Exploiting inefficiencies in the agent business: one agency lowers its commissions

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This is interesting. Darren Heitner of Forbes is reporting that one agency which represents a lot of baseball players — Performance Baseball – is cutting its commission fees from the typical 5% to 1.5%:

”We saw a fiercely competitive landscape where everybody looked the same.  The agents basically offer the same services, pretty much the same fee structure whether it is 4% or 5%, and I could literally hear the sound in my ear from a meeting a couple of years ago where a guy was saying ‘you guys are all really the same.’  My partner and I said let’s focus on what we do best and what we really enjoy doing.”

The article notes that, in reality, not all agents are the same, as some provide different services to their clients. Scott Boras, for example, famously has an entire operation of training, personal business management and general hand-holding professionals on staff to be one-stop shopping for clients. Others, like the guys at Performance, are more about doing the deals and that’s it. Yet, for some reason, all still charged the same basic commissions.

Interesting to see some agents go to the budget model (though I doubt they’d call it that). Maybe it will help disrupt the pattern in which some agents do a ton of work for a player between the ages of 18 and 25 or something and then get tossed aside for someone else just before the player hits free agency.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.