Scott Boras has done it again. For whatever reason, baseball’s most successful agent can’t seem to keep his feeling about the Cubs or the sport in general to himself. After whining like a child about the Cubs unwillingness to spend money last year, Boras again provided us with a couple of gems worth noting.
Most notably, Scott Boras is very unhappy with how the Chicago Cubs treated his star client Kris Bryant. So unhappy in fact that he believes that player readiness decisions should no longer be made by the teams.
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If Scott Boras is truly unhappy with the handling of Kris Bryant, he has no one to blame but himself. Agents, players, and the teams agreed to the language in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Yes, the service time portion is flawed but the Cubs had no wrong-doing.
Speaking with CSN-Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Boras explained how he would fix the problem so that players received a fair shake.
"“For example, I would say that the union or somebody may come in and say that they’ve made a claim that this player is major-league ready. And that to place him in the minor leagues would not be appropriate from a skills standpoint. And then all of a sudden, it’s subject to review by a panel of former managers or baseball experts . . . It’s objective in the sense that they’re neutral. The only way subjective turns objective is that you’ve got the best-known experts who are going to make an evaluation of what they do.”"
Neutral would not be the result. A panel made up of former managers or GM’s who have relationships with various teams would be a conflict of interest. Despite the search for fairness, Boras is failing to see the bigger picture. This slippery slope would be removing all decision-making from the front offices of every team.
Where would it end? I suppose in his fantasy land, we would have fans set the lineups or hold elections to determine who a team would draft.
CBA aside, Boras took exception to another trend being seen in the game today. After witnessing Bryant commit an error, Boras voiced his displeasure with the use of the defensive shift. If it were up to him, baseball would do away with it. So I began to do some research on the topic and found some interesting information that Mr. Boras should hear.
Inside Edge, an independent company who provided statistical data to Major League Baseball, did a study during the 2014 season. They charted each at-bat where the defensive shift was deployed. A link to the Wall Street Journal article can be seen here. The results, as unsurprising as I thought, found that overall the shift works.
There are always exceptions to the trend and it really depends on the player’s willingness to adapt. David Ortiz, who was a focus of the study showed just how effective the shift can be when properly deployed.
In 2014, Ortiz lost 21 net hits because of the shift. It dropped his batting average from a possible .306 to .263. If presented with that information, I would be inclined to use the tactic myself. The exception I noted earlier was Adam LaRoche who actually gained two extra hits because of the shift.
The main point I’m getting across is that the use of the shift isn’t hurting the game. If players are willing to work on hitting the other way, teams would be less inclined to use it. Baseball is and will always be a game of strategy. If I think I can gain an advantage by shifting my infield to cover an area that a hitter is more likely to hit to, then why wouldn’t I?
Defensive players will make errors from time to time during the shift. Scott Boras was right about one aspect. Athletes were not trained to play out of position. They might not feel comfortable or know where they need to be. The defensive shift is a temporary move, that doesn’t require mastery.
I love baseball. What I don’t have time for is the kind of childish complaining coming from someone with the track record and history like Scott Boras. He is paid to represent clients, managers are paid to win ballgames. I think it’s time for Boras to do us a favor and leave the baseball decisions to the adults.