EXTRA BAGGS: Cards will come packed, Pence done speaking, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Cards will come packed, Pence done speaking, etc.


ST. LOUIS Take this for what its worth:

The Cardinals instructed their players to arrive at BuschStadium for Game 5 on Friday with their bags packed in case the series shiftsback to San Francisco.

Two years ago, Giants manager Bruce Bochy did the oppositewhen the Giants needed a win in the final regular-season game to clinch the NLWest. A loss and the team wouldve been forced into a one-game playoff at SanDiego the following day.

Bochy told his players to bring themselves, and nothingelse.

It was a bold stroke bolder now, with time and perspective.

Oh, we wouldve been scrambling, Bochy has said, on morethan one occasion.

Make no mistake about it: The Giants are scrambling now.They must rattle off three consecutive victories to claim the NL pennant, andwhile they already accomplished the same Heartbreak Hill climb in Cincinnati,there is more lactic acid in their legs now. And generals on horseback can onlydeliver a war speech once.

Remember the Maine! Remember the Alamo! Remember GreatAmerican Ball Park!

(Actually, the Maine exploded and sank and everyone died atthe Alamo. Who comes up with these depressing rallying cries, again? Anyway, you get the premise.)

We believed we could do it in Cincinnati, Giantsleft-hander Jeremy Affeldt said. I dont see any reason why we shouldntbelieve now.

I dont expect those guys over there will think anything iswrapped up yet, and we wont let anything be wrapped up. We wont roll over.Thats not our nature. We showed that in Cincinnati. It can be dangerous toplay a team that has that type of mentality.

Until the first pitch Friday night, the only things theCardinals will wrap up are their shaving kits.

We're coming here packed," Cardinals third basemanDavid Freese said. "Hopefully, we can unpack."

The Giants will have to find a new motivational speaker.Hunter Pence is out of things to say.

Probably not, said Pence, asked if he planned anotherfiery oration before Game 5. Its ran its course. I didnt have the firstspeech prepared (before Game 3 in Cincinnati). It just happened.

Who knows who might speak? Who knows what happens when yourbacks against the wall?

I asked Buster Posey, the NL batting champion and likelyMVP: Would he take the floor?

I think we all know at this point what its going to take,Posey said.

Funny how baseball works. Amid all the hand wringing aboutgetting Posey pitches to hit, there was the underlying assumption that hedknow what to do with them.

But you look up and Posey is hitting .183 in the postseason,and aside from his grand slam off Mat Latos in Cincinnati, hes driven in justone run.

He was 0 for 4 with three fly outs against Adam Wainwright,who really did spin one of the better games youll see pitched this postseason.Wainwright even said his curveball might have broken better than it ever has,which is quite a statement.

I had a few pitches to hit, Posey told me.

Are these empty games beginning to take a mental toll onhim?

Well, personally, there have been some frustrating times,he said. But at this point, its all about winning. Weve still got life andthats the main thing.

What does manager Bruce Bochy make of Posey, who is 2 for 14with no runs, no RBIs and no extra-base hits in the NLCS?

Hes such a good hitter, and the bar is set so high withBuster, Bochy said. You go a game or two without a hit and the questions aregoing to be asked. But hes fine. Theyre making good pitches. Theyre beingcareful with him. We know it and he knows it.

When the playoffs began, I thought the Reds were the mosttalented team, top to bottom, in the National League. But the Cardinals are notlight on power arms in their bullpen, either. They have experience if notdominance in their rotation and their lineup just has a way of grinding down anopponent that the Reds did not.

"They do havesomething going, no getting around that, with what they did last year and thisyear, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

We have all the confidence in Barry (Zito) tomorrow. Wehave to get these bats going, though. Theyre shutting us down. It would benice, make life a little easier, to get some runs for our staff.

As third base coach Tim Flannery said in Cincinnati, theGiants needed something weird to happen, they needed a big pitchingperformance, they needed at least one game when the runs flowed and they neededto pull out at least one in the late innings to run the table. All of thosethings happened.

This time, it might be simpler: They need to bring thisseries home, where Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain offer authentic hope.

