The New York Times continues its assault on Scott Boras

11 Comments

Earlier today Keith Law posted his analysis of the relevant MLBPA rules regarding agents making loans to players and found nothing that would appear to make the loan Scott Boras made to Braves’ prospect Edward Salcedo improper.  This followed Scott Boras’ explanation of the loan and rather convincing (in my view) denial that anything improper took place. This also followed a week during which I hashed out the issue and, like Law and Boras, struggled to find any problem with the loan whatsoever.  Case closed?

Hardly. In Tuesday’s New York Times — published to the web this evening — Michael S. Schmidt writes about the “scandal” as if no one has questioned his initial report. Indeed, he writes it as if he has conducted no additional research into the matter at all. The story: last week Major League Baseball sent a letter to the union asking it to determine if Boras broke any rules.  There is no mention of what possible rules were broken. There is no new information other than the fact the letter was sent seven days ago. A letter which we all knew would be sent last week when, in Schmidt’s original story, anonymous Major League Baseball officials voiced concern. The letter is just another means of concern-voicing.

But there is plenty of additional hand-wringing. There is the obligatory “these allegations come at a time,” sentence, which is a time-tested way to cast something in a negative light when there are no actual connections between the complained-of activity and some perceived evil.  There’s the obligatory “the loans raised questions” sentence, when in fact, no one who has yet identified themselves by name has raised a question, let alone identified a violation of any rule or ethical norm. Seriously: someone name a rule Boras has violated. MLB-source guy: name the rule. Schmidt: report what rules you think were violated. Because thus far, there’s nothing.

I carry no brief for Scott Boras, but this is starting to look like a witch hunt. This latest story completely ignores Law’s analysis of the rules in question.  It puts out a single piece of information — the letter — that is a week old and essentially meaningless.  It quotes numerous agents who happen to compete for business with Scott Boras and whose interest would be served by having his reputation damaged, all waxing disapprovingly of the loan and saying how they themselves would never do such a thing.  Of course, none of them suggest that the loan was improper either.

I found Schmidt’s initial report on the Boras-Salcedo loan to be interesting but slight. In light of what we’ve learned about the loans in the past week, however, I am more firmly convinced than I ever have been that there is no story here at all.  Or rather, not the story that the Times is struggling to tell. Rather, this is a story about an all-out assault on Scott Boras.  And unless someone can point to a single rule that was broken, it’s one that needs to cease now.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.