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Another busy November Monday (was there this much news in prior Novembers and I slacked, or is this genuinely the newsy-rumoriest November in years? I’m thinking the latter). Plenty of Lukewarm Stove bits and another excellent front office hire will be discussed later, among other things. Until then, bullets…

  • Ken Rosenthal reports that the long-running collective bargaining agreement fight over changes to how teams spend on the draft is at a close or very near it. According to Rosenthal, “the new deal is expected to include significant restraints on the amount of money teams spend on draft picks and significant changes in draft-pick compensation for free agents.” As a team newly-wont to spend greatly on the draft – and with a front office who creatively takes advantage of draft-pick compensation – these changes could be harmful to the Cubs. Until we see what the changes actually are, however, it’s hard to say how harmful.
  • Another one of those these-are-the-Cubs-managerial-candidates writeups. This, from Carrie Muskat, gives a few paragraphs on each candidate – Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum, Mike Maddux, and Sandy Alomar, Jr.
  • Patrick Mooney discusses the Cubs’ new statistically-inclined bent, despite pleas from Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer that it’s not all about the quantitative side of the game. Mooney looks at each of the Cubs’ four managerial candidates’ responses to questions about their approach to using statistics.
  • I noted last week that Dale Sveum was getting a second interview with the Boston Red Sox, and it looks like that will happen as soon as Tuesday. He’ll meet with Red Sox owner John Henry, so it’s fair to say he’s a finalist for that job.
  • A couple of write-ups on the charity event this weekend attended by Theo Epstein and a few other baseball executives (raising funds for Hurricane Irene victims in Vermont). One focuses on Epstein’s relationship with Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, who says he’s learned to be “very, very wary” of dealing with Epstein (which he meant as a compliment), and another is a more thin take on the event.
  • Two sources told the AP that the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane is on the agenda at this week’s owners meetings, to be voted on Thursday. The deal is believed to include an agreement by Crane to move the Astros to the American League, beginning with the 2013 season.
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  • Stinky Pete

    So I have never seen it written, printed or what have you that with the Astros going AL, that means 15 teams in each league which means constant interleague, albeit 1 or 3 series at a time.  Is this correct?  Just making sure this is an unspoken truth of the move.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      15 teams in each league and daily interleague play would be the result of the Astros moving. The new schedule is expected to be heavily weighted towards in-division play as well.

      • Stinky Pete

        18 against each division team and 6 against each team in other divisions in league and 6 against each team in one division of opposite league.  Unless we get hung up on “rivalry” nonsense.

        • fearbobafett

          Pretty sure i read that the players union was against the “rivalry” stuff and wanted a schedule that was consistant for the division as a whole – every team plays the same teams in the other league.

          I would be more for this as it would rotate around the divisions each season with home-homes, so you can see those other teams in your part every 3 seasons.

      • Internet Random

        This seems like a good time to remind everyone—in case anybody has forgotten—how much I hate the designated-hitter rule.

        • Stinky Pete

          +1.  Hell, My wife and I discussed it.  I’m going to count her, too.  +2

        • CubFan Paul

          N.L. teams dont “build” their teams with DHs, so when N.L. teams have to play in A.L. parks their lineups are at a disadvantage – its not a fair game

          i hate the DH but with more interleague play, the N.L. should just adopt it because stronger A.L. teams will give N.L. teams losses that’ll hurt them in the loss column

          • hansman1982

            I used to think that was true but not anymore.

            Now NL and AL teams will have to pay someone big bucks to play half the games as every team will play 81 games in a DH park and 81 games in a non-DH park.  MLB may be seeing this as a way for them to have their cake and eat it as well.

            At the end of the day I think the players union will put up a fuss as the DH’s start getting paid less and the NL will have the DH sometime around 2020.

            • CubFan Paul

              wha?! there’s gonna be 81 interleague games?? that cant be right, either way, adding more interleague games are stupid, in my opinion ..theres 2 different leagues with different lineups for a reason ..ugh

              • Stinky Pete

                Only 30 interleague games by my reasoning.