We worked hard to be here, Pence said. We played verywell to be here. Thats the way Ill continue to look at it. Zito has beentremendous for us. Weve got to find a way to get tomorrow, and if we can gohome with Vogelsong and Cain, were feeling pretty confident.

If the Cardinals clinch in Game 5, they can hang their haton this: Theyll break the Giants streak of 12 consecutive victories when Zitotakes the mound.

Of course, thats not so impressive when youve already beatenAtlanta and Kris Medlen in the wild card knockout game and the Braves had wona major league record 23 consecutive games with Medlen on the mound.

The Cardinals will come packed. The Giants had better pack alunch.

MLB, MLBPA announce new CBA details: No more 15-day disabled list

MLB, MLBPA announce new CBA details: No more 15-day disabled list

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) today jointly issued details of the tentative new five-year labor agreement that will allow play to continue uninterrupted through the 2021 season.  The parties agreed to the terms of the pact, which is subject to ratification by both sides, on Wednesday, November 30th, prior to the December 1st expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. 

The five-year agreement will match the previous two labor contracts as the longest in baseball history.  By the end of the new contract, Baseball will have gone 26 years without a strike or a lockout, which continues the sport’s longest period of labor peace since the inception of the collective bargaining relationship.  Baseball’s active streak without a work stoppage also marks the longest of its kind among the major North American professional sports.

Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: “I am pleased that we completed an agreement prior to the deadline that will keep the focus on the field during this exciting time for the game.  There are great opportunities ahead to continue our growth and build upon the popularity that resonated throughout the Postseason and one of the most memorable World Series ever.  This agreement aims to further improve the game’s healthy foundation and to promote competitive balance for all fans.”

Tony Clark, Executive Director of the MLBPA, said: “Every negotiation has its own challenges. The complexities of this agreement differ greatly from those in the past if for no other reason than how the industry has grown.  With that said, a fair and equitable deal is always the result you are working toward, and, once again, I believe we achieved that goal. I would like to thank our Players for their involvement, input and leadership throughout. Their desire to protect our history and defend and advance the rights and interests of their peers is something I am truly grateful for.”

Commissioner Manfred also said: “I thank Tony Clark, his colleagues and many Major League Players for their work throughout the collective bargaining process.  We appreciate their shared goals for the betterment of the sport.  I am grateful for the efforts of our Labor Policy Committee, led by Ron Fowler, as well as Dan Halem and our entire Labor Relations Department.”

Clark also said: “I would also like to recognize Commissioner Rob Manfred, Dan Halem, MLB and the Labor Policy Committee for their hard work over the last year plus, and for staying committed to the process.  In coming to an agreement, this deal allows both sides to focus on the future growth and development of the sport. There is a lot of work to be done and we look forward to doing it.”

A.       Five-year contract.
B.       Termination Date: December 1, 2021.

A.       Beginning in 2018, the regular season will be expanded to provide four additional off-days for players.  Players will continue to be credited with a full year of service for accruing 172 service days over 187 days, rather than 183.
B.       Additional restrictions on start times of games on getaway days so that players will arrive in their next city at an earlier time.
C.       Home-field advantage in the World Series will be awarded to the Club with the higher winning percentage in the Championship Season, rather than based on the outcome of the All-Star Game.
D.       The 15-day disabled list will be replaced with a 10-day disabled list. 

A.       All players on the Active Roster of the winning team shall share equally in a $640,000 bonus.
B.       The roster for the All Star Game shall be 32 players, with 20 position players and 12 pitchers.
C.       Following election of players by fans, the Commissioner’s Office will select seven players from the National League (4 pitchers) and five players from the American League (4 pitchers) to participate in the All-Star Game. Such selections will replace the selections awarded to the managers of the American and National League teams in the prior agreement.
D.       The Home Run Derby format will remain the same, but player prize money will be increased throughout the term. 

