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Michael Weiner: draft slotting is a salary cap and the players are against it

The Executive Board of the Major League Baseball Players Association just had a conference call with the media to formally announce Michael Weiner as the new Executive Director and to field questions from the media. I guess I’m the media now, so I called in. I even asked a question and may have actually committed an act of journalism in doing so. I feel so dirty. But I’ll get to that in a minute. The rundown:

  • Players Tony Clark, Curtis Granderson and Jeremy Guthrie were on the call and talked first. Only Guthrie identified which team he plays for, which I thought was kind of cute. Newsday’s Ken Davidoff is the only one who asked a player a question, to Granderson, about the trade rumors. Granderson’s response: “I’m still wearin’ the English D!” If I’m Granderson I give no comment and write about it all on my own blog over at Yahoo!

  • Weiner had a lot of nice things to say about Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr. He used the word “humbled” about 15 times. Based on everything I hear from people who know him, that’s genuine. Weiner is just a nice guy who everyone seems to like. The anti-Fehr in that regard.

The bit of news came when I asked him whether the union has discussed the statements Bud Selig has made in recent months about internationalizing the draft and about a hard slot on draft picks in order to scale back signing bonuses. Until now, many individual players have said they would be fine with it, exhibiting no small amount of annoyance that these 18 year olds are making a lot of money.

Weiner indicated that there has been an about-face,* suggested that the union has decided to fight it hard, however, correcting my use of the term “slotting” in my question to “salary cap” and than unleashing all of the time-worn union rhetoric about salary caps being antithetical to individual players being able to negotiate their own deals on the open market. In other words, it sounds like the union will either (a) go to the mat to fight hard slotting; or (b) come off of their longstanding opposition to caps of any kind.

So that was interesting. Like I said, I’m a newbie at this reporting stuff, but those of you out there who aren’t may do well to get a microphone in front of some of those players who complained about amateur signing bonuses in recent years and let them know that they need to change their tune.

Beyond that, a lot of talk about some other stuff: HGH testing: the players will be on board when there’s a reliable urine test. Collusion: the union is still thinks something fishy happened in 2007-08, but nothing new to report. John Henry’s interesting revenue sharing plan from yesterday: the players discussed it today, but no real comments. The current free agent market: Weiner is “a little bit concerned” about the slow place of signings so far, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the state of the market. So beyond the bit about the slotting stuff, nothing terribly new or earth shattering.

That’s enough journalism for me today. Starting now, I go back to blogging. At least you can blast your stereo while you’re doing that.

*in hindsight I think I overstated it a bit. The union as a body has been basically non-committal in its official statements on the matter, so the term “about face” is probably not accurate. The fact that the union is now clearly saying that they are against it, however, is a new development, and one which runs counter to the statements of many individual players who have said that they’d be fine with a slotting system.