Francisco Rodriguez

K-Rod may sue his old agents

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Last summer there was some hubbub when Francisco Rodriguez fired his agents, Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem, replacing them with Scott Boras. Soon after that he was traded from the Mets to the Brewers.

The reason for the hubbub? Boras said that Kinzer and Tellem didn’t properly file the paperwork to activate a no-trade clause K-Rod negotiated for and that the no-trade clause would have included the Brewers on it.  As we know, K-Rod ended up going to Milwaukee and ended up being John Axford’s setup man.

Yesterday K-Rod’s lawyer, Richard Johnson, was quoted saying that he’s getting ready to raise hell over it all and accused K-Rod’s old agents of fraud:

“They did something atrocious. Their arrogance makes this so evil. It’s like rear-ending somebody but instead of stopping your car and trading insurance information they blew up the car and ran away. They committed negligence and turned it into a fraud case … He’s going to lose a lot of money; the question is whether it’s seven figures or eight figures. There’s long-term damage to his career. He wasn’t even in position to be marketed as a closer last winter. They really (messed) with his career in a monumental way.”

The alleged damage is that by being unable to veto a trade to Milwaukee like he thought he’d be able to, K-Rod lost out on showcasing himself as a closer late last year and thus was unable to make bank this winter as a free agent.  Instead he accepted arbitration and will remain, presumably as a setup man, with the Brewers.

Worth noting, of course, that we’re just hearing one side of this.  Last summer when the controversy was first reported, sources familiar with the details of the no-trade clause filing said that it was, in fact, submitted and the dispute is about form, not substance.  Since then the parties have been involved in a mediation that has apparently gone south, which might explain Johnson speaking out like this now.

What interests me most here are the sorts of damages Johnson thinks he could get out of this if, in fact, he establishes that K-Rod was aggrieved.

On the one hand he could point to Jonathan Papelbon’s silly contract and say “Look! K-Rod could have made a gajillion dollars if he had been able to market himself as a closer!”  On the other hand, Kinzer could point to Ryan Madson’s one-year $8.5 million deal and note that the one-year $8 million deal K-Rod got with the Brewers is around where he would have been anyway.  Point is, I don’t think there was any guarantee that K-Rod, given his history and given the closer market can really say he was damaged all that greatly.

Whatever the case, worth watching.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.