Thursday open thread – 1/31/19

It’s downright frigid outside in the Northeast ,and in the Midwest and Canada it’s unbearable. Here’s something heartwarming – just two weeks until pitchers and catchers report. While the free agent market is doing another frustrating slow dance, the Mets’ roster appears to be pretty much set, except for perhaps a few more depth guys for spring training competition and extra injury insurance.

39 comments for “Thursday open thread – 1/31/19

  1. January 31, 2019 at 6:41 am

    I counted today over 100 FA’s still available. How will the MLBPA address this in the future? It’s only going to get worse as the pool of teams available and willing to sign FA’s gets smaller with each passing year. How do they reverse the trend?

    • January 31, 2019 at 8:15 am

      There are always going to be a bunch of FA available, even if 100 is on the high side.

      The owners are making money hand over fist and are using the luxury tax as an excuse not to spend. The first thing the players need to do in the upcoming CBA is to get the luxury tax line raised significantly.

      Of all people, Dale Murphy had a really intriguing idea. He said that the draft order the following season should start not with the worst record but with the best record among those who didn’t make the playoffs. This would be a huge incentive for teams to try and win. If you finish with 77 wins, do you tank or try to make playoffs? Under Murphy’s scenario, all teams will try to make the playoffs. Currently, there’s too much incentive not to win, which serves to keep salaries down and lessens the market for free agents.

      • Name
        January 31, 2019 at 9:30 am

        A side effect of the Murphy scenario would be a lot less trades in the game. The trade deadline would be pretty quiet because no one would be looking to sell. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it would be different.

        In my opinion, there’s a lot less incentive to win because of all the guaranteed revenues that the teams are making these days, mainly from tv contracts. Before, good business meant putting out a winning product because you needed to get fans in stadiums to make money. Nowadays you can still do great business by putting out a losing product because ballpark revenues are a fraction of the team’s total revenues.

        • January 31, 2019 at 9:42 am

          I’m not sure about your first graph. Maybe there would still be trades but they would just be different looking than the ones we have now. Perhaps the deal the Mets made with SEA, where they got a cheap closer and a very expensive old guy would be more likely to happen at the deadline than in the offseason.

          Unfortunately, I agree completely with your second graph. And that one’s a lot harder to fix. It will be curious to see what happens with TV revenues going forward.

          • Name
            January 31, 2019 at 9:57 am

            -Middle of the pack teams at the deadline would be looking to buy rather than sell, because moving up from say #7 to #2 would potentially be worthwhile.
            -Teams near the very very bottom would probably still sell. You’re probably going to get a better return trading a player for prospect than you are trying to go from pick #20 to pick #15. They would also get more in return because there would be less bona fida sellers and more buyers
            -Small market teams are probably going to still sell because in the end they know they won’t be able to afford the player in FA.
            -You would probably see a lot less trades with guys with multiple years left on their contract (like Chris Sale) because you wouldn’t be looking to tank multiple years.
            -Offseason deals would be more limited to position for position swaps rather than mlb players for prospects. A team like Seattle wouldn’t be rebuilding in this case.

      • MattyMets
        January 31, 2019 at 9:30 am

        The owners are exploiting every loophole in an agreement that really screws over players. In the bigger picture that no one is addressing – what about the fans?! Tickets, concessions, merchandise, parking fees, cable and mobile subscriptions all come out of our pockets. Going to a ball game in many cities is as expensive as going to Disney World.

        As far as what a new agreement needs to include:
        1) a pay floor that forces smaller market teams who are pocketing revenue share to spend.
        2) no more super 2
        3) make the rookie contract 2 years with a good raise in the second year.
        4) Players become FAs after 5 years of service time instead of 7.
        5) raise the soft cap

        • Name
          January 31, 2019 at 9:40 am

          As fans we should want not only the owners to earn less, but also the players as well. We shouldn’t be advocating for them.

