. I once suggested to a New York Times sports editor that he talk to Blum and consider hiring him, basically to do what I was doing, as I moved on to other matter, but he concluded that Blum’s experience and interests were too narrow.

That was probably 20 years or so ago, and Blum is still with the AP churning out salaries. Perhaps the attraction for him is having such a profound effect on the publication of salaries and their widespread use. When you see a player’s salary in the newspaper or on the Internet, you can safely assume it was reported by Blum. When salary lists appear at the start or end of each season, again it’s Blum’s work.

In recent years, a Web site called Cot’s Baseball Contracts appeared on the Internet, then several years into its existence joined Baseball Prospectus. It lists the contracts of all major league and some minor league players. I don’t know where it gets its information, but I suspect probably like everyone else – from the AP.

I cite as evidence for this belief some of the lowest salaries. They are always the hardest to get, and I found in a spot check that Cot’s didn’t have a few of the lowest-paid Yankees until a couple of days after the AP ran its salaries on its wire. Suddenly, Cot’s had Cesar Cabral ($490,000), Cody Eppley ($510,350) and David Phelps ($512,425).

But I give Cot’s credit for its idea and its effort to become a repository for contracts. I’m sure a lot of baseball writers appreciate it. Thirty-six years ago, at the advent of free agency, they didn’t have anyone doing their work for them.

bobm Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:00 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: contracts

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4408253)
I didn't realize til watching the movie "Broke" on ESPN that Chass was the reason athlete salaries ever became public. The publication of athlete salaries has had a pretty huge impact on sports for better or for worse.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4408309)
I didn't realize til watching the movie "Broke" on ESPN that Chass was the reason athlete salaries ever became public. The publication of athlete salaries has had a pretty huge impact on sports for better or for worse.

as Bouton pointed out in Ball Four, the teams were very reluctant to publicize most players' salaries, because they were so low. HOWEVER, teams would always make sure you knew that Mantle made $100K
   3. zack Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4408312)
Cot's Baseball Contract, Front Page, Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ #2:
Are the contract figures here accurate?
More or less. The numbers are not official, but they have been collected as reported by the Associated Press or beat writers covering each club. Any additions, questions or comments may be directed to JEuston@baseballprospectus.com.

It's not like they are hiding it, Murray. Collecting the salary information is extremely valuable work, and I remember well the days when it was near impossible to find it without going to microfiche. Collating and archiving that information is also extremely valuable and not something that should be denigrated.

Doug Pappas and USA Today were and are exceptional in that respect.
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4408327)
Are the contract figures here accurate?
More or less. The numbers are not official, but they have been collected as reported by the Associated Press or beat writers covering each club. Any additions, questions or comments may be directed to JEuston@baseballprospectus.com.


There's a disconnect here somewhere, isn't there? I have never seen the AP or any beat writer report a contract with the level of detail and specificity that Cot's reports a contract.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4408337)
I have never seen the AP or any beat writer report a contract with the level of detail and specificity that Cot's reports a contract.


Really? Matt Cain, Giants agree to deal. All the detailed info is reported by ESPN writers or the AP. Where do you think Cot's gets that info?
   6. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4408343)
There's a disconnect here somewhere, isn't there? I have never seen the AP or any beat writer report a contract with the level of detail and specificity that Cot's reports a contract.
I suspect that the AP does, as do the local beat writers, but that gets lost in non-local market wire-based reports. John Fay may offer that much detail on the latest Reds contract (for instance), but if the Chicago Tribune picked up the story they might only report the totals.

And I think that may be especially true of the minutae - "Buried deep in the contract is the fact that Sluggy McSlugger gets a 3 lb. bag of M&M's before each game. I'll tell ya, the MLBPA is destroying America!" may inflame the locals, but get edited out of the national story.
   7. spycake Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4408447)
Anybody know if Cot's does any archiving? Players just seem to disappear from Cot's as they retire, and then all we're left with is the yearly salaries at BB-Ref.
   8. McCoy Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4408456)
That's my one pete peeve with Cot's
   9. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4408461)
same here. (well, that and the crazy formatting)
still, super valuable.
   10. JJ1986 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4408465)
Anybody know if Cot's does any archiving? Players just seem to disappear from Cot's as they retire, and then all we're left with is the yearly salaries at BB-Ref.


The wayback machine works pretty well on it.
   11. spycake Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4408500)
I see that all Cot's contract info is on the BP player pages (under Compensation -> Details), at least for a few of the retired players I checked. As opposed to the team pages, which only show the current roster/commitments. That should come in handy (although ideally it would be on BB-Ref player pages!).

Would be great to see it more organized and searchable too -- instead of simple lines of text, you could have sortable/searchable fields for date signed, arbitration year, service time, etc. Imagine doing a play index search for only 2nd year arb players, etc.?
   12. JJ1986 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4408514)
I was actually thinking yesterday that it would be cool to have both a player's service time (for that year) and his total service time after a year included in b-r's statlines.
   13. Ron J2 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4408577)
#10 Good point about the Wayback machine. Didn't think of that.

And #10/11 I'd love to have that kind of functionality. I've toyed with doing it myself. A ton of work of course. I'd much rather have Sean (as usual!) do the heavy lifting.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4408698)
There's a disconnect here somewhere, isn't there? I have never seen the AP or any beat writer report a contract with the level of detail and specificity that Cot's reports a contract.

Nah, I'm with this. I've never seen a story with that level of detail. I mean the basic contracts are pretty straightforward and are reported that way.

Also, in the old days, Cot's often had detailed contract info the same day. Traded players were shifted about 15 minutes after the trade was announced. I find it hard to believe they didn't have some agent or MLB sources in those days. They were also the first site I know of that was reporting service time.

These days it seems to operate at normal speed.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4408705)
I've toyed with doing it myself. A ton of work of course.


I've messed around with it, but MLB's transaction database, at least before 2009, is incomplete; there are simply records that are missing from it.

As an example, one I found this week, Yadier Molina went on the disabled list in July '05. Not according to the official transactions. Although they do have him being activated a month later.
   16. Sean Forman Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4408723)
If you can get your hands on the Joint exhibit from arb hearings, I believe that will have every player's contract info in it.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4409755)
I've messed around with it, but MLB's transaction database, at least before 2009, is incomplete; there are simply records that are missing from it.

As an example, one I found this week, Yadier Molina went on the disabled list in July '05. Not according to the official transactions. Although they do have him being activated a month later.


I really wish someone would digitize the press guides for that reason. They include the transactions for each player of that team. So you get a fairly comprehensive list of dl stays for every player on the team. But you would need to have all 30 press guides to get complete detail.

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