The Baseball Report Volume IV Issue 17
November 17, 2000
From The Editor,
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The Super-Agent to the Stars by Emily Liner
The most reviled man in baseball is not commissioner Bud Selig or New YorkYankees' owner George Steinbrenner. He is Scott Boras, agent to the stars.
Several baseball fans believe that Boras is the evil force behind the sudden rise in the salaries of baseball players. A chat in a chat room on ESPN.com even said, "Boras is responsible for the downfall of baseball." Well, he was the man behind Kevin Brown's seven year, $105 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, a record at the time for his annual salary.
That is just the tip of the iceberg of Scott Boras, Inc. The baseball law firm, with a staff of 25 people, represents nearly fifty players, including Rick Ankiel, JD Drew, Charles Johnson, Andruw Jones, Greg Maddux, Bernie Williams, and this season's hottest free agent, Alex Rodriguez. In just the past decade the company has represented 38 first round draft picks. Boras' first client, Mike Fischlin, is now the head of his scouting department, which is made up of ten former Major League baseball players. Jeff Musselman heads the administrative office. The company uses a special database, which Boras is very proud of, for player studies, arbitration cases, and historical salary information.
Boras, a California native born in 1952, did not always intend to be an agent. He earned a B.A. in chemistry from the University of the Pacific in 1974. Two years later he received a Ph.D. in industrial pharmacology. He played Minor League baseball from 1974 to1978 with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox; the farthest he got was Double-A. He got a law degree in 1982, and practiced medical litigation. Not until 1985 did he devote his career to representing baseball players.
Another one of Boras' largest deals was the contract he brokered for Maddux in 1997 with the Atlanta Braves. It was a five-year agreement worth $57.5 million dollars. He also negotiated Williams' seven-year, $87.5 contract with the New York Yankees in 1998.
"He's tenacious. He's prepared. He understands the game of leverage. He knows how to use information and how to disseminate it," says Jerry Colangelo, the owner ofthe Arizona Diamondbacks.
Boras has created much controversy with clients Drew and Ankiel. In 1997, Drew was the Philadelphia Phillies'second pick. However, they were unable to sign him because they could not afford him. He re-entered the draft in 1998, was taken fifth by St. Louis, and signed a four-year, $8.5 million contract, the largest draft signing ever.
Ankiel was drafted in the second round by St. Louis in 1997 and signed a $2.5 million contract. He made his Major League debut at the young age of 20. Because of his youth, Boras made anagreement, outside of the contract, that until Ankiel turned twenty-two he would be closely monitored and kept on a one hundred-pitch count. Several people thought that was rather strict, but Boras defended his decision well, saying that it was in Ankiel's best interest.
All of this leads to the most popular subject of the 2000 season: A-Rod's status. Rodriguez signed a fairly small contract as a rookie. Now he is a free agent and one of the best players in the Major Leagues. With Toronto's Carlos Delgado setting the table at 17 million dollars annually, many speculate that Rodriguez could get as much as 25 million dollars. His age is big factor. Since he is only 25, he has at least 15 good seasons ahead of him. Boras is eager to get him as much money as possible, along with extra bonuses like an escalator clause and team perks. To convince teams that Rodriguezis an invaluable player, he wrote a 50 page book about his future.
Many people think that Boras' tactics are sneaky. Some say that another ploy he uses often is a "phantom buyers" ploy, which means that he makes teams think that there are many pursuers of a player when there really are a few. These tricks drive up a player's worth. Boras, however, does not agree with these notions.
"As a lawyer I have an obligation to my clients and as a former baseball player I have an obligation to the game of baseball. When you represent any individual who's seeking millions ofdollars for work, you understand the general public is going to look at it asif it is a function of greed or behavior considered beyond the norm. Players, unlike most workers, are the product being sold as well as the employee providing the service. Their status is unique and it requires ananalysis," remarked Boras.
