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Thor’sLinks: MLB DFA’s Congress

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On the same day that dozens of MLB players are DFA’d to protect key players, MLB DFA’s Congress in order to protect their MiLB plans.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

THE HOT CORNER

Well ain’t that something? Yesterday I linked to the story that 100 members of Congress (roughly 20% of all legislators) sent MLB a letter of protest concerning the MLB plan to contract their affiliation with MiLB by 42 teams. Today I link to the story of how one of Rob Manfred’s minions fired back. (What, being the voice of MLB to the US Congress is beneath the commissioner himself?). Basically, MLB is thumbing their nose at Congress, and using a lot of baloney about how it is all for the benefit of the poor, abused MiLB player community. Their concerns include:

  • MiLB stadiums not possessing “adequate” medical facilities. Same with locker rooms, and playing fields.
  • Improving the accommodations and travel for players
  • It may not be a useful expenditure of public funds to upgrade any facility in a market ...located in a place that makes travel for minor league players burdensome or player development difficult.
  • Minor League players need...reduced travel...higher quality hotels and clubhouse food...sleeper buses for long road trips...more off days

I have reached a level of awareness where it is expected that businesses lie directly to the public at levels of grossness that fall well beyond rational thought. Mere cynicism is a quaint artifact of yesteryear. I am also aware that Congress is not the most insightful body of decision-makers in existence. But even at that, the MLB response seems preposterously delusional. Because, of course, none of these things are possible without firing 2,000 employees?

Here is something you have not yet figured out for yourself: 1,000 MiLB players is roughly 13% of the entire player workforce employed by Major League Baseball, including MLB players, and about 15% of all MiLB players. It’s not just a small pool of fringe guys. So MLB is claiming that firing 15% of their MiLB workforce is all for the good of MiLB employees? And that it’s economically good for the 42 communities and some large areas of the country with the loss of MLB affiliated ball games that will no longer waste public money? At the same time that these same owners are living off of public money at scales trigonometrically larger?

There are two geese within the MLB barn that can be counted on to lay golden eggs every morning. Those are the MLB anti-trust exemption and the MLB practice of territories. And this latter goose lays, among other gold eggs, a very giant gold egg of television blackout rules. That first goose, the anti-trust exemption, is held in the wallet of Congress itself. Congress is free to revoke that at any time. It almost has a couple of times, and a couple of decades ago actually did trim it back a little. Losing that commercial and financial edge would be devastating to owner wallets. That other goose, territories and that offspring of TV blackout rules, is not controlled directly by Congress, but those agencies which do oversee that behavior are funded by Congress, granting Congress more than just a little influence. And we aren’t even counting the recent work that Congress just did for MLB to lock these MiLB players away from any minimum wage protection, something that can just as easily be rescinded.

So isn’t it the height of balls to read that MLB thinks it can come out swinging at the people who hold actual legislative power, people who represent large swaths of territory effected by MLB behavior and threatened by MLB’s steamrolling business plans? This is, in one sense, MLB acting like private equity and choosing to carve up Congress’ constituency in order to improve their own margins. Congress might not care about this when Wall Street does it to Toys ‘R’ Us, but when it happens to them it’s a completely different matter.


ANGELS

Billy Eppler added Jahmai Jones and Hector Yan to the 40-man to protect them from Rule 5 day, coming December 12th. That’s the last day of the 2019 Winter Meetings, where things used to happen...........

Not that I should expect anything else where the issues to be decided include government officials, corporate wish lists, and other people’s money, but there really is no concept of “deadline” when it comes to this Angel Stadium lease and land negotiations thing.................

Trout Porn: the most beautiful thing about enjoying a great ballplayer and all around good guy like Mike, is that after every brilliant season you hear from him the same thing. Not good enough..............

($$) - The time for Arte Moreno and Billy Eppler is RIGHT NOW. And if you don’t have the sub, you can snatch a nugget of what they are talking about right here............

So could the Angels shock us all and sign BOTH a Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler?............

($$) - Did it ever occur to you that Mike Trout being signed to a long term extension might have an impact on the development of Jo Adell and/or Brandon Marsh? Yeah, me neither............

The Burlington Bees are now known to be on the MLB chopping block, with Rob Manfred and Arte Moreno gripping the axe. But that doesn’t stop the Bees from being optimistic! Christmas miracles and all..............

Just because you have a guy who was a fun and fantastic part of your franchise lore, who gave you nothing but loads of great moments and kicked a lot of ass in your favor, that doesn’t mean that guy is a Hall of Famer. The Hall is a completely different kettle of fish. So Chone Figgins I salute you. You made the ballot and that will be just fine. Enjoy your happily ever after.............(At least Chone is helping unclog the ballot!)..............


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

Because of the need to create a 40-man roster of highly-prized players by 8PM last night, there was a rash of guys being DFA’d. Just scroll here. You will recognize a lot of names, guys all suddenly Free Agents. But the biggest name comes out of New York. The Yankees released outright none other than Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury had a few good years, and two fantastic ones. His 8.3 bWAR 2011 was amazing. Almost Trout-esque. And his 5.7 bWAR walk year in 2013 was brilliant. It wasn’t that he was bad for the Yankees. He gave them 9.8 bWAR over 4 seasons. It’s just that 2 of those seasons were injury plagued, and that he has missed the last two full seasons due to injury again. And he has been getting $21 million per year for this, with 2 more years left to be paid. That’s the kind of outcome that creates all those glossy 8x5 color photos of Ellsbury that General Managers whip out whenever Scott Boras walks into a room...........

