Now that Yu Darvish’s negotiating rights have been won by the Texas Rangers, that leaves one more notable international free agent still up for grabs: Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes.
According to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas, Cespedes is close to establishing residency in the Dominican Republic, the first step toward making him eligible for MLB free agency. That would make Cespedes ready to accept bids from interested teams sometime in mid-January, about a month before the start of spring training.
About a half-dozen teams are most interested in the outfielder, but with speculation centered on a $50 million price tag — in the form of a major-league deal –that number may dwindle down to the larger market clubs. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and
Florida – I mean - Miami Marlins seem to be the most aggressive suitors for Cespedes.
Cuba's Yoennis Cespedes watches his third hit of the game as he drives in his fourth run of the game iagainst Mexico during their World Baseball Classic in March 2009. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Thanks to the good people at Bleacher Report, we’re able to find out more about Yoennis Cespedes who has become a YouTube sensation of sorts. Rick Weiner, a featured columnist for Bleacher Report covering the New York Yankees, does a great job breaking down the latest video featuring Cespedes.
Just over six minutes into the video, we get to see Cespedes in the field. After almost two minutes of warming up, he unleashes his throwing arm, which looks to be both strong and accurate.
Around the 13-minute mark, we see Cespedes taking batting practice. He knocks the ball all over the field, hitting two balls out of the stadium and then apparently just because he can, he drives a ball into the stands from the left side of the plate. Note, Cespedes is naturally a right-handed batter and is not known to be a switch hitter.
Bobby Valentine has accepted the job as new manager of the Boston Red Sox, multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday.
Valentine replaces Terry Francona who left the club in September, after the Red Sox had suffered one of the greatest late-season collapses witnessed in Major League Baseball.
Neither Valentine nor the Red Sox would immediately confirm the agreement but local media, including ESPN where Valentine worked as a sports analyst, said the deal had been made.
Boston.com sports writer Nick Cafardo notes that with Bobby Valentine:
“The Sox stuck their necks out a little and thought outside the box. They are taking somewhat of a chance. They recognized that desperate times need desperate measures.
But in Valentine, they know they’re getting passion, one of the best in-game managers, and a guy who will speak his mind. Intellectually, he fits what they like.”
ESPN said Valentine was currently in Japan and would return to America to be formally introduced as the new manager on Thursday.
The 61-year-old played in the Major Leagues between 1969 and 1979 before moving into management, with spells at the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets as well as periods coaching in Japan.
He last managed in the Major Leagues at the Mets, leaving in 2002.
Valentine left his last management job at Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines in 2009 and began work as an expert television commentator before throwing his hat into the ring for the Red Sox job.
He takes over from Francona, who led the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004 — ending a championship drought dating back to 1918 – and again in 2007.
Leading the American League East by nine games at the start of the month, the Red Sox lost 20 of their last 27 games to miss out on the playoffs, earning the dubious distinction of the most awful final-month crash, a misery compounded by their status as pre-season favorites after a massive spending spree and a $161 million payroll.
In the aftermath of a historic nosedive that took the Red Sox from an apparent playoff lock to a team that lost the largest September postseason lead in major league history, the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona have parted ways.
The team will not exercise its two-year, $8.75 million option on Francona’s three-year contract, which ran from 2009-11. Instead, the team will pay his $750,000 buyout, and the manager will be free to pursue a job elsewhere. The decision was made after a meeting on Friday morning that included Francona, Epstein and members of the Red Sox’ ownership group.
Francona leaves having overseen the Sox for one of the most successful periods in franchise history. During his eight-year tenure (tied for the second longest in team history, behind only Joe Cronin), he won two World Series titles, becoming only the second manager in team history with two rings and the first since Bill Carrigan won titles in 1915 and 1916.
Francona went 744-552 (.574) during his time in Boston, with the second-highest wins total in franchise history and the third-highest winning percentage among managers with at least three seasons with the Red Sox. During his tenure, he was often given raves for his ability to maintain a positive clubhouse environment in a region where scrutiny — especially during times of struggle — can become overwhelming.