A.       Clubs will assume more responsibility for providing food and amenities to players in the home and visiting clubhouses.
B.       Agreement on a list of best practices for Clubs in maintaining clubhouses, including standards for meals, amenities, assistance for player families, etc. 
C.       All Clubs will establish a Player/Management Advisory Council that will work with a full-time chef and registered dietician to improve clubhouse nutrition.
D.       All Clubs must provide access, on a voluntary basis, to a sports psychologist. 
E.       MLB and the MLBPA will jointly retain a dietician to provide recommendations to players and Clubs on nutrition and dietary supplements. 

A.       The total net transfer value under the Revenue Sharing Plan, as a percentage of industry revenue, will remain the same, but the formula by which individual Club’s revenue sharing treatment is determined has been revised.
B.       The number of market disqualified Clubs will be reduced from 15 to 13, with Oakland phased-out over four years beginning in 2017.

A.       The Competitive Balance Tax Thresholds will be $195 million in 2017, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $208 million in 2020, and $210 million in 2021.
B.       The base Competitive Balance Tax rates will be 20% for first-time CBT Payors, 30% for second-time CBT Payors, and 50% for third- or more time Payors.
C.       Additional surtaxes will be applied per the schedule below:

                                                                                                          1st-Time Payor    2nd-Time Payor    3rd-Time+ Payor
Surtax on Payroll Between $20M and $40M Above Threshold            12%                          12%                        12%
Surtax on Payroll in Excess of $40M Above Threshold                       42.5%                        45%                        45%

D.       Beginning in 2018, Clubs with a payroll $40 million or more above the Tax Threshold shall have their highest selection in the next Rule 4 Draft moved back 10 places, except that the top six selections will be protected and those Clubs will have their 2nd highest selection moved back 10 places.  
E.       Changes to the CBT will fully take effect in 2018, and will be phased in for 2017. 

A.       Current players will continue to receive the maximum allowable pension benefit under IRS rules. 
B.       Clubs annual contribution for pension and medical benefits will increase to approximately $200 million per year. 
C.       Pension benefits for classes of retired players will be increased. 
D.       Disability benefits for players will be improved.
E.       Payments to retired players who were not vested in the Pension Plan will be continued during the term of the Agreement.
F.       Players’ medical and dental benefits will be improved in a variety of areas.
G.       Players will be guaranteed a minimum contribution to their individual retirement accounts based on service accrued. 

A.       Clubs may not tender a Qualifying Offer to a player who has previously received a Qualifying Offer. 
B.       The time period during which a player can accept a Qualifying Offer will be extended from 7 to 10 days. 
C.       Clubs signing a Free Agent subject to compensation will no longer forfeit a first round selection, but will be subject to the following:
1.       A non-market disqualified Revenue Sharing Payee Club shall forfeit its third highest remaining selection in the next Rule 4 Draft.
2.       A CBT Payor shall forfeit its second-highest and fifth-highest remaining selections in the next Rule 4 Draft and shall have its International Signing Bonus Pool (described below) reduced by $1,000,000 in the next full Signing Period.
3.       All other Clubs shall forfeit their second-highest remaining selection in the next Rule 4 Draft and shall have their International Signing Bonus Pool reduced by $500,000 in the next full Signing Bonus Period.  
4.       All forfeited International Signing Bonus Pool monies will be distributed equally among all other Clubs.  Competitive Balance Selections will be exempt from forfeiture. 
D.       A Former Club of a Free Agent subject to draft pick compensation will receive the following:
1.       A non-market disqualified Revenue Sharing Payee Club shall receive a selection immediately following the first round of the draft if the player signs a contract with a total guarantee of $50 million or more.
2.       A CBT Payor Club shall receive a draft selection immediately following the fourth round of the next Rule 4 Draft. 
3.       All other Former Clubs shall receive a selection immediately following the Competitive Balance Round B of the next Rule 4 Draft (which follows the second round). 

A.       The Major League minimum salary will increase from $507,500 in 2016 to: $535,000 in 2017; $545,000 in 2018; $555,000 in 2019; and be subject to a cost-of-living adjustment in 2020 and 2021. 
B.       The Minor League minimum salary will increase from $82,700 in 2016 to: $86,500 in 2017; $88,000 in 2018; $89,500 in 2019; and be subject to a cost-of-living adjustment in 2020 and 2021.  

