New Labor Agreement could be announced tomorrow
According to the Biz of Baseball: "The deal will include a luxury tax around the amateur draft bonus system, and changes to how compensation for premium free agents are reached. " The plan is to tax teams that go over a set limit in total draft spending for the year, rather than make a "hard slot" number for any individual pick. Other changes include a raise in the minimum salary (from $414k to $480k) and hGH testing, but the sides ultimately did not agree to accept a tax on teams that fail to reach a salary floor, which is too bad. Finally, Tom Verducci reports in the link below that we might see the expanded playoffs as soon as 2012.
- Ken Rosenthal thinks the Commish and the Union's leaders deserve a lot of credit, and he's right of course. But baseball, much more than the other sports, benefits by having already fought it's ugliest labor wars that culminated under Bud's watch during the strike of '94-'95. The other sports don't have the same historical backdrop that gives their stakeholders the perspective shared by those in baseball.
- One change to the new labor agreement is fewer "Type A" free agents
From what I'm reading, they're doing away with the whole Elias set of rankings and may even determine Type A's by the value of their new contract, which is shockingly reasonable. Reportedly among those affected is Francisco Cordero. The upshot here is the signing team won't have to forfeit its own pick to sign Coco. The rule change is particularly critical for relievers because it's usually the teams that don't have protected first-round picks (i.e., bottom half of the round) that are looking to sign closers. Any smart team is understandably wary about forfeiting its highest pick for a relief pitcher. All that said, my guess is the Reds don't offer arbitration. He's coming off a great year and a high salary, meaning there's a very good chance that he makes something close to the $12M he earned this past season.
- Tom Verducci plays "what if" for the '06 draft
We've done our share of teeth-gnashing over the Reds passing of Tim Lincecum to select Drew Stubbs with the no. 8 pick, but comparatively the Reds did pretty well here. The Dodgers took Clayton Kershaw right before the Reds, so six teams passed on not just one but two future CYA winners. All but one of them (Tampa, which selected Eva Longoria) took pitchers, and that group as a whole has a -1.0 WAR to date.
- Verducci also notes that it was the players who pushed strongest for a 15-15 league split, which I found surprising: "The biggest complaints from players have been brutal travel schedules -- many of the problems are caused by interleague play -- and the inequity of intradivision rivals playing very different interleague schedules." Starting in 2013, we should see fewer marquee interleague series but the same number of games (18). That might make sense from a scheduling equity perspective, but it doesn't make for great business. The Indians series is one of the biggest gate draws of the year, and it's a shame if Cleveland and Cincinnati will have to trade it off.
Christina Karhl has doubts about the Reds' rotation
I don't agree with everything here, but it's hard to dispute the overarching theme that the rotation depth means the Reds have difficult choices to make. Should Travis Wood be given another shot? Edinson Volquez? Or is the solution external? If so, Karhl is not optimistic about the Braves' Jair Jurrjens. "Jurrjens is also someone most statheads expect to see take a tumble in 2012, by as much as a full run given a 3.95 FIP to his 2.96 ERA. That’s assuming that the right knee that has shelved him three times in two years holds up, and that’s without getting to an additional pair of DL stints in the last two years for injuries to an oblique and a thigh... If Jurrjens is the solution, maybe it's the decision-making process that tells the Reds to go after him that is the problem."
Captain Hook's legacy pays dividends for the Reds
Sparky Anderson earned the nickname for going to his bullpen early and often, but the Reds have apparently continued his legacy to the present day. Here, Mitchel Litchtman does the heavy lifting to show that it's better on the whole to pinch hit for your starter in high-leverage situations after the pitcher has thrown at least five innings. In 2010, Dusty was in the middle of the pack when it came to "total wins lost" under this metric (1.01). But from 2005 through 2010, the Reds lost the fewest wins in the NL (4.3).
The Blog Red Machine looks at the Central's bullpen performance
The above study doesn't account for bullpen strength or fatigue, which seemed to plague the Reds' 'pen down the stretch. But by the BRM's count, the Reds' relievers still had the third-best ratio of successful relief outings in the division. The big story in the division was Milwaukee's amazing turnaround following the K-Rod trade.
Nick Masset has a large "swing area"
Which is simply defined as "the size of the area in which pitchers are getting swings." The better the bigger, because you want hitters chasing your stuff all over the place. Masset finished fourth in baseball last year, and the names on the leaderboard are generally good company. We've talked about Masset's up-and-down 2011, but I'm coming around to a rebound the more I think about it.
Brodie Greene a finalist for the Stenson Award
This AFL award is given to the player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership, and is named in honor of the late Darnell Stenson a Reds outfield prospect who was killed in a 2003 carjacking while playing in the AFL. The Marlins' Kevin Mattison won, but Greene sounds like an alright guy anyways: "Be there early, after, whatever it takes, picking up guys when you're not playing. Playing the game the right way, how I was taught my whole life. It's paying off now." There's a video interview of Greene in the link.
Boxberger named AFL all-star
In other AFL award news, RHP Brad Boxberger was named to the AFL's all-star team. Pitching for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, he struck out 22 and walked 6 in 13.1 innings. In his final post of the season, Boxy blogs about his offseason work schedule and upcoming appearances at Reds Fest. But all work and no play makes Boxy a dull prospect: "I'll also will be trying to sneak in some regular Modern Warfare gaming time each day."
C-ing Red has some shopping ideas in time for the holiday season
In the market for a "silver fashion watch?" With rhinestones? And a Reds logo? Then you're in luck! Also: instructions on crocheting an old-school Reds logo.
If there's someone on your shopping list who you don't particularly care for,
OMGReds has discovered that the baseball card company Leaf has released "an entire set of baseball cards featuring Pete Rose. AN ENTIRE SET.... Each box includes at least one Rose autograph ... with the "Never bet on baseball" inscription being the grand-daddy of them all, if you ask us." I barely remember Leaf from my collecting days of about twenty years ago; I'm amazed they're still around.
Review - "The Last Play at Shea"
So this doesn't really belong with the others, but I'm interested in seeing this documentary about Shea Stadium and a few of the famous concerts it hosted. "This fourth layer provides a musical link between Joel and the Moptops .... As one watches the contrasting visuals at Shea--we're talking daytime and nighttime imagery--it is still astonishing to contemplate how divergent one's response could be to it. In the daytime, in the non-descript "garbage dump meadow" that Robert Moses hand-picked as the location for the Dodgers (and caused them to flee to California), it was nothing other than a dump.... But at night--especially when the camera at the Joel concert looks out into the audience from the center field stage--Shea Stadium (surely the only major league sports facility named for a lawyer...) takes on a good bit of the classicism inherent in its design."