Hardy and Service Time

Yesterday, in an effort to shake things up with their big league roster, the Brewers designated Bill Hall for assignment, fired their pitching coach, and shipped starting shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A. The first two are easily justifiable. The last one is not.

Hardy is certainly not having a season that lives up to his expectations. His .229 batting average is 30 points lower than his career average, and his power is off as well. The .294 wOBA he has at the moment is the worst of his five year career. It hasn’t been a good season for Hardy in any way, shape, or form.

However, he’s still one of the five or six best shortstops on the planet. His defense is as good as ever (+8.7 UZR) as he continues to be one of the top glove-men at the position in the game. Overall, in a miserable season for Hardy, he’s still been worth +1.5 wins in about 70% of a season. As bad as he’s been compared to his previous levels, he’s been a league average player overall this year.

So why did the Brewers send him down? Yes, Alcides Escobar is a nifty prospect and they understandably wanted to get a look at him, but September call-ups are a couple of weeks away, so it’s hard to imagine Milwaukee would have done this to Hardy to get an extra two weeks look at Escobar in the big leagues. But, there is another explanation, even though Doug Melvin denies it was a factor.

Service time. If Hardy would have remained in the majors through the end of the year, he’d have had five full seasons of service time, gotten a raise in arbitration, and been eligible for free agency after 2010. If he stays in the minors for three weeks, he will fall just short of a full year of service in 2009, which would make him a 4+ year arbitration guy again this winter and delay his free agency until after the 2011 season.

The Brewers are going to trade Hardy this winter – that is basically inevitable. He’ll have significantly more value as a trade chip if the acquiring team gets him for two years instead of one. Would the Brewers really make a move like this in order to bolster Hardy’s trade value over the off-season?

I hope not. As we’ve talked about with regards to Matt Wieters earlier this season, I hate this practice of service time manipulation. JJ Hardy has earned the right to be a free agent after 2010 – for the Brewers to game the system at this point in his career in order to push back his ability to earn a fair market contract would be a travesty of ethics. I know they’re legally allowed to do so, but that doesn’t make it right.

If the Brewers organization has any sense of right and wrong, Hardy better be back in the majors soon enough to earn his full year of service for 2009. If he’s not, the union should file the grievance to end all grievances, and I’ll be completely on the union’s side. Hardy is a high quality major league player who has earned a major league job and a major league payday, and regardless of Alcides Escobar‘s presence, he belongs on the Brewers roster.

Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that he’s back in the big leagues post haste, or this could get really, really ugly.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

84 Responses to “Hardy and Service Time”

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  1. Harvey says:

    David:

    Hardy has not responded well to club leadership openly discussing team options with respect to Escobar. Word has it he has been unhappy since Spring Training. If you look at his season he started poorly, perked up in May and then tanked again as soon as the trade rumors surfaced again in June. And then stayed there.

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  2. Gary Busey's Face says:

    “A travesty of ethics”

    In what way? I understand you dont like it, I understand it shortchanges Hardy out of year’s worth of free agent dollars, but under what rubric of rights and obligations are the Brewers erring? He’s their asset, and they’re attempting to maximize the benefit while keeping their costs as low as possible. What system of ethics obligates them to speed him towards free agency as fast as possible?

    This isn’t rhetorical; there may be some right/duty claim that I don’t see.

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    • CMC_Stags says:

      “their asset”

      He’s a person. If your employeer had you under contract for 6 years at a reduced rate, then decided that you would be worth more to them if they put you on a involuntary leave of absense to get a 7th year, wouldn’t you be upset?

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      • Jeff Nusser says:

        It isn’t about Hardy being upset. It’s about what the Brewers are within their rights to do. Obviously, they’ve completely severed any relationship they had left with Hardy. But that’s not what this conversation is about.

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      • Gary Busey's Face says:

        Yeah, I agree w/ what Jeff says below. Besides, the ethical question of what they are doing doesn’t hinge on Hardy’s emotional reaction to their actions.