His ability to balance the team’s longer-term interests over the desperation for a win on any given night was viewed as a critical component of the team’s successes over the 162-game seasons. And in short series, where each game is indeed pivotal, Francona’s success was nearly peerless. He has a 28-17 (.622) record in the postseason, including victories in seven different series, and his postseason winning percentage is the second highest all-time by a skipper with at least 25 games in October, behind only Joe McCarthy (.698).
However, while he reached the playoffs in five of his first six seasons in Boston, the Sox missed the postseason in the last two seasons, with the Sox going 89-73 in an injury-riddled 2010 and then going 90-72 this season, including a 7-20 record during what turned into the worst September collapse of a first-place team in baseball history. The Sox haven’t won a postseason game since 2008.
Both Francona and general manager Theo Epstein suggested at a Thursday press conference that the Red Sox clubhouse had become a challenging one to manage this season.
“To be the very best, there’s got to be some extraordinary things happening. I thought at times we didn’t put our best foot forward. That’s my responsibility. That’s why it bothered me,” said Francona, who acknowledged calling a team meeting in September at a time when the team was up eight games on the Rays in the wild card because he was concerned about the team’s cohesion. “There were some things I was worried about. We were spending too much energy on things that weren’t putting our best foot forward towards winning. … There were some things that did concern me. Teams normally as the season progresses, there are events that make you care about each other, and this club, it didn’t always happen as much as I wanted it to. And I was frustrated by that.”
There are two ways to read such statements. First, it suggests a group that is difficult to manage. Secondly, it suggests a group that was unresponsive to the messages it was receiving from its manager.
At the press conference on Thursday and again in the press release announcing Francona’s departure, Epstein acknowledged those problems, while saying that he also agreed with Francona that the team might benefit from a new message delivered by a new messenger.
“Without Tito’s commitment over eight years, we would not be the organization we are today,” Epstein said in the statement. “Nobody at the Red Sox blames Tito for what happened at the end of this season; we own that as an organization. This year was certainly a difficult and draining one for him and for us. Ultimately, he decided that there were certain things that needed to be done that he couldn’t do after eight years here, and that this team would benefit from hearing a new voice. While this may be true, his next team will benefit more than it knows from hearing Tito’s voice. I will miss seeing Tito every day in the manager’s office, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in their next chapter.”
And if Francona was, in fact, losing his clubhouse, he received little evident backing from the team as the Sox folded down the stretch. Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons said on WEEI in September that he sensed a growing “disconnect” between Francona and Epstein.
Both the manager and GM dismissed the idea that their communication was an issue, but when the topic of managing beyond 2011 was broached, neither side gave any public endorsement of wanting the relationship to continue beyond the 2011 campaign, with the rhetoric of both men focusing on their mutual respect and admiration. Meanwhile, Francona’s contract status remained unresolved, with the Sox deciding to wait until after the season before making a decision about his options.
And, whereas principal owner John Henry often had visited Francona or communicated with him (sometimes by e-mail) in past challenging visits, Francona — when asked on multiple occasions down the stretch — said that he had not heard from the man at the top of the Sox’ masthead during the team’s September swoon.
Still, in Thursday’s press conference Epstein suggested that the Sox did not hold Francona solely accountable for the team’s epic fold.
“We’ve already talked about it, [Henry], [chairman Tom Werner], [CEO Larry Lucchino] and I, and nobody blames what happened in September on Tito,” Epstein said. “That would be totally irresponsible and totally short-sighted and wouldn’t recognize everything he means to the organization and to all our successes, including, at times, in 2011, so we take full responsibility for what happened, all of us. Collectively, it was a failure. I’m the general manager, so I take more responsibility than anybody.
“I don’t think we believe in — I know we don’t believe in scapegoats. In particular, no one blames Tito for what happened in September. Look, we all failed collectively. Kind of failed collectively in this one and we have to live with that. We’re not going to point the fingers at any one person in particular.”
On Friday morning, Francona and Epstein were slated to meet with Henry and the rest of the Sox ownership group. It was there that the decision was made for the two sides to move in separate directions, with the Sox now preparing for just their second managerial search under Epstein.