                • hansman1982

                  yup, my bad – not sure wha tI was smoking

                  Since my math has be corrected the DH is coming to the NL MUCH sooner…2015.

                  • dreese

                    I really hope you are wrong, I hever want to see a DH in the NL. Why cant the AL just drop the DH?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            NL teams are competing only against other NL teams for playoff spots. The NL is at a disadvantage versus the AL, but all NL teams are disadvantaged equally – so, viewed in that light, it doesn’t really matter.

            • CubFan Paul

              hmmm Mr.GlassIsHalfFull

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    Theo cares about the floods in my state!!!!!!

    <swoon>

  • Vinestal

    Via Twitter from Buster Olney:
    “Some of the broad strokes discussed in labor agreement: Ceilings for draft bonuses based on recommendations of first 10 rounds. No team required to adhere to individual slot recommendations. If team surpasses 10-round ceiling, would be taxed 1st time. On 2nd offense of surpassing draft ceiling, team would lose a top pick. Also: 1st-rd. compensation to disappear; negotiations in progress. One source says there are a handful of issues still pending, but that the talks are at “the 10-yard-line.” Nothing finalized, but it appears MLB will get a system that tamps down draft cost; veteran FAs won’t have to deal with compensation issue.”
    All of which seemed pretty confusing to me. So teams are not required to adhere to individual slot requirements but they will be taxed or lose picks for breaking the ceiling on picks? Isn’t that essentially implementing a cap on bonuses thus creating slotting? This is bad news for teams looking to pick up hard to sign players in later rounds. It just means a lot more players will go to college.

    • hansman1982

      The way I read it is that the cap only applies to the first 10 rounds and teams like the Cubs will simply wait to draft the guys who need a bigger signing bonus until rounds 11 and later.  This is really going to hurt teams like the Rays whom amass insane amounts of picks in the first 10 rounds.

      Basically this is going to shift the Dunston’s and Gretsky’s of the world into the 11th round and later.

      • ari gold

        I was going to post the same comment. Instead of Vogelbach going in the 2nd round, it’s very possible he would now slip to the 11th round or later. Will need to stick more closely to slot recommendations in rounds 1-10.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It won’t shift them if other teams try to get those kids for cheap in rounds 1 through 10, claiming, “hey, it’s the rule – we can only pay slot, or we risk a tax.” Then, the kid doesn’t sign, and for two-sport kids, they might go play another sport. I’m pretty riled up.

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          Don’t be. The way I understand it, nothing changes. The agents (“advisers” in some cases) for the potential top dollar guys will still control their fate. If Boras says “My top pitching prospect Wyld Thangz will not sign for a bonus less than $8 million,” and the slot caps the bonus at, say, $4 million in the first ten rounds, then Wyld Thang will go in round 11 and sign for something closer to $8 million than $4 million.

          That’s really not much different than the way things work today. The agent sets the price, and teams who are willing to meet that price. I think this is a face-lift, and not much else.

    • Spencer

      Sounds like there will be slot recommendations for the first ten rounds.  If teams exceed that recommendation, its a “bonus” for the player.  There’s X amount of money allotted for bonuses in the first ten rounds, and if teams exceed that allotted amount for the first ten rounds only, then they get taxed, or lose a pick.  I don’t think that will necessarily affect the Cubs (or any team) in a negative way.  Execs will just have to take a closer look at which picks in the first 10 rounds they want to pursue hard, and at which guys they want to just offer the slot recommendation.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Of course it would negatively impact teams who are more willing to spend overslot in the draft – now, if they want to do so in the first 10 rounds, they have additional possible hurdles to doing so.

        • Spencer

          Quick, MG, look away because we are going to be discussing a controversial issue.

          As it stands, all this does is give teams a spending cap above the recommendations for the first ten rounds of the draft. In my opinion, the two main reasons why teams offer over slot money to players is to convince them to forego school and sign with the team, OR to convince players to not “try their luck” next year and hope they get drafted by another team willing to offer more money.