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      • rrrii says:

        Yes, he is a person. But people are assets in the business world. Companies (some anyway) have even renamed the “Human Resources” group to “Human Capital Management”. It sucks, but it is reality. As the world keeps moving more towards a knowledge and service economy (thanks to things like the interweb) physical assets (like manufacturing plants) become less important and hiring smart human beings becomes more important. What does this have to do with baseball? Well, nothing and something. In baseball, the assets are the players.

        And the service time example happens all the time in the business world. To get promoted I need to manage a certain amount of $$ for my company. To do that I need to be assigned to one of our biggest accounts and stay there for at least a year, and do my job well. There are lots of other qualified people bucking to be assigned to that account. I got a taste of it this year, but was then assigned to another area of the business that needed some help. So my promotion will need to wait until I am reassigned to the big account. These things happen.

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  3. SP says:

    Dave, I couldn’t agree more about the service time manipulation. The system is so backwards as it is. Basically, great players play their prime years for slave wages (relatively) and then they become FA after 6 years, running from the end of their prime years through their twilight years. This system doesn’t help anyone. The NBA has it right with their rookie scale and team options–it gives the player guaranteed money and years, and the team has the option of ending the contract after 2 years or having exclusive rights to extend the player. There must be a way to apply that same system to baseball while still accounting for the uncertainty of draft picks panning out.

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    • BillG says:

      The system helps exactly who it is supposed to help. It helps small market teams remain competitive. I agree that the system is unfair, but without a salary cap or greater profit sharing, it is necessary. I agree that the NBA system makes a lot more sense.

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      • Jean Van de Velde says:

        Bill is exactly right. Sp, you take away a team’s right to a player’s first 6 years of service time and you will have all 8 playoff spots occupied by big market teams. JJ Hardy didn’t want to get sent to the minors? Maybe he shouldn’t have put up a 667 OPS in middle of a division race.

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  4. Evan says:

    I’ve been over this with Dave before, and I completely disagree with him. This service-time thing is collectively bargained, and as such falls outside therealm of ethics. There is an explicit agreement governing how Hardy accrues service time, and that supercedes any and all unwritten rules of behaviour.

    The incentive to keep Hardy is the minors is already balanced against the desire of the Brewers to compete. If the Brewers don’t particularly need his services right now, down he goes. That’s the deal.

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    • kris says:

      Evan, I tend to disagree with you, but it’s obviously a debatable point. While the labour union has collectively bargained such rights, that by no means makes those rights ethical, especially when you consider that the rights we’re discussing have in no way been negotiated by the players they effect.

      If by entering into the union, you explicitly agree to their contract, and thus ethical questions are dismissed, then you are correct: this is not an ethical question. My question is whether or not young players have a “real” choice.

      As I’ve made it clear in many of my union rants, I’m anti-union. Unions always find a way to dismiss the rights of those yet to enter the workforce in order to favour the current members.

      If the players that care very little about service time and arbitration are negotiating the contract, then obviously the young kids will get screwed.

      I understand your point, it’s impossible to be unethical if the ethics/rules are collectively bargained — but to me, it raises the more important point: Are collectively bargained rights ethical?

      I’d probably say no.

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    • Jeff Nusser says:

      I truly don’t see this as some sort of egregious breech of ethics. It’s collectively bargained, and therefore within the rules. End of story. Both sides have used their collectively bargained rights to benefit themselves over and over again, and on the whole, both sides benefit handsomely from the system. There are plenty of examples of guys getting more than they deserve, and guys getting less than they deserve, but overall, everyone makes a lot of money.

      If they don’t want this to happen in the future, they need to collectively bargain the loophole closed.

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  5. David A says:

    I don’t have a problem with what the Brewers are doing per se, but I have a big problem with the way the whole salary system in baseball is set up to begin with. Players are significantly underpaid until they reach free agency. Significantly. Presumably, the pendulum begins to swing the other way once they reach that point, but what about those who don’t? Or what about all these older guys who are now suddenly unable to get a contract? (Forced into early retirement, in essence.) It’s a bad system.

    You see this in other occupations too, but not to the degree that you see it in professional sports. And baseball in particular. That’s why I have no problem with the high draft picks demanding the kinds of signing bonuses that they do. To be honest, they’re probably not high enough.