A.       The parties agreed on an international play plan in which Clubs will stage games or tours in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and London over the next five years in order to grow the game.
B.       Players will receive additional compensation for participating in Club and League-sanctioned events, in amounts ranging from $15,000 to $100,000 per player depending on the location and schedule. 
C.       The parties agreed to allow the Commissioner to schedule regular season games at sites other than Major or Minor League stadiums in the United States and Canada, and players will receive additional compensation for participating in those events.

A.       Each Club will be allocated a Signing Bonus Pool as follows:
1.       Clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft will receive a Signing Bonus Pool of $5.25 million.  
2.       Clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft will receive a Signing Bonus Pool of $5.75 million.
3.       All other Clubs will receive a Signing Bonus Pool of $4.75 million.
4.       Clubs may not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools. 
5.       Pools will grow with industry revenue. 
6.       Clubs may acquire via trade up to 75% of their Signing Bonus Pools in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 signing periods, and 60% of their Signing Bonus Pools in subsequent signing periods.
7.       Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less will not count toward a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool. 
8.       Signing restrictions incurred during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods will carry over into the new agreement.
9.       The Commissioner may impose strict penalties on any Club that attempts to circumvent the system. 
10.     Foreign Professionals will continue to be exempt from the Pools. Foreign Professionals will be defined as players who are at least 25 years of age and who have played as a professional in a foreign league recognized by the Commissioner’s Office for a minimum of six seasons. 

A.       Signing bonus values associated with first round selections were adjusted to reduce the spread between slots.
B.       Competitive Balance Selections will be continue to be awarded to Clubs in bottom-10 markets or bottom-10 in local revenue based on a combination of winning percentage and local revenue.  The lottery format was eliminated in favor of a system in which the eligible Clubs will receive selections after the first round or after the second round in alternating years. 
C.       Procedure for Clubs to obtain MRIs from players on a voluntary basis prior to the draft.
D.       Improvements to the College Scholarship Plan, particularly for players living outside of the U.S.   

A.       Number of in-season random urine tests will increase from 3,200 to 4,800.
B.       Number of off-season random urine tests will increase from 350 to 1,550 in order to ensure that all 40-man roster players will be subject to at least one random off-season test. 
C.       The number of in-season random blood tests will be increased from 260 to 500 and the number of off-season random blood tests will be increased from 140 to 400. 
D.       The penalties and prohibitions for Stimulant violations will be increased to 50 games for a second time violation; 100 games for a third time violation, and up to a permanent suspension for a fourth time violation.
E.       Any player who violates the drug program will no longer receive Major League Service during his suspension, unless his suspension is reduced by 20 or more games under the mitigation provision of the Program.
F.       The Arbitration Panel will be provided more discretion to reduce penalties based on mitigating circumstances.  

A.       Use of tobacco products on the field will be banned in all ballparks where it is prohibited by local law or ordinance.  
B.       Any player who makes his Major League debut in 2017 or later will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco on the field in every ballpark. 

A.       Procedural changes to strengthen the Domestic Violence Policy and to expedite investigations conducted by the Commissioner’s Office.  
B.       The Commissioner’s Office will implement an Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy as a supplement to the Workplace Code of Conduct.  
C.       The parties agreed to require Clubs to retain a bilingual media relations professional throughout the term of the new agreement, and provide additional English Language learning opportunities, for Spanish-speaking players.

A.       The time period in which a Club may designate a player for assignment has been shortened from 10 days to 7 days.
B.       Clubs will be prohibited from recalling a player from option prior to the expiration of 10 days if the player’s Minor League season has concluded. 
C.       Clubs will no longer have to place players on optional assignment waivers prior to optioning them to the Minor Leagues. 
D.            Various improvements to the allowances that players receive, including moving allowances.

MLB, MLBPA media services

Pros and cons: Should Giants seriously pursue Andrew McCutchen?

Pros and cons: Should Giants seriously pursue Andrew McCutchen?

