Thursday, December 15, 2011

Talking About The New Labor Deal Details

A bunch of details of the new labor detail were released earlier this week.  And as someone who's on the record as a hater of all things CBA-related, I have to say that I'm liking a lot of the stuff I read about these new changes.  It's nothing earth-shattering, but many of the changes are very simple, very reasonable, and stand to make the game better.  If simple, basic logic was used like this all the time when making decisions about the game, I could probably get into the business side of baseball.  For example:

- Instant Replay: Expansion to cover fair/foul calls, trapped catches, and fan interference (still needs to be approved by the umpires).

It's about damn time.  Baseball has been and is the furthest behind the times of the 4 major sports when it comes to replay, and it seems like the more replay has been talked about over the past couple seasons the more we've seen plays happen where the right call could have been made if umpires could check the replay.  Adding these situations as reviewable plays by replay is a big step forward in closing the gap and should help to ensure that it's the play on the field that determines the winner and not the umps.

- All-Star Break: Changed from 3 days to 4, with the option of moving the HR Derby back from Monday to Tuesday and the ASG from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Makes perfect sense to me.  I mean, 3 days is hardly a break.  That's just a long weekend in my book.  Now everybody gets a little more time to rest, a little more time to see their families, and a little extra time to travel to wherever the ASG is being held.  If this doesn't help bring a little more star power and relevancy back to the ASG, nothing will.  Now if only they could agree to shrink the rosters back down so we aren't stuck watching the Watered Down Pool of Very Good Players Game every year, that would be something.

- Game Schedules: Re-alignment to six 5-team divisions, with each team playing 17 or 18 games against each divisional opponent and no more than 20 interleague games per team.

Another very simple, logical decision.  Houston moves to the AL, all the divisions are finally balanced, and facing divisional opponents is still the most important part of a team's schedule.  I'm a firm believer that the shtick of interleague play has long worn off, so the fewer interleague games the better in my book.  Just keep it to the geographic and historical rivalries and let that be that.

- Scoring Decisions: A ban on players a/o coaches asking official scorers to change decisions.  Instead, a formal appeal must be sent to MLB with video evidence.

No more home cooking from the stadium scorers.  If you think you deserve a hit or an RBI, prove it and let the governing body make a decision.  Nothing wrong with that.   The less I have to see clips of David Ortiz barging into postgame press conferences to whine to his manager about a scoring play, the happier I'll be.

- Uniform Number Changes: Players must inform MLB 8 months in advance if they want to switch their uniform number while still on the same team, or be willing to buy up all the merchandise that has the current number.

This is the Chad Ochocinco Rule, right?  I have to admit that I haven't heard of any situation where a baseball player has caused a merchandise-related issue by switching numbers mid-season, but in case anybody was thinking about it, now there's a rule for it.  This should come in handy for the guys who get stuck with crummy numbers in the 60s and 70s when they first come up and want to switch to  "real" number.

- Playoff Matchups: Teams from the same division can now face each other in the Wild Card round.

Duh.  This is one that never made any sense to me.  Record should determine playoff seeding, simple as that.  But that goes out the window in baseball if the two teams that would match up based on record are from the same division?  Why?  What does it matter if they play in the Wild Card Round or League Championship?  Truth be told, I'd rather see the Yankees playing the Rays in the first round as opposed to the ALCS.  Get it out of the way early.  Now that can happen.

- Tattoos: No tats allowed showing corporate logos.

Again, I didn't realize that this was such a potential epidemic amongst the players.  But if Robbie Cano was thinking of treating himself to a big old CM Punk-style Pepsi tattoo on his forearm some time in 2014, he's going to have to think again.  And really, MLB and the teams already do enough to pimp themselves out to corporate sponsors.  The players were really the only thing left that wasn't being used to sell ad space.

- 40-Man Roster Perks: Everybody on the 40-man during Spring Training gets his own room.

Can you just see the Triple-A guys on the 40-man who are only there as emergency injury backups high fiving each other when they get to sunny Tampa?  My own room?!?!  NICE!!  It's a little thing, but as somebody who despised having roommates I can see why this would be important to a player.  You're a grown man working at your profession.  You don't need to feel like you're at freshman orientation weekend in college.

It's not quite enough to make up for shafting the Yankees out of their monetary advantages, but if these changes help improve the product on the field as I expect them to, then I'm happy with them.  Of course, this is just one man's opinion.  What say you, Yankee faithful?

Bidding Closed On Darvish

And all indications point to him wearing a uniform other than the Yankees pinstripes in 2012.  David Waldstein reported last night that the deal was "not huge" and was only submitted in the final few hours before the 5PM deadline, and Jon Heyman called the Yankees' bid "modest" while saying the winning bid was "sky-high."

My guess?  With the latest contract rumors for Darvish starting at 5 years/$75 million and the Yankees likely wanting to keep their total spent on Darvish below $100 mil, I think they probably bid somewhere between $20-25 million to keep themselves at the 100 mil ceiling.  With some estimates on the winning bid being in the $40-50 mil range, there isn't much chance the Yankee bid will be the winner.  Smart money would be on the Rangers.  After losing Wilson they have the biggest need for a high-end starter.

To scout a guy who fits your rotational needs for 3 years and then submit a low bid in the final hours of his posting period is not the typical Yankee way of going after a target.  This fiscally responsible, cost cutting initiative is starting to look more and more real each day.