ian stewart rockies

Ian Stewart wants to stay with Rockies, would take a pay cut

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Ian Stewart has had a miserable year, hitting .156 in 48 games for Colorado while going back and forth from the majors to Triple-A at age 26, yet told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he definitely wants to stay with the Rockies next season:

The Rockies are where I want to be. Honestly, I don’t need a chance of scenery. It had nothing to do with this place. There’s definitely no part of me that thinks I need a change of scenery to get going. I feel like obviously I won’t be making as much as I did last year. As far as taking a pay cut, that’s just the rules of the matter. It’s not something I could really argue against. I hit .150 in the big leagues.

That’s a refreshing attitude from Stewart, but because of how arbitration works taking a pay cut after hitting .156 isn’t quite that simple. He made $2.3 million this season and the least he could make via the arbitration process in 2012 is $1.85 million, which is the maximum 20-percent cut. And even that usually only applies to players who missed the season with an injury, whereas Stewart simply performed horribly.

In other words, if the Rockies decide to tender Stewart a contract he’ll be in line for at least $2 million and likely $2.3 million or more. Given how far out of favor he fell this season Colorado non-tendering him certainly wouldn’t be surprising. Trading him is also possible, although how many other teams would want to pay him $2 million in 2012?

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out with Stewart, because while he wants to stay with the Rockies it’s unclear if the Rockies want him to stick around. And even if they do, the arbitration process complicates matters considerably.

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.