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The poor, downtrodden Cardinals receive a bonus pick in next year’s draft thanks to the Competitive Balance Lottery

Jul 23, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

cardinals logo square

The Competitive Balance Lottery gives clubs with the 10 lowest revenues and in the 10 smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery. The picks are made after some weighting is applied based on winning percentage (i.e. the best teams in the lottery have lower chances of being drawn) and six are given additional draft picks immediately following the first round of next year’s draft. Sort of like the old sandwich picks. The remaining teams are then drawn for six more slots following the second.

Today that lottery was held and here are the winners:


Congratulations to the Cardinals for bucking the odds. Yes, St. Louis is one of baseball’s smallest markets, but the Cardinals also happened to be the reigning N.L. pennant winners, so they had the worst odds of being picked.

An odd system, though. One that assumes the smallest market or smallest revenue teams are those in most need of extra help in the draft. That’s clearly not the case. Especially when you consider that the draft represents a very low percentage of a team’s overall outlay for talent and thus is one place where low revenue/small market teams are least disadvantaged compared to their bigger richer peers.

Maybe more annoying about this, though, is that it’s a lottery in the first place. Major League Baseball has a habit of turning things that should be straightforward — overturning calls; aiding poor teams — into contests and games. A lot of calls are being missed and replay is needed? Let’s add strategy and game show rules to the process! Competitive balance is an issue? Let’s address it through a lottery! The All-Star Game is less competitive? Let’s turn it into a contest to decide home field advantage in the World Series!

If you actually think something is a problem, you solve it in a straightforward manner. If you merely wish to shut up complainers, you condescend with games. That’s what this is.

  1. digbysellers - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Yes it seems like a dumb system, yes the Cardinals really don’t necessarily deserve to be lumped in with some of those teams towards the bottom of the standings, and yes this is a ridiculous “game or contest” within baseball…but, how is this the Cardinals fault at all? Why take yet another chance to troll a fan base? Nevermind, I just remembered who you are.

    • Ryan - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Who is trolling any fan bases here? Or blaming the Cardinals? They are part of a lottery – which they by definition do not have control over – and lucked out in a situation where they probably shouldn’t have gotten any compensatory pick. Good for them, bad for the people running baseball and teams that are actually disadvantaged and are in need of “competative balance”. That is the point.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Why take yet another chance to troll a fan base? Nevermind, I just remembered who you are.

      Because, just like Phillies fans and Red Sox fans, y’all flock to these posts like flies to ish.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        Every fan base has sensitive “why are you trolling us” fans….there are even some Yankee fans like that.

      • okwhitefalcon - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Big thumbs down for using “ish”.

  2. kycardsfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    More trade ammo for Mozeliak to use over the next 8 days.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      Yeah, as part of a deal with that “Florida team” that didn’t get one of these picks, right?

  3. beepbeepbeeplgb - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    sweet. go cardinals.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      St. Louis Cardinals.

      The 21st Century’s Pond Scum

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:33 PM

        Hey man, pond scum is a survivor!

  4. indyralph - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    “One that assumes the smallest market or smallest revenue teams are those in most need of extra help in the draft. That’s clearly not the case. Especially when you consider that the draft represents a very low percentage of a team’s overall outlay for talent and thus is one place where low revenue/small market teams are least disadvantaged compared to their bigger richer peers.”

    I agree the whole lottery thing is odd, but this comment is backwards. They whole reason to give small revenue teams another draft is exactly because the draft is low percentage of the overall outlay. The assumption is that these teams need more low outlay options to acquire talent – not that they need more help with the draft.

    • indyralph - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Really butchered that: The whole reason to give small revenue teams another draft pick is exactly because the draft is low percentage of the overall outlay.

  5. jre80 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Sounds like this Craig fella needs a Kleenex.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      “The poor, downtrodden lawyer Calcaterra received first dibs on a corner office at the C-suite level at Bigstiff Corporate Law Firm.”

      There, fixed it.

  6. Bob Loblaw - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Where the hell are the Rays???

    • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:08 PM


      For the 2nd time in 3 years, they didn’t get a pick.

      It is like MLB is giving them a giant middle finger on purpose.

      • indaburg - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:07 PM

        I’m reading the list, looking for the Rays. No Rays. The Man is keeping us down.

    • rmalmstrom - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      They were part of the lottery.

  7. jc4455 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    If it weren’t for trolling Cardinal fans this blog would get update like three times a week.

    • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Oh yes, I feel like such a victim. Constantly trolled by the malevolent Craig Calcaterra. I remember this one time, I rolled my eyes at one of his more effect trolling attempts and I strained an eye muscle.

      I am so vexed, so terribly vexed.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      If it weren’t for real trolls who troll Cards fans for alleged trolling, it would update half as often as that.

  8. faccda01 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Craig, not a peep about the Phillies in this?? I’m disappointed, they are in more need of picks than any team in the bigs.

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      They looked at the GM of the Phillies and decided not to bother. He’d waste it anyway. Hard to blame them.

  9. indyralph - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    By the way, five of these cities are bigger than St. Louis: San Diego, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis. Two are immediately behind: Baltimore and Denver. An eighth, Oakland, shares the 11th largest metro area.

    • simon94022 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:26 PM

      Oakland shares a top 5 media market. So does Baltimore, if you count the DC metro area (which MLB does).

      These are not “small market” teams. They are lower revenue teams, but in many cases they have lower revenues because of their own business failure to exploit their large market.

      The Cardinals and Brewers are actually the opposite: genuinely small market teams that have done a fantastic job of building their brands and thus maximizing revenues. Those are the teams MLB should reward. Not teams like Seattle, Baltimore, Chicago White Sox or Oakland, whose competitive disadvantage comes only from the fact that they are not especially popular in their home markets.

      • simon94022 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:31 PM

        And the real howler on this list is Miami. A huge market team with a boondoggle publicly financed stadium. They are considered “small market” only because of the stunning job they’ve done over the years of alienating and antagonizing the public. In other words, they are a failed business. Why are they being rewarded?

  10. 18thstreet - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    The text makes a good point, at least at the end. The headline — which is obviously clickbait — is a separate issue.

  11. fifthstarter - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I get that the A’s are a small market team because they have a defined portion of the Bay Area as their market that is quite small. Since I live in a different part of the Bay Area, this means I shouldn’t have their games blacked out on, right?


  12. Craig Calcaterra - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    I really would like someone to identify what part of this post constitutes trolling. It’s a pretty straightforward argument that the CB Lottery is dumb and misguided. That it benefits the Cardinals here is a datapoint in that argument. It is not an indictment of or even a criticism of the Cardinals, who are merely taking advantage of the dumb system.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      I disagree that it’s dumb and misguided. At least until more local revenue gets shared between teams.

    • indyralph - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      It might not be trolling but it is a poorly laid out argument that basically reads “This is good for the Cardinals, therefore it is dumb”.

      If I follow, the argument is this:
      1. The system is designed to reward small revenue/ small market teams.
      2. The system rewarded the Cardinals, who are small revenue/ small market.
      3. The Cardinals are good, however, so they should not be rewarded by the system.
      4. The system did reward them, and is not straightforward, therefore it is wonky.

      Your argument is exactly the reason the system is the way it is. So that revenue/ small market teams that are good have a lower chance of benefiting.

      The alternatives are:
      1. Remove the system entirely (at the expense of all the small revenue/ small market teams)
      2. Give only bad teams an extra pick (which rewards big market teams that fail to utilize their natural advantage.)
      3. Give only small revenue/ small market teams a pick (which would also give the Cardinals a pick, every year)
      4. Give only small revenue/ small market teams who are also bad a pick (which rewards a team that fails under the similar circumstances under which others succeed. And doubly so, since this already dictates the draft order.)

      If I read between the lines, you would support #4. But maybe it’s #1? Whatever it is, you should make a cogent argument for why it would be better rather than saying “it’s good for X team, therefore dumb.”

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        Snark in the post aside, that is not the argument at all.

        The argument is that it is supposed to help low revenue/small market clubs. Rather than do it directly and simply to ensure that it does that, they created a lottery that allows for the possibility of teams from the smallest markets to not get any help (like the Rays) whereas teams that are barely small market and bring in tons more revenue do get help (like the Cardinals).

        In the 3 years of existence, this is the 2nd time the Cardinals have a pick, the Rays have gotten a pick once. There is no argument that a system designed to enhance competitive balance based on revenue should work like this.

        As a Cardinal fan, I’m ecstatic, because screw competitive balance, but the system is dumb.

      • indyralph - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        In the last three years, the Rays have won 273 games. The Cardinals have won 275. Tampa is immediately ahead of St. Louis in metro population. Please, by all means, try to come up with a simple system that draws the line directly between the two. I actually agree that the system is weird and far from transparent. But the argument presented is superficial and does nothing to present alternatives. Instead it singles out a team as the reason it’s wrong. I don’t think it’s “trolling”, but I think the response to this kind of post should be expected even if it isn’t warranted.

