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Picky Picky

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A new collective bargaining agreement will always be somewhat welcome, as it guarantees uninterrupted baseball. Strikes are bad. Just ask the relievers on the Giants. And what's the deal with shopping carts with one bad wheel? How come I always seem to get those?

What irks me is that it's another case of the rules possibly being changed at exactly the wrong time for the Giants. My persecution complex doesn't have an offseason, so I'm forced to recount the ways:

1997: When a division winner had "home field advantage" in the playoffs, they'd open with two games on the road. It never really made sense at any time, and after the Giants dropped the first two games against the Marlins in Miami, the powers of MLB realized that a 2-2-1 format would be much more equitable. If the flow of time is reversed and the Giants have the first two games of that series at home, how does the outcome change? Two consecutive eight-BB starts for Estes, four double plays hit into by Jose Vizcaino in one game, and a sweep out of the NLCS would be my guess at the best case scenario. But that's not the point. The point is that the rules changed after the Giants could have benefited.

2003: The asshattery of "This Time it Counts!" starts, just as the Giants finish with 100 wins. In 2003, under the old system, the National League would have had home field advantage. Just because Eric Gagne decides to have his one bad game of '03 in the All-Star Game, the Giants would have been the first team in World Series history to play in two consecutive Series without home field advantage in either. Sure, they were bounced out of the first round and never made it to the World Series. But that's not the point. The point is that the rules were going to mess with a Giant World Series run.

Sweet raining Faulkner, how I hate the Marlins.

2003: The Warriors can't re-sign Gilbert Arenas because of wacky salary cap rules, even though he was a homegrown player, a fan favorite, and someone the Warriors desperately wanted to sign. He leaves, and the NBA creates the "Gilbert Arenas Rule", which would prevent such a loophole from ever happening again. Sure, this is about basketball and doesn't tie in to my thesis. But that's not the point. The point is that I ran out of Giants-related examples.

And now, after that stunning recount of a mild disadvantage, theoretical disadvantage, and unrelated example, the new collective bargaining agreement might continue the tradition. Right before the Giants were set to swim in compensatory draft picks, the system for compensatory draft picks could eliminated. Of the 11 pending free agents, the Giants are almost certainly going to offer arbitration to two Type-A free agents: Jason Schmidt and Ray Durham. If both wanted to stick around without signing a deal past 2007, the Giants would be ecstatic. They would probably offer arbitration to Pedro Feliz and Shea Hillenbrand for the same reason. Barry Bonds is also a "probably", if only for the Giants to extend the window with which they could sign him, and Moises Alou is somewhere between a "maybe" and "probably not".

The Giants would have, in the worst case scenario, come away with one extra supplemental first-round pick and one extra first-round pick for Jason Schmidt. Since the Giants pick 10th, it wouldn't be possible for them to lose their first-rounder, and picks that come as compensation can't be given to another team. So in the worst case scenario, the Giants would have had around three of the top 40 or so picks. If Durham were offered arbitration and signed with another team, that would grow to five of the top 40 or 80 picks, depending on if Durham's new team signed a higher ranked free agent than Durham. If Feliz and Hillenbrand were offered arbitration and signed with another team, the Giants might have had seven of the top 100 or so picks; the rankings are weighted heavily on playing time, so Feliz might have even been a Type A worth an extra supplemental pick. Even if the Giants signed some Type A free agents of their own, they would have had plenty of picks in the beginning of a deep draft.

The last time a team had that many picks in the first two rounds, they came out with a league-average starting pitcher, an above-average third baseman, and an above-average corner outfielder (Blanton/Teahen/Swisher). The last time the Giants came close to that many picks, they ended up with David Aardsma, Craig Whitaker, and Nate Schierholtz. The time before that they landed Brad Hennessey, Noah Lowry, Todd Linden, and Jesse Foppert in the first two rounds. While not all of those players might not have produced anything in the majors yet, they have all had significant value in trade at the very least. There was a time when a package of Foppert and Aardsma could have brought back any player on the trading block, and that can be just as valuable as draft picks actually producing in the majors. Draft picks are as likely to become something as individual sperm, but that doesn't mean you can't hope for triplets.

No more, it seems. The Giants will get a first round pick. They will get a second round pick. They will be protected from themselves and unable to trade any draft picks for players like Tim Worrell, but that's about the only upside. I'm not too upset about the system getting tossed; I'm upset about the timing.