December 26, 2008

2009 NFL Draft Order after Week 16

If the season ended today, and the playoffs went according to seeding, this would be the 2009 NFL Draft Order:

1) Detroit (0-15)
2-3) Kansas City/St. Louis (2-13)
4) Cincinnati (3-11-1)
5) Seattle (4-11)
6) Oakland (4-11)
7) Cleveland (4-11)
8) Green Bay (5-10)
9) Jacksonville (5-10)
10) San Francisco (6-9)
11) Buffalo (7-8)
12) Houston (7-8)
13) San Diego (7-8)
14) Washington (8-7)
15) New Orleans (8-7)
16) Denver (8-7)
17) Arizona (8-7)
18) Philadelphia (8-6-1)
19) New York Jets (9-6)
20) Chicago (9-6)
21) Dallas (9-6) (traded to Detroit in Roy Williams deal)
22) Tampa Bay (9-6)
23) Minnesota (9-6)
24) New England (10-5)
25) Atlanta (10-5)
26) Baltimore (10-5)
27) Miami (10-5)
28) Indianapolis (11-4)
29) Carolina (11-4) (traded to Philadelphia)
30) Pittsburgh (11-4)
31) Super Bowl Loser (New York Giants or Tennessee)
32) Super Bowl Champion (New York Giants or Tennessee)

The playoffs teams as of today are Arizona (8-7), Denver (8-7), Minnesota (9-6), Tampa Bay (9-6), Atlanta (10-5), Baltimore (10-5), Miami (10-5), Carolina (11-4), Indy (11-4), Pittsburgh (11-4), New York Giants (12-3) and Tennessee (13-2). This draft ordering assumes the playoffs go according to seed (3 over 6, 4 over 5, 2 over 3, 1 over 4, 1 over 2).

The draft tiebreakers are as follows:

1) Worst record picks first, and teams are ranked by record, worst to best. A non-playoff team takes priority over playoff teams with the same record. Playoff teams with the same regular season record are prioritized by the round in which they exit the playoffs.

2) Ties are broken first with strength of schedule (total number of wins by 16 opponents, or average winning percentage of all 16 opponents, the result is the same)

3) If teams are same division, divisional playoff tiebreakers

4) If teams are same conference, but not same division, conference playoff tiebreakers

5) Coin Flip

Kansas City and St. Louis have the same strength of schedule (opponents have 128.5 wins). Since they are in different conferences, if they remain tied after Week 17 a coin flip would decide the draft order.

Seattle, Oakland and Cleveland are all 4-11, but Seattle's SOS is 119.5, Oakland's is 125, and Cleveland's is 137.5.

Green Bay's SOS is 123 to Jax's 128.5.

Washington's SOS is 115.5 and New Orleans' is 118. Denver and Arizona are both currently playoff teams, so they lose ties to WAS and NO. Denver's SOS is 109 to Arizona's 117.5.

The Jets, Bears and Cowboys all have nine wins, but the SOSs are 111.5, 112.5 and 119.5 respectively. Tampa Bay and Minnesota are playoff teams, so they pick after the other three nine-win teams. Tampa is a wild card currently, and thus exits the playoffs earlier than Minnesota, so they win the tiebreaker that way. They also would win it on SOS.

Among the 10-win teams, New England picks first by virtue of not being in the playoffs. Miami, as a division winner, is projected to win their first round game, so it loses tiebreakers to Baltimore and Atlanta. Atlanta picks ahead of Baltimore by virtue of SOS, 110.5 to 124.5.

Among the 11-win teams, Indianapolis is projected to lose first, based on seeding, so they pick first. Carolina picks ahead of Pittsburgh as they have an SOS of 118 to Pitt's 125.5.

The Titans cannot pick better than 29th.

December 25, 2008

MLB Luxury Tax: A Modest Proposal

Fear not English majors and Swift fans, this Modest Proposal leaves most infants intact.

People are outraged at the Yankees' spending spree this offseason. They're probably more outraged that the luxury tax tab to the Yankmes falls in the mid-$20Ms. If they thought about how many times we heard about the Pirates, Royals, Twins, Mariners, Rays, etc., etc., this offseason, they'd probably be more upset.

Here is my luxury tax proposal.

On April 1st, rank the teams from 1 to 30 in terms of overall payroll. Draw a benchmark between the 15th and 16th highest spending teams. Each team above the mark has to pay half the percentage they are over the line in millions of dollars to an MLB-controlled escrow fund (rounded to the nearest $100K). In other words, if the median team salary is $100M, a team with salary totalling $200M would be $100M over the line, or twice the median salary, so 100%. Such a team would owe the kitty 100% divided by two, or $50M. A team with a salary of $105M would owe $2.5M. Most likely, 20 teams would fall within 10% of the line either way.

At the end of the season, the money held in escrow by MLB is distributed, sort of. First, the pension is fully funded, including coverage for degenerative conditions likely caused by steroid abuse. Of the remainder, each team's overall MLB finish is averaged with their payroll spending, and the remaining money is allocated such that a stair-step amount is "distributed" to each team. So if the lowest-spending team finishes with the worst record, they "get" the largest share of the kitty.

Why are "distributed" and "get" in quotation marks? Because we're not rewarding owners for being cheap and teams for being crappy. The money is only earmarked in descending quantities for the teams 30 through 16 to spend on free agent players in the next calendar year. If the team is unwilling to sign a player using their share of the kitty, or is unable to attract a player for a deal that would make the kitty usable, the unused money is split 50-50 between the MLB and MLBPA for use in general funds. The concept is that MLB could use the war chest as leverage, or to buy a failing franchise, and the MLBPA could use the money as work stoppage payments and additional pension funding.

