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Friday, August 15, 2008

More on Crow

I was going to post a reply to Sam in the comments section of my previous entry but it would be way long and I thought it was a point that merited some more discussion.

Sam's opinion is one I respect but I must disagree here pretty strongly. I think it is very unreasonable to demand a major league contract for a draft pick.

First, let's look at the LoDuca thing. I've been very clear on my feelings about that one. I think it was a very bad signing. It was too much money for a guy who is deep into the fourth quarter of his career. I think we'd all agree that finding and plucking Flores in the Rules 5 draft is JimBow's greatest contribution to the Nats. Bringing in LoDuca would not help Flores' development. It would retard it. Fortunately, things worked out so Flores could be the guy anyway but it was not fortunate that the team wasted so much money on LoDuca.

That said, I'm not going to denegrate what LoDuca did earlier in his career. He made multiple all-star teams and played on winners. He was a legit major leaguer. I just think he was the wrong guy for this team.

Crow? What's he done outside the collegiate ranks? Not a damn thing.

These draft picks get ginormous bonuses because of their potential. That potential gets them drafted high and the reward is in the millions. I think it is excessive but that's the system. I have no issue with them wanting more than slot and I'm OK with the Nats going a bit over that slot.

But a major league contract? No flippin way. The contract has to be earned. Crow hasn't earned it yet. He hasn't done a single thing as a professional, yet we're supposed to accept that he should go to Class A and earn in the same ballpark as Milledge, Dukes, Flores, Zimmerman?

The previous first-rounders in the Nats era have been Zimmerman, Marrero, Willems and Detwiler. Zimmerman is the only one we know for sure is (or will be) a legit big leaguer. What I do know is that none of the four has shown any signs of being a prima donna. They got their big bonuses and now they're trying to earn their big contract.

Crow, through his agents, is being made to look like a prima donna. Might be the finest kid in the world. Who knows? His big-time agents are doing their best to make it look otherwise.

Go above slot. Offer him $2.5 or $2.8 or even $3 million.

Make him prove himself before you give him a big-league contract.
If he balks, his agents know the way to Fort Worth. Like I said before: AMF.


Steven said...

I like your principled old-school hard-assedness that rewards must be earned, not given, but to build a winner we need to pay for potential.

Scouts say Crow could be our 2nd best starter now. He projects higher than anyone in our whole system, aside maybe for Zimmermann.

Now what's he 'worth?' If the country's values weren't so upside-down, teachers and firemen would make a million and athletes would play for tips. But in the economics of baseball, even $8 million and a pro contract doesn't seem all that crazy to me.

Think about it. We get to pay him the MLB minimum for at least 3, probably more like 4 or 5 years. Let's say 4. So that's about 430k or so for 4 years. Add to that a one-time payment of $8m, and we'd be paying him an average of $2.43 per year.

On the FA market, that's Marlon Anderson money.

I just don't see how it's in the Nationals' interests to let this kid walk. Credit him that he knew he had a team that needed him badly and played hardball. But suck it up and sign him. He's still a bargain at that price.

MikeHarris said...

The Nats would be paying for potential. Close to $3 million. That's why they have the bonuses.

Who says he could be our second best starter now? I know he projects that high or higher but projections often turn out different from reality.

Pay him for the projection in the form of a bonus and reward him when it becomes reality.

Mike said...

WOuldn't the major league contract allow them to spread out his bonus over several years? In other words, look at Ricky Porcello's deal from last year. Instead of giving him a $7.285M bonus, it ended up being a $3.58M bonus with the rest of the money being spread out over several years. Calling up Detwiler last year had the same effect on options, so the only other negative to the Nats would be less flexibility with the 40-man roster.

It's really just a matter of perception, whether he gets a huge bonus up front or it's spread out over several years. I don't think it should be a deal breaker in terms of not adding Crow.

mike said...

After reading Brian's blog, I guess Detwiler didn't use up his options last year. As a college-aged pitcher though, there's a pretty good chance I would think that he's ready by the time his options are used up. In terms of the money, I don't see the big difference between giving him a huge bonus up front or giving him less of an up-front bonus and spreading it out the remainder over several years like the Tigers did.

George Templeton said...

Maybe it is just my stupid optimism, but why do I get the feeling that at the last minute Crow will take the Nats deal?

An Briosca Mor said...

