CBA Madness: Draft, IFAs, HGH, More

Bud Selig and MLBPA head Michael Weiner smile after taking the screws to the future of baseball. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Baseball officially announced its new Collective Bargaining Agreement this afternoon, a five-year pact between the owners and players’ association. The deal ensures at least 21 consecutive years of labor peace, which is great for the sport. I’m not so sure we can say the same about the rest of the deal though. Many of the changes will hurt baseball, especially in the long-term.

We’ve already recapped changes to the luxury tax, Type-A and B free agents, and the elimination of the Elias rankings, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. All of the CBA news below comes courtesy of the best reporters in all of sports, our beloved baseball writers. Props specifically go out to Jeff Passan, Buster Olney, Bill Shaikin, Ken Rosenthal, and Danny Knobler. This is not a full recap, but Maury Brown has the entire CBA available. Let’s start with the most significant changes…

Draft Spending Limitations

  • There is no hard slotting, but teams are given a “draft pool” by MLB that they aren’t supposed to exceed. Teams that do exceed their pool by 5% will be taxed at 75%. Spending in excess of 5-10% will result in a 75% tax and a loss of the next year’s first round pick. Spending in excess of 10-15% results in a 100% tax and and loss of first and second round picks. Spending in excess of 15% results in a 100% tax and the loss of two first round picks. That’s harsh.
  • Something called the “Competitive Balance Lottery” gives extra picks to the small-market and low-revenue clubs. Six draft picks immediately after the first round will be given to the ten teams with the ten lowest revenues via a lottery system. A team’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its winning percentage the prior season. There will be another lottery with six additional picks after the second round for the clubs that miss out on the first set of picks. These Competitive Balance Lottery picks can be traded, but other picks can not.
  • If a player drafted in the tenth round or later signs for $100k or more, the extra money counts against the team’s draft pool. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think it means you can sign a player drafted in the tenth round or later for $100k and it will not count against your pool. Don’t quote me on that.
  • The draft signing deadline has been moved up from August 15th to sometime between July 12-18th, depending on the All-Star Game. The college coaches will appreciate this.
  • Drafted players can only sign minor league contracts now, and the top 200 prospects will be subject to mandatory drug testing.

International Spending Limitations

  • Each team will be allowed to spend $2.9M on amateur free agents this year, or a hundred grand less than the Yankees gave Gary Sanchez in 2009. Starting next winter, the worst teams will be allowed to spend ~$5M while the best teams get to spend ~$1.8M.
  • Starting in 2013-2014, teams will be able to trade their international spending cap space, thought clubs will only be able to acquire an additional 50% of their cap. So if the Yankees are limited to a $3M cap, they can only trade for an additional $1.5M.
  • Players under 23 years old and with less than years of professional baseball experience will be considered amateurs and count against the spending cap. That means guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Japanese veterans will be treated as a true free agents. Japanese players run through the posting system will not count against the cap.
  • Players must register with MLB’s scouting bureau in order to be eligible to sign. That should cut down on the number of age and identity fraud cases. The top 100 prospects will be subject to drug testing.
  • A worldwide baseball draft is a “significant possibility” by 2014, and there are incentives in place for both sides to negotiate terms in the future.

Long story short, the MLBPA sold out its future members for the sake of its current members. The draft and international spending limitations are severe and will drive young talent away from the game, and you’ll see legitimate two-sport guys like Zach Lee and Bubba Starling be pushed to college by the spending restrictions. Teams also have little incentive to run a baseball academy in Latin America now. We’ll see the real impact of these changes in five or ten years, when there’s a sudden lack of young talent and barely enough real athletes to play the middle infield. Anyway, here is the lest of the CBA news…

Draft Compensation Changes

  • The following players are Type-A free agents but will be treated as Type-B free agents for the remainder of the offseason: Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez, and Darren Oliver. A team will not have to give up a draft pick to sign them, and their old team will gain just one supplemental first rounder.
  • The following players are Type-A free agents but will not be treated as “modified” Type-A free agents: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Josh Willingham, and Francisco Rodriguez. A team will not lose a pick to sign them, however their old club will still receive two picks. One will be a first round one spot after the team that signs them, the second a supplemental first rounder.
  • These changes can all be seen on our 2012 Draft Order page.
  • Players must still be offered arbitration if their former club wants to receive draft pick compensation. The deadline to offer arbitration is tomorrow, by the way.

