Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 12/5/11

I spent most of last week dissing the new MLB CBA.  Needless to say, I think it’s a pretty crummy deal for the sport in general, and for small- and mid-market team in particular.  Read any of those links to get a better idea as to the “whys” of my disdain.

Today, though, I’m going to try to look at the positives.  I’m not doing this because I believe the deal is a good one.  I do not.  Rather, I’m trying hard not to be a pessimist during the cold, dark days of December.  So here we go.

First, the new CBA moves the signing deadline up by approximately one month.  This is all sorts of good for the sport.  Not only will teams get their players more quickly, but it might single-handedly contravene the growing irrelevance of short-season A ball.  Under the old system, draft picks—especially good ones—wouldn’t sign until the middle of August, right around the time that the short-season designed to cater to them was coming to an end.  Now though, draft picks will be signing by the middle of July, giving the short-season teams an influx of talent that has been sorely missing over the last few years.  It should be said that the entire point of the short-season concept was to give draft picks a place to play after they signed; the old system just kept them from actually, ya know, playing there.  As an aside, go see a Mahoning Valley game next year.  It’s fun.  I promise.  And it might make you think that you can play professional baseball.

Next, I suppose I’m in favor of expanding the use of instant replay, and the new CBA does this.  There have been far too many embarrassing missed calls in recent years, and the harsh spotlight of the playoffs must have been the last straw.  Why not get the calls right?  It won’t really make the games longer, since the managers are less likely to spend 10 minutes kicking dirt on a replay, so I’m all for this change.  (And don’t worry about robots taking over: replay will only be used on fair/foul plays and “trapped” catches.)

Also, if you care about these things, MLB is expanding its drug testing regimen to test for HGH.  I am more or less neutral on this issue, but Uncle Bud wanted it and he got it.  Let’s all sleep better at night now that those scary syringes can’t hurt us.

But really, the only positive I can draw from this that applies specifically to the Indians is more of a philosophical one.  As I discussed last week, there are so many new changes to the way that talent can move from team to team.  And while I think that in general the rules will negatively affect our ability to behave as we have done, it might open new loopholes that we can only begin to imagine right now.

For instance, what if the Indians determine that first round picks are, on average, worth 10 times as much as third round picks over the course of their careers, yet their recommended slot is only four times higher?  They can behave accordingly, and blow their wad in the first round.  What if the Indians find that Cuban talent is being particularly undervalued under the new system, since Cuban players won’t be eligible for any international draft?  They allocate resources there.

My point isn’t that there will be more undervalued resources than there used to be.  There will almost certainly be fewer.  Rather, I think that any change to a set of rules creates an opportunity to exploit those new rules before someone else does.  I know that I’m probably a bigger fanboy of the Tribe’s front office than most, but if you gave me a choice of executives whom I’d trust to figure out a new system and where its inefficiencies might lie, it would be this group.  And while it’s certainly true that our old tricks are probably less useful than they used to be, it might also be true that our new tricks could be more effective, at least for a short time, because they will be less orthodox.

There is no orthodoxy yet, and that in and of itself might be enough for our group to discover inefficiencies that others will almost certainly miss.

Or at least I hope so.  Otherwise, this could get ugly.

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