By Tom Verducci
August 21, 2009

1. It's a good time to be a top amateur player, at least for these next two years. Baseball clubs are operating as if a slotting system for bonus money paid to drafted players will be in place for the 2012 draft, the first after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. Commissioner Bud Selig has begun talking publicly about what has been discussed privately for some time: that owners will push for a slotting system, not just ask the union for one in the next round of negotiations.

The expectation of such a system is helping clubs spend money on draft picks now, especially among the large-revenue clubs. In a slotting system, teams like the Yankees and Red Sox would lose their advantage -- to snap up players other teams consider "signability" risks -- so they ought to use their leverage while they can. But even teams like Pittsburgh, which spent heavily in the draft this year, may see the wisdom in overspending now, assuming a system of fixed spending is coming soon.

2. Cole Hamels set a record last winter for the highest average annual value contract for a first-year arbitration eligible pitcher. He signed a three-year, $20.5 million deal. Nice, but it can't match what Tim Lincecum is worth.

Lincecum will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and though he has told the Giants he will consider all offers, even during the season, San Francisco isn't quite sure where this is headed. As GM Brian Sabean said, "I'm not sure who you compare him to, and the other thing is he already has a Cy Young Award and just might have two."

Lincecum surely will blow up Hamels' record. The question is, by how much? Compare Lincecum's career numbers to those Hamels had at the end of last season -- and Lincecum still has the rest of this year to add to them:

3. Yes, the Dodgers are reeling. The lack of depth in their rotation has caught up to them and Manny Ramirez hasn't been hitting for a month now. The scorching Rockies show no signs of cooling off. But the Dodgers do get some help from the schedule down the stretch. They play 15 of their final 27 games against the three last-place teams in the league: Washington, Pittsburgh and San Diego. And stretching it further, they play 25 of their final 34 games against the five worst teams in the league: the Nationals, Pirates, Padres, Reds and Diamondbacks.

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