Clippard Scurries Off To Arizona: Well after more than 6 months of darting along the subway tracks, battling pigeons for food scraps, and being chased by stray cats, Tyler Clippard (aka Rat-Face, aka Splinter) has officially departed New York City for Arizona where he’ll now need to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, coyotes, and other dangerous desert predators.
Clip was arguably one of the most unusual free agent cases this offseason. Other than Darren O’Day (2.31 career ERA) and Joakim Soria (2.58 career ERA), Clippard had the best resume of any reliever available. Yet he had to settle for a 2 year deal. We saw O’Day sign a 4 year deal, Soria sign a 3 year deal, and Tony Sipp sign a 3 year deal. Even Ryan Madson, who was never as effective as Clippard in his career and had been out of baseball from 2012-2014 due to injury, scored a 3 year deal. Yet for some reason teams were scared away from Clippard because his K/9 was slightly down in 2015 along with his velocity in September. I guess the experts have their reasons for being down on Clippard, but I wish him the best. He had a bad World Series but so did the entire Mets team.
Cry Baby Owners Hate Sharing: There were a lot of articles written last week about all the “concerns” MLB owners have with the number of teams that are “tanking” and how it negatively impacts the integrity of the game. The owners want to put a stop to it and plan to talk about it during the next collective bargaining negotiation and blah blah blah.
Translation: The owners of big market MLB teams don’t like sharing revenues with small market teams that are rebuilding.
First of all, “tanking” in baseball is not a real thing. Unlike the NBA and NFL draft, the MLB draft doesn’t have the same top heavy talent distribution with a diminishing overall player value as you get lower in the first round. Ken Griffey Jr. was the first number 1 overall selection in the draft to ever get elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Second, the Astros have seemingly become the poster child for the success of MLB teams that “tank” because they had the worst record for 3 straight seasons (2011-2013) and then made the playoffs last season. As a result of their horrendous stretch from 2011-2013, the Astros drafted Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, and Brady Aiken first overall in three consecutive drafts. Correa may wind up being one of the best position players in the league. That being said, Mark Appel just got traded for reliever Ken Giles and the Astros never even came to terms with Aiken on a contract. So it’s hardly fair to attribute their success last season to their “tanking strategy”.
Finally, we all need to stop living in a fantasy world. This has nothing to do with “tanking” and everything to do with the big market teams being bitter that they can no longer buy the top young talent in the draft. Remember how the system used to work? No? Well before 2012 there wasn’t a rigid slotting system with spending caps. So the most talented players would demand extremely high bonuses that were loosely regulated under league rules. As a result of that, players represented by agents like Scott Boras would frequently make their bonus demands known before the draft and the small market teams that had high picks would literally pass on the top talent because they could not afford to meet their contract demands. A prominent example was in 2004 when Jered Weaver, a consensus top 3 pick fell to the big market Angels at 12 because of his anticipated bonus. Small market clubs like the Rays, Brewers, Rockies, and Pirates all passed on him.
In order to rectify this competitive imbalance, Major League Baseball negotiated a slotting system in 2012 that assigned teams spending caps according to where they pick in the draft. Just like that, the league made it impossible for big market teams to buy the draft. And now that the best talent is consistently and appropriately being selected at the top of the draft board, the big market owners want to turn to…ping pong balls.
They say, “The draft isn’t working! Let’s just toss away the entire system and make it a lottery!” After all, that’s the only way they’ll have a chance to get that precious top slot money.
It’s a complete joke. If tomorrow the owners were allowed to stop sharing revenues with the small market “tanking” teams, the complaints about the integrity of the game would cease overnight.
Final Mets Notes: It was reported last week that smokeless tobacco could be banned from Yankee stadium and Citi Field this season. Great. The last thing we need is Matt Harvey having nicotine withdrawal fits on the mound come April.