Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 1:55 pm

Replay, realignment, draft highlight new CBA

The biggest changes in the new CBA, announced Tuesday by Major League Baseball and the players union:

1. A five-year contract, running through Dec. 1, 2016, means that baseball will go at least 20 years without a work stoppage.

2. As announced last week, the Astros move from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013, creating two leagues of 15 teams each.

3. A second wild-card team will be added in each league, beginning either next year or in 2013. The two wild cards will play a one-game playoff prior to the Division Series.

4. Instant replay use expanded to cover fair/foul calls and balls that may have been trapped, subject to negotiations with the umpires union.

5. Blood testing for HGH will begin in spring training 2012. Players will be tested each spring, will be subject to random tests during the winter and will be subject to tests "for reasonable cause" during the season.

6. "Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the player is unable to play due to injury or is otherwise excused by the Office of the Commissioner."

7. Major changes were made in an attempt to curb draft spending. Teams will be subject to a "signing bonus pool" that will relate to their spot in the draft. Teams that exceed their pool by up to five percent will pay a 75 percent tax, and teams that exceed by more than that will face a tax and a loss of future draft picks. The picks that are lost will be distributed by a lottery which will be weighted towards teams that lost the most games the previous year.

8. Small-market and low-revenue teams will be given extra draft picks after the first and second rounds, distributed by lottery.

9. Free-agent compensation is changed dramatically. Players will be subject to compensation only if the current team offers a salary equal to the average of the top 125-paid players in the game.

10. International signing bonuses will be limited dramatically, with each team given a "signing bonus pool" assigned based on reverse order of standings. Teams exceeding the pool will pay a tax, and teams exceeding by at least five percent will lose rights to sign high-money international players in future years.

11. The luxury-tax threshold will stay at $178 million for the next two years, then will rise to $189 million for the rest of the agreement.

12. Players cannot use smokeless tobacco during interviews or club appearances, and cannot carry tobacco tins in their uniforms.

13. The minimum salary rises from $414,000 in 2011 to $480,000 in 2012, $490,000 in 2013 and $500,000 in 2014. The rate for the final two years of the agreement will be subject to a cost-of-living increase.

14. An increase in the number of the "super 2's" for salary arbitration. What that means is that for players with between two and three years' service time, the top 22 percent will now be arbitration-eligible, up from 17 percent previously.
Category: MLB
Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 1:35 pm

With 15 teams per league, schedule will work

MILWAUKEE -- It's going to work.

The details are still a little sketchy, still a little up in the air. But 15 teams in each league, with interleague play, is going to work.

"I don't think any schedule is perfect," commissioner Bud Selig said on baseball's historic Thursday. "This will be very good."

Selig offered few details, in part because not everything has been decided yet, and in part because some things are dependent on the completion of the new collective bargaining agreement with the players (which will be done soon).

But here's what you can expect beginning with the 2013 season, now that it's official that the Astros are moving from the National League Central to the American League West:

-- There will be interleague play every day of the season. That means an increase in interleague play, probably from the current 15 games per American League team to 30 games for each team.

-- Each division will have five teams, which is the main reason for the move. Having the same number of teams in each division simplifies the schedule, and also means that each team within a division can play the exact same schedule (which doesn't happen under the current format).

-- It's likely but not certain that there will continue to be an unbalanced schedule within each league. It's possible that each team will continue to play 18 games against each team in its own division, as is the case now.

-- The designated hitter rule will almost certainly remain as is, with the DH used in all games in American League parks, and with pitchers hitting in all games in National League parks.

-- There will be two wild-card teams per league, possibly as soon as next year but definitely by 2013. Most likely, the two wild cards will play a one-game playoff, with the winner facing the team with the league's best record.

Now are you convinced it will work? If not, maybe reading my column from June will help.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 12, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:24 pm

Realignment is on the way

PHOENIX -- More and more, it's clear that realignment will come to baseball within the next two years, almost certainly resulting in a format that would see 15 teams in each league, with some interleague play on every day of the season.

In separate Tuesday sessions with the Baseball Writers Association of America, both commissioner Bud Selig and players union head Michael Weiner expressed an openness to a 15-15 plan, with Weiner saying that players have favored it for a decade or more. The players and owners have been discussing realignment, along with schedule and playoff reform, as part of negotiations for the new basic agreement.

Both Selig and Weiner ruled out what Selig called "massive realignment," which would involve multiple teams changing leagues, or a system that basically does away with the traditional leagues.

The 15-15 plan would require at least one team (almost certainly either the Astros or Diamondbacks) to change leagues.

It seems now that realignment won't come in time for the 2012 season, although Weiner said even that isn't totally impossible. But people in the game believe that realignment for 2013 is almost a given.

How would it look? Probably a lot like the plan I detailed in a column last month.

Why will it happen? Many reasons, but fairness is at the top of the list.

"Fundamentally, it's arithmetic," Weiner said. "[The players] take the competition very seriously. They want the competition to be fair. I know why 16-14 came about, but it's like the U.S. Open, if you had a different number of players on the two sides of the draw."

