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Players With Award-Based Bonus Clauses To Be Banned From Awards


BaltimoreTerp

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http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3142555

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Baseball players no longer would receive bonuses for winning the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young or rookie awards bestowed by the Baseball Writers' Association of America under a rule passed Wednesday.

Starting in 2013, players with such bonus clauses in their contracts will be banned from receiving votes for any BBWAA awards. Hall of Fame voting is not affected, nor are manager of the year or non-BBWAA awards such as the World Series MVP or Gold Glove.

"When we first started giving out these awards it was just to honor somebody. You got a trophy, there was no monetary reward that went with it," BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell said. "I honestly don't think people vote with that in mind. But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we're trying to make these guys rich."

I don't know how I feel about this.

On the one hand, awards shouldn't be about the money. On the other, I can't figure out any evidence that this is a real problem, outside of that goofy clause in Schilling's deal.

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I can definitely see their thinking, that it was originally meant just to honor the players.

You could also see a lawsuit (maybe) If someone with a clause was a serious front-runner for say MVP. If the writers then picked someone else, the first could argue that he was more deserving and the writers cost me $200k (or whatever)

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You could also see a lawsuit (maybe) If someone with a clause was a serious front-runner for say MVP. If the writers then picked someone else, the first could argue that he was more deserving and the writers cost me $200k (or whatever)

Nah, they don't have a contract with the awards people. The awards people can make up whatever award rules they like...

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I can definitely see their thinking, that it was originally meant just to honor the players.

You could also see a lawsuit (maybe) If someone with a clause was a serious front-runner for say MVP. If the writers then picked someone else, the first could argue that he was more deserving and the writers cost me $200k (or whatever)

It's a suit that would have no legs, unless the player could prove that there was something questionable with the voting.

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I was always a bit confused by the award-based bonuses anyways. If you're paying someone millions to play a game, shouldn't they try their hardest to do as good as possible which would lead to awards? If they need an extra million or two to really put that extra 10%, do you even want that guy on your team?

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I can definitely see their thinking, that it was originally meant just to honor the players.

You could also see a lawsuit (maybe) If someone with a clause was a serious front-runner for say MVP. If the writers then picked someone else, the first could argue that he was more deserving and the writers cost me $200k (or whatever)

I think the point of it all is to rule out awards clauses altogether. Why in the world would anyone agree to an awards clause when it's impossible for them to receive the award?

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If they need an extra million or two to really put that extra 10%, do you even want that guy on your team?

Typical bonus clauses are much smaller than that, and they're often unattainable.

Ryan Franklin's 2007 contract had one of the higher performance bonuses, $1M in performance bonuses based on GS (up to 29 GS), and he was kept in the bullpen all season long by La Russa. Yet he just signed a 2 year extension which has bonuses based on starts. (COTS doesn't say how much).

Sidney Ponson's contract with the Cardinals had bonuses for starts that kicked in at a reasonable level (in the twenties) but the top step was for 34 starts. In a 5 pitcher rotation, no #5 starter has any chance of getting 34 starts; guys at the front of the rotation typically max out at 33 or 34; a #5 would be lucky to break 30.

Some bonuses, like these for Pujols, are attainable but merely pocket change for an athlete making $16M per year.

# $50,000 each for Gold Glove & All Star selection

# $0.2M for winning MVP award

# $0.1M for 2nd-place finish in MVP vote

Others are absolutely ridiculous, like these incentive bonuses for Adam Kennedy.

award bonuses: $0.1M for MVP ($75,000 for 2nd in vote, $50,000 for 3rd), $50,000 for All Star ($25,000 for selection), $50,000 each for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, LDS, LCS or WS MVP

The only ones which Kennedy had a realistic shot at getting when the season began were the $25K for selection to the all star, the $50K for gold glove, and the $50K for LDS, LCS, or WS MVP. Almost anyone can get hot and win a playoff series MVP if they are lucky.

But it would make contracts a little simpler if all those dinky little award bonuses were left out, and I'd be surprised if the players care about them all that much. I wouldn't be surprised if a player occasionally gets a check for one of those awards and had forgotten about it being in his contract.

The larger incentives are usually for playing time, so many plate appearances for hitters, so many innings pitched or starts made for starters, and so many game appearances for relievers. What's embarrassing is when some aging veteran has a clause based on plate appearances and he has a resurgent season and gets near the threshold for his bonus, but the team is out of the playoff race and the manager gets a call from his GM to sit the player down so that he doesn't get the bonus -- or worse -- trigger an automatic extension. Didn't that happen one year when Palmeiro was with the Orioles?

I've posted this many times before, but what MLB and the players association should do is to negotiate a formula whereby each player would be compensated for what he actually contributed during the season.

Each hit, extra base hit, run scored, run driven in, stolen base, plate appearance, and sacrifice would be worth some actual value in the player's paycheck.

