Battling Boras … round 2by John Brattain
November 10, 2008
As one who lives in the rurals, I can appreciate the value of manure. While the sight and smells of it leave much to be desired, its utility is undeniable. It helps things grow. As an unashamed veggie fiend (I am neither a vegetarian nor a vegan; I just love my fresh, crisp treats from Mother Earth), greens quite frankly, rock.
Scott Boras loves his greens as well, but not so much broccoli and brussel sprouts as Benjamins. Indeed, to get a bumper crop of his favorite leafy greens he too understands the value of spreading around manure—the more, the better.
He has an advantage over your typical farmer. While the man who is literally out standing in his field needs bovine assistance to acquire the necessary fertilizer—and these require barns, stalls, feed, corrals, pasture grounds and manual labor—all Boras requires is the orifice between his proboscis and chin.
When we first “battled Boras” it was on the heels of the now-infamous Alex Rodriguez opt out; this time, the subject is Manny Ramirez, and once again, an entire community of overworked Amish couldn’t shovel enough B.S. in a growing season than Boras can in fewer than 100 words.
So, let’s put on our rubber boots and gloves and wade into Boras' latest manure pile:
"I did Barry Bonds' contract with Ned [Colletti] when he was a year older than Manny, back then there really wasn't a benchmark. But last year, when we did Alex the key negotiating point was that he be paid to the same age that Barry Bonds was paid. And so we have two extraordinary hitters in Bonds and A-Rod that were paid to the age of 42.
Bonds was a franchise player who literally paid for himself with the people he put in the seats and his historic home run performance. Those players are like Manny Ramirez."
Wow … just, wow.
The key phrase in Boras’ statement is this “And so we have two extraordinary hitters in Bonds and A-Rod that were paid to the age of 42.”
The key word is “hitters.”
The thing is, he is comparing one skill of three players while ignoring that while all three men possess that skill, in the case of Ramirez, it’s his only skill.
Bonds and Rodriguez have other skills, which, though declining, still add a lot of value to the package a player offers. Let’s compare a few factoids about the three men and see if they’re a fair comp for Ramirez:
Bonds: 514 / 78.5
Rodriguez: 283 / 80.9
Ramirez: 37 / 54.4
(Obviously, a 40-40 season counts as a 30-30 and a 20-20 as well)
Among the three men, Ramirez is certainly a hitting performer on par with the other two, but unlike the other two, Ramirez projects as a designated hitter. Another point Boras conveniently dismisses is that Bonds' home run chase put butts in the seat and that Rodriguez is heir-apparent to Bonds’ record. "Bonds was a franchise player who literally paid for himself with the people he put in the seats and his historic home run performance. Those players are like Manny Ramirez."
How is Ramirez anything like that?
Ramirez is 235 home runs behind Bonds and would have to average 47 home runs over the next five seasons (39 over six) to catch him. Over his previous five seasons Manny has averaged 36. The reason Bonds and A-Rod were paid a certain level to the age of 42 was because they’re (or were in the case of BLB) threats to Hank Aaron’s home run record—something Ramirez is certainly not.
Therefore, when Boras produces his flashy presentation on the glories of signing Manny Ramirez, I would counter with the following:
Owner/GM: "The reason that Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez received the money they did through age 42 is that they were on the verge of baseball history. The home run crown is the most revered record in the sport held by some of the game’s greats: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. One day Alex Rodriguez may wear the mantle. Ramirez is a great hitter, but the others were great players. Ruth may have made the Hall of Fame as a left-handed pitcher had he not switched to the outfield; he at one time held the record for most consecutive shutout innings in World Series play. Hank Aaron was a 20-time All-Star and was once second in career hits until being overtaken by Pete Rose. He won three Gold Gloves for his defensive play and finished with over 2,000 runs and RBIs and on top of all that was 20-20 six times and 30-30 once.
Barry Bonds won seven MVP titles, eight Gold Gloves and was 30-30 five times and 40-40 once; A-Rod has won three MVPs, two Gold Gloves, was 20-20 five times and 40-40 once. Your client has never finished as high as second in MVP voting and his defense and base running is the subject of humor and not excellence.
What I’m trying to tell you Mr. Boras is this: Bonds and Rodriguez offer a lot more than a potent bat, and both may hold a title reserved for the inner-circle of inner-circle Hall of Famers. This is what puts “asses in the seats” and not a one-dimensional DH that may reach the levels of Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr. and if the wind breaks his way, Willie Mays. It also should be noted that for whatever faults the other two may possess, their teammates could count on them being in the lineup were they able to play—a quality no one could say about Ramirez.
Were your client the equal of Bonds and Rodriguez I would wholeheartedly concur that he deserves to be paid on the same scale, but quite frankly, the only common ground is the fact that like them, Manny Ramirez has an excellent shot at turning 42."
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.