Siberian Baseball

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Brewers screwed, screwed again

Yes, I am aware of the Alex Rodriguez free for all that is taking place this weekend and no, I'm not planning to waste a lot of time on it right now.

I had my fill of that between the Great Barry Bonds blogger gold rush and the Mitchell Report's release last spring. Drugs are bad, sanctity of the game, rinse, repeat.

Instead, check out this explanation of why the Brewers really didn't make out too well in their late summer fling with CC Sabathia now that he's made his jump to New York.

Understanding the Brewers' disappointment requires a primer on Draft-pick compensation. Free agents are assigned point values and letter classifications based on a system developed nearly three decades ago by the Elias Sports Bureau that considers players' performance over the prior two seasons.

Sabathia and Sheets both qualified as "Type A" free agents, and such players come at an extra price. Their new team must forfeit a first- or second-round Draft pick to the player's former team as compensation, based on the new team's selection in the upcoming First-Year Player Draft. Generally, if the player's new team finished in the top half of the standings in the previous season and thus selects in the bottom half of the first round of the Draft, that selection goes to the player's former club. If the new team selects in the top half of the first round, its first-round selection is protected but it must instead forfeit a second-round pick.

Teams that lose top-tier free agents also get a "sandwich pick" between the first- and second rounds of the draft for each Type-A player who departs.

That's where things got sticky for Milwaukee. I can only imagine it's roughly the same feeling you get when you realize that you forgot to pay taxes on a big win in Las Vegas.

Remember that other big signing the Yankees made this year? Mark Teixiera? Yeah, guess who was one of the only other players ranked higher than Sabathia in the Elias rankings?

But the first bit of bad news came on Dec. 23, when the Yankees' continued their spending spree by agreeing to terms with former Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira. Like Sabathia, Teixeira was a Type A free agent, and since his Elias ranking was ever so slightly higher (98.889, to Sabathia's 98.110), the Angels suddenly were in line to receive New York's first-round pick and the Brewers were pushed to the second round...

How's this for bad luck: Teixeira was the only free agent with a higher numerical ranking than Sabathia. In fact, only one other non-free agent owned a higher number, outfielder Matt Holliday, at 98.125.


Compounding the problem is Ben Sheets' elbow surgery that derailed a deal with the Texas Rangers and their associated draft picks. He's expected to be back in the middle of the 2009 season. That might not matter much to the Brewers, as if he's still floating around after June 9 (the amateur draft), Milwaukee gets nothing in return.

And they likely have to pay for the surgery, since it happened on their watch. Milwaukee trainers determined that no surgery would be needed, only rest, which was the story until the Rangers uncovered the lingering elbow issues in their physical.

So, let's recap.

The Brewers have their best season in years and make the playoffs. The best pitcher on that team then bolts for the calm of New York City (true story) and the man who has been their most-recognized pitcher for years is damaged goods and so he's worthless to the team, even as he's on the way out.

According to the team web site, the Brewers' starting rotation now looks like this: Manny Parra, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Chris Capuano.

Pitchers and catchers report next week, Packer training camp is usually in mid-July.

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