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Yoan Moncada Signing Is Huge Coup for Red Sox, Another Yankees Failure

So in the end, Yoan Moncada will keep the red socks from those snazzy Cuban uniforms we’ve seen in international play. And all hail the Boston Red Sox.

Yet again, the Red Sox have pulled off a move that will make their summers brighter, their fans happier and keep them in position to push for another World Series title.

And because it is absolutely mandatory under Baseball Law that every move one of them makes is measured against the other, here is where we must pause for a question.

Um, hello, Yankees?

Anybody home?

Not only did Boston acquire a five-tool, 19-year-old infielder who has been the talk of baseball all winter, the Yankees whiffed (again) in the single biggest area they absolutely must get better.

Acquiring young talent.

Already, there is less hope for the Yankees heading into 2015 and beyond than there was for Fifty Shades of Grey to win best picture at the Oscars on Sunday night. Now, that’s the phrase that pretty much describes the look of the current Yankees, where surely one day soon Grecian Formula and Rogaine will be as much a part of the clubhouse spread as baked fish and grilled chicken.

And where Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover surely must be going through the minds of even the most passionate, pinstripe-wearing villagers in the Bronx.

No, Moncada wasn’t cheap, his final tab checking in at $31.5 million, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, who has been the lead dog on Moncada developments since day one. And because the Red Sox were over their international bonus pool allotment, they must pay 100 percent tax on the deal. So signing Moncada really will cost them roughly $60 million.

Or, you know, pocket change for that team from the Bronx.

Yoo hoo, Yankees…hello?

There is a good reason why the Red Sox have won a World Series more recently (2013) than the Yankees (2009), and Moncada is the latest example.

Boston, under general manager Ben Cherington and current ownership, is razor-sharp, artistically creative and nimble enough to work multiple paths at once.

The Yankees, under GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family without George, spend most of their time figuring ways to pay less luxury tax and scheming for angles to avoid paying Alex Rodriguez bonus money on a contract they stupidly agreed to extend back in 2007.

Time was, the Yankees were players in the winter. Now, they’re the new Not Ready for Prime Time Players, with a little too much Emily Litella sprinkled in. Max Scherzer? Never mind. Jon Lester? Never mind. Moncada?

Never mind.

Look, the disclaimer on all of these expensive imports, whether domestic through the draft or international through more exotic means, is that none of them come with guarantees. The Nationals are still trying to win their first ring with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. The Dodgers are still trying to make sure Yasiel Puig shows up on time for all 162 games.

But the name of the game in an era of shrewd front offices that are only getting smarter is intelligent decisions, and though the Red Sox surely have swung and missed on their share (just like everyone else), they have shown in recent years to be experts in recalibrating.

When they fell to last place in the AL East during the lost summer of Bobby Valentine, they took a fire hose to both the manager’s office and the roster, and stormed back to win the World Series in 2013.

Now, after again finishing last in the AL East last summer at 71-91 (2014 team motto: All of the Losses of 2012, None of the Chicken and Beer), they’re again positioned to make significant hay in the division. Smartest thing they did last year was conduct an internal autopsy in July, deal away most of their rotation and jump-start the rebuilding process toward 2015.

Now, here they are in Fort Myers with the best hitting Panda in the land at third base (Pablo Sandoval), an interesting (and, yes, creative) experiment in left (Hanley Ramirez), a Cuban outfielder signed last year (Rusney Castillo), another key bat they acquired from St. Louis (Allen Craig), a young starter they also acquired in the St. Louis deal (Joe Kelly) and another young starter scooped up from Detroit (Rick Porcello) in a deal for another key player they traded for last summer (Yoenis Cespedes).

And now, here comes Moncada. He’s 6’2″, 205 pounds and a switch-hitter whose legend in Cuba is right there with those of Puig and Jorge Soler.

“He’s a plus-plus runner with above-average raw power from both sides of the plate and the tools/skills to stick in the infield, possibly at shortstop,” Kiley McDaniel, the lead prospect writer for FanGraphs, wrote in October. “Moncada is the quick-twitch type with big bat speed that clubs covet, and his track record of hitting at big tournaments and in Cuba’s professional leagues is excellent considering his age.”

This is what the Red Sox have been up to since, oh, last July or so.

The Yankees?

Well, they’ve been bickering with A-Rod and looking for the best bulk-rate price on caulk as they work to fill in the cracks of a roster when foundational problems are screaming for bigger things.

Yes, Moncada is going to need some seasoning, and we might not see him in Boston until late summer or 2016.

