What's Making Me Talk: The MLB Free Agent Compensation System Needs Fixing

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IFebruary 23, 2009

With all the attention on Alex Rodriguez and the steroid scandal in baseball, I think it's rather important for everyone to know there are a few other issues in the game right now and they deserve their own attention.

Now neither is really a major problem or concern and neither is a black eye on the game like steroids is, but they are both something that the more than casual fan should be concerning themselves with.

I wouldn't change much about the game of baseball, I like it the way it is, but I'm no means a true traditionalist that wants to keep everything the same.

There is always room for improvement and there is always something that will need tweaked as the times progress.

If you aren't adapting to the world around you, then you are falling behind, plain and simple.

That's why a few of these issues peak my interest as something people should start taking note in and maybe discussing a little more than just as a two minute blurb or mention on blogs or television and radio updates.


Melvin Upset with Sabathia Compensation

I kind of mentioned this in passing awhile ago in the offseason, about how unfair it was to the Brewers and Blue Jays that they wouldn't be getting first round compensation in exchange for losing their Type-A free agents.

Well, Doug Melvin is a little perturbed as well.

"I didn't think we wouldn't get a first-round draft pick for him. That's the part that disappoints me. Stupid Elias rankings. It's awful. So, the Angels [who lost Teixeira], who had 97 [*100] wins, get the [higher] draft pick."

Nobody likes a complainer, which is fast what the Brewers General Manager is becoming, along with his owner, but he has an extremely valid point.

Why does a Brian Shouse garner a pick that is even in the same range as a player like CC Sabathia?

In compensation for the signing Shouse to a contract, the Tampa Bay Rays will be giving their second round pick to the Brewers.

This, if you look at the system, is perfectly fine, provided that CC Sabathia nets you a first round pick and an extra “sandwich” pick.

But he didn't, because the New York Yankees signed more than one Type-A free agent, which means they only lose one first rounder and give they must give their second round pick to the Brewers.

But how about the Blue Jays in all this?

They're the ones getting the shortest straw in this whole ordeal if you ask me. They have the worst record of all the teams involved in the draft pick switching; shouldn't they need the picks the most?

It still isn't right for Milwaukee, who invested a lot into acquiring CC Sabathia, and the only thing they could lean back on when he left was the fact they could replace the talent they gave up to get him.

Imagine if Cleveland was the one getting the shaft here. They drafted Sabathia when he was 17 years old, put time and effort into helping him become the Cy Young winner that he is. Then he bolts, the Yankees just throw some cash in his face, and the Indians are the ones left with less than what they deserve.

Point is, the system might have worked a few years ago when the Yankees didn't spend millions of dollars on three Type-A free agents. But now, the system needs changed to adapt to this difference.

There could be two solutions that come to me real easy and it would fix this little issue rather quickly and efficiently.

The first would to just take away a first round pick for every Type-A free agent you sign. So if the Yankees want to sign three free agents that cost a first round pick, then they'll lose three first round picks.

It might make them think twice before signing that third free agent. In this system you can still use the Elias rankings; only they tell you which team gets first dibs on the pick. Or you could just go by record of that year.

The second solution would be to simply forget about taking away draft picks and just giving out two "sandwich" picks at the end of the first round. You could use the Elias rankings here to slot the picks.

I'm sure there are other ways that could be thought up, but my whole point is, the system sucks. It doesn't give any breaks to the teams that develop these players. I'm sure it sounds petty to be complaining about 30 or so slots, but it really makes a difference for the teams that can't really build their team any other way.

The Yankees can build their team by other means, and if they choose to build it through free agency, why should it matter if they lose a first round pick for every Type-A that they sign.

Doug Melvin is fast becoming a complainer, but he's a complainer with a valid concern.


The Latin Prospect Crisis

I'm really well-backed in terms of complete knowledge regarding the Latin players signing with Major League organizations.

But I know an alarming issue when I see one and I know enough about the system in order to be concerned.

The issue is, there really is not, to my knowledge at least, a way to be absolutely sure that a person is actually the age he says he is.

Esmailyn Gonzalez, who is actually, breathe in, Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, has been caught with, changing his name of course, and lying about his age.

I seriously doubt his name change was just because his old one was too long, although some might not enjoy signing four-word names all the time.

Now the Nationals really aren't to blame here, at least most of the people within the organization, teams have become more cautious and have done their fair due-diligence when signing these Latin players. The last thing they want to do is get in trouble for signing a 14 year old teenager to a one million dollar contract.

However, nothing is going to stop these players, like the player actually known as Gonzalez, from lying about their age if it means they can get to the Major Leagues.

I mean, this case isn't as bad considering he was actually 19, and not say he's actually 14, saying he’s 16 in order to get signed.

But it's still lying, it's still falsifying personal information, and it very well could have put the Nationals in trouble for "skimming bonuses" when they actually did nothing of the sort.

Oops, never mind.

Regardless of what wrong-doings Jim Bowden might have done, this issue is really delicate. Teams need to take even better care about the players from the Latin countries. Some of these young men will do anything they can to get to the Major Leagues, including lie.

Thankfully, we've made much advancement to stop most of them, like Miguel Tejada, but as you can see by Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, the problem still persists.

And hopefully, Jose Rijo, the scout who spotted Lugo and presumably was fooled as well, doesn't get into any trouble because of the incident.


The Round-About of Randomness

There were a few late signings last week, which finally put some veterans onto teams and into camp. The biggest was of course Ken Griffey Jr. making a surprise return to Seattle.

I already covered this last week, but when I said something it looked like he had just turned his attention away from Seattle and was looking like a lock to become a Brave. Good for Griffey though, he should give the Mariners a nice veteran presence.

After losing out on Griffey, the Braves made a sensible move and went out and got another veteran outfielder, Garrett Anderson. They probably didn't have the money to jump on Bobby Abreu, but you have to wonder if Anderson can hold up in the outfield all year.

He should split time though, hopefully that keeps him healthy.

Joe Crede is making the in-division switch. After the White Sox decided it was time to move on with younger options at his spot, the injury-ridden All-Star is going to Minnesota. I liked anyone who could get Crede on a cheap deal, which regardless of how bad the economy and the market is, was what he deserved.

Let's face it, you are an injury prone third-baseman who's biggest asset, defense, has slightly diminished because of that injury status. You don't deserve a three year deal and no one was going to give it to you.

Provided he can stay on the field, he should give the Twins a little bit more punch in their lineup.

Still no move on the Manny Ramirez front with the Dodgers, but Los Angeles went out and got themselves a second baseman. Instead of putting their hopes into Blake DeWitt, the Dodgers went out and signed Orlando Hudson to a short deal.

Hudson was being really stingy, including a year ago when he turned down an extension from Arizona. The market just didn't allow for, probably the best second baseman, to get a long term deal at the price he wanted.

So, stay healthy Hudson and hopefully you get another shot next year.

However, the most sensible signing last week, by far, was the Rays getting Jason Isringhausen on a minor league deal. This is a relief pitcher who knows how to close games; he's the perfect backup plan. If he turns out to be not healthy, you risked practically nothing.

With Troy Percival manning the closers role, getting a little bit of insurance was a sly move. It makes me a little easier about one of their primary concerns in 2009.


Nino Colla delivers a new What's Making Me Talk every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.


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