Planning, preparation and strategic movements heading into the 2014 PBA League season are officially underway with team managers beginning the process of re-signing players and releasing others to free agency. Under the new rules for the 2014 season – which officially gets underway Jan. 1 at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich. – team managers have until Aug. 31 to re-sign up to three players (in addition to the No. 1 player, who is automatic) from last year’s rosters, and assign them to “slot” positions on their 2014 rosters – from No. 2 through No. 5.
“Slot” positions for 2014 rosters are compensated within pre-set salary ranges, starting at $20,000 for the No. 1 position (formerly known as the “franchise player”). Team managers have a total “cap” of $71,000 within which they can negotiate player salaries. For No. 2 slots, players must be paid between $14,000-18,000. For No. 3 slots, the salary range is between $12,000-16,000. For No. 4 players, the range is $10,000-14,000. For No. 5 slot positions, the range is $8,000-12,000.
Existing rostered players who are released or unsigned as of Aug. 31 will become free agents, eligible to negotiate with other teams as of Sept. 1. If the free agents do not sign with another team by Oct. 1 (the maximum number of players who can be signed through the free agency period is four including the franchise player), free agents will enter the 2014 player draft along with any player from the top 50 players based upon the 2012-13 PBA competition points list not on a team. The 2014 player draft – which will be conducted in reverse order of how teams finished last season – will be conducted on Monday, Nov. 4, following the World Series at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas.
It’s important to note that players on 2012-13 rosters are not required to re-sign with their previous teams, even if they are made an offer. Players are allowed to decline offers and enter free agency if they wish.
Also note, after the re-signing period and the free agency period, the most players a team can have on its roster is four (including the No. 1 player). That insures every team will have at least one opening for the draft.
All 2014 PBA League roster transactions must be approved by PBA Commissioner Tom Clark.
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Here’s what has transpired since the re-signing period began on Aug. 1:
PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke, the No. 1 player on the Dallas Strikers and Strikers’ team manager, was the first manager to initiate a re-signing, securing left-hander Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla., to his No. 2 roster position ($15,000). Duke also released last year’s No. 4 player Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., and “supplemental pick” Mike Wolfe of New Albany, Ind. Both are now on the “free agent” list and will be eligible to sign with any of the other teams when the free agent signing period opens on Sept. 1.
Motown Muscle re-signs Mike Scroggins
Muscle manager Del Ballard Jr. has announced the re-signing of veteran left-hander Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, to his team’s No. 4 slot ($10,000). Mike Fagan retains the No. 1 position. Scroggins was No. 3 in last year’s Muscle lineup, but has been sidelined since the PBA Tournament of Champions while battling a painful bout with plantar faciitis. Ballard also has released Jesse Buss of Belvidere, Ill.; supplemental pick Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y. (who was acquired in a trade with the New York WTT KingPins for Kelly Kulick), and D.J. Archer of Friendswood, Texas, who replaced Angelo when he withdrew due to injury. The Motown Muscle team is owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis.
BROOKLYN STyLES re-signs, elevates Jason Sterner; Walter Ray returns to fold
STyLES manager Johnny Petraglia has not only re-signed Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga., but elevated last year’s No. 5 player to the No. 2 slot ($15,000) in his 2014 lineup after Sterner won his first PBA Tour title and almost claimed a second earlier in the 2012-13 season. Petraglia also secured the PBA’s most successful player ever, Walter Ray Williams Jr., to the No. 3 slot ($13,000) and released left-hander Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y. Sean Rash returns as the STyLES’ No. 1 player. The STyLES owner is actor Jesse Williams.
Silver Lake Atom Splitters retain England’s Dom Barrett
Atom Splitters manager Mark Baker has re-signed England’s Dom Barrett to the No. 4 slot ($11,000) on the team owned by Internet podcast entrepreneur Chris Hardwick. Barrett held the No. 2 position on last year’s team. Chris Barnes is Silver Lake’s No. 1 player. Baker also released the rest of last year’s Atom Splitters roster to free agency: Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz.; Stuart Williams of England; Nathan Bohr of Wichita, Kan., and supplemental player Jon VanHees of Charlestown, R.I.
New York City WTT KingPins re-sign Norton, Szczerbinski
KingPins manager Carolyn Dorin-Ballard – the only woman manager in the PBA League – has re-signed two-time 2012-13 PBA Tour winner Scott Norton to the No. 2 slot($17,75) on the only team owned by a woman (women’s sports legend Billie Jean King). The defending PBA League Elias Cup champions are led by No. 1 player Pete Weber, a PBA Hall of Famer. Dorin-Ballard (a hall of famer herself) also retained former Wichita State collegiate star John Szczerbinski to the No. 4 slot ($10,500) on her team. Previous team members Tommy Jones, Jack Jurek and Kelly Kulick all will enter free agency on Sept. 1.
Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits keep Allen at No. 3
Continuing the trend in retaining top left-handers, Jack Rabbits manager Tim Mack has re-signed Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla., to his team’s No. 3 slot ($13,000), moving Allen up one spot from last season. Finnish two-handed star Osku Palermaa returns as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 player. The Jack Rabbits are owned by Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley, and hold the No. 1 position for the 2014 PBA League player draft.
It’s still early in the re-signing period, but thus far L.A. X manager Andrew Cain and Philadelphia Hitmen manager Jason Couch have yet to make a move. Cain’s team is owned by Los Angeles Clippers all-star point guard Chris Paul, with Jason Belmonte as his No. 1 player. Couch’s Hitmen are owned by actor-comedian Kevin Hart and his No. 1 player is Bill O’Neill.