Pirates Notebook: Another reason why I hate Bud Selig

The Atlanta Braves and seventh overall pick Mike Minor have agreed to terms on a $2.42 M contract, with Minor expected to sign today. The deal signed by Minor was $242 K over the MLB recommended slot price. Baseball America’s Jim Callis says that two sources claim that the Braves and Minor agreed in principle to the $2.42 M deal before the draft, but the MLB commissioner’s office put pressure on Atlanta not to announce the above-slot deal yet, so as not to hurt the Reds in their attempts to sign the number eight pick at slot price.

This makes sense for two reasons. First, the price Minor signed for was the 2008 recommended slot price. MLB cut the slot prices by 10% this year, and Callis says that Atlanta agreed to the deal with Minor before MLB made the announcement on the cut in slot prices (so, at the time, Atlanta was agreeing to pay Minor the expected slot price). Second, Minor was considered by many to be a reach with the number seven pick. The Pirates caught a lot of flack for reaching for Tony Sanchez, but Mike Minor was just as big of a reach, taken 28 spots higher than his Baseball America ranking, the same as Sanchez.

Yesterday the Cubs announced that they signed their sixth round pick to a $750 K deal, which represents the biggest over-slot deal to date, by about $600 K. The Pirates previously had this distinction with the signing of Trent Stevenson to a $350 K deal, about $200 K over slot. With the signing of Minor, it becomes more apparent that the commissioner’s office is starting to allow above slot signings. That’s great news for the Pirates, who drafted with a strategy of having to pay above slot to most of their picks. It was just announced tonight that Colton Cain will be signing tomorrow, most likely for above slot money, and probably as a result of the recent above slot deals being approved.

As for the whole slot situation, the MLB slotting system is a joke. If you’re not going to have a hard slotting system, with no chance of a team signing a player above slot, and if you’re eventually going to allow above slot deals, then why bother delaying them?

The reason for delaying Minor’s signing was to protect the Reds from seeing a price increase with the number eight pick. However, MLB is eventually going to allow above slot signings, so can’t the Reds’ first round pick just wait until Minor signs? With Minor signing right now, aren’t we in the same situation that MLB tried to avoid two months ago? Really, all MLB did is delay the inevitable.

Take a look at Tony Sanchez and Victor Black as examples of why it’s important to sign guys as early as possible, especially a college guy.

Sanchez signed right away, spent some time in State College, and moved up to West Virginia, where he has been doing great, batting for a .321/.452/.488 line in his first 104 plate appearances. Let’s say that Sanchez signed right now, just like Minor. He’d spend 1-2 weeks at State College, and be left with half a month in West Virginia to close out the season. Right now, with what we’ve seen from Sanchez, we could easily see him move to AA next year. With just half a month in West Virginia, he probably would need a stop at Lynchburg to start the 2010 season.

Then there’s Victor Black, who has pitched 15.2 innings since signing in late June. Black has a 4.96 ERA so far, but as we’ve seen with Rudy Owens, it usually takes pitchers some time to get adjusted to pro ball, which makes this early time very valuable for a guy like Black.

The Braves are kind of hurt with signing Minor this late. It’s been awhile since he’s pitched at Vanderbilt, which means he can’t step in to a rotation right away and pitch multiple innings. I’d be surprised if he saw more than ten innings this year with one of the Atlanta affiliates.

In the long run, MLB blocked Atlanta from signing Minor early, to avoid hurting Cincinnati. In the process they hurt Atlanta, while leaving Cincinnati in the exact same predicament they would have been in two months ago. In short, any damage to Cincinnati was inevitable, but by trying to micromanage and prevent this damage, MLB ended up hurting another team in the process.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 8/5 loss. Here are the big impacts for tonight’s loss:

1. Steven Jackson: -.349 WPA
2. Garrett Jones: -.219
3. Ryan Doumit: -.180
4. Jeff Karstens: -.144
5. Delwyn Young: -.122

Other Stuff

-The Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch for 8/6 is up.

-The Pirates are set to sign 8th round pick Colton Cain.

-The Pirates optioned Steven Jackson to AAA, and will bring up Jose Ascanio tomorrow, according to the Bucs Insider Twitter feed. The 25-Man Roster page, and the 2009 40-man roster/payroll page are both updated. Ascanio was acquired in the John Grabow/Tom Gorzelanny trade.

-Should the Pirates bring Jeff Clement up at all this season? Clement currently has 150 days of service time in the majors. A year of service time is 172 days. If the Pirates bring Clement up on September 1st, and keep him up through the remainder of the season, he would have 1 year and 12 days of service time. In this scenario, they have Clement under team control through the 2014 season. If they don’t bring him up, or bring him up on September 14th or later, they have him under control through the 2015 season. Is a month of Clement this year, when we have Garrett Jones and Steve Pearce, really worth a year of service time? I say no.

-Jennifer Langosch has a good article on the current state of the Pirates and the draft signing process. In the article, Neal Huntington says there is a deadline to sign guys like Zach Dodson, Zach Von Rosenberg, and Colton Cain, before moving on to spend money on the next group of players. He also expresses some frustration with MLB delaying above slot deals.

-Jim at North Side Notch wonders if it’s time to give up on Neil Walker.

-Baseball America has a good write up on Brad Lincoln after his recent AAA start against Tampa Bay Rays’ prospect Wade Davis.

-Baseball America’s Jim Callis did a chat on ESPN.com, answering a lot of Pirates draft pick signing questions.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 8/6/09

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