Ernie Harwell makes a surprise visit

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If you go by the actuarial tables, Ernie Harwell — a 91 year-old man who was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer months ago and decided to forego treatment — probably shouldn’t be able to make public appearances anymore. Heck, the fact that he’s still living is a blessing.  But he is living and he is making public appearances, surprising Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell at a benefit last night:

A couple hundred fans had paid for an evening with the Tiger greats and expected tales of the old days, with the proceeds benefiting the War Memorial Patriots Scholarship Fund for veterans.

Then they began telling stories about Ernie Harwell. Before long, he also stood at the top of the auditorium steps, microphone in hand.

“Greetings everybody and welcome to Tiger baseball,” Harwell said.The crowd roared. Then stood. And clapped as he took a seat between [Trammel and Gibson].

Damn. That dust that was in here when I wrote the Nick Adenhart thing yesterday is back. I definitely need to get the ducts cleaned.

Scott Boras says it would be a conflict of interest for an agent to become a GM

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Earlier, Craig wrote about the latest in the Mets’ search for a new general manager. Their list has been pared down to three candidates: Chaim Bloom (Rays senior VP of baseball operations), Doug Melvin (Brewers senior advisor), and agent Brodie Van Wagenen (of Creative Artists Agency).

It’s a diverse list, for sure, which makes one wonder what process allowed them to arrive at these final three candidates. Bloom is new school, Melvin is older-school, and Van Wagenen is… just inexperienced. Van Wagenen in particular is an interesting candidate as he has spent years advocating on his clients’ behalf. As a GM, he would do the exact opposite: he would try to take advantage of his players whenever possible, like every other GM in baseball does (e.g. manipulating service time).

Per Mike Puma of the New York Post, agent Scott Boras thinks there would be a conflict of interest if an agent were to become a GM. Boras, in fact, says he has turned down opportunities to lead front offices. But there is no verbiage saying that an agent must divest himself of his business interests before taking a job in a front office. Dave Stewart and Jeff Moorad are two examples of agents who later went onto the ownership side of the business. Stewart, in fact, moved into the front office after retiring and held various roles in with various organizations until he started Sports Management Partners (renamed Stewart Management Partners). He transferred control of the agency to Dave Henderson before he joined the Diamondbacks’ front office near the end of the 2014 season.

Ownership and labor are in constant conflict, even when things seem peaceful. Ownership wants to extract as much labor as possible as cheaply as possible. Labor wants to be paid for their work as much as possible. Their goals contradict each other and yet they need each other. While not required, usually being deeply on one side or the other — as agents and GM’s are — speaks to one’s personal ethos about the eternal tug-of-war. That Van Wagenen is so eager to switch sides speaks, perhaps, to opportunism. I would be, at minimum, unsettled if I were a client of Wan Wagenen’s at CAA. How might he use the sensitive information he was privy to as an agent to his advantage as a GM?

We have seen the analytics wave take over front offices around baseball. As ownership looks for ever more ways to pocket more cash, Van Wagenen’s candidacy may signal an upcoming wave of agents transitioning into front office roles. Hopefully that doesn’t become the case. There may be no one better equipped to take advantage of labor than someone experienced on that side of the battlefield.