Thursday, July 19, 2012

For once, Keith Law didn’t piss me off

While reading up on Rob Neyer’s Bill James’s article, I saw someone in the comment section pointed out that Keith Law recently declared the new MLB Draft system a failure simply because the Pirates failed to sign Mark Appel.

Lucky for me, I’ve recently been “blessed” with a free ESPN Insider account (no, really, it’s a legit account, just free) so I had a chance to see exactly what Law said.

“The real problem here is that the new system, allegedly designed to funnel the best players to the teams most in need of those players, failed.” (excerpt from the free section of Law's 'Insider' column)

I thought Law knew better than to simply buy the line from MLB’s PR department. Despite what Bud Selig may claim, it’s pretty clear MLB’s reasons for the new spending cap wasn’t to “funnel the best players” to the worst teams. It would be nice if that’s what happened but, regardless, it would be incidental. The real reason behind the rule change was simply to haul in spending on the draft. In that respect, the new system worked perfectly. The slot recommendation was $2.9 million; Appel wanted a hell of a lot more than that; he didn’t get it. Score one for MLB.

In spite of this minor fallacy (which Perfect Game's Allan Simpson was also guilty of a month ago), Law does go on to make an excellent point (which I am now editorializing on a bit) on how MLB can maintain it’s spending limits and give teams like the Pirates the flexibility to deal with these situations: allow them to trade picks. It’s not really a novel idea, but we need people like Law to become more vocal about this (and it would be nice if it was accessible to all readers, not just us “insiders”). MLB needs to finally join the rest of the sports world and allow the trading of draft picks.

I know I harp on Klaw a lot (and I really need to stop because I don’t want to become “that guy who hates Keith Law”, although I’m sure there are many others that could be called that) but I actually agree with many of the ideas he professes, and this was one example of that.

What’s that?

"I think it's much less likely that Stanford will attempt to abuse (Appel’s arm in 2013), as they did in one infamous 149-pitch outing in 2012"

Attempt to abuse? Keith, you would write some….. aw, screw it. I’ll let it go. (But why is 'Appel's arm in 2013' in parenthesis?)

Speaking of trading draft picks, MLB just revealed the order of next season’s lottery round picks. Why they already held the lottery (and thus forced the 2013 draft order to be contingent on 2011 records) is beyond me, but starting now, for the first time, there will be tradeable picks out there on the market, if only for the lottery rounds. Again, for some stupid reason MLB has limited the time teams can trade picks to the regular season (so from now until July 31, then again from Opening Day 2013 until the 2013 draft). Under the logic of “beggars can’t be choosers” I won’t complain about this useless rule. In fact, we heard some encouraging words on MLB Network from Rob Manfred, MLB’s VP on draft lottery rounds (or something like that), stating:

“(The competitive balance lottery) is kind of an experiment. These twelve picks we made assignable to determine whether it would be helpful to small market clubs to be able to capitalize on a pick., either by taking a player… or trading the pick.”

Most of MLB’s “experiments” tend to last forever (the DH, interleague play, an All-Star game that ‘counts’), so hopefully this is good news on the Trading-draft picks front.