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MASN Announcing Crew Rips Scott Boras

Personally, I'm glad both the Boras and Kasten camps are now negotiating through the media. It makes everything a lot more entertaining. And I give much respect to Team Kasten for openly doing so, while Team Boras instead leaks information from "sources close to the people who lived near that one house where Stephen Strasburg once ate three PB&J sandwiches."

I mean, we know who this is coming from, right? Just come out and say it. Have a little courage.

That said, I personally find it off-putting when the MASN team of Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble has, twice now, entered the negotiating fray. They work for the Nats; we already sort of know what they think. But the talking points seem somehow more manipulative when spoken by the guys who are paid to tell us about the games, rather than by the guys who are paid to negotiate the contracts.

And sure, Team Boras has been using the media platform longer and louder, but everyone already loathes Team Boras. That's a given. There's no need for the broadcast team to lecture us on the brazen silliness of sports agents; to me, that can only make silly sports agents seem more sympathetic. And by all means, don't try to convince us that Strasburg might not be that good, or that Drew Storen is busy stealing his roster spot.

To most of us normal people, $16 million or $20 million isn't any more or less outrageous than $1 million, or $100 million. It's all a lot, and more than we can imagine. It being a lot doesn't make any of these decisions easier; you still have to decide which version of a lot is enough, the same as one of us has to decide if $35k or $45k or $65k or $75k is enough. The fact that any of those sums are higher than minimum wage doesn't make the decision any easier.

But if the MASN folks want to be a part of the fray, I figured I'd help out by including their transcribed remarks here. No sense in negotiating through the media but not leaving a permanent record. (See also: Dibble's blog.) I tuned in well into the top-of-the-seventh discussion Saturday night, so I'll just include as much as I got.

Top of the Seventh

Dibble: He wants the bar to be set in a different place, and it has nothing to do with Strasburg. And if Stephen Strasburg's listening to us, your agent works for you, so whatever he's been filling your head with, this money sets you up for the rest of your life. You want to play professional baseball? Start playing right now and get yourself towards the Major Leagues

Carpenter: And here's one more footnote. Aaron Crow has not signed with Kansas City yet, and he's running the risk of losing two years of pitching if he doesn't come to an agreement sometime soon.

Dibble: And think of the millions of dollars you're losing in arbitration by not pitching and not getting toward the Major Leagues.

Carpenter: That's time you can never get back.

Dibble: And you're losing your slots right now, so for the Stephen Strasburgs out there and the other first-round picks, Drew Storen and all the draft picks that have already signed with the Nationals are working their way towards the Major Leagues right now while you're basking in the sun somewhere.

[Baseball talk]

Dibble: And remember this, if you don't take the money, and you go and play independent ball and hurt your arm?

Carpenter: You get nothing.

Dibble: You got nothing. There's only one place to go after you turn the money down, and that's lower.

Carpenter: Yeah, either that or Dr. Andrews.

[Baseball, talk, including mention of a 5-foot-6 pitcher being dealt in a two-man trade. "Was that a two-player deal or a player-and-a-half?" Dibble asked. "Now come on, that's not nice," Carpenter said. "Who said I was nice?" Dibble countered. "I was a Nasty Boy, come on."]

Bottom of the Seventh

Dibble: And by the way, if you're the Lerners and Stan Kasten, you can't worry about what the bloggers and the media think of you. You can't bankrupt yourself and the system for one player.

Carpenter: Yeah.

Dibble: One player's not gonna put this organization over the top.

Carpenter: But I promise you....

Dibble: Oh, I know.

Carpenter: They will get ripped to shreds if they don't sign Stephen Strasburg. And if they don't sign him, it's for all the right reasons. And I think the young man ultimately has to make a decision, do I want to pitch and get to the big leagues ASAP, or do I want to sit around for a year of my young life because of money. Which Aaron Crow has already done. And I keep hearing people say, 'Well, the Nats didn't sign their number one pick last year.' Well so what? They got Drew Storen as compensation, and he's coming up the ladder. Quickly.

[Baseball talk]

Carpenter: And by the way, the opinions of Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter basically represent Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter. We're glad to have this discussion. It's a meaningful one, 48 hours before what could be a really interesting Monday evening, August 17th. I just wonder sometimes.