Each inning played, assist, putout, and double play would be worth something to a fielder.

Each game appearance, inning pitched, strikeout, out recorded, win, save, inherited run prevented, etc., would be calculated into a pitchers compensation, adjusted down for each hit, walk, and run allowed.

The base compensation above would be adjusted by a number of bonus factors: team finish, team wins, home attendance, road attendance, total major league seasons, total seasons with the current team.

Since defense is so difficult to evaluate, I would set aside a fund to be divided among the players, half paid out based upon the number of innings played and the relative difficulty of the position and the other half based upon a player's ranking at his position in the Fielding Bible's defense plus/minus ratings, which essentially counts how many plays a fielder makes that the average player at his position wouldn't make and how many he misses that the average player would handle.

The formula would be adjusted so that most players would make something close to what they currently make by having their agents negotiate their contracts for them, except that players would get more compensation earlier in their careers and less as they grow older and become less productive. To some extent, the decline in pay to older players would be offset by the bonuses for seniority in the league and seniority on the same team.

I imagine that the formula would need to be refined and renegotiated every year initially so that the majority of players would be satisfied with the differences between how pitchers and position players compensation is calculated.

Once the compensation formula became sufficiently stable, they could also tie it to a total amount based upon a certain percentage of baseball's gross revenues.

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I've posted this many times before, but what MLB and the players association should do is to negotiate a formula whereby each player would be compensated for what he actually contributed during the season.

Each hit, extra base hit, run scored, run driven in, stolen base, plate appearance, and sacrifice would be worth some actual value in the player's paycheck....

This would be a horrible deal for the Players Association but the owners would love it, and I bet a lot of players with shortsighted views of things would like it too. The owners would love to have a system where they only compensate actual performance. On the other hand, there wouldn't be any guaranteed money for players, so they would have no protection from injuries, etc. Also inherent in this type of compensation is an artificial cap on payrolls (edit: I now see that you acknowledge this point by saying they could tie it to baseball's gross revenues. My question is, why would the Players Association want this?).

The closest thing to your idea that I can think of is the NFL's system that gives compensation based on some formula involving plays and base salary (IIRC, Dawan Landry got led the league with a bonus in six digits). While the players love this idea because the bonus is like a Christmas gift, what they don't realize is that money is coming from somewhere, namely their paychecks to begin with. The NFL system doesn't hand out that much money overall, but it still sets a precedent that could be a slippery slope for the players if they are not careful.

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I've posted this many times before, but what MLB and the players association should do is to negotiate a formula whereby each player would be compensated for what he actually contributed during the season.

Each hit, extra base hit, run scored, run driven in, stolen base, plate appearance, and sacrifice would be worth some actual value in the player's paycheck....

Piecework. Like they pay women in Samoa to make shirts. I wouldn't mind if they'd price things the same way. Ticket prices should go up and down, based on the team's record so far. Each win or loss would adjust the ticket price for subsequent games. I only want to pay for actual value delivered. No more of this having a price and just sticking with it. If BRob shows up with the flu one day, I want a rebate. And when we win a home game without requiring the bottom of the 9th, then I want 1/18 of my ticket price refunded ;-)

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I think the point of it all is to rule out awards clauses altogether. Why in the world would anyone agree to an awards clause when it's impossible for them to receive the award?

There could still be bonuses for awards voted on by players, coaches, anyone except the writers. This is more of a journalistic ethics issue than anything.

The Baltimore Sun already disallows its writers from voting for awards. The premise is that reporters should be reporting what occurs, not deciding what occurs.

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Piecework.

Exactly! I posted this at a Cardinals forum and someone said it might be fine for fantasy baseball, but it would never work for the real thing.

Of course, it would actually work perfectly well, but it doesn't stand a chance of being implemented. For one thing, it would eliminate the need for players to have agents to negotiate their contracts. The agents would be up in force to kill it, if such reform were ever taken seriously.

In addition, some veteran players manage to be greatly over compensated for their production, especially if they're injured in the early years of a multi-year contract. Veterans would be concerned that they wouldn't make as much being compensated for actual production as they could make with a negotiated contract where their money is guaranteed even if they never produce a lick.

Owners would probably love it, because they would only have to negotiate collectively with the players association, rather than with each individual player, and they would no longer need to insure their large contracts.

Essentially, it's nothing more than a fancy version of the piece rate (piecework) compensation which functions now in paying migrant farm harvest workers, where each worker gets paid a set amount for each basket of fruit, or whatever they were picking, that he picks that day. If farmers and labor gang bosses could make that work before the advent of computerization, making it work for baseball players would be trivial with the use of computers. As I said, the only hitch, would be in convincing all the parties that this system would be as good for them as the current one is. Now that we have computers, we're great at collecting statistics and plugging them into formulas. You could make out a player's check every day if you wanted to.

