The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel says MLBPA is a little bit concerned about the way the Pittsburgh Pirates are spending their revenue sharing subsidies (sub reqd). This is a microcosm of the greater “teams ain’t spending money this year” conversation we have been having recently.
Basically, the Pirates have taken some pretty drastic steps in the last year or so to trim their big-league payroll. They traded off Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, who accounted for something over $20 mil. Perhaps most weird was when they just straight-up cut Juan Nicasio last August. He was their set-up man and one of the best in the league at the time. But by cutting him, they were able to save a whopping $600k. They had their reasons, I guess, but still. That looks cheap as hell.
How does this have anything to do with revenue sharing? Well, all of the revenue sharing dollars that small-market teams (like your Cincinnati Reds) receive is required to be spent “in an effort to improve its performance on the field.” That language is vague as hell, so no wonder the Union and the Pirates disagree on what exactly it means.
And this is really the heart of the issue. Under the management of Tony Clark, the Union has agreed to more and more ownership-friendly provisions in recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations. With absolutely no real specificity regarding how revenue sharing dollars are to be spent, the Pirates are in compliance with the provision. They claim to have spent the Nicasio cash on upgrades to one of their development facilities. Which, I mean, okay whatever.
I don’t think the Union has any real merit to their complaint, but my guess is that this specific issue with the Pirates is actually just establishing a position from which they can bargain when the CBA comes up again. I bet they fight real hard to get that revenue sharing bit changed so that teams will have to spend it specifically on major-league contracts.
Of course, the whole thing is useless unless we can see the accounting books for the teams. But I’ll let you guess how likely that is.
Tony Disco felt real good throwing to real life major-league hitters again. This kind of boring stuff is what passes for news during Spring Training, but it’s also actually really important. He hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since Sept of 2016 and he has been injured the last two STs. If he is at full health as he says he is (and he looks to be), it’s great to have him back in the rotation. Here’s hoping he survives the rest of the spring and also into the summer and also the fall. And next year. And the year after that.
In related “hey, that dude is healthy again” news, Amir Garrett was throwing poison rocks the other day. Bryan Price was ebullient:
“Amir was as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Price said. “He had velocity with command and threw the slider and changeup for strikes. He was filthy. That’s the type of performance you want to see from a guy that’s coming off of a tough season. He came out, he was snorting fire and attacked the zone. It was one of those dare-to-be-noticed moments, because he was a standout yesterday -- an absolute standout.”
Given how poorly Garrett fared as a rookie last season, this is a refreshingly positive development. Prospect shine rubs off really quick when a guy gets beat around as much as he was, but it’s important to remember that he very well might still have the stuff that made him a top prospect in the first place. It would be so easy then to blame last year on his injured hip, and I hope it is.
For some stupid dumb asinine reason, lots of idiots are furrowing their brows talking about the pace of play in baseball. A lot of energy has been burned recently in attempt to find solutions to this problem, and I have made it clear that I don’t think it is a problem in the slightest. But whatever.
We’ve seen a number of weird changes that could be made to make the game roll a bit faster, but one of the most recent and most wild is the idea that in the ninth inning, managers should be allowed to reset their lineups. Craig Edwards at FanGraphs digs into a bit here.
This, I think, is actually pretty interesting. The guts of the idea is that at the top of the ninth inning, a manager could decide to send his three-best hitters to plate. Edwards provides some neat graphs (Hey! That’s the name of the website!) that illustrate how run-scoring is suppressed late in the game, largely due to opposing teams using their best relief pitchers. The hook of this idea is that if one team can use their best pitcher in the ninth inning, then why not let the opposing manager use his best hitters?
It’s pretty compelling. The end of the game is usually pretty exciting as it is, but imagine the prospect of guaranteeing Joey Votto faces Kenley Jansen with the game on the line. I dunno if it is worth tinkering with the fabric of the game, but at the very least it is worth talking about simply for the funness of it.