Nov
19

Mailbag: AzFL, MiL Free Agents, Nova, Wood

By

In this week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag we’re going to talk about some general minor league stuff, plus Ivan Nova, the free agent market for relievers, and the concept of adding a second Wildcard team. If you want to submit a question, send it in via the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

Ari asks: What level of ball is the AZ Fall League considered equivalent to (A, AA, AAA, etc)? Are some of the winter ball leagues considered better than the others? Thanks.

The rules stipulate that each team has to send at least six players (most send seven) to the Arizona Fall League, and that just one can have played at a level lower than Double-A that season. Considering that, plus the fact that the league also features a plethora of top prospects, I’d put the level of competition a little bit higher than Double-A. Not quite Triple-A because you don’t have pitchers with considerable big league experience and stuff like that, but it’s certainly a step up from Double-A. Especially for the guys on the mound, it’s just a brutal league for pitchers given the extreme run environment.

I honestly don’t know about the level of competition in the Latin American winter leagues, it’s very much a mixed bag. You’ll find established big leaguers and kids from Single-A playing in the same game. I suspect the AzFL is the cream of the crop though, you don’t see many top prospects playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and stuff.

Mike asks: When a minor league free agent (7 plus years of minor league experience) signs a deal is it generally year to year of can it be multiyear deals?

It’s six full years (though there’s usually a partial seventh) to qualify for minor league free agency, and from what I understand most go year-to-year after that. Players with big league experience will have opt-out clauses written into the deal, meaning if they’re not in the majors by a certain date they an become free agents. That’s why Dustin Moseley was called up, his opt-out date was coming up and the Yanks didn’t want to lose him. For guys with no big league experience, they’re basically hanging on at that point. If they were any kind of prospect they’d have been placed on the 40-man (thus remaining with their previous organization). But yeah, it’s usually year-by-year. It’s understandable why teams wouldn’t want to sign Triple-A fodder to a multi-year deal.

Mark asks: Is it safe to assume that Ivan Nova replaces Andy Pettitte in the rotation if he retires this offseason or do you see them acquiring a second veteran starter besides Cliff Lee?

I certainly wouldn’t call it a lock, but I agree that Nova stepping into the fifth starter’s spot should Pettitte retire is a safe bet. That’s only if they sign Lee though; if the Yanks don’t land the lefty and they have to settle for a lesser starter, then I don’t think they can gamble on Nova establishing himself as a big leaguer. If they can’t sign Lee and add all that certainly, then they’ll have to basically go out and get two veteran guys instead. He’s that good and is that tough to replace. Perhaps the Yanks are more confident in Nova than I, but that’s why Brian Cashman & Co. make the big bucks.

Ethan asks: With deals given so far (Benoit in particular), are the Yankees more likely to offer Wood arbitration? I assume that Berkman and Vasquez are still no?

For the record, I said yes to offering arbitration to Puma. Javy’s an absolute no-no, but hopefully the Marlins sign him before next Tuesday’s deadline and the Yanks get the draft pick anyway. Cross your fingers.

As for Wood, I don’t think the absurd Benoit contract changes anything. Sure, it might make him and his agent think there’s more money out there than previously thought, but the issue is Wood’s 2010 salary. He made ten-and-a-frickin-half million dollars in 2010, so if he accepts arbitration he’s looking at at least $11M in 2011. Wood was flat out awesome for the Yankees, but no setup man is worth that much cash, especially not one that old (33) and with that kind of injury history.

Even with the Benoit deal it’s a stretch to see Wood getting $11M guaranteed on the open market, regardless if it’s a one year deal or two or three. I love draft picks as much as the next guy, but a reliever making that much dough will severely limit the Yankees’ payroll flexibility next year. I appreciate what Kerry did in pinstripes, but offering him arbitration just isn’t a smart business move.

Keane asks: What do you think of extended playoffs being ‘almost inevitable?’ It barely helps the sport at all, makes a long season even longer and nothing is being done about replay. Is Selig doing the right thing here?

I’m not surprised that the idea of another Wildcard team is going over well with the GM’s, it means more job security for them. I’m sure the owners will love it as well, it means more revenue. And you know what? I’ll probably be great for the game and create more interest, so in that sense Selig is doing the right thing.

