The looming battle over draft pick slotting

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Buster Olney relays the gist of conversations held during the recent General Managers meeting about fixing the draft.  Money quote:

And there is a strong belief on the side of management that a slotting
system can be completed, because the union will embrace the idea — so
long as the Players Association is guaranteed, in some fashion, that
more money will be spent on major league players. How this happens
remains to be seen, but there are agents convinced that the interests
of the draft-eligible traded will be swapped out for the interests of
the union veterans.

I was always inclined to believe that too, simply because there were so many veterans on record taking issue with the size of draft bonuses and that it makes sense that they would be willing to negotiate away the rights of amateurs if they got something for themselves.  But that changed when Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap” in his introductory press conference last month.  The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. Always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win. Again.

I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term — Olney doesn’t make any mention of it — and for that reason, I think they are underselling just how hard the union is preparing to fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).