Winning at baseball is simple. It really is. I’ve been observing the game for a while and can prove that if you just follow a simple list of instructions, you can’t make a mistake. So here’s my free advice to all front offices in baseball, the perfect script to success. You’re welcome.
Steer clear of big-money free agents
People often talk about the bust rate of prospects, but go take a look at the monster free agents signed every offseason. It’s rare that a team doesn’t regret allocating such a large percentage of its funds to one megadeal within just a few years, if not sooner. The success stories are few and far between—Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, and Carlos Beltran are among them, but even those came with some bumps, as Ramirez had well publicized makeup concerns and Beltran dealt with multiple injuries. Save your money. It rarely makes sense to handcuff yourself to one player and limit your flexibility to make future moves.
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Kendrys Morales is so money and you don't even know it.
On Sunday, Scott Boras negged the Blue Jays for not spending enough this offseason, calling the team “a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign.” Reeling from the public attack, Alex Anthopoulos choked out a single sentence in response, saying, “Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need.” Both sides took Monday to celebrate wounds inflicted or lick wounds received, and it seemed like the war of words was over.
But on Tuesday, the full scope of the super-agent’s plan became clear: Calling the Blue Jays a car was just the opening gambit of a two-part attack. Having softened up Anthopoulos and team president Paul Beeston with the Bad Boras routine, he took pity and proposed a way for Toronto to banish that big corporate stop sign once and for all: Sign Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. “Those players are available to this franchise,” Boras told Toronto radio host Jeff Blair, explaining the way free agency works as one would to a small child.
Performing a postmortem on a high-profile arbitration case from the past.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
We've been conducting mock arbitration cases at BP for the past two weeks, but back in Eric Gagne's heyday, Gary analyzed how his actual hearing might have gone down in the piece reprinted below, which was originally published as a "6-4-3" column on February 28, 2004.
Some teams stood pat at the winter meetings, but not all of them were better off for it.
You know how they told you if you didn’t get off your ass and do something in life you’d be a loser? Not true at the winter meetings, where many of life’s rules seem not to apply—things like laws of human sleep patterns and normal snack pricing structures. Here at the winter meetings, you can do nothing at all and still be a winner in our books.
We’ve seen writing all week about who won and who lost various transactions—see, go-getters can be losers too—but here’s a look at the teams and people who notably did nothing at all (or hadn’t as we went to press) and how their week went.
This year's amateur draft will see a weaker draft class subject to new financial rules, and not everyone--Scott Boras included--thinks that's a good thing.
The general consensus is that this year is a weak draft class, especially when compared to last year's monster collection of talent. For many, the most interesting aspect to this year's draft might not be the usual who is selected by whom, but rather what happens in terms of negotiations between the picks and the teams relative to the new July 13 signing deadline. That deadline isn't the only new rule, as with assigned bonus pools, strict penalties for exceeding them, and the removal of major-league contract offerings, we're entering uncharted waters.
Are the super-agent's statistics damned lies? And is he any more credible if he's technically telling the truth?
Combing through Scott Boras' statements for inaccuracies is a little like tilting at windmills (or so I assume—it's been years since I've seen a windmill, let alone tilted at one). That’s because Boras' greatest ambition isn't impeccable candor; it's getting the most money for his clients (and by extension, of course, himself). Telling the truth is often a good way to get paid, since no general manager likes to be lied to. Sometimes, though, the best way for an agent to stretch his wallet is to stretch the truth. That’s why every offseason, each team can expect to receive a hefty booklet about the latest big Boras free agent, explaining why Oliver Perez is the second coming of Randy Johnson or how Prince Fielder isn't fat, he's just big-boned. There's nothing wrong with these tall tales, so put down your pitchforks. Boras is just doing his job, and he’s doing it better than anyone else. (Just ask Fielder.)
Still, it doesn't hurt to hold him accountable for some of his more glaring leaps of logic. That’s why alarm bells went off in my head when I read a quote of his from a couple weeks ago:
Long before there was Prince Fielder, there was Bill Caudill, one of the first beneficiaries of the super-agent's skills.
In 1981, the Seattle Mariners had no closer. Seven Mariners saved at least one game, and nobody saved more than eight. Shane Rawley, he of the eight, walked more batters than he struck out, with an ERA worse than the league average. In March of 1982, he gave up 12 runs in 11 spring training innings. Days before the season began, Rawley was traded to the Yankees for Bill Caudill and Gene Nelson, both young pitchers, and cash. Saves weren’t quite such a big deal yet—just one pitcher in the American League had saved more than 20 in the strike-shortened 1981 season, and only five reached even a dozen—so the Mariners entered the 1982 season without a closer.
But Caudill pitched well, surprisingly well, and in Seattle’s 15th game, Caudill earned his first save. The trade to Seattle "was the biggest break of my life,” he said after the game. “I just love being here. I'm finally getting a chance to play. I was a mop-up man.” He would get 26 saves that year and 26 the next. In 1984, he was traded to the A’s, where he saved 36 games and made his first All-Star team. After that season, he was traded once again, to the Blue Jays, and that’s where the fun begins.