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Thursday, June 04, 2009
Jayson Stark’s hypothetical outrageReader Jason D. has a request:
Please write about how damn stupid Stark's ESPN.com piece on draft bonuses is. I'm bored at work.
Stark's piece is about Stephen Strasburg and draft bonuses. Take it away Jayson:
Fifty million bucks.
What kills me about this article are not the prescriptions it offers -- trading draft pics, hard bonus caps, etc. are all worth discussing -- it's that it launches into all of this based on a demand made by an agent that everyone already understands to have a somewhat delusional view of the world. I would not at all be surprised to see Scott Boras demand that his next client be given access to "three score and nine comely lasses" and "fiddlers three" as a condition of signing. Does that mean we need to ban chattels from being given as bonuses? There probably do need to be made some changes to the draft, but let's not let Scott Boras dictate what they are. Hell, let Boras ask for the moon. If someone gives it to him they've got more problems than he does.
Not that Stark is the only one off point here:
"You should get paid for what you do, for what you've done," said Howard's teammate Jayson Werth, a onetime No. 1 pick himself, by the Orioles in 1997. "That's what free agency's for -- to get paid for what you could do, for what you might possibly do. It's not what the draft is for."
That sound you hear is Werth being dragged to a union-run reeducation camp somewhere.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 3:03pm
Travis M. Nelson said...
Werth was not a #1 pick. he was #22 in the first round that year.
And anyway, wasn’t the $900,000 or so that Werth got to sign with Baltimore in 1997 “getting paid for what he didn’t yet do”?
Posted 06/04 at 03:41 PM
Matt S said...
Really, that is all that bother’s you? Almost everything besides “trading draft picks” bothers me about this article. It is monumentally insane, honestly I don’t know where to begin…
How about the notion that you should be paid for “what you have done”? Well theoretically, you already got paid for that. Unless players like Griffey, Hoffman, and Abreu were playing for free? You get a contract/signing bonus based on what the team feels your value to the organization WILL be. Not what it has been. If the reverse were true Jayson Stark should be up in arms about the Giants not offering Barry Bonds 1 trillion dollars next year.
Also, why are we devoting a column to an “unofficial, early-line, insane price tag Scott Boras has theoretically” made? Let us wait and see what happens, no?
Perhaps Mr. Stark could also explain why, since Ryan Howard suffered (can anyone suffer with 26 million in earnings in 7 years?), Stephen Strasburg has to as well? AND while he is at it, maybe he should make a fair comparison. Howard was a fifth round draft pick, meaning 30 teams thought somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 players were better that year than Howard. Not really the case with Strasburg. Howard has proven himself in the big leagues, and will be getting a big pay day soon. Awesome. Strasburg, while not at the MLB level, has proven himself to have other-worldly talent. Why can’t he get paid for that too?
I could go one for hours, but I will stop there.
Posted 06/04 at 03:42 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Matt—agreed on all points. I just didn’t have the time to develop it this afternoon (too much legal work to do) so I just kind of threw it out there for general comment.
Posted 06/04 at 03:44 PM
Jeff Akston said...
Why do people support salary controls in sports, but any other industry would be derided as commie bullshit?
what if Harvard MBAs went to Wall St. and said, yeah, sorry, we’ll hire you, but you have to work here for 6 years, and we basically set your wage. You have no input. But after 6 years, then you can leave and get paid. Laughable.
Strasburg should get as much money as he can possibly get. If Washington doesn’t want to pay him, don’t. It’s that simple.
Stark has to know that if Strasburg was a free agent right now, he’d absolutely get signed for $50 million.
Posted 06/04 at 03:46 PM
Kevin S. said...
Travis, saying someone was a number one pick means they went in the first round. You’re thinking of number one overall.
Yeah, I like how Jayson assumes that Boras is asking the Nats to just cut Strasburg a $50 million check. Why else would he ignore the guaranteed money that Ryan Howard will be making on his current contract? Lunacy.
Posted 06/04 at 04:00 PM
Slotting isn’t perfect. Weren’t there some complaints in the NFL draft this year that Matt Stafford wasn’t really worth #1 pick money? But someone was going to get it anyway.
Posted 06/04 at 04:05 PM
Travis M. Nelson said...
Kevin, maybe where you come from saying that any one of the 30 players drafted in the first round was a “number one” pick, but not me. Number one is number one. Number 22 is not number one. Highlander would not have been content to be #22! There can be only one!
Seriously, though, I just think Jayson was a little lazy in writing that. He should have said “a former first round pick.”
And to respond to Jeff’s question, the reason this is different is that on Wall Street, the company hiring you doesn’t have to spend five years developing your talent at one of its subsidiaries before you’re of any use to the primary firm. Similarly, the Wall St firm doesn’t have to pay you your salary even if you get hurt and never do anything to help them, so it cuts both ways.
Posted 06/04 at 04:07 PM
Go Craig! My eyes were watering from laughter at the “three score and nine comely lasses.”
