Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pedro, Part II

Let me state up front that the notion of athletes making "too much money" is, as Joe Sheehan noted, ridiculous. They get paid what the market suggests they get paid. "Too much" is a fiction invented by ownership, which would rather not see that lucre heading out the door, and one which finds a willing and sympathetic audience in the fan base that will never see even a fraction of the average first round pick's signing bonus in their annual take-home pay. What's left unspoken there is that if the player isn't getting that money, the owner is - the front office guys and other team staff sure as hell aren't - and with the possible exception of a full blown Steinbrenner or Cuban freakazoid, nobody comes to the game to see the owners. Furthermore, the owners aren't the ones with limited earning windows, aren't the ones risking career-ending injury out on the field, aren't the ones actually entertaining the fans who buy the tickets and jerseys and bobblehead dolls.

Now, if you ask whether it's fair that the very top tier of athletes get paid far more than people with more dangerous or "worthwhile" jobs, well, that's a whole other question. But the fact remains that me and thee are willing to fork out a couple of hundred bucks for a night at the ballpark, but we'd scream bloody murder if that same amount got tagged to our tax bill to pay firefighters, or cops, or teachers, or EMTs. It's not fair, but we're all complicit.

Which brings us to Pedro Alvarez, and the knee jerk "how dare his agent ask for more money when he hasn't proven anything!" Which is, again, hogwash. Boras has the right to ask for anything that he can get for his client. After all, he may never see a payday like this again; why shouldn't he shoot for the moon? Who among us would honestly do differently? Even the best and most durable players don't sign that many contracts during their careers. As such, it's only sense to try to maximize each contract, including the first one. And as for the notion that he hasn't proven anything, well, he's proven enough to get picked at the top of the draft. By the "he hasn't proven anything" logic, nobody's first job should pay them anything above the minimum. Real jobs don't do this of course, for various reasons - employee happiness, employee retention, attracting the best talent, and so forth. Why, then, shouldn't baseball teams use the same logic?

So, the "he doesn't deserve the money" logic gets demolished. What's still out there is whether Boras is playing by the rules, letter if not spirit. And that, well, that's something interesting. Near as I can tell, what happened is that Boras got cute in not negotiating until the last minute, the Pirates went around him, Boras lost face, and now he's trying to regain it as he and the Pirates trade threats. For Boras, what's at stake is not his chunk of the extra $200K or so he's trying to get for Alvarez; it's face. He wants to make the Pirates pay for going around him; he wants to be able to say he got his client the best deal. Imagine Tom Cruise in a fat suit dancing to Ludacris while reading any Boras pronouncement, and you've pretty much got it. Meanwhile, the Pirates may or may not have played fast and loose with the rules and may or may not lose their first round pick, Alvarez has now crossed both his agent and his employer, and really, there's no way this comes out well for anyone.

Did Boras have the right to try to get his client the most money possible? Absolutely. By the same token, Alvarez is his client, and if the client says "this is what I want," then it's Boras' job to get it done. It's not within his rights to jeopardize his client's career or happiness for his own ends, and odds are that future draft picks are watching this and going "Hmmm."
Post a Comment
There was an error in this gadget