What I expect would actually happen would be that a player's check would show up around the middle of each month, based upon a percentage of what he had earned up to the end of the previous month. For October through March, each month they would be paid 1/6 of the amount remaining in the player's account at the end of the season.

The younger players would eagerly embrace it, because it would mean that they'd begin getting compensation immediately commensurate with their performance, instead of just the minimum salary. A rookie Albert Pujols who was hitting like Barry Bonds would get compensated the same as Barry Bonds, less the bonuses that Bonds would get for years in the league and years with the same team. No more situations where a young player's career is cut short by injury before he gets to arbitration and he never gets the big bucks he deserved. He'd be paid according to the formula for any performance he achieved, right up to the day the disabling injury occurred.

In terms of compensation, it's really no different than what occurs now, except that how compensation gets determined would resolved in collective bargaining with the players association instead of with individual salary negotiations with each player's agent.

Now: GMs and agents estimate how a player will perform for the term of the proposed contract, then assign a value for that level of performance. Then they negotiate what they've estimated until they reach agreement on the total value and terms of the contract. It's all based upon anticipated performance, so we have players getting injured after their contract is signed who never provide anywhere near the performance which was projected.

Proposed: An MLB committee of owner representatives negotiates a value per unit for every useful measurand of player performance. Once they've agreed upon a formula which balances the value of each position on the team with every other position, the formula is cranked into a computer, together with estimates of a player's production, to determine the estimated payroll for a team's players.

It does produce some uncertainty regarding a team's final payroll but, if several players perform better than expected, the team will be more successful on the field, thereby increasing team revenue for the current and near future seasons.

Instead of revenue sharing, all teams could pay a certain percentage of their revenue into a common MLB fund, with the players' compensation coming out of that fund. Grouping all MLB players together would enable a fairly precise and accurate estimate of their total compensation, eliminating the payroll uncertainty which would exist if each team handled just their own. That would enable teams to reduce the size of their payroll division. In fact, they could probably consolidate payroll functions into a common league office, where player checks come out of a common fund and the checks for other team employees come out of the team's bank account.

Competitive balance could be maintained by reducing the roster size limits for teams whose player payroll estimate exceeds a certain margin above the league average. Thus, if the Yankees chose to field a full team of all stars, they could do it, but they might have to cope with a roster size of only 20 players, while their opponents made do with 25. Few teams would want to exceed the limit and have to cope with the reduced rosters.

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I've posted this many times before, but what MLB and the players association should do is to negotiate a formula whereby each player would be compensated for what he actually contributed during the season.

Each hit, extra base hit, run scored, run driven in, stolen base, plate appearance, and sacrifice would be worth some actual value in the player's paycheck.

Each inning played, assist, putout, and double play would be worth something to a fielder.

Each game appearance, inning pitched, strikeout, out recorded, win, save, inherited run prevented, etc., would be calculated into a pitchers compensation, adjusted down for each hit, walk, and run allowed.

The base compensation above would be adjusted by a number of bonus factors: team finish, team wins, home attendance, road attendance, total major league seasons, total seasons with the current team.

Since defense is so difficult to evaluate, I would set aside a fund to be divided among the players, half paid out based upon the number of innings played and the relative difficulty of the position and the other half based upon a player's ranking at his position in the Fielding Bible's defense plus/minus ratings, which essentially counts how many plays a fielder makes that the average player at his position wouldn't make and how many he misses that the average player would handle.

The formula would be adjusted so that most players would make something close to what they currently make by having their agents negotiate their contracts for them, except that players would get more compensation earlier in their careers and less as they grow older and become less productive. To some extent, the decline in pay to older players would be offset by the bonuses for seniority in the league and seniority on the same team.

I imagine that the formula would need to be refined and renegotiated every year initially so that the majority of players would be satisfied with the differences between how pitchers and position players compensation is calculated.

Once the compensation formula became sufficiently stable, they could also tie it to a total amount based upon a certain percentage of baseball's gross revenues.

That's one of the loonier ideas I've ever heard. Just about the only accepted statistical measures MLB and the MLBPA can agree on are triple crown stats and the Elias free agent ranking system. Those were state of the art about 50 years ago. They define a player's worth only slightly better than picking names out of a hat and using that order to rank them.

It's essentially guaranteed that the ranking system would be an embarassing mess.

The problems with such a system would be countless. You think you have selfish, stat-oriented, team-second players now? I don't, but this would be one sure-fire way to create them.

Not only would players be looking out for their own paychecks 24/7, they'd be striving to compile all the wrong numbers. You'd see players bitter because they batted 6th instead of 3rd, not just for the glory, but because the manager was taking money out of their pockets by keeping them away from RBI and runs scored opportunities. You'd see players try to play through awful injuries for the money. You'd see players running through stop signs at third to get that next run scored.

