Chris Sale is getting the anti-Strasburg treatment. And it tells us … nothing.

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Jeff Passan talks with Chris Sale and the White Sox. While Stephen Strasburg was shut down at 159 and a third, the White Sox’ young arm is still going at 188.  No, Sale never had Tommy John surgery, but he had also never thrown more than 71 innings before this season.

It’s an interesting article, but not because it tells us which approach is right and which approach is wrong with a young starter. Indeed, try this little experiment: Read Passan’s article and check out the quotes from Don Cooper and everyone with the White Sox.  Then imagine a future where Sale is facing Tommy John surgery or worse and think how horribly they’ll play. Heck, they’ll be used at a capital trial of those pitching war criminals.  Do the same for Strasburg in relation to all of the cautious quotes from the Nats and their fans if Strasburg nonetheless gets hurt. Now reverse it, with both guys being healthy. You can take any and every possible lesson from it depending on the outcome.

The most interesting thing about it all is just how certain the White Sox are that they’re doing the right thing with Sale.  And how, earlier, the Nationals were just as certain that they were doing the right thing with Strasburg.  Sort of tells you that, no, no one has any freakin’ idea what the right thing is, the only validation, such as it is, that anyone will get is if either of those two get injured in the future, and even then we won’t know whether their treatment caused it, prevented it, was meaningless or not.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.