I don’t know how they’d work this with five playoff teams, but I assume the two WC clubs would meet before the LDS’s begin. If it’s a best-of-three or five series it’ll completely suck, because that means the other four clubs have basically a week off and there are that many more off days. A one game playoff would be amazingly entertaining but completely unfair in the grand scheme of things, a 162 game season potentially ending because anything can happen in one game. I dunno, I’m intrigued but I tend to believe a second WC spot is unnecessary.

You make a great point about replay, Selig appears to be much more behind the idea of expanded playoffs than he does instant replay even though it isn’t nearly as pressing. The umpiring around the league generally sucks, and fixing that is far more important than making sure the team with the fifth best record in the league gets a crack at the postseason. If it was up to me, I’d just send the teams with the four best records in each league to the playoffs regardless of division. You’d need a balanced schedule for that, which is another topic for another mailbag.

Categories : Mailbag
  • Bronx Ralphie

    Can somebody tell me where I can purchase arizona fall league merchandise? I am trying to get the hat for the team that Don Mattingly manages. thank you in advance.

    • RR

      I dont think they sell them outside of the games, maybe eBay? This Saturday is the chapionship game and items end up being 20-30% off. The hats were $22 I think. If you are serious about wanting one, I can pick one up this Saturday if you want.

      • Bronx Ralphie

        I am pretty serious. A relative of mine likes the hat so I figured I would turn it into a christmas gift for him. my email is rcanzone@yahoo.com

    • http://riveraveblues darryl

      pay Jeter he’s old but he still won a gold glove! Lets have A-ROD play the position instead of the foul line! Jeter is MR CLUTCH! He’s already the all time yankee hits,singles and at bats leader. He needs 74 more hits for 3000! He needs 3 more steals, 107 more games and 66 more doubles to be the all time Yankee leader in those as well. How about show casing that instead of a homerun king that may not happen! It a shame the steroids and his body breaking down for A-Rod but Jeter has more market value in those areas. The post season alds jeter obp .410 arod .359 slg jeter.545 arod .452 ave jeter .351 arod 278 jeter 14 times arod 9 time in alds. as for the alcs jeter .340 obp, .416 slg ave .258 9 times in alcs arod obp .432 slg .615 ave .313 5 times in alcs world seris jeter .384 obp .449 slg .321 ave 7 times in ws aros 423 obp 550 slg 250 ave 1 time in ws in the ost season jeter 377 obp 472 slg 309 arod 396 obp 528 slg 290 ave.. Jeter 5 time champ and ws mvp arod 1 time and no ws mvp hey hank and jennifer get jeter signed!! he’ll do the right thing when he can’t play shortstop no more and move or retire and no care about the dirt on his unifrom as arod would. He’s a much better role model than any one on the team.

  • philip

    I doubt they would do it but if it is vest of 3 a 1-1-1 travel schedule is absurd.

    Maybe you do game 1 at the team with the worse record and than a double-header at the team with the better record.

    That double header day would be thrilling.

    • Chris

      Personally, I would like to see a three game series with no off days during the series or before the start of the LDS. Baseball teams play almost every day for 6 months, why can’t they do that for the playoffs too?

      • philip

        they would have to do no days off, and I agree they always play every day.

        I like the double header on the backend since if it is NYY and LAA, flying back and forth twice sort of stinks.

        Also after the season, no days off, you go right into it. Or one-day, whatever.

        If you do the double header idea, you could wrap the whole thing in 2 days, if it is 1-1-1 that is of course 3.

        technically a division winning team could only have to wait 2 days to play although i would assume there would be a day off after the ALWCS.

        If anything this also punishes the wildcard team which I sort of like so there is an advantage to winning the division since you will burn your best pitchers.

        • Thomas

          Triple header!

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Have the season end on a Friday. Give the #1 wildcard total homefield advantage (all three games). Game 1 is Saturday, Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) are Sunday. The winner then flies to the #1 division winner to start a Best of 7 series on Monday.

            Both WC teams get appropriately penalized; all the division winners get a small break but not one long enough to get rusty.

            You’re welcome.