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  6. DMZ is obnoxious says:

    Dave,

    Once again, high quality post. I’m amazed how much I learn through your (and the rest of fangraphs bloggers’) posts. Nice attention to detail.

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  7. Alex says:

    Conspiracy theorists are dead wrong on this one. At this point, it seems that Hardy is going to be more overpaid in arbitration than he would be as a free agent in 2011. “cost-controlled” isn’t always a good thing.

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    • Jordan B says:

      You’re telling me Hardy’s going to cost more than $6.8M in arbitration this year? Because that’s what he has been worth this year, and it’s only August. He was also worth over $40M in 07 and 08 combined.
      As for the post Dave, I kind of agree it would be a dick move by the Brewers. However, if Hardy can’t hit well enough in AAA (say he bats around .250), the Union will have very little grounds for a grievance, as the Brewers could claim he simply did not belong on their roster.

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      • Alex says:

        2011.

        He’s on track to make $7 or $8M in arbitration for 2011 and that does not help his trade value. There will be equal or better deals on the open market. This isn’t terribly advantageous from the Brewers perspective. I’m sure they would prefer him to be hitting a little and remain on the 40 man roster.

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      • Mike I says:

        There’s going to be “equal or better deals on the open market” at SS (or anywhere, really) this offseason? Uh, no there aren’t. $7 or $8 million for an at-worst league average and more than likely, a 4 WAR player is a very, very good deal. If not for the Brewers, then for another team at least.

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      • Alex says:

        Mike I,
        If Hardy was a free agent this October, do you think he would do better than 2 years/ $13m-$15m? Forget about converting WAR to fair money – I’m talking about real market conditions here.

        Keep in mind that there are many teams out there claiming to be cutting payroll this winter. This is a risky move by the Brewers in terms of maximizing their return for Hardy. Not at all like what Dave is describing from his soapbox.

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      • Mike I says:

        Alex, I do think he would get more than 2 years/$13m-$15m. Not megabucks, but appreciably more (I think that some GM’s are wise enough to realize they’re looking at a young player who just last year was near-elite, and likely hasn’t taken a significant hit to his true talent level). Your point that he would likely be undervalued on the open market is quite valid, however.

        There’s just enough teams out there that are desperate for shortstop help (and this year’s SS free-agent crop is mediocre), that the $15 million he might get in the next 2 years will be viewed as a good value. The player and the situation is somewhat comparable to Freddy Sanchez with the Pirates. San Francisco gave up a decent haul to pay a player of similar worth $6 million this year with an $8 million club option next year. And Hardy’s a little better and younger than Sanchez.

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  8. Brian says:

    If Hardy comes back in September with the rest of the call-ups, does he get his full year?

    If so, it would seem easy to tell if the Brewers are actually guilty of any chicanery. There would seem to be little justification for keeping him in AAA once rosters expand.

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  9. I think you are missing an important part of this equation: the rest of the team. If Escobar, McGehee, Counsell and Lopez are all better than Hardy right now, what is the point of carrying a 5th infielder who will only play SS? McGehee is the only one below Hardy and he will play wherever they ask him to.

    Hardy: 1.5 Wins
    Counsell: 2.4
    McGehee: 1.2
    Lopez: 2.4

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    • rizzo says:

      I think a point could be made that it’s pretty unlikely that Escobar is as good as Hardy right now. Little power, low walks, .700 OPS vs RHP in AAA. Strikes me as a guy that’s going to get the bat knocked out of his hands a lot.

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    • CMC_Stags says:

      I think you’re missing an important part of the equation – Hardy is likely to be better at SS than the rest of those guys for the rest of the season.

      Lopez – is well before average defensively at SS and his BABIP is 31 points over his career average
      McGehee – not a SS
      Counsell – his BABIP is 34 points over his career average

      Hardy is projected to have a higher wOBA than any of theose players over the Rest of the Season. He’s also a better SS defensively than any of those players.

