Boras May Pay For Millwood Arbitration

The animosity between Scott Boras and the Phillies is longstanding. Some say it goes back to when Boras failed in his attempts to make the majors as a player and the Phillies were one of the teams that basically told him he wasn't going to make it. Definitely, it festered when J.D. Drew was drafted by the Phillies and wound up playing a season in baseball purgatory rather than in Philadelphia. Now though, the Phillies may have gotten at least a little revenge.

Kevin Millwood, through a conference call with the media, addressed the reasons why he is back in Philadelphia for one season rather than anywhere with a multi-year deal. In fact, at one point, Millwood was asked whether he was upset with his agent – Scott Boras – and whether he would fire Boras. His answer spoke volumes; "I haven't given it much thought," said the Phillies renewed ace.

If I'm Scott Boras, that doesn't sound too good. It certainly wasn't a ringing endorsement from one of his better clients, who has yet to hit what will be his biggest payday. It also wasn't a loud and clear tone that means Boras is a goner. Most people would prefer to know what kind of job security they had, even if it was none. Instead, Millwood has left his agent swinging in the breeze. Boras has to wonder if he'll be the guy who negotiates Millwood's biggest payday or will someone else be handling that duty?

Granted, Boras won't be filing for welfare if Millwood does sack him, but it would be a piece of mortar that fell out of the Boras wall of arrogance. Millwood isn't exactly a nobody in the business of baseball and there are plenty of other agents that would be glad to be handling the right-hander at a time when he may be entering the most productive years of his career.

Millwood would have every right to feel that he was betrayed and perhaps, pushed aside by his agent. Boras attention – and time – has been spent lately dealing with getting another of his clients out of Texas. Alex Rodriguez is probably realizing that his contract with the Rangers is nice, but it's not going to get him a World Series ring. Why? Because Rodriguez' contract is so big that the Rangers can't afford to put enough other quality players around him to make the team good enough to reach the Fall Classic. Did Boras do Rodriguez a disservice? In some respects, he did. Boras should have seen that there was no way his client was going to reach his goal of post-season glory with his contract hanging like an albatross around the neck of the Texas Rangers.

Of course, if you're Scott Boras, you can always tell Millwood that he did for him what he did for Greg Maddux last offseason. Boras demanded so much out of teams looking to sign Maddux that he wound up accepting the Braves offer of arbitration when he couldn't get a mulit-year deal. It was that arbitration case that got Millwood traded to the Phillies. This season, Maddux is still waiting for those lucrative offers to come along. Kevin Millwood should watch and learn. If even a future Hall of Fame pitcher is struggling to get big bucks, it shouldn't be any wonder that Millwood will too. Actually, Boras did the same thing for Millwood that he did for Barry Bonds. Two years ago to the day that Millwood accepted the Phillies offer of arbitration, Bonds accepted the Giants offer of arbitration. Yup, coming off a record setting season in which he hit 73 homeruns, Boras failed in his attempts to get a long-term deal for Bonds. Wow!

There are players getting some nice, new paydays out there. Bartolo Colon got four years and $51 million from Anaheim. Exactly the kind of money that Millwood would have loved to sign for, but couldn't. Of course, Colon didn't have Scott Boras doing his negotiating. Miguel Tejeda got six years and $72 million from Baltimore. Granted, player salaries are going down, but there are still deals to be made if things are handled the right way. To think that Millwood couldn't get a better deal than accepting arbitration, is ludicrous.

The Millwood family will still be able to put food on the table, don't worry. Even if Millwood loses his arbitration case, he'll likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million for the 2004 season. Still, there are risks. What happens if Millwood's elbow explodes? His career could be over and that big, multi-year deal that he dreamed of would be lost forever. The Phillies, at one point, offered Millwood three years and $35 million. Odds are that the Phillies might have tweaked that a little and given Millwood something along the lines of what the Angels did for Colon, had Boras not been doing the negotiating.

The baseball economy has changed. It's not collusion, it's not anything devious, it's just that owners are tired of losing lots of money. It's also the fact that owners saw the Giants and Angels – teams with the eighth and fifteenth highest payrolls – in the 2002 World Series. They also saw the Florida Marlins win the 2003 World Series over the payroll kings of baseball, the New York Yankees. Agents who realize that things are changing are still getting pretty good deals for their clients. Boras, instead, is swimming against the tide. He insists that there are all of these multi-year offers sitting out there for his clients and it's just not true. Millwood himself admitted that there weren't official offers from other teams. Just "discussions". Well guess what; Discussions don't pay the bills.

The Phillies are glad to have Millwood back in the fold, even if it is for one season. They learned from what Boras did last season with Maddux and planned for the financial hit that an arbitration hearing with Kevin Millwood would bring. They don't have to trade away any players to afford Millwood and are happy to go into the season with one of the best and deepest starting rotations in baseball. Now, they'll basically let Millwood and Eric Milton pitch for a new contract. If one of them puts up a big season, it's likely that the Phillies will pursue them with a multi-year offer and that the other will be back in the free agent pool next fall. Of course, if Millwood doesn't change agents, even a good season could hurt his contract chances with the Phillies. We all know that if Millwood has a big year, Boras will increase his irrational demands even more, insisting all the while that Millwood will have a number of teams chasing him. Hopefully, Kevin Millwood is smarter than that.

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