Saturday, January 13, 2018

“It has created an incentive to lose, and we now have a process where teams are not seeking competitiveness and therefore they’re not seeking players to be competitive."

When "super-agent" Scott Boras speaks, the air grows so thick with self-interest that you might as well be vaping a Chris Christie beer fart. What Boras does to subtlety, elephants do to watermelons. In the public battle between millionaire baseball players and billionaire team owners, Boras is always working the refs - (everybody knows this: bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim) - though one problem has emerged for this voice of labor: There are no refs anymore.

That war I mentioned? The owners won. Long ago. Everything. Every front. After years of manning the barricades, they managed to install a de facto salary cap - called the "luxury tax threshold" - and they now limit team spending at every level of a player's career, from hoof to bun. In today's Times, Tyler Kepner addresses the current "sluggish free-agent market," including a few hot-button zingers from Boras, the King of Craven.

Some highlights:

"To make baseball what it should be — a league of 30 that are incentivized to compete — we need to address these rules to say: You get more money in the draft if you win x number of games, and if you finish below a certain standard, you don’t get a top-five or top-10 pick. That will make the league more entertaining and make baseball better, because we want to wake up every day and know that every team has an incentive to win, not an incentive to lose.”

Kepner notes that team tear-downs work: The world champion Astros, Cubs and Royals have proved this. What's wrong with losing now to win later? Boras' take:

"When you’re a professional player and you sign that contract, on your first day, you’re taught that you’re here to win, you’re here to compete, you’re here to be your best. And if they teach that to their young players and they tell the fans they’re here to win, then the entirety of this process in pro sports needs to be about winning — and the structure needs to have immediate change to address this.”

Wow. No wonder the players union lost: Naivety. They actually thought winning is the objective. 

To describe today's slow free-agent market, Kepner invokes the C-word: Collusion. And why not collude? By sitting on their hands, the owners win. The longer a free agent has no team, the more stress upon his family. Take JD Martinez for example. He wants a seven-year deal, but Boston is holding at five. The Redsock suits know where their kids will be attending school next year. Martinez waits in limbo. Sure, he'll end up wealthy beyond our imagination, but until the guy knows where he'll be next summer, he's waking up five times a night to pee. Just watch: He'll sign for five.

OK, so... you were wondering: Who gives a shit about this, what about the Yankees?

Last night, River Ave did some quickie math. Between now and Oct. 30, to stay below the tax threshold, the Evil Emp has about $19 million to spend on extra players. But the question looms, how close does Brian Cashman want to cut it?

Come July 31 the Orioles could be Aleppo. Dead team, dead city. If so, they will almost assuredly put Manny Machado on the market. The Yankees would have prospects to trade. But it would still cost them about $7 million for the second half. In simple terms, that $19 million can get swallowed up in a gulp.

Unless the Yankees find someone willing to take at least half of Jacoby Ellsbury's $21 million salary, Cashman has only nickels and dimes to spend: a lefty reliever, a backup catcher, some veterans launching a comeback (who are not named Rafael Palmeiro.) Yu Darvish? Uh-uh. Makes absolutely no sense. 

Baseball won't be changing its rules to mollify the King of Craven. Come July 30, there will be some serious tear-downs underway - possibly three within our own division - and the Yankees better save their cash. In this market, $19 million is a beer fart.

11 comments:

Rufus T. Firefly said...

MLB *does* change its rules for BoorA$$.

They change them to make it harder for him to fv<k up the game of baseball. Hence the salary cap -- er, I mean the luxury tax threshold.

MLB network re-runs on now talking up Darvish to the Yankees. God, I hope not. This will be another Ellsbury contract in a couple of years.

13bit said...

Rufus, that has the potential to be another Ellsbury contract immediately, not just in a couple of year. It's so hard to do nothing and just wait until pitchers and catchers. I'm sure Cashman wakes up every morning with his brain already engaged in trading mode.

By the way, the first thing I read when I woke up was the first sentence to this piece. I'm afraid it has colored my day in a way I may not be able to escape.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


By the way, the first thing I read when I woke up was the first sentence to this piece. I'm afraid it has colored my day in a way I may not be able to escape.

