Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rules Change Voting Results

by Vaughn Nuest

Below is a run down of how our crop of proposals fared this year. Kudos to BRASS voters for again carefully considering the proposals and voting, in most cases, in overwelming numbers one way or the other.

Over the years I've always been impressed with how clear league preferences are on most topics and how smart voters have been in assessing the best and most fair season in which to implement changes also. This year is no exception.

No matter what your position is on given topics, the league has always been so well served by its membership and how they approach these critical voting issues. Good work guys, as always. I've never been stuck with a klunker or impossible to implement or understand league change.

Commentary on the voting ....

The first Proposal, the one which synchronizes the in-season playing months with actual months, passed 21-2 (one abstention). So we will be trading now during in-season months right up to the last day of the month and then beginning play around the 7th of the following month, with a deadline for completion of games as the last day of the given month also.

It seems clear that we've dug about as deep as the league cares to dig in terms of reducing the number of amateur players on rosters and increasing the draft's strength. While league voters narrowly approved (by a 13-11 margin) a further reduction in the number of amateur players we want to see on rosters, the league strongly favored retaining two amateurs (13 votes) over both the option of one amateur (5 votes) or zero amateurs (6 votes). As with last year, this change won't take effect until the 2009 Draft. So we all have about 13 months to cut down to a total of 2 amateurs on our 2009-10 pre-draft rosters.

71% to 29% of the membership (17 yes to 7 no) voted to make another in our series of routine, cosmetic modifications to BRASS dollar amounts to make them feel just about like modern MLB salary numbers. The proposal also slightly modified the Y1, Y2, and Y3 contract amounts to bring them more closely in line with MLB entry wages and account for the salary increases that MLB players get as their early service time accrues (BRASS had a flat rate for each season with no raises). The new dollar amounts will be shown in the next roster file update, which will come out after the April 18 trade freeze begins. The new system will officially be in effect at that time.

23 of us liked the proposal that modified our player overuse fines to a graduated scale whose penalty amounts varied in direct proportion to the size of the infraction. The usage buffer concept is retained in this proposal, preserving the buffers that currently exist to cover slight manager miscalculation and other events. We definitely thought overuse fines should still exist, but that the fine should better fit the crime that our current system.

By a 14-10 margin, the league said they prefer to keep the Home/Road Discrepancy program in place as is, measuring and rewarding as it does now.23 of us also stated that we believe players who are on no-trade contracts may not be exposed to selection in The Draft and must remain on a team's protected list from here forward.

17 of the 24 of us want to see veteran players get veteran player (or "U") contracts when selected in the draft. We'll begin this with the 2008 Draft.12 people felt the current Y1 PA and IP thresholds were best and 12 wanted to see them revised slightly, as detailed in the proposal. So these thresholds will stay as they are.

By a 14-10 margin, league voters did not wish to see draftees become eligible for a month-to-month contract, irrespective of their MLB PA or IP levels. These contracts (MTM) therefore remain in the private domain of Secondary Free Agency signees.

By an 88% to 12% (21 to 3) margin, the league approved the utilization of the "B" contract minimums and not the "U" contract minimums to determine contract amounts for players re-signed after returning to their teams when no one signed them in the Free Agency process.

And in what is certainly the ballot item with the biggest impact on league play of any proposal on this list, the question of whether to eliminate the DH (and if so, when), the league voted decisively but not overwelmingly, 58% to 42% (14-10), to eliminate the DH from BRASS in the future. The 2010-11 season was selected by 13 voters as the year in which this will be implemented. The 2009-10 season was the choice of 9 voters. 2 voters wanted the DH to be gone immediately, starting with next season.

So we will all have until September 1, 2010, exactly 30 months from today, to figure out how best to plan our individual roster set up for the elimination of the DH. While I would bet the league membership is savvy enough to have done it in 3 months if they needed to, we'll have 10 times that transition period, so we will have plenty of time to make plans or discuss/vote on any special circumstances that we perceive may be part of this implementation.

