Friday February 20, 2004
CHRIS COSTE INTERVIEWED
DISCUSSION QUESTION’S ANSWERS
SPRING TRAINING STARTS SUNDAY!
TIMBERWOLVES WIN AGAIN
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Before getting to this week’s Discussion Question responses, I wanted to cover a couple of topics. First, yesterday I wrote a posting called “SABRmetricians vs Traditionalists.” No other posting in over eight months of this site has ever had so much response. Some agreed with me. Some definitely did not. But, because of such great reader participation and response, I will be including a Mailbag edition with your responses early next week. So, check out yesterday’s posting again and if you have any thoughts you would like posted, send me an e-mail. Thanks to everyone who wrote to me.
CHRIS COSTE INTERVIEW
Before I get to your thoughts on baseball’s current economic situation, I wanted to point out a great interview over at Al’s Ramblings. Al writes a lot about the Milwaukee Brewers. He recently had the opportunity to interview Chris Coste , a former college teammate, who signed a minor league contract with the Brewers this winter. He will join the Brewers pitchers and catchers when they report to Phoenix, AZ, Saturday morning for the start of their Spring Training. The interview is great and well worth the quick read.
After reading the interview, I went to the Brewers website . There is an article in there with some of GM Gord Ash’s thoughts on the 2004 Brewers roster. In the Don’t Count Out… section, we find:
Chris Coste. Ash mentioned Coste as a possible third-string catcher behind Chad Moeller and Gary Bennett and a relatively potent bat off the bench. It would be an interesting choice since Coste is coming off injuries, will be 31 years old this year and did not break into affiliated baseball until the Indians signed him as a 27-year-old in 2000 after four seasons in the independent Northern League.
Here are some other Chris Coste-related websites you should check out:
ChrisCoste.com – You can order his books, “Hey, I’m Just the Catcher!” and “Roller Coster.”
|Concordia College stats page|
|The Baseball Wire’s Chris Coste Page – sponsored by www.SethSpeaks.net|
|Brewers Fan Profile|
Obviously I, and anyone who has had the privilege of knowing Chris, wish him the best. Hopefully he can come out of Spring Training with a spot on the Brewers 25 man roster.
DISCUSSION QUESTION/ THE ANSWERS
OK, let’s get to your response to this week’s Discussion Question. It was:
Clearly baseball’s current economic situation leaves much to be desired. So this week’s Discussion Question is devoted to it. It really is more than one question, so I will leave it up to you to answer as you’d like. What is the main problem with baseball’s economic situation? If you were commissioner, what would your plan be to remedy the economic inequities in baseball? I realize this is a big question, but I think it is an important question.
And here are your responses. Thanks to everyone who contributed.
From “Michael” from Tampa Bay -
I think baseball's current economic problem does not rest with the New York Yankees of the league, but rather the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, and Montreal Expos of the league. While the Yankees are putting a great deal of money into their players, these other teams are not even paying fair market value for their players. This leads to many problems.
First, these teams do not have a team that can even come close to competing. In other sports such as NFL Football, each year every fan of every team can say their team has a shot at the playoffs and they would not be considered foolish. In baseball, however, with a $30 million dollar payroll, the Devil Rays can only fight for 3rd place in their division.
Second, the attendance of these clubs suffers greatly because if management won't pay market value to field a team, why on earth should fans pay to see them? If fans know that the Expos are just a farm team for the Yankees, why should they support the team? They shouldn't. The commitment to winning (and profit) starts with the ownership, and once fans see the management is committed to putting a winning team on the field, people will come. People will most definitely come.
The sharing of revenues is an effort to make the league more balanced and competitive. The small market teams, however, are not fulfilling their end of the bargain. Like a welfare system, the state requires minimal efforts for the welfare recipient to go out and find a job, and if they cannot they have a safety net. The system breaks down where the recipient collects the check but does not look for work. Same is true for MLB. If the teams with tiny team salaries receive money from the big market teams as part of revenue sharing, there needs to be some proof that the money is being used to actually make the team competitive.