If that does not sum it up, Boras added, "In a world of contracts,market placement, and sophisticated negotiations without proper representation in any industry, a party would suffer due to lack of knowledge and informational support."
Maybe Boras is not so bad after all… for the players he represents, at least.
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The Other Guys by Eric D. Larson
Now that the emotions of baseball’s on-the-field theatrics have subsided, it is time for the managers, owners, and agents to step up tothe plate. Their goal: realize thecommon ground between money and talent. There are plenty of big name superstars on the free agent rosters, butlet us not forget the other guys, the medium-level players testing the open waters. After all, it might be that timely, yet unheralded acquisition that will make the difference in the coming year.
It is now the job of coaches and scouts to pick that player whose stock is likely to rise. With new players on the market right now, managers are scrambling to build the perfect portfolio.
Ichiro Suzuki might be this year’s best buy out of free agency. He posted big statistics in the Japanese Leagues last year and, incidentally, not on the pitching mound. Suzuki batted .387 and possessed a .460 on-base percentage in the 2000 season. It is anyone’s guess how these numbers might transfer to the American major leagues. He would be the first position player to make the switch.
Chicago fans would have a hard time picturing Mark Grace without a Cubs' uniform, but the first baseman is a free agent this year. Grace has been the lone factor of continuity in the Cubs line-up during the last decade, hitting for high averages andr emaining virtually injury-free every year. Without him, Chicago would have a significant hole in their lineup. Grace is hoping to resign with his old team, and the feeling is definitely mutual. The Cubs know that he is an important part of their formula, but a high-dollar contract will have to be part of the equation.
With players like Sandy Alomar and Manny Ramirez on the run from Cleveland, pitcher Jason Bere might be lost in the media fumble. Bere was a midseason purchase in 2000. The Indians hoped he would provide the final burst of energy that would vault their squad into the playoffs. He won six games in 11 starts. It was not enough for the Indians, but ag ood year for Bere might be in the books for any team willing to pick him up.
Perhaps the most valuable catcher in the American League, Charles Johnson, is likely to leave Chicago and venture into the National League. In the process, he figures to attract big dollars. Johnson sets himself apart from Mets superstar Mike Piazza through his superior defensive skills. He would certainly rival Piazza for a starting spot on the All Star Team in 2001. Right now, however, the prospective votes are too close to call.
Kevin Appier won 22 games in a season and a half with the Oakland Athletics. He likely will command a hefty salary to stay with the A’s. If they cannot pay their ace, he will make a nice addition to any team’s rotation.
The Atlanta Braves are left with another disappointing postseason finish. The possibility of losing first baseman Andres Galarraga can only add to their distress. At age 39, resigning with the Braves may not be lucrative, but who knows what team may be willing to break the bank for the Big Cat. He batted .300 and drove in 100 runs last season, and his baseball toughness is nothing short of legendary.
Todd Hundley is now a free agent, and the Dodger catche rmight raise eyebrows with Major League managers. Hundley is a strong left-handed hitter, who draws respect from his teammates. He would be a smart buy for any team.
The list of teamless big leaguers is enough to excite most baseball fans. It seems that even the most loyal players have become disenfranchised, in the quest for more money and stronger playoff chances. It is enough to give every team president and manager headaches. Their only hope is that these guys can play the same level of hardball on the field as they do at the negotiation table.
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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly by Hollis T. Russell
With apologies to Clint Eastwood, Major League Baseball has shown brightly in all three of the following categories in the last one hundred years, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Hopefully the good has outweighed the badand the ugly but only history and public opinion can tilt the scale.
Atthe turn of the century, the newly formed American League offered higher salaries to players of the established National League in an attempt to attain instant credibility with the fans. This was good for the expansion of baseball but bad for the owners of the National League as it forced them to pay their players more money in order to keep them.
In 1905, the World Series became an annual event that forever silenced the argument of who was the best team in baseball. This season also saw the arrival of a young outfielder from Georgia, Ty Cobb. Of the 22 major record categories of hitting and base stealing, Cobb is among the top ten leaders in 15 of those all-time historical feats. Still. Good for all.