          As you said the real group that is getting screwed are the fans. I would probably think that baseball popularity hasn’t grown that much recently, yet the revenues for mlb keep increasing. Thus the “growth” of MLB is because on average they are getting each fan to pay more rather than getting new fans. But a lot of this cost is indirect to the fan, because it’s paid in the form of tv deals (which affect your cable bill cost) and corporate marketing (which affects how much you pay for products) so most fans are oblivious to the fact that they are paying more and more each year. This is in addition to the rising costs at the ballpark, which despite their vocal displeasure, still decide to pay year after year – so that part can be blamed on the fans.

        • January 31, 2019 at 9:47 am

          Fans have the ultimate say – they can just stop paying for the more expensive product. Nothing happens until enough people make that decision individually.

          • January 31, 2019 at 9:58 am

            Why not create a base minimum for teams to spend on salaries. If they’re pocketing the revenue instead of putting that money back into the team there has to be an incentive for the “poorer” teams to spend to upgrade their teams. Shall we say 100 million dollar base? I know that Oakland and Tampa Bay buck the system and would be punished to increase their payrolls respectively.

            • January 31, 2019 at 10:44 am

              There is a base minimum – minimum wage X 25. And teams that receive luxury tax money are supposed to be able to show that they’re spending to improve their product in some way.

              If you want to tinker more than that, I’d suggest tying salaries and ticket prices together somehow. Since too many fans still believe that ticket prices are so high because of player salaries – and ignore basic economic principles – why not make that at least partially true? If you have a sub-$75 million payroll, you can’t charge more than $10 per any ticket in the stadium. Sub-$100 million and you can’t charge more than $15 dollars.

              I recognize that’s nowhere near an ideal solution. But it’s at least a little fun to think about and I’m sure we wouldn’t see a team with a payroll like what the A’s have had recently.

              • January 31, 2019 at 11:54 am

                If Oakland can resolve its stadium issues and Tampa Bay relocates how will that affect team spending? Teams in places like Pittsburgh and Cleveland are always going to be at the bottom of attendance. The Marlins are in a class by themselves. So even if they make the playoffs it’s probably going to have to include some kind of metric that would be fair to all teams. You have to remove the incentive for losing. That’s a start. Players were being rewarded for what they did before. Now it’s for what you can do today and tomorrow. Superstars will always get that ridiculous salary (Trout?) But it seems to be the middle of the pack FA’s who don’t seem to understand that the gravy train run is over.

                • January 31, 2019 at 12:14 pm

                  Here on Jan 31, Harper and Machado might disagree

                  • January 31, 2019 at 12:39 pm

                    I don’t think Harper gets more than the 300 million+ that was offered by the Nat’s. As for Machado the market is drying up for him. Maybe Machado takes a deal with an opt out after 3 or 4 years? I don’t see him approaching a 250 million dollar deal. Hey didn’t J.D. have to wait until February? We’ll see who blinks first.

                  • TexasGusCC
                    February 1, 2019 at 12:28 am

                    We don’t know why they are still free agents. Hard to believe that they aren’t getting offers. Most likely, they are not getting that 10/$300 that they look at as their birth right. There have only been a few 10-year contracts that I can remember: Votto, A Rod twice, Pujols, Stanton and Cano, and all of them are albatrosses. Why should any team be stupid? Lots of money was changed hands this year, but why do the owners have to be idiots to please the media types that are annoyed that there isn’t enough steak on the bone for their satisfaction? It’s the daily article from s o m e o n e, that makes us want them to sign already. Otherwise, I frankly don’t give a crap where, or for how much they sign, if it isn’t my team.

                    With there being about ten national writers needing stories for their bosses and followers on Twitter for their notoriety, and five networks covering sports and MLB, there just aren’t enough stories. So, they rehash the same ones over and again. I understand spring training is in two weeks, but the Padres last year gave out the bonehead contract and still Machado refused to meet with them. That is his privilege, but he has also said he will sign for the most money. So, why pass up a fairly serious suitor?

