Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

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Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Eddie Paxil-Commish » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:37 pm

It’s clear I need to address this both for new GMs and some established GMs who were never clear on some things. I try to be transparent as a commissioner at all times. This includes with the running of my team. Questions have been raised about the trade for Wes Mailman by more than one GM, and the “realism” and validity of it. The answer isn’t a ten word answer sadly so follow along.

I have been involved with many expansions in other leagues before, most very horrible. 90% of the other expansions I’ve seen use the in-game tool only, which is a fool’s errand. That’s the nice way of saying ignorant. It’s a cute tool against the AI, but not in a league with humans. When we address “realism” that tool does not account for the fact that the 93 and 98 expansion teams wisely were drafting and fielding minor league affiliates well before they played an MLB game. In fact of the 10 expansions I was involved in, only one went beyond the tool, and had the expansion teams drafting two years ahead but with no affiliates for those players to play in. So the players just sat there, no games, and no development budget. Not one I’ve ever seen has accounted for the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks became the 5th highest revenue team in baseball before playing a single game.

I decided, tested, researched, and then hatched a lot one late night with Charlie as a sounding board and thinking too of things I hadn’t thought of, to attempt this, to find ways to give the expansion teams the ability have these things and more. While testing it became obvious the best way to accomplish them was through a satellite league. This gave us the ability for the expansion teams to have those things, and using the association tool was best. While at it and because it had to be there to make this happen, it seemed sensical to employ Branch Rickey’s idea for “expansion” in the early 60s which was ignored as he predicted it would be. Instead of expanding in a rush to pocket fees, giving expansion teams little to no prep or start time. (Like the in game tool) The first two expansion teams and the MLB teams had two weeks to prepare for the first expansion draft. It’s no wonder the teams stunk for a long time. Rickey thought having a third league play on its own in non MLB cities with near MLB type resources playing for a few years and then merging with the other two leagues would be best, allowing those franchises to hit the ground running. An owner shouldn’t pay a gigantic fee to be a doormat. That’s not the idea, and its not good for the league, unfortunately its what we’ve been conditioned to see, so we think its normal. In other words he thought of the AFL/ NFL merger as something to do deliberately.

The 93 and 98 expansions were reflective of that and way better. Probably in no small part to Bud Selig having taken over in Milwaukee as owner of the wreckage of the Seattle Pilots who were still installing seats people were going to sit in on opening day. The 98 expansion saw expansion teams have access and be able to do things two years ahead, that now seem obvious, but that’s revisionist history. At the time they were criticized for overspending and being extravagant. Things like the DBacks giving big bonuses to international amateur free agents like Rob Barajas on January 23, 1996, more than almost two and a half years before playing a major league game. Or the Diamondbacks “poaching” Travis Lee and from the Twins and John Patterson from the Expos in October and November of 96 after they didn’t sign by giving each a big bonus. Again seems obvious now, but they were criticized two fold. One for spending money they “weren’t making” and also for intruding with the existing MLB process when all they had were a few minor league affiliates. DBacks owner Jerry Colangelo was criticized for bringing an NBA mentality to the MLB. Especially in the case of Lee who signed on the very day free agents were eligible to be signed.

