So much for Adam Jones’ breakthrough season

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Adam Jones hit 32 homers and scored 103 runs for the Orioles during his finest regular season to date. Which is pretty hard to believe giving how badly he bombed during the ALDS.

Jones went 2-for-23 against the Yankees and led the world in ugly at-bats. To go along with his six strikeouts, he had three one-pitch at-bats and seven two-pitch at-bats (one of which resulted in a hit). Both of his hits were singles. He never worked a walk. In fact, he hasn’t walked since Sept. 21.

On defense, Jones also had a big miscue in Wednesday’s 12-inning loss, giving the Yankees their first run of the game in the third when he misjudged Derek Jeter’s fly to center. Jones took two steps in before beginning to drift back on a ball that went over his head.

Of course, Jones hardly deserves all of the blame for Baltimore’s troubles scoring. The lineup was full of guys with lousy averages: Manny Machado came in at .125, J.J. Hardy .136, Matt Wieters .150, Mark Reynolds .158 and Chris Davis .200. The fact that the team was without Nick Markakis, whose hand was broken by a CC Sabathia pitch, and Brian Roberts finally ended up doing some damage. Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit probably could have helped, too.

But Jones was one of the lineup’s two All-Stars. The guy who signed the six-year, $85.5 million contract back in May. He didn’t even need to carry the load for the team; the pitching did that while holding the Yankees to nine runs over the final four games. He just needed to play like he did in the regular season, and he couldn’t.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.