Cubs Save Millions. Bryant to Minors
March 30, 2015

You could see it coming down State Street. Out to Waveland Avenue, around The Loop, and then back again. It was looming as large as Lake Michigan, but the baseball world still seems surprised and shocked. There were warnings, but they went largely ignored. Today, it set in. Chicago Cubs phenom prospect Kris Bryant didn't make the team.

The players union is threatening a lawsuit. Agents are upset. Lawyers for the agents are upset. Many fans aren't happy, either, but it's makes total sense. And all because of a stupid rule, and a rule that should be pointed out that the players union agreed upon.

Bryant is tearing it up at spring training. He has nine home runs—at least four more than any other major league player. He hit 43 in the minor leagues last year. He's proven, at least offensively, that he is a big leaguer. Baseball, though, is a business.

For some reason, and it's something that owners and the player's union (undoubtedly with advice from agents and lawyers of agents) worked out, if the 23 year-old Bryant stays in the minor leagues for 12 days after the season starts, he can't become a free agent for another year. If he makes the club now, he could sign with any other team he wants in 2020. For two weeks in Iowa, he's guaranteed to be under the Cubs control until 2021. This brings up three immediate questions. First, how stupid is that? Secondly, if that's the rule, how can you blame the Cubs? And thirdly, how stupid is that?

Bryant has never played in the big leagues, so how could his service 'clock' not start for 12 days? You can bet your sweet bippy the issue will be re-visited during the next labor negotiations, but until then, there's nothing really to complain about, except for maybe this part...

During a Spring Training telecast between the Cubs and Angels Thursday, ESPN's Curt Schilling asked Cubs President Theo Epstein the tough questions about Bryant and his situation. In a somewhat surprising statement, Epstein says he has never had any of his players make their major league debut on Opening Day, but also says that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. Okay, but Epstein also went on to talk about Bryant needing to work on defense, and also added that his organization “hadn't even discussed” the business side of whether to take Bryant to Chicago with them. That sounds a little bit hard to believe, considering the dollars at stake.

But as Bugs Bunny often asked, “What's all the hubbub, bub?”. Opening Night is April 5. If Bryant is at Wrigley Field on April 17 when the Cubs host the Padres, you'll have your answer. It was all about money. But even if it is, so what? That's the rule. How do you think the Cubs are paying for that new scoreboard? So while angry fans, agents, lawyers, and lawyers of agents wait a couple of weeks, they should also circle December 1, 2016 on their calendar. That's when the collective bargaining agreement expires, and they can change the service time rule to actually start at the beginning of a season. Just sayin'.

Stassi sent down: It was expected, but the Houston Astros made it official yesterday. Catcher Max Stassi was one of several players re-assigned to minor league camp. The Yuba City High product will start at Triple-A, but the good news for him and his family is that Houston's top minor league club is now in Fresno. The Grizzlies open their season with eight games in a row at home, but for some reason don't visit Sacramento until June 14.

Spring training in Marysville?: It was a tiny slip-up, but one that was kind of fun locally. During Sunday's Giants-Dodgers telecast, San Francisco broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow were discussing all things Wisconsin, including the Brewers. Kuiper is a native of cheese country, but it was Krukow who mistakenly referred to the Brewers spring training home in Arizona as Marysville instead of Maryvale. Even though a Brewers-Giants exhibition game here would be a logistical nightmare, it's still fun to think about, even if just for a second.

Sut's shenanigans: Before the March 19 ESPN telecast between the Phillies and Yankees, play-by-play man Jon Sciambi got a chance to meet his boyhood idol Mike Schmidt. However, as told on the air by analyst Rick Sutcliffe, Sutcliffe arranged the meeting, but asked Schmidt to pretend he had no idea who Sciambi was. Schmidt went along with the gag, crushing Sciambi when the introduction was made. Adding more insult, Sutcliffe also made a wager with ESPN colleague Doug Glanville that Schmidt wouldn't know Sciambi. Sutcliffe says Schmidt got part of the wager. Sutcliffe also made Sciambi tell most of the story, and couldn't stop laughing during the whole tale.

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