            • whozat

              What happens when you have to do a one-game play-in, like the Rockies in 2007? What if you run into the scenario that could have happened this year with ATL, SF and SD, where three teams need to play for two spots? That’s why they have the 2 days after the season, for those tiebreakers.

              There’s no way to do this, account for all the edge cases, and not have the teams that actually won divisions sit around for four days before the playoffs start, and that’s why this is a terrible idea. Why do we want playoff series where the better teams are throwing pitchers on 8 days rest half the time?

              I just don’t understand why 162 games isn’t enough to identify the teams that should go to the world series. All Bud is doing is further diluting the meaning of the regular season in favor of a tournament-style championship season, and that doesn’t make sense in baseball.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                In the event of a one-game play-in, that game happens on Saturday, the three-game playoff gets moved to Sunday and Monday, and that playoff series gets moved to Tuesday.

                Problem solved.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

    Adding another round, even a short one, would make the playoffs stretch even further. Are they planning on shortening the season to go along with this?

  • Chris

    For guys with no big league experience, they’re basically hanging on at that point.

    Can you really blame them? Once they become minor league free agents, they actually start earning a wage that you could live on (not great, but better than before that). Who would want to trade that in for a desk job?

  • Clay Bellinger

    I hate everything about the idea of adding another wildcard. How bout they just extend the first round series to a best-of-seven series. It’s insane that a 162 game season is followed by a 5 game series.

    • vin

      This.

      I don’t necessarily HATE the idea of an extra WC team… but I hate all the ramifications it brings.

  • Mister Delaware

    If Bud Selig had died immediately after implementing the Wild Card, he’d be the Kurt Cobain of MLB Commissioners. Or, alternatively (foreshadowing pun!), if Kurt Cobain had lived beyond In Utero and put out terrible album after terrible album, he’d be the Bud Selig of rock. Either way.

    • Accent Shallow

      I know it’s impolite to wish ill on someone old enough to be a grandfather, but . . .

      Ok, I am not finishing that sentence.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Not gonna lie, I laughed.

  • TopChuckie

    When three teams from the AL East make the playoffs every year and the AL East pennant race is rendered almost meaningless, they will regret this decision.

    • vin

      No kidding. They’ll probably stipulate that the WC teams must come from different divisions. We’ll see a 92 win Rays team go home because the White Sox won 85 games in a pathetic division.

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    The umpiring around the league generally sucks

    at least it’s noit the nba

    • Clay Bellinger

      That’s probrably the only positive thing that we could say about it.

    • vin

      The refereeing in the NBA is great.

      So long as you’re the home team.

  • Bulldozer

    Can we chip in for the Marlins’ Javy fund this weekend?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I wonder if the people who killed the Uggla for Infante/Dunn swap will keep shitting on the deal after 2011 when Infante, Dunn, and Javy have all combined to out-WAR Uggla by himself at the same total price.

      That deal makes more and more sense by the day.

      • ZZ

        Needing 3 players to out-WAR one player is not a positive unless there is a substantial difference.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          What if the two other players displaced in this scenario were sub-replacement level?

          What if all three players can be retained at affordable rates beyond 2011, should the team so choose, and the departed player was a lock to leave with nothing other than draft pick compensation?

          • ZZ

            What if the two other players displaced in this scenario were sub-replacement level?

            Like Javy Vazquez ;)

            Seriously though, why are the Marlins sending out two below replacement level players? Also, is there any indication that Javy and Infante would bypass free agency and go for an in season extensions? Would the Marlins even consider that after how bad he was last year?

            Finally, the Braves were not the only game in town, so it was not an either or calculation for the Marlins.

          • Ed

            What if the two other players displaced in this scenario were sub-replacement level?

            That trade went down on November 16th. That’s far too low of a standard to have at that point in the offseason. Almost every free agent is still available, and every team will gladly talk trade scenarios with you. If you’re simply trying to remove sub-replacement level players from your roster, trading an All Star is probably the worst way to go about it.

            If this happened mid-season when there’s far less options available, sure, I’d see value in that strategy.

