What we're watching: Halladay set to take on Bombers

Leave a comment

– Still a Blue Jay, Roy Halladay will make the first of what will be back-to-back starts against the Yankees tonight in Toronto. Halladay last year became the first pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1974 to beat the Bombers five times in a season. This year, he’s faced them twice and gone 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. Starting for the Yankees will be Andy Pettitte, who is 8-6 with a 4.51 ERA for the season after going 0-3 in his last five starts. He is 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA away from Yankee Stadium, with one of those victories coming over the Blue Jays.
– In a rematch of last year’s ALCS Game 7, Jon Lester and Matt Garza will face off with the Red Sox in Tampa Bay. Lester lost both of his starts against the Rays in the postseason last year. He was also handed his worst defeat of 2009 when he gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay on May 9. However, he has a 2.82 ERA since that date. Garza has faced the Red Sox three times this season, going 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek have all hit .200 or worse against him in their careers.
– It will be up to Johan Santana to stop the bleeding after the Mets lost three out of four at home to the Diamondbacks. He’ll get the Cardinals and Joel Pineiro tonight. Pineiro, one of the league’s hottest starters, went 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts last month. That doesn’t even count the two-hit shutout he pitching the Mets on June 23. Santana has turned in seven scoreless innings in three of his last four starts. He’s 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his two career starts against the Cardinals.
Game of the Night
Baltimore vs. Detroit – Sure, there are better teams facing off, but this one will feature one of baseball’s best prospects making his major league debut and one of the AL’s ERA leaders in his first start since being traded. The Orioles’ Brian Matusz is being promoted from Double-A after going 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA in his first season in the minors. Since moving up to Bowie, he was 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA and a 46/11 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings. Jarrod Washburn allowed a total of three runs in his last five starts for the Mariners, a stretch that started when he threw a one-hit shutout against the Orioles on July 6.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

Getty Images
14 Comments

Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.