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Agent Says Smiley Was Duped, Too

The player known as Esmailyn Gonzalez was a fraud -- a fake name with a fake age. But Carlos Alvarez, who assumed the identity of Gonzalez as he became a Washington Nationals millionaire signee, has certain characteristics that are true regardless of his name: He knows almost no English. He comes from poverty. He wanted very badly, more than anything, to play baseball.

Because of those factors, Alvarez's agent, Stanley King, believes that Alvarez "never wanted to defraud anyone. He was just under a tremendous amount of pressure to play baseball, and that's what happened. He is probably just another victim in this mess.

"I don't know where the origins of this thing are. It seems to me this thing is much too complicated and involved for a 19- or 20-year-old from an impoverished neighborhood to pull off... He may have been duped as much as anyone."

Last night, King, who did not represent his client when he was signed by the Nationals in July 2006, spoke to Alvarez by phone. The two spoke through an interpreter.

"He sounded remorseful," King said. "He sounded contrite. He sounded relieved, as if this weight had been lifted off of him."

King was uncertain about Alvarez's playing status, but expressed hope that the shortstop will be free to resume his career come March, when Washington's minor league prospects report for spring training. So far, King said, the Nationals have not spoken to him about trying to recoup any of the $1.4 million signing bonus, paid in 2006.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2009; 4:39 PM ET
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Wow. Even I wouldn't have the buscones to play the 'kid was a victim, too' card. And I do shameless spin for a living.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | February 19, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

... okay. Time to put the question: all in favour of seeing Smiley or Frownie, Gonzalez or Alvarez, 19 or 23, at short wearing a Nats uni, based on his minor league numbers, please raise your hands.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 19, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

You know, if you want to go with the old "the kid didn't know better" routine, fine. I can give you that one. But if his family members changed their names to make this work, than I'm not buying that little Danny didn't know.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 19, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Not raising my hand - no way he makes it through a full 140 game schedule with any kind of decent numbers.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 19, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

First off, Tracee - I think there's a misspelling a few posts down. There's no way the letters S-V-R-L-U-G-A can be used in that order!! Good to see the Panera King back in the house.

I'm also with Brian from a few posts down -the point isn't that Bowden was a great GM who now has the Frowny (count me in!) Face as a blot on his permanent record. Bowden has been a middling (at best) GM with a few hits and other several misses, combined with a track record of making embarrassing gaffes publicly and embarrassing the organization. That he let this significant an oversight happen without his personal rep in the DR ever bothering to ask any of the most basic questions that any other employer in any other industry would ask "Show me proof of age and legal visa status" is the tip of the iceberg, whether or not he was complicit.

As for Frowny's agent, I get it - it was a massive Dominican-wing conspiracy in which we're all victims. Except your client was a victim who walked away with 1.4 million dollars, and the organization was a victim who paid double the market price for fraudulent goods - so I'm not sure that works out even.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | February 19, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"... okay. Time to put the question: all in favour of seeing Smiley or Frownie, Gonzalez or Alvarez, 19 or 23, at short wearing a Nats uni, based on his minor league numbers, please raise your hands."

That's a ridiculous question. (a) Whatever his age, he's not major league ready right now. And (b) There's no need for him in the majors now, with Guz, AH, Belly, Willie Harris and AG available for MI duty. If Frownie can get into the country at all (which is a big if) then throw him into the minors at an age-appropriate level for him (A or AA, I'd guess) and see if he can cut the mustard there. If he can, then keep him or trade him. If not, dump him. The $1.4M has been spent, might as well see what it bought.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 19, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, playing Frowny as a victim doesn't work for me - he lied - period. He's not a victim, he's a liar.

Posted by: cadeck | February 19, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

If he ('the player now known as Carlos Alvarez-Lugo') remains in the Nationals' orginization, I think he gets pushed to Potomac, based on his age alone. From there, it's a sink-or-swim situation for him.

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Other than the obvious hope that he turns out to be a really good player in spite of the fraud, I also want him to succeed because "Smiley" is a cool nickname. I am so tired of Zimmy and Kearnsy and Guzzy and any other name derived by simply shortening a name and adding a "y".

Sure, that's how Smiley was derived, but it doesn't apply anymore!

Posted by: kevincostello | February 19, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a lawyer but it seems to me if Smiley signed all contracts with a false name and the contracts all use that false name, then the contracts are not valid. Any lawyers out there?

Posted by: HALjr | February 19, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

If Frownie "never wanted to defraud anyone," he shoulda told people his true age from the beginning. Plain and simple.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 19, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

. . . and his knowing "almost no English" doesn't wash with me. One would hope that MLB's Spanish-speaking people at one point or another asked Frownie point-blank what his age was.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 19, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I would LOVE to be duped into signing a 1.4 million dollar contract. Where can I sign to be the next "victim"?

Seriously, if I thought I could get away with it, I wouldn't hesitate to lie about my name and age if it meant being able to play professional baseball... and I'm not even poor!

So no, I can't hold any ill will towards this kid or his family, but seriously, "victim"?

That's a rather unfortunate choice of words by his agent.

Posted by: DCNationals | February 19, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

>Not raising my hand - no way he makes it through a full 140 game schedule with any kind of decent numbers.

Put him at Potomac, that's where he belongs anyway. At least he had a bunch of high numbers in rookie ball. Ian Desmond never even did that. At least I don't remember him going off like PTBNL did. I think he'll fit right in down there at 2B. Give him a shot, like the article says, all he wanted to do was play, and now he's here. You don't hit .350 or whatever if you don't have any skills. Some guys couldn't hit that off a tee. I thought he looked pretty slick with the glove the few times I got a glimpse of him. Wtf - we need a 2nd baseman in a year or two anyway. We need one now, but we have guys that can be converted to 2nd like Harris and Belliard. Maybe we could call him the Smiley PTBNL>

Posted by: Brue | February 19, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

People, people, people:

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 19, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Brue | February 19, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Not to defend the guy too much, but if the pressure of making a quarter of a billion dollars could force poor, naive, innocent, enthusiastic, confused, un-educated, barely able to speak the language, only wanting to make a success of himself A-Rod to cheat, the pressure of escaping poverty on the island might induce this kid to do so as well.

Posted by: markfromark | February 19, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Brue | February 19, 2009 8:23 PM


Posted by: CEvansJr | February 19, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

(since he didn't just lie about his age, he falsified his identity, and the DHS has a real blind spot about stuff like that)

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 19, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, maybe he can still afford a good immigration attorney

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 19, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm in agreement with others who aren't on board with the "victim" defense (but we've become a nation of "victims," methinks).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 20, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Another example of Bowden's obsession with the Reds led to Jose Rijo led to Smiley. With the possible exception of Dunn (we'll see), Jimbo's Reds thing has produced virtually nothing--FLop, Wily Mo, Austin...

Posted by: UrbanShocker | February 20, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Ok, so the kid is not a victim, but is he really a villain? What would you do? You're the 17-ish yr old kid in the third world (the fake did not start the day before he inked the contract, it took time) and everyone you trust tells you that in order for you to get a life changing deal not just for you but for everyone in your family you need to do what countless other players have done -- a veritable DR tradition -- lie about your age. Not that you have to kill someone, but that you have to tell a lie. I'd be telling them I was Justin Timberlake, if that's what they told me to do.

This just aint scuh an awful thing folks. The Nats got swindled and it is over, consider it karma. Let's talk about actual baseball in here.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 20, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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