My solution would be to create a minimum salary cap, a level that teams must exceed at least once every 3 years. It is understandable that every so often a team will need to do a massive salary dump for rebuilding purposes. But when a team is dumping salaries for 4 straight years, and their overall team salary is under $50million, they are truly part of the problem (not the Yankees/Red Sox)
One may argue that the fair market value has been distorted by the few teams with the deep pockets, and this may be true. That is why for a minimum salary cap to work, the maximum salary cap must exist, even if it is astronomically high. Let's say you set the limit at $150mil, only 1-2 teams could even approach it. Smaller-market teams could still be in bidding wars with the likes of Boston and New York if there were *some* salary cap, while at the same time the big teams could still have the flexibility that comes with having deep pockets.
You cannot force the Devil Rays to resign all of their best players to big contracts, but there should be a mechanism to force them to field a team which comes somewhere near the median level of the league.
Just to clarify my post, I would enforce the minimum salary cap in two different ways:
First, I would have each new owner of a beginning or bought franchise sign a contract with the league stating he will pay his players within a certain range of the league average payroll (promising via contract to stay competitive). Second, I would enforce it by making continuing ownership based on meeting those guidelines. After 2 straight years of deviating from the minimum by a determined margin, the ownership would be put on notice. If they do not make a reasonable effort to field a team aligned with the rest of the league, MLB will take control of the team (like the Expos) and will begin finding an owner who can. Of course this would only work if there was also a maximum payroll to keep the NY/Boston/LA teams from greatly expanding the median league payroll.
The only thing I thing you didn't cover and I think it's an important point is that the Yankees can do something almost no other team can do. They can afford lots of mistakes. They can blow 2, 3, 4, 6, million dollars on someone who might not work out because they can afford it. What other teams can do that? Suppose they need another player in the middle of the season? They can immediately plug their hole with the best money can buy. What other team can afford to do that? Teams have to take calculated risks on investment not just smaller teams like the Twins. The Yankees don't have to do that. As an aside, I'd like to know where George got all his money in the first place. I mean, all my life he's been this wealthy as sin demon atop the Yankee mountain. Where did he come from?
The only comfort I take is that while the Yankees won their championships in the 90s with a hometown team, now they really ARE a team of hired guns and mercenaries. I wish them worst of luck, and never was a team more deserving to be destroyed by the Baseball Gods.
From Will Young (check out Will’s new and improved Twins Web Page) -
The problem with baseball's current economic situation is that it creates situations in which certain teams automatically begin from a position of strength relative to the other teams. I, for one, have no problem with George Steinbrenner and the Yankees because he is still operating within some sort of a budget rather than pocketing his profit. Thus, I do not really believe he should be "punished" for his willingness to spend money on premium talent. However, if I could make one change to the current structure, I would force half of all the money each team earns from television revenue to be placed into a centralized pot that would then be divided evenly throughout baseball.
Unfortunately, I will be the first to admit that this solution has many problems. First and foremost, many teams charge less than market value for their television contracts because they are owned by the same corporation (the Braves and Cubs come to mind). Second, George Steinbrenner would be kicking and screaming about this solution because it would be implemented solely to combat his willingness to spend money. However, it is one of the few first steps that MLB can take to tackle the problem.
From Kirk Beller -
About a-rod. Absolutely not--I don't disagree with you. I'm frustrated about it, and I don't feel like any of the articles I'm reading are capturing my feelings, so I feel like I want to write a thesis about the whole thing. I agree with the following facts:
1. There was nothing wrong with this move within baseball's current framework of rules.
2. Steinbrenner will do whatever he thinks it takes to bring a champion to the Yankees.
3. No amount of money guarantees a World Series title.
There are a few things that I think he's failing to consider about his method of acquiring players. For starters, you look at the Yankee teams that won the World Series in the late 90s, and you notice that they had some really good players on them. However, it wasn't a team full of all stars. I mean, we're talking about Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, Joe Girardi, Tino Martinez, Mariano Duncan, and Gerald Williams. Those players run the gamut from mediocre all the way to really good, but I wouldn't call any of them superstars. Those Yankee teams seemed to realize that you get yourself a good pitching staff, a couple of star players, and some decent players that know a thing or two about clubhouse chemistry, and you take your chances in the postseason.
That's not the case with this team. I liked Neyer's column the other day that showed how many all star appearances each player had. It was freakin' ridiculous. And though it would seem like a team with all stars at nearly every position would be that much more likely to win a World Series, it just doesn't seem to play out like that all the time. So, the bottom line is that I'm not sure Steinbrenner is making a good investment here. Yeah, it could very well work out with a World Series title, but the chances of that happening don't seem to go up that much with the acquisition of every superstar free agent on the market.