I encourage you all to give some individual thought about how this change will impact your roster and while it almost sounds silly to consider how something 30 months away will impact you, time passes and things can catch up to us all. Someone like me, who has extended DH David Ortiz's contract for three seasons, will have some decisions to make before that last season comes due for me when Big Papi may not have a position on my roster anymore, other than pinch hitter.Again - great work here guys. Nothing we can't handle and implement cleanly on this list. Nothing scares me at all here from an administrative standpoint.

And from the decisive voting totals here on the topics we all liked, it certainly looks like we all decided to tweak the league in small ways to make it more fun or more to our liking, which is the point of the process.

I'll revise the constitution as I am able, as usual, to reflect our changes and get the new document out to you all.

Good luck with your draft prep!

17 Swings of the bat:

Other Side said...

by Dave Silverberg

Hi gang,

I wanted to comment on 2 of the proposals, the home/road discrepancies & the DH.

Home/Road - I confess this one surprised me when I learned of it upon joining BRASS, that such a program would even exist. I would hope to be in a league where we trust each other to play the games as we should, and on that level it does disappoint me to see this program in place. It also impacts my strategy as I believe strongly in home park as a strategic factor. All my SOM career I have tried to model teams on a .650-.700 home win % and .500 on the road - that was one of the reasons I coughed up some cash to play in PNC this year. So even though my team earned some cash last year via the program, I would much rather do away with it so that I feel a) we trust each other to play fair, and b) we don't penalize home park strategies. I see we came pretty close this year to eliminating this program & I hope we will rexamine elimination next year.

The DH - needless to say, having just signed Hafner to a 4-year deal, this one also disappoints me, but I think there is a simple solution here that I'd like to put out there for feedback: prior to the implementation of the DH, each team should have an opportunity to shorten the contract of 1 & only 1 hitter on their team. This would allow teams like me & Vaughn who have signed DHs long term to avoid any unnecessary penalty due to the rule change. I would think this one is a no-brainer.

A follow up to this is trickier, but I also think it fairly levels the playing field. For those of us who have invested in good DHs, even if we can get out of the contracts, we will lose team value as a result of the rule change. I think we should set up a compensatory pick system for any team which is forced to cut short a DH's contract. This would be similar to what happens when a valuable RFA is signed by someone else, and I think it's appropriate as this can have a similar impact on a team. We would need to come up with a system to rate the DHs without using the FA bid values, but BLOC has such a system (based on win shares) and we could implement it here, and set appropriate pick levels. I am thinking round 2 & 3 picks rather than round 1 & 2 picks that we use in RFA compensation.

Anyway, just wanted to open up further dialog now that we have the results in. Looking forward to the season!

Other Side said...

by Vaughn Nuest

Interesting analysis, Dave. Sounds like your DH implementation suggestions would be good proposals for next year's league changes process. We'd still be 18 months away from implementation at that time and any commentary folks might want to make today or between now and then could serve to help you tailor your proposal, potentially, depending on the commentary.

I suspect the league could benefit from a good discussion on the Home/Road Discrepancy program. The way games are played in the BRASS League has changed immeasurably since the program was implemented, back before anyone had a personal computer, when all games were played with dice, cards and scoresheets through the mail.

It is always valuable to evaluate any program carefully whose genesis was in the "horse and buggy" days of Strat League play. Of course it might still pass muster, as the voting showed this year, but I know several people feel strongly about it one way or there other and those discussions are always useful in helping formulate league opinion.

Good topics - so feel free to write some blog articles guys and get paid, now at the freshly minted payout of $1,200,000 per article (same value as the old $400 K, just a cosmetic upgrade to modern times).

Other Side said...

by David Dick

Just wanted to chime in on David's commentary...

I'm the commish in another league and you would be amazed by some of the home/road splits that have nothing to do with ballpark advantages. The fact of the matter is that some folks will cheat no matter what you do. The home/road program attempts to reward those who play honestly. It's not perfect, but I think it's a nice perk.

As to the DH going bye-bye, I voted to keep it and am sad to see it go. Regarding contracts, I don't think there should be any special compensation or conditions. Guys that are straight DHs can still play first base (Strat assigns a 5e30). This is no different than if a player changes positions in MLB. I just signed Miguel Cabrera to a really long deal. Say Adam LaRoche goes all Carlos Pena this year and the Tigers decide to play Miguel Cabrera exclusively at 1B. BRASS isn't going to give me special compensation because I now have two 1B instead of a 1B and a 3B. There's plenty of time for teams to figure out how to relieve a logjam due to the DH going bye-bye.

