I may have been guilty a time or two — during the height of the Matsuzaka negotiations — of demonizing the agent everyone loves to hate. An excellent and lengthy Q & A with Scott Boras does a great job of putting Boras into perspective, as a man just doing his job. His job also happens to be getting as much money for his multimillionaire clients as possible.
Highlights after the jump.
- Scott Boras as Bill James? He collects data on every pitch thrown in every major league game. "We have access to their data, their comparisons. We program a space for every major-league player. In our data base, we can compare – if I was to say to you, I want to compare Babe Ruth to Ty Cobb to Matt Holliday, I could have that information for you in a matter of probably two minutes. Our data base goes back to 1871."
- Boras and the Sox have been working together on Matsuzaka’s training. "Here’s Dice-K stepping into this very new world and that’s why when we did this thing, I called Theo, and I said, ‘We’re going to have him out way early, we’re going have the incorporation of what the Red Sox want to do way early and we’re going to have our people and your people all get together,’ and it worked. Ideally. With Dice-K, we learned a lot about what he was doing and not willing to change much, frankly."
- On the Jason Varitek draft battle, in which Tek went back to college his senior year: "When I met (Red Sox catcher and captain Jason) Varitek in high school, then college, I knew who Varitek was — nobody else would jump on that ship. I kept on telling Jason, ‘You’re special, you are a leader, you are someone who has that sense of commitment.’ This man could not catch. And he took a racquetball, a thousand a day, to improve his hands, he was so driven. I’m sitting there at the draft and I couldn’t get anybody to pay him what I knew was his value. I said (to Varitek), ‘Do you want to fight the battle?’ And, (he said), ‘Of course.’"
- He advised Greg Maddux to leave the Cubs for Atlanta: "I told Greg Maddux one time ‘You’re going to have to leave Chicago.’ He loved the Cubs. ‘If you tell me your primary goal is to win, you can’t stay there, because under this regime, the way they’re going, it won’t happen, Greg.’ He follows your advice, goes to Atlanta. When you get that phone call in ’95, you go whew, yeah. He goes, ‘Thanks.’ The appreciation you get for this job… "
- According to Boras, every college pitcher and first-round pick in the draft he has represented has gone to the major leagues, with an average career length of 10 years (MLB average is 2.8).
- Amazingly, Boras says he doesn’t bluff in negotiations: "People ask me if I play cards all the time. I go like, ‘I don’t play cards.’ No, like I’m a bluffer, a puffer — they think that negotiating is like that. I’m going, ‘That’s the last thing you want in a negotiation.’” Hard to believe that one.
- He sees eventually a Pacific Rim Division of Major League Baseball — assuming the flight technology improves — within 15 years.
- Boras also seems to rebut the notion that he did not communicate well with the Red Sox, an impression the Sox have certainly left with reporters such as Seth Mnookin: "I’m still very surprised the Red Sox did not sign Johnny Damon. That was the one thing I thought for sure that would happen, because I felt it was something that was good for Johnny at the time and good for the team. I reflect back on that negotiation and wonder if there was just more I could do but we really made our best efforts about sharing information. We had four or five face-to-face personal meetings, the calls to ownership, I did the best I could to do that."
- He calls the current Sox ownership group more passionate about baseball than the previous one, which did not engage itself in negotiations and had no public face to speak of. I’d agree with that assessment.
- Not that he would say anything different, but he’s excited about Matsuzaka’s prospects in Boston: "That’s why with Dice-K, brining him into the type of environment and the whole thing, that eventually they grew to knew what the important things were we had to get done to make him comfortable with his needs. I’m very happy he’s going to step into that environment. There’s a long-term vision of Dice-K’s success rather than short-term that I feel is in place."
As with all things Boras, I think you still need a grain of salt. As a contract negotiator, it certainly profits him to bring up as many favorable points as possible about the quality of the players he chooses to represent because, of course, he can turn around and say x player is worth top-quality money. After all, would he be representing him if he weren’t?
I also am leery of the idea that he had such good communication with the Sox in the Damon deal, when clearly he uses a lack of communication as a negotiating ploy. We saw it in the Matsuzaka negotiations. To say he doesn’t bluff when he starts off by declaring Johnny Damon a better leadoff hitter than Rickey Henderson or by saying he will accept nothing less than a $100 million contract for Matsuzaka — that’s just laughable on its face.
Still, he comes across as warm, engaging and likable. He is, after all, just doing his job.