- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate an issue in major league baseball. This week’s question: What changes, if any, would you make to baseball’s draft?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: Two things I would do right off the bat: include international players in the draft and establish a mandatory “slot” system for signing bonuses. I understand we’re all capitalists and players deserve as much money as owners are willing to spend, but the current system has gotten out of control.

What would be so wrong with having a predetermined number for every player drafted? There’s no reason why someone who has never played a professional game should be paid more than someone who has been in the major leagues for three seasons. If the player is that good, he’ll get his fair share once he establishes himself in the big leagues.

BEN GOESSLING: I’ll steal one of yours (the hard slotting system) and add one of my own: closing some of the loopholes with this agent/adviser definition. Whether it’s making players declare for the draft like in the NBA or the NFL or creating a central scouting database like the NHL that would give high school players an idea of where they would go and help them make their own decisions, something needs to be done to clean that up.

It isn’t right that a high school kid can use a college scholarship as leverage against a major league team to get more money, have an agent, er, adviser pulling the strings the whole time and retain his amateur status. It’s such a messy system that it would be tough to regulate, but you have to take some of the power out of the agents’ hands.

MZ: The agents/advisers/attorneys definitely have too much power, and I like your ideas to diminish it. Here’s another one: Don’t allow drafted players to go anywhere else if they can’t sign by the deadline. No joining independent leagues. No jetting to Japan. No going back to college. Either sign with the team that drafted you and join their farm system or sit out. That’s one area where the NFL does this well.

BG: I completely agree. I think most of our suggestions are driving at one central theme: taking some of the power away from agents. This is another area where MLB is tilted more toward the players than the clubs, which probably speaks to the strength of its union. And anything done to change the draft will have to be collectively bargained. But the sooner bonuses can get reined in, the sooner you’ll see teams drafting only the player they think would help the most, plain and simple.

AWARD TRACKER

Looking at the front-runners for baseball’s season awards. This week: AL MVP

Joe Mauer, Twins

All those fears about Mauer’s bad back - it forced him to miss the season’s first month - have been put to rest and then some. Minnesota’s dynamic young catcher has been brilliant since coming off the disabled list. He leads the AL in batting average, OBP, slugging and OPS, and he plays stellar defense behind the plate.

Others to watch: Jason Bay, Red Sox; Mark Teixeira, Yankees; Evan Longoria, Rays

MLB POWER POLL

Rank, team Record Comment

1. DODGERS 42-22 They’re an outstanding 14-5 in one-run games this season.

2. RED SOX 38-25 They’ve won six of the last seven on road, solving that issue.

3. PHILLIES 36-25 Better off with a healthy Madson closing than an injured Lidge.

4. YANKEES 36-27 Now they’re getting ready to feast on Nationals for three days.

5. TIGERS3 34-29 Despite losing two of three to Pirates, they’re the AL Central’s best.

6. GIANTS 34-28 San Francisco is very quietly inching up the leader board.

7. RANGERS 35-27 They’re only 5-8 since Hamilton went down to injury.

8. RAYS 34-31 They’re getting the pitching together; they’ve always had offense.

9. BREWERS 34-29 They just lost five of six on a homestand.

10. ANGELS 32-29 Who is Matt Palmer, and how is he 6-0?

Records and stats through Sunday

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