          Now, does this new rule mean teams can’t throw as much money at certain players? Yes, it does. However, would players now be more tempted to go back to school, or try again the following year, because they aren’t going to get offers that are way over slot? I’m not convinced they would, for the simple fact that what they get offered by one team is probably going to be close what ANY team offers them, since all the teams will be bound by this rule.

          In other words, players will know not to expect huge over slot bonuses from ANY TEAM once this rule goes into effect. So if the Cubs offer their first pick $1.5M and that’s the slot recommendation, the prospect would have to think long and hard about whether he wants to pass up $1.5M for a CHANCE that a team will use some of their allotted bonus the following year and offer him more money above his slot. It’s a very risky move.

          Like I said, execs will just have to be more picky with the first ten selections about whether or not that particular guy seems like a tough sign, and whether or not they want to use some of their allotted bonus money to sign him. And, with the smart owner the Cubs have, along with the new front office that has recently been put into place, I have no doubt that they are well equipped to more than adequately handle any “hurdles” that this new rule may bring.

          I would be happy to continue this conversation via email if you’d like, as I am a bit weary of posting comments anymore for fear of violating the unwritten protocol that has recently been put into place.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Don’t be afraid of posting well thought out comments like this. I’d hope you’d know that the suggestion that back-and-forth debates that continue LONG past their usefulness (read: Ryne Sandberg discussions) is neither a hard-and-fast rule, nor is it directed at comments like yours.

            I still don’t see how you’re refuting the idea that, if spending is limited across teams in the first 10 rounds – and it’s not like there won’t be 300 kids taken in those 10 rounds – teams that can afford to/choose to spend more in the first 10 rounds today will be hurt when, next year, they can’t do so. I understand your suggestion that, if money is flat for 2012 and beyond, kids might believe they’re not going to get more money next year, so they’re no more or less likely to sign under the new rule. But that’s theoretical. The present system is not theoretical: in the present system, you can throw as much cash at a kid as it takes. Under the new rule, that will, in practical effect, no longer be true. There is a difference.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Agreed, Spencer these “discussions” are what makes BN great, it’s the circular arguing that has grown tiresome. You comments are intelligent and continue a rich discussion vs. baiting an arguement.

            • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

              I get the idea you are assuming that the first 300ish picks will go to roughly the best 300ish players in the draft, and that’s where I disagree. That didn’t happen under the old system, and I see no reason to think it would happen under the new one.

              The first 300ish picks will go to the best 300 player who are willing to sign for or near slot. Teams willing to spend wills max out their 10-round bonus budget, and after that I think they will hold off on the top dollar guys until round 11 when bonus amounts are effectively untaxed. I think that means we would see the first 10 rounds heavily populated by college seniors and one-sport high school types.

              This system would give college seniors almost no leverage… just like the current system. It would give college juniors a ton of leverage, but not quite as much as they have today. A college junior could insist on a high-dollar, 11th round bonus, and if he is taken in the 1st round could simply refuse to sign knowing that he will get virtually that same 1st round offer next season (barring injury, etc.). Or he might sign. What won’t happen is he being dollared into signing unless he is taken in the 11th round or later.

              High school players will be in about the same boat they are now. Two sport guys will have a ton of leverage, but I bet there is a special set of two-sport rules under the new system just like there was under the old one. Until we see those rules, I’m not going to assume too much one way or the other.

              Keep mind that, if the tax only affects the first 10 rounds, had such a tax been in place in the 2011 draft it would hardly have affected the Cubs at all. Their largest above slot bonuses went to Vogelbach (2), Gretzky (7), Dunston (11), and Maples (14). Only Vogelbach and Gretzky would have really be affected, and depending on what the pre-tax bonus budget amount turns out to be, even those deals might have come under the limit. Dunston and Maples would have sailed through unaffected, as would have Jacques had he signed.

