MLBits: Legalizing Foreign Substances for Pitchers? Mets Record Sale Price, Luhnow Sues Astros, More

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MLBits: Legalizing Foreign Substances for Pitchers? Mets Record Sale Price, Luhnow Sues Astros, More

Chicago Cubs

Is it funny that Jon Heyman initially tweeted out that the Mets’ final sale price was a record $2.475 million dollars? Uh. Yeah. That’s pretty funny. But his corrected followup is more important. This was an *enormous* sale, which, hopefully, keeps everyone on the same page of the forever appreciating value of these massive organizations.

Just over 10 years ago, the Chicago Cubs sold for less than 40% of this price:

There are some important caveats, of course, including the fact that this was (1) a team in New York, which was bought by (2) an especially rich billionaire (even by billionaire standards), but come on. The Mets were just the SIXTH most valuable franchise according to Forbes (who absolutely nailed the purchase price), so you can probably expect the Cubs $3.2 billion valuation to be pretty close to accurate, even in this environment.

Ready for Another Fight?

As we head into an offseason of uncertainty and continued negotiations for 2021 *and* beyond, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark wants to make one thing clear: The union is ready to negotiate change in any form, short or long-term, but is wholly unwilling to concede an inch on the basis of MLB’s purported financial losses, alone.

“We don’t accept at face value any of the claims about the extent of operating losses, while acknowledging that 2020 was a challenging year,” Clark said.

You can hop over to The Athletic for more detail, but the union remains skeptical about the extent of the losses the league has reported, as well as their definition of, and potentially manipulative use of, the word “debt,” especially if they hide the ball a bit on their full financial data. In any case, the union is expecting to play 162 games until the league presents something different, at which case the union will consider whatever the league proposes.

In the meanwhile, both sides are already discussing (1) the universal DH and (2) an expanded postseason as a matter of finance, whereas some other issues on the table, like starting a runner on second base in extra innings, is less likely to be financially contentious.

No meeting is scheduled to discuss 2021 rules and finances yet, as both sides await the conclusion of internal meetings. It could be a rough winter and I am not holding out any hope about a long-term CBA deal that could spare us another fight next offseason.

Jeff Luhnow Sues the Astros

Do I believe that former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow had “no knowledge” and “played no part in” the Astros sign stealing scandal? Uh … no. I do not.

But do I buy his argument that the MLB’s investigation was little more than a “negotiated resolution” that “enabled the team to keep its World Series championship, went to great lengths to publicly exonerate Crane, and scapegoated Luhnow for a sign-stealing scandal that he had no knowledge of and played no part in.” Yeah, kinda.

Also, he’s suing:

In a situation like this, you pretty much just grab your popcorn.

If you’re wondering about that lost income, in short, Luhnow’s suspension and subsequent firing constituted a breach of contract that set him on course to forfeit “more than $22 million in guaranteed compensation” and additional benefits.

Everybody’s Cheating

No. They’re not cheating like the Astros. But according a bunch of big league hitters, pitchers, and coaches, just about every single pitcher is using some kind of substance to affect the baseball. From The Athletic:

“Almost everyone is using something,” said a coach with experience in several major league organizations.

“My guess on total MLB players using some sort of grip enhancement … 99.9 percent,” said another coach who has worked with multiple major leaguers.

But here’s the problem: Because the use of foreign substances is apparently so ubiquitous, opposing managers are disincentivized to request checks from the umpire for fear of retribution. So instead, everyone just … you know, cheats (you can check out the Athletic post for the extent of the advantage, because make no mistake: it is significant).

And although there was once an assumed position that hitters preferred the use of such substances to ensure grip and control for the purposes of safety, that’s no longer the case.

“This topic really bugs me when pitchers say it’s only for grip,” said one major league hitter with a different perspective. “Lots of position players use substances for grip too, so we get it. But guys are gaining insane amounts of spin and ride from using insanely sticky substances. Guys are already throwing harder than ever; we don’t need their sliders to have unconventional break.”

Some proposed solutions include using different baseballs or even legalizing a certain type of substance, which I could actually see as a reasonable solution, but it’ll probably take some time to get there.

Dodgers COVID Cases Spike to Nine

We won’t know for sure if Justin Turner’s clearly reckless behavior after the World Series was the cause of the Dodgers sudden spike in cases of COVID-19, but since the end of Game 6, the Dodgers reported cases immediately jumped to five and have now jumped up to nine.

According to a report from USA Today, most of the initial five positive cases were people who were “outside the so-called bubble at the World Series in Arlington, Texas.” But that doesn’t really change anything. Turner’s decisions were misguided, his behavior was reckless, and, related or not, nine people now have COVID-19. Let’s just hope everyone heals quickly and safely.

Two members of my family have COVID-19 right now, and I can assure you, the method by which they got it is a hell of a lot less important to me than their full recovery.

Odds and Ends:

•   The next era of even more granulized advanced pitching data has arrived:

•   The Orioles are dealing with a fairly complicated accusation of pension fraud, which may boil down to two simple issues: Chris Holt, previously the director of pitching, now the pitching coach, should not have been eligible to receive the pension benefits he did *and* that he received those benefits over others who were more deserving. The problems discussed here are further complicated by the increasingly blurred lines between coaches and front office members, which is actually not unlike the direction of the Cubs. This is a complicated matter into which we may not actually get that much insight, but it could be pretty important to follow:

•   Reminder: Get your kids into baseball.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami