Tony La Russa: ‘Disrespectful’ for Bryce Harper to talk about Mike Trout

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The last time Tony La Russa was mentioned on this site was in the wake of Harold Baines’ election to the Hall of Fame. An election for which La Russa — Baines’ first big league manager and longtime friend — was part of the very small electorate. As I wrote at the time, La Russa — an influential figure in baseball with a law degree — probably threw some serious rhetorical weight around when the veterans committee met, which had the result of bestowing baseball immortality on Baines.

In other news, Tony La Russa thinks it’s a bad idea for people to use their influence to affect baseball’s future:

It’s also worth noting that last year La Russa held forth on the topic of free agent demands and argued that players and their agents have a responsibility to “be reasonable” and not “shoot for the stars.” I guess only certain kinds of efforts to influence the free agent market are “disrespectful.”

Anyway, as I noted yesterday, the concept of tampering in Major League Baseball is a curious one. I know the rule covers players, but I’m not sure why. Bryce Harper can’t sign Mike Trout, after all. His enthusiasm for Trout could give Trout leverage in negotiations with the Phillies of course, and I suppose that — and not some sort of corruption or contract interference angle — is the reason for the rule. The last thing the league wants is to give free agents, current or future ones, leverage.

Meanwhile, La Russa falls, broadly, into the category of “rival evaluators,” the likes of which will likely be anonymously cited in stories after the 2020 season arguing why, exactly, teams like the Phillies shouldn’t give Trout all the money in the world. I’m guessing La Russa won’t be giving those quotes to the national media — doesn’t seem his style to go anonymous — but I’m also guessing he won’t come out and call those who do “disrespectful” either.