Collusion or Common Sense by Bob Ryan

We’ve been hearing about it since the end of the World Series….the “hot shot” free agents..namely Bryce Harper and Manny Machado…who’d be on the market and commanding hundreds of millions of dollars in a multi-year bonanza. We were told it was about their age, their performance levels, their potential, their drawing power—ergo, how they could bring in additional fans and sales. But….why do these two players believe that they will be paid $250-$300m contracts? Maybe…because both were stars in huge east coast cities …in fact, just an hour apart…all the press that they’ve received since their arrival has made them THINK that they are really something special….or maybe, they thought it is their charisma….maybe…because both of these players were 1st round draft choices and have been treated differently in their development….maybe they think that their offensive production alone merits such an enormous contract. Well….let’s look at the last part of that statement…listed below, without their names, are 6 players. Following is their rank out of all the MLB in the given category and then the actual numbers that they posted last year beneath it.  The only item missing is their name! You decide which ones are Harper & Machado. The list is formed by the RUNS CREATED category…best to worst. I’ll move on while you decide who “owns” those numbers….btw….Michael Trout & Christian Yelich are NOT part of this list….I didn’t want it to appear that I was setting the standard too high and ambush Harper/Machado’s numbers. Who do you think is Harper?  Machado? Is it apparent that they are SO MUCH better than…at least…6 of their peers?  You already know where I’m coming down…it’s common sense to not pay them hundreds of millions of dollars in a multi-year contract.

Click here for the chart …

Avg        HR          OPS        WAR      Runs      RBI         hr/ab


Pppp—26 years old         #1           #21         #2           #2           #1           #49         #16

                                                .346        32           1.078     8.7          156         80          16.25

Xxxx-26  years old            #56         T#4         #5           #4           #4           #10         #7 

                                           .276        39           .939        7.4          132         105        14.8

Cccc-25 years old              #18         #9           #11         T#25      #11         #8           #21

                                                .297        37           .905        4.6          117.7     107         17.1

Yyyy—26 years old          #97         T#16      #16         #32         #13         #15         #15

                                                .249        34        .889        4.2          115.8     100         16.2

Vvvv—25 years old          #29         T#16      #19         #11         #20         #3           #25        

                                                .290        34           .881        5.3          105.4     111         17.8

Qqqq—27 years old        #40         T#25      #13         T#32      #31         #11         T#8

                                                .283        34          .892        4.2          99           104         15.5

Zzzz—25 years old           #45         T#49      #23         #14         #38         T#84      #12

                                                .278        24           .864        5.0          96.2        68           15.7

I’m really thinking that each baseball club REALLY, REALLY promotes their #1 draft choices …when they succeed…which actually isn’t very often! In part, to promote their scouting department and the team. Let’s take a closer look at that success league wide…. I’m assuming that players drafted in 2016, 2017, 2018 haven’t had enough time to develop yet….but think about that…. in football & basketball, the drafted players IMMEDIATELY step right into starting lineups. In fact, many become the face of the team from DAY 1. Back to baseball, in 2015, there were 6(six) players from the 1st round who have “made it” to the Big Time…Alex Bergman, Andrew Benintendi,  Carson Fullmer, Ian Happ, Walker Buehler, Dansby Swanson.  Bergman & Benintendi have shown signs of being star MLB’ers….jury’s out on the other 3 players.  The other 35 drafted in the 1st round…nada, nothing, don’t show up anyplace on MLB rosters. The Cardinals drafted Nic Plummer (pick # 23), Jake Woodford (pk #39) who was 3-8 @ Springfield last year. From the players drafted in 2014, I would assume that with 4 years of minor league training, that many would be in the MLB by now…well, the #1 overall pick by Cleveland was Brady Aiken…he toiled last year @ Lake County Class A and was 5-13..ugh….only a 1st round pick would be around long enough in Class A to get that many starts (losses). Carlos Rodon, Kyle Schwarber, Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, Michael Comforto, Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb, Bradley Zimmer, Brandon Finnegan, Matt Chapman, Luke Weaver, Michael Kopech, Jack Flaherty…13 have reached the MLB plateau, 27 1st rounders have not yet reached the MLB….sooo…to this point.. 1 of 3 players chosen in the 2014 1st round have climbed the hill to the MLB. A couple look like they are…or will be… stars in the MLB. More of the same occurs for 2013 draft and all the other years prior to that time. “Hitting” big on a 1st rounder is a HUGE success for the MLB teams…so when it happens…they want to really play it up. Is it collusion or common sense that these two players are still seeking a sucker… ooops a team…. to sign them to a mega-million dollar contract using that hype as the springboard?