Based on the past hiring processes under the current Red Sox ownership group, major league managerial experience (or success) may not be an important prerequisite for the position. The Sox hired Grady Little when the current ownership group arrived in Boston, and Little was a man who had never managed above the minors.
As for Francona, he arrived in Boston with a 285-363 (.440) record in four seasons managing the Phillies, without a single winning season. The runner-up for the position was Joe Maddon (now the Rays skipper), who had no managerial experience, and the team also was thought to regard Bud Black highly at a time when his dugout experience had been limited to that of pitching coach.
But, while the resume of the next Red Sox manager might not require a World Series title to be on it, that of the skipper whom he replaces features not just one but two. The bar will be set high.
As for Francona, he will undoubtedly have numerous offers. After all, he was still a highly regarded managerial candidate eight years ago, when his only big league managing experience had been as the steward of a dreadful club in Philadelphia. Now, he was able to identify this as a “time for me to move on,” in possession of one of the most impressive resumes in the industry.
“I ultimately felt that, out of respect to this team, it was time for me to move on,” Francona said in a statement. “I’ve always maintained that it is not only the right, but the obligation, of ownership to have the right person doing this job. I told them that out of my enormous respect for this organization and the people in it, they may need to find a different voice to lead the team.
“In my eight seasons as manager of the Boston Red Sox, I have developed a tremendous appreciation for Red Sox Nation. This is a special place with some of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in all of baseball. They packed Fenway Park for every game and because of them, I had a special sense of pride coming to work every day. I want to thank John, Tom, Larry and Theo for giving me the opportunity to manage this team through some of the most successful years in this franchise’s history. I wish the entire organization and all of Red Sox Nation nothing but the very best.”
“Come along with me, misery loves company. You’re welcome… at the home of the blues.” – Johnny Cash “Home of the Blues
That song probably best describes the emotions of the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, and their respective nations.
The Atlanta Braves dejected after losing to the Philadelphia Phillies and the Wild Card to the St. Louis Cardinaks
The Atlanta Braves are getting a reprieve for the most part, at least outside of the Atlanta area. On the other hand, the Red Sox are getting slammed all over, especially in Boston and the greater New England area, deservedly so.
We all know how dreadful the Sox started the season, 0-6 to start the season and 2-10 after the first 12 games of the season. For the four months following the dreadful start, the Sox were considered one of – if not the – best teams in the American league or perhaps all of baseball.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona
“September happened”. said GM Theo Epstein.
Star left handed ace Jon Lester was asked what he would remember most about the 2011 season.
That’s a 7-20 final-month implosion, a blown nine-game lead and the worst September collapse to squander a postseason spot in baseball history.
Do the ’04 and ’07 Red Sox teams have to give back their World Series rings now, too? No, no, it wasn’t quite that bad. But it was close.
On this night of a 4-3 after-midnight walk-off loss to the Orioles, the dishonors belong to exhausted Jonathan Papelbon (blown save, defeat), Carl Crawford, whose trapped liner on Robert Andino’s game-winning two-out single is his trademark defensive mistake, and all the brain-dead base runners from David Ortiz to Marco Scutaro who killed innings with their crazy feet.
Now, lets turn to the Tampa Bay Rays who, minutes after the Red Sox had blown a 3-2 lead and lost, won this AL wild-card race for the ages with a walk-off homer by Evan Longoria in the 12th inning against the Yankees. We have a few words for you guys, too. First, gentlemen, please return the thousand-mile magic carpet, the perpetual pixie-dust machine and the vat of voodoo juice. The rest of mankind needs all of ’em back. Now.
Don’t get greedy. You just burned several lifetimes of joy. Those computers claimed your chances of catching the Red Sox were down to nine-tenths of one percent when the month started. Now, go get ready for October.
What’s next for the Red Sox and Braves?
By now, we’ve seen all the heads pointed toward the ground or shaking slowly from side to side. Those images are almost routine, even as epic as this month’s collapses of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves are.