Dibble: I hope the young man signs.

Carpenter: We all do.

Dibble: I hope he comes to his senses and says that's an awful lot of money, because there's also a lot of precedent been set by a lot of these first-round picks that have signed, whether it's Ben McDonald, Mark Prior--who's 28 now and has had a lot of injuries. Take the money. You can never get it back.

Carpenter: Well, and I think it was Tom Boswell of The Washington Post a couple of months ago who wrote a really interesting story about all the No. 1 picks that were pitchers. Some panned out, some didn't, and some of the better ones were guys like Andy Benes who had slightly better-than-.500 career winning percentages.

Dibble: Floyd Bannister. Yeah, none of them have ever made it to the Hall of Fame, none of them have ever won a Cy Young Award. But that's not the point. The point is, you know, Luke Hochevar, he held out. Jered Weaver, he held out. Did it make em any more money? No. Did it get em any better standing? No. Hochevar, he's with the Royals, and he's still not pitching that well..

[Baseball talk]

Carpenter: I know I'm not a very good negotiator, but I would tell my guy, 'Get as much money as you can, but I'm signing. Get as much as you can, but we sign before midnight Monday, and I want to go play ball.' It's hard for me to fathom a young man at that age, with a dream, not feeling that way.

Dibble: Because there's no certainties in baseball, and pitching is the most fragile of all the players in baseball.

Carpenter: Absolutely. Well, look at Jordan Zimmermann.

Dibble: And that's a great case in point, and it still breaks my heart that Jordan Zimmermann has to have Tommy John surgery at his young age. So take the money, bank it, and then start playing some ball.

Carpenter: And work hard and get yourself to the big leagues on your own merit, not because it's on a couple of lines on a contract somewhere.

[Baseball talk]

Carpenter: Anyway, I just thought that discussion was worthy after the comments that were made public by Stan Kasten today.

Dibble: And I also applaud Stan Kasten, the Lerners and Mike Rizzo for not negotiating this in the press.

Carpenter: This is the first word said about this in months. And that's the right way to do it.

Dibble: I mean, the offer was made a week ago, it's just coming out now. Bottom line is, listen, you've also got to bankroll the rest of the draft picks, the other guys have to get some money, you have to try to bring some free agents in here next year. This isn't the type of sport any more--and I talk about this on my radio show--a lot of teams are just trying to raise extra money any way they can. Where you can get on the grounds crew for $1,200 and work on the grounds crew for a week and do things like that, come out, learn how to be someone who sells tickets for an organization. Now they're having classes for that. You know, there's all kinds of ways to make money. So if teams need to make some money and you think you can come up with more money to get this kid and continue to do business and be competitive, it's not gonna happen. You know, one of the things Scott Boras is trying to sell with this whole thing too is just because you're an American-born draft pick, that shouldn't cost you millions and millions of dollars. That's absurd.

Carpenter: Yeah.

Top of the Eighth

Carpenter: I know I keep saying this, but I have one more thought on the Strasburg situation. If the Nationals do not come to an agreement by Monday night at midnight, the next day I would tell the media exactly what we offered him, it was a record amount, and then the agent and the player can answer all the questions about why that wasn't good enough.

Dibble: Agreed. Agreed.

Carpenter: I mean, lay it all out there and then let them answer all the questions, because no player's ever been offered that kind of money before.

[Baseball talk]

Dibble: And don't get it twisted. Don't try to bring in the Daisuke Matsuzaka posting, and Kei Igawa or a Jose Contreras. They weren't going through the amateur draft system. In order to get a Japanese player before his 10th year free agent year, you have to give the ballclub money, which was about $52 million.

Carpenter: Just to talk.

Dibble: Just to talk. And negotiate a contract, which by the way, Scott Boras is Daisuke Matsuzaka's agent, and so Matsuzaka was worth basically a hundred million dollars to the Boston Red Sox.

Carpenter: Is he worth that much now?

Dibble: Absolutely not. Has made eight starts this year, continues to fight with the organization.

Carpenter: And you know what this is, when you hear about money like that, that's similar to what they call transfer fees in professional soccer in Europe, where you may pay $50 to $100 million just to transfer the player from one club to another, then you still have to pay him.

