Meeting of the Minds: Bud & Buck

Mitchell Layton

You might recall that a few weeks ago when it sure looked like Alex Rodriguez would be suspended for a good long time, perhaps freeing the Yankees to spend a lot more money in the coming seasons than expected, Orioles manager Buck Showalter registered this opinion:

Showalter, the Baltimore Orioles' manager, told USA Today Sports that if commissioner Bud Selig suspends Rodriguez, it is unfair that the Yankees would benefit financially.

"If Bud lets them get away with that, they're under the luxury tax," the Orioles manager told USA Today. "If they can reset, they can spend again, and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York."

--snip--

Whatever the length of Rodriguez's deal, Showalter thinks it is unfair the Yankees will receive salary relief from a suspension.

"They're the ones who signed him to that contract," Showalter said.

I'm of two minds about this. I wish that Showalter had simply made the case that it's probably unfair for a suspended player's salary to not count against the payroll for luxury-tax purposes. More than unfair, it can actually create an incentive for a team to encourage or even expedite the suspension of an undesirable player. It's just bad policy.

And for all I know, that's not the policy. Has there been some official word from the Commissioner's Office about this? Not that I know about.

Unfortunately, Showalter undermined his argument when he made it all about himself and his Orioles. Matt Wieters is a really good player, but a) losing him wouldn't kill the Orioles, b) getting him wouldn't automatically make the Yankees excellent, and c) there are, last time I checked, approximately 28 other teams who might be interested in signing Wieters. At some point, the bogey-manning of the Yankees just gets silly, and I think we've already passed that point. Even if they want to sign every great player on the market, there aren't that many great players on the market and the Dodgers will probably keep getting their share of them.

Anyway, we probably should cut Showalter some slack, as he claimed he thought his comments were off the record. Which didn't keep Major League Baseball from giving Showalter's boss a call:

After the comments, which Showalter later said he did not think were going to be published, the M.L.B. executive vice president Rob Manfred called Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette.

Manfred told him that the timing of Showalter’s comments, with the suspensions only days away, were not helpful and that there were many factors in play beyond what Showalter was aware of. He also wanted to make it clear that the issue was about Rodriguez, not a matter of letting the Yankees get away with anything.

Upon hearing of Manfred’s displeasure, Showalter decided to reach out to Selig, and the two were said to have had a productive conversation.

Wouldn't you like to have been a fly on the wall for that one? I'll bet Commissioner Bud gave Showalter more time to talk than during our one and only, misbegotten conversation about contraction. Maybe not a lot more. But more, since I didn't get any time to talk at all.

Yeah. That was fun.

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