              The devil is in the details, and we won’t have those for awhile yet, but from what I can tell this looks like little more than window dressing. The changes are big enough to let the commissioner claim a win, but not so large to fundamentally change anything. If I understand it right, the biggest impact will be to make the 11th round one of the most interesting rounds in the draft.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I get the idea you are assuming that the first 300ish picks will go to roughly the best 300ish players in the draft, and that’s where I disagree.

                Your assumption about my assumption is incorrect. :)

                I’m saying only that 300 kids will be off the board by the 11th round. Some of them will be among the top 300 players, some won’t. But, be assured, many of the top 300 will be off the board. The idea that Dan Vogelbach, for example, will automatically slip to round 11 and beyond is, to me, a premature conclusion.

                • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

                  I agree, but depending on the amount that teams can spend on above-slot bonuses before the cap/tax/penalties kick in, a deal like Vogelbach’s may still be possible. Until we have that number, we won’t know for sure.

                  Vogelbach, being a one spot high school senior, would have little leverage and so I think he would have signed under the new system. College seniors are in the same boat. Its the high-dollar two sport high schoolers and college juniors that I think will fall into the 11th or lower. But if you look at the draft, a lot of those guys fell anyway.

                  Another thing to remember: a lot of teams are spending a ton of money on the draft now, and Bud Selig has to represent them in this CBA just like he represents the White Sox. If he concocts a system that is too harsh on draft spending, his own owners will push back on it. To me, that all but guarantees there will be enough loopholes and ways to work the system to ensure that reality doesn’t look much different under the new CBA.

            • Jeff

              I think the biggest factor in all of this is how many kids are now going to choose college over playing for one of the perennial worst teams in baseball. It was worth it for these guys when they were getting top dollar contracts in the first ten slots, and for the guys who were picked up in later rounds that chose to play because the money was good. I’m not sure we see the Pirates, Nationals, Royals, etc. get any good picks now because the incentive to play for “bad” organizations would be gone, and that will snowball in coming years since they can’t make up the competitive difference in the big league payroll with spending on the draft. Selig is wrong on this one, I just hope someone lets him and Reinsdorf know how bad this could become for some teams.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I hadn’t thought about that additional angle. Very interesting – and, yes, a potentially additional reason this could be a shitty deal for the very organizations it’s supposed to protect.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I should add: I think this is a great discussion. Controversy can be a good thing, if people don’t take things personally. I might not say too much more on the issue until it’s final, though, because I like to try and collect all of my thoughts, review the final wording for a bit, then say my peace in a post, and continue the dialog from there. It could very well end up that, when I reflect on it, I no longer thing it’s a big deal (and I hope that’s how it plays out). The wording could also make it not as big a deal as I fear it to be.

            But, to both you, and anyone else who wants to talk about the issue, by all means, carry on. It’s important, interesting, and merits debate, in my mind. I don’t want folks to be worried that they can’t speak their mind. Just speak it pleasantly and thoughtfully, as you have, and anything goes.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Well stated as always Brett, this is a great community full of rich discussions. Keep it coming everyone.

              Oh and F— the Cardinals

            • Hawkeye

              Oh yeah, well I heard from my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend who heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw MichiganGoat pass out at 31 Flavors last night ranting about distaste for Spencer. I guess it’s pretty serious.  So much for civil discussions.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Hehehe, change 31 flavors to 45 beer on tap and Spencer to Hawkeye and you may be correct

                • Hawkeye

                  Hey now, we have always been civil, except for that one time that I took a cheap shot at you.

                • hansman1982

                  MG, if you are ever in Des Moines you need to go to El Bait Shop – they have over 100 different microbrews on tap and the adjoining establishment (The High Life Lounge) has some great food that is cheap (cheesburger basket for $3.50, broaster chicken).

