Outside Interference

Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Players

In the past I’ve compared Scott Boras to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

As the evil wrestling manager with a penchant for chicanery, Heenan was the dastardly villain behind the heel in the wrestling ring; Boras has taken the same role for his clients with his skill at wrangling every single penny out of desperate club owners.

Both are brilliant at what they do.

The concept of “outside interference” has several connotations. In the wrestling ring, it entailed Heenan hitting the opponents of one of his charges with a folding chair, distracting the referee or forcing a disqualification to hold onto a title.

With Boras it comes from commenters, analysts and observers who feel it’s within their realm to advise players—like Jose Reyes—as to what they should and shouldn’t do in terms of his career.

The presumption inherent with opining that Reyes should stay with his current agents or leave them for Boras is beyond the scope of arrogant. It’s inexplicable.

Who or what gives them the insight, the knowledge, the audacity to say where a player should go; who should represent him; what his parameters should be in signing a contract?

After relentless stories and rumors that Reyes was “talking” to Boras, Reyes has chosen to stay with his longtime agent Peter Greenberg. It doesn’t sound as if he ever had any intention of leaving; it sounds as if Boras wanted to plant the story—in a Heenan/Pro Wrestling Illustrated sort of way—to pressure Reyes.

Reyes would have had reasons to go with Boras; he had reasons to stay with the Greenbergs. He chose to stay with the Greenbergs.

Outsiders weighing in is perfectly acceptable in this era of everyone having a viewpoint and a forum to express it; in the time of instantaneous gratification via the internet, but in reality, it’s no one’s business but Reyes and those close to him.

Had he switched to Boras, he would have been roasted for being “greedy” and looking for dollars above all else. The same “experts” will either criticize Reyes for his lack of business savvy in staying with the Greenbergs or credit him for the perception of money being secondary.

Who knows what the truth is?

And more importantly, apart from insinuating yourself into the debate, what business is it of yours?

On another note regarding Reyes’s decision to remain with the Greenbergs, the Mets now have a window of opportunity that they may or may not want.

Had he gone with Boras, there was no chance of the Mets keeping him. Since he’s staying with his current representation, the impression of “money, money, money” isn’t as prevalent.

If the Mets truly intend to let Reyes leave, then they’re probably quietly unhappy that he didn’t switch to Boras. Had he done that, the public may have turned away from the “keep Reyes” brigade.

With Boras, he was going to go wherever the dollar figure was highest. Period.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is skillful at pulling the levers and greasing the political axles; had Reyes chosen to hire Boras, Alderson would have framed it as an excuse for his departure.

Blame Boras.

But Reyes didn’t hire Boras.

If the Mets intend to make a competitive offer for Reyes—as opposed to a “show-me” offer to assuage the fans—the agent decision could play into a slightly lower price-tag to remain.

I get the idea he wants to stay.

Whether that translates into the team doing everything possible to make that happen will be made clearer as Alderson approaches the agents—the Greenbergs—with an offer, their response and how the leaks to the media are handled.

It could get messy.

Or it could be smoother than anyone anticipated.

We’ll see.

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Bel–Tray To The Ran–Gers?

Hot Stove
  • Thinking and re-thinking:

For the uninitiated, the title of the posting is a play on the Jon Miller insistence in pronouncing the names of the likes of Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran “correctly” with the emphasis on Bel–TRAY and Bel—TRAN.

It’s funny.

In the inflection of William Shatner: “Ha……HA!”

Now to serious matters.

When the story about the Rangers possibly signing Adrian Beltre, I was dubious but for a few conditions.

One, what were they going to do with Michael Young?

Two, given his history of big years prior to free agency, can they trust Beltre to come close to the production he gave the Red Sox in 2010?

Three, is this a maneuver to make-up for the loss of Cliff Lee and spend that money they had lying around rather than to shore up a hole that didn’t exist or would signing Beltre really help them?

The Young situation isn’t as much of an issue as it would appear on the surface. As tired as the team leader, Young, apparently is of switching positions, what choice does he have? That the Rangers “approached” Young about moving (again) is irrelevant; what’s he going to do about it?

As ludicrous as I found the assertions from two years ago that Young, as an employee, had no right to be irritated about the change from shortstop to third base, it’s somewhat factual that he has nothing to say about it. It was a gesture that the Rangers even consulted with him in the first place. Now if they sign Beltre, Young’s either going to be a DH or perhaps shift to first base or the outfield.

Young’s contract pays him $16 million annually through 2013—it’s hard to move unless they took back a similarly bad contract like A.J. Burnett, Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano; the Rangers trading Young for pitching is not out of the question, but even if they don’t, the signing of Beltre, shifting Young to DH and allowing Vladimir Guerrero to leave is financially reasonable enough…if they can trust Beltre to perform close to his free agent-year level at the plate.

Can they trust Beltre to perform up to his free agent year level at the plate?

I say probably not, but he’ll hit in Texas.

Beltre put up massive numbers in two of his seasons prior to becoming a free agent. In 2004 he hit 48 homers and batted .334 for the Dodgers; in 2010, he was an MVP candidate on and off the field for the Red Sox.

While he struggled in Seattle, part of that was due to the pitcher-generous dimensions of Safeco Field. He’s always hit well in Texas’s hitter-friendly park (.857 OPS in 229 career plate appearances) and his fielding is among the best in baseball at his position.

Presumably the Rangers would have to surpass the contract offer Beltre received from the Athletics that was said to be worth $64 million over 5 years; Beltre isn’t young anymore (he’ll be 32 in April), so they’ll have to trust he’ll be healthy and productive into his late-30s—not all that big a risk; with Beltre hitting in that ballpark and the improved defense on the left side of the infield, the combination of the Gold Glove-winner Beltre with Elvis Andrus at short would help the pitching staff greatly.

As for the idea that it’s a post-Lee desperation move, I don’t see this as a “let’s sign that guy then” to account for the loss of Lee. The Rangers have proven to be very intelligent and calculating with Jon Daniels as the GM; they’d lament the loss of Guerrero (my speculation: watch him go back to the Angels), but if that’s the price of signing Beltre, so be it; their offense wouldn’t suffer and they’d have a superior defense.

I thought it was a bad idea when it was reported to be “close”—ESPN Story, grain of salt—but overall, it’s not much of a gamble when assessing all the factors; in fact, in all areas Beltre is a good fit for the American League champion Rangers because he’s a good clubhouse guy and would perform on the field.

  • “Listen up ‘ya pencil necked geeks!!”

When I was a kid, I used to be a pro wrestling fan. That was before it became so repulsive that it’s not suitable for children. But I had a flashback when I read the following ESPN teaser headline: MLBPA finds no rule-breaking by Boras.

Who among us that remember wrestling in the 1980s and 90s couldn’t picture Scott Boras as a rule-breaking manager; a Bobby “The Brain” Heenan type who interfered in matches; hit people over the head with his binders of accomplishments he totes around to extract every single penny he can in service of his clients; screamed at and threatened the fans; and stood during interviews screaming at the camera (I could see Michael Kay as the play-by-play man and interviewer) and doing the pro wrestling manager thing?

If ever there was a “rule-breaker” manager, it’s Scott Boras. And he’d probably relish the role as villain—he plays it perfectly and I don’t think it’s an act.

Rule-breaker or not, Boras deserves credit for one thing: He gets his clients paid.

And that’s his job.

You heard it right here, brother…