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants and Pirates nearly pulled off a trade in July when Bobby Evans sought a closer and zeroed in on Mark Melancon. Ultimately, Pirates GM Neil Huntington shipped Melancon to Washington D.C., but the two teams could be connected again as the winter meetings approach. 

Pittsburgh’s star outfielder, Andrew McCutchen, is reportedly available — very available. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Huntington and the Pirates are calling potential suitors, with the Nationals, Rangers and Mariners listed as teams that have discussed a McCutchen deal. 

At first glance, it’s remarkable that this point has even been reached. This is nearly the equivalent of the Giants putting Buster Posey on the market. McCutchen, drafted 11th overall in 2005, has spent the better part of a decade as the face of a franchise that has gone from the cellar to perennial contention. He’s a a five-time All-Star and won the National League’s MVP award in 2014.  

McCutchen has helped revitalize the Pirates, but they’re still the Pirates, and they’re still constrained by a strict budget. Pittsburgh has two outfield building blocks in Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, with prospect Austin Meadows on the way. They reportedly are set on moving McCutchen.

It’s not a question of if Evans will end up on the other end of one of those phone calls. The Giants always do their due diligence, and they could use help in the outfield. The question is should the Giants seriously pursue McCutchen, and if they do, can they actually get him? Here are the pros and cons … 

Pro: I mean, he’s Andrew McCutchen. Even with a “down year” in 2016, he leads all NL players in WAR (28.6 per FanGraphs) over the past five seasons. He’s a .292 career hitter with a .381 on-base percentage and six consecutive 20-homer seasons. McCutchen’s OPS dropped more than 100 points last season, but he still hit 24 homers, seven more than any Giant. In theory, McCutchen would add a very dangerous right-handed bat to a team that’s ready to win now. 

Con: Is he still THAT version of Andrew McCutchen? The drop off in 2016 was steep in certain respects. McCutchen’s .336 OBP was a career-low by nearly 30 points. His slugging percentage has dipped more than 100 points over the past two seasons. He stole just six bases in 13 attempts. Most concerning: McCutchen’s fielding metrics fell off a cliff. The former Gold Glove winner was worth negative 28 defensive runs saved per FanGraphs. By comparison, Angel Pagan posted a negative 20 in 2015 and got moved to left. The Giants could acquire McCutchen to play left, but it’s unclear how he would react to switching positions given that every defensive inning of his career has been spent in center. Was 2016 a fluke or the beginning of a slide? 

Pro: Let’s say he is amendable to moving … McCutchen would balance a lineup that leans to the left, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be an above average defender in left field. He has one guaranteed year left on his deal at a very affordable $14 million, with a $14.5 million club option for 2018. The front office could basically sit back for two years, as every starting position player but Eduardo Nunez would be under team control through the 2018 season. 

Con: The fit is an imperfect one in a number of ways. Let’s start with what it would take to actually get McCutchen. The Giants didn't offer enough to get Melancon, and a McCutchen deal would surely center around top prospects Christian Arroyo or Tyler Beede, plus other players. Joe Panik’s name might come up, too. The Pirates are reportedly asking the Nationals for minor league outfielder Victor Robles, who is a better prospect than any player the Giants have. So any potential deal would clean out a system that’s thin after trades for Nunez, Will Smith and Matt Moore. 

The financial cost is not insignificant. The Giants don’t have that much wiggle room in their budget, and a new closer will be expensive. Add a $14 million hitter and you’re looking at about $45 million for an outfield made up of three players on the wrong side of 30. For months, the Giants have signaled that they’re more comfortable giving the open playing time to young players like Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, who would be hopelessly blocked by a trade for McCutchen. 

Conclusion: If a trade does happen, it will be a crushing blow to Pirates fans. To save some face, the organization will need to get an elite player or two in return, and as always in these situations, other teams have much more to offer than the Giants. Robles, for instance, was the No. 33 prospect in the minors last season, per Baseball America. 

Even if the Giants are interested, they won’t win a bidding war. But they don’t have to. The focus has been on fixing the ninth inning, not left field, and the guess here is that it remains that way.