Under the current format, the National League Central has six teams, while the American League West has four (and the other four divisions have five teams apiece). By moving the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, or by moving the Diamondbacks from the NL West to the AL West and then shifting the Astros to the NL West, you would have six five-team divisions, and you'd have a schedule that makes much more sense than the one in use now.

Both Selig and Weiner indicated that the details of realignment have not yet been decided, and Selig insisted that a resolution and an announcement are not "imminent." But with both sides so open to it, it's hard to believe now that it won't happen.

What won't happen, it seems, is a move to unify the designated hitter rule. Both Selig and Weiner suggested that with limited realignment and no significant increase in interleague play (most likely, each team would play no more than 30 interleague games in a 162-game schedule), the current system of a DH in one league and not in the other would not be changed.

"It would take some type of catalytic event to deal with that issue," Selig said.

While using the DH in both leagues (or in neither league), would make more sense, there's far too much resistance to that change.

"Good luck doing that," one baseball official said.

One change that could be made: A reverse use of the DH rule in interleague games, with the DH used in National League parks, and with National League (no DH) rules used in American League parks.

Another change that is coming, without a doubt: Adding one playoff team per league, with a either a play-in game or play-in series involving the two wild-card teams. The momentum seems now to be heading towards going with the one-game play-in -- and that's a good thing.

The playoff change could well happen in 2012. Realignment may wait for 2013.

But all the momentum now is in favor of it happening.

Posted on: June 22, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 4:04 pm

The people love realignment (talk)

Years ago, when an otherwise-empty stadium would fill up on a fireworks night, a friend of mine would invariably say, "Give the people what they want."

And the CBSSports.com readers have spoken.

Check out the two most popular columns on our entire site (all sports). They both deal with realignment.

Give the people what they want. So here it is, more realignment talk, courtesy of the kind people who took the time to email me with their thoughts on my proposed plan, and with ideas of their own.

A few of the ideas:

From Noah: "Why is it easier to move Houston? There is no logic in the rationale of which team. Why isn't it easy to move Milwaukee, or the Cubs?"

From Corrie: "Why not Colorado?"

Heard from a few (I'm guessing) Astros fans. Here's the reason I chose them (and why baseball would likely prefer moving them): The current imbalance is six teams in the NL Central, four teams in the AL West. Only one team can move directly from the NL Central to the AL West, and that's the Astros. If any other team switches leagues, you need to move other teams from one division to another to make it work. Not impossible, just more complicated. It is easiest to move Houston.

From David: "There is one problem with your plan -- the interleague rivalry series. No home-and-home series."

From Phil: "First of all, the DH is not the best thing since sliced bread. Ditch the DH, in college as well. I propose the following: six games against each team in one division of the opposite league. Rotate the divisions every year. The rivalry games would be played every three years. Absence makes the heart grow fonder . . . like the Ryder Cup."

One guy wants more rivalry series, one guy doesn't care at all about preserving the rivalry (Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, etc.) series every year.

From Paresh: "Two leagues, two divisions per league, 2 wild cards per division -- the solution to MLB realignment! Eliminate automatic rivalry games."

And put Paresh on Phil's side.

From Jim: "I sent a letter to commish years ago -- two 15-team leagues, interleague series only against corresponding division in the other league."

That works, but it doesn't (over several years) send every team to every park, which I always thought was one of the goals of interleague play.

From Tim: "Love the idea, and hopefully they'll ditch the DH."

From Robbie: "Your realignment idea is very good, except for one thing. The DH has to be expanded to both leagues."

From Jack: "Selig needs to mandate that the DH be used in all interleague games."

From Don: "How about a combination of the DH and the pitcher hits? It would mean 10 players bat, allow the DH, and keep the strategy for double switches."

From Wayne: "Great solution. A minor solution to the DH dilemma: On the second day of each three-game series, use the visitor's rules."

So the people want the DH . . . or they don't . . . or they want it some of the time. It's the same problem when baseball people get together, which is exactly why we have one league with and one league without . . . and probably will, for quite a few more years. I love Wayne's idea, but also like the old idea of using NL rules in AL parks, and vice versa.

From Jeff: "Hey, that's my realignment plan, except I prefer a three-game play-in"

From John: "So Danny, did you get the idea from me?"

John's plan was similar to mine, except that he has 66 games vs. each division opponent (I had 72), and he had even more interleague games than I did (36, while I had 30). I still like my plan better, but I like both our plans better than the present set-up.

From Joe: "Your plan makes me ill. National League and American League teams should only play in the World Series."

From Andrew: "This is brilliant . . . which is why it will probably never happen. You must go forth and urge whoever needs urging."

From Ron: "Interesting article, but while we're at it, can't we go all the way and model this after European soccer? Do away with all leagues and divisions."

I love European soccer. I hate the idea for MLB. Division titles are important. But maybe we could talk about a relegation system?

From Robert: "Let's have four leagues: Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern."

From Bruce: "Let's look at five six-team divisions."

Let's not. That means eliminating the leagues, and while the leagues don't mean what they once did, they still mean something.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com