Bud Selig Rumors
There have been several past instances of MLB commissioner Bud Selig announcing his retirement plans, and each time those have changed. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that Selig is more adamant than ever this time that he will retire following the 2014 season. Heyman reports that Selig even turned down a five-year contract at the signing of his most recent two-year contract because he has firmly decided to retire at the age of 80.
Selig has been baseball's commissioner since 1992 and is popular among owners with good reason, Heyman notes. Since taking office, baseball has grown from a $1.2 billion industry to an $8 billion industry. Under his watch, 22 new stadiums have been constructed, franchise values have shot through the roof and there will have been 21 years of labor peace at the conclusion of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Selig's post-retirement plans include teaching a history class at the University of Wisconsin and authoring a book. The Milwaukee native says he's proud of what he's done, but the time has come to step down.
Heyman also adds that it will be difficult to find a replacement commissioner. A new candidate would need to pass with a 75 percent vote among MLB owners, and one owner told Heyman, "There isn't a man or woman alive who can get the 24 votes." Selig's contract expires on January 15, 2015, which is two weeks later than originally reported.
Here are some links to read before the Home Run Derby begins, starting with last year's derby winner...
- The Yankees have had internal discussions about a long-term contract for Robinson Cano, Jack Curry of the YES Network writes. GM Brian Cashman acknowledges that the team has considered trying to lock the second baseman up to an extension. "Oh, yeah. But we haven't done it yet," Cashman said.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com suggests the Orioles should seek upgrades aggressively without parting with elite prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is working to add starting pitching between now and the end of July and names like Zack Greinke and Wandy Rodriguez have emerged as possibilities.
- Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters he's "very satisfied" with baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement so far, Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal tweets.
A generation of fans, players, and front office personnel have only known one commissioner. Bud Selig has been in office for two decades, longer than anyone since the sport’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
But at some point, MLB will name a successor to Selig, the car salesman turned team owner turned baseball boss. His contract expires following the 2014 season, and while he could sign yet another extension, someone will have to succeed him eventually. So who will it be? Before we attempt to answer that question, let’s establish some background:
The Commissioner’s Role
The commissioner represents the interests of baseball’s 30 owners and should create fan interest, grow the sport worldwide, and manage everything from labor relations to multimedia ventures. Perhaps most importantly, the commissioner should generate revenue and boost franchise values for owners.
Selig’s MLB.com bio points out that revenues “have increased more than five-fold, from $1.2 billion in 1992 [when Selig started] to the $7.0 billion mark in both 2010 and 2011.” Based on these figures alone, it’s no surprise MLB owners are happy with Selig’s work.
Fans tend to view the commissioner as someone with unrivaled power, and it's a view former commissioner Bowie Kuhn encouraged. "The commissioner exists to tell the owners what to do and not the other way around," he wrote in his autobiography Hardball.
But Marvin Miller, the longtime executive director of the MLB Players Association, saw things differently. In Miller’s 1991 autobiography, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Inside Story of the Baseball Revolution, he explained his interpretation of the power structure within baseball.
“It would probably shock some of the most avid baseball fans to learn that commissioners are hired by the owners, that no one else has a voice in the process, that owners determine his duties and responsibilities, and that they decide his compensation and pay every penny of it,” Miller wrote. “The owners decide whether the commissioner is representing their interests, and their interests alone, in a satisfactory manner.”
Yet Miller wrote his book before Selig’s 20-year reign began and the dynamic seems different today. Selig, the former owner of the Brewers, hardly seems to be at the mercy of the sport’s current owners, though they’re technically his employers.
Selig's greatest strength is his ability to build consensus for ownership, a task that sounds easier than it is considering the assortment of individual owners and corporations whose reputations and finances are at stake. By all accounts baseball's owners get along far better than they did two decades ago, and it'll be a bonus for owners if Selig's successor shares his knack for creating unity.
Don’t Bother Applying
MLB owners can be expected to favor candidates with experience in labor relations. But don’t expect management to hire someone from ‘the other side’ as Selig’s successor. For a time, Jeff Moorad was on track to become the Padres’ next owner, but the former agent seemed to have trouble winning the trust of others in management and he has since dropped his application to become the team’s controlling partner. If MLB owners are uncomfortable admitting a former agent into their exclusive club, you can bet they aren’t going to choose someone with too many ties to the players as their most powerful public advocate. Agents, MLBPA execs and others who seem to side with labor need not apply.
Some Names To Consider
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive VP Labor Relations, manages the relationship between teams and players for baseball's owners. The Harvard Law graduate knows the economics of the game as well as anyone -- after all, he has helped shape them through collective bargaining with the MLBPA.
Andy MacPhail, a longtime executive with the Twins, Cubs and Orioles, also worked toward the 2006 CBA. His family has a long history of representing teams, which could earn him points with some tradition-bound owners. His father, Hall of Famer Lee MacPhail, worked for the Yankees and Orioles before becoming the president of the American League. His grandfather, Hall of Famer Larry MacPhail, was the general manager for the Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers and president and part owner of the Yankees.
Derrick Hall's name comes up when those at the highest levels of MLB discuss successors to Selig, Yahoo's Steve Henson reported this year. Selig and those close to him like what the Diamondbacks’ president offers. “Derrick is clearly one of the best young executives we have in baseball,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told Henson. “He’s one of the ones we expect to lead as time goes by.” Hall’s accessible and personable, someone who might relate well with the sport’s younger fans.
Others, such as Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Indians president Mark Shapiro, Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong, Cubs president Theo Epstein, Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, Braves president John Schuerholz, Phillies president David Montgomery, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Cardinals chairman & CEO Bill DeWitt, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, and Pirates president Frank Coonelly could also have support around the league.
Baseball's owners could push for an outsider. They hired Peter Ueberroth, the organizer of the 1984 Olympics, as the sport's sixth commissioner in the 1980s. A similar hire remains possible if a compelling enough candidate emerges. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman worked for the NBA early in his career, so there's some precedent for top executives switching leagues.
But trying to predict the next commissioner while two-plus years remain on Selig’s contract is a little like anticipating the winner of a political election years in advance. In baseball, as in politics, there’s often a name of the moment, someone who gains momentum at precisely the right time and wins, maybe unexpectedly. Until then, fans, players and even the owners themselves are left to speculate.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
It was on this day in 1982 that the Cubs acquired Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa from the Phillies in a trade for Ivan De Jesus. The Bowa-for-DeJesus component ended up being pretty even, but needless to say, Chicago won that trade --- Sandberg went on to a Hall Of Fame career as one of the greatest Cubs of all time. Sandberg eventually returned to the Phillies organization in 2011, managing the team's Triple-A affiliate to an 80-64 record.
Here are some news items as we enter the last weekend of January...
- Bud Selig told reporters (including Ronald Blum of the Associated Press) at the Chicago SoxFest event that he believes baseball will add a second wild card team for 2012. "Clubs really want it. I don't think I've ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year," Selig said, adding that each league's two wild cards would compete in a one-game playoff to advance to the LDS. Blum reports that MLB and the Players' Association have agreed that a tie for a division lead would be settled by a one-game playoff, rather than a tiebreaker formula.
- The biggest obstacle standing in the way of an expanded postseason for 2012 would be finding room in the schedule for the extra wild-card game and potential tiebreaker games, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. “It’s going to be hard to do...but it’s still possible,” a source informs Rosenthal.
- At least eight potential owners looking to buy the Dodgers have advanced to the second round of the bidding process, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Among those making the cut were Steven Cohen, Peter O'Malley and Stan Kroenke, as well as the groups fronted by Magic Johnson, Joe Torre and the Stanley Gold/Disney family group. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a group led by White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert were among the bids that didn't make the second round, Shaikin adds.
- More than one ownership group has expressed an interest in the Padres if the team's sale to Jeff Moorad can't be finalized, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. None of these groups are any of the prospective Dodgers buyers, however, as those would-be owners want to specifically buy the Dodgers, not just any team.
- Also as part of Center's online chat with fans, he reports Padres GM Josh Byrnes is looking at signing a starter with big league experience to a minor league contract.
- Gavin Floyd tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he's trying to block out trade rumors, but says that he wants to remain with the White Sox. "I love Chicago, I want to be here,'' Floyd said. "I've been part of this organization for four or five years. I feel like I've grown and gotten better every year and established relationships I'll cherish the rest of my life."
- The Astros' hiring of Sig Mejdal as the director of decision sciences indicates a new, analytical direction for how Houston scouts and evaluates players, writes Zachary Levine for Baseball America.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a quick rundown of the American League's "super six" teams.
A few news items to wrap up a busy Monday...
- The Cubs, Marlins and Tigers are the three teams most actively targeting Yoenis Cespedes, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Last week, Cespedes said the Cubs were his most ardent suitor, with the Marlins, Tigers, Orioles, White Sox and Indians also showing "more interest" in him.
- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he plans to continue playing after 2012. Pierzynski, 35, has spent the last seven years with the Sox and is a free agent after this season.
- Yadier Molina's future with the Cardinals is debated in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch roundtable.
- Bud Selig's two-year contract extension was officially finalized and announced today, Major League Baseball announced. Selig will remain commissioner through the 2014 season. The extension was approved by a unanimous 30-0 vote amongst team owners.
- Derrek Lee could retire if he doesn't find "a perfect situation," tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Yesterday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said Lee could be in for a Jermaine Dye-esque "forced retirement" since no team would be willing to meet his desired price.
