60 Minutes reporting that A-Rod’s camp leaked Ryan Braun and other Biogenesis players’ names to Yahoo!

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Alex Rodriguez has, like, 47 people on the planet in his corner. It’s me, a few other like-minded PED apologists, his kids, some friends, his lawyer and a handful of ballplayers, I figure.  If this report from 60 Minutes is accurate, he’s doing a great job now of alienating even those left in his corner:

“60 Minutes” has learned that members of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s inner circle in February obtained and leaked documents that implicated Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun as well as his own Yankees teammate, catcher Francisco Cervelli, in the doping scandal that has enveloped Major League Baseball.

The leak came just days after the weekly newspaper Miami New Times published documents in January detailing Rodriguez’s pervasive use of performance enhancing drugs.

The documents in question are Tony Bosch’s handwritten notes which, unlike those which sourced the Miami New Times report, were unredacted. The report is that A-Rod got his hands on them and released them to Yahoo! The possible implication being that he wanted more people’s names out there. The more serious implication: that A-Rod, in doing so, violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s confidentiality clause and also interfered with Major League Baseball’s investigation.

I see a confidentiality clause violation as a real problem. It could serve as a basis for Major League Baseball arguing for greater discipline and defending its 211-game ban. I’m less impressed with an argument that it interfered with their investigation. If true, it actually undercuts the idea that A-Rod was trying to destroy evidence. He was preserving it, actually, even if it wasn’t for pure motives. And if reports at the time were to be believed, Major League Baseball didn’t, as of yet, have access to any of these documents or the names contained therein, so Braun and others’ names being thrown out there actually would have allowed them to expand their investigation, wouldn’t it? It would have served as a lead? That doesn’t excuse A-Rod, of course, but I do think that it’s less than 100% clear that even him leaking things, if true, necessarily impeded MLB’s investigation.

But, if true, this is a potential additional violation of the CBA and it’s certainly an optics problem, as it appears as though A-Rod is throwing players under the p.r. bus. That he was trying to throw the focus off of him for a while. Which was successful, if one remembers how the story so quickly shifted to Braun in the week or so after Biogenesis came to light last winter.

UPDATE: A-Rod denies that he leaked the information to Yahoo!

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.