First of all, how angry do you think Bud Selig was Sunday night when Scott Boras effectively shattered Bud’s edict prohibiting major announcements during the World Series by telling Ken Rosenthal of Fox who then told the world that Alex Rodriguez would be opting out
of his Yankees contract?
Not that the report smothered any World Series drama: the Sox and the Rox took care of that by playing four long, mostly tedious games that were decidedly short on compelling moments.
Back to Boras.
Even before the A-Rod announcement, I felt like I was having an all-Scott Boras weekend. First, I happened on the Boras profile in this week’s New Yorker
(headlined “The Extortionist”). It paints a picture of a profoundly driven man who has built a firm with an infrastructure—complete with talent scouts, stats guys and sports psychologists—that would put many Major League front offices to shame.
The picture also includes rivals who think Boras is a client-stealing snake and this disapproving comment from Marvin Miller, reacting to Boras’s idea that the World Series be changed to a best-of-nine showdown with the first two games being played Super Bowl-style at a neutral site.
“That’s a typical example of an agent forgetting what his real role is. He has no function whatsoever in suggesting a change in scheduling. He has absolutely nothing to say about it—not now or ever. But it’s quite typical. It’s a joke.”
But maybe the most interesting aspect of the piece to me was learning that Boras, who was an undrafted, often injured infielder who toiled in the low-level minors for the Cardinals, was also once the property of the Cubs.
“The head of the Cardinals’ farm system, Bob Kennedy, was a ‘true gentleman,’ Boras recalls, who seems to have recognized that Boras, even as his knees worsened, could prove valuable as a role model for less disciplined players...
“In 1977, Kennedy left to become general manager of the Chicago Cubs, and shortly afterward he traded for Boras, who by that point was thinking of quitting. He told Kennedy he was planning to go to law school, and Kennedy agreed to pay him for another year anyway. He was making about twelve hundred dollars a month. He didn’t play a single game in 1978, because of his knees, but he used his earnings...to help pay for school.”
Maybe that’s the reason Boras thought it would be such a good idea for Rodriguez to join/partially own the Cubs. (Boras officially denies any connection to that rumor, by the way.)
As for A-Rod, in Sunday’s New York Times
, I came across this explanation by Tyler Kepner of the perspective from which Boras and his #1 client might have negotiated with the Yankees:
"Rodriguez’s current contract stipulates that if he does not opt out now, he can do so next winter if his $27 million salary for 2009 and 2010 is not raised to $32 for each of these seasons. Therefore, to the Rodriguez camp, the salary to be raised is $32 million, not $25.2 million...”
Of course, with Sunday’s announcement, the negotiating framework has changed. If Hank Steinbrenner is true to his pledge that the Yankees wouldn’t pursue Rodriguez at any price once he declared himself a free agent, someone else will have to find the $26 or $28 or $30 or $32 million per year to pay A-Rod. Clearly, only a handful of teams could even contemplate that.
Might the Cubs be one of them? It will take some nifty creativity from the Cub front office, given the ownership situation and the huge money and no-trade clauses already attached to the current roster, to make it happen.
But then, maybe Rodriguez will just be happy to get out of the Bronx and highly motivated by the thought of playing again for his old manager, Lou Piniella.
And maybe Scott Boras will be inclined to offer Jim Hendry a sweetheart deal.
You know, from one Cub to another.