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      • CMC_Stags says:

        Lopez – is well *below* average

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      • Lopez and McGehee won’t play SS, only reason I brought them up is because they are flexible and JJ is not. He will only play SS and has said this many times. If the team thinks that Escobar is the better everyday shortstop right now, why should they carry a backup who will only play that one position? It’s just bad rosterbation.

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      • rizzo says:

        You have to admit the timing is odd, if they think Escobar is better right now then why not call him up while you still have a chance to make the playoffs?

        If you’ve thrown in the towel on the season why did you claim a so-so 40 year old reliever less than 48 hours before? Weathers certainly isn’t a part of the future. Sure the PTBNL going to the Reds is likely some 26 year old middle reliever in A ball, but still what’s the point.

        It gives the impression that the organization is making moves just for the sake of making moves. What’s the direction?

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      • I think the team believes they ARE still in it. 7 games back with an easy rest of the month and 9 games remaining with the Cardinals. Shorten that to four or five games back and they have a chance albeit a small one.

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  10. Doug Melvin says:

    “If the Brewers organization has any sense of right and wrong, Hardy better be back in the majors soon enough to earn his full year of service for 2009. If he’s not, the union should file the grievance to end all grievances, and I’ll be completely on the union’s side.”

    Well, I was going to keep him down in the minors the rest of the year, but knowing that you’re completely on the union’s side changes things.

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    • Doug Melvin says:

      Is Hardy still a league average player when he’s hitting like, I don’t know, Khalil Greene? Yes, he is. In fact, he’s a valuable player when doing so. But what he isn’t is a player performing to his full capabilities.

      The argument that he shouldn’t be sent down because he’s still better than most of the other players at his position is absurd. Say I have a 70″ flat panel television in my living room. The colors are great, the black levels are deep, and the native resolution is 1920×1080. It’s just an awesome set. But one day, it stops displaying images in HD: 480p is the highest resolution the set will display. I’m still getting the colors and the black levels, but the clarity is significantly reduced. But, hey, I still have one of the five or six best television sets on my block, why should I bother calling a repair man?

      J.J. has had some bad luck this year. But his struggles aren’t wholly luck-based and sending him down so he can do the following…

      a) make use of the three day reporting period to get some rest that he has openly desired
      b) work on the issues that are currently holding him back

      …all while taking an, at worst, negligible hit to the performance of the Major League club?

      This is anything but service time manipulation. Reign back your faux-outrage and ego–seriously, your statement you’ll be on the union’s side is the highest of comedy–and get off your pulpit.

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  11. Kid A says:

    He’d have to stay down into September to lose his full year. He’d have to be down for more than 21 days, the demotion is only going to be 18 days if he’s up Sept 1.

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    • Theron says:

      You have to be down for 20 days to lose the service time. The actual language is “less than 20 days.” You count the day of the option as one day, so 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31 is twenty days. He can be called up when rosters expand and lose his 20 days’ service. Actually, he would lose only 9 days as a service year is 11 days shorter than the season this year, but that doesn’t materially change things.

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  12. philkid3 says:

    Hardy makes too much money for me to care.

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    • Rob says:

      Hardy doesn’t make that much. He’s making all of $4.65m this year. His salary is low due to his missed 2nd year,

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      • Since when is 4 million not that much? Less than 7% of Americans have a net worth of a million dollars. Why should fans of small market teams choose the players personal wealth (that is many times most every fans), even in a morally gray situation such as this over the team’s success? 4mil x 25 is 100m, not a sustainable payroll for Milwaukee.

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  13. Alec says:

    Dave, I don’t see the Brewers’ move as negatively as you do, but even so – I’m interested to know more about the other side of this coin: How does their complementary move (calling up Escobar) affect his service time and future free agency timeline?

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  14. Colin says:

    How is this any different from a team waiting until a couple months into the season to call up a top prospect for the first time? And if I understand correctly, wouldn’t Hardy be better off than those players, since he gets an extra year of arbitration money instead of an extra year at league minimum?

