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The Red Sox tampering with players? The Dodgers tampering?

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The Red Sox tampering with players? The Dodgers tampering?

Postby thedude » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:40 pm

New York Times wrote:December 8, 2006
On Baseball
Talk of Misconduct Is Swirling Around Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox might think of the Yankees as the Evil Empire, but other people in baseball now seem to view the Red Sox as a team that feels it can operate outside the rules.

According to executives of several clubs, the Red Sox were a hot topic of private conversation at the general managers’ meeting last month and at the winter meetings this week. Several officials who work for Major League Baseball said there appeared to be good reason for the talk. Many of those interviewed did not want to be quoted by name because of what they viewed as the sensitivity of talking critically about another team’s conduct.

Exhibit A for the disgruntled is Boston’s signing of J. D. Drew, who walked away from the final three years of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a move that his agent, Scott Boras, said was aboveboard and precipitated by the marketplace. The signing of Drew could lead to an investigation by the commissioner’s office into possible tampering by the Red Sox; one baseball official said the commissioner’s office would vigorously investigate the matter if it received a complaint, but added that no complaint has been forthcoming.

One general manager said that many people at the general managers’ meeting, after hearing that Drew would sign with Boston, urged the Dodgers to file a tampering charge.

“We haven’t reached a decision yet,” Ned Colletti, the Dodgers’ general manager, said by telephone yesterday before leaving the winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Others described Colletti as angry about the Drew development and said that relations between Colletti and Theo Epstein, Boston’s general manager, had become strained to the point where Colletti wasn’t returning Epstein’s telephone calls.

Epstein denied tampering with Drew, whom he tried unsuccessfully to sign two years ago and then signed earlier this week to a five-year, $70 million contract.

“That’s not true,” Epstein said by telephone yesterday. “There’s nothing to that.”

Epstein said he had no conversations with Boras before Drew became a free agent. That occurred when Drew opted out of his Dodgers contract Nov. 10. Skeptics suspect that the Red Sox let Drew know that if he exercised his right to leave the Dodgers, he could get a more lucrative contract from them.

An executive of one club said the Dodgers’ owner, Frank McCourt, was certain tampering had occurred. McCourt’s office said he was traveling yesterday and was not available to comment.

Two years ago, Drew signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Dodgers with a clause that allowed him to terminate the deal after two years.

At various times last season, Drew displayed what appeared to be positive feelings about playing in Los Angeles, and uniformed members of the Dodgers told people in the front office that Drew had told them he intended to stay with the team.

Six days before the end of the season, Drew told Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register that he was happy in Los Angeles and had not thought about the opt-out clause. He said he did not plan to use it.

“At some point,” he remarked, “you make those commitments and you stick to them.”

Even closer to the opt-out deadline, several days before it, Drew told Rich Donnelly, the Dodgers’ third-base coach, how much he was looking forward to the 2007 season and talked about what the Dodgers needed to do for the season, saying he couldn’t wait for it to arrive, according to a baseball executive.

A few days later he left the Dodgers, walking away from a guaranteed $33 million. Drew is a talented but fragile player who has been on the disabled list seven times in his eight-year career and has never played as many as 110 games two years in a row.

“I don’t think he’s the kind of player who would walk away from $33 million without some idea of what was out there,” a baseball official said.

Boras said Drew walked away from the contract because he had told him what the market was for a player of his caliber.

“I did my due diligence,” Boras said in a telephone interview. “There were a number of teams that need a 3, 4 or 5 hitter, and J. D. was the only center fielder. I went to the Dodgers a week before the opt-out date and had lunch with Colletti. I had not yet met with J. D. I said if you want to talk about it, we are prepared to talk because J. D. has enjoyed his time in L. A.”

The Dodgers, though, were not prepared to extend the current deal, so Drew decided to become a free agent, Boras said.

“This is nothing other than a standard, customary free-agency evaluation for me,” Boras said. “I thought it was a very easy decision.”

Boras said he had no discussion about Drew with the Red Sox before Nov. 10. “We adhere to the rules,” he added. But others remain skeptical. Club executives and baseball officials are also watching the Red Sox negotiations with Boras for Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese pitcher, for whom Boston bid $51.1 million just for the right to talk to him.

They have observed as Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox chief executive, recently went to Japan to meet with Matsuzaka’s team, the Seibu Lions, for the stated purpose of establishing a working agreement between the teams. They have read with interest Boras’s view that there is no rule barring the Lions from sharing part of the posting fee with the player, thus making it easier for the Red Sox to sign him for less of their own money.

“No one can enter into an agreement that would circumvent the posting process,” said Lou Melendez, major league baseball’s vice president for international operations. “What I read would seem to be a way of getting around the posting process. The commissioner’s office would investigate. If you speak to the Japanese commissioner’s office, which we have, any kind of arrangement, this or any other, would not be allowed.”

The commissioner’s office wouldn’t allow it for another reason: it would be a way for the Red Sox to try to avoid paying the luxury tax, since giving Matsuzaka a smaller contract would diminish the overall Boston payroll.

Several executives of other teams have also cited the four-year-old Kevin Millar case, in which the Red Sox signed Millar after the Florida Marlins sold him to a Japanese team. Contrary to accepted practice, the Red Sox then won the right to have Millar play for them, with Millar helping their cause by saying he had changed his mind about playing in Japan. The next year, he helped Boston win the World Series.

That ended the famous Red Sox curse, but now the team seems to be the subject of resentment.
Last edited by thedude on Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby George_Foreman » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:48 pm

Well, IMO, Drew's opt-out was a no-brainer. I mean, he would have signed somewhere else for a larger, longer contract than he was under with the Dodgers even if the Red Sox hadn't been involved, so that's just Colletti complaining with no basis.

As for the posting thing... it might be underhanded (I'm not really sure how I feel about it), but even if it is, I don't really mind because I think the posting system is stupid to begin with.
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Postby mweir145 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:59 pm

Maybe they did, but I doubt it's something the commisioner's office could ever prove.
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Postby The Miner Part 2 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:59 pm

so what's the story here? a team tampering or a team actually caught tampering?
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Postby Yoda » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:00 pm

I find it funny now that LA management, fans and the media are crying foul after they've been trying to run Drew out of town ever since he got there. :-D
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Postby Matthias » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:05 pm

Yoda wrote:I find it funny now that LA management, fans and the media are crying foul after they've been trying to run Drew out of town ever since he got there. :-D

Heh. Reminds me of a few relationships I've had in the past.
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Postby WhiteHot » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:35 pm

This stuff happens all the time.
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Postby raiders_umpire » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:13 pm

deerayfan072 wrote:There were reports about this when the Rays were trying to resign Lugo last year as well. Someone from the Sox contacted his agent and said the Soc would give him top dollar this offseason.

allegedly ;-D

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Postby sharksfan1139 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:38 pm

How could you ever prove these allegations true? I think its just upset ppl whining.

Wasnt he gonna make 13mil a yr in La but he signed for 14mil in Boston? That really isnt that big of a difference...its not like he was making 5mil and Boston lured him away to make 14mil

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