                    To me the players have learned to play the cat and mouse game because they have nothing to lose by playing it! In the past, the big players signed quickly and then the other ones came off the board. Now players are waiting for a team to blink – like the Cubs did with Darvish – so they will wait because they can only gain. So, the market gears sit and rust.

                    No one wants to hold the players accountable for not taking a good offer because it’s their birthright to get a mega deal. Well, surprise! every player wants a mega deal! Where is all that money going to come from? Like Jeff Wilpon said, how many teams have more than one $30MM a year player? So, if you are going to pay the piper, is a spoiled diva or a national stage jerk the piper you want to sign? I say no. However, their agents are whispering in their ear sweeet promises of patience. So, Keuchel, Kimbrel, Jones, and the rest wait. Pollock is so lucky the Dodgers pivoted, or he’d still be on the sidelines.

                    • February 1, 2019 at 8:09 am

                      I took Wilpon’s comment to be more of an excuse why not to be in the market, one he felt the audience would accept.

                      I recognize that it can seem like some players think it’s a “birth right” to get these contracts. But is that any different from small market franchises who think it’s their “birth right” to receive huge revenue sharing and luxury tax money from other teams?

                      I can tell you just about every detail in any player’s contract because that information is readily available from Cot’s. But I can’t tell you how much money any team pulled in because they hide that information, like they’re scared if anyone knew the truth that they would lose their minds. Would you rather see Bryce Harper get $35 million a year for 10 years or Fred Wilpon make $100 million a year every year until he sells the team, when he’ll get something like $2 billion?

                    • February 1, 2019 at 9:11 am

                      Hey Brian hasn’t payroll leveled out? And yet revenue continues to go up every year? Owners cry poverty but never show their books. I don’t care how much Fred gets for the team. I just hope and pray new ownership spends based on the market the Mets represent.

  2. NYM6986
    January 31, 2019 at 7:43 am

    I believe the salaries are getting out of hand in most sports and this is one reason why so many FAs are out there. It is impossible to keep a team together because of the economics. That’s why teams continue to look for trade deadline rentals to bolster a weakness or throw them over the top. That and teams are finally realizing that some players have declined enough that they do not warrant a long term expensive deal.
    Mets had one of their better off seasons and have shored up nearly every hole in their lineup, bench and pen. How can any Mets fan not be excited for SP to start?!

  3. January 31, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Neil Walker went from accepting a 17 million dollar QO to 2 million for this upcoming season from the Marlins in less than 3 years. Analytics I understand but really bizarre.

  4. January 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

    As for “The Problem”….. i don’t know that this is a Problem for the Game itself. For each sport, the off-season has become a rich programing feature because of the gyrations and drama of Player Movement. That includes Draft, mTrader, and Free Agency. Hot Stove has You “Watching Baseball”

    The system holds players “captive” at low salaries for a long time, and then releases a relatively small pool to fight for big money. Nothing makes a player worth $30-40,000,000, other than scarcity, and a restrictive pay system:

    Giancarlo Stanton made $26,000,000 in 2018….Aaron Judge made $625,000. (Aaron Judge should refuse to Play.)

    Earlier compensation of Young, quality players would lessen desperation for “singular stars”….it would boost and even salaries, and it would probably depress the freakish top end salaries.

    Baseball’s Players’ Union is one of the only Associations that can accomplish a “more good for more players” outcome…careers are longer, and it tends to be less top end politically…Football players don’t hang around long enough to accomplish such a task.

    Evening Salaries would definitely make things better for most players.

  5. January 31, 2019 at 8:15 am

    On a Baseball Note… I can’t shine this comment up, but I’m impressed by the number of “Good Baseball Players” that the Mets are bringing to camp. Robbie Cano is a HOF level talent, and a great Player— and He’s a Good Baseball Player. Jed Lowrie…Todd Frazier… Nimmo…Conforto… guys who can handle their positions, run bases, and hit—guys you trust with Their Bats and Gloves and Legs and Arms. Guys you trust to make decisions on a baseball field.

