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The great salary cap debate

Mar 4, 2010, 11:10 AM EDT

I get tired of salary cap talk sometimes because I don’t think it’s worth spending so much mental energy debating something that is never, ever going to happen in Major League Baseball. Because of that, I usually limit myself to one big post on it a year, and I like to save it for the trading deadline when everyone is complaining about how some contending team can just “go out and buy” some big name. At least when they’re not complaining that their team was “too cheap to go out and get a guy” who could help them win. So I’ll give it a pass today.

But if you’re into that debate there’s a very lengthy example of it today over at Around The Horn Baseball.  ATH’s Danny Hobrock takes the “we need a salary cap” side and friend of the blog lar from Wezen-Ball takes the “forget it, Jake, it’s baseball” side.  Enjoy.

  1. lar @ wezen-ball - Mar 4, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Thanks, Craig. To tell you the truth, I get tired of hearing people rail for the salary cap too. Like you said, it just seems like howling into the wind. But having a nice spot to have the debate every now and then isn’t a bad idea… hopefully my arguments make sense to some people (though I suspect they won’t)

  2. Old Gator - Mar 4, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    I get worn out by this debate as well. Let’s have salary caps! It’s not like these guys don’t make enough money that they can’t spare a handful of hundred dollar bills (one dollar bills if they play for the Feesh or Royals) and a bottle of epoxy, plus spring for maybe thirty bucks for a used styrofoam wig storage head as a mold, and make themselves a salary cap. They could easily afford a few extra bucks for a felt lining and a big plastic model airplane propeller to stick on top of it (would Tim Lincecum incite a revival of the propeller beanie if he modeled one or what? Sales of pink Snuggies, dunce caps and stick-on gold stars are already going through the roof). Their agents and sycophants will applaud their extravagance and the working stiffs who can still afford to go to a game in places like New York and Los Angeles will turn out in droves to boo them.
    It’s all upside.

  3. Ryan - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    I only hope that when it’s your time to go Gator, you’ll do humanity a favor and donate your brain to science. Hopefully we’ll have perfected head-in-a-jar technology by then, so we can read your blog comments for all eternity.

  4. Spice - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    all the talk about salary cap is a waste of electrons. It will never come to pass as Craig points out.
    The idea of course is to slow down the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Dodgers.
    The fact of the matter is that the above mentioned teams would then simply pour all that surplus money in to off shore scouting.
    Next it would be a world wide draft to slow down the rich teams
    As it ever was, it will always be. the wealthy teams will find a way to use their wealth to their advantage.

  5. Old Gator - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Been thinking about that myself, Ryan. It’s do-able:
    ‘Course I disagree with the synopsis that there’s anything “dystopian” about the future Britain as described. It’s pretty much like that already in parts of Birmingham.
    And yes, I remain undeterred by the crack in Teddy Baseball’s head. Uncle Walt is still online from his cryogenic crypt high in Tinkerbell’s Castle in Orlando and there’s room in the opposite turret. I just don’t want to be hooked up to a Dell. Too bourgeois for me, you know?

  6. David - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    As much as I think player salaries are ridiculous and what not, I realize it is purely economics and it’s what the market allows. If my job had salary levels around there, I wouldn’t have a problem with it either I suppose. But reall what it comes down to, either the money goes to the players or it goes into the owners pockets. A salary cap would just enable the owners to pocket more money and subsequently lead to silly overvaluing of past their prime veterans. Everyone likes to point to the Pirates and Royals as proof that the system is broken, but they never point out how horrible the front office has been the past 20 years or so.

  7. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    hopefully my arguments make sense to some people (though I suspect they won’t)

    Your best argument, and it seemed like no one in the comments made a point of it, is that regardless of whether there is a salary cap or not won’t change how some GM’s actually do business. Whether the GM of the Royals has a cap or can free spend to his heart’s desire, it won’t stop him from signing terrible player after terrible player. This is why they haven’t been successful, not the salary cap.

  8. onesweetworld - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    The biggest benefit of having a salary cap is that there will be a min amount that a team would have to spend. Meaning the Pirates, Marlins, etc would be forced to spend money which is actually a good thing.

  9. David - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    @onesweetworld – In my previous comment – “A salary cap would just enable the owners to pocket more money and subsequently lead to silly overvaluing of past their prime veterans” The latter portion of my statement addresses your point. It wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing as teams would spend more for past their prime veterans like Garret Anderson types and give them silly contracts in order to hit the salary floor and that’s not a good thing for quality sake.

  10. Joey B - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    ” an Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, C.C. Sabathia, etc. will not be able to bring in as much money as they would in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and other large markets simply because of the size of the market. For smaller market teams, it just doesn’t make much sense to buy players the way large market teams do.”
    Actually, it might make sense. NYY and the BRS have mostly maxed out attendance. Their spending is defensive in nature, trying to ensure attendance doesn’t decline. There are probably others (Cubs?) that are playing to near sold-out crowds. The marginal cost for a Lackey won’t be covered by extra tickets sales.
    OTOH, a team like Mil might have benefited greatly from acquiring CC, thus ensuring the 3M in attendance. Teams on the cusp might actually have a greater incentive to sign a FA, since it might push them from 1.8M to 2.7M, rather than a big market team that might see a 100k increase.
    IRT the players’ union not agreeing to caps, I don’t see why it would be an issue. Had they agreed 5 years ago, they’d be making more as a whole than they do now. Revenues have risen considerably faster than salaries. Too many people think the owners win with a cap, which is not necessarily true. It all hinges on whether revenues are growing faster or slower relative to salaries. Just imho, they’d be better off accepting a given % and working to grow the sport.

  11. Joey B - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    Everyone likes to point to the Pirates and Royals as proof that the system is broken, but they never point out how horrible the front office has been the past 20 years or so.
    I’m sure there are a couple of guys that PT and KC have lost to FA, but they are few and far between. Bay was traded, but he still had 1.5 years left. Wilson and Sanchez were about adequate. I don’t remember KC losing a vauable piece since maybe Beltran, and they lost him mostly because they chose to extend Sweeney instead of him.
    Even irt payroll, KC was at $76M, within $5M of league average. Money matters, but management matters more.

  12. onesweetworld - Mar 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    You say its gonna force teams to sign players like Garret Anderson but you are also missing the big point. Since teams have to spend a certain amount it will force them to sign their young players instead of trading them to a big market team. Why would they spend on that money on old players when they could use it for their homegrown talent?

  13. David - Mar 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    It goes hand in hand with my previous point on enabling the owners to pocket more money. Your point assumes that the purpose of the salary cap/floor and ownership would align in the point of being competitive. My point assumes, in my own opinion, a vast majority of owners don’t care as much about being competitive as they do about making more money and a better product on the field doesn’t necessarily lead to more profits via better attendance. Cap or no cap, either way, the money is going somewhere; it just depends on where you feel it should go. Salary Cap, more money to the owners. No salary cap, money to the owners, but better money for the players.

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