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.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.