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Baffled By Boras

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L.A. Weekly has a nice article up on Scott Boras that really makes you wonder about what goes on inside the average general manager's head.

The major league general manager is an interesting creature. In almost any business, you'd want to entrust an 80 million dollar budget to the best and the brightest. However, take a look at an argument that Scott Boras constructs to paint Jason Varitek as an above average hitter.

"It says here Varitek is hitting .129 when the pitch count is no balls and two strikes," he says, moving over to a conference table in his glass-enclosed office. In pre-Boras times, before statistics dominated the lexicon of baseball and became central to player deals, an agent or general manager would simply say, "Varitek struggles when he's behind in the pitch count." Here's what Boras says: "With one ball and two strikes he's hitting a little better, about .138. But then, with two balls and no strikes, or two balls and one strike, he's up around .315. So even with health issues last year, he's still a better than average hitter."

Boras is painting Varitek as an above average hitter because he hits .315 when he's ahead on a two ball count. Not only is Boras trying to convince us that Varitek's stats when he's behind in the count don't matter, but he's not putting those numbers into any context. In 2006, on a 2-0 count the average player hit .364, and on a 2-1 count, they hit .342. Even if you ignore how bad Varitek was behind in the count, he's still a below average hitter relative to the rest of the league.

This argument took a small bit of common sense and 20 seconds on Baseball Reference to debunk, yet arguments like this must work on someone judging by Boras' success. Can he really take a couple stats out of context, construct a bizarre argument, then have GMs begging him for the privilege to spend 75 million on Magglio Ordonez? If things like this work how do I sign up to be a high powered agent?

I also wonder how Scott Boras can make statements like this and not get laughed out of a room:

The Cardinals simply blew it, Boras concludes. "The Cardinals not signing Jeff Weaver is how you don't win divisions, and my prediction is the St. Louis Cardinals won't win their division this year." (At press time, the Cardinals were at the bottom of the National League Central.)

I'm pretty sure that as bad off as the Cardinals are right now, they don't miss Weaver's 14.32 ERA. It seems like it should be so easy to call Scott Boras on his B.S., yet this guy has a large percentage of baseball wrapped around his finger. Again, do GMs really believe this stuff, and if they do, how do they still have their jobs?

Also, one final quote from this article, presented without commentary:

Colletti knows this is a balancing act, between expensive veteran talent and affordable youth and promise. "If the salary demand of the veteran is higher than their value, then it's nice to be able to turn to your youth to get the job done. Some don't want to give young players a chance. I do," he says.