(That last sentence just fired off a brain spark. Why can’t the MLBPA and MLB negotiate some kind of built-in insurance parachute that can be leveraged to protect a team if they make some $200 million commitment to a player and that player blows up due to injury? And a team gets to invoke that package as a kind of franchise tag at the time of the player signing, with each team limited to the number of such tags they can claim at a time and only when they sign the FA, say only 1? Maybe it’s not actual cash, but luxury tax relief? For example, Arte could have made that tag claim when he signed Albert Pujols, Arte could have later cashed in his relief claim starting with 2018 when Pujols lasted only 117 games. It would require MLB and MLBPA approval so it couldn’t be used year 1. But this would give Arte about $28 million a year luxury tax threshold headroom per year for the balance of Pujols’ contract. Since it lessens the risk of long-term contracts for +30 players who we all know will decline, this lowers the risk of committing contracts to older players and ensures that, overall, payroll might be balanced across age groups and not end up overloaded on guys in their early 20’s.)..............

Jharel Cotton made his debut late in 2016, and his first appearance was against the Angels. He started, went 6.1 innings and gave up only 2 hits and 2 walks. Oakland won the game 4-1 and the promise of Cotton was off and running. Cotton made it through the 2017 season before injuries overwhelmed him. He made no appearances in 2018 and none again in 2019. The A’s finally surrendered in advance of the Rule 5 deadline, and DFA’d him.................

That Baby Shark song come to us from South Korea, burned a scorching hole in the brains of all adults without kid across the entire North American continent, and latched itself onto the bandwagon of the Nationals run to the World Series title. Japan in the first place? It’s now moved on, looping all the way back to Asia, landing in Japan...........


ASSTROS NUTZ

Ron Manfred sounds like he wants to take this sign stealing thing only as far as the Asstros.............($$) - People with voices and influence sound like stopping with the Asstros is the wrong thing to do. It’s MLB, though, and not doing the right thing is in their DNA. For example, we Halo fans would want to see the investigation continue on just a little bit further, far enough to rope in the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Rangers, the A’s, the Mariners, and the Dodgers. Yeah. Then it can stop............

Our Internet hero, Jomboy, and the Jomboy AMA..............

The MLB Owners Meetings are going on now, and that brings MLB owners together. And one MLB owner would be Jim Crane, owner of the Asstros. What better for a sports journalist than to know that THE Jim Crane is gonna be walking back and forth through a hotel lobby right now?? This made for some very fun optics.....Writers found Crane and descended upon him. And they found out that this particular Owners Meeting would be handled much differently.............Pretty silly, in truth. These guys really are working hard to make themselves look as bad as possible...............

Department of What Goes Around, Comes Around............


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

You have read this from me already, multiple times. It’s because I am right. Marvin Miller needs to be in the Hall of Fame. His impact on the game was overwhelming whatever Bud Selig did long before Selig became commissioner, and will continue on long after anybody remembers Uncle Bud’s tenure. If Selig is in, Marvin is inner circle in.................

If the MLBPA had a Marvin Miller today, we wouldn’t have MLB and MLB ownership already chest thumping a hard line against the players in the looming CBA renewal. Thinking that Tony Clark is in a position to surrender after taking all the beatings he has already taken is a mistake. It’s a rule of Sun Tzu. Always leave your opponent with a way to escape. Otherwise they will see they have no choice but to fight to the death and inflict much greater casualties upon your own forces...............(Gluing some of these news items together, How would MLB restock their teams in the even of a walk out if, at the same time, they have revamped their farm systems and stripped back the prospect inventory?)..............

I agree here, Roger Clemens not being elected to the Hall of Fame seems ridiculous if you look only at the stats. And Clemens not being in probably has far less to do with his association with PEDs (since we associate PEDs upgrades more with slugging than we do with pitching). With Clemens it’s gotta be all about his character...............

East Coasters whine that they got it hard when it comes to MLB game time starts and late finishes and how the hell are they supposed to know about some Mike Trout guy?? Well, let’s send those turds to Australia!................

With the Brewers bringing back their ball-in-glove “M B” logo, that prompts the thought about what other MLB unis to bring back? I think we would all agree. Bring back the halo cap. That was brilliant, and unique, and defines the team with laser focus. Instead, the author merely wants the “A” with the floating halo. Which IS cool and all, but not nearly far enough...........

Just to remind, the real reason that Team USA is struggling to qualify for Olympic baseball is because MLB is not merely failing to support it, but because MLB actively works against it. The Olympics are held in August, after all................


STUFF

Well, for the record, our official mascot cannot be alive by definition. We, then need to settle for a monkey..........Awesome! The Marlins averaged 10,000 attendees and the Rays averaged 14,500. So of course we need a third team in Florida..............Ken Griffey Jr. appears to have lost his stroke..........