Blood Testing For HGH

  • Players will be tested next Spring Training to determine their energy levels, and those test results will be discarded. Tests will be taken on non-gamedays unless the player volunteers to do it the day of a game. They’re essentially going to test the test, just to see how the players respond physically after giving blood.
  • Once the two sides see how the players respond, they will then determine how and when to proceed with in-season testing. Offseason testing will begin next winter, and the tests will not be random. There has to be reasonable cause.

Instant Replay

  • Replay will be expanding to include fair-or-foul plays as well as “trapped” ball plays. MLB and the umpires’ union must still discuss the final details. Hooray for this.
  • There will also be an “improved process for challenging official scorer decisions.” So now David Ortiz can complain about his RBI total without interrupting his manager’s press conference.

Equipment

  • Players will no longer be allowed to use those low-density maple bats that shatter and turn into dangerous sharp, flying objects.
  • The Great Gazoo helmet, which Frankie Cervelli wears following all his concussions, will be mandatory by 2013. The new version will be less bulky and hilarious looking.

Salaries

  • The minimum salary will rise from $414k this past season to $480k next season, and it will climb to $500k by 2014.
  • The top 22% of players (in terms of service time) with fewer than three years of MLB service will be considered Super Twos. Those folks are arbitration-eligible four times rather than three. It had been the top 17% previously.

New Policies & Programs

  • A new tobacco policy will be instituted, preventing tobacco products from being visible during interviews, interactions with fans, etc. Uniformed personnel can still use chewing tobacco, but the can can’t be visible and a wad of chew in a player’s cheek will draw a slap on the wrist from the union.
  • A “program of mandatory evaluation” is in place for players that commit alcohol-related offenses, including DUIs.
  • There will be some kind of “social media policy,” basically taking all the fun out of MLB players on Twitter.
  • Something called “market disqualification” says the top 15 markets will not be able to receive revenue sharing money by 2016, the final year of this deal.
  • I can’t believe they actually had to write this into the CBA, but there is now a policy in place that protects union members from discrimination stemming from their sexual orientation.

Miscellaneous

  • Participation in the All-Star Game is mandatory unless the player is injured or otherwise excused by the commissioner.
  • Rosters will expand to 26 players for “certain regular or split doubleheaders.” I kinda like that.
  • The extra wildcard team and expanded playoff setup will be instituted immediately, so there will be two wildcard clubs per league next season. It will in fact be a one-game playoff.

The owners get rather drastic spending restrictions on amateur players as well as expanded playoffs while the players get an increased minimum salary, more Super Twos, and better free agent compensation rules. Everyone wins … as long as you’re an owner or a union member.

Ryan Braun named NL MVP

The final award of the 2011 season has been announced, and Ryan Braun is your NL MVP. He received 20 of 32 first place votes, and is the first Brewer to win the award since Robin Yount in 1989. I think Matt Kemp should have won, but playing on a non-contender hurt his chances. He finished second and received ten first place votes. Former Yankees farmhands Ian Kennedy and John Axford received a bunch of down ballot votes. The full results are available on the BBWAA’s site.

Mailbag: Michael Pineda

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tucker asks: One of my Mariners friends suggested a possible trade that sounded crazy to me at first, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense: Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero. M’s need offense, Yanks need pitching.

Well, this isn’t really a question, so I guess it’s just a statement I will expand on. I think it is a very interesting swap, and certainly more realistic than the Felix Hernandez-for-random stuff proposals we see from time to time all the time. The framework makes a ton of sense, a team with pitching to spare and in need of offense gets six years of a young, high-end hitter while the team with offense to spare and in need of pitching gets five years of the young, high-end pitcher. It’s a match made in trade heaven.

Pineda, 23 in January, finished right behind Ivan Nova in the AL Rookie of the Year voting thanks to a 3.74 ERA and 3.42 FIP in 171 innings. Blame that on his 9-10 record and Seattle’s offense. He struck out 173 batters and walked just 54 unintentionally, good for 9.11 K/9 (24.9% of batters faced) and 2.89 BB/9 (7.9%). With a big frame (6-foot-5, 245 lbs.) and a high-octane fastball that averaged 94.2 mph this past season, it’s easy to see why Pineda should be considered among the game’s best young hurlers. He’s not perfect though.

For one, Pineda is an extreme fly ball pitcher, getting a ground ball just 36.3% of the time this past summer with uninspiring minor league grounder rates to match. He gave up 18 homers (0.95 HR/9) playing in spacious Safeco Field, a number that would almost certainly climb in Yankee Stadium. Secondly, he’s almost exclusively a two-pitch pitcher, using that big fastball roughly 65% of the time and his sharp slider roughly 32% of the time this summer. The other 3% is a flimsy little changeup and the reason why lefties hit him harder than righties, a pattern he also displayed in the minors. That isn’t to say Pineda isn’t a good pitcher, he certainly is, but he has some flaws that could be really exposed in the AL East and in Yankee Stadium.