In 1918, the Red Sox won their fifth and last World Championship of the 20th Century. Good for Boston and Bad for Boston.
One year later, Ugly surfaces in the worst possible way. Seven players on the Chicago White Sox secretly agreed to throw the Series against the Redlegs in return for a $100,000 payoff by the bookies. Although the public was not informed of this scar against baseball until September of the following year, the damage was done. Ultimately, ten players were banned for life. With baseball losing the confidence of the American people, drastic measures were taken. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was hired to form the office of Commissioner of Baseball and slowly, the public returned to the ballparks. Ugly.
Overshadowed by the so-called Black Sox Scandal,was the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees so Boston owner, Harry Frazzie, could raise enough money to put on his Broadway production of “No, No Nanette.” This travesty is known in Boston as the “Curse of the Bambino” and is still referred to ad nauseum. Good for baseball and Bad for the Red Sox Nation.
This began the first dynasty in MLB. First Ruth, then Gehrig in 24, Muesel and Lazzeri in ’26 and a long string of Championships that began in ’23 and has yet to end. New category – Great.
The 1936-39 Yankees. Good for Roosevelt.
The 1949-53 Yankees. Good for Marilyn.
The1961-62 Yankees will always be spoken of in reverent terms, but it was the accomplishments of Roger Maris that stand out. Maris did the unthinkable; he broke “the Babe’s” longstanding home runrecord. Bad for Maris.
At the time, this amazing feat was unpopular because Ruth’s personality and accomplishments both on and off the field made him an all-time great of the game. Because of this fact, Maris’s record was forever put into perspective with an asterisk because Babe hit his sixty homers in 154 games and Maris hithis 61st in the final game of a 162 game schedule. That same year, Mickey Mantle hit 54 homeruns, the most productive output of his career. Good for Mantle.
An interesting side point, the M & M boys total for the year was 115. This eclipsed the two-man mark of 107 set by Ruth and Gehrig in 1927. Good for baseball.
The Brooklyn Dodgers packed up and left New York after the 1957 season and moved to sunny California. Bad for Brooklyn.
By 1963 there were few leftovers from the New York days but one in particular, Johnny Podres pitched game two in the World Series and beat the Yankees 4-1. Los Angeles pitching proved too powerful as the Yanks went down in four. LA only used three pitchers in that series; Podres, Don Drysdale and a young kid named Sandy Koufax. The Dodger’s had a composite ERA of 1.00 and Koufax struck out a record 15 batters in game one. Good for those who can remember pitching on three days rest.
The’64 Cards won with Bob Gibson, who led them to victory in the World Series over the Yankees, their first since 1946. As great as Gibson was in a Hall of Fame career, when the talk gets around to pitching, the nod goes to Koufax. In '65, Sandy led the Dodgers to victory over the Twins pitching three games in the Series with an ERA of 0.38. Although he lost game one, his other two appearances were shutouts. Good for the official scorekeeper.
The Red Sox of 1967 are another one of the great 60’s teams. Although the Cards won the series in seven games with Gibson pitching in three games with an ERA of 1.00, the Sox forever be remembered for the performance of Carl Yastremski. “Yaz” won the coveted “Triple Crown” that year and was named the American League MVP. To this day, no one else has reached this pinnacle of hitting fame. Good for Teddy Ballgame, he did it twice.
The seventies brought the great Oakland A’s and their three consecutive World Series victories. They gave Mr. October, Reggie Jackson who had a long and storied career ending with the Yankees after 21 seasons. Good for baseball and bad for George Steinbrenner.
The seventies are also noted for the “Big Red Machine,” led by Sparky Anderson. Although they never put together a string ofWorld Series victories to rival the great Yankee and Oakland teams, they were nonetheless one of the finest teams ever assembled in the history of the game. Unfortunately, that team also produced another Ugly, Pete Rose.