    • kylewo - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      It’s not trolling. The complaints are embarrassing.

    • chrisernst82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      Even as a Cardinal fan i don’t see the trolling. Not that your above it Craig, we all know how you feel. Though deep down i know your a Cardinal fan but refuse to admit it. Im sure there is a support group somewhere to help you deal with it.

      I wonder if the troll in you will come back out if the Cards and the Braves end up in the wild card game togetherI? Its looking like a possibility both are sitting at .540 and 2nd in their division, though a ton of baseball is left.

      Just poking a little fun at you, keep up the good work!

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        Yeah…another Cardinals fan who does NOT see any trolling.
        A little whining maybe…but certainly no trolling.

  13. navyeoddavee9 - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Not really sure how this thing works, but how are the Pirates not getting a pick?

    • nbjays - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      From rmalmstrom’s link above:

      “This year, the Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, D-backs, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals have a shot at the supplemental first-round picks. Whichever teams from that group don’t get one of those will be eligible for the supplemental second-rounders, as will the Mariners and Twins.”

      So it looks like out of these 15 teams, the Rays, Pirates and Royals got hosed, and they all got 2 chances. The Twins and M’s got lucky.

  14. gibbyfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Well for what’s it worth, I think economically disadvantaged teams should be given small breaks such as these…..and the fact that the cards are the reigning NL champs in their smaller market and with their miniscule cable revenue could be thought of as a reward for knowing how to come out ahead of teams that despite semingly limitless dollars still can’ get there.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      Exactly, The Cardinals’ success is irrelevant and they shouldn’t be punished for it.

    • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      The point isn’t that the Cardinals shouldn’t get a break because of low revenue, the point is that the system is set up so that teams at a greater disadvantage (Pirates, Royals, Rays) do NOT get a pick while less disadvantaged teams do.

      If they are going to have the system, then give every low revenue/small market team a pick or picks and just order them via record or revenue/market size…..don’t set it up so that the teams in the crappiest situations can get nothing.

      • chrisernst82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:33 PM

        Cards aren’t a low revenue team though. We pack the seats day in and day out. Even though i live closer to Chicago you find 10 times more of the Cardinals merchandise than Cubs.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        Yeah, they get into the pool for market size. Teams can be in the pool for market size or for revenue.

  15. thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Only Bud Selig could oversee a sport that would implement something this stupid.

    • chrisernst82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:49 PM

      Doesnt the NBA have a lottery as well?

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:02 PM

        Yeah but they did that because teams were purposely tanking games to get the worst record and the first draft pick. Unlike baseball, in basketball one guy can make the difference between championship and dumpster fire.

      • chrisernst82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        They are still tanking games too. A quick search will let you know that they are considering doing away with the lottery. Either way it wasnt my point, i was just saying that its not the only sport which does this.

        If it helps i think its bad business for both leagues.

  16. jre80 - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    What’s stupid about a system is letting a team who never spends money (Houston) to improve their team keep getting #1 overall picks every yr. That system needs changed.

  17. granadafan - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Miami is not a small market. They got a brand spanking new stadium funded by the taxpayers. The owner is the cheapest owner in the world. Win a World Series? Sell the entire team.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Indeed, it’s not even a medium market. It’s a large market.

  18. chrisernst82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    I see it as regardless of how good a team is right now its more about the future. Most prospects take years to develop.

    Also the draft is more price controlled than either signing international players or free agents. Not all teams can break the bank year in and year out on them. So the teams that are disadvantaged in other aspects of acquiring players get a chance to not only be competitive but stay competitive.

    Though i dont think size of the market should be the determining factor. Revenue I believe should be the determining factor as well as % of that revenue that is put back into the club. the Cards bring in more than around 70% of the teams at 239 Million in 2013, only 6 Million behind the Dodgers.

    But like PL said screw competitive balance, we get an extra pick!

  19. brokeu91 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    I’m a Cardinals fan, and they do not deserve this. They are honestly not a small market team. Yes, St. Louis metro area is smaller than others, but they market their games on radio and TV all over the Midwest. They have fans in Nebraska, Kansas, North and South Dakota, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, etc. The stadium is always full. They are a “small market team” the same way the Packers would be considered a “small market team”.

    In fact, there was a list compiled (I believe by Forbes) which indicated which MLB teams made the most money, and the Cardinals were #1.

    • brokeu91 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Correction, should be which team made the most profit

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