But don’t some of those heads have to roll? Isn’t that what’s expected by fans still seething with anger and-or speechless with frustration? They want blame. They want accountability. And sometimes those sentiments extend to teams’ front offices or even ownership.
So, realistically, what’s in store after two of the most monumental meltdowns in baseball history?
The Red Sox and Braves are quite different stories, Boston expensively and aggressively built to win — to win now and win big — and Atlanta still grasping at a return to previous glory.
That said, still…collapses of this magnitude are unheard of and carry some blame. Question is, who do you blame it on? In Boston’s case, buzz around Boston amped up last week when general manager Theo Epstein felt compelled to refute speculation of “a disconnect” between him and manager Terry Francona.
Disconnect or discontent, the blame game became a preemptive strike in Atlanta, where fans were asked to select scapegoats — BEFORE Wednesday’s galling 13-inning loss.
It’s all real now — the results and the inevitable search for solutions.
After Wednesday’s season-ending shock in Baltimore, GM Theo Epstein couldn’t deny his team collapsing.
“We can’t deny this month happened. just because it was preceded by four months of being the best team in baseball. We have to take a very close look at everything that’s not right. We have to fix things and that includes the whole organization.”
Epstein and Francona have been together eight seasons and are the only men in their positions to have delivered World Series championships to Boston in nearly a century. They’ve also helped create the expectations that are difficult to meet.
But the guaranteed portion of Francona’s contract is over, though the Red Sox have two option years that have not been addressed. And Francona’s name surfaced this week as a possible candidate for the Chicago White Sox vacancy. Francona began his managing career in the White Sox minor league system.
Adrian Gonzalez,one of the marquee acquisitions that made this Red Sox team appear invincible spoke to defend his manager.
“You can’t blame the manager who kept us on an even keel the whole time, He did his job. Us, the players, just didn’t get it done.”
The Red Sox will look long and hard at their pitching, which was as the center of their collapse. That could be trouble for Curt Young, in his first year as pitching coach after John Farrell left to become Toronto manager.
But the only key pitcher not under contract for next year is closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had his strongest season in five years. Erik Bedard and Tim Wakefield, who both failed as stopgap starters after injuries to the rotation, especially Clay Buchholz, also are free agents.
The bigger contract decisions will come on offense, where DH David Ortiz, right fielder J.D. Drew and catcher Jason Varitek can leave. But the Red Sox already are locked into more than $125 million in contract obligations for next year. That makes shakeups more difficult.
And then there’s Epstein himself, whose name has surfaced in talk about the vacant Chicago Cubs GM job. Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman also has been mentioned for that job. Who knows how last night’s events might have tilted that situation.
The Braves didn’t have nearly the expectations, especially in a division with the other pre-season “sure thing.” Atlanta probably belonged in the wild-card race. That’s the race usually reserved for good teams but just-flawed-enough teams that they can’t quite keep up with the elite — in this case the runaway Phillies who spent the last three nights reminding the Braves of their qualitative differences.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez was in the unenviable position of following legendary Bobby Cox. Gonzalez will take plenty of fan heat but, then, so did Cox for the pereceived underachieving of teams that won 14 division titles but just one World Series.
Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chipper Jones thought the criticism was unwarranted.
It’s cruel, because probably nobody in Atlanta sports is probably under as much scrutiny as he is filling in for Bobby Cox.”
Both the Red Sox and Braves are well-positioned to be very good next year. But there’s no guarantee everything will look the same.
New York Yankees catcher Russel Martin and I have one very big thing in common…
We both hate the Boston Red Sox.
Russell Martin has been a pleasant surprise, has he not? The guy started strong and while his bat cooled off during the season a bit, he’s showed quality defense behind the plate and has really demonstrated leadership when it comes to harnessing the Yankees pitching. Yes, Pitchers throw ball games, but catchers call them and Russell Martin calls a good game and has most of the season. While his average has been low, ,236, his homer are decent for his first year in the American League with 17. He also has an on base percentage of .323, 17 doubles and 62 RBIs.
