Scheduling, Realignment, and Postseason Play
* Addition of wildcard team for each league.
First, the addition of a second wildcard. According to espn, Commissioner Selig will have the option to implement this into either the 2012 season and if he does not it will be in effect for 2013. At first I was against this idea. I hated the idea that after a full season's worth of games, one game would determine which of two teams would advance into the second round. I imagined a team winning 95 games and falling just short of a divisional title losing to a team with 87 wins, that barely won the second wild card. I thought the idea of this happening was ludicrous.
But then I thought about it a little more. Imagine the excitement of the last day of the regular season in 2011, occurring every year to kick off the postseason. This year I imagine that I wasn't alone in feeling like much of the postseason buzz was a result of such an awesome regular season finale.
I like how the addition of a second wild card places more emphasis on divisional championships. Not only will wild cards now have to win an additional game to reach the World Series, but they will also have to burn up an additional games worth of pitching before they get to face a division champ.
* Astros will shift to AL West.
* Interleague games scheduled year round.
I think it was a given that eventually baseball would realign or expand in order to make the two leagues even. If I were an Astros fan I'd be pretty pissed about this whole thing and as a baseball fan I can't say that I am happy that there will be interleague baseball all season long. For teams with a battle on DH that plays heavily into their offense(cough Royals) the increase of interleague play isn't going to be a good thing.
* Active roster will expand to 26.
I wasn't even aware that this was happening until I read it on the aforementioned article. In the past this has always been a defense for contraction. "We'll contract two teams, but we will add a roster spot so that jobs won't be lost by the MLBPA." I wonder if this will further put to rest talks of Major League Baseball contraction. A concept I have always found to be a bit silly in the first place.
* Super Two time increases from top 17% of players to top 22%.
Well this almost assuredly will make Eric Hosmer arbitration eligible four times instead of three, which will cost the Royals several millions of dollars. This was put in to prevent teams from leaving better players in the Minors in order to manipulate service time, but I don't think it will accomplish this and I imagine some teams will just have to leave their players down even longer to manipulate their service clocks, very unfortunate.
* The draft pick signing deadline will be moved up one month to July 15.
I love this, players negotiations that go down to the wire will not cost them the opportunity to get their feet wet in professional baseball.
No major league contracts for draftees.
Again I like this move. Players signing Major League contracts, a vast majority of the time are guys that have totally committed themselves to baseball, thus this will not make those players seek out opportunities in other sports. Major League contracts for draftees was a growing trend and I am glad to see it get bucked here.
* Signing Bonus Restrictions
Let's just say I am not a fan. Actually let's say that I hate this. If baseball's goal is to drive up talent for other professional sports. Mission accomplished. For a sport that already whines about the talent pool, they aren't doing themselves any favors by limiting bonus money.
The Royals that have built an incredible farm system through over slot signings have now lost their competitive strategy. I am hopeful that a large part of the Royals rapid improvement in farm system talent is as much a result of good scouting and hard work as their willingness to open their wallets, but I'm not sure.
A huge part of scouting is putting the Dollar Sign on the Muscle and in the Dayton Moore era I doubt a team has done this more effectively then the Kansas City Royals. Yes, the Royals scouts aren't losing their ability to outwork their peers, but they are losing the ability to leverage the Royals organization and their scouting reports in a way that nets the Royals top talents throughout the draft.
From a baseball perspective this move is horrible. The game will undoubtedly be hurt by this move. The only sides it benefits are the players that have established themselves in the Majors, and the owners who no longer have to shell out tons of cash for amateurs.
Of course there are also the penalties for teams that can't show restraint in their draft spending and here is a snapshot of those:
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax on overage
• 5-10% 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
• 10-15% 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
• 15%+ 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
Pretty harsh penalties. The most frustrating aspect of this move is that baseball is flying it under the false flag of competitive balance, when really this move is only going to hurt teams in that regard. If you wanted to cap draft spending and improve competitive balance. Create a cap that grants teams budgets for draft expenditures based on market size. Just incredibly frustrating.
Clubs with ten lowest revenues, and ten smallest markets will be entered into a draft lottery for 6 draft picks. The losers will be entered into a second lottery for 6 selections post second round.
Okay seriously, if you are going to award picks for the ten lowest revenues and ten smallest markets (two things that are different by the way) why does it have to be through a lottery? Why randomly select which six receive the award of a first round selection? What is the point? Why not just give each of these teams an additional first round selection?
I know some fans feel cheapened by the Royals potentially getting a free pick based off their market size, but quite frankly I don't care. The odds are already stacked against the Royals. It is nice to get an advantage here, for a change.
International Talent Acquisition
* Starting after 2012-13 offseason, signing bonus budgets will be based off inverse order of the standings.
I am not against this, once again it is nearly a good thing to improve competitive balance. Except that the budget isn't nearly large enough. In fact the budgets are so small the organizations will really have to rely heavily on relationships once again. I actually think this could favor the Royals considering they have already signed several high profile Latin players to bonuses less than what competitors offered.
What does seem to be a problem here is that teams will have roughly $85 million combined to spend on International free agents, while they will have around $200 million for Canadian and American born players. This is borderline discriminatory, but I don't want to get into that.
What this agreement does do, is eliminate many hurdles that would be in place to institute a worldwide draft. It's coming people, accept it.
One more thing that I do find humourous is MLB requiring all prospects to register in a database. So much for renting a mule, wading through an alligator infested swamp and finding a gem in the middle mountains...
* No obvious signs of tobacco.
If you are going to attempt to give yourself gum cancer, don't make America watch. Okay seriously, if you don't want to give off that image just outlaw tobacco.
* HGH Testing
I'm all for cleaning up the game from PEDs. I'm not sure how much HGH would help a baseball player gain a competitive advantage, but I have no issue with this addition and I also believe it is better to eliminate it before it becomes a major issue in the future.
That's all I've got, this probably reads like a giant rant on the new CBA, but I can't say that I'm upset about that. There have been issues in past CBAs that people haven't liked and eventually they turned out to be fine. I truly hope that is the case here. I love the Royals, but more than that I love the game of baseball. At this point I can't imagine the draft spending being good for the game. But who knows? Athletes will still be enticed by the money compared to a scholarship, it just won't be as much money.
My hope is that after a few seasons when players take their scholarship due to fresh memories of larger bonuses in the past, players will once again be able to signed away from college.
The Royals have their work cut out for them. They need to work their butts off to find their next competitive advantage, now that overslot expenditures will not be available as they once were. There are inefficiencies and loopholes in every system, my hope is that the Royals can find something quickly and can be trailblazers for the new CBA, instead of being left behind wondering what went wrong.