Black Jack

An Open Letter To MLB And The Nationals

It's hard for a former player to hammer on a guy who has done nothing if not battle for his players as hard as Scott Boras has, but Boras has officially gone off the deep end.

Through the years Boras has created controversy (and hatred from ownership) for pushing the envelope of both signing bonuses and yearly salaries for baseball players.

While over-emphasizing the power of free agency, he's had players sit entire seasons out (Jason Varitek). He's had players leave places they probably would have loved to have stayed (Jim Abbott, A-Rod, Derek Lowe).

He's advised players to leave hometown money on the table to test the free agent waters only to have that market bite back (Joe Crede, Abbott, Matt Holliday) And, he's had an alarming number of his players involved in the steroid controversies of the game.

But that is all peanuts compared to what he is trying to pull off with projected #1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

Rumors are floating that Boras will be asking the Nationals, who hold the first overall pick, for $50,000,000.00 for the rights to own Strasburg, his newest "best player ever."

If the Nationals give him anything close to that they are idiots.
If ANYONE gives him anything close to that ...they are idiots as well.
Now I'm not one of those old players who can't accept the salaries of these modern day players. I'm just a realistic baseball mind who knows the reality of things. This sport is not football where running times, jump heights, bench presses and size will absolutely and immediately translate to the field.

It is not basketball where the bigger guys rule supreme and measurable attributes also translate directly to the floor. This is baseball, where "can't miss" players disappear quicker than some big leaguers power numbers once steroid testing came into the game.
I would have to agree that Strasburg's numbers are phenomenal. His radar readings are great, and his stuff is outstanding. The problem is in reality none of that solely translates into big league success.
Also, is anyone paying attention to his competition? Let's see, Bethune-Cookman, Nevada, USD, UNLV, BYU, Santa Clara, Air Force, Utah. Not a ranked school in the mix. He did beat TCU twice who was rated #16 in the country.

But in those two starts he gave up 5 runs in 15 innings pitched for a rather pedestrian 3.00 ERA. Then came his regional playoff loss to Virginia where he gave up two solo home runs.

So, are we getting the picture? Had he excelled in the Pac-10 conference the way he did against the competition he faced this season, I may be a bit more excited.
Please do not let Boras pull this stunt off.  He has tainted baseball enough already and needs to be reigned in.



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Orestes said:

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Nice voice of reason from a "player'.

That 50 mill will set a bar so freakin' high no average man will be able to afford to go to a game anynmore...

Any owner that meets that demand will regret the day....

Jack McDowell said:


The owners already make huge mistakes by automatically paying THAT YEARS free agents as if they were the best in the game. Just because you are the best free agent in a particular year doesn't place you at the top of the talent list! But every year we see it happen.

I feel sorry for the kid Strasburg. More than likely he'll be sitting out an entire year to get his "mega-deal" while he should be playing ball!

Real Baseball Intelligence said:

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Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, offers its 2009 Baseball Draft Guide. The Guide includes RBI's Top 400 draft prospects, scouting reports of the top ten players at each position, a mock draft and more. It is available at

Jack McDowell said:


That's all well and good but there is no statistical analysis for the "does he have balls" column!

dpk12000 said:

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Isn't there a good chance that it's simply a negotiating tactic, though? Ask for a completely insane number, like $50 million, and then "settle" for something like $20 million (which would still be the biggest bonus ever paid to any draft pick). It might work too. It's not like the Nationals are brain surgeons, this is the same franchise that misspelled its own name on their jerseys a few weeks ago.

Jack McDowell said:


Of course it's a negotiating ploy. The whole season of hearing about this kid has been scripted right out of Boras' office. For instance, have you even heard of the Pac-10 pitcher of the year from Arizona State, Mike Leake? Didn't think so. Well he completed a regular season of pitching through the Pac-10 with a 13-1 record 1.35 ERA, 116 K's and only 18 BB's.
He doesn't throw 100MPH but I'd take him in a heartbeat. He's the kind of guy Oakland or Minnesota will get and continue to win without the big hype big dollar guys.

Orestes said:

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Prior is a great example of a highly paid flame out....last I saw, he had a grand total of 42 wins, but you'd have thought from the hype that he'd already be in the Hall by now....

Jimmy Greenfield said:


Absolutely, Orestes. There are flame outs who never had the skills to be great (or even good) at the top level and then there are the Prior's, who get hurt. The risk of injury alone should preclude Strasburg from getting a deal far beyond what anyone else has received. Because no matter what, the odds are not with him succeeding.

Jack McDowell said:


Gee, let's think about this...Prior's former agent, Scott Boras. Sound familiar. Anyone question how Strasburg goes from an undrafted solid High School pitcher to this 100mph machine in a quick two years? I've gotten a ton of backlash for simply bringing up these connections and "oddities" with Prior in the past, along with his USC teammates at the time (look 'em up) However, it looks like there just may have been some validity to them??????? People need to open up their eyes!!!

Tony said:


Great post, Jack.

Thanks so much for the blog and your insights - even if you do tend to like "softer" more boring music ;) You provide a voice that is pretty unmatched on sports blogs that are typically written by out-of-shape guys who never stepped foot on the field. And the fact that you don't just post and run, but actually maintain the dialogue within the comments is awesome.

Thanks again-

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