Just my $0.02.

Other Side said...

by Dave Silverberg

Ah, yes 1 point to the DH proposal I forgot to mention: I think we should have to declare the intention to shorten the contract of 1 player ASAP (i.e. after next proposals are decided, if this one passes). This would cut off a potential loophole for teams like Dave D's that signed an expensive player for multiyears not necessarily expecting them to DH. It gives the hypothetical Cabrera owner a very clear choice:

"Did I *intend* to play this guy as a DH?" If so, no question I'll shorten the contract. If I signed him to play 3B, and hope & think he'll still be there 3 yrs from now, I need to roll the dice on him being rated there or move a 1B instead if he does not get a 3B rating.

What our esteemed colleague Mr. Dick fails to mention is that that the rule change would force DH owners to alleviate the logjams by selling DHs at .75 on the dollar, which is what a laissez faire approach would have us do. Any team that does not have a 1B will just wait for "logjam" owners to come calling and get good bats at a discount. We'd effectively be penalizing good management (signing a good bat to a reasonable/desirable long-term deal when the DH was in place) and rewarding bad management (allowing managers with lineup holes to swoop in & give less than fair value).

As always, fun stuff to debate! :-)

Other Side said...

by Bob Lord

Just a short note on the home/road thing. Having
been in this league for a while now, I am very
comfortable that the owners in this league are honest.
That cannot be said for the other league I am in. It
got to the point that last season the "undo" button
was disabled. To be honest, I kind of liked that.

Other Side said...

by David Dick

What our esteemed colleague Mr. Dick fails to mention is that that the rule change would force DH owners to alleviate the logjams by selling DHs at .75 on the dollar, which is what a laissez faire approach would have us do. Any team that does not have a 1B will just wait for "logjam" owners to come calling and get good bats at a discount. We'd effectively be penalizing good management (signing a good bat to a reasonable/desirable long-term deal when the DH was in place) and rewarding bad management (allowing managers with lineup holes to swoop in & give less than fair value).

The $0.75 on the dollar comment occurs whenever you have too many players at one position, regardless of whether there is a DH or not. I'm short a catcher and Vaughn has three on his roster. That doesn't mean I can expect him to trade one of them for $0.75 on the dollar because he has a "logjam" and can't play all three.

I'm in another league and I have Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson on my roster. Both are rated only at 2B. When I talk trade with other owners, they know that my options are to play one and sit the other or to trade one of them. As such, they drive a harder bargain then perhaps they would if I only had one of the two players. I decided to hold onto both of them.

There's no rule that says you have to trade the DH. In yet another of my leagues with no DH, an owner has both Hafner and Morneau. He keeps Hafner on the bench and uses him as a PH. In that same league I have Ryan Howard and Casey Kotchman. The other owners weren't offering what I thought was fair value when I shopped Kotchman, so I'm holding onto him and using him as a PH and defensive replacement.

The same thing is happening in MLB right now. The Tigers got Miggy Cabrera and now Inge is without a position. Other owners haven't offered enough in trade for Inge, so Dombrowski is forced to hold onto him. That's life.

Other Side said...

by Dave Silverberg

Yes, thanks for making my point Dave. Without this rule change, we would not be forcing DH owners into a logjam in the 1st place. So we are creating a situation *artificially*, not naturally, which forces the choice of trading your DH or using him off the bench, not starting him, which I think is safe to assume why one gets a DH in the 1st place in BRASS & where their value lies. Comparing it to acquiring a Howard + Kotchman in a non-DH league is apples & oranges.

So if that's "life" in this league, I'm not sure its the kind of life I'd like to live, frankly speaking. We can choose to be Darwinistic about this, sure, but is it fair? Is it fair to make a rule change that without question robs a team of value and then just says "so what?" Vaughn assured me that whenever big changes are made in BRASS, that reasonable solutions have always been found. I really hope that turns out to be the case here.

Anyway, I'll shut up about this now but before I get too paranoid I'd love to get more of a sampling of how others feel.

