Some days, many of them actually, one of the best things about having this baseball blog is reading the interesting opinions of the readers here. Yesterday was clearly one of those days.
The topic was the Jeff Passan column about the economic system in Major League Baseball, whether it is broken and/or in need of a major overhaul. If you haven’t read the column, it’s long, but well done and worth your time. If you haven’t read some of the 200 or so responses from readers yesterday, that is also very worth your time. Click here for that.
Here is a cross section of some of the responses. No, I didn’t pick those I felt the were the best or that I most agreed with. Just grabbed a few to respresent some of the many well thought out opinions we heard. Kudos to the readers for taking the time yesterday to provide such interesting opinions. I promise I wil run a few more over the next few weeks and we’ll revisit the topic at least once more this offseason. Thanks to everyone. Space allows only a few here today. Some were lightly edited and/or only a portion of a bigger comment is provided today.
tgc3td: The only problem I have with the system is the luxury tax. Money is not a deterrent for the rich teams and they do just enough to get into compliance so it doesn’t impact their draft position. Set a limit and penalize teams that exceed it with draft position changes from day one.
woodieman: The average ML salary is over 4 million. Entry salary is around $550,000. In no other industry is a substitute person making this kind of $$$. Elite business executives often don’t make this kind of salary either. Only a few top CEO’s do and they have something called brains. A lot of these baseball players demonstrate their level of talent every interview and every time they open their mouths.
DOC: Didn’t football and basketball go to a salary cap to reduce the competitive advantage of large markets over small markets? Until baseball has a salary cap, mid- and small-market teams will be greatly disadvantaged.
If you finish in last place long enough and draft really well, you might have a small competitive window (Rays). But big-market teams will be most competitive and always have the best chance to succeed. BB has always been that way. Free agency makes it more pronounced.
Manny: I’m not thrilled with the system myself. The fact that some teams can spend way above others strikes as unfair to competition. When was the last time the Yankees had a losing season? And when was the last time before that? Sure an overwhelming payroll doesn’t buy you a World Series but it sure makes you competitive every year. When I see teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers linger in last place for a few seasons in a row, then I’ll believe competition is fair.
Bill Brooks: I believe the overarching factor in baseball economics is the guaranteed money of MLB baseball player contracts. Small and medium market teams take on a disproportionate higher level of risk if they compete for the players earning big contracts. What happens to the club if a player is signed for $200-300 million and has a serious injury? It could be devastating to a small and medium market team. I think the reset in the luxury tax rule may have to be removed to keep a cap on things.
Dpsmith22: The late Mike Flanagan, had the best solution I have heard. He wanted the luxury tax money to stay within each division. Direct competition benefits from your overspend.
Scooter71: Here is the problem I have with a statement such as “the willingness of teams to treat competitiveness as an option, not a priority.” There are a number of teams that are willing to treat it as an option instead of a priority such as the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Rays, while others such as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees make competitiveness a priority. That is why the system is broken. Sure, the Yankees want to get under the luxury tax, but the reality is teams like the Yankees who are willing to push the boundaries are most likely to put themselves in a position to grab the brass ring.
Yes, former second division clubs like the Royals, Astros and Cubs have won the World Series in recent years without spending a ton of money. Heck, the Astros may do it again in 2018 as well. But teams that put a premium on making competitiveness a priority are more likely to get to the playoffs every year.
Again thanks to everyone for some great responses and taking the time yesterday.
This DJ spun some hits in 2017: The Orioles’ 2015 first-round draft pick, outfielder DJ Stewart from Florida State, is not yet on the 40-man roster. But he will be in spring training at big league camp starting next month.
O’s manager Buck Showalter was a guest last night on the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan, and he confirmed that Stewart will be in camp. He will be among the club’s non-roster invitees.
Stewart has come a long way since draft day and his struggles early in his career as he tweaked his batting stance, which once consisted of him hitting out of a very low crouch. He is now more upright and has worked on adjusting the stance since draft day really.
Stewart hit just .218 in short-season ball the year he was drafted. But he had his best season while playing at his highest level in 2017. In 126 games at Double-A Bowie, the now 24-year-old Stewart hit .278/.378/.481 with 26 doubles, two triples, 21 homers, 20 steals, 80 runs, 79 RBIs and with an OPS of .859 for the Baysox.
He was one of 10 players in all of the minors to produce a 20-20 season - hitting 20 or more homers while also stealing 20 or more bases. He is the first player in Baysox history to do it.
During the Eastern League playoffs, Bowie manager Gary Kendall provided a very favorable report on Stewart’s season.
“He has come up with some big hits and has put the ball in play with some strength,” Kendall said. “He brings a lot of ingredients to be a good hitter. He’s very physical and strong and puts the ball in play with authority a lot. He can get on base a lot of different ways. He can walk with good strike zone judgment, can drive the ball in the alleys, can leave the park and he can leg out hits. Offensively, there are a lot of ways for him to get on base.
“Defensively, he has just continued to work. Every day he works on his routes, shags a lot and throws to bases. He listens and he’s had a lot of help from our coach, Butch Davis, and (minor league instructor) B.J. Surhoff has been around our club a lot. So there are some guys that have a lot of experience that he just feeds off.
“But most importantly, he puts time and effort into his game. He really likes to play. One of the worst days for DJ is when he comes in and has an occasional day off. He never comes in and says he needs a day. He always wants to be in the lineup.”
Click here to check out a longer profile of Stewart from last September.