Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boras On This Year's Naughty List

This just in from the North Pole: Scott Boras has officially been added to the Naughty List.

On his way to becoming baseball’s mega-agent, Boras has developed a reputation for being one of the greediest brokers in the business of sports.

Unfortunately, no one, Santa included, can argue that Boras isn’t good at what he does.

In fact, he’s probably the best player’s agent ever. His clients get paid the most, often for the least results, and he’s got so many clients that major league teams can’t avoid him.

The problem is Boras’ practices are almost always bad for baseball.

One way or another Boras himself comes out on top in almost every deal he strikes, typically with total disregard for the game that has afforded him the opportunity to make such a living.

You may remember that he was the architect of the infamous $252 million contract awarded to Alex Rodriguez by the Texas Rangers in 2000. The deal has tormented the Rangers financially ever since and drove the market for big name players even higher.

More recently Boras hosed the San Francisco Giants into signing his client, Barry Zito, to a seven-year deal worth $126 million despite every indication that his career was headed for the tubes. In Zito’s second year in San Francisco he was so bad at one point that he was demoted to Triple-A.

And earlier this year he miraculously convinced the LA Dodgers that Andruw Jones was still worth $18 million a year just months after hit .222 for the Braves. As a result, the Dodgers paid Jones $18 million for just three home runs and a .158 batting average this past season.

Boras struck again yesterday, just two days before Christmas, with one of his most despicable acts to date.

He convinced Mark Teixeira, one of baseball’s "good guys," to shun his hometown Baltimore Orioles, the team he was rumored to have wanted to play for since childhood, for the glitz and glamour of playing in the Bronx.

This time the implications of Boras’ latest monster contract may be far more serious than the previous ones.

Instead of negotiating a contract worth more than his client as he is famous for doing, he contributed to baseball's biggest problem by convincing yet another superstar to turn his back on the rest of the country and head to New York.

In the Big Apple, Teixeira can make even more money for Boras through endorsements and other activities only possible in New York City. 

Capitalism is All-American, but not when it's destroying America's Pastime.

Unlike the signings of post-prime players like Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi that fattened up the Yankees before their eventual slaughter either before or during the playoffs, the Yankees’ latest free agent acquisitions could permanently change the landscape of Major League Baseball.

Apparently the Yanks learned from their mistakes of the last decade and went out and pounced on this year’s healthy crop of big name free agents in the middle of their prime baseball years.

C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira, three of baseball’s finest players, will be in pinstripes for at least the next five years at a total cost of $423.5 million.

To put in perspective how lopsided the playing field is becoming in Major League Baseball, the Florida Marlins could pay their entire 2008 roster for 20 seasons with that amount of money.

With the signing of Teixeira, the Yankees now have the four highest paid players in baseball, all four of whom could have covered the Marlins’ payroll with their own salary.

If the master plans of Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner work out the way they look like they might, World Series Championships will be up for sale with only a few teams in the mix to afford the price tag.

The brilliant management of smaller market franchises like the Marlins, Twins and A’s is the main reason Major League baseball has been to avoid a salary cap as long as it has. 

Amazingly those franchises have stayed ahead of the curve without big money and won consistently with the help groundbreaking strategies like sabermetrics. 

However, the Yankees, with the help of Scott Boras and a team stacked with as many as eight or nine future Hall of Famers, could usher in an era in which small market clubs haven’t the slightest chance of competing for World Series.

Now you know how Boras ended up where he did, near the top of Santa’s 2008 Naughty List.

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