            What if all three players can be retained at affordable rates beyond 2011, should the team so choose

            Infante is a free agent after the season. Whether or not they choose to resign him doesn’t factor into his trade value. Dunn does have long term value, but he’s a fringy reliever, so it’s limited value. I’ll meet you halfway on the Vazquez idea, as they’re gaining flexibility to do whatever they think is right here – although I think they’ll choose a 1 year deal for him, which negates the beyond 2011 value.

            and the departed player was a lock to leave with nothing other than draft pick compensation?

            Considering the return they got, I’d rather gamble on draft picks.

            What throws me off is I can’t see the overall strategy. It’s clearly not a long term move, as the only long term piece they got was a blah reliever. But it doesn’t make sense to me as a short term move either, as even if I go along with your take on the trade, I think the trade improves one of their division rivals more than it improves them.

      • vin

        I think much of the outrage is because:

        1) Everyone assumed they could’ve gotten more for Uggla. Since they didn’t, I’ll give the Marlins GM the benefit of the doubt.

        2) Infante and Dunn have limited upside – particularly Infante. Why not trade Uggla for prospects? Probably because they want to remain reasonably competitive – especially as they prepare to move into their new ballpark in 2012. Not sure if Infante would profile as a type A FA, but if he did, he would still have a much lower ranking than Uggla. I think the assumption is the would have been better off with prospects, young major leaguer(s) with upside, or Dan Uggla’s draft picks. If they’re so intent on remaining reasonably competitive…
        3) Why trade him within the division? Uggla is exactly what the Braves needed. Middle of the order, right handed bat – who plays a premium defensive position (albeit poorly). The Phils are a powerhouse, and the Braves are approaching that status… the Marlins will be hard-pressed to finish ahead of the Mets.

        People are incensed because no one expected this approach from the Marlins. It has some logic, but I still believe they would’ve been better off trying to get 1 projectable big leaguer, and 1 lottery ticket.

        • rbizzler

          Plus, what was the hurry for the Marlins? Really, you couldn’t have waited to the winter meetings to see if you could have found a more palatable package (TWSS) for Uggla?

          In certain situations it behooves a team to strike fast, but when moving a guy with decent value, it seemed like the prudent thing to do was to let the market develop and shop some offers.

  • Ted Nelson

    I am by no means an expert on arbitration… in fact I know next to nothing…, but my understanding was that you have to show comparable performance to justify your offer and the arbiter has to rule with one side or the other…

    Is a guy who had 8 saves last season and 20 the year before (I assume saves is something they are looking at in arbitration along with ERA and W/L and not more advanced metrics… though I have no idea) really going to convince someone he’s worth the money a strong closer would make? Can he really make 2X Benoit’s annual salary when the market has already been set this offseason at $5.5 mill annually for a set-up man? Benoit’s ERA last season as 1.34 in 60 innings and Wood’s was 3.13 in 46 innings… Can’t the Yankees use that as precedent to win with a bid well under $5.5 mill… and even if it’s way more than they want to pay Woods as a set-up man trade him to a team that wanted to sign him as a closer anyway???

    • Ted Nelson

      “Can’t the Yankees use that as precedent to win with a bid well under $5.5 mill…”

      Sorry… meant with a bid well under $11 mill. Somewhere between $5.5-11…

      Basically, my point is: why would Kerry Woods make MORE money in arbitration than the salary he largely failed to live up to?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Because the arb process is an either-or offer, and the team offer has invariably been one close to the player’s previous salary. Players haven’t historically had their pay cut in arb, because the teams don’t offer paycuts in arb, because they have good reason to believe they’d lose.

        Because arbiters are loath to drastically cut a player’s salary in arbitration. If Wood’s making 10.5M this year, and he offers 12M and the Yankees offer 5M, the arbiter is going to choose to give Wood a slight raise rather than cut his pay in half. The salary arbitration process isn’t a mechanism to drastically cut a player’s pay, it’s one to choose the “most fair” offer.

        And the “most fair” offer generally gives more weight to what that player was making previously than to what that player could get on the open market. What he could get on the market is fairly irrelevant, because the team didn’t put him on the market, it offered him a one year renewal of his contract through salary arbitration.

