The Phillies ratted out a draftee to the NCAA for negotiating with an agent

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This is surprising, likely unprecedented and truly pathetic. Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reports that the Phillies turned in their fifth-round draft pick from 2013, Ben Wetzler, to the NCAA for negotiating with the team through an agent. Fitt surmises that the Phillies did so due to sour grapes over Wetzler deciding not to sign and instead returning to Oregon State for his senior year.

Fitt calls the Phillies’ informing on Wetzler a “significant departure from industry norm.” Indeed, draftees routinely use agents to negotiate such deals — or even hire agents as “advisors” before being drafted — and teams never tell the NCAA about it. Mostly because everyone except the NCAA knows that the no-agent rule is idiotic and harmful to these kids who are drafted given how much money is at stake. With the NCAA itself and major league teams looking to take advantage of young athletes, often an agent is the only person looking out for their best interests. Many teams have actually said that they prefer to deal with an agent because it gives everyone involved some security and comfort knowing that a 20 year-old is not going toe-to-toe with seasoned baseball negotiators.

But the Phillies — or at least someone who works for them — ratted our Wetzler. Apparently out of spite. And in doing so there is an NCAA investigation pending against him which could cause him to be ineligible for his senior year and put his very future in baseball in peril.

This was a shameful move. Simply pathetic.

UPDATE: Ruben Amaro was asked about the report:

Not your investigation, Rube. You could talk about it if you wanted to. I can see why you might not want to.

At any rate: it was not the Phillies’ business to tell the NCAA about his agent, but they did. It is their business to answer for what they’ve done, but now they won’t. Got it.

(Thanks to Bicepts for the heads up)

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.