Kevin Frandsen is not a fan of “all the sabermetric-whatever-crap”

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Nationals utility man Kevin Frandsen has some strong opinions about Sabermetrics. Transcribing what was said at the end of his interview with 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has the goods:

This came when Grant Paulsen asked how the Nats managed to drop three in Philadelphia and then go to Seattle and absolutely hammer Felix Hernandez. Is that just baseball, Paulsen asked?

“I am SO glad you said that, because it is true,” Frandsen said. “It’s baseball. It’s what the best part about it is. All the sabermetric-whatever-crap that you guys, [that] people talk about, you can throw that out the window, because it’s baseball. You get someone hot, you get someone not, whatever, it happens.

“Our team’s awesome,” Frandsen went on. “We grind it out. It says a lot about what we did, going to Philly, losing all three, going to Seattle, having a chance to lose four in a row, facing Felix and to do what we did against one of the best pitchers — if not THE best pitcher in the game. And it’s a testament to our team, just what we have going together, and how we play together. And we play for one goal, and that’s to win that day. Not win tomorrow; win today. And I feel like we’re doing that exceptionally well. So we’ve got to keep it going, and hopefully Nats fans are enjoying it.”

Frandsen’s anger about Sabermetrics may be a bit misplaced, though. Any Saberist worth his or her salt would say that their current slide is no more or less revealing of their talent than their 12-1 run between August 12-24. Predicting the sport on a game-to-game basis is a fool’s errand. Also, prior to their 10-game winning streak, the Nationals were 63-53 with a +79 run differential. There was a legitimate argument to be made that the Nationals were under-performing and still needed time to regress towards the mean (regress, in this instance, is a good thing).

For what it’s worth, the projections expect the Nationals to finish the season tied with the Orioles for the second-best record in baseball at 93-69, three games behind the Angels.

As for Frandsen, he has a .259/.303/.319 slash line with one home run and 14 RBI in 200 plate appearances this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the third and final time after the season.

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.