        So rather than offer Wood fair market value of 5.5M and lose the arb case and end up paying him a raise of 12M, they’ll offer no raise at all (like the same 10.5M he made before) or perhaps a slight, slight cut of 9M or so, because that offer has a reasonable chance of being accepted and 5.5M doesn’t.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, but I’m not saying offer $5 mill. Obviously I understand the Yankees know infinitely more about this process than I do. I am saying to use that knowledge to decide whether you can offer him arb, win with a bid around his market value, and trade him to a team with a need at closer.

          I’m saying, if there is a team out there looking for a closer and willing to make Kerry Wood a multi-year or even one year offer at closer $, can’t the Yankees basically pull a Soriano and trade him after arbitration… winning a small pay cut in arbitration based on his no longer being a closer or just chipping in a few mill in the trade if they lose at arbitration…

          Of course, there has to be at least one team out there willing to give Kerry Wood closer money… or looking to dump the difference between Wood’s arbitration $ and what they would pay him that the Yankees are willing to take back in a trade…

          “The salary arbitration process isn’t a mechanism to drastically cut a player’s pay, it’s one to choose the “most fair” offer.”

          And is giving a guy who didn’t live up to his last salary a pay raise “more fair” than cutting his pay?

          “because that offer has a reasonable chance of being accepted and 5.5M doesn’t.”

          Yes, I understand that. $5.5 million WAS A TYPE. I meant to write $11 million. LESS THAN $11 MILLION. T-Y-P-O…

          • Clay Bellinger

            It would be tough for the Yanks to trade him if he has a salary of $11-$12 mil. On the open market he probrably won’t come near a 1 year/$12 mile deal. So the Yanks would end up eating some salary in a trade.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Yeah, why would I trade for Wood making 1/11M when I could just sign Rafael Soriano for probably the same money? Or Frank Francisco, Brian Fuentes, J.J. Putz, Jon Rauch, etc. for far less?

              • Clay Bellinger

                exactly.

            • Ted Nelson

              Eating salary and/or taking back salary… Tommie is, of course, the same guy exalting the Marlins for their financial savvy, but ignoring the same point here…

              If the Yankees take back a guy or two they like who fill(s) a need (bullpen, bench, even 5th starter candidate who can be put in the pen also) the other club is looking/willing to move they don’t necessarily have to include any cash in the deal. Or a small amount of cash to get back a piece that is maybe better and maybe cheaper than they could have gotten on the market…

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                The Marlins aren’t the Yankees.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Typo aside, the fact remains that if we offer Wood arb and he accepts, he’s either:

            A.) playing for us at a salary that is, in all likelihood, at least 90% of the 10.5M he made in 2010, and probably closer to 110% of what he made in 2010
            B.) a player we’ll have to market for trade as a closer option on a 1yr/11M-ish deal, and that drastically cuts into his marketability.

            It’s a whole lot easier to trade Rafael Soriano when he’s dynamite and clubs know they’d be on the hook for about 6-8M for him than to trade Kerry Wood (who’s not as good) when clubs know they’d be on the hook for 9-12M for him.

        • Ed

          And the “most fair” offer generally gives more weight to what that player was making previously than to what that player could get on the open market. What he could get on the market is fairly irrelevant, because the team didn’t put him on the market, it offered him a one year renewal of his contract through salary arbitration.

          You’ve got nothing to back that, because as you said elsewhere, free agents don’t go to arbitration. You’re describing the pre-free agent arb process, which has extra rules that are specifically intended to create the behavior you’re talking about.

          And what he can get on the market isn’t irrelevant at all – the rules specifically say you have to base your demands on the salaries of similar players with similar service time.

          The arb process – at all levels – is based around justifying a salary based on comparisons to similar players. The only difference between the two types of arb is that in pre-free agency arb, yourself one year earlier is given a very high weight compared to other similar players. In free agency arb, that bonus weight is taken away.

    • Clay Bellinger

      Yes, he would definitely get more than $5.5 mil. In fact, he’d double it. Athough they technically can be, arbitration offers are never below last year’s salary.