There’s a very weird dynamic here because Montero was almost a Mariner in 2010, before Jack Zduriencik reneged on the Cliff Lee trade. I don’t know if there’s any “bad blood” between the two clubs because of that, but we know the Yankees weren’t happy with the way things went down and I have to think they hold a little bit of a grudge. I know I would. I’m sure they’re enjoying the fact that Montero out-fWAR’d Justin Smoak (0.6 to 0.5) this season, I know I am. I don’t think that “bad blood” would stand in the way of a potential Felix trade, but it might for lesser players, even someone like Pineda.

Objectively, I do think Montero-for-Pineda is a pretty fair trade. The one fewer year of team control is kinda mitigated by the fact that Pineda has shown he can handle a full season in the big leagues and be an above-average contributor. As good as Montero looked in September, we have no idea if he can produce 600 plate appearances at a time. On the other hand, the Yankees homer in my says no way to this trade; Pineda’s a two-pitch guy with fly ball problems and if the Yankees trade Montero, I’d like to see them trade him for someone more established.

Looking At The Yankees’ Sac Bunts

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Baseball is a game without an official clock. In its stead, the 27 outs each team receives serve as the timekeeper, pushing each game to an inevitable conclusion. Avoiding those outs has become the name of the game over the last ten years, and one of the strategic moves that has come under fire due to this philosophy is the bunt. The sacrifice bunt draws a team one out closer to the end of the game without greatly increasing the chances of a run scoring. A look at run expectancy tables, which tell us how many runs are expected given a particular situation, confirms that bunting usually decreases the number of runs expected to score. While there are a few situations where a bunt is actually the statistically prudent move, on balance it is seen as the misused weapon of weaker, backwards-thinking managers, and is the hobgoblin of sabermetricians everywhere.

All that said, there is at least one study that suggests that managers tend to outperform run expectancy tables when it comes to bunting. This means that on average, managers have a reasonably good sense of the moment and of context, and they bunt in situations where it will produce more runs than one might expect given the post-bunt base/out status. While the numbers still suggest that these bunts decrease run expectancy, it is illuminating and encouraging to see that managers are utilizing the bunt reasonably efficiently.

All of this brings us to the manager of the local nine. One of the most common complaints about Joe Girardi‘s managing is that he bunts too frequently, playing for one run with an offense that can put up a crooked number in a hurry. I thought it would be instructive to look at every Yankee sacrifice bunt in 2011 to see how many runs Girardi actually cost his club with his small ball sensibilities. I broke the bunts down by player and then calculated three numbers:

  1. Expected runs before the bunt. This number tells us how many runs were expected to score given the base/out situation prior to Girardi working his managerial magic.
  2. Expected runs after the bunt. This tells us how many theoretical runs the bunt “cost” the club.
  3. Actual runs. This should tell us how Girardi’s move actually worked out.

Now, a few caveats.

  • Run expectancy is not perfect. It does not account for the score or the quality of offense or opponent, nor does it account for the skills of the hitter at the plate. However, it is a reasonable estimate of how the game has been impacted by a move, and I’ve broken things down by hitter so you can mentally adjust your evaluation based on the quality of the batter.
  • This study does not include the attempted bunts that failed and caused batters to fall behind in the count. However, it also does not include bunt singles or bunts in which the batter reached on a fielder’s choice or error, which help to greatly increase run expectancy (I also excluded Nick Swisher‘s bunt against Boston where he lost track of the number of outs and bunted on his own). The analysis is limited to successful sacrifice bunts. I’ve also removed all bunts by pitchers, as I think most of us can agree that bunting with an American League pitcher is almost always the correct move.
  • We cannot calculate what would have happened if Girardi had chosen not to bunt. To provide an example of why this is an issue, imagine an inning where Brett Gardner bunts a runner over and then Curtis Granderson homers. While we can figure out the run expectancy before and after the bunt and can observe actual runs scored, we can’t know what would have happened if Gardner had not bunted. So if one run was expected and two actual runs were scored, there is still the possibility that without the bunt, three runs would have scored (because Gardner could have reached prior to the home run). If we assume that everything would have been different and Granderson may not have homered had Gardner reached, the expected runs v. actual runs analysis is relevant. As such, this study is making the assumption that the bunt changes the entire inning, such that whatever happened afterward is connected to (but not necessarily caused by) the base/out state created by the bunt. Discarding that assumption does not make the conclusions irrelevant, but it does sap them of some of their power.