Here’s the actual players on the list above:

Pppp is Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox

Xxxx is Jose Ramirez Cleveland Indians

Cccc  is Manny Machado—Free agent

Yyyy is Bryce Harper—free agent

Vvvv is Javier Baez Chicago Cubs

Qqqq is Eugenio Suarez Cincinnati Reds

Zzzz is Matt Chapman—Oakland A’s

Not included on the list were Christian Yelich & Michael Trout

Which numbers did you think were Harpers? Machado? I would add that I believe Machado severely damaged his value with his post-season antics. If a team valued a player representing them properly on the field, he really threw himself under the bus ….with his showboating, dirty, lackadaisical play.

Last weekend…in a moment of boredom…and a lack of commons sense….I put on….probably for the 1st time in the last several decades, the NFL Pro Bowl game. It was a complete joke…but it wasn’t funny. It was raining hard for much of the game, so it was slippery and difficult to change directions quickly. Hence, the players seemed to be “taking it easy & slow” to attempt any change of direction while running. But the SAD PART was  that used “touch football” rules. When a runner was approached by a defender… arriving a step away with his arms out as if to tackle him, the officials blew the whistle… before the contact. I don’t’ think that ANY players actually hit the ground in the entire game from being tackled… maybe a couple did as they slipped the wet turf. We saw No blitzing the QB, vanilla pass coverages, smiles, pat on the backs to the opposition, putting d-backs into the game as receivers than he caught a TD pass because he was completely unguarded by the defender….heck, my Frosh football team schemes of years ago would have looked complex compared to this rudimentary style of playing.  I’ve seen more intensity in a backyard, family game of touch football.. much more intensity J It was a real embarrassment for the league. It will be the LAST time that I EVER watch this type of touch football.

Clearly there is  no common sense in the musical chairs of college/pro football coaching spots. A coach gets fired… apparently for inept performance…but within days he’s signed to coach again at another place. Many times, it’s even coaching different positional players…or even different levels (college v pro). Why would you hire a guy so quickly who’s just been fired for being inadequate? And…it happens over and over again for many of these nomad coaches. I know the ol’ boy network flourishes but…isn’t it more important to win as a Head Coach then to provide the umpteenth job for Joe Mediocre? Maybe the Peter Principle comes into effect here? It certainly does when advancing to the Head Coach position. Wouldn’t a GM…. want to try some new, fresh ideas? E.g. Rams getting a young HC.

There was certainly no collusion last year when the Cards signed Greg Holland to a $14m contract. They…seemingly…rushed him back too soon and he was awful…I mean really awful. So…far out of character, the Cards ate the contract.  Holland resigned a few weeks later with Washington Nats. A complete turn-around took place. In his 25 innings in St. Louis, Holland surrendered 34 hits, 28 runs, 22 walks, 0 saves and just 22 strikeouts. Upon arriving in D.C., Holland contributed 21 1/3 innings over which he allowed 9 hits, 2 runs, 10 walks and 25 strikeouts, 3 saves. Now Arizona has signed him for a modest…in this era…$3.5m contract. Shame on the Cards for rushing him back too quickly

