Major League Baseball has managed to complete a new collective bargaining agreement without a strike, a lockout, or having to have Todd Ricketts turn a hose on anyone. It’s not quite turning water into wine or raising the dead or anything, but it’s pretty damn amazing.
In fact, now that they have the CBA all figured out, maybe we should let them take a crack at solving the latest Federal budgetary crisis. What the hell. It’s not like they could do worse. But I digress.
I’ve been a bit distracted lately with non-bloggy things so I regret to announce that I have not read every word, but from skimming through the comments in the last thread and Twitter, there seems to be a fair amount of concern about how the new rules are going to throw the Cubs carefully laid plans of recovery down the pooper.
The draft now involves a pool of money to spend on their picks, with some substantial penalties for going over that designated amount. Remember when we were so happy that the Ricketts were spending like they have hardly ever spent before in the last draft? That strategy isn’t going to fly anymore.
There is also now a pool designated for the signing of international players. While we may be happy that there won’t be any more Kosuke Fukudomes that didn’t live up to the hype, or plain old busts for other teams like Hideki Irabu, there also won’t be the giant risks that paid off, like Ichiro or Hideki Matsui.
In Jayson Stark’s rundown on the CBA, he puts the international pools into perspective pretty well:
Those bonus pools will be set at only $2.9 million per team in the first year of the agreement — a figure that wouldn’t even pay for one year of Aroldis Chapman. The pools will then range from $4.5 million down to $1.7 million per team in the second year.
So if there was any hesitancy to post and become free agents this year, Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes and any of the others better get that paperwork together tootsweet or they will be costing themselves millions of dollars.
It also means the Cubs can’t just rely on outspending other teams for the elite talent that comes available on the world market in the future.
Obviously, this isn’t the best news for the Cubs apparent current plan they had set in motion this year (and perhaps this could be why they got so aggressive in the last year in which they could), but I’m not terribly worried.
The rules may have changed a bit, but the goal is still the same: accrue as much talent within the organization as humanly possible. The means to doing that is now slightly different.
It’s like when Las Vegas occasionally changes the conditions when playing blackjack. Once they figured out that players could gain an unfair advantage by counting into a single deck, they changed the payouts in some cases, and in other cases added multiple deck shoes of cards that were more difficult to count.
When people figured out how to count into a multi-shoe deck, they added the continual shuffle machines so a deck never got “hot” or “cold.” They eliminated the surrender option. They made it so you could only split aces once. They eliminated paying off on “5 Card Charlie.”
But in the end, a good analytical mind who understood the math behind the rule changes could still come out further ahead than someone sloshing down margaritas and playing by hunches and old wives tales.
Theo and the Superfriends will analyze how the new rules change the values of talent available and will look for windows of opportunity to exploit them as a major market. Let’s face it, every system is going to have holes and flaws that may not have been foreseen (or if they were, they were not considered important). They may even already know where some of the holes are. It’s not like they are going to hold a press conference to share what they know with all the other teams.
Really, is there any other group you would want in charge of the Cubs as all of these new rules get implemented?
My unironic confidence in the Cubs is really starting to freak me out.