Sure Bet: Boras Eruption Coming
By Jim Henneman
The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was relatively weak in the buzz department, especially around here. It may have been because of a relatively shallow pool of players or the new guidelines the recently enacted collective bargaining agreement put in place. No disrespect intended for Kevin Gausman, but there was more pre-draft buzz when Matt Hobgood, a high school pitcher who's still relatively unknown, was drafted three years ago.
The rules of the new collective bargaining agreement were put in place to rein in the bonus spending that was spiraling out of control, thereby reducing the influence of agents (read: Scott Boras). But my wild guess on this is that Boras will end up creating more fuss in a matter of days after the draft than there was during the months leading up to it.
A Boras client, Mark Appel, dropped from the consensus No. 1 pick, which his hometown Houston Astros owned, to No. 8, the Pittsburgh Pirates' selection. That translates to a $4.3 million slide on paper, which merely sets the stage. Trust me, it isn't going to take long for Boras to push the envelope on this one.
The "suggested" ceiling for the first player picked was $7.2 million. Regardless of where Appel was taken, Boras will be using that number as a bargaining starting point. The problem is that's more than the Pirates' entire allotted budget for their first 10 picks and the aforementioned $4.3 million more than the "suggested" payout of $2.9 million for the eighth player to come off the board. The penalties in place for teams that exceed their budgets are stiff enough to almost guarantee that no team, especially this year, will be tempted to go overboard.
You can take it to the bank that this debate is just starting. If Appel indeed was the top player in the draft and was passed over because of signability reasons, then his choice of agents cost him $4.3 million. You can be sure that Boras has a plan, which MLB teams and other agents will be watching.
If you're like me, you probably never noticed before that there are 14 MLB teams in the Eastern time zone. That being the case, you most likely also didn't realize that upon the close of business Sunday, June 3, only one of those teams had a losing record. The defending Central Division champion Detroit Tigers, one of the early chic picks to go all the way, were the only losers in our time zone.
That piece of priceless information came from Stew Molyneaux, a loyal reader from Sarasota, Fla. The fact that Molyneaux is also among a large contingent of Florida's transplanted Michiganders, who live and breathe all things Detroit, makes it a rather painful revelation.
It also, once again, emphasizes that playing at a .500 level might be easier than staying out of the AL East basement this year -- and maybe the NL East as well.
I'm not a hitting coach (far, far from it), but I can guarantee that Jim Presley, the O's hitting guru, is hard at work trying to convince Chris Davis that only one thing stands between the slugging first baseman and millions of dollars: the ability to avoid high fastballs.
If Davis could ever lay off those pitches, there's no telling where his tools might take him. He swings and misses at various types of pitches in all locations from time to time -- but his rate of contact on the letter-high (and out of the strike zone) pitch is practically nil. It's the pitch a hitter can see the best -- and one that many make a living off, but if Davis can avoid the temptation, he has a swing that could take him to the next level. He is only 26 years old, way too early to give up on the potential his minor league numbers indicate.
When Buck Showalter speaks, he does so in measured tones and his statements often carry a hidden message. So be sure that when the O's manager says that "J.J. Hardy is as fundamentally sound as any shortstop I've ever had," you can bet he's inviting comparisons to Derek Jeter.
Note that Showalter's reference was "as good as," not "better than," and realize that he had Jeter both in the minor (where he once made 56 errors in a season as a raw AA rookie) and major leagues. It was Showalter's way of letting people know Hardy makes a lot of difficult plays appear routine. It was also his way of casually suggesting that Hardy doesn't get his due.
When Rex Hudler returned to Camden Yards as a TV analyst for the Kansas City Royals last month, he got some reminders that he no longer was the sole member of OPACY's club-level home run club. There's always a lot of conversation about the possibility of the Warehouse being hit by a fair ball, but not many realize that Hudler, a relatively light-hitting infielder, had been the only player during the first 20 years at Oriole Park to hit a home run that reached the club level until Mark Reynolds did it last summer.
"Oh yeah, I heard about it right away," Hudler said. "(Jim) Palmer sent me a text right away telling me that a 'real power hitter' hit one up there. It's hard to believe there had only been one before that."
Hudler was quick to point out that he hit his off Jamie Moyer, "so you know I had to supply all the power."
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com.
Posted June 5, 2012