I'm sure it made sense in his head, and perhaps it made total sense for reasons, but Michael Bourn's hiring of Scott Boras will dumbfound most Astros' fans. Stephen Goff of the Examiner broke the story yesterday, but the incredible fact is that for 30 days this story was not picked up.
If you want to get as much money as possible in the least amount of time, then Scott Boras is your man. If ticking off the entire fanbase is your next goal, Boras is also your man. Other reasons are less certain.
Brian McTaggart quotes Ed Wade as being non-plussed about the agent swap, but the fact that Goff and not McTaggart broke this story seems to belie this assumption. If they could the Astros would have buried this story. Wade's quote was:
"We don't acquire, retain, sign or release players based on their representatives. It's really a non-issue for us who negotiates for the players."
Remember this is Scott Boras we are talking about. It does not matter whether his place in the game is right or wrong, it is how it is how it is perceived, and for many he is the personification of greed and evil. Some refer to him as Satan, and yesterday did not pass without references to Faust and Judas.
But the 'why' of it still eludes me, and specifically the 'why now?'
If he filed the switching of agents 30 days ago then this probably means the decision was arrived at when Bourn realized a long-term contract offer was not in the works, and he would have to settle for $4.4m this year.
While he might understand that Drayton McLane will not do serious business with Boras, even though he has signed Boras clients to short-term deals over the past two years, with Ivan Rodriguez and Aaron Boone, he has obviously come to the realisation that a new owner and maybe even a new GM should be in place by the end of the year. People who will not refuse to do business with a certain agent.
But if this is the case why not wait a year until the new owner is put in place?
What Bourn seems not to have reckoned with is Astro fans hatred of Boras. All this move does in the short-term is suggest to fans that he is in it for the money and other considerations are secondary. You only have to look back a few years and see the ridiculous contracts handed out to center fielders to see that he is not too far away from a bumper payday.
Gary Matthews Jr. got 5 years $50m off the Angels after a career year in Arlington, and Juan Pierre got a similar amount of silly money from the Dodgers prior to the 2007 season.
Bourn's speed and defense make him a worthy asset on any team even if he struggles with the bat, and he only needs to add 30 points to his batting average and another 10 or 20 on top of that to his OBP and add more doubles to be a truly elite player in the majors.
Surely, he would say, his performances has warranted at least $10m a year. Given his bWAR 4.3 and fWAR 4.2 that would not be an unreasonable assumption. But it is a dangerous amount of money to give a lead-off hitter whose game relies on his legs, and especially for a franchise with a budget under $100m. But this is the sort of problem that a new owner will have to wrestle with. Bourn is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season and with his most likely replacement Jay Austin still needing years of refinement, neither option sounds particularly appealing.