Let the other teams sign their players to extensions. The 2014-15 free agent market's got a great deal for you!
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Is that a shopping list? Let me take a look. [Reads] Hey, you’ve got quite a few positions to fill. Seems like someone’s been “neglecting” their drafting and player development! Ha, ha. That’s what we like to see. Those Who Build from Within, Never Win.™
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Now that even big-market teams are signing young players to long-term deals, can extensions still give small-market teams an edge?
There’s a quote that gets attributed to Gandhi in a variety of iterations that follows this idea: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Baseball isn’t quite as combative as British colonialism, but baseball’s history of finding inefficiencies fits the structure. Small-market teams come up with new ideas, incubate them, and, if they work, eventually see their ideas incorporated by big-market teams. Virtually any strategy works better with money, so once that happens the edge is trimmed or eliminated. Small-market teams can win but, the thinking goes, not by playing the same game in the same way. I’m not telling you anything new.
This is pretty clearly where we’re going with extensions. A year ago, in a piece on MLB.com, Jordan Bastian ran down the list of teams that had signed players to extensions before the players reached two years of service time.
Is Adam Jones becoming the type of player the Orioles should build around?
At some point, in defiance of their past and themselves, they have to get good. That is the central premise. If that premise does not hold, then there's no point to even talking about whether or not the Baltimore Orioles should extend Adam Jones—it's all just deck chairs and sinking ships. So this week at Heartburn Hardball, we're going to try on optimism for a change.
Adam Jones will enter his third and final year of arbitration at the end of the 2012 season, assuming he is still an Oriole—at this point, there's no good reason to assume otherwise, as teams such as the Atlanta Braves were repeatedly told he was unavailable during the offseason, and there were indications that this dictum came from owner Peter Angelos, not Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. Things could change, yes, but as a general rule, when Angelos hitches the organization's star to a player, the Orioles are in for the long haul. Nick Markakis received a six-year deal to keep him in Baltimore, a deal that's made him somewhat immovable due to it paying him more than $15 million over each of the next two years and his production never quite matching his paycheck since 2008.
Long-term extensions for star players may be shortsighted moves by teams.
On Opening Day Eve (ignoring the two games held at the crack of dawn to accommodate the Tokyo Dome venue), the big story in baseball is a pair of big-money deals—Matt Cain and Joey Votto got paid, man. What’s interesting is that these were players years away from free agency, who certainly didn’t need to be signed now.
Can these deals go bad? Of course they can. An object lesson is Ryan Howard, whose contract extension has managed to look worse and worse over the past few seasons, even though it won't start covering real baseball games until tomorrow. Will they go bad? It’s hard to say, and the esteemable Ben Lindberghdoes a better job covering the possibilities than I could. That frees us up to consider the larger implications—what does all this money mean?
The Pirates have turned into a three-ring circus, along with other notes from around the major leagues.
Pirates management insists it has a plan in place that will transform the downtrodden franchise from laughingstock to winner. Chairman Bob Nutting says they do and so does team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington, and manager John Russell. However, the plan certainly isn't paying dividends at the present. The Pirates are 25-44 and 13 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. Only the Orioles, with their 19-50 record, are keeping the Pirates from having the worst record in the major leagues.
A brisk run through the possible outcomes of the arbitration case between the players' representatives and the players' employers.
The hearing for Grievance No. 2008-11 (August 15 deadline) begins on Wednesday, and to an outsider, it looks like an open and shut case. The grievance, as filed by the union against MLB, accuses the Commissioner's Office of providing extensions to the signing deadline, thus changing collectively bargained rules without informing the union. In statements about the case, Major League Baseball has already admitted to providing such extensions. So while it looks like an easy win for the union, the more complicated issue concerns the award. As detailed yesterday, the grievance is not filed on behalf of Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, or their advisor, Scott Boras, nor is it filed against the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's only the MLBPA versus MLB, which complicates any kind of relief, as any determination for relief will have a significant effect on individuals as opposed to their organizations as a whole. Here's a look at many of the potential scenarios being ventured, both in order of explosiveness, and also (unfortunately for those who love
drama) in inverse order of likelihood.