Brainwashing by Boras

Alex Rodriguez will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.

How can we be sure?

Simple, A-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, is laying the seeds for his next contract the same way he did back in 2000. Back then, Boras was stating that Rodriguez could well command a contract of 10 years and $200 million.

Let’s go back in time and see what was being bandied about when A-Rod first swam in the free agency waters:

M’s most crucial call is A-Rod’s By Bob Finnigan (Oct. 8, 2000)

Remember we are not talking about a 30-year-old free agent who is regarded a quality player, but a 25-year-old who is one of the top performers in the game and at one of the most demanded positions. There will be clauses totally different from any seen before.

But there will be no short-term contract, no three- or four-year deal to give Alex an out if he is not happy with his decision.

“We don’t want a short-term deal,” Boras said. “It will be long term.

“According to what I hear, a number of teams will be very interested. They will have to make accommodations, there will be no discount. And because of the length of the contract, we are not only talking current market value, but future market. My job will be to get it right for the long term.”

The season is not yet a week over, yet Boras indicates the contract will be long term and “totally different from any seen before” and will account for “future market values.”

Rodriguez ponders future By Drew Olson (Oct 18, 2000)

Rodriguez, represented by super-agent Scott Boras, has never indicated that he will not return to the Pacific Northwest. Popular thinking suggests, however, that he will sign the richest contract in baseball history, a pact worth $20 million per season at a total value of about $200 million.

With the playoffs still ongoing, 10 years, $20 and 200 million are introduced. Yet note the phrase: “Popular thinking.” Who precisely was thinking this aside from Boras and Rodriguez?

M’s shouldn’t blow the budget on one player By Ron C. Judd (Oct. 22, 2000)

Let’s face it: When all the 2000 pennant run emotions fade and reality rears its ugly head, the Griffey Rule remains in effect: Winning beats star power, every time. And no player is worth $20 million a year in a game where a smartly spent $60 million can win a division pennant.

The problem goes beyond money. The A-Rod race has all the earmarks of the kind of feeding frenzy that makes general managers shut off their brains and increase their credit lines. It is already taken as a given, for example, that Rodriguez will command—and get—somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million a season.

Heaven and earth—A-Rod may ask for it By Larry Stone (Nov. 5, 2000)

It has long been speculated that A-Rod would reach the $20 million barrier, but that might just be the starting point. The figure $25 million is starting to be tossed about, along with escalator clauses that ensure he remains the highest-paid player. There are also indications that some clubs are willing to offer a 10-year contract.

Shortly after the World Series, we see Boras’ target become clearer: 10 years, $25 million per. It has gone from “popular thinking” to “already taken as a given.”

A-Rod stakes sure to heat up Jon Heyman (Nov. 5, 2000)

Speculation once was that Rodriguez would command $20 million annually. But he might even top $25 million considering the one-dimensional superstar Carlos Delgado‘s new $17 million-a-year deal.

The same day as above, the $25 million a year is given credence. However it’s mere “speculation” at this point.

Looking like a Billion—Statistical Data Included By Jared Hoffman (Nov. 13, 2000)

Teams interested in signing him should block out some reading time—his agent, Scott Boras, has prepared a 60-page book detailing why Rodriguez projects to be one of the greatest players in baseball history and deserves to be paid accordingly. Boras has indicated it might take a long-term contract worth $20 million a year to sign Rodriguez—or it might take more.

Making dollars and sense Larry Stone (Nov. 15, 2000)

Rodriguez is seeking to become the most preferentially paid player in baseball history—perhaps as high as $25 million a year for 12 years. The Mets—in announcing Monday they were no longer in the running for Rodriguez, despite being considered the favorites to land him—balked at the ancillary demands reportedly tossed out by Boras in discussions with clubs.

Knowing the levels have been accepted by the public, mid-November sees Boras testing the waters for even a longer deal.

Going after A-Rod a risky business by Carol Slezak (Nov. 15, 2000)

You might feel $240 million over 12 years, or thereabouts, would be enough for Rodriguez. Enough to buy his own Lear jet, for starters. With enough left over, surely, to out-billboard his dear friend Jeter. But this isn’t about your feelings. This is about Rodriguez and his needs.