    I like this team…they won’t be perfect. They won’t need to be perfect. If they “Starting Pitch (Healthy)”, they will give us a terrific season.

    • January 31, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      You forgot Tebow

  6. Pete from NJ
    January 31, 2019 at 9:29 am

    No doubt Eraff. Previous seasons we’ve seen a solid roster of pitchers and a close your eyes and hope there’s enough hitting to push the team into the playoffs.

    Those deficits were addressed even without thinking of a Cespdes. The team is ready and I think we’re all ready too.

  7. Chris F
    January 31, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Players have a locked in mind set that as you age, regardless of performance, you get raises. They live in a bubble unlike almost anywhere in the world. As a result the de facto stance is getting to FA = monster payday. Of course it has worked, and especially for the 2 decades that steroid doping was so prevalent in the game (1990-2010). It extended careers to age 40, and gave unreasonable prowess to the 35-40 cohort. Although doping and dopers are still in the sport, the decline in performance in the > 35 yo world means most people no longer get long contracts, nor should they. Just because you are old, does not mean a payday is coming. Owners control the money, and it is their right not to dump 300M$ on a 10 year contract no matter how it is structured.

    By the same token, as the game has gotten younger where peal performance is in the Arb years, the owners benefit again from a CBA that protects talent for an exorbitant time. As a result, you have Raul Acuna making nothing while being one of the best players in the league. If I were MLBPA boss, I would yield on the crazy protections for the 35+ set and expect them to go on short contracts. I would restructure arb years based not on service time, but performance. I would be ok with control time because a team invests a lot to get a pro player, but I would completely change Arb to merit based with a decent league minimum. As a result, you dont get a RoY coming back to a 550k$/salary. Pay the man up front. This would take redistribute the crazy notion of an FA pay day to “play well, pay well”. Once FA comes, then its an open market. Owners pay what they will. take it or leave it.

  8. January 31, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Did a podcast with Dalton last night. You can listen to it here:

    • January 31, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Is it on iTunes?

      • January 31, 2019 at 12:55 pm

        Not sure about that. I’ve just joined a new podcast network and I’m not up on their distribution channels. It’s Lenny Melnick’s The Legend Sports Network. You can try searching for that.

  9. January 31, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Mets have hired one of my fav writers and smartest baseball people in Russell Carlton wonderful hire. I’m starting to become a fan of Brodie.

    • January 31, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Also Andrew Perputa who worked for Guttredge at neifi

  10. Mike Walczak
    January 31, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    I like the team. We have made some good moves.

    But, there is always time for some late deals, so lets make a deal.

    Juan Lagares to SF for Reyes Moronta – Adds a good arm to the pen. SF needs outfielders.

    Jason Vargas to the Yankees for a package of Yankee franks. (Do they still have those?)

    Sign Dallas Keuchel.

    • TexasGusCC
      February 1, 2019 at 12:45 am

      At this point, you need to treat Vargas like a $2MM flyer, except, he’s making $9MM. Unless you eat 75% of the contract, you can’t move him. Vargas wasn’t horrible in the second half, so if we think Wheeler’s second half is his upside, why can’t Varagas’ second half be his upside? I think the guy should get a chance. Just sign a swing guy like Hellickson in case you need to switch them.

      • Mike Walczak
        February 1, 2019 at 4:47 am

        My enjoyment of the game since 1969 is to get players I like and get rid of players I dont. So yes, some of the things I say dont make sense.

  11. MattyMets
    February 1, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Looks like Cecchini is staying. From MLBTR:
    The Mets will retain the rights to former first-round draft pick Gavin Cecchini, who was recently dropped from the 40-man roster and seemed a plausible candidate to be claimed. Evidently, no rival clubs were intrigued enough to create the roster space that would have been required. Cecchini is still just 25 years old and has at times hit well in the minors, but he has never developed much power and was limited by injuries last year.

