I reported yesterday that, despite the fact that the majority of the players disciplined in the Biogenesis scandal are (or were) represented by the Levinson brothers’ ACES agency, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA was unlikely to take any disciplinary action against the agency. The reason: there is no evidence suggesting that the agency was aware that its players were utilizing Biogenesis. Rather, it was a former consultant, Juan Carlos Nunez, who served as the vector between the clinic and the players. ACES was censured by the MLBPA for its failure to supervise Nunez and Nunez has been fired.
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish writes today, however, that competing agencies are not happy about this, and quotes many of ACES’ competitors calling for it to be disciplined. They are skeptical of the claim that Nunez was some rogue and all claim that, even if the union doesn’t do anything to punish them, they will lose clients through natural attrition and the sense among players that ACES was a bad actor in the Biogenesis affair.
Which, OK, everyone is entitled to an opinion on this. And yes, it looks pretty bad that one agency was so well-represented. But I’ll observe that these are competitors to ACES talking and there is nothing that brings out sports agents’ teeth like some blood in the water.
Most fans don’t pay attention to the back-and-forth between agents that goes on, but those who do know that every time one agency is in the news for something even remotely negative, other agents come out of the woodwork to pile on. Ask Paul Kinzer about the coverage he got when he got into a public tiff with Francisco Rodriguez. Ask Scott Boras when he had clients still unsigned late into spring training in the past couple of years. There are always stories quoting competing agents when that stuff happens, talking about how the guy in the spotlight really isn’t doing his clients right. With the implicit statement that his clients should and will shop around for new representation. For cryin’ out loud, we now have (quasi) agents recording dis tracks about their perceived competition. It’s a brutal business.
None of which is to say that the ire at ACES isn’t natural and even understandable. They aren’t likely to be penalized by MLBPA over it all, but one can see how it other agents might be bent out of shape. It is to say, though, that I’d be way more surprised if ACES’ competitors didn’t come after them than to see what they’re saying now. That would be truly unusual.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.