October 20, 2008 October 20, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
About The Salary Issue: I wrote an article back in 2006 — an article I hate to this day, by the way — about the supposed “salary cap” issue. I will post it here in its entirety, and you guys can take it away from there.
As it stands now, this is something I’ve written about extensively in the past and have absolutely zero interest in doing it again. However, if anyone is willing to suggest a new angle to it, I’d be open to checking into it again.
“You automatically assume there’s a $3,000 salary cap,” said Joe Klein, Executive Director of the Atlantic League, “which there’s not.”
This was the quote that got many fans of the league thinking: could the supposed $3,000 cap on player salaries be non-existent?
“(The eight teams) do their budgets together,” Klein said, “It’s hard to get them all in the same room, no less to agree on the same number.”
That sure doesn’t sound anything like a salary cap. But, as it turns out, the league chooses to use different terminology to describe salary numbers.
“We don’t use the words salary cap,” said league CEO Frank Boulton, “I don’t use that word in this league and I never have. We use the word guideline.”
So, now that the word has been changed to guideline, the question still remains: are players in the Atlantic League getting paid more than $3,000 a month?
“One of our goals in this league is to create parity,” Boulton said, “(and) with that guideline, no player is being paid more than $3,000. When a player signs an Atlantic League contract, that contract is signed in triplicate. One goes to the club, one goes to the league office, and one stays with the player.”
When asked if any of those contracts had ever featured a number over the “guideline” of $3,000 a month, Boulton said there was one notable exception.
“I think Jose Canseco made more than that,” he said, “but that was a stand alone situation. When that happened with Canseco, that was driven by a business decision and was it a good decision for the league.”
Canseco, who went on to badmouth the league after going straight to the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox after hitting .284 with 7 home runs and 27 RBI for the Newark Bears in 2001, reportedly had the remainder of his salary paid for by the other seven teams in the league, although that report has been denied vehemently in the past.
The Long Island Ducks, a team which Boulton is also the co-owner of, have been in negotiations with another former Major League All-Star, Juan Gonzalez, for nearly a month now. Would the signing of Gonzalez constitute another “stand alone situation” for the league?
“In the case of Gonzalez,” he said, “he’s made $89 million in his career. I certainly think he deserves $3,000 and maybe some more.”
Whether or not Gonzalez ends up getting more if he does sign remains to be seen, but Boulton doesn’t think that Gonzalez or anyone else would be turned off by a $3,000 guideline.
“I don’t think it’s a turn off,” he said. “For some players who are just playing for money, it probably is.”
For some general managers with tighter budgets, paying a player the league max isn’t even an option.
“I couldn’t, under my budget, pay $3,000 for a guy this year,” said longtime Atlantic League General Manager John Brandt, in his first year at the helm of the Newark Bears.
Brandt’s player budget is similar to that of other teams in the Atlantic League, with the number somewhere around the quarter-million dollar mark for a full season. With that working out to an average of roughly $1,800 a month per player, teams are forced to rely on some creativity to keep their teams competitive.
“Our braintrust,” said Ducks Assistant GM Mike Pfaff, “led by Buddy Harrelson and Frank Boulton, do an incredible job of meeting that challenge while making it look easy.”
Both Brandt and Pfaff noted that teams will take advantage of any deals they can for players, doing what they can to entice a player to join their respective teams.
“(The Ducks) will give two players per year use of cars that are in our possession,” said Pfaff, noting that the team will also reach out to the community to find host families that charge no rent to players.
When a player lives close to the Atlantic League team trying to sign him, players have been known to take a hometown discount in exchange for the convenience it provides.
“When I had Chris Widger in Camden,” said Brandt, the former Camden Riversharks GM, “he wasn’t making anywhere near $3,000.”
“I play baseball 35 minutes from my house,” Widger said at the time, “which is something I’ve never done before.”
If it’s money the players are after, trading bus rides, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and three grand a month for a $500,000 Major League contract like Widger did last year can’t be a bad incentive.
But if it’s truly about the game, then the 2005 World Series ring Widger earned with the White Sox is the only payoff they’ll ever need to see.
My opinion on the issue? And this is 2008 Ashmore talking, not crappy feature writing 2006 Ashmore…I absolutely, positively think that the players in this league should make more money.
However, I agree with what one poster said in that they know what they’re getting into when they sign their contracts. It’s not as though owners are giving the players less than they were promised…then there would be a story.
In regards to playoff bonuses, I’d have to look into how the last month’s paycheck is issued. If a player is making $3,000 a month, but that amount is prorated over a smaller amount of regular season playing time in September, then theoretically that player would be making additional money by playing in the postseason, because they can’t not pay the guy if he’s playing in the playoffs under that scenario.