I start this one every year, because, for some reason, I still love baseball.
I am sure some of you have heard the hilariously unsurprising news about more PED links to Alex Rodriguez, but I figured I would just start this season by explaining a couple things people may have missed.
In a rare moment of weakness, I gave the MLBPA and Bud Selig rare acclaim for the almost 20 years of labor peace last year, but two things happened in the negotiations that people may not realize:
1. There are now first-round draft draft picks tied to major free agent signings. The details are very boring and intricate, but basically, you give up your top picks for a big signing unless you have a top ten pick, which are exempt. It is a amazing that the MLBPA allowed this to get by because guys like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse had problems finding new teams because they were unwilling to part with such high picks. Lohse still is unsigned.
2. Small market teams should probably go ahead and build up disdain for John Schuerholz, President of the Atlanta Braves. John did not like that smaller market teams were spending so much money in the draft and on foreign players. With a team that hovers aroun $80MM in total payroll, he did not like the need to keep up with the Pirates and other teams in draft and overseas spending, so he came up with the idea of a draft cap. So, basically, one way small market teams had a chance to make themselves attractive was by spending enough money to build a farm system. Now, there is little difference in signing with the Pirates or Yankees in terms of dollars. Also, there is a slotting system in place along with the cap that would cost future draft picks if teams break the bank. It doesn't take much of an overpayment to get to the penalties, either.
So, player development must be perfect for small market teams and they will have less frequent and possibly shorter windows to win titles because of mis-steps by both the owners and the MLBPA.