The Mistake Lottery
One of the greatest advantages the Yankees have is that theyâ€™re able to blithely make mistakes and move on from them. Their market advantage is so huge that they can afford to pay their players to play against them on other teams just so they can put someone even better in their place. And baseballâ€™s ridiculous territory system protects the two New York teamsâ€™ unfairly huge revenue streams.
At the same time, the worst problem for teams trying to turn around their fortunes is that theyâ€™re saddled with massive salary drains the previous regime took on.
Therefore, I propose a new yearly draft. The Mistake Draft.
Hereâ€™s how it works for most teams. At the end of the year, you get to look over your roster and pick one contract (say, a terrible pitcher with 4y, $48m left). You submit that name to the Commissioner for Life’s office. Your team gets a number of ping-pong balls (because I love the classics), as follows:
(Number of losses in previous season + (17 – Population of teamâ€™s metro area in millions)) + Amount in millions remaining on deal
Number of seasons, partial and full, for current GM on that team if over 2 + (Number of years current ownership group in place/2) + Number of years remaining on that contract
So Carlos! If the Mâ€™s had submitted him right off the back, itâ€™d be 63 + 12 + 48 = 123, divided by 17 (Yamauchi bought the team in 1992, weâ€™re not counting the transfer to Nintendo of America) + 4 = 21
123/21 = 5.8.. = 6 lotto numbers.
Going to be tough to beat. And your window closes pretty quickly. And feel free to play around with the formula to come up with something better: Iâ€™m offering this as a starting point for something that doesnâ€™t favor stagnant clueless teams (or at least not for long) and also has some small incorporation of the market size inequality. KC needs to get rid of a bad contract a lot more than the Cubs do.
The balls go into the tumbler and… tada! Carlos is a Yankee. He gets to pitch mop-up innings or clap the team to victory from the clubhouse rail or enjoy a long stay on the 60-day DL for acute inadequacy or whatever they decide to do with him. Unless he has a no-trade clause, in which case he gets to waive the no-trade clause or become a free agent. Next year the Mets get to pick up someoneâ€™s mistake.
Now you might be thinking that this encourages incompetent teams to change their front offices and/or ownership. Good!
And you might worry that this encourages smaller-payroll teams with new people in charge to take wild gambles in the hopes that they can compete, in the hopes that even if the player doesnâ€™t work out they can still dump them on the Yankees. Also good!
Or that teams might even look at the formula and figure the thing to really do is sign someone sort of good to a 2y, $80m deal loaded $2m, $78m, hoping that they can tag the Yankees with that second year. Good! I mean, uh, given a decent formula teams are still so likely to get stuck with a player that they arenâ€™t going to do anything too crazy.
This might all seem silly on first read. But what are your other options? More progressive revenue sharing? Reform of territory rules to let broke teams bathe in the revenue-rich New York waters? Now whoâ€™s being silly?