That's the problem though. Steinbrenner can make any investment he wants to without fear of any repercussions, because of the vast revenue stream behind the franchise. If there are no repercussions, financial or otherwise (but especially financial), there are no tough decisions to be made, and that's the real unfair thing about the setup in baseball right now. Every other team in baseball (with the possible exception of the Red Sox) has to make tough player decisions in building their club for each season. They have to draft carefully and develop players, or their teams are going to fail over the long term. The Yankees don't have to play by those rules though because they can always trump any offer made by another club for already developed superstar players in their prime.
One argument that I hear a lot when I'm listening to Yankee fans defend the Steinbrenner team-building philosophy is that plenty of other teams already try to spend gobs of cash to win a la the Yankees, and they fail miserably (take the Dodgers, Orioles, Mets and Rangers, for example). My response to that is that the Yankees represent a thing that is fairly unique in sports. They've won more titles than any other franchise in any of the four major sports. They have an owner with deep pockets and a big ego and drive to win at all costs. They also happen to reside in one of the last remaining markets in the United States where baseball is king, and talked about in the papers on the front page. Whether we like it or not, there's a Yankee aura. I'd argue that the Yankees cause more strong feelings among fans than any other team in North American sports. Have you ever met anyone that could just take or leave the Yankees? You either love that team, or you see it as Satan's most awful creation.
So, you can guess that my feeling is that the Yankees are uniquely poised to continue to be a powerhouse contender in their division for the foreseeable future. This should cause you to say "duh!".
Something needs to be done about the Yankees. I understand that most of the proposals put forward by people like you an me aren't viewed as legally consistent--people say it's not fair to make rules just to limit one team from using the resources that it came legally within the framework of the game. I say that's bullcrap. I say they do a lot of damage to the game, and it needs to be fixed, and if that means imposing a rule that only hurts them, then fine. I guess what I'm getting at is that there's a difference in this case between what's fair for the league, and what is right for baseball. It's sort of like in the legal system where there is a definite difference between what is legal and what is just.
What is legal right now is that Steinbrenner (or any other owner) can pour any amount of cash into building a team of all-stars. What is right is a team being built through good scouting and statistical analysis, smart drafting, and shrewd signings. The second way is fun to watch, the first way is just plain lame.
That's another point I should bring up, and I think it's one I've already mentioned to you. Yankee fans don't have the perspective to understand how special it is to win a World Series, and that makes me laugh. There is no way that they got the same enjoyment out of watching their team win one of their 26 titles as you or I did out of watching the Twins win in '87 or '91. Those were special events, made special by years of not winning one before, and not winning one since. I know plenty of people that get near tears thinking back to that '91 season. When was the last time you saw a Yankee fan overcome by emotion talking about winning it all in '98 and how special that World Series title in particular was.
That's why people hate Yankee fans. Whether you've been one all your life, or just for the short term, you appear to non-Yankee fans as the ultimate overdog supporter (did I just create a word?). Part of being a fan is being there and supporting your team no matter what happens, rather than being of the fair-weather ilk. It's buying season tickets for the Tigers last season, and coming back again this year because you care about that team, It's heritage, and uniform through whatever else happens. It's watching Carl Pohlad put a team with no hope on the field for the better part of 6 years, and sticking with that club until they're competitive enough to win a couple of division titles the hard way. Suffering through the lean years to enjoy the good times later is a big part of the fan experience. I'm sure that the Yankees have had their share of bad seasons along the way, but the lean years are much fewer and further between than they are for any other club in any of the major sports. Yankee fans never have to look at their team and know that there's zero chance their team is going to contend for the division crown.
That's what's not fair. They're the rich kids that never have to work for anything, and have everything work out for them. Much more than that, they're not afraid to push the difference between you and them in your face. Maybe that's what we're all looking for. Some comeuppance for that team. losing in the playoffs isn't enough. Justice in this case would be to watch that $200 million team fail to win the division or the wild card. Yankee-Free Playoffs would be so beautiful. I think I might want that more than I want the Twins in the playoffs this year.
