The Rundown: Players Refuse to Back Down, Profiling Cubs Draft Possibilities, 1985 First Year Player Draft League’s Best Ever
MLB players have said publicly that they want to play and are ready to get going, but they won’t take another pay cut just to start the 2020 season. Union leader Tony Clark issued a statement Thursday evening to announce that the players “resoundingly rejected” the league’s demand for any further concessions.
“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball with the game we all love,” Clark said. “But we cannot do this alone.”
That friction will likely spill over into negotiations between the two sides when they work out a new CBA when the current agreement expires at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Though baseball will resume before that benchmark date, it almost feels like the two sides are so far apart that it may not. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, there’s too much at stake to go baseball-less for any extended period of time, and that includes this season. Neither side really wants to call it all off, despite posturing that indicates neither will give in.
Still, many fans side with ownership and are blaming players for an attempted coup designed to ruin the game. It’s hard to think of players who earn millions of dollars as the “have-nots” in a war between social classes, but that’s the foundation of the discord between both sides. Don’t forget, not every player earns Gerrit Cole or Mike Trout money.
A problem with describing MLB's labor dispute as a fight between billionaires and millionaires is that the majority of players have netted less than $1 million in ML earnings https://t.co/vxqzpnsrQ1
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) June 5, 2020
If you’ve been watching the Cubs Insider video podcast The Rant, our Managing Partner and budding TV analyst Jon Strong has determined that baseball is fixated on allowing no more than $1.4 billion in league-wide salary this year, no matter how many games are played. Naturally, owners want that to be as few as possible, partly to cut down on the expenses of opening stadiums in a scenario where fans may not be allowed to attend.
But here’s the rub: you can bet your ass that once an agreement is reached, teams will turn to local and state governments to figure out how to allow fans to attend the games. Maybe it scales in capacity starting at something like 25% before health requirements relax, possibly allowing full attendance before summer ends. If allowed, how do you think that will sit with the players now before playing out in 2021 negotiations?
“Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season,” Clark said. “We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.”
That’s the union leader saying the two sides are nowhere close to reaching a deal right now.
Cubs News & Notes
- With the COVID-19 outbreak postponing the 2020 season and forcing baseball to improvise on myriad levels, teams are expected to ground their broadcast teams for road games. That means Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies (and guests) will likely work from the Marquee Studios or the Wrigley Field broadcast booth while the Cubs are away.
- Whenever baseball returns, Kasper will tie Hall of Famer Harry Caray with 16 seasons as the Cubs’ TV voice. Jack Brickhouse has the most with 34.
- Cubs anthem singer John Vincent is spreading positivity one song at a time.
- Our own Todd Johnson offers a look at rising and falling players and some of the recent mock boards in his preview of the upcoming Cubs draft. Cubs Insider will provide a plethora of information, including player profiles, during and after next week’s event.
- The Cubs could focus on toolsy players with slightly more upside risk in this year’s draft.
- One mock draft site has the Cubs using their top three picks on pitching, led by righty Mick Abel of Jesuit HS (OR). Here is Abel’s scouting report. I’d like to see the Cubs go heavy on pitching if they believe they can extend most or all of their core players.
- Prospect 365 has the Cubs selecting lefty starter Garrett Crochet of Tennessee with their first pick (scouting report).
- CBS Sports likes catcher Patrick Bailey of North Carolina State for the Cubs with the number 16 overall pick (scouting report).
- Baseball Prospect Journal thinks the Cubs will choose OF Austin Hendrick of West Allegheny HS (PA). Here’s his scouting report.
- In case you forgot, last year Chicago chose RHP Ryan Jensen of Fresno State with their first pick.
- 3B Josh Vitters is arguably the worst first round selection the Cubs have ever made. He was selected 3rd overall in 2007.
- Who is the Cubs’ best first round pick of all time? Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Kerry Wood all make pretty strong arguments. In case you were wondering, Greg Maddux was a second round pick in 1984.
Find Your Inner Hero
I’m still confounded that anybody would want to see the Cubs trade Jason Heyward.
Apropos of Nothing
It’s time like these that I could really use a weekend of the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, a few ice cold beers, and some genuine hippie flower power. Sometimes I wish I could just leave the country for a few months, or, you know, permanently.
Odds & Sods
Paul Sullivan satirically notes that the obvious conclusion to the disagreement between the league and the players should be a 14-game season played only by the Yankees and Red Sox, followed by a 9-game World Series between the two clubs, all made-for-TV. Come to think of it, that might make a helluva reality show. Season two could be the Dodgers and Astros, followed by the Cubs and Cardinals.
MLB News & Notes
Rob Manfred has the power to unilaterally create a 50-game schedule if he pleases, but it’s hard to imagine the players agreeing to a 50-game season if the commissioner implements one.
Neither side is willing to budge right now and the deadline to start a season that begins the first week of July is getting perilously close.
The 1989 first year player draft produced four Hall of Fame players, including Frank Thomas and Jim Thome, but the 1985 draft, which produced Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, John Smoltz, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark Grace may have been the greatest draft of all time. Additionally, Sammy Sosa signed with the Rangers for $3,500 as a 16-year-old free agent in ’85.
You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read this gem, but in 1995 MLB players nearly started a nationwide barnstorming tour that was canceled just as the league and the union agreed to end its work stoppage.
Ex-Rays, Red Sox and Dodgers star Carl Crawford was arrested and charged with domestic violence yesterday.
Taiwan pro league puts no limit on fans entering games starting Sunday. Keep in mind there have been ZERO locally transmitted cases of Covid there for 50 plus days. Zero! https://t.co/4kLZ7VROs6
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 5, 2020
Sliding into Home
It’s Friday and if you made it through the week unscathed emotionally and/or physically, that’s quite the accomplishment these days. It’s a poor reflection of society that I have to say that, but hang tough through the weekend, and see you all Monday.
They Said It
“The overwhelming consensus of the board is that players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.” – Tony Clark
Friday Walk Up Song
I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Ballplayers…united we stand.