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Good to know and if anyone is in Grand Rapids, MI you must visit the HopCat

                  • Katie

                    El Bait Shop is the shiz! AND it’s damn near spitting distance from Sec Taylor Stadium (I refuse to call it Principal Park) where the Iowa Cubs play!

  • Vinestal

    It would seem they are trying to cap the total amount you can spend on the draft as a whole and not the amount per slot. Which seems odd. So I guess teams with only later round picks (good teams) will have more to spend later than the teams with higher round picks since they have to pay those players higher amounts. Its not real clear how they plan to handle draft compensation for free agents yet, I’m anxious to see how that is going to play out.

  • fearbobafett

    If it is just a 10 round system (assuming the 1st 10 rounds) teams like the cubs can still spend millions to get guys rounds 11+. Going to just end up being more cat-mouse games between agents and teams in regards to he will be a tough sign.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s only if the target player lasts until round 11. I think this is a terrible decision for baseball, if true – by discouraging teams from paying overslot for top talent (and it’s not just large market teams, look at the Pirates), you risk losing two-sport stars to other sports. Terrible, terrible decision.

      • Vinestal

        Im not so sure Brett. Say you have a 2 sport star and if he’s drafted within the top 10 rounds, why would anyone bother to draft him knowing he will not sign for slot? My guess is that guys that wont sign for slot will slip past the 10th round and will be given millions at that point. What might wind up happening is they essentially create 2 drafts, top 10 and then post top 10. That is why this system doesn’t really seem to make much sense. People aren’t going to waste picks on players they cant sign.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          They aren’t going to waste picks, but it’s rarely as black and white as you suggest. A team might think a kid *might* sign for slot. A team might think they can get him for just slightly over-slot (but less than they would have spent in years past). Any rule that discourages teams from spending as much as they want on amateur athletes will necessarily reduce the number of athletes coming into that sport. We can debate how great the impact would be, but there will be an impact.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Top talent will still sign for top dollars in the early rounds, all that might happen is that teams will be more willing to pay the tax to get those top draft picks. In no way will this help or deter paying over-slot if anything it will increase the dollars spent on the draft and favor big market teams.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Tax is the first time you do it. Losing your first pick is the second time. I disagree with your conclusion. No team will want to lose a first round pick, under almost any circumstance.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Your right I missed the draft compensation part, there is nothing good in this equation. basically it’s forcing hard slotting without actually setting a limit, and may deter top talent from choosing the MLB if other options are available.

                • Kyle

                  Agreed.

                  It will also mean a lot more high schoolers going to college rather than the minor leagues.

                  That may or may not be good for their lives, but it’ll be bad for their baseball skills.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Exactly, I guess top talent could hold out till after the 10th round, but that just completely minimizes what it means to be a first or second round pick

                    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

                      What it means to be a first or second round pick is debatable under the current system. If I had a dollar for everyone who insists that Hayden Simpson was not a true first round guy, I could retire.

                      Meanwhile, look at the current draft. One of the best guys the Cubs took was Dillon Maples, now one of their Baseball America Top 10 prospects. Maples was far from a first or second round pick, due solely to signability. And he is far from being alone in that category when you look across the draft.

                      Bonus amounts set the relative value of draft picks, not the round they are drafted in. This new system doesn’t really change that at all.

                    • hansman1982

                      agree with Luke…right now I dont think there is much difference between most #10 picks and most #310 picks.  It does mean something to be in the top 5 as that is usually when the superstar college guys are drafted but once you get out of that range many guys could go anywhere between the 1st and the 25th round due to signability.  Simpson was a great example of that.  Drafted early because he was going to sign and the Cubs wanted him.  I am sure you could find hundreds of examples from the past decade where teams didn’t take the best player available because of signability issues.  Now part of that will be available cap room.

                      I still think this move and the limiting of compensatory picks is going to hurt the smaller market teams greatly.

                • Kyle

                  Agreed.

                  It will also mean a lot more high schoolers going to college rather than the minor leagues.

                  That may or may not be good for their lives, but it’ll be bad for their baseball skills.

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