We must also remember that in these years free agency in earnest was still new because the MLB had to get through collusion. So there really was no established protocol like there is now on accessing free agency from player or team perspective. Chris Michalak and Chad Zerbe probably seemed to some silly, for signing with the DBacks in April and May of 97 when the highest they could play was A ball, and both had already reached AA before. The Diamondbacks signed MLB free agent Mark Davis on February 7, 1997 and later traded him on August 14 to the Brewers for a PTBNL, a guy who had already appeared in the bigs. No one knew the DBacks were allowed to trade. Surprise, yes they were, they were the whole time if within the CBA rules. The big one and most eye opening is often not appropriately understood through the prism of history. The Devil Rays signing Rolando Arrojo on April 21, 1997. This was a big deal, a very big deal. And the Devil Rays spent a ton of money at the time on a 31yo. guy who’d never pitched in the bigs. Why? He was Cuba’s other ace besides El Duque, both in the Cuban League and on the “Other Big Red Machine” of the 80s and early 90s, the Cuban International team that dominated and had scouts and GMs salivating. Arrojo got enough money from the Devil Rays to agree to sit in extended spring and the minors at high A ball for an entire season. Was he going to do that anyway? Sit and develop at 31yo for a full season or two in the minors? Considering his counterpart El Duque made 8 starts in AAA before debuting in the bigs the next year for the Yankees, and 15 teams were bidding on Arrojo I doubt it. But it’s easy to claim in hindsight when Arrojo fizzled after a good rookie year. But it was a great creative move by the Rays to bring a Cuban star to Florida, and gave Arrojo a built in support base in Florida. In the end though, they offered more money. Money they “didn’t have.” All of those and many others were very creative for the time. Bold and daring.

Were these only dipping toe examples. Sure. Sabermetrics didn’t have the firm hold and depth it has now. The notion of cost efficiency hadn’t really taken hold because the reserve clause had only been dropped in the late 70s and collusion ended in 87. So spending was misunderstood still. Everything was seen through the eyes of an MLB baseball move, even in many MLB insider circles.

We know more, I know more than some of those GMs did. I have access to information, data, and history they didn’t because it hadn’t happened or been created yet. So I’m not dipping my toe, and I’d argue neither would have Jerry Colangelo and Joe Garragiola Jr. for sure, if they’d known certain things ahead of time that would reveal themselves between 1996 and 1998.

That holds true for all those prior expansion attempts in other OOTP leagues. Is our process 100% historically accurate, no in many ways its better than those actually attempted. We tried to put safeguards in to protect certain obvious things though. Is it 100% accurate to what would happen if the MLB attempted this concept, no. We have to to account for things OOTP and S+ can’t do. We have to account for the fact that this isn’t any of our full time jobs. Meaning practicality comes into play. Also we have to account for me, Charlie, and everyone who gave input screwing up somewhere.

There’s also another important thing to account for, which is a big reason why this can’t (not shouldn’t , can’t) be compared to other league’s expansion attempts. We’re inventing it here, and I’m reacting to things I couldn’t predict the game would do along the way. Like despite every reputation setting and financial setting between the CEL and MLB being identical, CEL teams get asked for as much as triple in salary by some players. That’s a good thing and I’m glad that happened, but it forced me to change some restrictions on the expansion teams because of it.

The entire expansion process began over one real year and a half ago in discussions in PMs and testing. Over one calendar year ago the public debate began. Almost 7 months ago the announced process was finalized. We are in the second in game season of it. All these points were made by me and all the obvious counter points were made along the way. Different things won out at different times. In my opinion we can’t go changing it every time someone realizes something is there they didn’t know about, or when a new GM joins.

Also to be frank, I’m human, and addressing the same thing for the 15th time can be crazy annoying so my apologies to those who approached me if I came off ticked. I was in the middle of delivering in an area that might as well be Siberia, because I don’t know it. And yeah I’ve been embroiled in these discussions and debates 15 times over now. And these weren’t the worst. The worst was an original GM who asked, “Why are we expanding?”

But as usual I’ll be open to addressing anything if necessary. If there are enough GMs that feel the Mailman trade needs to be looked at, fine. I’ll recuse myself from the League Officers panel and we’ll name a substitute. That will allow me to make my case as a GM alone though. The first obvious point is that the issue isn’t seemingly “realism” or “history” its I got a really good player out of this expansion process by hustling that doesn’t have a huge contract and is super young. Second obvious point is some groaning came from people who didn’t have complaints about the process when they were being financially bailed out by me on bad contracts. And I’ll cite that I don’t have many of those bad contracts left, I was financially creative and assembled prospects in every deal. Then absorbed money and flipped many of those guys which made them attractive again gaining more prospects. I’ll cite that I presented the league with what the farm system rankings would be like in January 2026 if they included the expansion teams, with my team at 20 of 32 ahead of 12 current MLB teams including the mighty Angels. I’ll cite that on that list I had three players in the top 100, two that went in the Mailman deal, one that was the 20th overall and 11th pitcher. I’ll also cite that none of the existing rules were broken by either GM. I’ll also cite that many similar deals were already in the books and had been made. Of course there’s no bailing someone out of a bad contract this time. I’ll cite that Mailman may benefit long term. He comes to a team with every development resource maxed out and one of the best hitting coaches in the file, meaning maybe his contact and avoid K develop since he’s only 23. I’ll cite that I made my best offer and was then MIA for a week moving, and despite Cary clearly posting during that week, make me your best offer, all I’m hearing is people were asking him to pick. Sounds like my worst offense, was listening to the words the man typed out.

