Ballplayers at the top of a ponzi scheme

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Here’s Scott Boras’ comment back in February when it was revealed that several baseball players were among the clients of suspected fraudster Robert Allen Stanford:

“The broker dealers the players have chosen have advised our
personal management auditors the players are not in jeopardy of losing
money.”

Here’s the news from yesterday:

The lawyer trying to recover the money from R. Allen Stanford’s
purported Ponzi scheme wants seven current and former Major League
Baseball stars who had invested with the accused swindler to turn over
millions of dollars, mostly of the players’ own money.

Ralph S. Janvey, whom the Securities and Exchange Commission
appointed as the “receiver” in the case, wants to take $9.5 million
from the players, an amount that mostly consists of their initial
investments, so that the athletes’ money can be split up among all of
Mr. Stanford’s purported victims.

“The fact that the [ballplayers] are innocent investors and
committed no wrongdoing does not entitle them to retain proceeds
received from the fraudulent” scheme, lawyers for Mr. Janvey wrote in a
filing last week with the U.S. District Court in Dallas.

Oops.

The players who, if the motion is granted, stand to lose millions
include Greg Maddux, Johnny Damon, J.D. Drew, Andruw Jones, Carlos
Pena, and Jay Bell.

The question I asked back in February and for which I’d still like
an answer is whether Scott Boras — who makes a big deal about how he’s
a full-service representative — steered these guys to Stanford. Maybe
someone in a position to should ask him.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.