The baseball owners and players have reached a collective bargaining agreement, meaning that there will labor peace for a span of at least 21 years.  As a fan who still has nightmares of the 1994 season, I’m ecstatic that there is a deal in place.  I’m anxiously awaiting for the CBA to be publicly available, so that I can print out a copy to read at my leisure.  (No, I’m not kidding).  Maybe MLB can throw baseball junkies a bone and put out a Kindle version …

The new CBA will result in some changes to the game I love.  Some of the changes are great; some aren’t.  Here are my thoughts.

Blood testing for HGH (human growth hormone) – I’m in favor of any rule that makes it more difficult to cheat.  I’d have even gone a step further and allow this to be expanded to include any drugs which are banned by MLB, including ones that are not currently banned.  Banning a substance without testing for it is pointless.

Revamping of free agent compensation – I have railed against the existing system for many years, and I’m glad that people finally listened to me.  Instead of the old Elias statistical rating system – which used seemingly arbitrary stats – teams will be forced to make a qualifying offer to pending free agents in order to be compensated if the player is signed by another team.  The qualifying offer must be the average of the top 125 salaries – currently, this would be about $12 million.  This makes sense to me – if you’re willing to sign a guy to a $12 million deal, he clearly has value to you.  In the past, there have been some odd situations where the Elias system put unreasonable values on players.  This ended up hurting the players – including my friend’s brother one year – because no team was willing to pay the compensation, which in turn limited the number of bidders for their talents.

Penalties for exceeding recommended bonuses for draft picks – Team can now lose future draft picks if they exceed MLB’s recommended bonus for that spot in the draft.  Every year, some guys fall down in the draft because of signability concerns.  Teams high in the draft don’t want to pay big bucks, so they drop down to a team willing to pony up the cash.  Penalizing these teams is a Rube Goldberg solution to the problem.  The most logical thing to do is simply allow teams to trade draft picks.  Currently, baseball teams can’t trade picks, nor can they trade draftees until one year after they signed a contract.  I guess this is to protect GMs from making dumb trades … but if you need that sort of protection, perhaps you shouldn’t be a GM.

Houston moves to the American League – Houston will move to the AL to create six divisions of five teams each.  This really sucks for Astros fans, who get stuck in the bad league.  Why not send the Brewers back to the AL?  Oh, right.  Because Bud Selig acts in the best interests of the Brewers, the team he formerly owned.

Expanded playoffs – One thing I love about baseball is the fact that it’s hard to get into the playoffs.  Only eight of the thirty teams make it.  In the future, this will get expanded to ten teams.  The two wild card teams will face off in a one game playoff – already being called the “coin flip round” in some circles because of the silliness of a one game playoff series.  This could create a situation where a weaker team is at a significant advantage in the one game playoff.  Imagine that the Red Sox nip the Yankees for the AL East title – 105 wins for Boston and 104 for the Yankees.  Both teams used their best pitchers in the final days of the season, due to a strong desire to stay out of the coin flip round.  The second wild cards goes to Tampa, which wins 91 games, 4 more than the next closest team.  Tampa spends the last week of the season getting its rotation in order for the playoffs.  The result?  The 91 win Tampa team sends its ace to the mound against the #4 starter for the Yankees.