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Tuesday's tossups (August 29)
2006-08-29 07:00
by Bob Timmermann

The National League wild card races are officially a mess. There was a formal declaration of a mess issued by the Commissioner's Office. When such a declaration has been made, it's best to just wait until all the games are over at the end of the day and see who's ahead.

First of all, the divisional leaders have started to pull away again. The Mets lead the Phillies by 15 1/2 games in the East and have a magic number of 18 to make the playoffs. The Mets start a three-game series at Colorado at 6:05 pm PT (Steve Trachsel vs. Byung-Hyun Kim). The Mets are 19-7 against the NL West.

St. Louis which led Cincinnati by .0004 in the standings at the start of play Friday now lead the Reds by 3 1/2 games. The Cardinals host Florida, which has won eight straight, at 5:10 pm PT (Scott Olsen vs. Mark Mulder).

Los Angeles stretched its lead to three games in the West over San Diego. The Dodgers host the Reds at 7:10 pm PT (Eric Milton vs. Mark Hendrickson).

The Reds lead the Padres by a 1/2 game in the wild card. The Padres are at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT (Chris Young vs. Enrique Gonzalez). The Phillies are just one game back and play at Washington at 4:05 pm PT (Brett Myers vs. Tony Armas). If the Reds win, they hold on to the wild card lead. If the Reds lose and the Padres win, the Padres would lead the wild card by 1/2 game. If the Reds and Padres lose and the Phillies win, the Phillies would take over the lead in the wild card by a margin of .0001 (.5038 to .5037).

The Giants are just 1 1/2 games back of the Reds and the Giants will be in Atlanta at 4:35 pm PT (Jason Schmidt vs. Tim Hudson).

The AL is much tidier. Two divisions are seeing their leaders pull away from the pack. The Yankees lead the Red Sox by seven games. In the West, Oakland now leads the Angels by 6 1/2 games. Detroit leads Minnesota in the Central by five games.

Detroit opens up a three-game series at New York at 4:05 pm PT (Nate Robertson vs. Chien-Ming Wang). Oakland hosts Boston at 7:05 pm PT (Josh Beckett vs. Kirk Saarloos).

Minnesota leads Chicago in the wild card by 1/2 game and both teams are starting series against the bottom feeders of the AL. The White Sox host Tampa Bay at 5:05 pm PT (Casey Fossum vs. Freddie Garcia). The Twins host the Royals at 5:10 pm PT (Mark Redman vs. Matt Garza). Both Tampa Bay and Kansas City are 18-48 on the road this season. Tampa Bay has lost 10 straight road games and has not won on the road since they beat the Yankees 19-6 on July 29. The Royals will have a big effect on the winner of the Central as their last ten games are against the Tigers and Twins.

They will also play:
Chicago at Pittsburgh - Will the Cubs get a complete game this year?
Toronto at Cleveland
Baltimore at Texas
Milwaukee at Houston - Willy Taveras goes for 31 games in a row!
Los Angeles at Seattle - Jered Weaver faces Jarrod Washburn. Loser has to change the spelling of his first name.

2006-08-29 07:21:12
1.   Sam DC
If I had an ipod, I would say you should make this feature a podcast, so people can situate themselves for the day during the morning commute.

Of course, other people have ipdods . . .

2006-08-29 08:04:22
2.   Sam DC
Also, what do you think about this:

Brown's reference to Soriano and Lee suggests that teams may not receive compensation this coming offseason when their high-ranked free agents are signed away. Could that possibly be right?

2006-08-29 08:23:07
3.   DXMachina
So the Dodgers won't get any draft picks if Julio Lugo goes elsewhere? The picks were the only thing that made the deal palatable.
2006-08-29 10:24:22
4.   Eric Enders
Your link isn't working... do you mind expanding on that comment, because I can't get my brain wrapped around it and I am starting to break out in hives.

If there were no free agent draft pick compensation, then that would change my evaluation of the job Colletti has done this year from "good" to "abominable." All the extra draft picks we could have in next year's deep draft -- possibly 5 first-rounders if Lugo and Nomar leave -- has me salivating.

2006-08-29 10:33:17
5.   Bob Timmermann
The Angels should have been put in the main body of the story as their playoff chances according to BPro are still over 10%.

I believe Maury Brown's site is down at the moment.

2006-08-29 10:41:08
6.   Sam DC
Eric: I didn't read Brown closely enough to really paraphrase.

