Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Compete Act of 2006 and international prospects

For years Twins fans have been critical of our front office's refusal to spend money on top international prospects. This year, however, the Twins have been spending money on quality international prospects like Lindsay Lohan in a cocaine store (did I do that right?).

Let's Review:

The Miguel Angel Sano $3.15 million signing was the most surprising. The Twins actually outbid other teams for him. When pigs freeze over, I guess. Anyway, he's a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. He's big for his age and his position. As he gets older he can't play short stop anymore, because he's too big and stuff. Also, he's good at baseball. Sano is immune to all poisons. He was the inspiration for character Duncan McLeod from the television series, Highlander.

The Twins paid $775,000 for Europe's top prospect, Max Kepler-Rozycki. Did you know his parents were ballerinas!?!?!?!?! His long athletic frame has drawn comparisons by some (me) to Darryl Strawberry. So from this day forward I declare his nickname to be "The Erdbeere." The Erbeere is very toosly.

We also signed another 16 year old Dominican shortstop, Jorge Polanco, for $750,000. He too is apparently good at baseball. He pumps his Reeboks three times before every at bat.

As far as the international free agent market is concerned, we spent a lot of money. In the big picture, however, this is chump change. Gleeman elaborates:

Baseball draft picks are amazingly unpredictable, particularly compared to
other sports, and teenagers from the Dominican Republic or Germany are even
bigger risks. However, snatching up top talents that drop in the draft because
of bonus demands is a tactic that big-payroll teams have long exploited and a
big percentage of MLB's superstars were signed internationally as teenagers.
Investing in high-upside risks makes a lot more sense than spending $12 million
on the next washed-up veteran free agent.

In other words the money paid to Sano may be massive in the context of
prospect signing bonuses, but $3.15 million is still less than Nick Punto made
this season (and will make next year). If one of Sano, Gibson, Kepler, or
Polanco turns into a starting-caliber MLB player the $12 million investment will
prove to be a bargain and if a star emerges from that group the Twins will have
elevated the team's long-term outlook for about as much as they wasted on Livan
Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz, and Craig Monroe.

Exactly. You need good players to win. It's riskier, but much, much cheaper to get them while they're young. A lot of prospects don't ever work out, but look at the top players around the league. A vast majority of them were at one time top prospects that cost top prospect money.

Sign Stephen Strasburg for $15 million and he doesn't pan out, that sucks. Sign Mike Hampton for $120 million and he doesn't pan out, that really sucks.

So, as a small market team, international free agent signings are our friends. You know what else is our friend? If you guessed the Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry Act of 2006, you win. The kids these days are calling it the Compete Act of 2006 for short. The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting piece on this a while back. The article explains:

It freed the farm systems of major-league teams from having to compete with all
U.S. employers seeking H2B work visas for foreign employees, the supply of which
usually was exhausted each year by February. Now, teams can import as many
prospects as they want.

You see, before this piece of legislation, international baseball prospects had to compete for visas with scientists trying to cure fatal diseases and stuff. How dumb is that?!?! Seriously, screw those guys. Now, we can have the do-good-disease-curers and baseball prospects. Everybody wins.

The effect of the legislation can be clearly seen with a quick perusing of the current GCL Twin's roster. The WSJ article goes on to explain why international free agents are cost effective:

Economics plays a huge role. U.S.-born players drafted out of high school
rarely sign a contract to turn pro without a cash bonus, most in excess of
$100,000. This summer, the Cubs have forked out more than $6 million in signing
bonuses to 26 U.S. prospects, an average of nearly a quarter million

While some foreign players like Mr. Lee got hefty signing bonuses, the
majority do not. Latin players in particular can be had for a lot less -- just
$10,000 in the case of Venezuelan pitcher Eduardo Figueroa, one of Mr. Lee's
teammates. Third baseman George Matheus, another Hawk from Venezuela, received
$15,000 for signing.

I anticipate a trend of paying higher prices for international prospects. May the Minnesota Twins be at the forefront of this trend.


Anonymous said...

Somebody at AH! is reading Gleeman, the Wall Street Journal, and the Congressional Record. How disappointing is THAT?!?!


haasertime said...

"Latin players in particular can be had for a lot less"

goddamn foreigners will work for any price. I'm 100% positive that I'd be in the majors if it weren't for those ILLEGALS.


soup said...


I'm often told my work is too "inteligent." Deal with it. I'm not dumbing it down for you people.

Anonymous said...

I was at the one-game tie-breaker at the Dome. As exciting a game as I've ever seen. An older couple seated in front of us ("older" in this context means >60) spent much of the game reading The Wall Street Journal.

It was odd and kind of charming at the same time.


Anonymous said...

You mean to tell us, that you weren't in the front row?