    Every team does this, just in a different order. Sure, it sucks for Hardy, but maybe he should have thought of that before he went out and hit .229/.300/.367 this season. If he was anywhere near his career averages, he wouldn’t have this problem. The Brewers are following the rules, and they’re not obligated to keep a struggling player with options on the active roster.

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  15. joser says:

    Are the Jays doing essentially the same thing with Travis Snider? When the let Rios go they called up Randy Ruiz, who isn’t exactly a positional replacement. Granted, that’s gone rather well (2 HRs in two days, albeit one was to the RF foulpoll in NYS, perhaps the cheapest HR location now possible in the majors) but Snider has almost identical offensive numbers in LV and would be a defensive upgrade over Inglett. So the consensus conspiracy theory among teh Intratubes bloggie-thingies that follow the Jays implicates Snider’s impending shot at Super Two status.

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  16. I see your point but I think it’s a travesty when players get paid millions of dollars and they don’t produce and the team ends up eating their contract because of a lack of performance.

    Hardy’s situation, to me, is minor compared to all the money poor performing players have sucked out of teams over the years.

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    • BIP says:

      Many of those horrible contracts are abject failures of talent evaluation, though. It’s the crappy GM’s who suck the money out of teams.

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  17. Alaskan says:

    I can’t imagine the union filing a grievance, as it seems impossible to prove their side. From the Brewers’ perspective, it’s fairly simple: there’s no debate that Hardy is under-performing offensively. Whether he’s sent down to work some issues out, or as a penalty for a perceived bad attitude, it’s perfectly in their rights to do that, regardless of his defensive performance/value. This is especially true given that the authority in this matter is unlikely to value defense the same way Mr. Cameron does.

    If Hardy were playing at the same level he always has it would be a different matter, but he’s not, and even though the resulting performance is still about league average, the Brewers have every right to do what they can to get him back up to expectations. This also gives them more time to get Escobar’s feet wet, as they don’t have to wait for September and can give him about 10 more games of experience – by no means a negligible benefit.

    While I agree with Mr. Cameron that if their motives were less than pure it would be unfortunate, I just don’t see that the union (or anyone else) has the necessary evidence to make a stink about it.

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  18. WilsonC says:

    In this situation, I don’t necessarily assume any willful wrongdoing on the Brewers’ part. It really depends on what they do in September, whether they bring him up with the rest of the call-ups, or whether they fudge the system and call him up the day after he loses his full season credit.

    The thing is that it’s undeniable that Hardy has struggled this year, and that Escobar has taken steps forward and performed quite well in the minors. It’s entirely possible that the organization simply considers Escobar the superior player at this point. If that’s the case, whether or not it’s the correct decision on an analytical level, I don’t find any fault in the move on an ethical level.

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  19. Brooksy Boy says:

    All that really matters is how much will the O’s have to trade to get Hardy this offseason? I love having him an extra year but I hope that doesn’t jack up the price too much.

    Hey Brewers, you want Brandon Erbe and Troy Patton? Maybe some Caleb Joseph thrown in for good measure?

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  20. Trenchtown says:

    The union will probably file a grievance if Hardy stays down until the rosters expand but I think there is a great chance they would lose that grievance .227/.300/.367 is a really ugly line, and with Alcides Escobar behind him there is a very good case that the send down is solely for baseball reasons. There is no rule that teams are required to use advanced metrics to evaluate players

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  21. John C says:

    “You know what else I took at Harvard Law School, Weinstien?

    BUSINESS ETHICS”

    -Ari Gold

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  22. Harvey says:

    The reason I mention Hardy’s state of mind is that it is not unreasonable for the Brewers to conclude the guy just isn’t going to adjust to the notion of having any type of competition so why bother keeping him around if his replacement can field just as well, not hit just as well (attempted at slight humor intended) and will get a jump on a full season in 2010? Hardy is a very streaky hitter which is why Melvin & Co. waited this long for signs of life. Hardy has gone two months at a time hitting dribblers before lighting up th league for several weeks.

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  23. BJ says:

    I’d like to feel bad for Hardy but, let’s be honest, he’s not performing this year. His inability to perform offensively has opened the door for the Brewers to manipulate his service time without much cause for an uproar.