Dibble: The Stephen Strasburg situation has nothing to do with a Japanese-born player that plays in the Japanese major leagues over there. They have to wait 10 years before they can become free agents like Hideki Matsui with the Yankees, and then come over here unsolicited. It has nothing to do with the amateur draft system in this country.

[Baseball talk]

Dibble: You can say he's a once-in-a-generation kid, or he's American....

Carpenter: Maybe. Maybe.

Dibble: Yeah, maybe. Exactly. How do we know? Even Tony Gwynn--now this is Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn speaking, his coach, said, 'Yes, he throws hard and he's got great movement on his fastball, but not many Major League hitters are gonna be fooled by the big breaking ball and swing at it. They'll just let it go.' That's his coach talking, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

Carpenter: He knows hitting. A little.

Dibble: I think he knows hitting, and he knows his own pitcher.

[Baseball talk]

Dibble: Kei Igawa, he was a $40 million mistake by the Yankees. Jose Contreras, signed for $32 million by the New York Yankees out of Cuba, all the bloggers and experts said he was gonna be a once-in-a-generation pitcher; after 27 starts the Yankees traded him to the White Sox and his $9 million per season salary.

[Baseball talk]

Postgame Show

Johnny Holliday: The Nats reportedly offering Strasburg the largest contract ever for a pitcher taken in the draft. Want you to take a look at Stan Kasten's quote on Strasburg.

[Shows quotes]

Ray Knight: [Sigh]. I'm gonna take a deep breath, because I'm about to say something I didn't think I ever would say. You can't give in to these agents. And when you're talking about setting the bar higher than $12 million, you've got to be kidding me. I'm sick and tired of Scott Boras. The problem is you can't take him out, because everybody knows he's the best agent out there Johnny, and the amazing thing is he has the top three draft picks, none of them have signed. He has three other guys, they haven't signed, and he's taking this Major League Baseball by hostage. And if I were the guys, I wouldn't sign any of them. I wouldn't sign any of them. You've got to stop this guy. Last year we didn't sign [Crow] because the same guy represented him, Alan Hendricks represented him, but they're about as bad. But hey, what is fair. I came along, Dick Wagner, the general manager of our ballclub, and Bob Howsam in Cincinnati said, 'Listen, we're gonna pay you money when you start making money for this ballclub.' The only way you do that is have good years and put fannies in the seats. This guy's 21 years old, no doubt they're saying he's the best prospect to come along the pike; he's one pitch away from not having a career. So take the doggone money young man. All these guys, take the money.

Holliday: And he wants to play, he wants to pitch.

Knight: I think he does. I mean, what are these guys, I mean, $12 million?

Holliday: Are you kidding me?

Knight: I made half of that in my career and I'm doing pretty well financially. I raised four kids. You know, shoot, you don't need that much money. Get out there, compete, that's what it's all about. Like Drew Storen, we keep mentioning that, but there's a lot of guys that have signed, we've signed the majority of our people. Last year, it was unfair, Aaron Crow, unfair. This year, it's unfair. You cannot hold the Lerners or Stan Kasten or Rizzo hostage. Can't do it. So, hey, if they don't sign him, I don't care any more. I'd like to have him here, but if the young man can't take that kind of money, forget about it.

Holliday: Yeah, and I really like the way they went out last week, Ted Lerner and Mark Lerner and Stan Kasten and Mike Rizzo, and sat down with him, had a great...They think the world of this guy, but it is a business, Ray.

Knight: Right. I'm gonna give you $12 million Johnny, just to have you pitch in the big Leagues.

Holliday: I'll take it.

Knight: I think you would. I would.

Holliday: I'll start tomorrow. Thank you very much.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 16, 2009; 6:35 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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While Carpenter, Dibble, Holiday, and Knight are all employees (in some fashion or another) of the Natinals, they are exactly 100% right.

Why people who will never see the kind of money being offered these guys back them up is beyond me.

I guess they want to pay another $2-3 for a beer...

Posted by: CapsNut | August 16, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Offered this money by a billionaire.

Listen, the money totals being thrown around are things most of us will never see. But to view this strictly as a greedy player and his agent without considering the fact that it's money that isn't going to appear elsewhere other than Ted Lerner's balance sheet is shortsighted.

