The Kris Bryant Conundrum

If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Cubs have a pretty decent third base prospect named Kris Bryant. As of this writing, he’s batting 10-for-23 with 6 Homeruns and 9 Runs Batted In. It’s Spring Training, so we are supposed to take those stats with a grain of salt, for the most part. So, how then, could Theo Epstein and the Cubs organization be actually thinking of starting Bryant’s year in AAA? Everyone’s favorite negotiation, The Collective Bargaining Agreement, is how.

My issue is not with the CBA. Well, it is a little, but I’m not trying to earn my Master’s Degree writing this piece. My issue is the back-and-forth grenades of lies between player representation and front offices. I partly blame the media. We need stories to write and headlines to post. The world would be less ‘fun’ if everyone just answered every media question the way they should…or would it?

Scott Boras’ recent tirade against Cubs ownership has me outraged. Not because I think Scott is a slimy agent (I do), or because I fear losing every current Colorado Rockies player represented by Boras (I really do), but because of the lie grenades he’s started tossing.

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Bob Nightengale from USA Today recently posted an article about the back-and-forth between Boras and the Cubs. Don’t blame Nightengale for my outrage either. He did a fantastic job of reporting the literary vomit spewed in response to questions. And don’t think for a second that Epstein and the Cubs are blame free. They have some gems that need to be set straight as well. You can read the article on your own time, but this how the story should have gone.

Scott Boras quotes:
“You are damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball,” Boras tells USA TODAY Sports.
“You are doing exactly what you should do according to the CBA, but I’m really pissed off I can’t do anything about it.”

“Kris Bryant has extraordinary skills. Kris Bryant is a superstar. He has distinguished himself from all players at every level he’s played.”
“Kris Bryant has extraordinary skills. Kris Bryant is a superstar. He has distinguished himself from all players at every level he’s played.”
Okay, some super-agent superlatives here, but Bryant is really good. I can’t fault him for pimping his client’s stock.

“Everybody in baseball is saying he’s a major-league player ready for the big leagues. I have players call me. Executives call me. The Cubs’ people want him there. Everyone says, ‘They cannot send this guy down.’ It’s too obvious.”
“Listen, I’ve been complaining about this situation to everyone and nobody wants to tell me to shut the hell up so they just give me the trout look and agree that he should be on the opening day roster. I get it. They get it. Why don’t the Cubs get it?”

“This isn’t a system choice. This isn’t a mandate. This is a flat ownership decision. Do they really want to win here?”
“I can’t even think straight I’m so upset about my client not reaching free agency a year sooner foregoing millions to me, I mean him, before his 30th birthday.”

Boras, who represents baseball’s greatest prospect, was just getting started during a 30-minute rant against executive chairman Tom Ricketts and Cubs ownership. He rattled off 16 of the greatest players in the game who had fewer at-bats than Bryant at the Class AAA level, or even skipped it altogether, and were still called up to the big leagues, some who helped their team reach the postseason within a year.
“My client is going to be the best ever. Never mind causation versus correlation. It’s obvious”

Theo Epstein quotes:
“Ownership doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Epstein told USA TODAY Sports. ”We’re making an organizational decision. And I’ll be the one, as president of baseball operations, making the decision.”
“I’m the President of Baseball Operations. Respect my authority!”

“You never have a second chance to promote somebody the first time. You want to make sure they’re in the right place. In Kris’ case, we know he’s ready offensively; we just want to get him in a good rhythm defensively.”
“It gives us one more year before arbitration and free agency…what am I missing here?”

“We do a better job at player development than we do strategizing on how to save a few dollars here and there. That’s what we want to be all about. We don’t think we screwed him up, and we don’t think we’re going to.”
“Hahahaha…I could give you some line about player development, but we really haven’t had any. The truth is Bob, would you rather have Kris Bryant at age 23 in the beginning of his rookie contract, or age 30, in his prime, in the last year of his contract?”

Back to Boras:
“The fact that this player is so talented that you’re worried about what you’re going to do with him seven years from now,” Boras says, “gives you an idea about his value to the team.”
“Why should the Cubs get all the financial benefits from this situation? That isn’t fair!”

“So stop saying this is the system. If this was a losing team, OK, it’s not prudent to bring him up. But Tom (Ricketts) talks about this team being ready to win now. And if you’re ready to win, you’ve got to give them every resource to do it.”
“I hate this CBA. I have to coddle these players for, sometimes, a decade before they land their huge, fully guaranteed contract. I want my cut sooner!”

“The Cubs haven’t had a pennant since 1945, so why worry about something six years from now. Other owners, when given the choice, have done this. Why not give yourself a chance to win, too?”
“If I can’t get my percentage sooner I might as well throw some salt in the wounds of Cubs fans everywhere. Maybe I can get them on my side if I mention the 1945 pennant. Hell, the 1908 World Series is just too easy at this point.”

“What this spring has illustrated is that he should have been in the big leagues last September. He could have gotten his seasoning then. Major League Baseball fans missed something. They missed the opportunity to see this man perform, and the Cubs missed the opportunity to get him acclimated and established for 2015.”
“They could have started the clock even sooner!! I should have been setting my hair on fire in September so I’m really going all out now. Have I mentioned I hate the CBA?”

Back to Epstein:
“When we talked after the season,” Epstein said, “he was really happy how he held up physically, but he’s an honest kid, and said that he was little mentally drained from the grind of the long season. I think it was the right thing, let a guy go through his first full season, and feel good about the numbers he put up. Now, with a full year under his belt, we think he’s really close to the big leagues. We think it will happen this year. We just don’t know when.”
“I don’t expect players, whose fate is ultimately in my hands, to be completely honest with me. People just tell me what they think I want to hear all the time. Why would a player lie to me? As far as the service time of Kris Bryant, it will happen this year and we know EXACTLY when it is going to happen that benefits us the most, you know, according to the CBA.”

kris-bryant-cub-1024x777Kris Bryant chimes in:
“I tune it out,” Bryant said. “It’s kind of getting old for me now. I’m just trying to go out there and play baseball. If they see me as one of the top 25 guys at the end of spring, I’ll be out there. That’s all I can do, really. I understand there are certain rules you abide by, and this isn’t any different. I’m just trying to make it hard on them. Have fun. Do it with a smile on my face. And really remember why I’m playing this game.”
“I’m not going to say anything to piss off anyone in this organization. Of course I want to be in the show. It’s my dream. Of course I’d rather hit free agency at 29 instead of 30. You are clinically insane if you think I’m going to do anything than just smile and give some politically correct, locker room approved answer.”

Maybe someday we can get the real answers out of players, agents and front office personnel. Until then, we’ll have to settle for more of this nonsense.

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