The New York Times continues its assault on Scott Boras

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Earlier today Keith Law posted his analysis of the relevant MLBPA rules regarding agents making loans to players and found nothing that would appear to make the loan Scott Boras made to Braves’ prospect Edward Salcedo improper.  This followed Scott Boras’ explanation of the loan and rather convincing (in my view) denial that anything improper took place. This also followed a week during which I hashed out the issue and, like Law and Boras, struggled to find any problem with the loan whatsoever.  Case closed?

Hardly. In Tuesday’s New York Times — published to the web this evening — Michael S. Schmidt writes about the “scandal” as if no one has questioned his initial report. Indeed, he writes it as if he has conducted no additional research into the matter at all. The story: last week Major League Baseball sent a letter to the union asking it to determine if Boras broke any rules.  There is no mention of what possible rules were broken. There is no new information other than the fact the letter was sent seven days ago. A letter which we all knew would be sent last week when, in Schmidt’s original story, anonymous Major League Baseball officials voiced concern. The letter is just another means of concern-voicing.

But there is plenty of additional hand-wringing. There is the obligatory “these allegations come at a time,” sentence, which is a time-tested way to cast something in a negative light when there are no actual connections between the complained-of activity and some perceived evil.  There’s the obligatory “the loans raised questions” sentence, when in fact, no one who has yet identified themselves by name has raised a question, let alone identified a violation of any rule or ethical norm. Seriously: someone name a rule Boras has violated. MLB-source guy: name the rule. Schmidt: report what rules you think were violated. Because thus far, there’s nothing.

I carry no brief for Scott Boras, but this is starting to look like a witch hunt. This latest story completely ignores Law’s analysis of the rules in question.  It puts out a single piece of information — the letter — that is a week old and essentially meaningless.  It quotes numerous agents who happen to compete for business with Scott Boras and whose interest would be served by having his reputation damaged, all waxing disapprovingly of the loan and saying how they themselves would never do such a thing.  Of course, none of them suggest that the loan was improper either.

I found Schmidt’s initial report on the Boras-Salcedo loan to be interesting but slight. In light of what we’ve learned about the loans in the past week, however, I am more firmly convinced than I ever have been that there is no story here at all.  Or rather, not the story that the Times is struggling to tell. Rather, this is a story about an all-out assault on Scott Boras.  And unless someone can point to a single rule that was broken, it’s one that needs to cease now.

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.