So, I guess you can tell that I hate the trade, I hate the Yankees more than ever, and I hate A-Rod for being associated with them. Hate is good, despite what Yoda says. I'm going to ride my hate until Steinbrenner dies.
Blood Pressure dropping, rage coming under control . . . goosfraba . . . goosfraba.
If you have any thoughts for Kirk, be sure to e-mail me, and I will surely forward them to Kirk. I guess I thought that was Kirk’s response to the Discussion Question. Ends up that it was just his way of dealing… here is his actual response to the Discussion Question.
Kirk Beller – Part 2
Oh no. That wasn't my answer to the discussion question--it was just an ‘I hate the Yankees’ rant. I mean, granted there was some of that that overlaps, but I was more concerned with whining about what the Yankees do and the A-Rod deal. You can still use all of that, but I figured I'd write about what I would change.
Here's what I'd do, assuming god-like powers over the owners and Players Association:
1. Set a maximum salary cap. Set it high, and keep the luxury tax. Put the cap at $200 million or something, but have something in place to keep one or two teams from getting ridiculously ahead of all the others in the player acquisition game. Any cap, even if it's that high puts the need for some amount of responsible spending into a roster. All of a sudden, the George Steinbrenners and John Henrys of the world need to consider what kind of value they're getting for their dollar, rather than just looking at it as investing part of their ridiculous revenue on the on-the-field product. So if the Yankees start the season at $190 million, they can't go out and add a $7 million/yr second baseman to fill that hole, and a $12 million/yr left-handed pitcher to fill a starting pitching gap left by an injury to a member of their rotation. Well they could, as long as they'd move some of their more expensive guys. All of a sudden they have to make the tough personnel decisions that the rest of the clubs in the league have to. They also wouldn't be able to trade (read "buy") players just to block them from going to other teams.
The other thing that might be cool about this is that more teams might be willing to deal for the missing pieces to make a run if they know the Yankees are hamstrung by their huge payroll.
Yes, it's a Yankee cap. But if you set it high enough, New York can still field its all-star team every year, but still gets a taste of having to assemble a roster responsibly.
How tough must it be to be a Blue Jays fan? Whether you agree with the system they have or not, it's hard to argue that they're not doing their best to run the team according to what they feel is a winning formula. They have a good farm system, some really nice players in the majors, and I think they're generally thought of as doing things the 'right' way. It just seems really sucky that they have to basically settle for contending for third place. Is that good for baseball? Whether it's their fault or their owner's or whatever, it seems like there might be quite a few fans all over the country that are being alienated because they feel like their teams have no chance to win.
I understand that the Yankees are always going to have some sort of advantage over the rest of the league, and that's ok. It just doesn't need to be a stranglehold that's there because they have the financial resources to assure themselves of having all-stars at every position.
2. Set a minimum salary cap. Put it at $40 million or something. If you can't reach that number, that money is forfeited to the Players Association, which would distribute that money equally among the players in the 25th percentile and below salary-wise. The guys that are making the league minimum deserve more than what they're getting and I think that a lot of times the Player’s Association is more concerned with pushing superstars to get the most money possible, rather than focusing on the "little guy".
You know, I think that Scott guy had it right the other day. As a fan, there's this sense of hopelessness when you see one team that's a juggernaut every season and you know that for whatever reasons (small market, cheap owner, bad farm system, a couple of bad contracts) your team can't go out and do the same thing. Yankee fans know there's a 95% chance of being in the playoffs and what, a 25% chance that they'll win the series every year. Twins fans have to be satisfied with just being able to challenge for a playoff spot. It feels that way at least. It feels like we're playing by a different set of rules. It takes some of the enjoyment out of the game.
Again, if you (Yankees Fans!!!) want to express some thoughts in the direction of Kirk, e-mail me and I will forward them to him!
From “Eric B”
Fire everyone and start over. Make the MLB a corporation where “employees” pay is weighed heavily on performance. Sounds silly and incredibly socialistic. But really, the die has been cast, I really don’t think the commissioner or anyone else can change anything because you’ll never get the Players Association and the owners to agree on salary caps and basements. Nor will you get them to agree on revenue sharing which is the crux of the problem.
Teams get good established players with big money. They get big money when they generate more revenue. They generate revenue through broadcast agreements, endorsements merchandising. Where is this most successful? BIG CITIES like New York.