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  24. MU789 says:

    If the union wants to say that 4 years and 49 weeks is enough to be AE, then they should have negotiated that instead of 5 years. The problem with these union agreements is they will hold an employer to the letter of the contract unless getting close favors the union.

    If the union wants to be the GM for the teams because they know Hardy deserves to stay on the 25 man roster then they should negotiate that in the next agreement and get fired when 29 teams fail to win the WS.

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    • kris says:

      I still think this is idiotic, and it’s why I hate these damn unions.

      Think of this situation, a new sign-up fee is added to fangraphs. Currently, it’s a 20 dollar fee that applies to everyone. However, Dave places a poll on fangraphs about the fee: Existing members pay $0 and all new members pay 30 dollars, vs. all members pay 20 dollars. How do you think the current fangraph readers vote?

      That’s the inherent problem with collectively bargained (poll voted) agreements by current members.

      Do new members get a fair shake? Hell no. However, once a new member has paid his 30 dollars, he’ll become a current member and if the poll is re-opened, guess how he’ll vote?

      You can say that the Brewers are simply following the contract, and in this day and age of hold-outs that’s the only leverage they really have. In the long run though, Hardy is getting screwed. Hardy’s the only one getting screwed. The Brewers benefit, The MLBPA members benefit. New members eat it.

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  25. Rich says:

    If the MLBPA files a grievance on Hardy’s behalf if he isn’t recalled in time to gain a full season of service time, which party has the burden of proof? Have the Brewers ever attempted a similar maneuver to limit a player’s service time in the past? Has an arbitrator ever found that any team has engaged in similar conduct?

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    • Colin says:

      In recent years, they waited until a couple of months into the season to call up Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks for the first time, likely to retain their control for an extra year. But like I mentioned before, every team does stuff like this…its usually just toward the beginning of their careers. If that’s not fair, the MLBPA shouldn’t have signed off on the CBA.

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      • Rich says:

        It sounds like a conflict between the letter and the spirit of the rule. The one caveat is that in most contractual dealings, it is implied (although sometimes stipulated) that the parties will act in good faith. So the question then becomes are the Brewers acting in good faith, which is a question of fact.

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  26. Bodhizefa says:

    I think it’s fine to feel bad for Hardy, but I think it’s silly to hold it against the Brewers for simply taking advantage of a system to its fullest. Should we decree the Philadelphia Phillies unjust because they took advantage of the fact that Jayson Werth probably didn’t know he was uber valuable because of his defense when they signed him to a 2-year $10 million contract? Should we deliberate over the wrongdoings of so many organizations failing to give the likes of Jack Cust or Russell Branyan a chance, costing the two of them millions and millions of dollars each?

    Frankly, I’m surprised that someone who extols GM’s who find ways to maximize value would put up such a fuss over this Hardy demotion. It’s clearly in the Brewers’ and Doug Melvin’s best interest to get the extra year of team control over Hardy. It’s a business decision, and while not exactly a player friendly one, certainly a justifiable one given the fact that millions of dollars are at stake. Your stance strikes me as something that Bill Bavasi would likely agree with as he would probably deal Hardy for pennies on the dollar just to give him a chance to succeed somewhere else. That’s just not the way a smart businessman runs his show. And somewhere deep down, Dave, I think you know that.

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  27. ineedanap says:

    I like reading your articles, DC, but the only reason you “hate” the move is because your last name isn’t Attanasio. You aren’t contending this year, why not keep the $20Mish dollars?

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  28. uflyibuy_1 says:

    I realize that the central premise of this post is to question the ethics of moving Hardy to AAA. True, the timing is suspect. But the argument hinges, in part, on accepting that Hardy is one of the top 5-6 shortstops in the game. I disagree.

    Hardy’s lifetime offensive stats (.323 OBP; .755 OPS) are fair. His production this year borders on dreadful (.300 OBP; .667 OPS). Plus, let us not overlook the fact that he plays 81 games in the hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park, not to mention the inferior Senior Circuit for the full duration.