      • Ted Nelson

        $5.5 was a typo… meant $11 mill

        Arbitration is also usually extended to a young player or a free agent the club wants to keep, though, usually meaning it is a guy whose salary would rise on the open market. It’s not that often that a team offers arbitration to a drastically overpaid veteran, is it? By most measures Wood failed to live up to his closer salary on his last contract. If my understanding of arbitration is correct and Wood tries to argue he should be paid like a top closer and the Yankees argue he hasn’t been a top closer in years… why would Wood win?

        Rafael Soriano was coming off a season where he had 27 saves and an ERA under 3 and only got $7.25 mill in arbitration… (again, I assume they’re looking at saves and ERA, not advanced metrics though I have no idea).

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Soriano didn’t actually go to an arbiter. The Braves offered arb, he accepted, and then before the hearing happened, they traded him to the Rays and the Rays signed him to a one year deal to avoid arb.

          The deal they signed him to (1y/7.5M) was a slight pay raise over his previous year’s salary (6.1M), which is fairly similar to the midpoint of the likely arb hearing where he would have asked for a 2-3M raise and the club would have countered with a 500k-1M raise.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, and Soriano was making $6 mill as a fairly young and effective closer… He was in line for a pay raise. Wood was making $10.5 mill as an old, injury prone set-up man who wasn’t even that effective over the course of his last contract… he is in line for a pay decrease.

            Again, I have no idea how arbitration works but if Kerry Wood is in line for a PAY RAISE the system is pretty flawed…

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              He is in line for a pay decrease on the open market. Salary arbitration isn’t the open market, it’s a mechanism for players to have their contracts renewed.

              • Ted Nelson

                Again, tommie, do you have any examples of overpaid veterans going to arbitration? I can look at historical numbers as well as anyone and see that players makes more in arbitration. I can also see that almost all of these players would have made more on the open market also. I am interested in any precedent for a guy with an over market value salary who then got a raise in salary arbitration.

                And, if there is a team out there willing to pay Wood, say, 2 or 3 years at $6 mill per on the market… would they not take 1 year at 7 or even 8 mill to cut their risk to one year? Say Wood does get $11 mill (and again, I wonder if he might not get a pay cut)… Say that team has a $3-4 mill player they’re willing to part with that the Yankees would like for their bullpen or their bench or even a 5th starter… Might it be worth it? If the Yankees already have a good feeling that team is out there, I think it would be a good move. That’s a huge if and contingent on a lot of things.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Again, tommie, do you have any examples of overpaid veterans going to arbitration? I can look at historical numbers as well as anyone and see that players makes more in arbitration. I can also see that almost all of these players would have made more on the open market also. I am interested in any precedent for a guy with an over market value salary who then got a raise in salary arbitration.

                  There really isn’t a precedent, because teams pretty much haven’t offered arbitration to a guy that they knew had a good likelihood of accepting because he stood to make practically double in arb what he could make on the open market. Teams just didn’t offer arb to guys like that. I can’t think of one. It’s just far too risky, since arbitration was designed to be a mechanism to renew player contracts at generally increased salaries.

                  • Ed

                    There really isn’t a precedent, because teams pretty much haven’t offered arbitration to a guy that they knew had a good likelihood of accepting because he stood to make practically double in arb what he could make on the open market.

                    You’re projecting your own thoughts into that. As you said, there’s no precedent, so you’re just guessing at the reasons why.

                    It’s just far too risky, since arbitration was designed to be a mechanism to renew player contracts at generally increased salaries.

                    Pre-free agency arbitration is designed to do that. The rules that limit (but not actually prevent) salary reductions don’t apply to free agents that accept arbitration.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    In the end I agree Wood is not really an ideal candidate for what I was suggesting (and certainly not my initial suggestion of keeping around… talking my other suggestion of trading) because of the huge disparity between his contract and value… In principle I thought it might be a creative idea worth considering, and if Wood was worth even, say, 2 years $16 mill on the FA market maybe it would be… If he’s worth a more Benoit-like figure, it’s not worth it.

                    I was maybe overly optimistic of Wood’s market value due to his success with the Yankees in a small sample: expecting that maybe he would be solidly in line for a closer job… which probably isn’t the case. You’d probably want to know there was a team out there looking at Wood as a 2011 closer and looking to dump a guy you wanted in the short-term $2-4 mill range before making the arb offer, which I’m sure is collusion.

