Quick hits: Free-agent compensation madness

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– Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports takes a detailed look at the inequities of the free-agent compensation system
while advocating some changes, if not a complete overhaul. For example,
Passan finds that in the current system, Giants reliever Sergio Romo is
worth more than Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The example is
extreme, yet valid. The current system is a complicated mess. Major
League Baseball and Elias would do everyone a favor by overhauling
these “groupings” with a little more common sense.




– In his first game back after the birth of his second child, Derrek Lee blasted two home runs while Carlos Marmol recorded a four-out save in a 5-3 win over the Mets on Saturday afternoon.



– Lance Berkman isn’t sure if he will play beyond the length of his current contract.
The 33-year-old slugger is set to earn $14.5 million in 2010 with a $15
million club option for 2011 or a $2 million buyout. “The Big Puma” is
clearly having an off-year, batting just .272/.400/.496 with 18 home
runs and 65 RBI this season. Shockingly, he hasn’t hit a home run since
July 9.




– Andy Pettitte improved to 5-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break with a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.
By the way, Derek Jeter went 2-for-4 in the win, moving to within six
hits of tying Lou Gehrig for the Yankees’ all-time hits record.




– Curt Schilling is saying things again, and it is making me glad that I don’t live in Massachusetts anymore.



– And lastly, my favorite link of the week: The 40 Most Undeserving MLB Starting Lineup Figures Ever. Former Mets great Ryan Thompson makes an appearance.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.