    On the other hand, he is a sure fielder with a strong arm. No complaints there. In my estimation, he is a top-5 player at his position defensively.

    Of course, there is a 5th tool in baseball, speed, which was left out of the discussion. Hardy is as slow as they come as the SS position, evidenced by his 14 GIDP this season. His lack of speed is a liability, and should be incorporated into an overall assessment of his value.

    In sum, I simply don’t see the statistical evidence to suggest that he is among the best in the game at his position

    As for the ethics debate, I think others have addressed this adequately. I would simiply add that, based solely on his performance at AAA this season, Doug Melvin has every reason to believe that Escobar gives the Brewers a better chance than Hardy to make a playoff run this year.

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  29. WilsonC says:

    It’s also important to consider why he’s struggling. Is there something he’s been doing fundamentally wrong this season that’s contributed to his atrocious line drive rates? Have pitchers started taking advantage of some weakness that he’s been unable to adjust to? Is there a coachable problem that they’ve been trying to work with him on that he simply hasn’t responded to? I don’t know the answer here, but there are almost certainly a number of factors that the Brewers have looked at to try to determine if there’s a reason.

    A bad season is one thing, but the Brewers are certainly certainly looking not only at the fact that he hasn’t hit, but also trying to determine whether there’s a cause, other than bad breaks, why he’s struggled. If there’s a fixable problem that’s turned their borderline star shortstop into a 26 year old defensive specialist, then it’s in their best interests to do everything in their power to fix it and get his hitting back on track, especially with their wanting to get a look at Escobar.

    There’s nothing unethical about sending him down if there’s baseball reasons behind it, and if it helps get his offensive problems sorted out, it could even be better for Hardy in the long run.

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  30. rob deer says:

    Dave,

    You throw around terms like “travesty of justice” and “sense of right and wrong” but never really explain how Hardy has been wronged here. It’s very easy to pound on the table and scream about wrongs being done. It’s much harder to back that argument up, and I don’t see any substance here, beyond the fact that you feel, strongly, that this is wrong.

    JJ Hardy’s union collectively bargained the details of when he can and can’t be sent to the minors without his permission. They collectively bargained when and how he reaches free agency. JJ Hardy has “earned the right to be a free agent” whenever he meets these qualifications, be that 2010 or 2011. I happen to think the Brewers have valid reasons for sending him down independent of service time management, but even if they didn’t — even if this is a pure effort to limit Hardy’s service time — they are perfectly within their rights to do so.

    That’s the purpose of collective bargaining, of contracts in the first place — to establish what is and isn’t permissible. Unless the law steps in to set a minimum standard of rights, the parties themselves get to determine the rules of the road. They’ve done so in this case, and the rules are being followed.

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    • Monroe says:

      Amen. When the phrases “travesty of ethics” and “sense of right and wrong” are lazily thrown around to condemn a team for using an agreed upon system to its best advantage is at best a gross abuse of language. Hyperbole is certainly a hallmark of sports writing, but in a world reeling from life-changing ethical travesties (as opposed to disputes in the salaries of millionaires paid by billionaires), such linguistic tantrums severely limit the author’s viability.

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    • julio says:

      I completely agree. If anyone thinks Hardy shouldn’t be sent down, then they have to argue that Bill Hall needs to pay the Brewers back a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bill Hall a lot. I was really hoping he’d turn it around this year but he didn’t. He’s gone. Brewers eat his contract. It is what it is. Deal with it. We pay a bunch of money to go see the Brewers play. We deserve better. It’s as simple as that.

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  31. SleepNowInTheFire says:

    Hardy was BAD… don’t forget that. The Angels sent Arredondo down for awhile, the DBacks sent down Young, Franceour went down a while back for the Braves, Milledge and Dukes for the Nationals and so on… Hardy is *really* struggling this year. The Brewers wouldn’t be sending him down if he wasn’t struggling mightily. Not a chance. If people treat him as a victim, so be it. But his performance has warranted an option to AAA. I’ve always liked Hardy, but his hitting has been atrocious. Don’t make him a victim here. If anything he’s a victim of his own poor plate performance.