Reinsdorf: A-Rod price is too high Seattle Times staff (Nov. 17, 2000)

Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox, might have taken his team out of the Alex Rodriguez market. But General Manager Ken Williams suggested Reinsdorf’s comments were misunderstood.

“I read with amusement that Scott Boras said he’s only going to talk to teams that are willing to pay at least $200 million,” Reinsdorf said in an interview with Baseball Weekly. “If those are the conditions, we are not a player. We are not going to be used.”

Williams said he doesn’t expect the numbers being mentioned to reflect the real offers teams will make to Rodriguez, though he acknowledged the reported demand of $200 million over 10 years is more than the Sox are willing to pay.

A team now concedes on the public record that at least 10 years and $200 million have been mentioned among them.

M’s can do with, without A-Rod Bob Finnigan (Nov. 20, 2000)

The Mariners have not been able to make an offer to Rodriguez’s agent Scott Boras, but a National League club executive said rumblings that this talk of $20 million per year for 10 years and beyond may be no more than “dreamy demands.”

“Alex may be worth a lot more than Carlos Delgado ($17 million a year from Toronto),” the executive said, “but, as they say in the stock market, there is a resistance level, and this $20 million talk may be that level.”

This is a message through the media to Boras, an attempt to rein in his demands, calling them “dreamy demands.”

A meeting of the mums By Bud Withers (Dec. 8, 2000)

Unclear is how deep the discussion went into potential sticky issues surrounding the negotiations: Boras’ reported demand for a contract as long as 12 years at $20 million annually; an escalator clause that would keep Rodriguez at or near the top in baseball salaries; an “out” clause that could provide for Rodriguez’ escape if the club is not on a satisfactory course; and his much-publicized belief that the fences at Safeco Field need to be moved in “substantially.”

Here Boras causes the “break” between A-Rod and Seattle; a huge monetary demand that could grow larger plus the added expense of altering the ballpark. He knows the Mariners will not go for this.

Sox know Rodriguez stakes rising By Chris De Luca (Dec. 9, 2000)

The Seattle Mariners held serious talks Thursday night in Miami, reportedly stopping short of offering Rodriguez a contract close to his opening demand of 10 years at $20 million a year. They were expected to make a formal offer this weekend.

The Mariners bow out. They know that Boras’/A-Rod “opening bid” isn’t something they’ll go for. This is a face-saving “we did all we could” move by the M’s.

So, where on earth did the whole 10-12 year, $200-$240 million contract idea originate? From owners or GMs? Not very likely. I doubt they would wish to “set the market,” as it were. Had Rodriguez made the statements he would’ve been crucified by the media.

Of course it came from Boras himself. He was seeding the idea of that contract on the minds of owners, GMs and the public. Now, all of a sudden we read:

For the Yankees, a Silver Lining By Tim Marchman (May 22, 2007)

Do the Yankees really want to lock themselves into playing a 38-year-old Alex Rodriguez at a salary of something near $30 million?

SUPERMAN A-ROD IN LINE FOR $30 MILLION A YEAR By Joel Sherman (June 18, 2007)

The tough period is most definitely over. A-Rod is again chasing history, another MVP award and, perhaps, the first $30 million annual contract. He set the tone for a Yankee rout last night with a two-run homer in the first inning off Orlando Hernandez.

Players, owners will prosper as long as fans pay By David Whitley (June 19, 2007)

Speaking of which, Rodriguez can opt out of his contract after this year. His agent told LA Weekly that baseball may soon see its first $30-million-a-year player.

“I don’t know when, but there will be one because baseball revenue will keep growing,” Scott Boras said. (Bolding mine)

Now Boras let it be known that a $30 million per year player is in the offing. Rodriguez is poised to make $27 million over the next three years if he doesn’t opt out, so Boras is now getting everybody conditioned for the first $30 million dollar player. Do you think it’s a coincidence that A-Rod’s opt-out year and Boras’ remarks occur simultaneously? These are the opening salvos of Boras’ demands for Rodriguez’ next contract. He’s “setting the market” in the minds of clubs, the media and the fans as he did seven years ago.

