To Scott Boras, the free agent market is a one way street

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A revealing quote from Scott Boras in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  When asked about the timetable for Matt Holliday signing somewhere:

“The acquisition of a franchise talent is not about a wristwatch. That’s about all I can tell you. It’s not a
particular time. It’s about the club recognizing the benefit of having
that player and how they’ll be dramatically impacted by the loss of
that player. When that realization takes place, when there is recognition of the
player’s place in the market, then you have an
agreement.”

Note the lack of any comment about the player recognizing the benefit of playing for any particular club. No realization on the part of the player about his place in the market.  No mention on what happens if the club fails to agree with Boras’ assessment of where that place really is, in which case his client could be left out in the cold.  How long will Johnny Damon be waiting?  If the Cardinals follow through on their earlier statements about wanting to have some certainty on Holliday one way or the other by Christmas, how long will he be waiting?

Of course you can’t argue with the historical effectiveness of such an approach.
In the aggregate, Boras has been wildly successful by advancing this
teams-come-to-the-player philosophy.  Indeed, Boras’ approach has fundamentally changed the free agent market, and he almost always reaches a near top-of-the-market deal.

But in recent years the free agent market seems to have changed itself.  Will Boras adapt? Or will he, as Bill Madden of the New York Daily News thinks, end up leaving his two biggest free agent clients scrambling for work as spring training approaches?

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.