This is classic. Scott Boras was on Sirius/XM with Jim Bowden yesterday and the subject of Jayson Werth’s gigantic contract came up. Bowden — as is his admirable wont — cut through the courtesy stuff and simply told Boras “I just can’t believe you pulled that off.”
Boras, however, gave a long and seemingly thoughtful explanation as to how the Jayson Werth deal fit into the greater theory of Nationals baseballology. Or something:
“So, in doing that, and evaluating that, you have to say, ‘Is that player going to provide something to the franchise in addition to his performance?’ And I think this is where we look at major free agent signings, particularly with franchises like Washington, that in addition to the performance the player brings, which would probably be 23 to 25 HR’s, 90, 95 RBI’s, in addition to that, we have someone now that allows Bryce Harper’s arrival in the major leagues to be something that is more a function of his performance rather than a need to make sure the fanbase knows that we’re taking the next step. We also know that from the standpoint of attracting free agent pitchers, or attracting a closer, or attracting any other free agents, that we have an ownership that is now embedded in the market place as someone who is a destination that they know the ownership is committed…
“So, in addition to growing for the player’s performance, the brand in Washington is now a different brand. It is now an acknowledged brand. Their fans know it. Other players know it. And it provides a brand value to the franchise that did not exist prior to Jayson Werth signing.”
I don’t know about you, but I was in a trance by the third sentence, and I’m a trained baloney-detector. The Nats’ brass likely had no hope in resisting. That is, if they even realized what was going on. Indeed, they probably woke up, saw Boras’ last demand and had some vague but urgent sense that they had to give Werth $126 million. Like this guy.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.