The issue was discussed at this Nationals chat site, starting with this paraphrase of Brown's piece at comment 38: "Maury claims sources have revealed to him that MLBPA and MLB have agreed that teams may no longer receive draft picks as compensation for free agents who leave as part of the upcoming CBA."

Further down in the thread is discussion of the timing issue and when changes to the CBA would "count" that unfolded after I commented here. No clear answer of course.

2006-08-29 10:42:53
7.   DXMachina
Eric, it looks like the site is down. The gist of the article is that the owners and players have already agreed to remove free agent compensation from the next CBA, which I gather goes into effect after this season.

I don't think you can slam Ned for Nomar. LA has gotten good value for that investment, and they didn't have to give up anything to get him. I think the Lugo deal is the main one this impacts. the question is, what did Ned know, and when did he know it?

2006-08-29 10:46:05
8.   Eric Enders
Thanks guys.

7 Nomar would still be a good pickup without draft pick compensation. Maddux and Hendrickson, maybe not so much.

2006-08-29 10:47:36
9.   caseybarker
I'd love to see the rationale behind that agreement.
2006-08-29 10:47:57
10.   OaklandAs
The two sides tentatively agreed to eliminate free agent compensation during negotiations of the current CBA, but then ended up scrapping the change at the last minute. There is a lot of talk that this will be in the next CBA, but there is a chance that the change may not take place until 2008. Clearly, many teams made moves this year assuming they would get draft picks for departing FAs, and it would seem unfair to change that. A one or two year transition period might be the way this ends up being implemented.
2006-08-29 10:51:21
11.   DXMachina
It does seem to me that if this is true, the owners have once again shot themselves in the foot, especially the smaller market teams.
2006-08-29 10:53:27
12.   caseybarker
It would give free agents more power and make the leagues less competitive in my estimation.
2006-08-29 10:56:27
13.   Eric Enders
Really, though, the teams that can't afford to re-sign their free agents usually end up not offering them arbitration anyway out of fear they will accept.

I'm not upset long-term over the demise of compensation. I'd be upset in the short term because the Dodgers have a current roster that was clearly constructed with the idea of reaping a huge harvest of compensation picks.

2006-08-29 10:57:14
14.   D4P
I'm gonna guess that Colletti's decision to acquire Lugo was independent of any draft pick compensation considerations.
2006-08-29 10:57:31
15.   caseybarker
It could backfire on the union in this way: players come up in the Yankee organization (or the organization of some other big spending team) and get stuck in Double or Triple A. They, and their agents, revolt against the players' union.
2006-08-29 10:58:59
16.   OaklandAs
It's not clear what the impact of this change would be. Over the last few years, most "small-market" teams dump their free agents to the contenders at the trading deadline, so the smaller market teams often don't get the draft pick compensation anyway.
2006-08-29 11:01:18
17.   Eric Enders
14 That may be true. If it is, then it was a very bad deal.
2006-08-29 11:09:29
18.   Daniel Zappala
My guess is that the MLBPA is reasoning that this will eliminate the incentive not to sign a free agent, out of a desire not to lose the draft pick. If this leads to even a few teams going after more free agents (because they don't then lose draft picks in return), this helps the players.

It will likely even help the Dodgers this year because, given Colletti's tendencies, they will likely pick up one or two free agents.

2006-08-29 11:10:04
19.   Daniel Zappala
By the way, Bob, you're setting a good example for what a certain national sports station (ahem) should be doing when it covers the national baseball scene.
2006-08-29 11:10:38
20.   Sam DC
Meanwhile, my podcast idea has gotten lost in the swirling controversy.
2006-08-29 11:15:30
21.   D4P
The apparently "regressive" nature of the proposed change seems consistent with the philosophy of our country's "leadership" at the moment. What? The Tampa Bays and Kansas Cities can't compete with the New Yorks and Bostons? TOO BAD! It's their own fault. They need to pull themselves up by their cleatstraps and work harder. Get a job, go to college, show some Protestant work ethic. If New York and Boston can do it, so can Tampa and KC...
2006-08-29 11:18:58
22.   Sam DC
D4P likes flaunting it at The Griddle.
2006-08-29 11:19:41
23.   D4P
Heh heh. I had to make certain I was at The Griddle and not the other place...
2006-08-29 11:31:12
24.   Bob Timmermann

What am I doing that ESPN isn't doing? Besides speaking in less slang.

2006-08-29 11:44:34
25.   Robert Daeley
2006-08-29 12:28:05
26.   Bob Timmermann
Discussion of free agent compensation can continue here:

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.