Strasburg probably deserves a record bonus. That said, Boras is the same guy who tried to set a signing-bonus record with A-Rod (and failed) and J.D. Drew (and failed). Both times there was just as much outrage.
It really only hurts the player to have to miss out on playing time out of his agent’s spite - Drew would probably be $10-12 million richer today if he hadn’t refused the Phils’ offer and sat out 1997.
Of all the bad things you can say about A-Rod, he has never stood solidly behind Boras in any of his three non-free-agent contract negotiations, choosing his relationship with his team over his relationship with Boras. Hopefully Strasburg can learn from that.
Posted 06/04 at 04:09 PM
Jeff Berardi said...
“Nathan Arizona: It’s widely known I’ve posted a $10,000 reward for the return of my boy. Now if you can find him, claim it. Short of that, what have we got to talk about?
Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse: Price. Fair price. It’s not what you say it is, it’s what the market will bear.”
Posted 06/04 at 04:23 PM
Kevin S. said...
Travis, “where I come from” is following all three major drafts fairly closely, and it’s convention to refer to first-round picks as “number ones, while the first pick is “number one overall.” I get why you might be confused by it, but it’s a fairly common usage. Jayson didn’t screw up that fact (perhaps the only one he got right, even).
Posted 06/04 at 04:31 PM
Jason B said...
Would you buy furniture from a store called Unpainted Huffines?
Posted 06/04 at 04:43 PM
Greg Simons said...
I wish I had the time and energy to pick apart Stark’s article one paragraph at a time, but that could take a while.
@Travis - One of the reasons Strasburg will get whatever record bonus he gets is precisely because he won’t require five years of development time. It’s possible he’ll be in the majors to stay before the summer is over.
Posted 06/04 at 05:05 PM
Serious question - Are draft picks even in the union yet? Does the union even care? I would think they would be okay with it if it meant something good could come of it later (higher minimum salary or somesuch). Not that I agree with Werth. Players should get as much as they can, but I don’t think this is a union issue, is it?
And all the Nationals have to do is say, “Here’s $20 million dollars. That’s it. It won’t change on August 15th. If he says no, no one will blame us. They’ll blame him. ‘He didn’t take a life-changing amount of money.’ Why would he turn that down? We just offered double the highest bonus ever. Take it or leave it.” And Strasburg will, and we’ll go back to being normal again.
Posted 06/04 at 05:11 PM
Won’t the Nats get a theoretical #2 overall if he doesn’t sign? And wouldn’t that give them pretty good leverage to come to an agreement or threaten Boras by making it public knowledge that if you sign with Boras you aren’t getting drafted by the Nats?
Posted 06/04 at 05:20 PM
Until Strasburg makes it to the show, and dominates, and lives up to everyone’s expectations of him - which are so high that I’m surprised no one’s talking about his frickin Hall of Fame chances yet - I don’t give a flying hoot who pays him what, or what the heck he does.
I don’t care what Strasburg will make. I don’t care what any draft pick will make, or any player whatsoever. Let’s sit back, see what happens, and see what the kid can do. Yeah, I said it - kid.
Posted 06/04 at 05:27 PM
themarksmith - players don’t become union members until the first time they are added to a 25-man or 40-man (I forget which) major league roster. Prospects that sign major-league contracts straight out of the draft are members of the union (which, I believe, is why Boras was so intent on getting Alvarez a major league contract last year.)
Posted 06/04 at 05:48 PM
So my question is—would the union oppose a strict slotting system if it meant that the union players got more money (higher minimum salaries for example)?
Posted 06/04 at 06:06 PM
Actually, I have to agree with Travis on this one. I rarely, if ever, hear anyone refer to a first rounder as “a #1 pick”. I mean, really, I can’t recall a single time I’ve heard or read that before and I can’t imagine a circumstance in which I wouldn’t find it both jarring to my ears and and as erroneous as a simple matter of correct and precise writing.
Posted 06/04 at 06:21 PM
Zac T. said...
“Why do people support salary controls in sports, but any other industry would be derided as commie bullshit?”
Well, they’re kind of the exact opposite of ‘commie bullshit’ - they’re uber-capitalist, winner-takes-all mechanisms. Sports team owners like them because it provides cost certainty and reduces competitive spending in the marketplace; unions hate them because they artificially constrain the players’ share of revenues. Athletes make ridiculous money, but would we rather have a world where sports exist/are perpetuated solely for the staggering personal enrichment of a few dozen men (the owners)? Salary caps are very much a part of that world.
Posted 06/04 at 06:23 PM
Simply put, this is really about the draft. Either you have a draft to help balance the competition, or you don’t. If the Nationals cannot afford Strasburg and the Yankees can, how does that balance the competition? The Nationals are supposed to get the #1 pick. If team #30 (not the Yankees this year) signs the real #1 pick because the 29 other teams can’t match his asking price, then the draft idea is bull. If there are no controls on draft bonuses (and I’m not saying there should be) then get rid of the draft and let each team go after the prospects it wants, like it was before the draft.
Posted 06/04 at 07:04 PM