Bottom line, MLB exists and thrives in a capitalist, profit-based society. The greedy owners of teams that generate more revenue will always seek and compete for the best-greedy players, and get them! When asked if the trade was good for baseball, A-Rod smiled and said, “I think it’s good for the Yankees”. Get used to sentiment like this, he knows it doesn’t matter what or who he signs for, he’s going to get his money! Players DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE GAME of baseball. They care about the game behind baseball. I don’t fault them for this, anyone would go after the best deal they can.
Do I think it has ruined the game? No. The game itself has survived just fine. Has it ruined October? No, a few good low salary teams sneak in every year (and occasionally win). Has it ruined April through September? It has definitely tainted.
How do you fix it? Share revenue across the board. Good Luck, we live in America!
So, there you have it; some different thoughts on the current economic situation in baseball, in your words. I again want to thank those that participated in this. If anyone has any ideas for future Discussion Questions, send me an e-mail.
SPRING TRAINING STARTS!
Sunday morning, the Twins pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Ft. Myers for the official start of Spring Training. How exciting is that???? And, who will be there?
Pitchers (40 man roster) – Grant Balfour, Boof Bonser, Sean Douglass, JD Durbin, Mark Guerrier, Adam Johnson, Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays (won’t pitch in 2004), Colby Miller, Michael Nakamura, Joe Nathan, Carlos Pulido, Brad Radke, Juan Rincon, JC Romero, Johan Santana, Brad Thomas and Brian Wolfe.
Pitchers (Non-Roster Invitees) – Jesse Crain, Aaron Fultz, Seth Greisinger, Rick Helling, Peter Munro, Jeromy Palki, Joe Roa and Kevin Tolar.
Catchers (40 man roster) – Matthew Lecroy, Henry Blanco and Rob Bowen.
Catchers (Non-Roster Invitees) – Chris Heintz, Brandon Marsters, Gabby Torres, and a guy you may have heard a little about, Joe Mauer.
Since I’ve gone through the team’s pitchers and catchers, I might as well go through the roster of the Twins roster (and non-roster invitees).
Infielders (40 man roster) – Jason Bartlett, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie, Doug Mientkiewicz, Justin Morneau, Augie Ojeda, Nick Punto, Luis Rivas and Terry Tiffee.
Infielders (Non-Roster Invitees) – Juan Diaz, Jake Mauer, Jose Offerman, Alex Prieto and Luis Rodriguez.
Outfielders (40 man roster) – Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, BJ Garbe, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Jason Kubel, Michael Restovich, Michael Ryan and Shannon Stewart.
If you have any questions about who some of these players are, please e-mail me and I will try to give you a little information about them. About two months ago, I wrote a posting on the Twins Non-Roster Invitees, with thoughts on each of them (that the Twins had signed at that time), so you may get some information from that too. Also, the last couple of days, the Twins Geek has written about who could possibly be the Twins 4th and 5th starters and provides more information on some of these pitchers.
TIMBERWOLVES WIN AGAIN
Going into last night’s game, the Wolves were one game back of the Sacramento Kings for the best record in the Western Conference. 48 minutes later, the Wolves had a 17 point, 92-75, win and a share of the Western Conference lead. Kevin Garnett again dominated with 22 points and 24 rebounds. Same Cassell had 18 points. Sprewell had 13 points, 7 boards and 5 assists. Troy Hudson added 10 points in just 13 minutes. The best news though was that Wally Szczerbiak played 16 minutes and scored 6 points. He didn’t seem to show any pain. Having him back and 100% would be great. Nice 4th head to the 3 headed monster.
Speaking of that, Kevin Garnett refused to do a Sports Illustrated cover shoot unless it included Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. Leadership comes through in a lot of ways. Kevin Garnett is the obvious choice for the leagues MVP award based on his on-court play. But it is the other ways that Garnett leads that may be more valuable to the Wolves team. Seemingly little things like getting Sam and Spree an SI cover go a long ways. His support for the role players is remarkable. I said it last year, but have to say it again, if Kevin Garnett is not your MVP, then the award should not even be given out!
The Wolves travel to Detroit to take on Rasheed Wallace and the Detroit Pistons tonight.
Well, I think that is it for today and for this week! It has been a busy week on this site. If you missed any days, but sure to check below, and also check the Archives Page (LINK) out. If you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
Have a great weekend!
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