Random takes

Here are some random thoughts and takes for a Friday:

* As I wrote back on Nov. 16, any cap on draft spending is not good for the game in my opinion. If Bud Selig's goal was to enhance competitive balance in this latest collective bargaining agreement, he failed. The draft was a rare area where a team like Pittsburgh, Kansas City or Baltimore could outspend the Yankees, if they chose to.

While the Orioles, selecting higher, will get a larger bonus pool to sign picks next year than New York, the difference will have almost no impact on closing the gap between the haves and have nots.

None of this changes this one key fact: The Yankees can still spend as much as they want on players and anything they can't get in the draft, they will get in free agency. Competitive balance is a nice phrase, but it hasn't existed in baseball for many years now and this agreement doesn't change any of that.

One final note on the capping of draft spending. The penalites for going over your allotted bonus pool are severe. But which teams could most afford to go over if they felt they really needed to - the richest teams, that is who?

* Here is a good question: With all the talk about enhancing competitive balance, having a balanced schedule would have been a nice step in that direction. But that was not part of this agreement. I wonder why not?

* I wonder if this scenario could happen under this new agreement: A team drafts a player in the first round that they have no intention of signing and they use the allotted money from that round to sign more picks in the rest of the rounds.

* Perhaps the new agreement will put even a bigger premium on a team's scouts. Especially on the international front, with no longer the ability to land a real big money player, teams that do the best scouting job will get the best players with less margin for error.

* Let me join the growing chorus that believes the Orioles' interest in adding relief pitchers is opening the door for Jim Johnson to return to the rotation. I am all for that move and discussed it here weeks ago.

I could see Johnson thriving in a starting role big time. He has enough quality pitches and command of them to do it. This is the club's biggest need. It just makes too much sense to do it, although I have yet to hear Buck Showalter or Dan Duquette say that is the way they are going to go.

Heck, I wouldn't mind them stretching out former starters like Troy Patton and Jason Berken next March to even take a look at them too.

* Two notes on the Orioles' front office. Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko that he interviewed several candidates this week for the position of scouting director. I have heard that current scouts Dean Albany and Ron Hopkins were not among those interviewed. While it remains possible that someone internally will get that job, I'm betting now that someone outside the orgainization will succeed Joe Jordan as scouting director.

* John Stockstill, an internal candidate that was among those that interviewed for the job Duquette eventually got, still has not been told what role he will have in Duquette's front office, sources say.

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