September call-ups, MLB pensions, rule changes, and MiLB exploitation

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Rob Manfred finally admitted the ball needs fixing

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Mike Moustakas is going to be screwed either way, again

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Winning 100 games is easy when most MLB teams aren’t trying

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Winning 100 games is an accomplishment, one worth admiring. It’s been pretty common the last few years, though, and in a historic sense. With the Dodgers securing their 100th victory on Sunday, 2017-2019 became the first-ever three-year period where three teams per season won at least 100 games.

The reasons for all of those 100-win teams are less worthy of your admiration.The problem is the flip side of those dominant teams: for the first time since 1912-1913, there have been seven 100-loss teams between 2018-2019, with the newest of those the Royals following a defeat on Sunday. Today’s MLB isn’t just full of dominating 100-win teams that beat up on everyone: the competition itself is lesser, due to the tanking, the lack of trying, and so on, and it has created an environment that spawns teams at the extremes at historic rates.

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The Mookie Betts Question has little to do with “worth”

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The Phillies are frozen by fear, and that should terrify fans

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There’s been an implied (and occasionally leaked) feeling to the decisions of too many MLB teams in the past couple of years regarding the wild card. Why try by making trades or going big in the offseason in a division with a clear leader in order to maybe enter into a one-game playoff, in which your season could end in mere hours? Playing the odds that severely isn’t the right attitude, but it’s at least an understandable one that should make MLB consider that maybe Baseball Thunderdome, despite its exciting setup, is not enticing to the teams that need to be trying to make it there and beyond.

The Phillies have decided to take things one depressing step further: they’re not afraid of making it to the Wild Card Game so much as they are afraid of winning it. Ken Rosenthal reported as much last week:

Yet, once the Phillies began to slump, their front office’s thinking was, “We don’t want to go all-out for the chance to play in the wild-card game and then face the Dodgers in the Division Series.” An honest assessment, perhaps. But also defeatist, sending the wrong message to players and fans.

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“What if MLB’s efficiency fetish could further infect the minors,” asks writer.

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On Monday, Travis Sawchik asked a question to Five Thirty Eight’s audience: “Do we even need Minor League Baseball?” Sawchik’s theory is that so much of player development happens off the field these days, in comparison to how development used to work, that the minors are a waste of time and resources. Sawchik, you might recall, is one of the two authors of The MVP Machine, which looked at how players can kind of just be created these days thanks to advances in analytics and the introduction of the concept of “Betterball,” so this is an arena he knows his way around.

To a point, anyway. As you might also recall, the book brings to mind some key questions regarding labor and homogeneity it does not know the answers to (or even how to answer them), and this article is something of an extension of that. Deadspin’s Albert Burneko, for instance, wants to know who the “we” in Sawchik’s headline refers to, and it’s not an exaggeration that the entire premise of Sawchik’s piece relies on the reader identifying with management in order for it to accomplish the job the author set out for it.

You should read all of Burneko’s piece, as it’s fan-centric and a rebuttal to the idea presented in the initial piece that MiLB exists in the service of MLB teams alone, but I’ll pull this paragraph from it for now:

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Dave Dombrowski’s firing could have MLB-wide implications

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The trouble with “valuing” exploited MLB players

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Arguing about what the definition of the word “valuable” contained within the Most Valuable Player award means is a time-honored tradition in baseball. Does “value” mean the best player, or does it mean the best player on a postseason team, the one that helped said team actually make it to October with their presence? It’s always a mess, and yet, The Athletic’s Molly Knight wants to throw another version of the word valuable into the discussion, and it’s one that front offices and owners salivate over, one that should have nothing to do with the MVP award or how we view players.

In short, this article is a list of the value players have created compared to their salaries, or, a way to talk about value in a way that leaves high-paid and awesome players like Mike Trout out of the discussion. It’s a list of the most exploited players in the majors, basically, the ones who are most underpaid relative to their production, but for Knight’s purposes, it’s a list of who has provided the most “bang for the buck.” No, really, that’s what the table showing a player’s $/WAR is titled.

Knight does attempt to walk back her own messaging, by making sure to say this is a list that tells you “which players are most criminally underpaid.” Knight also takes the time to explain that she always sides with the players over owners in discussions of compensation. The problem is that saying these things and then writing this article up with the general framing and takeaways it has made those statements almost meaningless, or at least reduced their impact.

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MLB’s young players are better than ever, so pay them

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