Both sides are being greedy and regardless of whether it's $6 million, $12 million or $20 million, the bottom line is we are rooting for a battle between a billionaire and a potential millionaire

Posted by: Brian_ | August 16, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that these guys aren't employed by the Nats, they're employed by the Orioles and Peter Angelos.

If *they* are this against the Strasburg signing, there must be something wrong there.

Posted by: wahoo2x | August 16, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"There's no need for the broadcast team to lecture us on the brazen silliness of sports agents; to me, that can only make silly sports agents seem more sympathetic."

I don't get it, does ANY of this make Boras more sympathetic? I don't see any way that any of the parties here has a shot at the moral high ground. If the Lerners decide to pass, they can make some sort of statement like, "we tried, but Strasburg values money more than baseball", but that's somewhat disingenuous coming from a billionaire sports franchise owner. Strasburg knows someone is going to pay him, Boras (or any other agent) knows he's eventually going to get paid, and the owners are the ones perpetuating this asinine system. I'll save my sympathy for more worthy causes, thanks very much.

Posted by: yobigc | August 16, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I heard these comments during the game, and didn't think it was out of line. They criticize the Nats regularly, so I give them some cred, and thus, are allowed to express their opinions, either way.
And as a previous poster indicated, Nats' tickets (and beer) prices are high enuf!

Posted by: Max231 | August 17, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey... when were talkin Nats, the best discussion after a long sucky season of 3 hour radio for the past 118 games IS "why in the world hasn't this guy signed???".

Indeed, this is a future millionaire agruing with a present billionaire, but there are too many principles at stake here. When the Nats have the first pick next time and ol' Scotty is representing that player.... $12 million minimum now, $14 million minimum next year. At some point (just like in football) there has to be a limit of how much a team is willing to spend on unproven talent. It is not fair for agents to hold a team's feet to the fire when a "fair" contract is offered. I can only presume that is the situation here. Agents want excess for a rookie and that's not good for anybody.

Posted by: law3 | August 17, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Obviously I didn't do the greatest job of expressing myself. I just think the natural tendency is to side against an agent like this, and the only possible way to reverse that is through excessive public slamming of that agent. But obviously, the fact that you all disagree with me sort of invalidates the point.

As for who the MASN folks work for, I guess that's a tricky situation, but the Nats are the ones who announce the hirings.

Posted by: shina1 | August 17, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

@shina1 - Hey, don't take it so hard, big fella! I just disagree with your premise that pointing out how bad someone is will eventually make them look better. I don't recall, for instance, that there was a groundswell of support for Michael Vick when we learned of the depth and breadth of his various criminal activities, except from fanatic Falcons fans and those stupid, stupid people that tried to tell us that dogfighting is a southern way of life and a great tradition carried on from father to son. If anything, the more people know the madder they get, and/or the more solidified their opinions/positions become. My general position on Scott Boras and his way of doing business has not and will not change because of the Strasburg negotiations, and I appreciate the MASN broadcast team letting those that might be unfamiliar with the situation know where they personally stand. It might have come off as a bit heavy-handed, but I don't think Dibble, Carpenter, Holliday & Knight were telling people anything they didn't already know.

Posted by: yobigc | August 17, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

All 9,000 of us who watch the games on MASN know where the broadcasters stand, and who butters their bread. They all refused to criticize Manny Acta until the day he was fired, and they sure aren't going to say anything snarky about the Lerners or StanK.

That being said, the level of animus toward a young phenom and a guy who is just trying to get as much money as he can for his client is kind of shocking. To the Lerners, the difference between $12 million and $20 million is a drop in their very large real estate bucket. To a 21 year old prospect, who surely knows might get injured or flame out, it's a much bigger deal. The time to dump on Boras and SS will be tomorrow if they don't sign. But for now, why wouldn't they try to get as much as they possibly can? Why do people feel so personally offended that he hasn't signed yet? The deadline is midnight tonight. After that, go ahead and take your gloves off.

Posted by: Section222 | August 17, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If I were a 21 year old kid who really didn't understand the negotiation process, I would at least listen to a former major league pitcher who has been through the process before.

If anyone knows anything about pitching and what your worth, right down to the last pitch, it would be Dibble.

Realize that he's being paid by the Nats, but at least listen to him and realize, his comments aren't that far off from reality.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | August 17, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

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