Up in Tampa, meanwhile, seasoning is the stuff aging warhorses like Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira shake out of a bottle onto their Early Bird Special meals.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Every MLB Team’s Biggest Trade Chip 2 Months from the Deadline

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is still two months away, but it’s never too early to get the rumor mill churning. There is still a lot of baseball to be played, as most teams have not yet established themselves as buyers or sellers. But we can already start to paint a picture of who will be available at the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Upcoming free agents playing for noncontenders are obviously the most likely candidates to find themselves on the block. We’ll also turn our attention to the farm systems of clubs that look like clear-cut contenders here in May.

This is obviously subject to change in the weeks and months ahead, but here is a preliminary look at which player each team’s top chip could be when trade season rolls around.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted. All injury information courtesy of MLBDepthCharts team pages.

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All 30 MLB Teams’ Blueprint to a Perfect Spring Training

Those with a vested interest in such things surely never actually expect spring training to go according to plan. That’s just not how spring training rolls.

But hope that things go according to plan? Oh yeah, there are most definitely hopes that maybe, just maybe spring training will go just…perfectly.

We’re here to play along with the idea by asking: What would constitute a perfect spring training for all 30 teams in Major League Baseball? Since these are the things that matter the most, we’re going to proceed with a template that addresses the following:

  • (Player A) will look healthy
  • (Player B) will tease a rebound
  • (Player C) will tease a breakout
  • (Prospect D) will look ready for The Show
  • (New addition E) will live up to his billing

There will be some cases when two players belong to a certain category, but other than that, well, that’s the template. We can proceed…now.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Why MLB Players Owe Every Dime of Their Bloated Salaries to Marvin Miller

A few winters ago, Alex Rodriguez signed a contract with the New York Yankees worth $275 million. Last winter, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder both signed contracts worth over $200 million. This winter, Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke are likely to land deals worth $25 million per year.

A lot of fans look at these bloated contracts with frowns on their faces. But like it or not, this is how it is, and it’s totally fair. There’s a lot of money to go around in baseball, and players are free to seek out the best contracts they can possibly get when their time comes.

For that, they have Marvin Miller to thank. He made Major League Baseball much, much kinder to its players with his efforts as the head of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982. His greatest achievement was bringing free agency to the game, thus paving the way for baseball players to join the ranks of the richest athletes on earth.

As his daughter announced to the Associated Press, Miller passed away on Tuesday morning at his home in Manhattan. He was 95 years old. 

Today, his legacy is being honored. Some current players are even taking to Twitter to express their gratitude for all that Miller did, from Billy Butler to David Price to Shane Victorino to Andrew McCutchen and many, many more.

All of them get it. They understand that Miller is responsible for changing the way baseball players are compensated, much less treated, by their employers. They are treated as people, whereas before, they were treated as little more than property.

If you were to get in a time machine and go back to the year 1966, MLB’s labor structure wouldn’t look very familiar. Thanks to the reserve clause, players were basically bound to their teams for life. So long as owners wanted their players to play for them, they decided how much they played for. Phrases like “negotiating power” and “leverage” were alien concepts to the ballplayers of yesteryear.

According to The New York Times, the minimum salary in the mid-1960s was $6,000, a figure that wasn’t necessarily on its way up from where it had been for the past two decades. The average salary was $19,000.

If a player didn’t like his salary, he had to either hope that his boss was in a generous mood the day he decided to complain about it, or he could take it up with the commissioner. The commissioner, of course, worked for the owners.

When Miller came along in 1966, the players’ union really wasn’t much of a union. It had only been established 12 years prior and it had no full-time employees and nobody to collectively bargain with the league’s owners. It certainly had nobody with the guts to challenge the reserve clause.

Miller came to baseball after establishing himself as an economist and an effective negotiator with the United Steelworkers Union. While the players were certainly pining for an experienced negotiator in 1966, he wasn’t exactly warmly received when he went touring around spring training camps as part of an effort to garner support. Some managers and coaches even heckled and interrupted him while he was speaking.

But the players? They went for him. He was elected as the executive director of the MLBPA in April.

“A lot of players figured that anyone the owners disliked that much couldn’t be all bad,” said late Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, via the AP.

Flash forward two years to 1968, and the MLB Players Association had negotiated its very first collective bargaining agreement. The minimum salary went up from $6,000 to $10,000.

Two years later, in 1970, players were granted the right to have grievances heard by an arbitrator rather than the commissioner. By 1973, salary demands were subject to go to arbitration as well.

The reserve clause, however, remained in place. All-Star outfielder Curt Flood challenged it after he refused to accept a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, demanding, with Miller’s support, that commissioner Bowie Kuhn declare him a free agent. 

Naturally, Flood’s demand was denied, a lawsuit was filed and the case ultimately ended up in the hands of the Supreme Court. In 1972, it ruled in favor of Major League Baseball.