Expect some hints dropped about the length of contract—already six years has been bandied about. Note Marchman’s comment about paying $30 million to a 38-year-old player. That’s how old A-Rod will be mid-season 2013.

Rodriguez is playing the same role he did in 2000: Mashing the ball and telling the media he is happy in Seattle New York and wishes to stay.

Boras doubtlessly reminds Rodriguez that both fans and the media are going to give him a rough ride no matter what he does. Yes, he’s hearing cheers now, but he’s just a batting slump or another sub-par playoff series away from hearing the boo-birds again. It won’t take much for Rodriguez to be led off once again to the media’s Golgotha to be reminded that “for slappy thou art and to slappy ye shall return.” A-Rod now realizes that the only person he’s ever going to make happy is himself—the fans and the media will always find a reason to be down on him.

That being the case, why not go for the big prize again? Any sacrifices he might make will have ulterior motives ascribed to him regardless. If he’s going to be reviled, he may as well be well-compensated for his troubles.

It’s the same script that was used in 2000; the die is cast and the decision has been made. Barring a catastrophe, Alex Rodriguez will be on the market in this offseason. Scott Boras already is laying the groundwork for MLB’s first $30 million (a year) man.

600

Congratulations to Sammy Sosa for hitting home run No. 600.

Probably the No. 1 question surrounding the feat is this: Did Sosa do it legitimately (read: without the use of anabolic substances). Personally, I think Sosa juiced. Having said that, it’s also a privately held opinion (not anymore I guess). The evidence on Bonds and McGwire is a lot more compelling than on Sosa. With Sammy we have….

  • The home runs
  • The vague comments before the committee*
  • The physique that looks like he could have been a juicer
  • The corked bat (demonstrating that he was willing to cheat)

….and that’s it.

*Although his “No-speak-English foreigner” schtick was lame; I wouldn’t speak for myself in a situation like that unless I could in my mother tounge. I don’t hold his usage of an interpreter against him under the circumstances.

If I had a Hall of Fame vote I would be very uncomfortable casting a nay vote on the basis of steroid use with the evidence cited above. I think he used, but I’d need more proof before I’d go on the record that I think he’s guilty. It’s a paradox to be sure; my opinion and my conscience at are odds here. Mother always wanted me to become an enigma. However my conscience wouldn’t allow me to vote guilty even though I think he is/was a user.

Anyway…for the time being, I’m willing to consider Sosa’s three 60-HR seasons (and the 600 milestone) legit for the following reasons:

  • Sosa has terrific natural power.
  • Sosa obviously has tremendous natural physical gifts.
  • It’s possible that his physique was achieved by creatine, proteins and supplements due to the above that nature bestowed upon him.
  • The era itself was conducive to the 60-HR barrier being breached by someone (smaller parks, lighter and harder bats, livelier baseballs, better weight training and nutrition, a shrinking strike zone, and pitchers being actively discouraged from pitching inside).
  • To give a general idea of what the era is like, ask yourself: How many shortstops have had a three-year stretch averaging over 50 HR? A-Rod hit 156 from 2001-2003 and is on pace—assuming 600 AB—to hit 63 in 2007. Is that steroids or simply a gifted player hitting in an era of bloated offensive totals?
  • Sosa’s seasons of 66, 63, 50 and 64 HR from 1998-2001 occurred during the four seasons of the age a hitter’s power generally peaks (late 20s-early 30s) and coincided with the seasons he garnered the most hits (198, 180, 193, 189), AB (642, 643, 625, 604), doubles (116), and percentage of balls in play being hits (.302 BA). A power hitter getting between 30-45 more hits will translate into a lot more taters. Ergo, Sosa improved both his contact and plate discipline at the same time his power spiked. If the home runs came first, then the walks, I could see pitchers avoiding his “new-found” power. However, the home run spike seemed to coincide with greater selectivity, more consistent contact and many more opportunities while playing half his games in a good home run park.

If more conclusive evidence comes to light then I reserve the right to change my mind. I’m not yet comfortable with the level of evidence as to his potential guilt.

