First Pitch: There is a Need in MLB For an International Draft

During the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB made sweeping changes to the draft and international markets, restricting what teams could spend, and imposing harsh fines on teams that went over their budgeted amounts. A big factor for the changes in the draft was due to the Pittsburgh Pirates signing Josh Bell for $5 M in the second round, and spending just under $50 M over a four-year span. The Red Sox were rumored to be one of the teams upset, specifically over Bell, since his letter about how he wouldn’t sign with anyone chased several teams away.

So it’s only fitting that with the new rules, the Red Sox spent $31.5 M today on 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada. The new rules from the last CBA result in a 100% tax on that amount, which means the Red Sox are paying $63 M for one player. Who is 19. Just one year older than Josh Bell was when he signed for $58 M less and broke the draft.

The Red Sox will be penalized beyond the $31.5 M tax. They won’t be able to sign anyone for over $300,000 during the next two signing periods. And $31.5 M is a big sum of money. As an example, $27 M bought the Pirates one year of A.J. Burnett, one year of Corey Hart, one year of Antonio Bastardo, one year of Francisco Cervelli (who is arbitration eligible next year), one year of Sean Rodriguez, one year of Radhames Liz, and Jung-ho Kang’s entire guaranteed contract. Or, another way to look at it is that the Pirates got three years of Francisco Liriano for just $8.5 M more than the taxes the Red Sox are paying.

This is a much different situation than Josh Bell, and not from a money perspective. When the Pirates drafted Bell, they had exclusive negotiating rights. The Red Sox and Yankees couldn’t come in with a better offer. Bell had the option to either sign with the Pirates, or wait a few years until he was draft eligible again, at which point he’d only be able to sign with the team that drafted him.

MLB brought harsh penalties to teams that went over-budget in the draft. And teams still have exclusive negotiating rights with the draft picks. The result is that we’re less likely to see another Bell situation, where a team can take a first round talent in the second round, and pay him whatever they want to get him to sign, all because they are focused on investing in the draft more than other teams.

Meanwhile, the international market has taxes and restrictions, but it’s a free-for-all, where anyone can sign any player, and can sign any amount of top players. We’ve seen the Yankees go crazy by signing a large number of the best ranked prospects, going over their bonus pool in the process. The Red Sox just signed Moncada, but they were already over their bonus pool. This illustrates the problem with this market.

Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees don’t necessarily have to rely on prospects. They don’t have to pour money into their development system. They don’t need to place a large focus on the draft and international markets every year, because they can just build their teams through free agency. They also don’t have to worry about taxes, since they can spend much more than any realistic tax they’d see under this system. This combination allows them to go all out every few years, loading up on the top players that year, and seeing no downside to their future MLB teams by being penalized for this approach.

This is something that MLB needs to fix. Ideally, this move would break the international market, just like Josh Bell broke the draft. The international market could use a draft, and some sort of spending limit, in order to make things a little more even. If Yoan Moncada were born in the US, he’d probably be going to Arizona, and for a lot less than $63 M total money spent. It doesn’t make much sense that he can go to any team and receive four or five times the amount a US top pick would receive, all because he’s from another country. And it doesn’t make sense that teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are allowed to dominate the international market without changes being made. It would be the right thing to do, especially after changes were made to respond to teams like the Pirates spending big in the draft.

**We’re down to less than 200 hard copy books of the 2015 Prospect Guide from the most recent shipment. We’ve already sold more than last year’s total, and I don’t anticipate ordering another shipment this year. That means once the current batch is gone, the hard copy version will be sold out. You can order your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

**There wasn’t much action today on the field, so the pictures and videos were limited. I did have one video on Instagram of Pedro Alvarez doing one hop drills, which can be seen below.

Pedro Alvarez doing one hop drills at first base #Pirates

A video posted by Pirates Prospects (@piratesprospects) on

**How Elias Diaz Quickly Became The Catcher Of The Future. I’ve been having fun making the video features, and this was my favorite one so far. Thanks to everyone who subscribed to the YouTube channel after last night’s request. The result is that we were able to get a new address at http://youtube.com/c/piratesprospects. The old one still works as well, but it’s nice to send people to an account that has the site name. You can still subscribe by going to that link, and if you do, you’ll be alerted when we post a new video.

**The Pirates Believe Jung-Ho Kang Will Eventually Be An Everyday Player. He’s not going to start right away, but it seems like he could be the top depth option at second, short, or third. As for whether he’ll take over for Mercer, the article once again points out how he’ll need more than offense for that to happen.

**Is Vance Worley The Most Under-Rated Pitcher In The Pirates’ Rotation? I asked this question in the title, then got a bunch of comments criticizing Charlie Morton and wanting to get rid of him. Basically, I forgot that Morton owns the belt as the most under-rated pitcher in the rotation.

