Despite recent defeats that would have left peers second-guessing the legs on which they stand, stupor-agent Scott Boras continues sprinting forward in his efforts to wreak havoc on Major League Baseball’s draft and salary structures. In so doing, he continues to do potentially irreparable harm to the game.
It’s one thing when he parades around a guy like Manny Ramirez, who for all his negative characteristics – his quitting on the Red Sox midway through last season and his “Manny being Manny” crap. At least Manny Ramirez had accomplished something in Major League Baseball before Boras attempted to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers hostage.
That one almost cost you, didn’t it, Boras? It took all offseason to get the Dodgers to agree to that $45 million, 2-year deal after you tried to shoot for the moon. And then you turned it down? Great theater? Nice try. I wish the Dodgers hadn’t given you a chance to save face by offering virtually the same deal again – then where would you be? And what you ended up with is a far, far cry from the nine-figure, four-year deal you were “demanding” when the season ended, isn’t it?
Based on his past, it wasn’t hard to guess that Boras wouldn’t learn from the experience, even during a down economy when the commissioner warned all the teams (all of whom except the Yankees listened, for the most part) against exorbitant deals. After all, he hadn’t previously learned from his experience the previous year when A-Rod had to send him into the hallway and call in a representative from investment bank Goldman Sachs to save his relationship with the Yankees and get his next record deal. By the way, very classy move having A-Rod opt out of his previous deal not only without meeting with the team, but during the clinching game of the World Series no less. Very, very classy.
Nope, Boras hasn’t learned from the past couple experiences. Now he wants to take some college kid and demand Daisuke Matsuzaka-money before the guy has thrown a professional pitch?
Forget that the Matsuzaka deal, which called for Boston to pay $50-million plus to the star pitcher’s Japanese team just for the right to talk contract with him already illustrates one of baseball’s biggest problems – that some players are subjected to a draft and some get to negotiate with the highest bidder, virtually eliminating all but a half-dozen teams from having even a shred of a chance of acquiring them against large-market budgets.
Forget the fact that the Japanese phenom eventually got another six years and $52 million from Boston to actually join the team, further illustrating the discrepancy. The Red Sox committed nine-figures to a guy who had never thrown a pitch in the U.S. – roughly four times as much as the team with last year’s lowest total payroll.
At least Matsuzaka had something of a resume to brag about before the Red Sox signed off on spending that much to get him. He was unquestionably a stud in Japan, going 108-60 in eight years with the Seibu Lions, posting five ERAs below 3.00 and never exceeding 3.97. The guy was a strikeout machine and while he walked a lot of guys, he was a monster.
Yes, at least Matsuzaka had a leg to stand on. Now Boras reportedly wants to demand $50 million from the Washington Nationals or whatever team is [insert adjective here: possibilities include foolish, unlucky, stupid, blind] enough to be forced to deal with this greedy ass when they draft San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg. If Boras follows through on his reported plan, he is cementing his spot among baseball’s most evil figures.
Caveat emptor, Nationals. Boras is making his demands based on a guy who admittedly appears to be blowing away his college competition. But let’s take a look at how some of Boras’ other efforts to take on the draft have gone.
His bio at Sports Agent Directory reminds us of the loophole he found to gain free agency for four top first-round picks: Matt White, Travis Lee, John Patterson and Bobby Seay – yeah, there’s four household names for you.
The situation with Lee was especially despicable. He had been drafted second overall by the Minnesota Twins. Because he was in the 1996 Olympics, the team didn’t make him a qualifying offer until after he came back. Because that needs to be done within 15 days of the draft, Boras sought and received Lee’s free agency, after which he signed with Arizona.
Does the name J.D. Drew ring a bell? He held Drew out, sending him to the St. Paul Saints in the Northern League for a season, and had him re-enter the draft the following year.
I’d forgotten about how Drew’s brother Stephen and Jered Weaver, both drafted in 2004, were held out just long enough so that they could sign with their drafted teams but not play during the season they were drafted because of their holdouts.
The common denominator here is that most of these guys didn’t fulfill the promise they had when they were drafted in the first place. Many of them didn’t reach the Majors. J.D. Drew has had a decent career, but never turned into the stud that was projected. Lee had a couple good years, but was terminally mediocre for most of his career. The jury is still out on the younger Drew and on Weaver.
