How Lincecum did — and did not — match the record for first year arbitration awards

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lincecum_090913.jpgSo did Tim Lincecum’s new deal match the all-time record for first year arbitration players or not?  Well, it depends on who you ask.

I hadn’t realized this before, but I’m told that, for their own particular bookkeeping reasons, the MLBPA
values signing bonuses as applying to the first year of the deal in
their entirety while Major League Baseball prorates them over
the life of the deal. As such, Major League Baseball can — under their own accounting rules — declare victory in the Lincecum deal because, according to them, Tim Lincecum’s contract for 2010 will not match Ryan Howard’s record of $10 million, falling just short with an $8 million salary and a $1 million bonus. The union, however, can claim that Howard’s deal was matched with an $8 million salary and a $2 million bonus.

Ultimately this is all semantics, of course.  Sure, MLB’s construction sort of ignores the time value of money, but we’re only talking about, what, $75K here? Lincecum will probably spend more than that on Bob Marley albums, incense and Taco Bell runs in 2010.

Still, the fact that the numbers came out where they did, thereby allowing this little $10 million game, strongly suggests that the precedential cum political concerns surrounding Lincecum’s arbitration mattered a whole hell of a lot to the people involved.  Which I think is kind of stupid, really, because this should all be about what Tim Lincecum is worth, not the league and the union declaring victory.  But then again, no one asked me.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.