Thursday, April 5, 2012

Clear the decks for action

At last, the 2012 season is upon us.

The roster is set, Edinson Volquez makes his second consecutive Opening Day start (albeit it with two different clubs), we play baseball downtown starting at 4pm today.  It should be a beautiful day for what will probably be the only Padres sellout this season.

Before we get there, I've got two items I want to touch on.

Joey Votto's contract extension.  Dave Cameron put up a lengthy Fangraphs post discussing this deal and its implications for baseball's economy in the near future. His spin was mostly positive, especially from the players perspective.

From the club's perspective I don't think everyone will view this deal as a plus. And I think it put a shudder through the San Diego Padres front office.

Why? Because San Diego doesn't have the kind of television money flowing into it that some other teams have. Anaheim signed a TV deal worth $1.5 billion over 20 years; optimistic estimates on the Padres new deal put it at less than half that ($30 mil per/20 years is $600 mil). If the norm becomes teams locking up their stars with long-term, lucrative contracts, San Diego will struggle to compete. First, either there will be no above average free agents on which to bid or the price for those free agents will be so stratospherically high this club has no realistic chance to sign them. Second, if San Diego can't offer the kind of financial security a marquee player could fetch on the open market, why would they sign with the Padres for less? Tony Gwynn did; Adrian Gonzalez wouldn't, as prominent examples from the last 2 decades.

Bud Selig's Interview Last Night.  The other item isn't Padres specific. Bud Selig was interviewed during ESPN's last night's Cardinals/Marlins game, and during that discussion he mentioned he'd voted for the Designated Hitter way back in 1972 (interesting tidbit - he's the last front-office executive left who worked for an AL team before the DH was enacted).

Bud Selig has been a driving force for the change in Major League Baseball over the last two decades. Lots of articles have been written about the implications of the permanent interleague play that debuts this season - that it places NL teams at a distinct disadvantage when playing the AL in their ballparks because no NL team has a 20 HR guy just sitting around on their bench.

If he wants to level the playing field between the two leagues Selig either bans the DH from the AL or enacts it in the NL. If Selig was for the DH when it was first discussed, I'm SURE he will be for forcing the DH onto the NL during the next collective bargaining agreement talks.  For me, Selig's comment last night is the first sure sign the DH is coming to every NL ballpark - it's only a matter of when.

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