Martin stepped ahead of the Yankees P.R. machine and finally spoke the mind of all Yankees fans by saying how he really feels about the Red Sox. Marc Craig of the Star-Ledger has the full story.
“Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me, because I hate the Red Sox.”
“They are fun to play against because they have a quality team and they are gritty and they play hard and stuff, but I would love to see them lose.”
New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano took home the 2011 MLB Home Run Derby last night in Phoenix, AZ, edging out the Boston Red Sox’s Adrian Gonzalez. Milwaukee Brewers slugger Price Fielder came in third place. Here is how the rest of the field finished.
4. David Ortiz-Boston
5. Matt Holliday-St. Louis
6. Jose Bautista-Toronto
7. Rickie Weeks-Milwaukee
8. Matt Kemp-LA Dodgers
Of course tonight in Phoenix, home field for the World Series will be decided in the 2011 All Star Game as the American League battles the National League. The first pitch is set form just after 8 p.m. EST on Fox. Below you will find the starting line up for both squads.
Curtis Granderson, Yankees, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, 1B
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, RF
Josh Hamilton, Rangers, LF
Adrian Beltre, Rangers, 3B
David Ortiz, Red Sox, DH
Robinson Cano, Yankees, 2B
Alex Avila, Tigers, C
Jered Weaver, Angels, P
Rickie Weeks, Brewers, 2B
Carlos Beltran, Mets, DH
Matt Kemp, Dodgers, CF
Prince Fielder, Brewers, 1B
Brian McCann, Braves, C
Lance Berkman, Cardinals, RF
Matt Holliday, Cardinals, LF
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, SS
Scott Rolen, Reds, 3B
Roy Halladay, Phillies, P
The newest member of the blog’s writing family, Josh Hall will have more on the game later on. Stay tuned!
I have been flooded with e-mails, tweets, Facebook hits, and phone calls asking for my response and feedback on the Yankees struggles against the Boston Red Sox this season. Most notably, the consecutive series sweeps the Red Sox have handed the Yankees on their on field.
To some everything up about the last three games, I’ll let Mark Teixeira help me out:
“They just came and beat us. They swung the bats really well, scored a lot of runs and pitched pretty well, pitched when they needed to. Not much you can do about it. They just beat us.” - Mark Teixeira
Thing is, the Yankees had this game won. Curtis Granderson had homered off Josh Beckett (payback for Beckett hitting Derek Jeter one batter earlier) and CC Sabathia had drilled David Ortiz (payback for the Red Sox beaning six Yankees this series and Ortiz flipping his bat in the opener). The Yankees carried a 2-0 lead into the seventh, which had to be the most deflating inning of the season.
Not much else can be done about it now. I completely agree with what CC Sabathia had to say after the game:
“We lose the game and get swept. I take total blame for everything that happened in the seventh inning, and I’ll be back out there in five days.” - CC Sabathia
The Red Sox and Yankees don’t play one another again until the first weekend in August. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi knows there is a lot of baseball left.
“There’s a lot of baseball to be played until we see them again, how we play the next month and a half or two months until we see them is going to have a lot to do with where we’re at. It’s not how you wanted it to end tonight, but it did. You have to move on.” –
This is pretty funny, apparently David Ortiz blamed the media for him being hit tonight and refused to answer any questions. Alrighty then Papi, whatever helps you sleep at night. Nevermind the fact that he had a huge series. I mean, one would think he would want to talk about that or maybe how well his team has played after a horrid start to the season. Nah, he would rather stomp his feet and blame the media for getting beaned. Come on man, you had to know it was coming.
Speaking of getting hit, here is a telling stat that stood out to me in this series:
Three Yankees were hit by a pitch last night, matching the most by an American League team this season. The last time the Yankees had three players hit by a pitch in one game was June 15, 2010 against the Phillies.
Huh, call me crazy but I think that speaks to a little more than control problems or “pitches that got away”.
I have never been someone who hides from the criticism or backlash that one is susceptible to after a team that I root for struggles. I take it on the chin and eagerly await the next time I am able to return the favor. It’s part of being a fan. It’s what fans do. We as fans – no matter who we are fans of – live and die with each moment in each game day in, day out and week in and week out.
