Saturday, November 3, 2007


Well, I have spent the last couple of hours checking out various remarks and fallout from Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez’s decision to opt out of the remainder of his ten-year contract signed back in 2001. The most entertaining of these, without a doubt, come from the horse’s er … um, ahhh mouth (or the orifice at the opposite end of the equine spectrum).

Of course, I love Boras’s claims that "I would say that state of flux is a grand issue, we're talking about a long-term contract here, and to make that decision is difficult, knowing there are that many issues up in the air" and "Without Pettitte, Rivera and Posada, it's not the same team, he's held accountable for being on a playoff team and winning in the playoffs."

Heh, nice job there in giving the Yankees less than zero seconds into the off-season to resolve these issues.

Another reason he gave for opting out was in discussing the 2008 season, Hank Steinbrenner had used the words “transition” and “patience” to this Boras said: “I’ve known George for 25 years and I’ve never heard him use those words, I don’t know what those words mean. I do know I have a player who is held accountable for winning in the postseason and there’s concern that the direction of the New York Yankees has changed.

They are opening up a $1 billion ballpark soon and he is afraid the Yankees are going to inaugurate it with a rebuilding effort? When Buster Olney broke the news that Boras told the Yankees that it would take a $350 million opening bid to get them to the table, Boras stated the perfectly vague “I’ve had no discussions with the Yankees about economics.”

What, the stock market, the value of the dollar, Bill Gates latest development, Alan Greenspan’s latest statement ... what?

Of course, Boras has already sent his head medium into the closest cemetery to Wall Street to enlist help in resurrecting ‘phantom offers.’ Again, Boras is suitably vague: "There's great interest, because teams involved understand what the revenues in the game are, and a player like Alex pays for itself.” You’ll note that no price levels have been discussed. Every team would be interested in a third baseman capable of mashing 50 HR but I think the asking price might be off-putting. Then, in typical Boras style "There are the teams that you'd assume would be interested, and there are surprises. But I'm not going to acknowledge what teams are interested or involved. If they want to acknowledge it, that's fine, but it won't come from me."

This is his usual schtick to get teams to bid against themselves. Boras tells his marks that there is a team with an offer on the table that is on par with theirs both in years and total package. He just never informs them that the particular team is the one they own.

Boras insists that “Mr. Opt-ober” (I can’t take credit for this--but it’s pretty good) is that special player with I.P.N. (Iconic magnetism, historic Performance, and Network value). He calculates that, A-Rod’s I.P.N. adds up to $80 million to his next team’s annual cash flow, thereby justifying a 10-year/$400 million deal.

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist feels Boras’ claim is asinine: “A-Rod does have some iconic value, I guess, but he didn’t do himself a financial favor by opting out of his Yankees contract.

That’s for sure, I wonder if Boras has heard of the internet? He has managed to draw yet another target on his client’s forehead, a bigger and better one than before. If folks thought the fallout in 2001 post-252 was ugly, wait until 2008. The loathing seeping through my modem is incredible. I have read numerous comparisons to Terrell Owens--ouch. The thing is, Scott Boras is one of the most hated men in sports and has made A-Rod his psychic Siamese-twin; when you think Alex Rodriguez you think Scott Boras and vice-versa and the other way in reverse (quoting that one-time Oscar winning rabbit).

A-Rod’s historic performance is a function of his durability; in his 14 seasons he has led the league in OPS+ twice (same as Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner, Don Mattingly, Joe Morgan, Willie Stargell, Dick Allen and Mike Piazza) and is seventh among active players (in career adjusted OPS). Here are a few others (not a comprehensive list): Frank Thomas has topped the league leader board three times, Mark McGwire four, Mike Schmidt six, and Barry Bonds nine times (four pre-BALCO). Schmidt and Bonds both had five consecutive years where they led their league in that department.

As I mentioned at the Hardball Times this week: “After Rodriguez’s monster year, his career OPS+ is 147. Ten players are right around that—five above and five below. The five in front are Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Vladmir Guerrero and Jason Giambi. The five just behind him are Lance Berkman, Miguel Cabrera, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield. In the cases of Thomas, Ramirez, Thome and Giambi, this includes a good chunk of their decline phase—something Rodriguez has yet to begin.

Yes, he’s on pace to top the all-time home run record but he’s an icon at Baseball Reference, the general public still need more than Boras’s opinion before he can put in the same class as Mike Schmidt. Schmidt's career OPS+ is the same as Rodriguez's and includes his decline phase. There's also those 10 Gold Gloves and while his post-season résumé is unimpressive, he does have a ring and hit .381/.462/.714 with two HR, six runs scored and seven RBI in that particular World Series.

Getting back to Zimbalist: the Yankees play on baseball’s biggest stage and in its biggest (and most lucrative) market. Their new digs that will open in 2009, will goose yearly revenue by about another $50 million (according to Zimbalist) from tickets and premium seating. They want to open it with a bang and to alienate a potential bidder like that is quite frankly, stupid.

Other Boras wisdom: He views Rodriguez’s ‘current’ salary (or the baseline for negotiations) as $32 million because of escalator clauses for 2009 and 2010 in the original deal contract. Here he is trying to have his cake and eat it too; it was never A-Rod’s salary since that salary was dependent on not opting out of the deal. One cannot opt out of the remainder of a deal then claim its provisions provide a precedent. If Alex Rodriguez never received $32 million a year for playing baseball, then he cannot negotiate as if he did.

Probably the worst thing Boras said was this:

"That's a characterization that, when you look at the data, is frankly inaccurate, if you look at Alex's first season in New York, I believe he was 7-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs going into Game 4 in Boston. The brilliant Mariano Rivera, probably the only flaw he's made in a historic career over the postseason, if he got those three outs (in the ninth inning of Game 4), Alex would have been in the World Series and he would have been held to have a great postseason.”

No matter how diplomatically he puts it--that is classless and presumes that the pressure would not have gotten to him in the World Series. He had three other playoff games to prove that and failed. To blame Rivera, regardless of the lofty words used to describe him, is cadaverine-scented putrescence at its worst.

Finally, in the sheer comedy department: If you go to A-Rod's online journal you’ll notice this gem from 2006, dated shortly after the Tigers eliminated the Yankees in the ALDS:

"After we were eliminated on Saturday, the media asked me a lot of questions regarding my future in New York -- whether I want to leave, or if I will be traded, etc. I will tell you what I told them: I am 100 percent committed to being a Yankee now and in the future. I don't want to play anywhere else. I never have (and never will) run away from the responsibility I have to this team. I believe I am part of the solution to winning a championship here. I want to finish my career in New York."

I’ll bet it will be taken down pretty soon but Google or Wayback probably have it archived already.


Best Regards


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