Other Side said...

by David Dick

This is why there is a delay on implementation, to give owners a chance to decide what to do. This is actually a nicer situation than when a player gets moved in MLB and results in an owner having a logjam at another position. For example, Phoenix currently has Ryan Howard at 1B and Carlos Guillen at SS. Guillen was signed to a five year deal two years ago by Phoenix. Now with Guillen being moved to 1B, Phoenix is going to have two 1B and no SS next year, with basically one year's notice, not 30 months. These things happen, it's part of Strat.

Other Side said...

by Steve Klein

When you think about it, we all have pretty much the same problem, at least those of us who have enough players signed to cover what we thought would be required for the next few years. Anyone who has the DH covered has extra PAs at some position if the DH goes away.

Other Side said...

by Mike Swanson

I am going to call the Twins and see if they can get Morneau in at second base for just one game. :)

I recall they did it with Mientkiewicz once a few years ago and he was rated at second. It was pretty cool!!

So I would have Pujols at first, Morneau at second, Furcal at short and AROD at third. Nice infield, huh?

Other Side said...

by Lenny Luchtefeld

Let say we were real owners of MLB clubs and we came to the winter meetings after the season with no prior discussion with each other about the idea of doing away with the DH. One owner brings up the proposal and the league owners vote to abolish the DH 14 to 10. This outcome would be a shock to say the least to the owners if they didn't see it coming. And I don't think any of us saw this coming. This could be a major problem to teams who just made big contract decisions about players based on the current rules of using a DH. I hate to say it, but If this really happened in MLB the owners would have to tell those DH type players either pick up a glove and find a position or your career could be over.

I think Brass has always had the DH rule since I started 17 years ago. Abolishing the DH is a huge league change. It affects every team in some way. Now the 14 that voted for this rule change are happy. They are baseball purists. They don't like the DH and never have. I think another possibility is that most owners are low on cash and this would be a way to reduce their overall yearly salary cost. You still have to have 25 players on your monthly playing roster but you would need one less starting player in the lineup because they would not need a DH.

We are a democracy here in Brass and the league has spoken. Now the owners that are affected by this rule change are going to have to come up with another plan. A plan B ,30 months from now. I guarantee I have not agreed with every proposal voted on that has been implemented in my years with the league. You learn to adapt to the new rule and go on.

After looking at the rosters very quickly, I think 3 or 4 teams will be directly be affected by this rule change. Other teams indirectly. Without going into detail about these 4 teams, they will either play their DH at first or the OF if posssible until the contract expires and then go in a different direction, trade one of their extra players or use the extra player as a PH. I agree some of the trade value of the DH type player might be diminished. I play in two other leagues with no DH and guys like David Ortiz and Travis Hafner are valuable enough offensively that someone plays them at first base. The value of the offensive upside trumps the defensive downside.

This rule change possibly affects Dave S. and Vaughn the most because of Hafner and Ortiz. The truth is, this could of happened to any one of us. These guys just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Vaughn will land on his feet. He always does and always will. If you don't believe me, take a look at all the league championships he has with all of the rules that have been changed over the years. I have confidence in Dave S. that he will come up with a plan. Dave has made 14 trades since December so I'm sure in 30 months he will fashion a plan that has him overcoming this set back. There will always be contracts expiring and injuries in the next few years so I'm sure there will be a demand for a DH type at first baseman or in the outfield. Barry Bonds plays outfield in my other 2 non DH leagues. These type offensive players have a way of getting in the lineup.

We can look at a proposal by reducing one players contract per team by one year next off season. The league will vote again and we'll see what the outcome is. By the time September 2010 rolls around we might only be taking about a handful of players that are a problem. I also think we need to be careful with this proposal so we don't allow teams to reduce a given players contract by 1 year that was not a true DH for that team. Some teams may want to take advantage of this proposal to reduce a players contract just because it turned out to be an unfortunate decision when the player was signed. Also will it be fair for one team to reduce a players contract by one year who is making 7 million and another team reducing a players contract by one year who is making 700K even if they are both real DH's for their teams. They may both be DH types for their teams but one team gains a big advantage in salary. I think this might be a tough one to get passed.

Other Side said...

by Daniel Valois

Good points all, and I'm not going to say much on this. Except for this: with every rule change, there will be some minor causalties.

