This past weekend while all of the Washington D.C. area was celebrating the magnificent accomplishments of Bryce Harper and Paul Pierce, I travelled to Milwaukee to attend the Baseball Prospectus event at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Before the event even started, Saturday afternoon I was fortunate enough to meet up with Baseball Prospectus members Jordan Gorosh and Nick Faleris. Jordan and I recorded a new episode of THE NatsGM Show, outside of a bar no less, in which we discussed scouting, Kris Bryant, and a few prospects. Look for this interview in the next few days on the site.
Following that interview Nick and I met up for an adult beverage and to discuss this year’s MLB Draft class, which has received mixed reviews from critiques about the overall level of talent available. Nick has promised to come on the Podcast before the June draft to analyze and discuss the top prospects available this year.
After this, I made my way over to Miller Park in time for the start of the BP Milwaukee event. The session began with a Question-and-Answer session hosted by Milwaukee front office member Matt Kleine, who specializes in contracts and arbitration cases. While Matt had to be careful with how much he could say, for obvious reasons, he immediately grabbed my attention when he said “arbitration is about paying for past production, not what they will achieve in the future”. Another intriguing thing he mentioned was about how an arbitration case goes – in my mind I thought it was 2-3 lawyers, the player and the arbitrator in a small conference room. However, this is not the case, as Mike stated that there are often 50 or more people in the room when an arbitration case is heard, including representatives from other major league teams.
One final point that caught my attention was when someone from the audience asked why it feels like the player and team fight over a relatively small amount of money in the general scheme of the overall payroll. Mike made a great point that arbitration is a consistent comparison of players, and each time you “give in” and pay the player more, you have now reset the entire pay scale throughout baseball. So it may not be the difference of $50,000, it is establishing a precedent for players in the future.
Next about 12 members from Baseball Prospectus formed a panel and held a casual Question-and-Answer session with the audience. Surprisingly, many of the questions focused on the Chicago Cubs, their prospects and their options this forthcoming offseason, no doubt because Cubs expert Sahadev Sharma was in attendance. In addition it was nice to hear from many of the new owners of the site, who all came across as very smart business men and passionate baseball fans. Finally, I was able to crowbar one question to the panel, asking them which players could make a monster jump up prospect rankings this year. Interestingly the names that were mentioned by the prospect team were Cubs Dan Vogelbach, Yankees Jorge Mateo, Boston’s Rafael Devers and Nationals prospect Wilmer Difo.
After this 30-45 minute discussion, we then made our way into the stadium where we were treated to watching the game from the ATI club, which is directly behind the right field fence. Although the game was rather uncompetitive, a 12-4 victory for the Brewers, we were treated to Kris Bryant’s 1st major league home run and David Ross’ first pitching appearance in the major leagues.
In conclusion I want to publicly thank Baseball Prospectus for putting together such a terrific and unique experience in conjunction with the Milwaukee Brewers. I hope the new owners continue to have more events similar to this one, (DC would be a great spot) and I look forward to attending more get-togethers in the future. So long from Milwaukee!