                    In a perfect world maybe the Yankees could move Wood to pick up a good set-up guy in his place, but you are almost definitely right that this is not that world.

        • Clay Bellinger

          No, a team typically wouldn’t make an offer to a drastically overpaid veteran because they would of course accept the offer and remain an overpaid vet. tommiesmithjohncarlose explained the process quite well. The players previous salary seems to weigh so much into this that you’ll never see a guy get a huge cut based on performance.

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t know that it has to be a huge cut, though… *If* there are teams looking at what Kerry Wood did as a Yankee and eying him as a closer (on a one year deal where the risk is reduced over a multi-year deal he might get on the market), the Yankees could get value out of him by winning arbitration, trading him, and making up any financial difference with what the other club would have offered through cash or taking back salary in the deal… But the other club is also getting a benefit by not having to give him multiple years… it’s a one year risk.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Yeah, the key part you mentioned is

              and making up any financial difference with what the other club would have offered through cash or taking back salary in the deal…

              Kerry Wood who accepted our arb offer and was making 1y/11M wouldn’t be a palatable trade commodity. Kerry Wood who accepted our arb offer and we made available by eating 5M of his salary in the trade and thus pricing him at 1y/6M would be far more palatable.

              We’re not going to eat salary to move Kerry Wood, though; our budget is already stretched way too thin (and we don’t eat money to move veterans. We like never do that.)

          • Ed

            The players previous salary seems to weigh so much into this that you’ll never see a guy get a huge cut based on performance.

            That’s because on pre-free agency players, teams are not allowed to offer less than 80% of the previous year’s salary. There’s another rule limiting pay cuts in consecutive years, but I don’t remember the specifics – something like a max of a 30% cut over 2 years.

            The max paycut rules are largely there because pre-free agency players are intentionally underpaid, and the arb process is designed to slowly transition them from MLB minimum salaries to free agent salaries.

            For players that have reached free agency, the max pay reduction rules don’t apply.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

      There is a lower limit on the team’s offer. You aren’t allowed to offer more than a certain percentage pay cut. Not sure where the line is, but if it’s 33% then the Yankees minimum offer is 7M, and it might be distinctly less than 33%.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I’m pretty sure the lower limit doesn’t apply to veteran free agents, that’s just Arb 1/2/3/4 guys with less than 6 years of service time.

        There’s nothing preventing teams from offering drastic paycuts to their veterans in arbitration, other than the (probably correct) calculation that the drastic paycut offer has virtually no chance of being accepted and turns the player offer into a fait accompli. Teams don’t offer their players paycuts in arb not because they’re blocked from doing so by the rules, but because it’s not a sound strategy.

        • Rick in Boston

          I believe the team cannot offer less than 80% of the previous year’s salary. I’m trying to find the source, but that sticks in my head for some reason.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            The 80% rule is correct, but it’s only for players with under 6 years of service time.

            The Yankees can’t offer Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, etc. anything less than 80% of what they made in 2010, but the Yankees can offer Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Kerry Wood, Javy Vazquez etc. anything they damn well please.

            The only reason they don’t offer that second group paycuts is because such an offer would be a fruitless exercise.

          • vin

            It’s in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I found it last year. I was trying to determine if what tsjc said was true – about the rule applying to veteran FA or just arbitration guys. Unfortunately, the language wasn’t clear to me.

            • Ed

              That threw me off for a while too. It was a year or two that I looked it up, but I believe you have to search the document for the word “arbitrate.” Everything uses the word “arbitration” except for the one part that makes it clear that the pay cut rule doesn’t apply to free agents.

  • http://twitter.com/billreichmann Bill in Boston

    Here’s a totally absurd way to keep teams playing and reward the higher seeds if an extra wild card is added. The world series is a 7 game series. The LCS is a 7 game series. To advance to the LCS you have to survive a round robin style triple elimination pool play tourney. Here’s how I would see it working

    Night 1
    #5 @ #2
    #4 @ #3
    #1 gets a bye

    Now let’s say the two higher seeds win.