    • Chris F
      February 2, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Its hard to believe he’s still a Met. I guess quad A roster filler matters. But this guy never sees the bigs again is my guess.

  12. TexasGusCC
    February 2, 2019 at 8:55 am

    It’s interesting to note that Ricco gets credit for the deal with Pittsburgh for Walker, but Alderson gets, and doesn’t run from, the blame to let Murphy go, which essentially the Walker trade did. At the time of trade, we all thought Niese for Walker was a steal, but many of us thought Murphy should have been brought back to play third base. I guess that could have been considered a “depth move”, but Alderson is honest in saying he never expected Murphy to blow up like he did.

    • Chris F
      February 2, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Funny, I get Murph, but that really was a blip more than anything. He’s a sub .800 OPS, 110 OPS+ guy. Its easy to reflect on 2016 when he was a monster, but by 2018 he already turned back to being the Met we all knew. We could have used the 2016 Murph for sure, and it could have made a difference.

      If you ask me, the far and away biggest mistake Alderson made, and his lack of pointing this out shows how out personality driven he is, is with Justin Turner. We needed a 3B and had one. He let Turner walk right as his prime years were coming. Lets look at his OPS+ since leaving NY: 155, 139, 121, 150, 151. He did that at a position we had zero depth in the system at.

      Murph by Comparison: 155, 136, 106.

      Its not even close, the loss of RedTurn2 was far and away the most egregious mistake of his tenure as GM.

      • Name
        February 2, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        Umm… you remember this guy named David Wright?

      • TexasGusCC
        February 3, 2019 at 12:46 am

        I can’t stick that to Alderson because his personality isn’t one of mud slinging. Calling Turner “lazy” after they cut him, referring to Flores’ supposed arthritis when he obviously doesn’t have enough to be affected or Arizona wouldn’t be giving him a starting job, and making Cespedes play even when obviously hurt (and Beltran too) is more the style of the COO of this outfit.

        Now, if you ask me who gave Marc Craig his story at the end of 2017 when Fred Wilpon was thinking of bringing back Bozo the Manager “due to all the injuries”, the biggest benefactor was Sandy Alderson. That he got that bitchy POS out of the dugout was just about a necessity for that team to have a chance, is pretty interesting. But that’s a management power play, not necessarily pulling weight on a helpless subordinate, like Collins like to do.

  13. TexasGusCC
    February 3, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    From today’s MLBTR, discussing the bottom five bullpens and the approach for this year:

    (The Mets were third)

    “Mets (minus-0.6 fWAR; projected season-opening bullpen): Unlike the Royals and Marlins, the Mets are making a real effort to win in 2019. As a result, the bullpen has been a key area of focus for new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who has swung a blockbuster trade to reel in arguably the best closer in baseball (ex-Mariner Edwin Diaz) and spent a combined $40MM on free agents Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson this winter. Diaz, Familia and Wilson will join Seth Lugo, who was outstanding in 2018, and Robert Gsellman to give the Mets no fewer than five capable relievers.

    Perhaps the Mets will also benefit from less heralded pickups in Luis Avilan and Arquimedes Caminero, whom they signed to minors deals, and Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy. Regardless, New York’s new cast of relievers looks a whole lot better than last year’s bullpen, which relied too much on the likes of Paul Sewald, Jerry Blevins, Jacob Rhame, Tim Peterson and Anthony Swarzak, among other ineffective options, en route to a 4.96 ERA. Sewald, Rhame and Peterson are still in the organization, albeit as depth pieces, while Blevins and Swarzak are now gone. All things considered, ZIPS expects the Mets’ revamped bullpen to end up as one of the majors’ best in 2019.”
    Only three bullpens had a negative WAR, with the Royals (-2.2 WAR) and Marlins (-2.1 WAR) being much, much worse than the Mets. Fourth was Cleveland, which did very little this off season, and fifth were our buddies in Washington DC, both with +0.4 WAR.

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