Saturday, June 9, 2012

CBA Crisis

The success or failure of the new CBA might just revolve around the Pirates.  

When the new CBA was announced it gave some nice benefits in the international market in exchange for a hard cap system in the draft.  Teams are penalized excessively for going over their budget assigned by MLB.  Each slot is not hard in and of itself, but the cap for the first 10 picks and the draft over all are so hard that it might as well be.  There are going to be some "competitive" bonuses to aid the small market teams, but in the end the small market teams gave in on a hard cap to free themselves from being held hostage by agents who demand major league contracts and/or big time dollars.  

This year the Pirates draft 8th, and were given a budget for the first 10 rounds.  Later round picks cannot go over $100,00 or that counts against your first 10 round budget.  Now everybody's big board had Mark Appel going first to the Houston Astros.  This would have given him about 7 million in cash (slightly more).  Now Appel has Scott Boras as his agent.  Boras always goes for the big money, and he made it pretty clear that he was going to go for over the slot money no matter what this year.  Boras must have been in shock as his client went from first to 8th and his slot money went from 7 million to 3 million.  There is no way Boras is going to let his client get 8th slot money.  Boras is going to try and break the system this year.  What happens may be the best indicator about this new system.  All eyes should be squarely on the Pirates.  

Interestingly the Pirates have positioned themselves to play hard ball with some ground to give.  They took a very signable player in the comp round.  That was budgeted for just over a 1 million, but could come in under that.  Rounds 2 through 5, however, were clearly picking the best available player.  Some of them could be hard signs.  Then the Pirates changed course (in an admittedly weak draft), and rounds 6-10 were very cheap players featuring a couple of seniors and a guy not ranked in the top 500 (word is he already signed for about $88,000 under slot).  So they did free up some money for Appel.  Yet, the Pirates then picked Walker Buehler in the 14th round.  Buehler is the 50th best prospect according to Baseball America.  He cannot be given more than $100,000, which he will need to sign.  But if the Pirates cannot sign Appel, then $3mil appears, and he could easily be signed without the Pirates incurring penalties.   

What MLB has to worry about is what this is going to mean if a talented kid like Appel fails to sign, AND they have to worry about what it means if the Pirates break and give significant over-the-slot money to Appel.  The Pirates have to win with slot money or a small over the slot bonus, but still signing the rest of their top 10 picks, and staying under the penalty.  If the Pirates fail to do that then the CBA does not work.  Agents will still hold teams hostage, and instead of spending a lot of money and getting three or four big time talents in a draft with a lot of regular major leaguers thrown in, small market teams will get one talent and nothing else.  All the eggs will now be in one basket.  Which means many teams will take the signability route and never ever take a chance on a future superstar.  Which will keep them at the bottom of the barrel for years to come. 

The future of the CBA is now in a Pirates vs. Boras showdown.  It is going to be a doozy.

2012 Draft

The Pirates 2012 Draft is in the books and it is a pretty good one considering the low talent year.

Obviously getting Mark Appel is a good thing.  Now they still have to sign him, which won't be easy, but as the best or second best pitcher in this draft, you have to be pleased.  His strike out total is low, but he throws upper 90's with a good breaking pitch.  He is major league material even without the K rate one would expect.  

Barrett Barnes was a comp round kind of talent.  Listed as the 21st best position player in the draft, he should sign and a be a good fit.  Ought to be able to stick at Center.  

Picks 2,3,4, and 5 are good picks.  One would hope that they all sign with Mathisen being a very nice prospect who also actually fills a big organizational need if he can learn the catcher position.  I hope he signs soon so he can get into some Rookie league games.

Picks 6-10 are designed to save money.  The three seniors are clearly going to sign.  Stallings is your State College starting catcher.  Eric Wood would be insane not to sign and sign for less than slot because he is not rated anywhere, and will probably never get this high again.  

Not too much more interesting happened except the 14th overall pick.  Walker Buehler is a top 100 kind of prospect who feel because of the new CBA.  It seems as if he is the insurance against Appel.  If Appel will not be reasonable, Buehler will sign for much less, but it will take more than the 100,000 allowable for over 10th round picks.  

Mostly we see that the Pirates took a lot of college seniors and juniors and left the prep guys until the end, and they will not sign many of them because of the inability to give bonus money over 100,000.  The Pirates did go heavy on pitching even from the college ranks.  

I do have to point out Jimmy Rider, 2B, (26th round) who is the all time hits leader at Kent State.  No power, and probably not a prospect, but it should be fun to watch him at State College.  

You can expect State College to have Barnes in Center, Thomas at one of the corner outfield spots, Stallings behind the plate, Crumlich at SS and Diaz playing there and second, Jordan Steranka from Penn State at 3B, Rider at 2B, and a pitching staff that will join Luis Herredia including Sampson, Ludwig, Friend, and Harlan.  There are lots of other pitchers too, so who makes the actual rotation will be interesting.  But Appel is the only real good pitching prospect heading to State College from this draft and his signing will go to the wire.  In fact, if he signs, he may go to West Viriginia because he is ready for it.  Sandfort, who is talented will probably go to Rookie ball as a Prep pitcher or simply not pitch this year at all.