Lastly I’ll after I make all those points (oh just did) I’ll ask the acting officers to draft a motion to vote that this is the last time an expansion team has to address a move that falls within the rules, and the last time the process we’ve chosen for expansion can be questioned, after all we’re less than an in game year from expansion.

I know I’m commissioner, and I do what I can perhaps too much. However, I’m a GM too, who wants to get to do that to. I know I signed up for the commissioner bit, but that doesn’t mean its not annoying when people conveniently forget the many times I’ve been hosed because I leave a lot for you guys to decide.The “because your the commissioner” excuse gets mad old sometimes. And in some cases it’s insulting to the other GM too. So discuss in #general if need be. I won’t address it again unless I need to defend the trade again. I leave it to @captaincoop17 and @bigkizen and everyone else to address from here on out. As far as the GM of the New Jersey Pioneers is concerned we stand by everything we’ve done, and the process. As far as the commissioner is concerned I stand behind the process as sound and well thought out, albeit new. But I must recuse myself due to obvious conflict of interest.
Eddie Paxil
OMLB Commissioner
New Jersey Pioneers GM (2025-Present) Continental Expansion League Champions 2025 and 2026
Miami Marlins GM (2014-2024) NL East Champions 2016, 2019, & 2022

mgcoug2

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by mgcoug2 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:45 pm

Well said,

While it was certainly disappointing on my end to not win the Mailman sweepstakes, the expansion process and rights of expansion teams have been clear since day one. So I don't really get the hubbub on this.

Also, why is this coming up now, this was all SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO last week

urbscholar

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by urbscholar » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:46 pm

I have no idea about anything being unfair about the Mailman trade. If both GM's who made the trade are happy and its not an act of collusion then I don't know what could be deemed unfair about it.

I've never use the expansion tool in OOTP but I think its probably more realistic to do our expansion the way teams do expansion today.

John_CWS

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by John_CWS » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:54 pm

Well, that was a read!

All I can say is that I have the upmost admiration for our commissioner for the outstanding job that he does as commissioner. I've been in lots of leagues and have never seen anyone better at the job. The whole expansion process, as intricate as it is, has been fully transparent and is a masterful example of of a dramatic improvement over the simple-minded OOTP process.

As for the Mailman trade, I had no problem with it when it was announced and have no problem with it now. In my opinion, it needs no further scrutiny of any kind.

mgcoug2

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by mgcoug2 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:56 pm

John_CWS wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:54 pm
Well, that was a read!

All I can say is that I have the upmost admiration for our commissioner for the outstanding job that he does as commissioner. I've been in lots of leagues and have never seen anyone better at the job. The whole expansion process, as intricate as it is, has been fully transparent and is a masterful example of of a dramatic improvement over the simple-minded OOTP process.

As for the Mailman trade, I had no problem with it when it was announced and have no problem with it now. In my opinion, it needs no further scrutiny of any kind.
This espouses my views much more articulately than I did!

Lovepump(Giants)

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Lovepump(Giants) » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:13 pm

What are the concerns? That he will not play ML level ball for a year or so? Or is there a problem with the talent traded? I cannot think of any other problem there may be with the trade. I could be missing something.