Keeping all that in mind, let’s take a look at the sac bunts Girardi called for in 2011.

Brett Gardner

# of sac bunts: 8

Expected runs, before the bunts: 7.0173

Expected runs, after the bunts: 5.4602

Actual runs: 11

Loss of run expectancy: 1.5571

Actual impact: Gain of 3.9827 runs over expected runs

(To be fair to Girardi and his predilection for bunting with Gardner, it is important to note that all of Gardner’s bunts but one came in the late innings of a tight game, when playing for one run is acceptable. The lone exception came against Justin Verlander, which represents another understandable, if not entirely defensible, use of the bunt.)

Eduardo Nunez

# of sac bunts: 6

Expected runs, before the bunts: 5.5296

Expected runs, after the bunts: 4.4064

Actual runs: 3

Loss of run expectancy: 1.1232

Actual impact: Loss of 2.5296 runs under expected runs

Derek Jeter

# of sac bunts: 4

Expected runs, before the bunts: 4.1974

Expected runs, after the bunts: 3.4954

Actual runs: 2

Loss of run expectancy: 0.702

Actual impact: Loss of 2.1974 runs under expected runs

Curtis Granderson

# of sac bunts: 3

Expected runs, before the bunts: 3.7157

Expected runs, after the bunts: 3.2358

Actual runs: 6

Loss of run expectancy: .4799

Actual impact: Gain of 2.2843 runs over expected runs

Ramiro Pena

# of sac bunts: 2

Expected runs, before the bunts: 1.701

Expected runs, after the bunts: 1.3028

Actual runs: 1

Loss of run expectancy: 0.3982

Actual impact: Loss of 0.701 runs under expected runs

One each for Russell Martin, Frankie Cervelli, Chris Dickerson, and Brandon Laird

# of sac bunts: 4

Expected runs, before the bunts: 3.402

Expected runs, after the bunts: 2.6056

Actual runs: 1

Loss of run expectancy: 0.7964

Actual impact: Loss of 2.402 runs under expected runs

Conclusion

# of sac bunts: 27

Expected runs, before the bunts: 25.563

Expected runs, after the bunts: 20.5062

Actual runs: 24

Loss of run expectancy: 5.0568

Actual impact: Loss of 1.563 runs under expected runs

Regarding that actual impact number, I am uncomfortable concluding that the bunts were always directly responsible for what happened after them. For example, I do not think Granderson’s lone “successful” bunt actually caused all 6 runs that subsequently scored in the inning. That said, I think it is fair to conclude that Girardi’s proclivity for bunting did not hurt the Yankees much in 2011. In terms of run expectancy, all of the bunts over the course of the season only cost the Yankees five runs, and that ignores the fact that many of them came in situations where playing for one run at the expense of a big inning is actually the right thing to do. Furthermore, the team outperformed the “runs expected after the bunts,” suggesting that Girardi may have utilized the strategy in optimal situations. Taking into account the fact that the actual runs scored was about the same as the number of runs expected, it seems clear that Joe Girardi’s bunting problem was not much of an detriment to the Yankees in 2011.

Update (12:28 p.m.): I am new to play index, but I just figured out how to get bunt singles and bunt outs listed properly(still no foul bunts, however). Here are the results for the 18 sac bunt attempts that ended without a sac bunt:

10 runners reached base
8 made force outs or popouts

On the outs:

RE before the bunts: 7.5994
RE after the bunts: 4.431
Actual: 7
Loss of RE: 3.1684
Actual impact: 0.5994

On the hits:

RE before the bunts: 9.9545
RE after the bunts: 16.1122
Actual: 17
Loss of RE: Gain of 6.1577
Actual impact: Gain of 7.0455

New total:

RE before the bunts: 43.1169
RE after the bunts: 41.0494
Actual: 48
Loss of RE: Loss of 2.0675 runs
Actual impact: Gain of 4.8831

A collection of texts with the Yankees

(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Brian Cashman has been the general manager of the Yankees for a long time now; he’ll be entering his 14th year once Spring Training rolls around. As you’ve probably noticed by now, he’s definitely got a sense of humor but also says a whole lot of words without adding much substance when he talks to the press. There will be words coming out of his mouth, but not many are meaningful. It’s typical YankeeSpeak, and Joe Girardi is starting to master is as well.

