The implications of yesterday's Marlins-MLB-MLBPA deal

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Marlins logo.jpgFor those who missed it due to all of the McGwire hoopla, the Marlins were taken to the woodshed yesterday over pocketing revenue sharing money instead of using it for its intended purpose.

The upshot: the Union had the Marlins dead to rights on violating Article XXIV(B)(5)(a)of the Basic Agreement, which commits teams to spending revenue sharing money “to improve its performance on the field.”  The Marlins quite obviously don’t do that, the union quite obviously threatened to file a grievance and MLB and the Marlins quite obviously realized they’d lose, so the Marlins agreed to raise payroll going forward.

Today Maury Brown has a great post up talking about the implications of the deal. Definitely give Maury a read, but in the meantime, here are what I think are the biggest takeaways:

  • Given that the Marlins now have a gun to their head to increase payroll, Dan Uggla and Josh Johnson were just handed the greatest possible leverage in their contract negotiations with the team. More so Johnson, who is currently haggling with the team over the length of a possible long term deal. The Marlins are now committed to raise payroll as they enter their new park in two years. The easiest way to get the heat off of them right now would be to give Johnson a deal that stretches into that time frame. The easiest way to take more immediate heat off would be to stop trying to trade Dan Uggla and give the man his $7 million or whatever he’s expected to get in arbitration.
  • This was a masterful, under-the-radar play by new union head Mike Weiner, accompanied by none of the sort of drama that has surrounded union-league dustups in the past.  While there have been dissatisfied rumbles regarding how certain teams spend their revenue sharing money, no one, not even the sports business junkies, was really reporting this beforehand and no one had leaked anything substantive about threats of grievances.  Such a thing would have been unthinkable when Don Fehr was in charge.
  • We’re really in a new era of union-league relations.  Baseball has had unprecedented labor peace since the 2002 negotiations, but I sort of figured that was more a function of there not really being anything to fight about as opposed to something changing in the overall dynamic. Now, granted, what the Marlins do with their revenue sharing money is not the biggest issue in the world, but it strikes me that this would have played out very differently even a few short years ago. The league would have dug in its heels more. Ideology would have taken over, at least for a while. That didn’t happen here.

As we sit here today, there’s no real reason to think that the 2011 CBA negotiations will be particularly contentious. But even so, it’s nice to see that an issue that could have gotten ugly was resolved with a minimum amount of fuss. 

Now let’s sit back and see how the NFL handles its labor business . . .

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 2, Twins 1: Aaron Judge hit a solo homer and Jamie Garcia struck out nine and allowed only an unearned run in five and two-thirds. Things stayed close and got shaky in the eighth for New York as Dellin Betances hit the first batter he faced, uncorked a wild pitch and walked two more to load the bases with only one out. Aroldis Chapman came in and put out the fire, however, with two quick outs and stayed in for the ninth to complete the five-out save. That’s great and all, but if the Yankees are gonna do anything in October, they had better fix Betances first.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 8: Baltimore took an early 5-0 lead and then Dustin Pedroia had to leave after he bounced a ball off the plate on a check swing that came back up and smacked his nose, giving him a nasal contusion. It would get better, however, as the Sox rallied for a run that frame and six in the fifth inning. A Xander Bogaerts homer in the seventh would tie things up at eight and then Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning to give Boston the lead and, eventually, the game.  Mookie Betts had four RBI and Bogaerts wold score three times. The Orioles have lost 10 of 12.

Phillies 4, Dodgers 3: Clayton Kershaw had faced 103 batters in his career with bases loaded without allowing a grand slam. He would not make it 104. Aaron Altherr would come to the plate with the bases juiced in the sixth and he launched a long one to left to give the Phillies all of their runs and, it turned out, the only runs they’d need. This after L.A. led off the game with two home runs from their first two batters, the first being an inside-the-park number from Chris Taylor. Justin Turner would follow him with a conventional homer and Curtis Granderson added one in the top of the ninth, but it couldn’t make up for Altherr’s salami. Chase Utley returned to Philly. He went 0-for-2, but got a standing ovation from the Phaithful at Citizens Bank Park when he first came to bat. That’s nice to see.

Brewers 3, Pirates 0Brent Suter shut out Pittsburgh for five innings and four relievers took it the rest of the way. Ryan Braun homered and former Pirate Neil Walker knocked in a run. Travis Shaw‘s RBI single rounded out the scoring as Milwaukee pulled to within three and a half games of the idle Cubs in the NL Central and two games behind the idle Rockies for the final NL Wild Card.

Athletics 8, Tigers 3:  Matt Olson homered for his fourth straight game and Jed Lowrie drove in three runs. Raul Alcantara was pressed into service as an emergency starter after Jharel Cotton tweaked his groin just before game time. Some scary business late as Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head by a 102.6 mph line drive off the bat of Ryon Healy. Amazingly, Ferrell seems to be OK. He never went down, walked off the field under his own power and was alert and responsive the entire time.

Marlins 13, Mets 1: Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th homer and drove in four as the Marlins routed Matt Harvey and the Mets. Every Marlin starter had at least one hit. Marcell Ozuna had four hits, including a homer. Dee Gordon also had four, including a two-run triple. Ichiro had two hits and an RBI. Brian Anderson drove in two runs with a triple. The line on Harvey: seven runs on twelve hits in four innings. He’s been basically terrible since he came off the disabled list. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do with their former ace in the offseason.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 2: The Padres scored three in the first on a Hunter Renfroe three-run homer and added one in the second on an Austin Hedges solo shot. That’s all they’d need as Luis Perdomo gave them a workmanlike five and a third, allowing a pair of RBI singles and nothing else, and four relievers shut out the Snakes the rest of the way.

Aaron Altherr hit the first ever grand slam off of Clayton Kershaw

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Entering Monday’s start against the Phillies, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had made 287 starts and pitched 1,917 innings over parts of 10 seasons. He’s done a lot of things, like winning a Cy Young Award, an MVP Award, winning 20 games, posting a sub-2.00 ERA. One thing he had never done is allow a grand slam.

Kershaw had loaded the bases 103 times coming into Monday’s action. Batters hit .193/.233/.250 off of him with 17 hits, of which only five went for extra bases (all doubles). In 2017, opposing hitters were 0-for-6 with five strikeouts with the bags packed.

Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr changed that in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning, trailing 2-0, the Phillies loaded the bases on a Ty Kelly walk, a Freddy Galvis single, and a Rhys Hoskins walk, bringing up Altherr. After running the count even at 1-1, Altherr blasted a grand slam into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park for the first grand slam ever hit off of Kershaw. According to Statcast, the ball left his bat at 107.6 MPH and went 418 feet.

Following the grand slam, Altherr improved his slash line to .276/.348/.521 along with 17 home runs, 55 RBI, and 51 runs scored in 362 plate appearances.

Kershaw was lifted after six innings. He gave up the four runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He still owns a sterling 17-3 record with a 2.26 ERA and a 194/30 K/BB ratio in 163 innings on the season.