I will always encourage my readers, listeners, friends, family, and colleagues to continue the good natured ribbing and trash talk. I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because I’m a fan and that’s what I live for.
I was originally going to include this with my post from earlier today but I felt like they would be better separate.
I am a Yankee fan and as such I can honestly say that I am not upset in the least about missing out on Cliff Lee. In fact, I’m happy. I wasn’t comfortable with giving a near 33 year old pitcher a 7 year contract worth any amount let alone $150 million, no matter how good he is. The Yankees had just gotten out from under most of their bad contracts and I was reluctant to have them add another. As for what I expect them to do next after missing out on Cliff Lee, here are a few ideas I’d consider if my name was Brian Cashman.
- Sign Kerry Wood: bolster the back end of the bullpen with a guy who did it for you last year. The bullpen will be more important now to help offset the short comings in the rotation.
- Find a second left handed reliever in the bullpen: For the reasons I mentioned about Kerry Wood but also because the Red Sox are suddenly very left handed with the acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to go along with David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, and Jacoby Ellsbury. A second lefty in the pen went from a luxury to a necessity for the Yankees.
- Get a definite decision from Andy Pettitte: As was the case the last few seasons, Andy Pettitte has been undecided about pitching in 2011. Now, the Yankees need for him just got bigger and his price just soared. Yes, the Yankees are better off with him but either way they need a definite answer one way or another so they know which direction to go in.
- Assess the trade market: The Yankees have already kicked the tires on the trade market and it would benefit them to continue to do so even though I currently don’t see a fit for them.
- Be smart: When assessing the trade market it is essential that they avoid the knee-jerk reaction and sell the farm to bring someone in just for the sake of doing so. Brian Cashman preached patients this afternoon in his conference call with reporters this afternoon so he and the Yankees seem committed to it.
- Depth: It’s as important now more than it’s ever been for the Yankees and not just with pitching. The Yankees face the challenges of an aging roster as well as a thin rotation so having depth is a must. This afternoon, they made what I consider to be a depth move by signing Russell Martin. The deal would give the Yankees another option at catcher, and — in theory — make it easier to trade Jesus Montero for a front-line starter.I don’t think signing Martin makes it inevitable that Montero will be traded. Martin isn’t a sure thing as an everyday catcher, and there’s still a solid chance Montero could outplay him for the job. That said, Montero is clearly the Yankees top trade chip, and if they’re going to try to find a top-of-the-rotation starter on the trade market, trading Montero might be essential. At the very least, Martin solidifies the situation behind the plate and makes it easier to deal Montero for a pitcher. However, this afternoon Cashman called it unlikely.
It may not seem like it as of right now but I think the Yankees are better off without him, long term. Anybody who would leave $50 million on the table obviously doesn’t want to pitch in New York. Thank God they found out in time for their sake. Remember the trade that wasn’t between the Yankees and Mariners last year that almost brought Cliff Lee to New York?
“I’m thankful even more so now that I didn’t do that.” – Brian Cashman
You and I both.
There will obviously be plenty of second guessing in the coming days and weeks — and months — but I don’t look back and find anything the Yankees did wrong. They knew what they wanted, and they went after it. Lee also knew what he wanted, and he went after that.
Patience didn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong approach.
“The one thing The Boss has taught me personally is the fact that you have to get in the arena and fight.Sometimes you win the fight, sometimes you lose the fight, you get knocked down and you have to pick yourself back up and keep fighting. The Boss is a fighter, the Yankees are fighters and I’m going to keep working. We’re not down and out at all.” – Brian Cashman
Once again, I couldn’t agree more.
The Yankees have already decided to bring manager Joe Girardi back for the 2011 season and will give him a raise.
No surprise here. Girardi was linked loosely to the Cubs and Cardinals this fall, but Chicago hired Mike Quade full-time this week and manager Tony La Russa has agreed to return to St. Louis for another season. Girardi led the Yanks to a 95-67 record in 2010 and the American League Championship Series. New York won its 27th World Series title in 2009.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com has confirmed that Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is likely to be named the Blue Jays’ next manager.
