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Quietly Doing Business

In September, players and management vowed to stop using the media to artificially alter the market. Management had often said publicly if they were interested in a player and/or leaked how much they were offering which had the effect of driving off competition from other teams - even if they were lying - or exposing a limited market for a player thus giving undue leverage to a team. Likewise, Scott Boras et al unquestionably lies about markets for his clients. Every player Boras represents floats like a butterfly and has most of the league offering double his true market value if you were to believe the agent. So, the parties agreed to negotiate with each other rather than through rapacious bloggers. Fucking bloggers.

So according to Business Insider, it didn't work. Boras's mouth couldn't be closed with vice grips and the Steinbrenner Family leaves a slime of leaks behind them as they walk New York.

I'm not sure if that's conventional wisdom, but regardless, I'm pretty sure it's false. Boras lucked out with the Nats signing Jayson Werth for a ton of money in large part because they want to tell the world that they have money and they are ready to contend in the next 3 years (one of my next posts) but he's still waiting on someone to sign Adrian Beltre despite a fantastic year. He didn't jump on Boston or Oakland while he claimed to have offers all over the place. Beltre will find a home, but it's looking unlikely that it'll be for the money and length he might have gotten earlier on - Boras once again putting his potential payout ahead of his client's well being. Meanwhile, the Yankees may not abide by the silent treatment edict, but they have also lost out on everything they wanted this off season.

That brings me to how this new M.O. is working out to some extent for baseball: Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. When was the last time that you remember the 2 best players on the market being scooped up by 2 of the biggest market clubs, and it actually surprising people? Never. The Phillies didn't need to talk up their interest in Lee. They just made a good offer, reminded him of how much he loved the organization, and then planned a press conference.

With Crawford, it was known that the Sox liked him and were doing due diligence, but the signing was a shock. Sox fandom and talking heads were still trying to digest Adrian Gonzalez and figure out what's next when CC was signed. But wait, the Sox signed a second speedster, a third lefty outfielder, an African American superstar (finally!), the best player on the market... and we didn't get to really worry about it for days on end as the details are negotiated? That's unBostonian!

The fact is that the silence pact or whatever it is has worked to allow some clubs that are less interested in the back page of the Daily News and some agents that care about baseball and players, to negotiate and get some things done without the prying eyes and ears of the media.

It's interested to note how little coverage this lack of coverage has gotten. Maybe it shouldn't be surprising to think that the baseball writers aren't too excited to write about how little they actually know about the "hot stove."


jonesy said…
The whole thing centers around a strange three headed axis involving the media, the teams and the agents. I have never quite understood the teams willingness to play the game, but at the same time they didn't have a choice as the Boras' of the game dragged them onto the field of play.

I am glad that MLB took a chance at changing the dynamic with the gag order. It, more than anything else, not a salary cap etc, can work to establish a more rational kind of market economics back to baseball. (Notice i didn't say "bring back" rational market economics because baseball has never operated that way. No sport with a history of the reserve clause can claim to have ever been driven by the market) The media of course isn't going to like the order because it hurts their bottom line. Their sole product is information. But as the explosion of ESPN and the internet has showed us the lines differentiating between accurate and reasonable information, rumor, innuendo, and outright lies designed to influence outcomes hasn't just become blurry as much as intertwined into a nasty knot that threatened to choke off the air supply. If the media cleans up its house, sets a higher standard for how it functions maybe it will

I am not sure the media wants to cover this because of its culpability. The mainstream sports media, as much as it doesn't want to admit it, tries to drive narratives that sell copy and put eyeballs on the TV sets. The media loves setting one side against each other and covering the battle. This gag order is a direct response to that.

The next few years will be interesting for sure.

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