Detwiler and Zimmerman before him did not get major league contracts, but they got September callups the year that they signed. Perhaps that was a result of handshake deals between them and the Nats as an incentive to sign early. No doubt Crow could have gotten the same handshake deal this year if he'd signed right after being drafted. I don't think it's the using up of a 40-man spot that is making the Nats reject a major league contract for him, but rather the desire to not set a precedent that will then be included in the demands of every #1 pick from now on. They may be able to afford to do it this year, but the time will come when they won't be able to. Best to cut that precedent off at the pass, unless it's a true blockbuster-potential player.

And getting a major league contract won't shorten the time Crow spends in the minors by one day. That will still be determined by how he performs. All it gains him is an extra few hundred thousand dollars in salary in the case that he doesn't rise quickly through the system - money which pales in comparison to the size of the bonus he'd get. And if it's true that his bonus gets spread out over more than one year if it's a major league contract, then he's really stupid to have that be his dealbreaker. Money now is always worth more than money later.

MikeHarris said...

I'm pretty sure big bonuses are often spread out over time. A chunk up front, more in six months ** the rest in a year. I don't think that's connected to the actual contract being major league or otherwise.

11 hours, six minutes to go.

Mike said...

" The signing bonus must be paid in full by December 31 of the calendar year following the signing of the minor league contract. The contract must be submitted to Major league Baseball Office of Commissioner for approval. Payment of signing bonus can not be made until it gets MLB Office of Commissioner's approval. Most teams start making signing bonus payments after September 1. "

Unless the rule has changed, those are the guidelines. Which is why multi-sport players have a special provision that allows the bonus to be spread out.

Mike said...

Porcello's deal that he signed last year:

$3.58M signing bonus

11:$1.536 club option
12:$1.344M club option

And just to further clarify, I'm not arguing that the actual bonus can be spread out with an MLB deal. I'm saying the Tigers used the MLB deal as a way to lessen the actual bonus he got up front by spreading out guaranteed money to him over the course of several years.

If this would hasten his signing, I wouldn't have an issue with it. I understand not wanting to set a precedent, but guys have gotten MLB deals in the past, and it hasn't caused every first rounder to demand one.

Luke Hochevar got one from the Royals in '06 for instance, but Mike Moustakas didn't last year despite having Boras as his agent and having a lot of leverage with a USC scholarship waiting for him.

MikeHarris said...

"of the calendar year following ***"
So does that mean 12/2009, since that's the year FOLLOWING the signing? Or this year?

If it is 2009, it can be doled out in three chunks (or more) over 16 or so months.

9 hours, 26 minutes. About to change, go get my running mate for the weekend and head up. Maybe an announcement will greet me at the stadium.

Oh, and while I'm driving - one of you please take care of the weather for me. I don't want to sit in the rain.

Mike said...

"If it is 2009, it can be doled out in three chunks (or more) over 16 or so months."

Which is a big difference between the multi-years that the Porcello deal allows the Tigers to spread out his guaranteed money. As was noted above, this would actually benefit the Nats.

Sam said...

Wow, my name in lights!

Anyhow -- a quick response; my comment below was really discussing the dollars. To me, $4M for Crow seems just vastly more valuable given where the team is then similar money spent on any run of guys on the ML roster.

I understand you differ Mike, but it makes me wonder. You've been asking when will the Nationals have "the One" -- if we draft Steve Strasborg next year would you really take this line because he hasn't proved it yet at the ML level? It's not that I disagree with your view that all prospects have risk, it's just that I think all players have risk, including major leaguers who have performed in the past, and those risks are best taken with high upside young players given where the Nationals are at.

Now the major/minor league contract thing you addressed isn't something I know a lot about. But to the extent that just means a spot on the 40 man, we have plenty of slots, and losing the potential development time for a pitcher of this age/experience just wouldn't be a deal breaker if I was the boss.

Anyhow, appreciate your response. I'm out for a few days so I'm not ignoring anyone who fires back! ;)

Hendo said...

Did Crow and the Hendrickses set out to screw the Nats from the get-go? Sure looks it to me.

MikeHarris said...

Interesting. They had his best interests in mind when they had him turn down MORE THAN 3 million. He's not going to be No. 1 next year, because the team with that pick can't take him and the kid from San Diego (or wherever) is better.