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Collusion, you knew it was coming.............

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Postby Madison » Mon Nov 03, 2003 1:09 pm

Here's a new article that discusses collusion among owners:

Time to find money players

KEVIN BAXTER , mailto:kbaxter@herald.com

H ere's a story about New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner you probably haven't heard.


After Game 4 of the World Series, which the Marlins won on Alex Gonzalez's 12th-inning home run, a disappointed Steinbrenner, trailed by a couple of other team owners and Major League Baseball security officials, crowded into a second-floor elevator at Pro Player Stadium. The elevator operator, recognizing Steinbrenner, broke into a chant of "Let's go, Marlins!" But instead of an angry glare, Steinbrenner responded with a laugh and told her he liked her style.

When the elevator finished its one-floor run, Steinbrenner peeled off $200 and handed it to the stunned woman, saying "Thanks for the ride."


We mention that because baseball is about to enter its free agent signing period, when owners are supposed to suspend rational thought and hand out lots of money for no apparent reason. Judging from the free agents available, from Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Tejeda to Bartolo Colon and Javy Lopez, the amount of money thrown around this winter could be staggering.


Don't count on it, though. Spending on free agents dropped precipitously last winter, inspired in part by a dearth of talent. Although this year's crop is one of the best and deepest in years, few teams appear ready to open their checkbooks as widely as in years past. And that could lead to another acrimonious feud with the players' union.


Of the 11 highest-payrolled teams, only the Yankees and Chicago Cubs have promised to be active in the free agent bidding. But they will be chasing different targets. The Cubs are looking to add a catcher, leadoff hitter and perhaps some bullpen help, while the Yankees' priority is starting pitchers.


The New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers, free spenders in the past, say they plan to reduce salaries, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose $115.7 million payroll was second only to the Yankees this past season, are awaiting the approval of a new owner and aren't likely to spend wildly, either.


With fewer clubs willing to spend, there's little incentive for teams to bid against themselves to drive up salaries -- and that, says the union, smacks of collusion.


The union has been working with agents for nearly a year to gather information from negotiating sessions that, together with ownership documents the union has obtained, has convinced the leadership that clubs have worked in concert to hold down salaries offered to free agents. And when the bar on free agents comes down, so do the salaries offered to nontendered arbitration-eligible players.


Even though the average player's salary rose 7.2 percent to $2,555,476 last year -- behind the NBA ($4.54 million) but ahead of the NHL ($1.64 million) and the NFL ($1.25 million) -- the number of players making $1 million went from 425 in 2000 to 413 in 2002 to 385 in 2003.


What's more, the median salary dropped to $800,000, nearly 20 percent lower than three years ago.


Although it's naive to believe owners aren't talking among themselves, suspecting collusion and proving it are two different things. This is why the union appears split on whether it should file a formal grievance against the owners and risk fracturing the game's fragile labor peace or simply threaten to do so in an effort to scare owners into toeing the line.


Last winter, teams blamed a sluggish economy and a weak free agent class for holding down salaries -- excuses that won't apply this year.


A more likely explanation is higher salaries no longer equate with success. The Yankees set payroll records every year, but they haven't won a World Series since 2000.


The team that beat them this fall, the Marlins, have what general manager Larry Beinfest calls a "reasonable payroll" of $51 million, while Oakland and Minnesota, who rank in the bottom half in salary, have won consecutive division titles.


The union has reason to fear the example of those successes, says author Michael Lewis, whose best-selling book Moneyball examines baseball finances.


"If all 30 guys who run baseball teams all went through a kind of corporate re-education where they all sat in a room and got drilled into them a lesson in sound financial mangement and rational arguments of what you pay people to play baseball and how you value baseball players. And they all went out with this new enlightened understanding of how to run their affairs, I think it would break the back of the union," Lewis said.


"Then all of a sudden you wouldn't have these huge bidding wars for players who weren't worth what they were about to get paid.


"It is collusion. But the way I put it is an extreme way of putting what will probably happen anyway. The dumber guys get washed out of the game and the smart new people come in to run the teams, and eventually you do get a more rational structure."


A rational salary structure in baseball? Stranger things have happened. Let's hope elevator operators don't wind up feeling the pinch.


Updated on Sunday, Nov 2, 2003 8:34 am EST

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Postby wrveres » Mon Nov 03, 2003 5:55 pm

"the smart new people come in to run the teams, and eventually you do get a more rational structure."



thanks, good read....

This is sooooo true... And the Union knows it too. Fehr can cry all he wants. ...
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Postby wrveres » Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:55 am

Well, here is the first player screaming collusion ... :-t
He didn't have to sign the contract .... There are many jobs open for 2B next year .... But its a hint at a sign, some people just don't know when to shut up ...

also, I have never heard of somebody signing a MLB contract and then lashing out at the owner like this .. :-]

Chicago Sun Times wrote:Grudzielanek signs, but hints at collusion

December 8, 2003

Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek emphasized in a phone call Sunday from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his fiancee, that he wouldn't be the Paul Revere that set alarm bells clanging. Then he went and blared a warning anyway, implying that major-league baseball owners could be guilty of collusion in holding down salaries in a game economically troubled.

Grudzielanek's flirtation with these accusations overshadowed the fact the Cubs cut their ties with outfielder Kenny Lofton, who wasn't offered salary arbitration by the deadline Sunday and can't re-sign with the team as a free agent. Besides Grudzielanek, the only other free agent the Cubs brought back was reserve outfielder Tom Goodwin, who agreed to a one-year contract for $650,000.

While Grudzielanek tried to soften the impact of his remarks, he was clearly dissatisfied to have to end his brief free-agent period and settle for what he did in a one-year contract with the Cubs.

Sources indicated that Grudzielanek will be paid between $2.5 million and $3 million next season, a slash from his 2003 salary of $5.5 million that the Cubs inherited from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also faces a club option for 2005, although that season, at the same money as next year, is automatically invoked if he reaches certain offensive statistics.

"I feel pretty good about it,'' Grudzielanek said haltingly, injecting an immediate tone of reservation about his contract. "There are a lot of things going on in the game, as you guys well know. It's the owners and what they're trying to do to the game. Teams are not taking anybody to arbitration and flooding the market. There are going to be a lot of free agents out there trying to find jobs.

"There is definitely a problem out there, and hopefully it gets rectified pretty soon. I'm sure there are things going on out there. I'm not going to be the one talking and saying things like that.UH HUH As far as the players go, we have to take it and see what happens in the future. You've just got to roll with it and believe in the union and believe in the guys and believe in the game of baseball and play it because you love it.''

Even though Grudzielanek batted .314 last year and was a major reason for the Cubs going to the playoffs, the fact he had to settle for a big salary cut as the price for not leaving Chicago was disappointing to him and caused him to make his disparaging remarks toward the owners.

"It really comes down to not being about money,'' Grudzielanek said. "With everything that's going on right now in the game, it's crazy. You want to be part of something special. They have something going here in Chicago. I believe we have a great shot at winning. I didn't want to risk that kind of thing for something that might not be out there on the other side. There were a few other teams I was considering. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to wait any longer to decide.'' :-?

Hendry much preferred signing Grudzielanek instead of free-agent left-handed hitters such as Fernando Vina, even if Grudzielanek is another right-handed bat in a heavily right-handed lineup. Hendry didn't want to enter a war of words with Grudzielanek about his comments, but obviously feels that neither he nor other GMs are colluding in deciding contracts and player movement.

"We try to be fair with everybody we sign,'' Hendry said. "I'm trying to do the best I can to put the club together.''
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Postby Madison » Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:37 am

Grudzy isn't worth $5.5 million. His whining doesn't make him look very good. :-/ He should be happy with the $2.5-$3 million he's getting.
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Yes doctor, there will be blood.....
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Postby HOOTIE » Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:15 pm

Lofunzo wrote:Good article but where was the collusion when A-Rod got $25 million per? Donald Fehr should just thank his lucky stars that he still has a job.

There will always be an argument for or against. The players should just be grateful that they get paid millions of dollars to play a kid's game. Case closed.


I agree ;-)
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Postby HOOTIE » Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:20 pm

Absolutely Adequate wrote:Well, Lofunzo, I don't know if the case is closed. The same argument could go "Owners should be happy they make millons by watching a kids game."


Owners put up the RISK, when they buy a team. Every salary they pay is a risk. Players don't risk millions. If the gates are empty, Arod still gets paid.
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Postby LBJackal » Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:39 pm

Madison wrote:Grudzy isn't worth $5.5 million. His whining doesn't make him look very good. :-/ He should be happy with the $2.5-$3 million he's getting.


Maybe with this controversy my Mark Grudzielanek signed baseball will go up in value - the one I got at the original "Battle of Canada" at SkyDome :-) now I can really retire comfortably.
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Postby Madison » Mon Dec 08, 2003 5:44 pm

LBJackal wrote:
Madison wrote:Grudzy isn't worth $5.5 million. His whining doesn't make him look very good. :-/ He should be happy with the $2.5-$3 million he's getting.


Maybe with this controversy my Mark Grudzielanek signed baseball will go up in value - the one I got at the original "Battle of Canada" at SkyDome :-) now I can really retire comfortably.


Lol. :-D Good luck. ;-D
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Yes doctor, there will be blood.....
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Postby Area51's » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:19 pm

Madison wrote:Grudzy isn't worth $5.5 million. His whining doesn't make him look very good. :-/ He should be happy with the $2.5-$3 million he's getting.



Exactly, couldn't agree more! ;-D Only reason he had that kind of jack is that my dodgers give (or at least used to) bad contracts to everyone.

See Darren Dreifort, Grud, Carlos Perez, Brown, Eric Davis; man I could go on forever!
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Postby LBJackal » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:24 pm

Andy Ashby, Brian Jordan, Todd Hundley....... :-b
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