Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey

So. Football eh? How bout that? Really something. Big, if true. Russell Wilson? Did you know he was an accomplished baseball player as a younger man? Bet you didn’t. Hardly ever gets mentioned.

The C-Word

The market is slow to developing. This is a slow-developing market. “February 1st is the new January 1st”, as one MLB front office exec said last week.

We can chalk it up to teams finding their way through the CBA and figuring out just how much draft pick compensation costs. Or we take the next (illogical) step and drop a c-bomb all over the free agent market. No, not the one featured prominently in every Guy Ritchie film, we’re talking about collusion.

It might be too early and too much money was already spent on free agents this winter, but don’t think the union is content with the significant number of good free agents still sitting on the market. MLB’s COO Ken Manfred told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports the following, regarding comments and concerns voiced to him by the MLBPA:

“We have had conversations with the union about public comments concerning free agents,” Manfred said. “We have a mutual interest in assuring that there is no excessive commentary.”

The vast riches extended to Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka should be enough to fight off any collusion claims but the slow drag of the offseason ought to raise some eyebrows.

The draft pick compensation is little more than a tax designed to lower salaries. Lo and behold, it works! As the prices slip lower, teams become more willing to part wit their beloved pick, especially those clubs that own protected pick or already lost a first round selection for signing a top tier FA.

The players association is in a tough spot. They made this bed, funneling cash away from draftees and international players to ensure their active membership got the lion’s share. They agreed to this CBA, knowing full well that the elite talent will always get paid while the middle class suffered a little bit (everything being relative here.)

Maybe the long play is the explosive growth at the top end of the market will drag the rest of the salaries up, too. Even though they lose out in free agency, the overall wage still rises? I dunno. But watching all this pitching talent just sit on the free agent market, ripening on the shelf, you have to wonder if the shadow of the c-word doesn’t hang over free agency for the rest of this CBA cycle.

The case against collusion

Want to make a compelling case against the idea that baseball owners are colluding to keep salaries low? Click this link and feast your eyes upon the Dodgers payroll situation for the next three years.

Committed for 2016? More than $150 million. Committed for 2015? More than $160 million. Total payroll dollars committed for the upcoming 2014 season? More than $245 million. American dollars. Spread across 25 names on the Dodgers active roster, with some extra paid to players to be anywhere but here.

That’s a whole lot of money. That leaves the Yankees in the distant dust. That’s a quarter of a billion dollar baseball team. Look out, world.

Related!

Speaking of Clayton Kersahw, here’s the wealthy and popular Dodgers hurler making a cameo on the post-handegg edition of New Girl, the FOX sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel.

Those who know recognize that Getting Blanked is Happy Endings country but there is a lot to like about New Girl. Jake Johnson playing The Good Bro to a tee and Zooey herself appeared on these pages many times before.

Fister Roboto

How weird was it when the Tigers up and traded Doug Fister to the Nationals for a less than impressive group of prospects? It was a very weird. The Nationals now have themselves a nice rotation, with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Fister, Gio Gonzalez, and probably Ross Detwiler. That’s a good group, and considerably cheaper than the Dodgers starting five.

Doug Fister settled with the Nationals on a one-year deal, as Joel Sherman details above. Not a bad settlement for his second trip through arbitration, as Fister posted great numbers in 2013 just as he did in 2012.

Over the last two years, Fister averages 185 innings pitched, a 3.57 ERA (118 ERA+), striking out more than seven batters per nine innings while walking just two. That’s worth 7.5 rWAR to those concerned.

That’s a good pitcher. A good pitcher who joins other good pitchers in Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermmann to form a fine rotation. A fine rotation that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, making it that much easier to compete with the clubs that spend more freely than the DC-based club.

It shouldn’t matter how much they get paid but, if you want to play GM at home, it does matter. Seeing Fister’s arb reward in black and white makes it easier to praise the trade for Washington and tougher to understand why Detroit pulled the trigger when they did. I’m sure they have their reasons (as I tried to argue at the time) but it gets tougher and tougher to imagine what they are as the season draws closer.

Photo of the weekend

NFL: Super Bowl XLVIII-GQ Party

Truth be told, this isn’t the actual photo of the weekend. This is the photo of the eternity. There is an even better photo, the source of which I do not know. It makes it clear that the world we are all living in Justin Verlander‘s (and Kate Upton’s) world.

Related

A close contender for photo of the weekend for very different reasons. Baseball in the snow!