After his playing career ended, which included a record 4,256 hits, Rose went into management. During his fifth season as the Reds manager, Tommy Helms replaced him, for allegedly betting on MLB games. Although proof of his involvement was clearly evident, Rose refused to admit his guilt and was banned from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti. When Pete Rose finally admits to lying and baseball gets off its high horse, Rose should be eligible to join his peers in the Hall of Fame. Disgustingly Ugly.
With the possible exception of Toronto in 1992-3 and the Braves of the 90’s, there have been no great teams since the Redlegs of the 70’s. Until now. The Yankees of 1996, 1998-2000 have proved that they can compete with anybody history can throw at them. Led by Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, they have put together a return to the dynasty years of the past. The managerial brilliance of Joe Torre cannot be underestimated and although George Steinbrenner will deal some of this years Champions to other teams, it is no secret that he will use his checkbook to make free agency work for him again.
Of course there have been many other instances of good and bad in MLB this past century, but they are far too numerous to list in the brief space allocated here. The memories of the reader far outnumber these few incidents. Lovers of baseball will remember those late afternoons in the old neighborhood whenthe dinner hour was approaching and one of the guy’s said, “Let’s play one more.” There must be a little bit of Ernie Banks in everybody.
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A New MVP System by Richard Courtens
The fact that some electors will not vote for pitchers or they will almost completely ignore players on losing teams for MVP consideration is wrong. To create a better method, I developed a new system.
At the end of each game, the following question is asked and answered: Who did the most to lead his team to victory? This player is awarded three points; the second place player is awarded two points and the third place player is awarded one point. The votes may be split in the case of ties. As an example, two players might be tied for first place and each would get two and a half points; the remaining one point would be awarded to the third place finisher(s). No player may ever be awarded more than three points. The points were totaled for the season.
Some critics challenge the awarding of points to players on losing teams. One classic example which occurred this season comes to mind. On May 6, Pedro Martinez lost 1-0 to Steve Trachsel. Trachsel easily was the "3-pointer." But Martinez deserved second or third place consideration. He did as much as a pitcher can do to contribute to team success.
Tree people collaborated this year to implement this system. Unfortunately, box scores and game accounts, which tend to overlook defensive efforts had to be used. The proper implementation of this system requires attendance at the game. However, the results obtained have merit.
Here are the 2000 MVP's:
(APP is the number of games in which the player was named either 1st, 2nd
or 3rd MVP.)
APP First Name Last Name Team TOTAL
36 JASON GIAMBI OAK 69.67
40 MIKE SWEENEY KC 65.21
24 PEDRO MARTINEZ BOS 64.00
33 FRANK THOMAS WSOX 63.00
29 MO VAUGHN ANA 57.00
33 BERNIE WILLIAMS NYY 55.17
29 MANNY RAMIREZ CLE 53.26
29 ALEX RODRIGUEZ SEA 53.08
31 CARL EVERETT BOS 52.78
31 JIM THOME CLE 52.26
27 BOB HIGGINSON DET 52.13
31 TONY BATISTA TOR 51.92
28 NOMAR GARCIAPARRA BOS 51.32
19 MIKE MUSSINA BAL 51.00
22 DAVID WELLS TOR 51.00
29 DARIN ERSTAD ANA 50.50
30 FRED MCGRIFF TBAY 50.08
27 CARLOS DELGADO TOR 49.25
30 MIGUEL TEJADA OAK 48.75
32 DAVID JUSTICE CLE/NYY48.33
28 MAGGLIO ORDONEZ WSOX 48.08
28 TROY GLAUS ANA 48.00
17 ANDY PETTITTE NYY 47.00
30 RAFAEL PALMEIRO TEX 46.92
19 ROGER CLEMENS NYY 46.50
19 BARTOLO COLON CLE 46.50
APP First Name Last Name Team TOTAL
39 TODD HELTON COL 84.00
37 SAMMY SOSA CUBS 74.50
32 JIM EDMONDS STL 71.50
