Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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Here’s something new. And something that, once we get a couple of weeks under our belt, will hopefully be fun.  Power rankings. Yes, lots of places do them. No they don’t mean a thing, especially in baseball. But I’m a college football fan who is kind of addicted to arguing over arbitrary rankings that are borne out of bias and ignorance and all manner of ill-will (and don’t you think I don’t know it, you Big Ten haters!), so I think it will be fun to do these once a week.

Beefing, moaning, defending, gloating and denying should be directed to the comments section:

1. Yankees: To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
2. Cardinals: El Hombre homered as I was writing this. He’s the man.
3. Rays: They have a chance to make me look real dumb this year.
4. Braves: They have a greater chance to make me look dumb.
5. Phillies: One of my bosses is a big Phillies guy. He’s probably not liking this.
6. Red Sox: Another of my bosses is a big Red Sox guy. I know he hates this.
7. Rockies: Seth Smith gets the nod over Fowler for the opener.
8. Angels: I wonder how short a leash they have with Brandon Wood.
9. Twins: First ten games against Angels, Chisox and Bosox. Not easy.
10. Dodgers: I feel like I have them too low, but I don’t know who to bump.
11. Tigers:  First nine against the Royals and Indians. Fast start, one would hope.
12. Rangers: Feliz is the setup man. Why is everyone so afraid to develop starters these days?
13. White Sox: I predict Ozzie Guillen’s tweets cease within a week of Opening Day
14. Marlins: They’ll feel low early, but they’ll die by attrition, not obvious incompetence.
15. Reds: I’m fine with them losing the traditional first game. The Red Stockings were a different franchise.
16. Giants: Lincecum and Cain and three days of rain? Only if it rains hitters.
17. Brewers: A team full of third and fourth starters.
18. Mariners: Seven of their first ten games are against the A’s. They should sign Cust for spite.
19. Cubs: Big hopes placed on Zambrano and Soto comebacks. What if they suck again? Uglyville, that’s what.
20. Orioles: Reporter Scott Templeton assigned to get quotes outside Camden Yards on Opening Day
21. Mets: Their cleanup hitter is a Royals non-tender. And people think I’m pessimistic?
22. Athletics: They should sign Edgar Martinez just for spite.
23. Diamondbacks: First six against Padres and Pirates. Who will be the first reporter to get suckered?
24. Nationals: Obama on Opening Day a mere dress rehearsal for Strasburg’s arrival.
25. Astros: They offer Jeff Keppinger a no-trade clause yet?  That’s their thing, right?
26. Blue Jays: No games against the Yankees until June. How does that happen?
27. Royals: First 12 against Tigers, Red Sox and Twins. 3-9?
28. Padres: Yesterday’s earthquake will be the most action at Petco Park sees all season.
29. Indians: The post-game show is brought to you by…
Christ, I can’t find it. To hell with it.

30. Pirates: Garrett Jones has hit two homers since I started writing this post. There’s hope.

I’m guessing these will change once the games actually start happening.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.