With the holidays over, it's back to work for me. I won't have the time for an extended post for a while, but I do have a couple of topics that AN might want to run with, either here in the comments or in your own extended fanpost:
1. The next Collective Bargaining Agreement. This came up in the comments section of both Jeffro and my recent point/counterpoint on contraction. What changes do you think will be made to the next CBA, when it expires after 2011? Here's five potential Union concessions to think about: Combined international/domestic draft; slot bonuses for draft picks; extending the luxury tax and keeping it capped at $178M (this sets a sort of soft threshold for the 29 other teams, and directly hurts the Yankees, since the tax figure has inflated gradually throughout the current CBA); increase the luxury tax penalty for multi-year "offenders" (Yankees) from 40% to 50%; Olympic-level year-round drug and HGH testing. Here's five Owner concessions: raise the minimum salary from $410K to $500K-$750K; eliminate Super 2 status; allow all players to reach arbitration for the first time after reaching 2.000 years of service; allow players to reach FA after 5 years of cost control, rather than 6; eliminate free agent compensation, or revise it in such a way that it is not a drag on a player's market value (example here). You could also weigh in on expanding playoffs, 154 vs. 162 games, day/night doubleheaders, travel restrictions, 26-man rosters, adding the DH to the NL, revenue sharing, salary cap/mandated salary "floor", etc.
Contraction is sometimes part of Collective Bargaining discussions too, even if it's simply a two-line phrase such as, "The Owners reserve the right to contract up to two teams through 2017, subject to approval of Owners via at least 75% of a vote," etc. Do you think that such language will exist in the next CBA?
(1b: Off-topic, but: Anybody have some thoughts on the upcoming NFL and NBA CBAs, too? My three favorite leagues will be making some important changes to their rule/money structures in the next 12-18 months...I find that stuff very interesting).
2. I almost never listen to out-of-town games, usually prefering the mute button as I watch. But I do listen to both Fosse/Kuiper and Krukow/Kuiper when I watch the local action. Who is the best announcing crew in baseball in your opinion, and why? Where would you rank the two local crews, in relation to the other crews you've heard? (Personally, I have only wierd pet peeve here - I hate three-man booths on the national games. Not sure why. The traditional two-person format seems smoother to me).
3. Is Carl Pavano the inverse of Adrian Beltre? What I mean is, perhaps it's easier to attract Pavano to play for the A's than Beltre. On the A's, Beltre would've been the only player from the Dominican Republic on the 25-man roster, and maybe even the only Spanish speaker(?) on the 25-man. Maybe that's irrelevant, but maybe there is some appeal to having some of your own countrymen and native language speakers in the lockerroom. He also would almost certainly underperform expectations in the surface-level offensive stats that most casual fans and media care about. Thus he'd be dogged with the same criticisms he faced in Seattle from casual fans and media members. Contrast that with the experience Beltre is likely to have if he signs in Texas.
Then there's Pavano. It would seem to me that Oakland's niche free agent market - if they even have such a thing - is the pursuit of pitch-to-contact, low-strikeout guys who rely on great defense and reasonable-or-better park effects to be successful. Pavano is being pursued by the Twins, Nationals, and perhaps a few other interested teams. He's one of the four remaining Type A free agents, so he'd cost the Nationals their third-round pick, the Twins nothing, and the A's their second-round pick (about No. 70 overall). Could you see the A's being interested in a two or three-year commitment to Pavano at $8M? In your eyes, is he no better than the A's internal candidates for the 5th spot? Would he provide enough depth to allow the team to comfortably trade one of the Front Four?
4. Nico has informed me that I'm now contractually obligated to write about one horribly depressing baseball topic per week***. For some of you, discussing Carl Pavano already fulfilled that duty. Then there's this: Let's say the A's are clearly out of contention at midseason, and the Yankees are strongly in contention but still lacking SPs after Andy Pettitte's (possible) retirement announcement. The Yankees offer Montero (A), Banuelos (B+) , Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner, and David Phelps (all three RHSP B-'s or fringe B's) for Brett Anderson. Would the A's accept? How about if they asked for Gio instead, but offered less?
Personally I love all five of those Yankees prospects, and none of the five require a 40-man slot yet. The A's would greatly increase their minor-league SP depth, and add the only star-level hitter who's currently not labeled untouchable in the minor leagues. I believe that one of Warren/Stoneburner/Phelps would become a ML rotation fixture, and Banuelos arguably has Anderson's upside in his best-case scenario. If Carter has proven by then that he can be a passable (-5) left fielder, I'd consider the deal. If Carter still looks destined for DH at that point (-15 in LF), I have no interest in the deal whatsoever, because Montero becomes far less desirable. Carrying two DH's makes no sense.
***Tune in next week as I analyze soaring ticket prices that squeeze out middle-class families from the ballpark, Bud Selig's male modeling career, and other crowd-pleasing topics.
If any of those topics #1-4 caught your interest, I'd be grateful if you share your thoughts in the comments below, or even take one of them on as a fanpost. These types of discussions keep the offseason moving for me until baseball is here again.