Would they have been better players had they been able to develop outside of the spotlight put upon them by Boras’ maneuverings? They’ll never know. But I would argue that the theatrics that accompanied each of their efforts to gain a foothold in baseball – Drew especially was demonized, especially in Philadelphia, the team he thwarted to re-enter the draft – have made their careers more difficult than they needed to be.
It’s interesting, I think, that even some large-market teams refuse at times to deal with Boras. According to sports-agent-directory.com, the New York Mets refused to take Rick Ankiel in 1997 because of Boras’ efforts to garner multi-million dollar deals before these guys even step onto a professional field.
There have been a lot of bad guys in baseball over the years. Gamblers. Womanizers. Criminals. Alcohol, steroid and performance-enhancing drug abusers. But Boras deserves similar mention. His efforts to blow up the draft would further damage a system that already makes it difficult if not impossible for teams without the resources of those in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles to compete year-in and year-out.
Sure, the Minnesota Twins can make a run from time to time. But do they have the baseball revenues to re-sign Johan Santana or Torii Hunter when the teams on the coast open their wallets? From Ramirez to Matsuzaka to Mark Teixeira and now to Strasburg, Boras would be making even worse the problems that Commissioner Bud Selig – despite his efforts to claim success through modest revenue-sharing means – has attempted and failed to fix during his tenure as commissioner.
I don’t begrudge guys making money. More power to them. I didn’t like the Matsuzaka deal more for the way that deal was done than for his ability to get it. I don’t like the fact that some players can enter the league panning to the highest bidder while others are subjected to a draft. But even more I dislike that some high school or college kid, 100 mile-per-hour fastball or not, can strut his way to the negotiating table asking for a 400 percent raise over the previous record salary given to a draft choice. The salaries are too high as they are – how many golden-armed, bonus-babies have signed their first pro deal and faded away into obscurity.
Why would a team – hell, why should a team commit that kind of coin to a guy, no matter how good, when he could end up being the next Brien Taylor, who was another million-dollar bonus-baby phenom advised by Boras with a cannon for an arm who got hurt in a fistfight and flamed out without advancing past Double-A?
Boras has done a lot of smarmy things in his days as an agent. He’s been an entrepreneur in the field of douchebaggery.
He’s negotiated $36 million, 2-year deals for players at the beginning of their suckdom, such as Andruw Jones. I’ve already mentioned his having A-Rod opt out of his vomitous deal with the Yankees and his chasing another vomitous deal for Ramirez. He’s earned – yes, EARNED – the nicknames “baseball’s most hated man” and “The Baseball Anti-Christ.”
He’s repeatedly steered college guys away from taking lucrative signing bonuses if they weren’t lucrative enough to add enough zeroes to his own bank account. It’s as though his own failed four-year journey through baseball’s Minor Leagues has created inside of himself the need to not only line his own bank accounts as much as possible but also to tear the entire Major League Baseball system down – to assist in making bigger the mess created by Selig, and top Players Union officials Gene Orza and Donald Fehr.
He’s attempting to sell the game to the highest bidder, once reportedly pitching to Selig a proposal to extend the World Series to a best of nine format with the first two games being in neutral cities – markets around the glove would bid for the opportunity, he told the New Yorker.
But make no mistake about it. People as arrogant and as smarmy as he is eventually get what is coming to them. It almost happened when he demanded $350 million from the Yankees last year just for the privilege of being able to negotiate with his ‘roid-ragin’ client.
It almost happened when his nine-figure demands to the Dodgers on behalf of Manny Ramirez this past offseason fell flat. Both the Yankees and the Dodgers gave him a chance to save face in the end.
But one of these days that emergency parachute isn’t going to pop open. One of these days the landing will be hard. Will it be this effort to blow up the draft?
One can only guess. But one of these days he’s going to go one step too far. And it’s going to cost him. Greed made a lot of people rich over the last couple decades, but greed has also gotten this country into a lot of problems. It’s only a matter of time before it starts happening in professional sports and to smarmy agents like Scott Boras.
And when it happens there will be plenty of people enjoying watching you fall.