Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Too Bad I Never Could Hit a Curve Ball...

Relax baseball lovers, the new basic agreement is all but finalized, as shown in the following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

ST. LOUIS - Baseball officials briefed owners on details of their new labor contract Tuesday and planned to make the agreement public before Game 3 of the World Series.

Commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr were to appear at a news conference Tuesday night in Busch Stadium. The five-year contract, which runs through the 2011 season, is subject to ratification by both sides.
Lawyers struck the deal last Friday night and Saturday during negotiations in New York, then worked on putting it in writing.

The current deal, reached in August 2002, is set to expire Dec. 19. After eight work stoppages between 1972 and 1995, baseball will be assured of 16 years of labor peace.

The deal continues, with minor modifications, existing luxury tax and revenue-sharing rules, provisions that funneled money from large-market teams to their competitors. The payroll threshold for the luxury tax increases from $136.5 million this year to $148 million next year, then goes up about 5 percent annually, a baseball official familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement hasn't been announced.

The minimum salary increases, from $327,000 this year to $380,000 next season, and amateur draft pick compensation for some free agents who sign with new teams, will be eliminated.

Also, teams that reach targets for revenue-sharing will be rewarded under the new agreement, and those that fail will be penalized.

That part about eliminating amateur draft pick compensation when free agents sign with new teams sucks. This means that teams like Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay will continue to languish at the bottom of the standings. Young studs like David DeJesus, Jason Bay and Carl Crawford will soon become eligible to sign elsewhere, and the likelihood of more mid-to-late season trades to contenders will increase now that the draft pick option is off the table. I can't imagine which side screwed this one up.

Then again, maybe this new wrinkle will force teams like the Royals, Pirates and Deviled Eggs to think harder about what type of future their clubs want to embrace. After all, look at what happened to the Tigers this year. Three years ago they lost 119 games. Now, they are playing for a World Series championship.

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