Twins Cary r

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Twins Cary r » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:18 pm

I posted mailman was available a few times and ask for offers on him. I got only three or four offers on him and I choose the one I thought would be best.
I agreed with the gm on the deal and I then ask for counter offers from teams to let them know I have a deal unless they could do better. They did not offer what I needed so I took his deal. I was concerned he might be upset that I agree in principle with deal but still posted last time in block.but I did this to give every team the chance to bid on mailmen just so no one would think I did this deal just to help commissioner out.

bcduggan

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by bcduggan » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:32 pm

Eddie,

When I brought up my concerns about the trade to you I expressed my reservations/concerns about the deal. Among the concerns were that you mentioned Travis Lee, before, and John Patterson here in this post but if what with them happened here that you or I signed them to FA contract whether ml or minor league deal it would have been within rules to do so they were under 26. No trade was needed, and if it was those two were flminor leaguers at that time and would have been fine under the rules. You were partially right about ml players being traded to expansion teams, only example I found though was Tampa Bay getting 4 players by trade after the expansion draft in November 1997.This was 5 months before before their debut in major league baseball, not keeping the players in minors for a season then bringing them to majors.

About Mailman, it's not I didn't have a chance to get him. I wouldn't have wanted him, personally it's unrealistic to trade, at least one season before your ML debut in major leagues, for an established young ML player who is a borderline star. If he was traded the Offseason, during the few months before the pioneers and rat pack play their opening game in Jersey and Vegas I would have no concerns or reservations about the deal.

Eddie, you are a rock star among commissioners. When I vented to you, it was more because if it stayed welled up, my MS would flare up and I didn't want that.

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Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Eddie Paxil-Commish » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:10 pm

bcduggan wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:32 pm
Eddie,

When I brought up my concerns about the trade to you I expressed my reservations/concerns about the deal. Among the concerns were that you mentioned Travis Lee, before, and John Patterson here in this post but if what with them happened here that you or I signed them to FA contract whether ml or minor league deal it would have been within rules to do so they were under 26. No trade was needed, and if it was those two were flminor leaguers at that time and would have been fine under the rules. You were partially right about ml players being traded to expansion teams, only example I found though was Tampa Bay getting 4 players by trade after the expansion draft in November 1997.This was 5 months before before their debut in major league baseball, not keeping the players in minors for a season then bringing them to majors.

About Mailman, it's not I didn't have a chance to get him. I wouldn't have wanted him, personally it's unrealistic to trade, at least one season before your ML debut in major leagues, for an established young ML player who is a borderline star. If he was traded the Offseason, during the few months before the pioneers and rat pack play their opening game in Jersey and Vegas I would have no concerns or reservations about the deal.

Eddie, you are a rock star among commissioners. When I vented to you, it was more because if it stayed welled up, my MS would flare up and I didn't want that.

I appreciate the thought, I do.What you see as unrealistic has been argued before chapter and verse, and I continue to argue back everything I listed above and more I didn't would have been deemed "unrealistic" before 1996. We're in 2026 and got the chance to make improvements. I'm not annoyed at you or anyone specifically, my annoyance I assure you, is cumulative at this point.
Eddie Paxil
OMLB Commissioner
New Jersey Pioneers GM (2025-Present) Continental Expansion League Champions 2025 and 2026
Miami Marlins GM (2014-2024) NL East Champions 2016, 2019, & 2022

urbscholar

Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by urbscholar » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:33 pm

Ohhh, yeah.. Ok, there is definitely a point that it's unrealistic to have a guy in an expansion league for a season before debuting.

But I'm not sure what player rights Mailman would have in this situation if it were a real life thing.

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Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by DavidJ » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:39 pm

Every Commissioner has a tough gig.
GM New York Yankees - 2029

GM Los Angeles Dodgers - 2022-2028
GM Toronto Blue Jays - 2020-2021

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Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Yankees » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:02 pm

All i can say, is that i have been a Commish for 15 years, and i can tell you it is the most horrible job in the market, people are never satisfied, but no one wants to do the job, you make a decision to improve the league, now you have to wait for a full vote, and answer all the good and bad answer it is a never ending story. My point of view, is that you are doing a fantastic job, i never been in a league, that pour so much emails per day, so much communications that sometimes i am lost.
So hey keep doing what you are doing the majority is behind you, Remember whatever your decision will be in the future about any subject, you will never please everyone, but the bottom line is ITS A GAME.