37 BARRY BONDS SF 69.50
36 VLADIMIR GUERRERO MTL 66.50
31 PRESTON WILSON FLA 66.00
33 JEFF KENT SF 62.00
28 ERIC KARROS LA 61.00
28 KEN GRIFFEY CIN 60.50
28 JEFF CIRILLO COL 59.00
25 GREG MADDUX ATL 58.00
32 ANDRUW JONES ATL 58.00
31 BRIAN GILES PIT 57.50
26 RANDY JOHNSON ARZ 57.50
32 JEFF BAGWELL HOU 57.00
34 CHIPPER JONES ATL 57.00
30 CLIFF FLOYD FLA 56.00
29 GARY SHEFFIELD LA 55.00
26 ANDRES GALARRAGA ATL 53.00
28 MIKE PIAZZA NYM 53.00
29 LUIS GONZALEZ ARZ 53.00
33 GEOFF JENKINS MIL 53.00
27 SCOTT ROLEN PHI 51.50
29 STEVE FINLEY ARZ 51.33
25 JEFFREY HAMMONDS COL 51.00
19 DARRYL KILE STL 51.00
22 TOM GLAVINE ATL 51.00
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Let's Get Real by Ryan J. Hines
I don't want to overly bash Joe Torre here. I personally like the man and think he is a good manager. I understand that his team just won the World Series, so it is right to give him kudos for a job done, but I think that your articles go a little too far in placing credit where creditisn't exactly due.
On another note, I am a Red Sox fan so this kind of Yankee bashing comes easily to me, but I don't want to bash them too much, they were clearly the superior team in the series, and have been the best team in baseball for years now.
But Joe Torre’s job was not all that difficult this season, in my eyes. To keep the players hungry for a title? That more comes naturally to the players in my view, especially players like Bernie Williams, who I think is easily the most underrated player on the Yankees, and yes I must say Derek Jeter. These players sleep and eat baseball; they are always hungry, because it is their job to be hungry.
Perhaps if Steinbrenner had not gone out and traded for David Justice, Torre’s job would have been a little harder. A hard managing job is filling a spot with a bunch of no-names, and getting them, usually by committee to put up good numbers for that position. The pitching staff has a few injuries, and a few people are not performing as expected, so Steinbrenner once again goes out and gets him Denny Neagle. Now I know this argument that the Yankees buy all their people is getting as hackneyed asthe curse of the bambino is to me. Iti s valid in some lights though.
All in all I think Torre should be credited for not messing this season up, and the team almost did that the last month of the season. That is all I have to say about Joe Torre, he is a good manager, solid, but he should be given credit for not messing up more than for doing anything extraordinary. He also should be given credit for out-managing Bobby Valentine in the Series. But anything more than that, in my opinionis a little over the top.
One more note, on the statement that Derek Jeter put to bed the whole “who is the best shortstop in the majors issue.” Hardly in my view. Each shortstop brings their talents. If one is judging from a strict bottom line of winning, then I would say that yes, Jeter is the best in the majors. But, if one is judging purely from numbers, then perhaps Alex Rodriguez or Nomar Garciaparra has a leg up on Jeter. If one is judging from the point of fielding, then I think Nomar is clearly the best fielder of the three. Once again Jeter is a great shortstop, one of the top three in baseball, but its nice to imagine how much better the Yankees would be if they had so Rodriguez in their lineup, a more explosive hitter than Jeter.
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Last Issue: The New York Yankees have now won 4 out of 5 World Championships. How many players on the 2000 Championship team were a member of the 1996 Championship team, and who were they?
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In alphabetical order: David Cone, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Paul O'Neill, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Louis Sojo, and Bernie Williams.
This Issue's Question: Which Yankees on the 2000 WS Roster were on the 1995 Playoff Roster?
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