Boras is Not Idiotic

There’s been much ballyhoo over last week’s comments by John Schuerholz in regard to his opinion of the value of Alex Rodriguez and the demands presented by Scott Boras.

Specifically:

“I think it’s obnoxious . . . for someone to suggest that this is a valid salary level for a professional athlete, no matter what kind of voodoo economics they can do in analyzing the books of MLB, it’s absolutely asinine . . .

“When he presented us with that kind of offer with Andruw Jones, we found it so ridiculous and obnoxious we didn’t even respond. It didn’t even rise to the level of requiring a response. It’s just idiotic.”

Piles of people are roaring with approval of Schuerholz’s brash words for the “evil” Scott Boras and his outlandish demands. Boras is the bad guy, isn’t he? He’s terrible for baseball, he’s ruining the game, he’s greedy, he’s crazy, etc. After all NO BALLPLAYER should be making $30 million in one season. It’s ludicrous. Doctors save people’s lives, they don’t make that kind of money. Teachers do much more for the world than a baseball player does, yet doesn’t make that kind of money in ten lifetimes, much less one year!

Boras = Bad Guy. Boras’ Demands for A-Rod = Idiotic, Asinine.

Huh. Sounds more like sour grapes to me, coming from a guy whose boss refused to part with profits for the last four years. If Ted Turner were still running the Braves, and not some faceless conglomeration of corporate accountants with an eye specifically on the bottom line, I wonder what Schuerholz would be saying? I wonder what he’d be paying?

From 1999 to 2003, the Braves’ payroll jumped from $75M to over $106M. Immediately after Ted Turner gave up controlling interest, that payroll went down, down, down — as MLB profits went up, up, up. Their 2007 payroll was down to $87M, and figures to keep dwindling after Andruw Jones and his “asinine” demands leave town.

But who, really, is the idiot here? Is it Boras, for taking full advantage of the American way of free enterprise and capitalism? Is it Schuerholz, for getting into a situation where the Braves will pay $35M between now and the end of 2009 for Mike Hampton (or another way to look at it: $50M over three years)? Or is everyone “asinine”?

Here’s the way I see it: back in the 1970s, when Reggie Jackson signed an “outlandish” million-dollar contract, he justified it by saying “I put fannies in the seats.” He was right — he did. People PAID to see Reggie Jackson. People turned on the TV to see Reggie Jackson. People bought T-shirts and jerseys with his name on it. They bought “Reggie” candy bars, for crissakes! And when a guy can bring in revenue, doesn’t it make sense to give him a fair share of the proceeds?

Without question, Alex Rodriguez puts fannies in the seats, and adds significant value to a team. I’m not necessarily on board with the arithmetics of Boras’ “voo doo economics”, but you have to agree that A-Rod = revenue.

However, what about Chris Woodward? He made $850,000 in 2007. How about Aaron Sele? The Mets paid him a cool million. Did you, or anyone you know, EVER turn on the TV to see Chris Woodward hit? Do you think anyone (other than his parents) bought a ticket to a Mets game to see Aaron Sele?

Yet, their million-dollar (or nearly million-dollar) salaries are dismissed by everyone. No one talks about Miguel Cairo getting a seven-figure contract, because, in relation to the A-Rods and Andruws and the Chippers and the Beltrans, it’s chump change. The value is lost because of the astronomical salaries around them.

But tell me: how many teachers make $850,000 a year? How many doctors make $2.5M, which is what Bobby Kielty raked in to be a fourth or fifth outfielder for the Athletics (before being released!). Why is there such an uproar about the salary demands of an uber-superstar, the greatest baseball player of all-time, yet not even a squeak about Jose Mesa making more money in one season than most of us will see in a lifetime?

I did some browsing at Cot’s Baseball Contracts and picked a few players at random and their salaries (you can click on their names to see their stats on Baseball-Reference.

[TABLE=27]

Again, remove yourself from whatever you think about $30M for a baseball player. Look at these guys independently as the bench warmers, has-beens, and valueless players they are in relation to their exorbitant salaries. If need be, compare one of their salaries to YOURS … in fact, compare one salary for one season to your salary over the next ten years. Do you honestly believe that a backup catcher or a middle reliever is worth more money than what you can give to this Earth over the next ten years?

Now again, who is the idiot?

The owners, for allowing utility infielders and fifth starters to make in excess of three, four, five, six, seven million dollars or more in a season — or Scott Boras, for trying to get top dollar for one of the few guys who can “put fannies in the seats” ?

There was a time I also believed that Scott Boras was the devil, but that thought has changed considerably. What I realized is this: the owners have the dough, so if they don’t spend it on an A-Rod, or an Andruw Jones, or some other star, it will go in their pocket. Say all you want about the Yankees spending $225M on payroll, but at least they are pushing their profits back into the business. Can the Braves say the same? Or are they talking about how much money the shareholders will be getting as a result of their outstanding fiscal management of the baseball operations this past quarter?

Boras is constantly looked upon as the bad guy … and yet we’ve never heard a report of him putting a gun to an owner’s head to agree to a contract.

Are the salaries for baseball players insane? Absolutely. Is it Scott Boras’ fault? Hardly.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.