- The Rays reportedly have interest in Edgar Renteria for a bench spot, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- The Astros will consider uniform changes and even possibly a name change for 2013, new club owner Jim Crane announced at a press conference today (passed on by Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle).
- Indians catcher Lou Marson could see a lot of playing time against left-handed pitching, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Regular catcher Carlos Santana could play at first base on the days the strong-armed Marson (who threw out 33.3% of baserunners last year) is behind the plate. The right-handed hitting Marson has a .285/.367/.395 career line against southpaws and would add balance to an Indians lineup that is very heavy on left-handed bats.
- Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will play in the Dominican Winter League, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reports. Cespedes will initially DH for the Aguilas Cibaenas, which will enable teams to get in-game looks at him before he becomes a free agent.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com checks in with Dmitri Young, the 38-year-old two-time All-Star who is attempting a comeback after losing 70 pounds.
- Commissioner Bud Selig says he will “of course" commit to developing a succession plan before his new contract expires, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times tweets. Selig's extension runs through the 2014 season.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com outlines some reasons that Selig has been good for baseball. John Moores of the Padres was the lone owner not to vote in favor of the commissioner's extension, Heyman tweets.
- The Rangers are increasingly optimistic about their chances of reaching a deal with Yu Darvish by next week's deadline, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports.
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com breaks down the Mets' projected 2012 payroll and arrives at a $90MM total -- $50MM less than the club’s Opening Day payroll in 2011.
THURSDAY: MLB has announced the extension through 2014, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
WEDNESDAY: Selig's extension has been approved and will be announced tomorrow, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
TUESDAY: Commissioner Bud Selig will be extended for at least two years this week at the owners' meetings, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. Selig became MLB's acting commissioner in 1992, and the title became official in 1998. He currently earns more than $22MM per year.
Let's round up some links from the business side of the game...
- Bud Selig told reporters, including Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, that the Mets are working on an "alternative financing plan." Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record adds that Selig said the Mets have yet to repay the $25MM loan from MLB, though he's "not worried." (Twitter links)
- ESPN's Buster Olney says that changes to the draft system being discussed during Collective Bargaining Agreement talks involve a draft tax (Twitter links). It would work similar to the luxury tax, forcing teams to pay if they spend over a certain amount. There is also talk about giving lower revenue clubs additional picks, which some officials perceive to have little value.
- "There isn't a mechanism in place," said Selig to reporters (including Passan) when asked about finding his successor (Twitter link). The commissioner continues to maintain that he will retire on December 31st of 2012.
Commissioner Bud Selig discussed several topics in an interview with Chris Russo of SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio today before Game 2 of the World Series. Here are some of the highlights:
- In regards to the ongoing negotiations about a new collective bargaining agreement, Selig said talks were "constructive," though it would be "pretty optimistic" to hope that a new deal could be announced before the end of the World Series.
- The issue of a hard slotting system for the draft is "really critical" for Selig. Buster Olney reported yesterday that Selig was unlikely to "dig in and fight" for slotting since doing so would prolong the labor negotiations.
- Selig is hopeful that an extra wild card team in each league could be added in time for the 2012 postseason. Selig hears from a number of managers that they would prefer a one-game playoff between each league's wild card teams, rather than a best-of-three playoff.
- The commissioner is "concerned" about the low attendance in Tampa Bay. The Rays "are a wonderful organization, produced a terrific team this year and finished last in the American League in attendance. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion. That’s bad." The Rays' quest for a new stadium is not quite a "lost cause," as Russo describes, but Selig said he is "usually an optimist and I don’t have any reason to be too optimistic" about the situation.
- Selig admitted that he could possibly be called in to decide the compensation the Cubs would owe the Red Sox for Theo Epstein.
- Judging fair and foul balls could become reviewable via instant replay. Besides this change, however, Selig said "there is no appetite anywhere, including mine, for any instant replay" of other plays.
- "Never have so many [networks] been interested in acquiring our rights," Selig said in regards about MLB's next TV contracts for the postseason.
Commissioner Bug Selig told Yahoo's Jeff Passan that he still hopes to have another playoff team in each league by next year. However, many details have yet to be worked out and there are related issues such as realignment to resolve, so the chances of expanded playoffs by next year are "iffy at best," Passan writes.
The possibility of realigning the divisions relates closely to playoff expansion, so the Astros' ownership change affects the discussions. Incoming owner Jim Crane has softened his stance on moving his team to the AL West, Passan reports. Three AL West teams are in the Pacific Time Zone, but that didn't stop the Rangers from obtaining a lucrative TV deal, so Crane is entertaining the idea moving his new club to the American League.
Selig maintains that the upcoming collective bargaining agreement will be his last. “Even though a lot of people don’t believe it, I’m done Dec. 31 of next year,” he told Passan.