**Draft Prospect Watch: Tyler Jay Extends Shutout Streak. John Dreker takes a look at the draft prospect action from this past weekend.

First Pitch

  • I definitely think changes will be made to the international draft. This piece is remiss for mentioning the collective bargaining agreement and not mentioning one of the primary actors, the players union. If massive amounts of money are going to new, less senior players, the players union like every union will not support this thus changes will occur in the next CBA.

  • I think you could do a supplemental draft like the NFL used to have in some way. Any player that becomes available outside of the parameters of the regular draft should be subjected to an organized process where you can draft the guy but you lose picks for taking the guy. I wouldn’t mind the Sox getting Moncada if they lost a large portion of their draft picks and draft pool. But then again it is ridiculous for it to be a free for all when a rare stud foreign player becomes available. (Well, not really free for ALL but free for any team which can take on the risk of just blowing 50+ mil on a guy who has never played in the mlb. Which leaves more than 2/3 of the leagues teams out of the running.) It’s ridiculous, and as usual the mlb is the only league running their system in this half-assed way.

  • where does the tax money go,is it divided with the other 31teams for international spending.

  • a hard salary cap and floor would solve a lot of problems, as would a draft that encompasses all eligible players…

    • What are the problems that a salary cap needs to solve and how would it solve those problems?

      • I think R. EDWARDS is saying with salary cap in place then every team in the league would have to play by the same rules when it comes to buying the talent. If every team has to stay under say 100 mil. Then NY and Boston’s of the league can’t spend 200 mil on the best players. Teams have to rely on scouting and brains to field a good team…

        • The salary cap will never be $100M. You’re kidding right?

          And if every team is going to play by the same rules, then every franchise should be worth the same amount and the owners who pay a lot more for their franchises in larger market cities, well they’re just screwed.

        • Teams will always have to rely on brains more than money!

          How’s that overpaying for the best players working out for Yankees and Phillies these days?

        • The max cap is in place..so the min cap needs to happen..with revenues doubling in the last 6 yrs ..min salary will double or close to it, with players salaries going down from 60% (2008)to less than 50 % (2014) the new CBA will address that..it could also address penalties for not spending shared revenues to “improve on field performance” they can demand that all shared revenues be spend on “mlb payroll” leaving the Nuttings with an empty pocket

          • How do you prove that shared revenues are spent on MLB payroll?

            • well shared revenues.. Mlb and the union have those figures,,,we the public are left to estimate..and that figure for 2014 season should be around 140 + mill it was 130 mill in 2013..now the salary figures are more public.. for example if the BUCS received 130 mill, payroll should have been 125- 130 m.. that’s 130 mill before they sell a single seat in 2012 the bucs made a 26.8 mill profit @ a 4 mill per war that would have made us at least NL champs..the same in 2013..in 2014 revenues increased a cool billion..all split 30 ways or 33.3 mil per club….the Bucs can not cry poverty because they are in the top 10 in profits…call it “MLB welfare”
              http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mli45mihj/27-pittsburgh-pirates/
              and http://www.bloomberg.com/infographics/2013-10-23/mlb-team-values.html

              • What does being in the top 10 in profits have to do with anything? If I make 20 bucks, and only spend 10 bucks thus insuring a 10 dollar profit does that mean I’m better off than someone who makes a million dollars and spends a million and 10 dollars thus being in debt by 10 dollars?
                .
                Enough with this “MLB welfare” crap, it’s BS. There is no such thing as “MLB welfare”. There are 30 teams that make up the MLB, they are all in it together and all profit together. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers wouldn’t be making the money they do without all the other teams.

                • Welfare by definition is a central authority taking resources from one segment of society and giving to another segment.

                  MLB has a revenue sharing policy in place that is in effect a welfare system.

                  It was implemented to protect the value of the worst run franchises. MLB owners above everything are interested in protecting their return on investment.

                  • What is the central authority in baseball? The commish? The commish represents all the owners. All of the owners are the central authority. If revenue sharing in the MLB is welfare then you’d have to change the definition of welfare to be “a central authority taking resources from the central authority and giving it to the central authority”. Also, treating each individual team as a segment doesn’t work because no one team would exist by itself. All teams in the MLB make the money they do because they are in the MLB. The MLB is a segment in and of itself. Actual welfare would be if the U.S. government (a central authority) passed a law making the NFL give money to the MLB to balance the sports industry (or something absurd like that). The term welfare doesn’t apply to how a business like the MLB operates. Businesses transfer money from one department to another all the time, it is called business management, not welfare.

                    • As we both know, each franchise in MLB is individually owned and operated. There is a business arrangement made with the other franchise owners to share some of the collective revenues, but not others. There also is an agreement to hire a Commissioner to adjudicate any differences and ensure rules are enforced. In this respect, the Commissioners Office is the Central Authority.

                      We also both know Revenue Sharing has the same effect as welfare.

                    • I’m curious. Do you think Revenue Sharing is a good thing that helps the MLB?
                      .
                      Next question. Do you think welfare is a good thing that can help the situation that it is applied?
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                      If your answer is no to both questions, don’t you think it is odd that you associate two things you don’t think help?
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                      This need to equivocate revenue sharing with welfare is more a personal ideological issue and has nothing to do with baseball. I don’t associate business management with welfare. If you want to throw around the label of “welfare” like that, then everything Is welfare. I work a job and get paid, but why do I get paid? Because I’m not a slave, so there is a central authority that says I’m not a slave so I should get paid for my work, so money is being taken from one segment (my employer) to another segment (me, the employee). Who knew, working for a living is welfare. My refrigerator (central authority) takes heat from one segment (inside the refrigerator) and moves it to another segment (outside the refrigerator). Who knew, refrigerators practice welfare. When I eat, my body (central authority) takes one segment (food) and moves it to another segment (energy). Who knew, my body and all of biological life is a welfare system.
                      .
                      Sorry if I seem condescending. I think it is absurd to conclude that MLB’s revenue sharing is welfare. Like I said though, if MLB’s revenue sharing is welfare, everything is welfare then. I define welfare as “government provided support for those in need”. The word welfare simply does not apply to MLB’s revenue sharing.

                    • Is Revenue Sharing in MLB a good thing? Depends on from what perspective you look at this issue from. As a Pirates fan I think it’s good for the team I root for since they receive money. On a macro level, I’m opposed to the concept. I believe each team should be free to earn as much money as they can and keep it to do with it as they see fit.

                      Welfare is a noble idea in concept, but in practice it falls short of its’ lofty ideals because too many people given an opportunity will abuse the system. In the mid 90’s the Welfare system was overhauled under Clinton, and coincidentally or not, the USA enjoyed a spike in the rate of employment.

                    • Yet you fail to acknowledge that no team would make the money it does if not for all the other teams.

      • A salary cap would drive free agent prices down. It would make teams seriously question paying a player 20 mil a year. That is as long as it is a reasonable cap. I can’t imagine the players union would ever agree to a cap as it would severely affect their pockets. That said I can’t imagine there ever being a cap. As in all big business, nothing will ever be fair.

        • The salary cap in football drove prices up.

          • I can see it not driving prices down but don’t quite understand how it would inflate them. Maybe this is something beyond my intelligence or something I just don’t quite understand.

          • Maybe, but the increase was equally applied across the board…no one team benefited or was harmed more or less than another

        • If there was a salary cap, it would have to take in account how much money MLB as a whole makes in a year. So if MLB makes say 7 billion in a year, then the players and owners negotiate how to split that money, so let’s say players get 55% while owners get 45%. So 55% of 7 billion is 3.85 billion, now divide that by 30 teams and you get a cap of around 128 million.
          .
          Whether or not the cap drives prices up or down depends on how much cap there is. The NFL has seen its revenue skyrocket since the cap was introduced, so it’s cap limits kept going up and up, resulting in FA prices going up and up.
          .
          A cap will prevent FA prices from getting out of control though as FA prices can’t actually surpass what teams can pay when working with their cap.

          • Thanks. That gives me a much better understanding of how a salary cap works. From all the different ideas I’ve read on here it is obvious that there is no clear cut way to handle this.

          • Correct me if I’m wrong but isnt the NFL’s TV money split up evenly amongst the teams? I believe all NFL teams TV money is nearly enough to cover their entire payroll. And I don’t believe there is really any small market football teams. Even if a cap existed in mlb there are teams that couldn’t afford that much payroll.

            • The whole point to a cap is for all teams to evenly split the money. The reason to do so is because it benefits the whole league not just the small market teams. Everyone benefits, even the big market teams who would be sharing their profits.
              .
              The NFL does have small market teams. Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Buffalo for example are all small market teams. It’s not as noticeable though since every team only has 8 home games.

          • The NFL implementing a salary cap is not the reason the revenues have skyrocketed. The explosion in the interest of Fantasy Football because of the Internet, HD TV, Red Zone Channel and Social Media (Twitter) are the primary reasons the NFL has unparalleled success in the last 20 years.

            • I never said the NFL implementing the salary cap was the reason NFL revenues skyrocketed. Although it can’t be dismissed as part of the reason but it is likely that media exposure is the primary reason. Fan interest is the key though, and if fans think certain teams have an advantage as opposed to a level playing field, less fans will show interest.

              • You said the NFL has seen their revenues skyrocket since instituting a salary cap. How else is one supposed to interpret this comment?

                I believe hard core fans will show up in good times and bad. It’s the casual fan who gets interested when a team starts winning. I don’t think many fans give much thought to fairness in sports. But I think a lot of people correlate money with fairness. Doesn’t mean they’re right.

                • How else is one supposed to interpret what I said? How about in the context of what I said. Here it is again:
                  .
                  “Whether or not the cap drives prices up or down depends on how much cap there is. The NFL has seen its revenue skyrocket since the cap was introduced, so it’s cap limits kept going up and up, resulting in FA prices going up and up.”
                  .
                  The context is that while revenue was going up, that meant the cap was also going up.
                  .
                  Dude, I really don’t know what else to say to you. If you think a handful of teams being able to spend $150 million dollars plus is the equivalent of a handful of teams unable to spend more than $100 million dollars then there is no point to continuing. It is as clear as day that certain teams have a real and unjustified advantage. Your obsession with “welfare” and ideological preferences has you cherry picking my statements out of context.

      • It would solve the problem of some teams having $200 million payrolls, competing with teams with $80 million payrolls. Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, etc would not just be able to throw excessive amounts of money to solve their poor player personnel and contractual decisions, which they can today with little penalty.

    • A hard salary cap and floor are fools gold. Gives fans a false sense of fairness. When in actuality, management skills will thrive in any system, and poor management will fail no matter whatever welfare accommodations are given to help them.

      • I agree that teams that spend the most money are not necessarily the most successful, but the disparity is indefensible nonetheless. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can make some really poor personnel and contract decisions, but cover them up with what appears to be an unlimited amount of TV revenue. Other teams don’t have that luxury.

      • I agree that management skills as well as knowledge of the game are always paramount in any system, however “false sense of fairness” is completely off. A hard salary cap and floor are precisely fair. As it stands now, big market teams are free to spend just about twice as much as small market teams while the small market teams hands are tied by limited resources. Oh sure, if the small market team has talented management it can do well while the poorly managed large market team flounders, but it doesn’t change the fact that one is free while the other is restricted. Imagine what the small market team with talented management might be able to do in a fair cap system, who knows maybe they might be acquire a few more pieces that make them back to back world series champions. As it stands now, small market teams rely on their limited options to succeed while big markets have many more avenues to succeed giving them all the better chance to win.
        .
        “Welfare accommodations”?!?!?! Really? No, it’s not welfare accommodations when the entire MLB is a product. All 30 teams. No one team can stand alone and make as much as it does when it is a part of the whole. Leveling the playing field is perhaps the best way to grow the sport.
        .
        Of course, big market fans feel their team is entitled to have an advantage (just because they happen to live in a big market), over the small market teams. Big market teams are entitled to win the championship.
        .
        26 of the past 40 World Series teams (in the last 20 years) were top 14 market teams. Of those 26 teams, 15 won the world series, so 15 of the past 20 WS champions are in the top half markets. If you count a middle market teams like the Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Marlins, that makes all of the last 20 world series winners are middle-market or better. Small market teams don’t win world series. The world series is an exclusive club where only the privileged big market teams get to hang out and occasionally let middle markets in. The only exceptions were the Indians (twice), Padres, Rockies, Rays and Royals. The Royals were the closest any small market team came to winning the world series in the past 20 years.
        .
        So if there is anything foolish around here, its thinking money doesn’t make a huge difference in the MLB.

        • Who said money doesn’t make a difference?

          I think whatever system the Union and the Owners negotiate is fair. To say one is fair and the other is not, I don’t agree with that.

          • Scott Kliesen. That is who I replied to.
            .
            I have no idea what you’re talking about in your second paragraph. By that I mean I don’t understand what you’re referring to.

        • St. Louis is a smaller market than Pittsburgh. How is it they’ve been able to thrive without a cap? Strong, stable management.

          • St. Louis is not a smaller market than Pittsburgh.

            • My mistake. I got St.Louis and Cincy mixed up.

              However, my point is still valid that market size isn’t the be all, end all to success in MLB.

              The fact St. Louis is the #18 largest market, yet has the #5 most revenue only solidifies my point.

              • That solidifies your point? What is your point then? The only point it solidifies is that money and how much money a team can spend is the primary key to success as 34 of the last 40 teams to appear in the World Series were middle market or better.

                • St. Louis has more money because of their success, not as you suggest, success due to their revenues.

                  Because they have been a well run organization for decades, their fan base has grown, thus producing greater revenues.

                  That’s my point.

                  • Your narrative doesn’t really work though. At what point do you start to determine that the Cardinals success led to higher revenue’s? I can only find revenues back to 1990, and the Cardinals were in the top half of revenue’s since then. The Oakland A’s were ranked 28th in revenue last year. In the past 50 years, both the A’s and Cardinals have made the same number of playoff appearances (18). Since 2000, the Cards have made the playoffs 11 times and the A’s 8 times (the Pirates twice yet are 20th in revenues). In 1990, the A’s had the 7th highest revenue. The A’s revenue started to decline in the mid 90’s. If success brings revenues, why aren’t the A’s in the top half of revenues, they’ve been there before?
                    .
                    I’ll agree that success makes it easier for revenues to be higher, but it is not the driving factor. The driving factor to revenues is demographics in a region. There are more people interested in baseball and sports in the St. Louis area than there are in the Oakland area. The number of people in an area actually interested in sports and baseball is the actual market, hence St. Louis is a middle market while the A’s are a small market.
                    .
                    It doesn’t matter though because regardless of what market St. Louis is or which came first (success or revenues), in the last 20 years, teams that spend money and can spend money are the ones winning world series. You have one odd example to try and prove a vague point, I have 20 years of history.

                    • Let me say, FirstPatch, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this debate. You have done a great job of providing evidence to back up your position.

                    • You are making some very strong conclusion based on what two to five years of data? I go to games in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, one has pennants that aren’t over 20 years old. The correlation between payroll and winning isn’t zero. It is shrinking over the last five-eight years with the relationship between wins and payroll for 2014 resembling the period of collusion in the 1980s.

                      http://www.hardballtimes.com/money-and-wins/

                      Is this a permanent change or aberration, I’m not sure. Talent talent moves to its highest valued use, this applies to front office personal, which you deem so pivotal to winning just as much as it does players. See Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi.

                      You make some interesting points, but I cannot agree with the veracity of your conclusions.

                    • Andrew, I have never said the correlation between winning and payroll is zero. My position is it’s overblown. I take issue with the position a salary cap is good for the game and the fallacy it will bring about more competitive fairness to the game.

                      In short, teams who draft and develop players the best will always rise to the top and remain there longer than those who try to buy championships. And that comes down to management.

                      I agree with you regarding the best management talent will rise to the top. But there’s no shortage of intelligent and savvy people to analyze data in a new way to gain a competitive advantage.

                      The reason why payroll is resembling the days of collusion is because organizations are realizing the risks associated with giving long-term guaranteed contracts to players as they age. Playing baseball day in and day out is hard on a 30+ year old body. Seeing what’s happened to guys like Mauer, Howard, Johan Santana, etc. should make organization take pause to get into bidding wars for even the best players.

                    • I think you’re a bit mixed up here though.
                      First, all teams have the same equal chance to draft and develop players (exception being teams that finish with worst records get higher overall draft picks, still it is a fair system). Buying championships comes when certain teams are able to buy players in addition to drafting and developing while other teams are limited to drafting and developing. What you’re really saying is that the rich teams that draft and develop better will win more championships than other rich teams that don’t draft and develop as well (hence why the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants do better than the Angels, Dodgers, Phillies, Mets, Cubs and White Sox). You are completely ignoring the fact that teams like the Pirates, A’s, Royals, Rockies, Reds, Brewers, Padres and Twins are not able to match the kind of spending that the rich teams can dish out so they can’t spend money to complement whatever good drafting and developing they happen to accomplish. There is a reason that small market teams rarely even make an appearance in the World Series let alone win it. Or do you believe that all small market teams are just bad at drafting and developing players?
                      .
                      So the cap doesn’t make things competitively balanced now? Tell that to the NFL, NHL and NBA.

                    • I have not argued for a salary cap, the owners have decreased the player’s share of revenue and ensured returns through other means. I just think there are lot of unproven claims in your argument. If we are listing equations here are mine.

                      Success = Talent + Luck
                      More Success = Some more talent + A lot more Luck.

                      Why is baseball talent finite but not front office talent?
                      Why was the Yankees payroll in 2005 was 4 standard deviations above the mean, and Dodgers in 2014 was 2.5?
                      Did changes in the CBA play a role?
                      How much ability to teams actually have to draft?
                      It has been argued convincing that NFL have no sustained ability to better than their peers.
                      http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.1120.1657(I think there is more information available to baseball teams but then time frames are much longer.)

                      I agree with several of points you have made, just not the certitude of your conclusions.

                    • I completely agree that drafting and player development is critical to a teams success. I never said it wasn’t. My point is that money is an additional edge. Sure any successful team needs to draft and develop players but the big market teams with resources to spend like the Yankees, can go out and sign free agents like David Cone, David Wells and Darryl Strawberry. They could re-sign players they traded for like Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, Tim Raines, Joe Girardi, Chilli Davis and Roger Clemens. The Yankees could afford to take on salary in trades for players like Chuck Knoblauch and Roger Clemens. As you already pointed out, they can also re-sign their drafted and developed players as well (like Williams and eventually Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte).
                      .
                      I’m well aware of the core players developed by World Series winners. The thing is, every team in baseball is drafting great core players, THE DIFFERENCE is the big markets and to a lesser extent medium markets are going out and buying the rest of their lineup to add to the core. I already did the Yankees in the late 90’s, lets look at the 2013 Red Sox: David Ortiz, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara (all free agents). They re-signed guys they traded for like John Lackey and Andrew Miller. Took on salary to trade for Jake Peavy. All those free agents and re-signed players complemented the great core of Lester, Pedroia and Ellsbury. The 2004 Red Sox had Manny Ramirez, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke and Johnny Damon. They were able to re-sign players they traded for like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe.
                      .
                      Same story with the Giants to a lesser extent. Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, Santiago Casilla, Barry Zito and traded for Freddy Sanchez. The Giants were able to spend a lot of money to add to their core of Posey, Sandoval, Cain, Lincecum, Jon Sanchez, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Bumgarner.
                      .
                      The 2006 Cardinals had free agents David Eckstein, Juan Encarnacion, Brandon Looper, David Eckstein, Jeff Suppan and Jason Isringhausen. They acquired salary through trades for Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Mark Mulder and Jason Marquis. Granted the Mulder and Marquis deals didn’t work out well. Looking at that roster, I’m amazed the Cardinals won that year, as Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds and Carpenter really carried that team. Carpenter was a FA bounce back starter who really worked out so kudos to the Cards pro scouting department there (also utility player Scott Spiezio too).
                      .
                      The 2011 Cards had Matt Holliday, Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman.
                      .
                      The 2008 Phillies had Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz, Jamie Moyer, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and trade for Brad Lidge.
                      .
                      Even the 2003 Marlins had Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Castillo.
                      .
                      The 2001 Diamondbacks had Randy Johnson, Reggie Sanders, Mark Grace and Jay Bell while trading for players like Luis Gonzalez, Tony Womack, Matt Williams and Curt Schilling.
                      .
                      The rule is, teams that have money to spend, spend it on half the team to compliment their core and it is both that results in championships. The teams that don’t have the ability to spend money have to rely on their core and luck which is why they don’t win championships, hence money is the difference.

                    • Take a look at those lists of FA’s on Giants and Cards teams. A veritable potpourri of Barmes and Volquez’s.

                      Every team is supplemented w FA’s. Hardly any of the one’s you referenced were Grade A types.

                      The ability to spend money on salaries doesn’t guarantee WS wins, but poor drafting and player development guarantees a team won’t.

                      Brains > Money

                      The End

                    • Ah, so the Giants were paying $18.5 million for a Volquez. $13.6 million for a Barmes. $10 million for another Barmes. Aubrey Huff was a 4.1 WAR player before he had a down year in 2009 which is why he only signed for $3 million with the Giants in 2010, so a 5.7 WAR in 2010 led to a $10 million dollar contract in 2011.
                      .
                      Yeah, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, just a couple lousy Barmes types making $16.3 and $8 million a year. $8.7 million for closer Isringhausen, just another Radhames Liz right? Trading for large salaries in Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds is just like trading for Josh Harrison and Travis Snider right?
                      .
                      I agree with you that the ability to spend money doesn’t guarantee WS wins and that poor drafting and player development guarantees a team won’t. I am adding to those two things that inability to spend money makes it extremely difficult to win World Series.
                      Brains+Money > Brains+No Money > No Brains+Money > No Brains+No Money
                      Been nice chatting with you.

                    • Nice debating you, too, SevenPatch. For what it’s worth, I think you won the debate.

            • Response to 2nd edit:

              Did you ever consider Cardinals management has reaped the rewards of lowered payrolls through successful player development? And choosing to let other organizations overpay guys like Albert Pujols during their declining years.

              The Cardinals are the model franchise of MLB. The Pirates would do well to emulate their business model. If they do it well enough, maybe in 10 years or so they will have a new stadium and local TV deal to allow the same type of revenues.

              • Lowered payrolls? The Cardinals have been in the top half of MLB payrolls for the past 30 years.
                .
                There is no doubt that the Cardinals are a well managed organization and that has certainly played a part in their success, but again, they are able to spend money and the money is there due to their market size. The Cardinals being a well managed organization is an example that the Dodgers should follow. The Pittsburgh market is not as big as St. Louis so the Pirates will never see the same revenue that the Cardinals do, no matter how long the Pirates are well managed.

                • So a population base of 2.3 million can never approach the success of a market the size of 2.8 million no matter how well the team is managed?

                  You really don’t believe that do you?

                  • We don’t know. The Pirates never have had revenues in the top half of the league (at least back until 1990). They’ve only had a payroll in the top half in 1992, which ended up hurting them for the next decade. The thing is, the whole reason they spent money in 92 was to try and compete with the big market teams.
                    .
                    At this point you’re assuming just because the Pittsburgh area is 500k less people than the St. Louis area that this means the Pirates should come close to revenues to the Cardinals. This might not be possible as the Pittsburgh area is already dominated by the Steelers and Penguins. The Cardinals have no such competition in St. Louis as neither the Blues or the Rams are doing very well. We’ll find out though, if the Pirates can manage to win a world series and do well for at least 10 years, but I doubt the Pirates will come close to the Cardinals in revenues.

                    • For Pirates to achieve Cardinals levels of revenues, they’ll need in order:

                      1. More success on field than Cards for extended period of time.

                      2. Similar local TV deal.

                      3. Bigger stadium capacity.

                      4. Bigger population base.

                    • Well, I certainly hope you’re right.

              • And choosing to let other organizations overpay guys like Albert Pujols during their declining years

                This bit of fiction annoys me to no end, the Cardinals offered Pujols 10 years and $210 million, it was Arte Monero not the Cardinals decision making that saw Pujols sign outside of St. Louis. The Cardinals do enough things well, lets not give them credit were none is deserved.

  • I imagine part of this discussion would focus on international law and the tenuous relationships with some of the governments in Cuba , and Venezuela in particular

  • In my mind, the best system would be one which abolishes the amateur draft and any artificial limits. A truly free market. However, since I realize MLB will never go that route, I tend to agree with Tim.

    If the goal is to make a “level playing field,” than include all players. Segregating American players from International players is probably the worst system possible if the intent is fairness. Although I think this whole mindset of fairness in sport should be filed in the same place as unicorns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows.

    Hello! The world, including the sporting world, is not fair and no amount of artificial levelling will make it so. The world is survival of the fittest. An adapt and overcome mindset is worth more than a large checkbook (see Pirates compared to Phillies for proof).

    • With the Pirates and the Josh Bell draft and sign, the Pirates embarrassed the league by reading and properly applying the rules in effect at the time. KC had started to do the same, but Change came swiftly from MLB and the Commissioner.

      In 2014 the Yankees signed 9 of the Top 30 International Prospects and paid a hefty fine for exceeding the spending limit. Boston is doing the same with impunity. MLB will react, but not nearly as quickly as they did with the Pirates or KC. They will allow the big spenders to replenish their systems, and then when they are too full to eat anymore, the Commissioner will announce a change.

      They are paying these penalties with TV Revenue funds that only get larger each year.

      • Maybe this Commissioner won’t be a lap dog to the Yankees/Red Sox/Dodgers Owners. But I’m not holding my breath.

        I’m hopeful Yankees return to relevance. It’ll be much more enjoyable to watch the Pirates dispatch them in WS than a team like the Royals.

        • Unfortunately most of the country thinks like your last paragraph. That’s why MLB is reluctant to fix an obviously broken system that is skewed in favor of the large market teams. The ultimate nightmare for MLB would be a Pirates / Royals World Series because most of the country wouldn’t care about the outcome and wouldn’t tune in, hurting ad revenues and the return shared among the league. That is surely the argument the large market teams make in League meetings to preserve the status quo: unless we are stronger than small market teams and in the WS more frequently everyone will make less money. And since if all the teams were equal the chance of being in the WS would only be 1 / 15 but if the WS were guaranteed to be between large market teams like Boston / LA or Yankees / Cubs the post season payday will be maximized then money grubbing owners like Bud Selig are willing to sacrifice the best interests of their own team (fans) in favor of lining their own pockets.

          • You may be right, but not about me. The only reason I would rather see the Pirates play the Yankees is because of those 27 banners they have. It has nothing to do with their payroll or market size.

      • Let them spend all that $ in the end because of “40 man roster$” they will only be able to keep ..maybe 6 or 7 ..the rest will become trade bait,DFA , waiver claims, rule 5 and all that stuff…that’s why having 4 A prospects is better than 20 C rated ones

        • Will: An excellent point; the Pirates built and empowered the system to be able to mold players/pitchers in accordance with the program design set by subject matter experts. They have taken some verbal abuse for the almost maddeningly deliberate pace they employ, but who can argue with the results?

          The Pirates System is producing, while systems like exist with the Yankees have not been near as productive or efficient. Keeping that entire management team together is the key to the future success of the franchise.

          When I saw the haul that the Yankees made in the International Draft, and the money they spent, I kept thinking of the bonus monies paid to Marte of $85K, Hanson for $90K, and Polanco for $150K. Draft wisely and develop the whole player.

    • Scott…if you don’t have a fair playing field, MLB will consist of just 8-12 very rich teams.

      Teams like the Pirates, Royals, etc, will just get out of the business or start their own league, probably more the latter.

      • Lee, when has MLB ever had a fair playing field?

        Brains are way more important than money. In sports and in life.

        But as I said above, MLB should lump all amateur players together, not just Americans. That would be preferable to current system.

        • Why limit that to just amateur players? Suppose professional players whose contracts have expired automatically returned to the draft pool. The draft then consists of all eligible players from everywhere. Each team has a fixed number of chits (say 10,000) that they can use to bid for any player. Round One: all teams allocate their chits to eligible players as they see fit in one blind bid. The top three chit bidding teams get exclusive rights to negotiate with the player that year. The player is free to sign which ever contract offer he deems best. After the first round is concluded the second round commences with all previously unclaimed players available and teams allowed only to “spend” their net remaining chits. Rounds continue until all chits are expended, after which all teams are free to compete for any unclaimed player who is signed as a free agent.

          • That’s a far fetched idea that doesn’t make much sense to me. Sounds like a Fantasy Baseball draft.

            I just think sports should adopt a system like other businesses do. Hire the best people they can attract at a mutually agreeable wage and length of time. At the end of this contractual agreement, both sides are free to negotiate a new deal or go their separate ways.

            • Do you want to put at least several franchises out of business?

            • Your proposed system would never result in an enjoyable product for most people in the country. Who would watch the Yankees and their ilk beating their opponents 12-1 every night (unless they were playing another large market team)? Very few. They would have to turn the game into the “Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals” every night.

              MLB will most prosper by finding the most effective way to cooperate amongst the teams to establish a competitive balance as that produces the most exciting, dramatic games to watch. Your Darwinian, let the richest team buy up the best players and beat the crap out of the poorer teams with lessor ability, approach would cause the withering and eventual death of the sport.

              • I don’t subscribe to that progressive liberal doom and gloom outlook.

                Why is it that in college football, where each University is restricted to what they can offer players always have the same few teams attract the best players and enjoy the best results?

                Money isn’t the overriding determining factor you think it is.

                • Don’t said college football programs have the largest athletics budgets? There are other forms of compensation outside of income.

    • Abolishing the amateur draft is about as foolish an idea as I’ve ever read as it relates to Major League Baseball.

      • No, the most foolish idea as it relates to MLB is treating American born amateur players different than those born abroad.

        Are you concerned all the best players will sign w the richest organizations to languish in their farm systems while older prospects and MLB players block them?

        The most talented players will be able to choose where they want to sign in order to make the most money, have the best chance to succeed and where they want to live. Eerily similar to how it works for the most talented in other walks of life.

        • Well guess what. This is the process that has been negotiated between the owners and the players. I don’t know why the owners of the larger market teams would give in on this one. And you might see the best players from Japan and Korea not coming over here at all if there is a draft.

          Abolishing the amateur draft is just a very bad idea for several reasons. For one, it would put a number of teams out of business.

          • Please explain how it would put teams out of business?

            • Do you think the most talented players would choose to go to the smaller markets? I don’t and I don’t think there would be enough leftovers. MLB isn’t like “other walks of life.”

              Let me ask you this Scott. Do you want to do away with revenue sharing?

              • I believe it’s foolish to say all the best players will do any one thing. All organizations are limited in roster spots. And I believe a talented 23 year old baseball player would rather be playing in Pittsburgh than wherever the Yankees AA affiliate plays.

                As for revenue sharing, I believe it’s benefits are oversold. Management practices and player development are conversely undersold.

                • I didn’t say the best players will do any one thing. But I do believe the smaller markets would be largely devoid of talent to keep them competitive at a level need for the franchise to exist.

                  Revenue sharing exists now to keep the smaller markets in business. Without it, the Pirates, Rays and some other teams would have gone bankrupt.

                  • Revenue sharing was instituted to keep poorly run MLB franchises from being sold on the cheap.

                    If an MLB franchise goes bankrupt, it doesn’t go out of business like a local restaurant. It is sold at a discounted price for another Owner to operate.

          • Kang didn’t choose the Pirates. The Pirates won the right to negotiate with him by offering the highest posting fee.

  • The draft system is busted and see no reason that international players aren’t involved in the same process as any other amateur declaring themselves eligible. Really don’t see a clear cut answer, but it definitely needs addressed.

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