Every baseball fan in the world knows the name of Scott Boras. For those not acquainted, Boras is not a flame-throwing lefty out of the pen or a baseball-demolishing power hitter. No, he’s simply an agent.
But unlike other agent, who normally ply their wares behind the scenes, get the best for their clients quietly and then move one, Boras actively pursues not only publicity—which he does to normally great effect—but seems to enjoy actively attracting confrontation with management and GMs. His thought process seems to be “Confrontation will bleed the bucks for my client. And therefore me.”
But does it? Do Boras’ negotiation tactics actually work? Is he good for his clients? Let’s take a look.
We always hear about Boras having several teams interested including the famous “mystery team”. The most interesting client of his this off-season is Johnny Damon. Reports are that Damon is on the verge of signing with the Detroit Tigers for 2 years at $14 million per. I’m baffled by that because that is the exact deal that Boras advised Damon to reject from the Yankees in early December.
For Damon, this is the second contract in a row that his price has had to drop dramatically. However, this time, the Yankees aren’t there to save him.
In 2006, when Damon came up for free agency, John Henry II, owner of the Red Sox flew to Damon’s home in Florida to tell him how important he was to the Red Sox and how badly they wanted him back. The Red Sox then offered a 4-year, 40 million-dollar contract. Boras dismissed it out of hand and said negotiations for the 34-year-old Damon begin at 7 years at roughly 90 million.
To the surprise of no one, the market did not bear that out.
Playing the Red Sox and Yankees against each other, Boras hoped to drive Damon’s price up. And while he was party successful—Damon did get his 13 million annual—he got it for only 4 years, not for 7. According to the Red Sox, they were shocked by Damon’s signing—Boras never offered a counteroffer to the Red Sox; he never even told them that Damon was signing with the Yankees at all. According to the Red Sox, they were negotiating with Boras and felt that a deal would be worked out at some point—that they were on the same page and that there was an understanding between Damon and them. Former co-general manager Jed Hoyer retroactively described talks the Damon talks with Boras ‘’as very productive.”
However, despite that fact that no one offered Damon anything more than 4 years, much less 7, Damon secured a nice paycheck and was content. Things did not work out so well the past time Damon reached free agency.
When Damon reached free agency in 2009, Boras decided to play hardball with the Yankees. Despite Damon’s obvious love for the Yankees and New York, Boras said to Yankee GM Brian Cashman in early December that Damon would not take a penny less than $13 million per year for two years. Don’t even make an offer if it doesn’t have that figure in it. Naturally, the Yankees GM said: “We believed him,” Cashman said.
Instead the Yankees, much to the surprise of Boras and Damon, have decided to go with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn and a host of Plan B guys, minor leaguers and journeyman in left field. Boras, who had previously constantly rebuffed the Yankees whenever they tried to negotiate with Boras for Damon, according to Buster Olney, ultimately priced himself out of his preferred choice, the Yankees, but seemingly almost the entire league. Too pricey and no longer an option for the Braves, the Tigers, the A’s and the Cubs, and seemingly forced to accept a 4 million dollar deal from the Rays. A far cry from the 13 million he demanded from the Yankees. Out of work, I’m sure there are some nights Damon wished he took the Yankees final offer of 6 million per. Oooops.
Boras has been known as the “super agent”, but that title is being put in question. Yes, Scott Boras thinks only of money. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s his job. However, this year’s salary and the best long-term interests of the athlete do always coincide. And they certainly aren’t what is best for baseball. The betterment of baseball notwithstanding, what Boras seeks just isn’t in the interest of the best interest of his clients sometimes—career-wise, or even financially long-term-wise. Sometimes it behooves players to pick what best serves their personal interests long-term rather than the bottom line.
Ultimately its up to the client. Whatever the athlete wants, no matter what Boras may believe is what should play out. However, considering Boras’ track record, we should consider that Boras’ goal is not always what is in the best interest of his client. It is for the most money. Which is in what is best interest for Boras.
That needs to be checked on.