Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Selig Will Fail Us Yet Again

Insanity can be defined by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is time to accept Selig is what he is and will not change. Recently is has been reported that the Mets are trying to find a way to sign Michael Bourn without parting with their valuable 2013 #11 overall draft pick. According to MLBTR the Mets are a) seriously interested in Michael Bourn, b) supposedly hampered by having to sacrifice their top draft pick (the first unprotected pick in the draft) and c) would be supported by the MLBPA if they do seek an exemption. There is no reason this should be permitted, or that the Mets deserve any special treatment. We will know what is decided soon enough, but I for one refuse to count on Selig to the right thing this time either.

To start from the top, the Mets are still crawling out from the Bernie Madoff scandal and financial flexibility just is not there. This is a team that required an emergency $25 million dollar loan from MLB last season just to keep the owners afloat (old pal Bud had no issues with that). They committed to one star in David Wright, but shipped out the more affordable R.A. Dickey rather than offer him a deal befitting a reigning Cy Young award winner. Combining that with their relative lack of interest in any other notable free agents and I am not buying their level of interest. They did not even seriously try to get Scott Hairston (2 years/$5 million with the Cubs) back and we are expected to believe that they really want a guy who is asking for $15 million a season?

Second, I do not get the compensation complaint they have. True they would be #10, and thus protected, if the Pirates did not fail to sign their top pick last season. However, this development has been known for months, as have the draft rules. This is the first offseason with the new compensation rules, but they are not that shocking or complex. Some teams are willing to let top talent go, some teams are willing to sacrifice a potential draft pick to get them. This may limit interest by some teams, but with the modified rules fewer players than ever were offered compensation. Let an offseason run its course before modifying the rules. Perhaps the draft is top heavy or the team wants the money with the draft pick, but if that is the case they are like every other team, not a unique exception to the rule. Sign Bourn or keep the pick, no reason for the Mets to get both.

The MLBPA would support this proposal because that is exactly what the Players Association should do. They are looking out for the best deals for free agents and top tier free agents pull up lower salaries. It would be a steal for the MLBPA if they could get a player out from draft pick compensation. Their interest, along with Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, would all stand to benefit from this situation and have little to lose from requesting it, but do not blame then when it gets approved.

Selig is going to handle this the way he has handled everything: poorly and with a strong sense of self entitlement hidden beneath an "aw shucks" shrug and pats on the back from his best buddy owners. First he will Rolodex the team where the Mets are clearly in his buddy list. Then he will look for excuses, "big market Mets need this it will be good for baseball as a whole" (expect no further explanation). Followed by, "well if you consider that the Pirates shouldn't have been there the Mets pick would have been protected anyway." Then token comments about how "under the new system and this one time exception the Braves are not out an additional draft pick and we will consider a permanent change over the next few months". 

Selig should not grant this exemption. A new agreement with modified rules is in its first full season, baseball would be better off with a wait and see approach. Right now this has nothing to do with Boras or the MLBPA, though Boras will undoubtedly be given plenty of grief over this. He is seeking a creative way to get his player the best deal, it is what all agents attempt and what he has been exceptionally (and exasperatingly) good at. This has everything to do with Selig and his abuse of power. He loves the Wilpon's, much as he has loved Loria, they scratch his back and he does them favors. Baseball is no better for it, but Selig hasn't stayed around for so long by doing mere fans any favors and this will likely be no different. You may disagree, but that is the great thing about insanity it only takes one to enjoy the crazy.