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Last three AL pennant winners and the St. Louis Cardinals get competitive balance picks

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Competitive Balance draft picks are additional draft picks, occurring at the end of the first and second rounds of the Rule 4 draft each summer, given to clubs with the 10 lowest revenues and in the 10 smallest markets. They used to be determined by lottery, but now, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they are determined via formula in which revenue and winning percentage are mashed up and an order is determined ranking the allegedly poor sisters of Major League Baseball.

I say allegedly because, with scant few exceptions, we have no idea what teams make and how bad off they are financially. We can guess, with some degree of certainty, to be fair, which teams are worse off than others, but we really don’t know. I also say it because since the Competitive Balance picks thing was put into place, there are always a couple of head-scratching inclusions in baseball’s draft pick charity program.

Via MLB.com, here is this year’s Competitive Balance draft order. Group A will pick at the end of the first round and before the second round. Group B will pick after the second round and before the third. These picks are in addition to whatever picks they will get based on their finish in the 2016 standings. The number is where the pick appears in the draft overall:

Round A
31. Tampa Bay Rays
32. Cincinnati Reds
33. Oakland Athletics
34. Milwaukee Brewers
35. Minnesota Twins
36. Miami Marlins

Round B
67. Arizona Diamondbacks
68. San Diego Padres
69. Colorado Rockies
70. Cleveland Indians
71. Kansas City Royals
72. Pittsburgh Pirates
73. Baltimore Orioles
74. St. Louis Cardinals

As has been mentioned many, many times over the years, it’s weird to see the Cardinals here. Yes, St. Louis is small, but the Cardinals are, without question, a team with large, regional appeal which makes a lot of money and which, obviously, has had tremendous success over the years. Theo Epstein once famously groused about it, saying that St. Louis is “probably the last organization in baseball that needs that kind of (an) annual gift.” He has a point.

It’s also odd to see both the Indians and the Royals there, given that they have combined to win the last three American League pennants, with the Royals winning the 2015 World Series. Not that I will not grant that both of them are at a financial disadvantage to many other teams in baseball.

But that’s the thing, right? The financial disadvantage? If that’s the issue being addressed here, it makes little sense to deal with it via extra draft picks because the draft is the one place where clubs aren’t at a tremendous disadvantage compared to others. Draft pick bonuses are slotted now, capping the amount any one team can pay a player, eliminating the old practice of draft picks signaling to poorer teams not to pick them. Beyond that, the draft represents a very low percentage of a team’s overall outlay for talent and thus is one place where low revenue/small market teams are least disadvantaged compared to their bigger richer peers. If anything, these guys could use straight cash for free agents or operating expenses, not extra draft picks.

Oh well. It’s the system we have.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

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The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: