By Patrick Languzzi (Cooperstown Correspondent) Follow @patricklanguzzi
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He has a billion dollar smile, a list of clients taller than Shaquille O’Neil and is considered Major League Baseball’s super agent.
In 2006 Baseball America named him the most influential non-player in 25 years, beating out Major League commissioner Bud Selig, yes, that Bud Selig!
Major League Baseball has had to change its rules in response to him on multiple occasions and he has a list of clients that include or have included Jayson Werth (126m), Matt Holliday (120m), Barry Zito (126m), Carlos Beltran (119m) and now the wealthier Jacoby Ellsbury (153m) – just to name a few, and the list goes on..
Fans, teams and general managers may despise him for fear that he is destroying Major League Baseball.
We’re talking about Scott Boras.
Boras Interview From 2009 (After being named the most influential non – player for last 25 years)
Monday November 21, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Every baseball offseason, we all seem to fall into a familiar trap. The focus always seem to be on the “prize” free agents, while bargains always seem to be had (especially when the big spenders have reached their budgets). So while Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson and company are the majority of the headlines- are they truly the difference makers? Getting quality players that are more economical may in fact have a stronger impact on a team that is looking to compete. It allows for a team to fill needs while devoting financial resources to other resources, including scouting, signing draft picks and locking up younger players before they hit free agency. Remember: a team has many expense areas but only a certain amount of money to go around. Devoting $100 million+ to 1 player tends to significantly limit a team, regardless of the strength of such a player. “Spreading the wealth” so to speak, will limit the risk of putting all the eggs in one basket. It is a similar to diversification of stocks. A well-rounded portfolio will tend to outperform most others. But if those assets can be acquired at a reduced cost, the return will look even better.
Now, imagine that we were going to build a starting lineup based purely on free agents. What available free agents would give a team the best bang for the buck? If we were to look at the 2012 MLB free agency list, our All-Bargain team would probably look a little something like this:
C: Ryan Doumit (starter) and Jose Molina (backup): At approximately $5 million combined, Doumit and Molina should offer fairly solid production at a reasonable rate. Doumit also offers versatility by playing first and some outfield. If (and when) Doumit gets injured, Molina can handle the starting chores for a stretch with a minor leaguer backing up. In my estimation Doumit has the potential to breakout in a Mike Napoli manner. He has the skills and power. The guy just has to stay healthy. As far as overall offense and defense from the catching position, there are fewer solid backups that Jose- part of the great “Catching Molinas.”
1B: Carlos Pena: This one area that I am prepared to splurge. For all the talk of the low average, Pena should offer good power, a solid OBP and gold glove defense. At approximately $10 million per season, he will still be a bargain to the other heavyweights at the position. This is one area that you need top-notch offense and Pena should deliver again in 2012.
2B: Kelly Johnson: See Carlos Pena but at a more reasonable ticket price. Johnson has a strong knack for getting on base and has excellent power for the position. He is a gamer that will always have a spot on my team.
SS: Ramon Santiago: You can’t fully appreciate what Santiago offers unless you watch him on a daily basis. Few infielders have a glove as strong as his. While not the most gifted offensive player, he can chip in the occasional big hit while holding his own as a #8 or #9 hitter. Another versatile player to have on the roster. Options are always good.
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff: The “Crushin’ Russian” is on the squad. Yes, I am still holding out hope that he will come together. I would take a chance on a breakout. At the very least you will get good “D” and some offense at a bargain basement price. If he doesn’t come together, I would grab Casey Blake or Wilson Betemit to sit on the bench if they come dirt cheap.
CF: Grady Sizemore: I like the style of Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick. I would have been at Sizemore’s house on the first day of free agency as well. Given his high upside and apparent health, I would sign him as quickly as possible. If you get even 75% of the old Sizemore, you still have a likely All-Star.
LF: Raul Ibanez: I’ve heard about his defense. But I am still signing him. Rauuuuul will come at a fraction of his last big contract. The man owns his own rejuvenation chamber and still has the body of a 35-year old. Strong leader, 20+ home runs and all at a maximum of cost $5 million per season. Mark him sold.
RF: J.D. Drew: Hungry for one more big contract? With Scott Boras as his agent, this on-base machine should be hungry to prove that he is healthy and productive. He may cost $3 million per season. Well worth the risk. Just to cover ourselves, Johnny Damon is also coming on board as a 4th outfielder. Between Sizmore, Ibanez, Drew and Damon, we should be able to run out an outfield most days. If David DeJesus or Rick Ankiel are prepared to hang around as 5th outfielders/designated hitters, we may find some spare cash for them as well.
DH: If we are talking non-National League team, then we HAVE to grab Josh Willingham as our designated hitter. Or even a right fielder if we must. The Hammer still carries a heavy bat and should anchor the offense. He still has a couple of more productive years in him. He should come at a relative bargain price considering 25+ home run bats are not easy to come by.
SP: Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Aaron Harang, Paul Maholm, Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis: From these six selected starters, we should have ourselves a fairly decent rotation. Pitching is one of the most difficult areas on any roster to fill, especially starters. You have to catch lightning in a bottle and hope many factors, especially health, work out. Maholm and Harang should be our “aces” with approximately 12 wins a-piece. Capuano will be the third starter, who should be even better with another healthy year under his belt. Between Chen, D-Train and Penny, we will count on veteran inning-eaters who are able to squeeze out wins. Not the team’s greatest source of strength, but all six of these pitchers combined will cost less per season that C.C. Sabathia on his own.
RP: Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton, Jeremy Accardo, Shawn Camp, Fernando Rodney, Damaso Marte, J.C. Romero: Going with the Tony La Russa formula, we are putting together a veteran pen with several closing options. If at full strength, Broxton should be the ninth inning guy. Otherwise, the role will fall to Capps or Rodney. Accardo and Camp should be decent middle relievers with Marte and Romero balancing out the pen. Used to their capabilities, our pen should help us contend.
Conclusion: Building a team on a budget is not the easiest process. This team will cost us likely north of $80 million dollars, but should stay under the magical $100 million mark. Considering it is a team built from scratch and based on availability, “Team MLB Reports” should be a veteran squad that stays in the pennant race. Even with the relative slim pickings in some areas, this year’s free agency squad offers value at most positions. While no teams will be built based solely on free agency this year, there are enough complimentary parts that any Major League team can find good value. It is just a question of shopping smart and buying at the right time.
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Monday October 17, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: With the World Series all set to commence on Wednesday (Cardinals and Rangers)- our attention is slowly shifting to the upcoming free agency period. A big name (literally) of discussion has been David Ortiz, or better known in baseball circles as “Big Papi”. The rumor mill is running wild as to where Ortiz will play in 2012. Let’s shed some light on the subject and clear up the confusion.
The soon to be 36-year old Ortiz is coming off one of his finest seasons in recent memory. Papi finished with a steady all-around season: 29 home runs, 96 RBIs, 84 runs, 78/83 BB/K, .309 AVG and .953 OPS. Ortiz was named to his 7th all-star team and finishing up a 5-year, $64.5 million contract. For a player that appeared to be in decline back in 2009, Ortiz has shown the last two seasons that he has some juice left in the tank. But with the Red Sox in shambles, given the departure of long-time manager Terry Francona and soon to be ex-GM Theo Epstein, Ortiz himself has said that Boston has become too much of a soap opera. The question on every baseball fan’s mind: will he stay or will he go?
The Ortiz decision to stay in Boston will largely depend on several factors. Firstly, it is unclear whether the team wishes to retain him or go in a different direction. As an aging team with hitters that could use the rest from playing in the field every day, the Red Sox may not longer wish to commit the DH spot to one exclusive batter. Taking that into account with Papi’s streaks and slumps that past few years and recent comments, may be enough for the Red Sox upper management to wish to move on. But if the team does wish to retain him, or give in to fan pressure to keep Ortiz (which is likely to come given his immense popularity), will Papi himself want to remain in Boston? Only the man could answer that question. To know the answer, one would have to get into the player’s head. Does Otiz get along with his teammates or are there divided fractions? How much did the 2011 collapse take a toll on his morale? When will a new GM come into place and will he be able to have a good relationship with Ortiz? Same issue for a new manager…and you get the idea. There are many variables that put into question whether Ortiz could or would stay in Boston.
In my estimation, Ortiz is on his final contract. He will likely obtain a 2-year contract, with an option for a third. Based on his rich history and legacy in Boston, I think that when push comes to shove- the player will stay. Boston needs Papi; and Papi needs Boston. It would not feel right to see Ortiz in another uniform (check out highlights from his days in Minnesota and you will see what I mean). Major League Baseball also would love to see Ortiz remain in Boston for marketing purposes. With so many vested interests in getting this deal done, I believe it will happen. But what if it does not? What if Papi jumps ship? I see his options as far and few between.
The first option that jumped out was the Yankees. It will not happen. While the Yankees would love to stick it to Boston, they will not likely want another aging DH on their hands after the Jorge Posada fiasco this past season. The Yankees also have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and company that need days off the field, A-Rod especially given his failing health. With A-Rod becoming a part-time DH as soon as next year, the Yankees cannot afford to take on Papi at this stage. Plus the team has up-and-coming superstar Jesus Montero that needs playing time and has nothing more to prove in AAA. So the Yankees rate as a no.
The next options for Ortiz? It will only be American League teams as he is only a DH at this stage of his career. The only realistic teams that have the open position and fit are Toronto, Tampa Bay and Anaheim. The Jays are being thrown around many circles as a possible destination. It makes sense for several reasons. Ortiz knows the ballpark well from his AL East days. He gets along well with Jose Bautista and would serve as a great mentor for the Jays young hitters. Toronto was missing production last season from the DH spot and would welcome Papi’s bat. But despite these factors, I don’t see this signing happening. Ortiz will want to play on a contender and fight for another ring. His career is winding down and so are his chances. While Toronto has a strong young nucleus, they are at least 2-3 years aways. As much as this would be a feel-good signing, I would rate is as another no.
Thus the battle for the services of David Ortiz will boil down to the Tampa Bay Rays and Anaheim Angels. Two strong playoff contending teams that desperately need his bat. Tampa Bay should be the favorite, given the familiarity of the AL East and the strong need of the team. The Rays have the lineup spot for Ortiz and should make a big push for him. The Angels have the same need, but not the best fit for position. The team has a logjam in the outfield with Mike Trout likely to be with the big club next year and Kendrys Morales returning to the team from injury. But when there is a will, there is a way. Like many other squads, the Angels would need to do some creative shuffling to make room for Ortiz. Vernon Wells may need to be moved for a bad pitcher’s contract in return (Carlos Zambrano anyone?) Kendrys Morales may not be recovered or Trout may not be ready. The Angels went through a desperate need all year in 2011 for runs and will not want to face the same issue come 2012. Papi could be the perfect short-term solution for the Halos.
The four-horse race to sign David Ortiz will come down to the Red Sox, Jays, Rays and Angels. The Rays are my dark horse favorite and best overall fit. The Jays would love to take him on, it will just depend on the confidence Papi has in the team’s ability to compete. Boston will hang in right till the end and the Angels will need to be aggressive to get him. If we are playing the odds, I would rate Boston as a 70% favorite, followed by Tampa Bay at 20% and the Jays/Angels at 5% each. Once the World Series ends, let the David Ortiz sweepstakes begin!
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Saturday October 1, 2011
Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports): Going into the day, the opening day of playoffs had some pretty high expectations to live up to. While the games weren’t as electrifying as the last day of the season, it was pretty fun to finally watch some high pressure postseason baseball. Here is a recap of what happened today:
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers: ALDS Game One
The Rays came into this game with energy and by most accounts, the number three rated prospect in all of baseball taking the mound. Perhaps the most emotional part of the game was the first pitch thrown out by Cooper Stone. Cooper’s dad Shannon was killed after falling while trying to catch a foul ball. The game started in pleasant 80 degree weather in Arlington with a stadium filled with fans wearing Rangers colors. After the Rays had scored six runs in the first three innings, it became obvious that the Rangers would need to rely on their offense. This is something they’ve done all year, but Matt Moore proved to be too much for the Texas sluggers. He was so dominant that in the sixth inning Josh Hamilton, of all people, tried to bunt for a hit (his effort was unsuccessful). Moore pitched seven scoreless innings while allowing only two hits. Talk about impressive. Matt Moore is only twenty-two years, and this was only his second start in the majors (fourth appearance). If the Rays thought they could hide Moore in the minors for a few months next year, now it seems next to impossible. To have such a big time performance in front of the whole country will be something that will stay with him forever. (Another thing that will stay with him forever is his extremely bushy eyebrows, but that’s a different story for another time.) The Rays other hero was Kelly Shoppach, the thirty-one year old backup catcher. Shoppach went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI and 2 homers. That’s pretty impressive considering he batted .176 with 11 HR on the season. When asked after the game about Matt Moore, Shoppach had this to say, “His nameplate said Matt Moore and I said, ‘Who is Matt Moore?’ … Nobody will forget his name now.” This game wasn’t a thriller but it showed how many different players on a given day have to contribute in order for the Rays to have success.
Result: Rays win 9-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers: ALDS Game One
This game started off with Delmon Young going deep off C.C. Sabathia to right field. The ball carried just inches over Nick Swisher’s glove and gave the Tigers an early lead. However, the Yankees battled back to score in the bottom of the first. After that, the rain started. This is becoming a trend for postseason baseball and it’s not good for the game at all. In my opinion, Bud Selig should shorten the season or start spring training earlier in order to avoid this in the future. Nobody enjoys watching how weather affects the game. We just want to see the best players square off against each other. Anyways, the rain kept coming until at fifteen minutes past 11PM in New York, the umpires decided to suspend the game. Since this is the postseason, that means that the current score, outs, strikes, etc. will be delayed until Saturday at 8:37PM ET. The only real bummer is that Sabathia and Justin Verlander won’t be able to finish their matchup. Sabathia wants to pitch tomorrow but I think that’s doubtful and a bad idea no matter how thin the Yankees rotation is. According to Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch, Ivan Nova is likely to get the start tomorrow. So if that is true the “starters” will be Nova for New York, and Doug Fister for Detroit. Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA since being traded to Detroit, so he will provide a challenge for the Yankees offense. It should be a fun game to watch, providing the rain holds up.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
Sunday July 3, 2011
MLB reports: The man behind the billion dollar smile, Scott Boras is a big business. The Boras Corporation represents close to 200 MLB players. This is one of the most influential, if not important people in baseball today. But the man is categorized in many baseball circles as “the devil”, for “forcing” major league teams to dish out excessively large contracts to his clients. Is this really the case? Is Boras bad for baseball or simply a man who knows how to do his job and do it well? Let’s take an inside look at Scott Boras and search behind the contracts.
We took a look yesterday at Randy “Macho Man” Savage, an athlete that aside from being a wrestling superstar, was a baseball player. On the same token, Scott Boras the agent, was at one point Scott Boras the baseball player as well. Here are the numbers that Boras put up in four minor league seasons in the Cardinals and Cubs organizations:
|A (3 seasons)||A||815||56||4||43||.293||.354||.385|
|AA (1 season)||AA||265||37||1||26||.275||.377||.351|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||95||13||0||10||.274||.402||.347|
A man ahead of his time, Boras was one of the original moneyball players. For his career, Boras had 133 walks and only 76 strikeouts. Those numbers were for good for a lifetime .363 OBP, to go along with his .288 AVG. Knee injuries unfortunately cut his career short and Boras only made it as high as AA ball. With the baseball experience under his belt, Boras went on to practice law and from there become a full-time baseball agent in the early 1980s. Imagine if the 58-year old Scott Boras had made it to the majors and had played for 10+ years. He would have been playing well into the 1980s, when his agent career took off. But alas, Randy Poffo the wrestler became Randy Savage the baseball player. Scott Boras the baseball player became a player agent. Certain things are meant to be and some roles seem to be predestined. But it is still fun to think what could have been and had Boras been able to continue in for professional baseball as a player for many seasons, Scott Boras the agent might have never come into existence.
The exploits of Scott Boras as an agent are legendary. From the Bill Caudill contract with the Jays, Todd Van Poppel deal, J.D. Drew refusing to sign with the Phillies, the Alex Rodriguez contract, Darren Dreifort contract, negotiations for Stephen Strasburg and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boras has done it all and seen it all. Let’s take a peak at 10 of the biggest contracts negotiated by Boras:
10. Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners: 5 years, $64 million
9. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox: 6 years, $52 million
8. Kevin Millwood, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $60 million
7. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: 7 years, $119 million
6. Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers: 7 years, $105 million
5.Matt White, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: $10.2 million bonus
4. Andruw Jones, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 years, $36.2 million
3. Chan Ho Park, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $65 million
2. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants: 7 years, $126 million
1. Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers: 10 years, $252 million
The list literally goes on and on. Boras Corporation has negotiated contracts well over a billion dollars in my estimation and the number keeps rising by the day. We can pick any contracts negotiated by Boras for review, but these ten deals are particularly interesting ones. What do these contracts all have in common? Firstly, they are for very large dollar amounts and very often far exceed what most experts predicted for each particular player. Secondly, none of the teams that signed their respective deal appeared to have benefited from the deal. In the sense that I would argue each team on this list had buyer’s remorse and would take back the contract if given the chance. Lastly, all of these contracts were negotiated and signed by Scott Boras and each respective major league team owner and general manager. It takes two to tango and in this case, sometimes three or four parties. For as much as teams and fans want to burn Scott Boras at the stake for destroying baseball, these contracts were signed by the free will of each team. Furthermore, each team pursued their respective players and courted them to accept a contract and join their team. At some point, MLB teams need to look at the mirror if they want to change the economic landscape of the game and stop blaming Scott Boras and the player agents of this world.
An agent’s job is to land the biggest contract for his or her client. A team’s job is to field the most competitive team at the most economical price. When a player turns out to be a bust or financial albatross, it is the team that did not do their job. The baseball world fell over when Jayson Werth signed his seven-year, $126 million contract. The blame fell to Scott Boras for the most part for extorting such a large figure out of the Washington Nationals. Why? Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals organization are all big boys that can make their own decisions. Without seemingly any strong bidders against them, the Nationals literally outbid themselves in handing Werth such a lucrative and absurd contract. Most analysts, myself included, felt that this contract could only end up failing the Nationals. Werth as an injury prone player without a proven track record was going to likely have a hard time justifying his deal. But don’t blame the player or agent. No, they did their job in the process. It is the team that needs to take responsibility for its actions. An important lesson in life is to learn from one’s mistakes. But teams keep making the same financial blunders, over and over when it comes to player contracts. That is not the fault of Scott Boras. It is the teams.
When free agency opens up each offseason, I compare the winter meetings to children being handed large wads of money and being thrown into a candy store. They cannot control themselves and have to buy more and more to satisfy their hungers. As it is not the children to blame when they are spoiled, it is really not the General Managers either when they have large spending budgets. As parents need to take responsibility for their children, team owners need to account for their General Managers. The large contracts that are handed out every year must be approved by each team owner beforehand. Thus the way a child comes to ask for a $500 remote control car, a General Manager will ask for a $126 million Werth. When the parent and team owner both say yes, they only have themselves to blame. The toy and player inevitably break down or are seen as too expensive in hindsight. But by then, the toy cannot be returned to the store and the player contract cannot be voided. The lesson is to learn from the experience and to avoid similar mistakes in the future. But teams refuse to listen and learn and as a result, player contracts in baseball are exploding with no end in sight.
Let’s keep Scott Boras in perspective. The man does his job very well and pushes the limit of player contracts in baseball. He might be a very intelligent person and a great salesperson. But at the end of the day, he is simply doing his job. For myself as a consumer, if I buy a brand new car for $30,000 when I could have bought a similar model down the road for $10,000 less, I cannot blame the car dealer or its salesperson. It was up to me as the consumer to shop around and get the best deal I could. There would have been other cars, the same way for MLB teams there will always be other players. But teams don’t see it that way. They get caught up in the negotiations and the thrill of the hunt and get determined to land their “guy”. The Red Sox begged and pleaded to get Dice-K into a Red Sox uniform. The same Sox and Yankees battled it out to land Mark Teixeira. The Texas Rangers and then owner Tom Hicks literally handed Alex Rodriguez a blank cheque to land the marquee free agent. Again and again, MLB teams go out of their way to land the players they want and end up blaming the players and their agent when the contracts do not work out.
One man I will give credit to is Fred Wilpon. In criticizing the Carlos Beltran contract, he blamed the team for overpaying the outfielder based on one good playoff run. This is a man who at the very least took responsibility for his actions and knew where to lay the blame. Since the Beltran deal, the Mets, along with the Braves and Angels, are three teams that tend to stay away from dealing with Scott Boras and the players he represents. That is ultimately the best approach and the only way that any order can be established. If teams do not want to dish the money, all they have to say is no. But as long as the money is there and being handed out by the teams by the truck loads, Scott Boras will be there with open arms, negotiating the best contracts for his clients that he can.
Scott Boras has accomplished some amazing feats during his agent career. From changing the rules on arbitration and free agency, Boras pushes the boundaries and finds all the loopholes to change the economic system of the game. The sign of a great lawyer, negotiator and agent. Before fans are quick to condemn the man, lets step back and appreciate what he has accomplished. Scott Boras and the Boras Corporation are a billion dollar industry. They provide marketing services, training facilities for their clients and look after their clients every needs. Boras has a team of experts that are constantly studying and keeping track of the game. Scott Boras stays on top of the game and thus is able to stay competitive and negotiate the best contracts for his clients. While not everyone agrees with his methods, particularly the Alex Rodriguez opt-out with the Yankees which led A-Rod to leave Boras, he may have the ideas, but it is up to players to accept them and teams to listen. As long as players keep lining up to hire Scott Boras and teams await with open arms and wallets, the system will not change. Scott Boras may be a lot of things, but the devil he is certainly not. He is simply a smart, hard worker who does his job well at levels that few can attain. A baseball pioneer, Scott Boras has certainly left his mark on the game. While many fans and teams do not agree with his methods, at the end of the day he gets the job done. Scott Boras: Genius or madness? You decide.
Please see the list below of some of the clients in the Scott Boras stable. The list is growing by the day: