Boras sulking

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.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.