    Night 2
    #5 @ #1
    #4 @ #3
    #2 gets a bye

    #1 and #3 win, #5 and #4 each have 2 losses already. highest seed always gets a bye so #1 would be off on Night 3. However, you can’t have a bye two nights in a row. You also can’t have a bye if you lost the previous night. Although highest seed is always at home regardless if you win or lose. Also no off days in between games. If you have to keep traveling 3000 miles as the #5 team that is your punishment for finishing so low. Also you can’t play the same team more than 2 nights in a row.

    Night 3
    #5 (0-2) @ #3 (2-0)
    #4 (0-2) @ #2 (1-0)
    #1 (1-0) gets a bye
    Let’s say #2 beats #4 and eliminates them, but #5 beats #3. Then since a team has been eliminated there is no need for a bye on Night 4.

    Night 4
    #3 (2-1) @ #1 (1-0)
    #5 (1-2) @ #2 (2-0)
    Let’s say #1 holds off #3 and #2 eliminates #5. Now there are 3 teams left and #1 gets a bye on Night 5

    Night 5
    #3 (2-2) @ #2 (3-0)
    #1 (2-0) gets a bye.
    If #2 wins then the LCS starts in a few days once the other LCS concludes. If #3 wins then they travel to take on #1. #3 would have to go back and forth until they eliminated #1 or #2.

    Obviously this is crazy but it would be fun to watch and fun to think about. I just think there has to be a better way to reward the #1 and #2 teams for their regular season. More off days and not having to travel a lot is one way to do this. I’m sure there are flaws in the details, but it’s fun to think about.

    (apologies if it double posts. stupid Mozilla)

    • Tim

      Perhaps as an alternative to your Round Robin suggestion, we could just have each of the five teams complete a doctoral level 100 question Quantum Physics exam, and the two teams who score the highest advance to the LCS. The players might find this alternative a bit less complicated.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        It’s like the Denslow Cup.

      • hogan

        Tim you’re so clever and pithy. Let the guy describe his round robin. It’s a facking baseball blog playoff thread.

      • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 seimiya

        Damn, the A’s would win every time. It’s like the New Moneyball.

        Market Inefficiency: Smart Ballplayers.

        (i’m looking at you, craig breslow)

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      To advance to the LCS you have to survive a round robin style triple elimination pool play tourney.

      Heh. Good luck getting that shit adopted by the most reverential, old-school, “The LDS and LCS series themselves are an abomination and we should go back to the good old days where the two best teams went right to the World Series” stick-in-the-mud sport of them all.

      • http://twitter.com/billreichmann Bill in Boston

        No doubt about it. Obviously typing that all out is mostly a waste of time but I enjoyed it.

        Also, seeding would be based on record. So say the AL west team has the division locked up but wildcard team #1 has a similar record down the stretch. Those 2 would be fighting for the 3 seed, which is very important as it guarantees starting at home and having the possibility of having a bye one of the night’s if there is an upset.

        • rbizzler

          As food for thought, it was enjoyable. Your proposal seems similar to the CWS, but a bit different.

          Obviously, the old-timers would shite themselves over this proposal. Just think of Harold Reynold’s reaction yesterday to Felix winning the CY multiplied by the thousands.

  • hogan

    How is a one game playoff unfair? Maybe you’ve chosen your word(s) poorly? You play 162 games. If you can’t win your division then you still get a 50/50 shot to get in with the play-in. After 162 games a team should be grateful to get in the post-season if they haven’t won their division. The AL West has four teams for god’s sake. You have a 25% chance every year to make the post season. Have a play in game, followed the next day by Division Series Game One. This is baseball, not hockey or basketball. The regular season should have considerable weight.

    The two wild cards actually makes both sides of the argument happy. It punishes the wild card team AND lengthens the post-season and increases revenue. No more would the wild card be a cushion. It would be something to be desired certainly in some cases but something to be feared as well. Nobody wants to play in a one game playoff. September would have been much more interesting for Tamap and the Yanks if this system was in effect. Instead we got Girardi pumping the breaks for four weeks.

    You need to explain what you mean by unfair more clearly.

    • hogan

      Like in the NFL where the wild card team is punished severely with no bye week and no home games.

    • Luis Sojo the Pasta Eating Machine

      All of this.

      I love the one game playoff idea. Start the playoffs off with a bang and make the end of the regular season much better.