The Whine Cellar

You developed a crush on a female friend in high school. Alas, it was unreciprocated. She’d date guys, break up with them, cry on your shoulder and tell you what a jerk he was, etc. Between boyfriends she’d become flirtatious with you—giving you hope. Then, inevitably, somebody from higher up on the food chain than you would ask her out and suddenly she’d feel compelled to remind you that she loves you only as a friend and apologizes profusely if she ever gave you the wrong impression.

This cycle would happen time and again. Hopes built up only to be crushed mercilessly, but remaining ready and willing, hoping, indeed praying that one day it would happen for you.

Not that anything like that ever happened to me, you understand (cough cough).

Well, that’s kind of what being a Blue Jays fan in 2007 has been like. Four years of high school encapsulated into 71 regular season games.

It looked like the Jays had a potent lineup, or at least eight-ninths or so of it:

LF Reed Johnson 
1B Lyle Overbay
CF Vernon Wells
3B Troy Glaus
DH Frank Thomas
RF Alex Rios
2B Aaron Hill
Ca Gregg Zaun
SS Royce Clayton

We had pitching depth: veteran experience with some exciting young arms. We had a genuine, bona fide “I don’t experience Depends Moments in the ninth” closer.

Then came the injuries. Losing guys like Victor Zambrano, Tomokazu Ohka and John Thomson didn’t worry me. Even when Roy Halladay went on the DL with appendicitis, I expressed confidence in the kiddie corps (and wasn’t disappointed). Heck, even B.J. Ryan’s meltdowns and subsequent injury didn’t faze me (much) because I knew that one of our young power arms would step up and claim the job.

Losing Johnson hurt but I figured Adam Lind was up to the task. Then others went down, Zaun, Overbay, Glaus. And guys like Thomas and Wells have yet to really get on track. Wells has been a tease and Thomas’ OBP is blunted by the fact he clogs the bases. Toronto had some of the best pitching in the AL for awhile, but the anemic offense masked its excellence.

It’s eerily reminiscent of 2006; last year the Jays had one winning streak of five games, and a few of four. They never had the hot streak that propels a team into contention—the kind of streak where momentum feeds off itself. So far in 2007 the Jays haven’t been able to put together four consecutive wins. The Red Sox had a stretch where they won 13 of 17. The Yankees just finished an 11-of-12 run. The Jays’ best stretch was 8-5.

Now the Jays came off a three-game winning streak that was ended despite a solid start for Josh Towers (7 IP/4 ER; just 81 pitches) which at least was cause for optimism. Now A.J. Burnett, who has pitched up to his contract the last couple of months, goes on the DL and that is followed by a pounding of Dustin McGowan by the Dodgers in which the Jays managed to score one run. That makes it the 32nd time this year the Jays have scored three runs or fewer—that’s 46% of the games the Jays have played this year.

My optimism is starting to wane a bit. The Jays are 12 games back in the AL East and eight in the wild card standings with six teams in front of them and little more than a week left in the month of June.

It’s starting to feel like time is luxury the Jays no longer have; it’s getting close to “now or never.” The Jays have played 525 games since they came off their last six-game winning streak (May 4-10, 2004). It’s high time to change that.

It’s time for J.P. Ricciardi to step up and light a fire before the hopes for 2007 are extinguished. I’d like to leave J.P. with this thought: The Pittsburgh Pirates’ playoff drought is only one season longer than the Toronto Blue Jays’. Besides Pittsburgh, the only teams that have gone longer without a postseason appearance are Tampa Bay (not really, but you get my drift), Kansas City, The Natspos (who wouldn’t be on this list if not for the strike—but that’s a hissy-fit for another day), Milwaukee and Philadelphia…and the latter two might be there in 2007. Remember contraction? Teams that made the short list for extinction due to not being able to “compete” have won World Series and made multiple playoff appearances.

Take my advice: Don’t mention this on your résumé; and don’t blame luck, because luck—whether good or bad—is the residue of design. They were going to contract teams that have outperformed your efforts in Toronto.

Webb Search

As of June 21…

Players who are on (or close to*) pace to top Earl Webb’s record of 67 doubles (assuming 600 AB):

Player            2B  Team  Pace 
Magglio Ordonez   34   DET   78
David Ortiz       27   BOS   70
Chase Utley       30   PHI   65

*on pace for at least 60

We’ll be following their progress on this page as the season goes on.

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