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Rob Manfred Can't Stop/Won't Stop - MLB Now Wants To Eliminate About 20% Of All Minor League Roster Spots

More news today about how MLB is a bunch of ruthless douchebags. 

This time is different though because it involves fucking over what is already considered the single most fucked over group of professional athletes: minor league baseball players:


Minor league playing jobs = roster spots

In other words, the league would cut about 1,000 minor league roster spots out of about 5,400 otherwise known as A Significant Number Of Roster Cuts. As such there's really no spinning this. MLB is rapidly and explicitly devaluing the minor league system. Sound familiar? Because MLB came out this weekend and basically said they don't need to pay minor leaguers at all. Hubbs had the blog which you can (and should) read the full thing here. 

In sum:

A Major League Baseball lawyer said in federal court Friday that minor league players should not be paid during spring training, because they should be considered trainees. 

Major League Baseball has done the impossible and leapfrogged the NCAA as the biggest joke of an organization in sports…. Straight out of the evil villain playbook.

Evil villain playbook is certainly a good interpretation. Easy enough to peg the MLB owners and powers as greedy assholes so don't think I'm doing anything different here. I just think it's clear we take a step back and take this for what it is. MLB simply doesn't need the minor league system any more:


It's been an ongoing struggle for years now. Fun fact the draft used to be UNLIMITED rounds. You literally went until you didn't have anyone else you wanted to draft. And that's because you needed a big system to find all these guys to play. That's why you hear about Mike Piazza going in the 62 round as a favor from his godfather Tommy Lasorda. 

Then in 1998 they cut it to 50 rounds to get some control over the process. Then almost 15 years later they shaved it again to 40 rounds while adding the bonus pools to limit how much teams spend. Slowly but surely the process has been changed to better fit evaluation systems. It's a lot easier now to identify top talent than it was 25 years ago. And that gap has closed even more drastically in just the last 5 years. That's because the data is simply that much better and complete, and that's an all-encompassing statement. It's just a better environment to judge future talent. 

The owners don't want to support all the dead weight that goes into fielding their MLB roster. I personally find the expense to be chump change, but it's an expense they've been trying to reduce for decades. We got all warm and fuzzy when it looked like MLB clubs were embracing their minor league counterparts. But now we're finding out that's on the condition that the existing system goes through major cuts. 

Think about it. MLB teams really don't need their prospects grinding out years of hard living to prove they belong. You know who your studs are and you want to develop them appropriately. That means more time at the spring training facilities and working internally. More of an emphasis on developing power and velocity and reducing injuries. Less emphasis on earning your stripes. Believe me now or hear me later. There's going to be a drastic shift in how the minor league system league looks a decade from now. 

I'm not saying abolish it tomorrow. But it's obvious the owners want to get rid of it and it's even more obvious the MLBPA has no leverage to defend against draft demands. They're so busy fighting for equity at the highest level that there's 0% chance they put up a fight on the draft/minor league asks from owners. So you couldn't really ask for a better time to enact change on this front. 

Pretty soon you'll have three levels: A-AA-AAA. 

Then the low-A equivalent turns into some kind of instructional league equivalency. Maybe with some kind of age limits. 20+ would have it's own, then under 20 with its own competitions. Organize through the two primary spring training locations and you've effectively wiped the most expensive part of the minor league system while doing nothing to the quality of the competition. Meantime you get to build these campuses/compounds for your younger talent which are funded through long-term capital infrastructure projects. The exact kinda stuff that plays real well on the balance sheet, especially compared to the current finances. Everything and anything is pointing in this direction. 

My takeaway = it's probably good in the long-run of the sport. But generally nobody wants to hear or see this kinda change when we're in the middle of a lockout. At this point everything just feels like a massive slap in the face regardless of how well presented or reasoned. So no matter how good of an idea, nobody really has an appetite for balanced conversation at this point and rightfully so. 

Rob's takeaway = get your fuckin head out of your ass. We got baseball to play.