Heyman goes one better than the Daily News: claims A-Rod has “refused” to pay his legal bill

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Yesterday I explained how misguided the New York Daily News was in painting A-Rod as a “deadbeat” for still having an outstanding balance on his legal bills. I explained how legal billing works and how unusual it is for anyone — person or corporation — to have settled a multi-million dollar legal bill scarcely a month after the representation ended. Indeed, I noted how that can be reckless as prudent clients are well-served to review their legal bills and negotiate them downward. Lawyers can, even unwittingly, overcharge for services, after all.

Yesterday Jon Heyman did the Daily News one better: he says that A-Rod not only hasn’t paid his entire bill yet. He says he has refused to do so:

A-Rod has refused to pay a large part of his legal bill, sources said, confirming a report in the New York Daily News.

Those sources estimate that he has refused to pay about $3 million out of an estimated $5 million or more in legal fees. Those sources further say he has refused to even return phone calls on the matter, making it clear he has no interest in paying.

Again: I have no reason to dispute the idea that A-Rod hasn’t paid his entire legal bill. I’m sure he hasn’t. And if he is, indeed, “refusing” to do so, it would be totally consistent with what one often sees after a contentious and, in many ways, unsuccessful representation. A hard negotiation over fees, with said “refusal” being no different than a baseball player refusing to negotiate a contract extension after opening day. You see this from clients — even well-heeled ones — all the time. If Heyman had bothered to ask a lawyer about it he’d know that.

But Heyman is more interested in using this isolated and frankly uninteresting little factoid as a springboard for, once again, rehashing all of the reasons A-Rod is to be loathed. The very headline of his article calls his legal bill “the latest in a series of bad acts.” And he spends paragraph after paragraph lambasting Rodriguez for all of his past misdeeds as if they were news and as if the legal fee thing was in keeping with them on a moral and ethical level. It’s the ultimate exercise in attack journalism, built on a falsehood held out of ignorance, willful or otherwise, about the underlying facts of the situation.

No one in the media particularly likes Alex Rodriguez and I understand that. But the overheated efforts some take to shred him, and the eagerness they have to do it, is baffling to me and, frankly, pathetic.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.