For instance, when we decided to go to Y-contracts on top of the A/B-contract structure, some owners with high quality young players were affected. To give one example I'm familiar with, I had Johan Santana signed for four years on an A-contract. Had we had the Y-contracts then, I would have had Santana for 7 cheap years instead of 4. Now I have a big hole in my rotation because I could not match Lenny's bid. I did propose a temporary amendment to the rule to accomodate owners in the same situation. It did not going over, and that's fine. I deal with it. Why? Because I think the good of the league is the most important thing.

(In a more indirect way, the rule to reduce the number of AMs also affects me. I'm not an aggressive trader, and I rely mostly on the draft to build my roster. I've made some very nice late AM picks in the past, be it by luck or appropriate research. But I voted to abolish AMs altogether because I feel it may be better for the league, since it would make the draft better and more interesting.)

Other Side said...

by Steve Klein

This is a VERY good point. It illustrates something that I've complained about, off and on, for years: there is far too little time allotted for debate and consideration of rule change proposals. The way things are set up, the first time anyone other than the originator sees a proposal is when he gets the ballot. The ballot arrives with a deadline and a penalty for not voting, and the easiest way to make sure you avoid the penalty is to make a snap decision on each idea and return the ballot right away.

There was some discussion on the blog, but as someone pointed out, not everyone goes there; plus, some people probably voted before anything was posted. I note that all the blog posts on the subject of rescaling the dollar amounts were against it, and yet it passed. That means that either no one from the majority cared enough about their opinion to post it, or most of them weren't on the blog site at all. I'm betting on the latter.

I'd like to see every rule change proposal emailed to all managers and posted on the website at least a month before the ballot is sent.

Other Side said...

By Tony Cieszynski

Steve - I agree with you completely. We do need to have a plan in place to be sure that any rule changes are fully explored and discussed before voting. You need to get a plan down on paper and be sure it is submitted for us to vote on next year.

There have been many good ideas that have been passed in BRASS, and some not so good ones as well. Some have subsequently been voted out. Thats the nature of the league. But I think we would have much better results if there was sufficient discussion about rules before they are voted on.

Other Side said...

by Vaughn Nuest

Yeah, good idea guys - would be easy to implement. No problem here.

Steve - just briefly and saving the long rationale and history of the 18 voting processes, I'll just say that I have never seen evidence that your theory that people may make ill-considered decisions because there is a voting deadline is true to any degree at all. I think the opposite is true of BRASS voters.

I also don't think a suggestion that folks perhaps haven't thought carefully enough about proposals because there is no evidence of their commentary on a blog is likely to prove true either, if tested.

I think BRASS voters made informed, smart decisions this year, as they always do. Period. I don't agree with them all this year or others, but I think people make a very good faith effort to take the vote they cast seriously and contemplate it well. I hope you feel that way too.

But a discussion period would be at worst harmless and at best a good improvement and we could handle future years like we handled last year, where I vetted 5-6 proposals early with you all.

We had lots of discussion and then voted, with some of them passing and some not. I don't recall any frustration expressed about process last year. So I think it was a good model and as the proposals I was offering were such radical changes in many areas, like Steve, I felt a good discussion was beneficial. Still do.

Someone remember to get something on the ballot next year, okay. ;)

And don't be too hard on Steve if he seemed to make us all out to be thoughtless voters. He's on record as being the "league curmudgeon" and darn it, he's our curmudgeon and I wouldn't trade him for anyone. ;)

mlentz said...

Guys...regarding the H/R discrepancy program? Is that really why 14 of you voted in favor of it? Because of cheating? Really?

I can't remember the last time I was "awarded" this stipend. Am I cheating then?

Not trying to be argumentative here but I really don't see the need for this archaic program any longer.

Home/road splits are a product of sooooooo many factors that to just chalk it up to nefarious keyboard strokes seems a bit superficial.

Other Side said...

I voted to eliminate this archaic rule as well. I do not understand the necessity. I would be curious to see what the largest dicrepancy between home and road splits was. Perhaps if we were to see something out of the ordinary consistently over the course of a few seasons, then I would be concerned. But one year blips to not make a problem.