However, MLB’s victory was short-lived. In 1974, Miller used the arbitration process to free Cy Young winner Catfish Hunter from his contract with the Oakland A’s, thus making him a free agent. He went on to sign a landmark contract with the Yankees.

Hunter’s case was a victory for Miller, but a minor one. Miller was only able to make Hunter a free agent because of a loophole in his contract that he noticed before A’s owner Charlie Finley. The same trick wasn’t going to work every time a player wanted to become a free agent.

A year later, though, Miller found another way to make free agency a reality. With Miller’s guidance, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Andy Messersmith and Montreal Expos pitcher Dave McNally refused to sign contracts with their teams, setting their sights on the clause in players’ contracts that gave owners the right to renew a player’s contract without his consent.

This led to the so-called “Seitz decision” in December 1975. Baseball arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in favor of Messersmith and McNally, claiming that owners did not have the right to perpetually renew contracts. He agreed with the players that the renewal could only be a one-time thing and that players should be free to shop their talents to other teams if they refuse to re-sign.

Just like that, the reserve clause effectively became a thing of the past.

Seitz was fired, and the owners mounted a furious challenge to his ruling, but it was for naught. Instead, an agreement was put in place a few months later that allowed players with six years of major-league service to become free agents.

Sound familiar? That’s because six years of major-league service is still the general guideline for free agency today. Not much has changed since Miller pushed for free agency in the 1970s.

Except for the salaries, of course. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the minimum major-league salary is now nearly $500,000. Last year, the average salary increased to $3.1 million, per a report from the AP. Clearly, these are good times to be a baseball player.

The average salary is likely to just keep getting higher and higher as baseball moves forward into the future. Attendance was up in 2012, as MLB.com noted in early October that baseball drew nearly 75 million fans this year. You may have also heard that there’s a lot of TV money being pumped into baseball these days, and more is on the way thanks to the new national-TV deals that MLB recently established with ESPN and with Turner Sports and FOX.

More money for the league, obviously, means more money for the players. Hence the reason players like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke can demand ridiculous contracts while keeping straight faces. Why should the owners be the only ones reaping the benefits of all the new money?

Fans tend to look down on players with big contracts, while players who take “less money” to sign somewhere are generally regarded as heroes. But no player should ever be faulted for getting as much money in a contract as he can possibly get.

Shoot, if any of us worked in an industry that allowed us to shop our services to the employer who is willing to give us the most money, we’d all make like baseball players and get ours.

Fans must appreciate the fact that the system in place now is much fairer than the system that was in place before Miller came along all those years ago. Some ballplayers were paid handsomely, but the ones that were being paid handsomely were few and far between. Generally speaking, owners didn’t pay their players any more than they felt they had to.

Ballplayers were essentially glorified servants. Changes had to be made.

It wasn’t easy for Miller to make the changes that he made, to be sure. He had to overcome initial skepticism among some players, and his slow destruction of the established order of things certainly didn’t go over well with the league’s owners.

In addition, there were work stoppages in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1981. The strike in 1981 occurred in the middle of the season and lasted for almost two months. Free agency was at the heart of it.

However, it’s fair to say that the ends justified the means. And by the time Miller retired as the head of the union in 1982, the MLBPA was something of a labor powerhouse. It’s lost none of its influence in the years since Miller’s retirement, as the MLBPA reigns supreme as the most powerful union in all of sports today.

That Miller is not in the Hall of Fame yet is shocking, but also not very surprising. For all the friends he made over the years, he also made his share of enemies. In 2008, he recognized that some of them were controlling who was getting into the Hall of Fame after he was denied entry to Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee.

“The anti-union bias of the powers who control the Hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining,” he wrote in a letter to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

He asked to be removed from any future ballots, noting that he didn’t want to have to deal with such a “farce” again at his age.

Miller probably will be enshrined in Cooperstown at some point down the road, but it’s not an honor that is really needed for his legacy to be validated. 

His legacy is validated every time a ballplayer smiles and signs on the dotted line without having to consider any “or else” realities. 

Any player who does so knows that Marvin Miller made it possible.


If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

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Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

The Most Tradeable Asset on Every MLB Team

As the Hot Stove League heats up and trade rumors begin to swirl, new names are seemingly hitting the rumor mill on a daily basis leading up to the winter meetings.

Most of these rumors have to be taken with a grain of salt, and few will actually come to fruition, but each team has a number of players who could be moved given the right situation.

I’ve attempted here to name each team’s most valuable trade asset. To clarify, I have only included players that I feel could potentially be traded in the right deal.

So while Mike Trout is undoubtedly the Angels’ most valuable trade asset, you won’t see him as the Angels’ choice since it is a safe bet to say he’s not going anywhere.

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