I'm with you on that one, friend.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Better Darvish than Cole—Yu means keeping the future.

Yes, the players "lost." But they are making so much money, it's really impossible for them to lose. Among other things, arbitration guarantees that. Gerrit Cole has an awful season, but gets a raise, etc.

And Boras is not the problem. He is doing exactly what his clients pay him to do, making them as much money as they can eat. I wish Scott Boras were my agent.

So who does lose? Well, as Boras says, it's the fans. We're the ones getting screwed by all these multi-year meltdowns—during which time, prices at the park and for pay-TV stay as high as they ever were, or climb even higher.

Eventually, we'll realize this, at least enough of us that the whole sport will tank.

In other words, like so many American businesses, MLB is doing what's best for itself right now, and throwing away the future.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And while the Times did give us some baseball coverage today—the Mets have hired a biometrics guy!—there was nothing on the Yankees. Or Soccer, here in the winter doldrums.

Our tally remains:

Soccer 7, Yanks 1.

Alphonso said...

Not sure I can get on this chariot:

Jacoby lost? Joggy Cano lost?

Only 5 years guaranteed at $20 million vs. seven years for some asshole Red Sox player?

With no conditions?
Just show up and play, well or not.

No performance standards?
No accountability?

This is not a bad deal, pal.

I mean, relative to billionaires, guys who sign for $60 million are paupers. I agree.

But they are still 28 years old.

There is a perspective mishmash here.

Anonymous said...

IT IS AMAZING HOW TYLER KEPNER, SCOTT BORAS, AND NOW THE WORLD, IS WAKING UP TO HOW IT IS BETTER TO "TANK" IN ORDER TO RESET YOUR TEAM TO POSSIBLY WIN 5 TO 7 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD.

WHEN IN FACT, IF THEY WERE READERS OF IIHIIFIIC, THEY WOULD HAVE ALREADY KNOWN THIS A YEAR AGO VIA EL DUQUE.

ROB MANFRED NEEDS TO SUBSCRIBE.

HE MAY LEARN A THING OR TWO.

Anonymous said...

COLLUSION IS RIDICULOUS. (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE).

BALLPLAYERS MAKING UNGODLY MONEY BEING "COLLUDED" AGAINST?

LOOKING AT MOST OF THOSE FREE AGENTS WHO ARE IN LIMBO NOW, THERE ARE HARDLY ANY OF THEM THAT I WOULD WANT, (NOT TO MENTION THE INSANE COST IT TAKES TO OBTAIN ONE).

WOULD YOU WANT CURTIS GRANDERSON FOR A MEASLY 2 YEARS AND $36 MILLION?

WHAT A DEAL!

.....AND HE WILL ONLY BE 38 WHEN THE CONTRACT IS UP, WOW!

John M said...

Hey, we should get Granderson back. I mean, we really need outfielders.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, yeah!

Collusion aside—and the owners have done it before, they're very capable of it—what they should go for is a "collusion of common sense."

The biggest mistake they've made, for a long time, is not so much the money but the years. It's really crazy to sign on most of these guys for more than 3 years, 5 at the tops. They would be better off just adopting a policy of, 'Hey, maybe we'll even up the yearly salaries over the obscene amount they are now. But we will not pay for more than 3-5 years. Period.'

HoraceClarke66 said...

An even better idea would be for owners and players to actually embrace capitalism.

There are a lot of situations in which capitalism needs to be regulated, for the protection of all of us. I'm for zoning, at least to a certain degree; I don't want my neighbor putting a smelter in his backyard.

It's important, too, for every city to have a decent hospital, maybe an art museum, too.

But a winning ballteam?

Let the free market roll!

How about no arbitration, no restrictions on free agency, no caps? And for that matter, no public subsidies for privately owned stadiums.

You know, Marvin Miller was most afraid that, when free agency came in, the owners would declare everybody a free agent. That would have driven down the price for every ballplayer. To his relief, the owners were too scared to go capitalist. And here we are.