Ss one looks at Mozeliak’s free agent signings over the years….he’s had some HR’s and some real swing & Misses. At the bottom was the one-year, $7.5 million signing of Brad was really bad! The rest of the bottom five… according to Rick Hummel… is filled out with backup infielders and catchers –$5.25 Mark Ellis, Ty Wiggington, Bryan Pena and Ruben Tejada. I’d add to the “worst” list—Greg Holland, Dexter Fowler ($31m in 2 years while hitting .230), Brett Cecil-horrible 4 year contract for $31m…who EVER, EVER signs ANY reliever for 4 years? Matt Belisle was signed in 2015…and to use an expression of 1 of my in-laws …he’s “just another guy”. (TU Nick!),,who was moved on quickly.  MO also traded for Justin Masterson in 2014. He carried along a hefty $9.7m contract. The return on our money? 3-3, 7.04 ERA, whip 1.565….ugh! That’s even worse than the CD rates these days J On the better side of the signings, one would have to give praise to MO for the Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Kyle Lohse signings. Beltran was a 2 year Cardinal @ $13m in 2012-13. During that time he hit .282, 56 HR, 181 RBI. He helped the Cards reach the playoffs in both those years. Lance Berkman was also a 2 year Cardinal. He was there 2011-12. During that time he hit .295, 33 HR,101 rbi’s. He received votes in the MVP voting in 2011..finishing #7. He missed much of 2012 due to injury. Loshe was a 55-35 hurler in the Lou , 3.90 ERA during his 5 years  (2008-12)with the Cards. Not a star but he did win 55 games for us. Common sense tells that the development of players through the farm system has been a better avenue for the Cards than signing free agents…but fans pressure the team to show their sincerity to improve the club by signing FA…please note…these successful signings have all been gone for 5 years now!

Speaking of free agent movements this off-season….no collusion, or common sense…only stats J

Highest WAR listed for a signed FA ,3.5,  is listed for starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (signed by Nats away from AZ)..he’s predicted to have a 2019 that looks like this:  13-9, 31 starts, 182 inn, 168 hits, ERA 3.43, whip 1.21, predicted to average slightly more than 1 k/inn.

#2 on the WAR list at 3.3 is Dallas Keuchel (unsigned currently). Fan graphs thinks his 2019 will look like this—13-10, 3.69era, 32 starts, 198 inning, whip 1.32

Fangraphs projections for 2019 for  Cardinals & former Cardinals pitchers … look like this…

Other predictions:           WAR      record   era         starts     app        inn          saves     holds     whip

Lance Lynn (TX)                 1.6          8-9          4.46        24           24           138         0              0              1.43

Adam Wainwright(StL)   1.3          8-7          4.20        18           38           123         0              2              1.35

Andrew Miller   (StL)       1.3          3-2          2.95          0           60             60         16           13          1.13

Trevor Rosenthal Wash  1.2          4-3          3.11          0           65             65           6           18          1.21

Joe Kelly (LA Dod)            1.0          4-3          3.21          0           65             65           5           16         1.22

My common sense tells me that you’ve had enough!  Thx for making it to the end…YOUR thoughts are ALWAYS invited…put them directly on the Prepcasts site….disagree, agree, add more info..use your initials to sign if that makes you feel more comfortable.


  1. Jeff Bandle says:

    Good blog post coach. I recently read an article that looked at this situation with Machado and Harper and showed how the luxury tax has become a defacto salary cap. On top of that, the players agreeing to the arbitration being after 3 years instead of 2 has allowed the owners to get an extra year of cheap performance from a new star before having to pay. Baseball revenues are up but unlike other sports, MLB and the player’s association failed to include scale changes linked to that uptick. Plus the success of the Astros and their tanking system several years ago have given owners the out to have several bad seasons with low payroll..they can fallback on the “Houston Model”.

    Regarding the NCAA, they had a bad week. The Mizzou decision was egregiously unfair and it was admitted in a press conference by an NCAA rep that in the future schools would be better served NOT to cooperate with the NCAA when issues arise. That’s a great way to instill trust and confidence in a supposed partner institution.

    On a lesser note, Kansas got hit pretty hard on an individual player level when one of their players, Silvio Desouza was deemed ineligible for the rest of this year AND next year because of 2500 taken by his guardian unbeknownst to him, essentially ending is college career before it really started. A subtlety that is missed in this is that when Kansas applied to the NCAA for Desouza’s reinstatement the NCAA came back and said they would only hear the case if KU agreed to the clause that the Adidas shoe rep in question was considered a “hypothetical” booster. That really isn’t true..he was an employee of Adidas who worked with other schools, not just KU. By having to agree to that, KU opened themselves up to potentially more severe penalties. This is equivalent to being forced to incriminate yourself in order to be heard in a court of law..big no no.

    In my opinion, this solidifies the idea that the NCAA has no idea how to deal with the current athletic situation where everybody around the athlete is making $$$$s but they are forbidden due to an antiquated view of amateurism.

    And finally, the Patriot’s won another Super Bowl…*yawn*. One of the worst I can remember is recent history. Yes, some folks will parrot that line that it was “a great defensive” battle. Sorry, the vast majority of folks aren’t there to watch the defenses battle it out against inept QB play. I don’t like either team, so I was cheering more for the Rams to lose than the Pats to win, given what Kroenke and his minions did to St. Louis.

    Oh well, pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks and all will be good.

  2. Dan Borkowski says:

    Nice post Coach. The “Pro” Bowl is the biggest joke ever. Haven’t watched in years! In fact the last time might have been when the college all stars played the NFL. Saddest part is the winner gets $67,000!!! Are you kidding me? Name the all pro team, half of which opt out for some reason, pay their way for a family vacation and forget the game.
    Would be interested in the reason for transfer for gurl from Whitfield to Ritter. Many rumors flying. Maybe MSHSAA will finally investigate this one!
    And finally, the Gordon kid who can’t make up his mind. Again many rumors about this young man.
    Thanks for your views each week. Hope all is well.

  3. Good stuff Bob, your research is amazing. I understand how much Harper and Manny can help a club but where/how these figures got the numbers they are, I find amazing. Is it driven by the press?

    Actually I was not surprised by your findings. there are better players than these two out there. They are good, but not for the money their agents are seeking.

    I challenge any agent to give me good reason AND show me a 5-10 year contract that has proven to pan out. You can’t. And they won’t. With all the analytics and breaking down of each player, it is a proven fact they don’t work out now that steroids are out of the game (so they say).

    I strongly vote common sense is finally(?) maybe(?) being used by the owners? Two to four or 3-5 years is as far as I go and there are no opt outs. You sign, you stay! You don’t think your getting a fair shake, find another job that will pay this kind of money.

    Now, if the fans would just use some common sense!!

    I heard the Super Bowl was boring, as was halftime and even the commercials had a bad night! I stuck to my word and didn’t watch one second of any of it. By chance as I was channel surfing, I actually watched a few very good documentaries on MLB channel. Thank goodness I didn’t have to see Kroenke raise a Lombardi Trophy at any point…

    I did have few squares but they never work in my favor. Ha!

    At least hockey is back…..


  4. MB / TM / KL says:

    I watched part of the 4th quarter of the Pro Bowl, correct a joke! KL

    Obviously, I think the Cardinals have been burned by too many bad FA signings. His best signings were over 5 years ago. Recently? Strike Outs! DeWitt doesn’t want to keep pouring money down a sewer. TM

    Well done Robert. The Superbowl was a bit boring till Gronk caught that pass on the 2. Great touch pass by Brady. MB

  5. Good stuff as always Bob..

    Harper/ Machado: If anything was learned from the Pujols deal with the Angels… long term, big $ deals simply are bad business. Look for both to eventually sign for less$, fewer years with opt outs.

    Cards/Free Agents: stick to trades…. less risk, years & $.

    Pro Bowl: NFL has tried many approaches to generate fan interest/ tv ratings. Following season, players are tired, don’t want to risk injury, etc. Time to move on… name an all pro team, and have an awards show. Throw in a few celebs as presenters and call it a day.

    Super Bowl: Thought the game did drag on, as most defensive battles do.
    Half time show… “ what was that?” TV commercials have lost their thrill. Companies striving too hard to gain attention. As a result, weird, no message or laughs were this years spots. (NFL spot was the standout)Had no rooting interest, but gaining more appreciation for Belichik & Brady… they know how to win!
    The Trophy walk to the podium… kissing / hugging the trophy. C’mon, corny!

    Time for baseball! JP2

  6. Where do you obtain all these statistics? You must be a Math Guy! Oh yeah, you taught math…

    Interesting where the two super stars fit in with the others you mentioned. Bottom line, I wouldn’t pay them the money nor sign a long-term contract…would really be stuck at the end of the deal. My hope is both of them go for the money and wind up on a non-contending team. Heard the Padres put their hat in the ring for Harper.

    I always hear about Mo as the GM and he’s the front man on the news/tv. I thought he was promoted and the Cards now have Girsch(?) as the GM. What does the new GM do as he certainly isn’t taking the lead? I still think there have been way too many bad FA choices especially in the pitching category. That said, the backup catchers the past several years have been almost non-existent. And Fowler in the outfield/hitter hasn’t worked well. This is it for him…play him or move him along. Cecil was a bad deal and Holland really came on way too early. He didn’t have a spring training and I suppose he thought he could do his spring training pitching in the major leagues to get ready. I heard there is something like 137 free agents this season. Could that be correct? That would be a lot of players waiting for a long-long time.

    I do hope there will be good things this year for Lynn, Joe Kelly and Trevor. I always thought they were class guys and hope the best for them. I sort of chuckled at your comment about Machado’s behavior in the post season hurting his chances IF A TEAM CARED ABOUT HIS ANTICS. Bottom line, most teams care about results not on field behavior…in my opinion. When you look at all the draft picks you listed it’s amazing that I believe so many were drafted based on “potential” which is quite an intangible.

    The Super Bowl wasn’t too super after all as I thought, as I think most did, that it would be a high scoring game. I really found it boring but not as bad as some of the blow out games where the 2nd half was a non-issue. Good defense and I was waiting to see some trick plays or both teams making an effort to go on 4th down more often to get an edge. Both teams played cautiously and I suppose it was good coaching to play it that way. The Rams coach had nothing to lose as he should be coach of the year in my mind. I’m glad the Rams lost but really didn’t care too much. It was a great catch by Gronk and a super through by Brady when they needed a big play.

    The Pro Bowl never gets my attention as I’ve seen it in the past (maybe 4 – 5 years ago) and at that time is still was slow motion type game and nobody really played hard. Do they draw a big crowd for that game and a big tv audience?

    Mizzou sure got hammered by the NCAA but when you break the rules you need to be held accountable. I’m not sure if the NCAA actually thought this was a suitable punishment but maybe thought they could use them as an example. It will hurt their football team big time for sure. May cost Odum his job sooner than later just when he seems to have things moving. Oh well, I just have to make sure our athletic department isn’t breaking any NAIA regulations as I can’t afford to lose any more scholarship money!

    I’m looking forward to spring training and hoping the Cardinals can turn it around. I’m not hyped on the new manager but obviously need to give him a chance. I don’t think will go too long with him if it’s not a winning combination. The fans will revolt if they don’t start winning and winning soon.

    The Blues are 3 points out of the 8th spot and final playoff spot. I know it’s important to get into the playoffs but sure seems like if they do they will play a #1 team and be out the 1st round. I guess anything can happen though as they are 6-2 in the last 8 games – I believe. Their new goalie seems to be working out well and I hope he continues in that fashion.

    Tiger Woods played fairly well in the Farmers Open. That said, he really needs to play much better than that to actually win a tournament this year. I think there are a ton of good golfers on the links and he is going to need to get close enough to the flag to have a decent putt for birdies. He can’t depend on a 20+ ft. putt for birdies. Plus, he needs to really take advantage of the par 5 holes. I know the PGA is trying to speed up the game (just like every other sport) but leaving the flag pin in for putting isn’t going to make a big difference at all. When I play a round of 18 on the golf course, I know upfront, it’s just going to be a long day.

    I’m starting to get into the Trivia season now as it seems like every weekend there is a trivia event somewhere and we are invited constantly. Certainly not because I know so much as my contributions are minimal but I do support whatever the cause is that we are representing that evening.

    Waiting to see if STL will receive the MLS team. It would be great for the city but I’m pretty certain the team wouldn’t draw the 20 – 25K people per game that they keep saying is the expectations. Maybe the 1st few games but after that…I’m not optimistic.

    Take care for now. JJ

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