Well, Cashman is the opposite when he starts exchanging texts. He’s short and to the point, which is refreshing. Wally Matthews of ESPN New York exchanged some texts with Cash on Monday morning, and he was kind enough to post the conversation for all to see. You should head on over to check it out, it’s worth your time. In an effort to fit in, I’ve decided to share some text conversations I’ve had with various members of the Yankees’ brain trust recently…

* * *

Me: Have you called about Felix Hernandez recently?
Cashman: havent talked to jack z since cliff lee
Me: Are you holding a grudge because they backed out of the trade?
Cashman: lol no their roster just sux

* * *

Me: See anyone interesting in winter ball?
Billy Eppler: Paul Wilson is still pitching.
Me: Interested in signing him?
Eppler: No, but he’s still pitching. Crazy, right?
Me: Yeah I guess.
Eppler: You’d be surprised who you see out here.
Me: Anyone else interesting?
Eppler: Not sure, but I haven’t seen Bill Pulsipher yet.
Me: I take it he’s pitching there too?
Eppler: Yeah, crazy.
Me: Would you sign him if he looks good?
Eppler: No idea, but dude, it’s Bill [expletive deleted] Pulsipher.
Me: Looking forward to seeing Jason Isringhausen next?
Eppler: No Michael, that’s just stupid. End of conversation.

* * *

Me: Happy with the CC Sabathia extension?
Hal Steinbrenner: We’re extremely pleased.
Me: Would you have given him a sixth guaranteed year?
Hal: We have the best fans in the world, we would have done what it takes.
Me: What about seven years?
Hal: We have the best fans in the world, we would have done what it takes.
Me: Is there a point when you would have said enough is enough?
Hal: We have the best fans in the world, we would have done what it takes.
Me:
Hal: :-P

* * *

Me: Any surprise signings this winter?
Randy Levine: TALKING TO KROD WILL CHECK ON MADSIN
Me: Even with Rafael Soriano and David Robertson?
Levine: TOLD SORIANO TO OPTOUT
Me: But he didn’t.
Levine: SAID HE WOULD
Me: He didn’t though, and the deadline has already passed.
Levine: THATS BRIANS FAULT

* * *

Me: I hear the Braves are interested in trading for Eduardo Nunez.
Cashman: i kno lmao

Disclaimer: I can not guarantee that these text exchanges actually happened.

Open Thread: Ruben Rivera

Once upon a time, Baseball America once put Ruben Rivera on the cover of their magazine with the caption “The Next Mickey Mantle?” I haven’t ever been able to find a picture of it online, but trust me, it happened. Jim Callis and all those other folks readily admit it.

The Yankees signed Rivera as a 17-year-old free agent out of Panama on this date in 1990, and less than four years later he had become a fixture on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. He was number 76 in 1994, then number two behind only Alex Rodriguez in 1995. The next year he was number three behind Andruw Jones and Paul Wilson. The year after that he was number nine, and in his final appearance on the list, before the 1998 season, he was number 40.

Rivera had cups of coffee with the big league team in 1995 and 1996, hitting .281/.377/.438 in 107 plate appearances, but they traded him to the Padres in April of 1997 as part of the package for Hideki Irabu. I suspect a deal of that magnitude would break the internet today. Rivera spent parts of four seasons in San Diego but never did live up to the hype, hitting .204/.301/.397 in nearly 1,200 plate appearances before being released and giving it a go with the Reds, Rangers, and Giants. The most memorable play of his career is the one you see in the video above.

The Yankees did bring Rivera back in between his stints with Cincinnati and Texas, but he was released in Spring Training after stealing a glove and bat belonging to Derek Jeter, then selling them to a memorabilia dealer for over two grand. The players reportedly took a vote and asked the front office to release him after the incident. Rivera has spent the last six seasons annihilating the Mexican League for the Piratas de Campeche, hitting .344/.446/.638 with 155 homers in 589 games. Those are Mickey Mantle numbers all right, they’re just in the wrong league.

* * *

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Monday Night Football game is the Chiefs at the Patriots (8:30pm ET on ESPN), plus the Devils and Islanders are in action as well. Talk about whatever your heart desires, anything goes.

Report: Luxury tax threshold will remain unchanged for two years

Via Joel Sherman, the luxury tax threshold will remain at $178M for the next two seasons under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Teams will be taxed 40% on every dollar they spend over that amount. The threshold and tax will be raised to $189M and 50% in 2014, respectively.

The Yankees are the only team in baseball to consistently pay the luxury tax, but other clubs have had to pay on occasion. The Red Sox and Phillies will be awfully close to that threshold next year as well. The Yankees owed $18M last season and $25.7M the year before, bringing their total luxury tax payout to $192.2M since it was instituted in 2003. One of these days they’ll just rename this thing the Yankee Tax and be done with it.