[UPDATE BASED ON FEEDBACK: I would have no problem with the kitty being usable for any enterprise that is intended to directly improve the team, such as coaching, scouting, facilities improvements, etc., and not just for use to purchase free agents. Many people have suggested it, and I guess I was just focused on the free agency issue since it's in our face. No doubt the Yankees and other big market teams have the best of everything. Of course, the tax will only be based on their payroll, though.]

Feel free to criticize away. I've only been bouncing this plan in my head since Teixeira signed with the Yankees.

Let's put 2008 into practice, using's numbers:

The midpoint salary, as I've defined it as halfway between the 15th and 16th biggest payrolls, is $80.0M. The "tax", as I've described it, in 2008, would have been:

Yankees - $80.5M
Tigers - $36.7M
Mets - $36.5M
Red Sox - $33.4M
White Sox - $25.8M
Angels - $24.5M
Cubs - $24.2M
Dodgers - $24.1M
Mariners - $23.8M
Braves - $14.0M
Cardinals - $12.9M
Blue Jays - $11.6M
Phillies - $11.5M
Astros - $5.5M
Brewers - $0.1M

TOTAL: $365.1M

Now, you don't think I have the time or insomnia to rank the remaining 15 teams to see what "share" they'd get, do you? Ah, but I do.

The first number is the number of "shares" the team would receive based on the second number, their ranking. The ranking is determined by the third number, the average of the team's payroll rank (16 to 30) and their winning percentage (1 to 30). So the Nats were last in winning percentage and 28th in payroll. Their ranking figure is 29, worst in MLB. They get the most shares.

1 - 16) Rays = 16
2 - 17) Indians = 19
3 - 18) Twins = 19.5
5.5 - 19) Giants = 21.5
5.5 - 19) Reds = 21.5
5.5 - 19) Rangers = 21.5
5.5 - 19) DBacks = 21.5
8 - 23) Rockies = 22.5
9 - 24) Royals = 23.5
10 - 25) Padres = 24.5
11.5 - 26) Orioles = 25
11.5 - 26) Marlins = 25
13 - 28) Athletics = 26
14 - 29) Pirates = 28
15 - 30) Nationals = 29

1+2+3+....+15 = 120. We take the $365.1M kitty and divide it by 120, the total number of shares. The 16th team in my rankings gets 1/120th of the kitty, one share, - $3.04M. The worst team, the Nats, get 15/120ths, or 15 shares x $3.04M, or $45.6M. See how the $365.1M of the rich teams is distributed to the poor ones, without handing competitiveness to the crappy organizations? I think this could work.

Of course, that means up to $365.1M, or about $12M/team, would have been infused into the 2009 payrolls. This would seem to elevate the salaries (at the expense of the big spenders) and thus fail to achieve what the system is partly designed to do - keep salaries down. What I think would actually happen is that the big spending teams would balk at writing 8-figure checks to the miserly owners, and the top salaries would actually come down. At the same time, the bottom feeders could field more competitive teams and they might be more willing/able to spend more in the future. I think a price point would be reached, probably around $80M to $100M, that would almost act like a de facto salary cap.

Does Teixeira sign with the Nats or Orioles if they have an extra $35M to $45.6M to throw around (for 2009 only)? Perhaps. At least it's a shot.

December 23, 2008

Teixeira to Yankees

If the Red Sox really offered eight years and $184M, and the Yankees really got him for eight years and $180M, Boras lost his client $4M by pretending to have huge offers in his pocket when he met with John Henry in Texas. Once again, Boras has played the Red Sox off the Yankees and apparently has talked his client into taking a deal just to spite Boston.

If Teixeira really grew up an Orioles fan, I can't see how he could sign with the Yankees over the Red Sox if the money is the same. I know I feel both teams are equal in terms of evil and their destructive influence on baseball, but I still have a little more revulsion saved up for the pinstripes.

December 22, 2008

Mark Teixeira - Okay, So Boras Was Lying

Now that the Angels have emphatically stated that they are no longer interested in Mark Teixeira, our candidates for who is the big liar have dwindled to just one, really - Scott Boras. The Orioles and Nats almost certainly have not raised their initial offers since the three big money players, the Angels, Red Sox, and Yankees, have all displayed differing levels of public indifference. Boras can no longer pretend that a big offer is floating out there from the Angels, and unless the Yankees make a push or an unknown team suddenly jumps in, the Sox can have him for their initial offer.

The problem is that Boras cannot let him go there for the initial offer. He cannot let John Henry publicly call his bluff and get away with it. In times of trouble with the Sox, Boras typically turns to the Yankees to bail him out. I suspect that is the pot he'll be stirring now.

In my initial post, I said Boras would have to either sign or float a cover story by today. That was before the Angels emphatically eroded his leverage. Now the only correct play is to cool the whole thing off til after the holidays, so that it won't look as bad if Teix does sign with the Red Sox in the $180M zone.

December 21, 2008

Ravens 33, Cowboys 24

I can't decide if I'm taking more pleasure from the fact that the Ravens won pretty convincingly on a night when the Cowboys had everything to lose and all the intangibles or from the fact that I know Redskins fans couldn't even take a lot of pleasure in the Cowboys loss because it just reminded them that they can never humiliate America's Team like that, no matter how badly they want it.

DAL @ BAL in 2000 - Ravens win 25-0
DAL @ BAL in 2004 - Ravens win 30-10
BAL @ DAL in 2008 - Ravens win 33-24