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  32. PhillyPhantastico says:

    “Travesty of ethics?” I don’t think so. Hardy is part of a collective bargaining agreement he (or is bretheren) ratified. A true travesty is Geoff Jenkins, Adam Eaton, Vernon Wells…etc. collecting millions because of bad deals that cannot be undone.

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  33. M.A. says:

    Why are baseball fans so reactionary?

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  34. Jim says:

    If I only performed half my job duties, more than likely my employer would fire me rather than sending me back to college to get more training. Yes, Mr. Hardy was fielding well this year. However, I don’t see Mr. Hardy offering to give back has his paycheck for only performing half his job duties. Last I checked, baseball is a business. Seems like that is the answer every player states when fleeing one city for the big dollars somewhere else. I say kudos to Brewers management. They are trying to maximize their asset while minimizing their costs.

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    • Mike I says:

      Only performing half his job duties? Has he refused to step into the batter’s box this season? Is he batting .000/.000/.000? You do realize that shortstops are usually bad hitters, right? And that Hardy has been league-average this year?

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  35. Andrew says:

    Maybe Doug Melvin is tired of Hardy’s atrocious hitting and UZR isn’t the only stat that matters? Even assuming UZR is 100% accurate, which it isn’t, and that Melvin uses it, which we don’t know, people do not want to pay to see a .220 hitter struggle to drive in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Escobar is a solid SS and it isn’t unethical to give him major league playing time.

    A position player with a zero OPS and who could sprint around the field to catch every ball Forrest Gump style would not put anyone in the stands.

    I’m sorry your proposal to trade Washburn and Bedard for Hardy was so horribly wrong, but the reality is JJ Hardy is not that good (or valuable) a baseball player. If JJ Hardy were hitting, or even walking, then he wouldn’t be in the minors.

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  36. Robert Earle says:

    I completely agree that the Brewers need to call JJ back before he loses the MLB service time, not only because it is the right thing to do, but that it is also the best thing to do for the future of the Brewer organization.

    JJ is a member of a union. If the management of the Brewer organization “screws with” a member of the union, you can be certain that other members of that union will notice, and will remember. Someone like Prince Fielder – whose service time at the beginning of 2009 was listed as 3.068 years, and so could have his service time similarly manipulated next year – was probably on the telephone to his agent Wednesday morning saying “Can they really do that to JJ?!? …to me!?!”

    Let’s say that when the time comes, the Yankees offer Prince a given contract, and the Brewers match it term-for-term and dollar-for dollar. If you’re Prince, do you 1) sign with the team that screwed your friend JJ, or do you 2) sign with the team that DIDN’T screw your friend JJ? If you’re an agent, do you steer your clients towards or away from the team known to screw with player’s service time?

    Manipulating JJ’s service time to keep him a year longer or enhance his trade value might well turn into the very definition of a “Pyhrric victory”. I sincerely hope that between now and the “deadline”, Brewer management recognizes that.

    (It is also my reading for the Collective Bargaining Agreement that “the deadline” comes on August 31st and not September 1st, as Theron says above. More specifically, JJ’s recall would have to happen prior to game-time of the Nashville Sounds’ game on the 31st; so that JJ would not be eligible for the Sounds game of the 31st.)

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  38. Luke Appling says:

    I disagree with Robert. The Brewers gained an extra year, and added trade value, on a player that was underperforming at the MLB level. Next year his anger at the Brewers delaying his service time clock will lead to a resurgance for his new team, and ultimately a better free agent contract for him in the long run. JJ is going to be paid; though not by the Brewers. Sending him to the minors was better for his career and for his bank account.

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  39. Jeff says:

    If this was the Mariners doing this to Hardy, Cameron would be saying it was the greatest move by a GM in the history of the game!!!

    Anyway, I was looking over the article because I would like to see the Tigers pick up Hardy through trade… His defense is just as good as Everetts, plus even his off year at the plate is about as good as Everett’s normal year…

    the Brewers need pitching, so maybe the Tigers could try tradeing Gallaraga, or maybe even Robertson if they picked up some of his contract…

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