It’s Friday, and despite a big signing and trade last night (*shakes fist at the Brewers*), it looks like my early-week prediction that the market was going to play out big time by today will be incorrect. You know, like every week that has preceded it this offseason.
There’s still many hours left in the day, but we’re certainly winding down …
- In the Lukewarm Stove earlier today, I mentioned the high number of significant trades made this winter, which includes two notable Pirates (Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen) as well as four notable Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon). Well, in relation to the slow free agent market, those trading sprees are catching the attention (in a bad way) of the Players Association:
Sources: Amid the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins' offseason trading sprees, the Major League Baseball Players Association is looking into the possibility they've run afoul of rules that teams invest revenue-sharing dollars into baseball operations. https://t.co/UZe0fXT6Pg pic.twitter.com/jkUddZ7piz
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 26, 2018
- Another battle line. Passan has much more on the rising tensions in free agency (which were apparently not, in anyway, relieved by Lorenzo Cain’s fair market deal with the Brewers) and between the players/league at that link.
- But let’s not skip over that revenue-sharing issue, because it’s a potentially big problem that could unfold soon. In a more recent article, Passan writes that the Players Association is investigating whether to file grievances against the Marlins and Pirates for working around rules in the CBA which requires teams to use dollars they’ve received via revenue sharing back into actual baseball operations. While trading away their star players and running out low payroll isn’t exactly the problem (though it sure isn’t helping), Passan also points out that neither team has signed a single free agent this winter – of course, both teams have gotten money from rev-sharing, so … that’s an issue.
- Indeed, in a separate article at the Miami Herald, Barry Jackson has more: “We have raised our concerns regarding both Miami and Pittsburgh with the Commissioner,” said union spokesman Greg Bouris, “as is the protocol under the collective bargaining agreement and its revenue sharing provisions. We are waiting to have further dialogue and that will dictate our next steps.” Uglier.Every.Day. Let’s move on.
- Earlier today, I took a look at Keith Law’s organizational prospect rankings, which featured the Chicago Cubs at #25 overall (though, as we examined, they’re probably even lower than that after the Marlins/Brewers trade last night), and that leads perfectly into a recent piece from Sam Miller at ESPN.
- Miller asks, in light of those rankings, what it actually means to have the best or worst farm system in baseball. In other words, how do you take a hypothetical/subjective set of rankings and turn it into real-life implications. Using the best three and worst three farm systems dating back to 1999, Miller found that the difference between the teams with best and worst farm systems one year after the rankings is actually pretty tiny (84 wins at the Major League level to 82 wins). In year two that gap widens to 85 wins and 80 wins. By year five, the team with the best farm systems are averaging something close to eight wins more in the Majors than their worst farm system counterparts. There’s so much more interesting analysis in that post, you really need to check it out. Really great stuff.
- Going back to the Brewers’ deal for Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs) writes that it was their defining moment marking the end of the rebuild. Put differently, it was their version of signing Jon Lester, an announcement that they’re officially on the scene and ready to compete. Earlier today, Jed Hoyer spoke about the Brewers aggressive moves saying that he wasn’t surprised by their actions and the Cubs can’t react emotionally … but ya, he sees them as something similar to the Cubs circa 2015. Needless to say, the Brewers are no longer rebuilding. They’re here, and they’ll be a big obstacle for the 2018 Cubs.
- Let’s stick with the NL Central for a bit, because I have a tiny bone to pick with this MLB.com piece, which points out that the Brewers and Cardinals have improved a lot more than the Cubs have this winter. While that may be true, isn’t it also true that they had a lot more room for improvement? Losing ten pounds when you weigh 300 pounds is a very different animal than losing ten pounds at 150. Maybe I’m just being sensitive. After all, as the piece concedes, the Cubs’ offseason isn’t over yet, and they might still make a splash. For some greater detail on how the Brewers and Cardinals have improved (including last night’s trade), check out Andrew Simon’s post, as he does a nice job of recapping and framing the busy NL Central this year.
- At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan shows a table of how many wins each team has achieved over the past five season (Cubs’ 431 wins are tied for 7th most – thanks a lot, 2013 and 2014) as a reference for a broader question: who’s poised to win the most games over the next five years? Instead of focusing on projections, though, he’s turning to us to get a crowd sourced answer. So head over to FanGraphs and vote for how many wins (within 20) you think the Cubs and other teams will take home (I think you’ll like how people see the Cubs).
- And finally, in case you missed it, check out the four newest members of the Hall of Fame receiving their “calls” at Baseball is Fun:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 25, 2018