Michael Weiner: draft slotting is a salary cap and the players are against it

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The Executive Board of the Major League Baseball Players Association
just had a conference call with the media to formally announce Michael
Weiner as the new Executive Director and to field questions from the
media. I guess I’m the media now, so I called in. I even asked a
question and may have actually committed an act of journalism in doing
so.  I feel so dirty. But I’ll get to that in a minute.  The rundown:

  • Players Tony Clark, Curtis Granderson and Jeremy Guthrie were on the
    call and talked first. Only Guthrie identified which team he plays for,
    which I thought was kind of cute. Newsday’s Ken Davidoff is the only
    one who asked a player a question, to Granderson, about the trade
    rumors. Granderson’s response: “I’m still wearin’ the English D!”  If
    I’m Granderson I give no comment and write about it all on my own blog
    over at Yahoo!

  • Weiner had a lot of nice things to say about Marvin Miller and Donald
    Fehr. He used the word “humbled” about 15 times.  Based on everything I
    hear from people who know him, that’s genuine. Weiner is just a nice
    guy who everyone seems to like. The anti-Fehr in that regard.

The bit of news came when I asked him whether the union has discussed
the statements Bud Selig has made in recent months about
internationalizing the draft and about a hard slot on draft picks in
order to scale back signing bonuses.  Until now, many individual
players have said they would be fine with it, exhibiting no small
amount of annoyance that these 18 year olds are making a lot of money.

Weiner indicated that there has been an about-face,* suggested that the union has decided to fight it hard, however, correcting
my use of the term “slotting” in my question to “salary cap” and than
unleashing all of the time-worn union rhetoric about salary caps being
antithetical to individual players being able to negotiate their own
deals on the open market.  In other words, it sounds like the union
will either (a) go to the mat to fight hard slotting; or (b) come off
of their longstanding opposition to caps of any kind.

So that was interesting. Like I said, I’m a newbie at this reporting
stuff, but those of you out there who aren’t may do well to get a
microphone in front of some of those players who complained about
amateur signing bonuses in recent years and let them know that they
need to change their tune.

Beyond that, a lot of talk about some other stuff: HGH testing: the players will be on board when there’s a reliable urine test. Collusion: the union is still thinks something fishy happened in 2007-08, but nothing new to report.  John Henry’s interesting revenue sharing plan from yesterday: the players discussed it today, but no real comments. The current free agent market: Weiner is “a little bit concerned” about the slow place of signings so far, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the state of the market.  So beyond the bit about the slotting stuff, nothing terribly new or earth shattering.

That’s enough journalism for me today. Starting now, I go back to blogging. At least you can blast your stereo while you’re doing that.

*in hindsight I think I overstated it a bit. The union as a body has been basically non-committal in its official statements on the matter, so the term “about face” is probably not accurate. The fact that the union is now clearly saying that they are against it, however, is a new development, and one which runs counter to the statements of many individual players who have said that they’d be fine with a slotting system. 

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.