Thursday, October 26, 2006

War Is Over, If You Want It

So Selig and Fehr have signed a labor deal that prevents not only another work stoppage, but also an endless stream of reportage on how horrible baseball's labor situation is. The deal runs an unprecedented five years, was negotiated quietly and out of the media spotlight, and seems almost to be a disappointment to those who wanted to see two old guys re-enact Frankie Goes To Hollywood's video for Two Tribes.

Are we living in a land where sex and horror are
the new gods...or just Pittsburgh's bullpen?

Among the more interesting developments is the fact that free agent compensation will be reduced, not eliminated. There were a few factors that seemed to hint at its elimination. For one thing, dissociating draft picks from the rights to major league players (read: players' union members) would have allowed for trading of draft picks. And, with MLB torturously trying to raise the profile of the draft - I was amazed how many casual fans I knew could actually name Lincecum and Miller and Hochevar this year - allowing for trades would have really spiced things up. It also would have juiced the in-season trade market, which has been relatively moribund the last few years. For another, getting draft picks out from under the union aegis would potentially hamstring agents' exorbitant salary demands, instead freeing that money up for guys already on the roster.

On the other hand, there does seem to be one stab directly at Scott Boras and company, an intricate system of replacement picks. Your high-level pick doesn't sign, you get a replacement pick next year. It's a year of development, sure, but it helps reduce the temperature of the fire that teams' feet get held to. Or, to put it another way, it's a hell of a lot better than the system that turned J.D. Drew into a year of horse hockey in the papers, Pat Burrell, and a new round of stories about how it was raining batteries at the Vet.

On the whole, it looks like a good deal, and it runs two years past when Selig will most likely be stepping down - plenty of time for a new commissioner to settle in without stepping right into a crisis.
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