For Fielding you think they'd agree on the Fielding Bible rankings?! Ha! 98% of the world can't get past fielding percentage and SportsCenter highlights. Fielding Bible! They'd probably just get Boswell to come up with another version of Total Average where he adds up a bunch of stuff and spits out a number that doesn't really correlate to anything.

Base compensation is adjusted by team performance and attendance? That's a good one! That's a great way to ensure no one ever signs with a rebuilding team, the Baltimore Orioles, or the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's probably also a way to ensure that Fenway loses it's charm in a race to add seats.

I can't believe you're actually serious. This is a joke suggestion, right? Somewhere I missed the punchline.

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Exactly! I posted this at a Cardinals forum and someone said it might be fine for fantasy baseball, but it would never work for the real thing.

Of course, it would actually work perfectly well, but it doesn't stand a chance of being implemented... [stuff deleted]

Owners would probably love it... [stuff deleted]

Essentially, it's nothing more than a fancy version of the piece rate (piecework) compensation which functions now in paying migrant farm harvest workers, where each worker gets paid a set amount for each basket of fruit, or whatever they were picking, that he picks that day. If farmers and labor gang bosses could make that work before the advent of computerization, making it work for baseball players would be trivial with the use of computers. As I said, the only hitch, would be in convincing all the parties that this system would be as good for them as the current one is. Now that we have computers, we're great at collecting statistics and plugging them into formulas. You could make out a player's check every day if you wanted to.

What I expect would actually happen would be that

[detailed forecast of wacko scheme deleted]

Proposed: An MLB committee of owner representatives negotiates a value per unit for every useful measurand of player performance. Once they've agreed upon a formula which balances the value of each position on the team with every other position, the formula is cranked into a computer, together with estimates of a player's production, to determine the estimated payroll for a team's players.

I'll tell you what is absolutely amazing about your wacko scheme: it manages to integrate the very worst attributes of the rawest, cut-throat and abusive form of Capitalism with the goofy and meddlesome "central planning" aspects of Socialism. While some folks are worrying about how to integrate the best aspects of each one, you've taken the contrarian view: You've managed to isolate and emphasize the worst aspects of both Capitalism and Socialism. This is quite an accomplishment!

To review:

  • From the dark side of Capitalism, you've picked the system that is used only when owners have complete and utter control over a workforce that has zero influence or leverage. You're the guy who wants to free the ballplayers from indentured servitude, right? So, your idea is to elevate the MiL players from "indentured servitude" up all the way to "migrant farm worker", and you want to bring down the elite talents of the big leagues to the same level. News flash: As a society's standard of living rises, and a middle class emerges, this method of compensation is the very first thing that gets tossed. And you want to bring it back. Because computers will help keep track of everything, and therefore make it work that much better.
  • From the silly and naive side of Socialism, you want to use the idea of a centralized economy, in which some Central Committee defines and designs all aspects of what is rewarded, and to what degree it is. This cleverly removes all those pesky dynamisms of free enterprise, and relies instead on some dang Central Committee correctly deciding what everything is worth.

Yep, that'll work. Like you said, it'd work perfectly well.

I just have one simple question: Are you nuts?

ps: If you're yanking my chain, it's only fair to fess up now. I admit it, I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

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You know, the owners tried something a little like this in 1888. They were so confident it would be popular that they waited until John M. Ward and the biggest players were in Ceylon or something on a round-the-world tour to introduce their "classification scheme." It wasn't nearly as complex and labyrinthine as Migrant's, but kinda, sorta similar:

League officials were secretly planning to further impose authority over the players and were waiting to unleash the Salary Classification Plan, devised by John T. Brush owner of the Indianapolis Hoosiers. This plan rated players and assigned salaries to each level. A player given an "A" rating received $2,500, a "B" player received $2,250, a "C" player received $2,000, a "D" player received $1,750 and an "E" player received $1,500. The plan was announced in November 1888, and not until Brotherhood founder John Montgomery Ward had left America on Spalding's 1888-1889 world tour baseball tour. Spalding organized a five-month barnstorming trip from November 1888 to March 1889. Ward outraged by the Salary Classification Plan thought about returning to America but was persuaded to stay on the tour by Spalding.

Link

At its core it was a pay-for-performance scheme, just like Migrant's. This one divided players into five salary bands. I'm nearly 100% sure that players were supposed to be reclassified each year, so you could be an A this year, and an E next year.

Of course this wasn't negotiated with the players beforehand, but I think the players' response would be similar if Migrant's idea was brought up today: not just no, not just hell no, but "we'd rather leave organized baseball and pony up the cash to fund our own league rather than submit to this insanity."

And that's exactly what they did. Something like half of all major league players dropped out of the two established leagues, took on a ton of risk, and formed the Player's League in 1890.

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