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Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by Eddie Paxil-Commish » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:09 pm

urbscholar wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:33 pm
Ohhh, yeah.. Ok, there is definitely a point that it's unrealistic to have a guy in an expansion league for a season before debuting.

But I'm not sure what player rights Mailman would have in this situation if it were a real life thing.
Let’s address this and talk it out.

MLB players can’t be traded or sold to Nippon or CanAm although the reverse is normal.

Why? The CBA deals with moving players towards the bigs, and eventually free agency, paid premium big league wages in the bigs.

Our process creates a unique grey area, and I mean for the union too. Expansion creates tons of potential big league jobs and spots. An AL team creates another DH. Now these teams exist for two seasons in limbo, what do all parties do? Even the union when the wages and benefits are identical?

For simplicity, and because our financials continue to prove solid, we essentially just extended the CBA to recognize the two expansion teams in the expansion leagues as big league clubs. Separate but equal. Admittedly evokes the memory of a bad idea, but one that works here as a temporary building measure.

What this does is it means players without a no trade clause or players under standard CBA team control have no say on where they play if traded or waived.

Free Agents have lots of say, which is why Charlie and I put forth restrictions on Free Agents, basically MLB ones in their athletic prime. The only quarrel I had was the restriction on a guy of any age that came internationally in year one regardless of caliber but he swayed me.

Because of the exhorbiitant prices I saw the expansion teams facing even sometimes from players who’d never spent a single day in the najors but were MLB minor league free agents I made one change on the fly. It had to be an MLB FA that was on an MLB team in the most recent season completed for the restriction to apply.

Add on this our financial restrictions because we had minimums to spend on budgets, scouting,development and young players. Then add in the cost of personnel. We both started with less than 40 mil accessible. And still we added a 100 mil salary cap just in case.

The answer to the question is not for certain thst it’s unrealistic, but instead that we don’t know, but let’s guess while not ruining what the file has going for it. The assumption that Mailman wouldn’t play for an expansion team or that the MLB or union wouldn’t allow it, is a knee jerk one based on the player having a say and assuming the team will be bad. But that doesn’t apply to Wes Mailman he is exposed to the CBA and what it covers and protects. Will the union refuse to allow its players to play in a satellite league? Or will they be swayed by the red carpet to more jobs while their players maintain their wages and benefits? Will the owners hoard talent, or take advantage of the bailouts then subsequent deals NJ offered?

Not as easy to answer as one might assume in a knee jerk.

Add in, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White, and a host of others went to the USFL with a choice, same in the AFL, and the Federal League.

Not clear cut, we’re just trying to make good, but complete guesses here. And I’m hoping you keep in mind that all the avenues the DBacks and Rays took weren’t forgone conclusions or common knowledge. They were guessing too.
Eddie Paxil
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New Jersey Pioneers GM (2025-Present) Continental Expansion League Champions 2025 and 2026
Miami Marlins GM (2014-2024) NL East Champions 2016, 2019, & 2022

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Re: Questions on the Mailman trade and the Expansion Process

Post by anton29 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:52 pm

I wasn't part of the league at the time of the trade, so I don't know what the complaints were, but looking at the trade, it looks very fair. In fact, I would lean on the side that Minnesota got the better of the deal.

Five quality players for essentially one, is always a good deal in my opinion, especially when the team trading the one player is in a rebuild mode.

I was part of an OOTP league many years ago, where in my first season managing a rebuilding club, I traded my best pitcher, who was a 22 year old stud to another team for 7 prospects. There were complaints that I got robbed. After 5 years, I looked back at the pieces of the trade, and I had turned that one pitcher into 4 all star players.

Maybe I'm not understanding what the complaints were, but just looking at the trade itself, it is very fair.

Ron
Royals GM

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