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Boras needs to let Cano go

4/6/2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- An agent once related the story of how his client fired him, and as he talked over the phone, he sounded like someone who had been dumped by his spouse. Fifteen years together, he said, and there had been no signs of trouble. They had spent holidays together, called each other all the time.

Then one day -- boom -- the agent learned that he had been let go. I can't remember how he heard, but it was through a third party, and to that moment, the agent had not heard an explanation from his long-time client, and (he thought) his long-time friend. "Now I don't know if I even want to talk with him," the agent said, on the day the player got a new contract, working through another agent.

The fact is that players dump agents all the time, and agents are constantly talking with players who might be dumping their agents. There is no such thing as enforced monogamy in that line of business. Players swap agents, agents swap agencies, and it really never stops.

Which is why my advice to Scott Boras -- and to be clear, he's done quite well without my advice -- is that he should just let Robinson Cano go, without a fight. Turn the page.

If you happened to be bunkered down this week after the rain of rhetoric, you may not have heard about the infamous split between Boras and Cano. The superstar second baseman fired the super-agent and instead signed to be the first athlete represented by Jay-Z, who is entering the representation field as an arm of CAA.

Not surprisingly, Boras did not hear the news from Cano himself, and so he reportedly flew to New York seeking an audience with the Yankees' infielder. Cano had no interest in meeting with Boras and told the union this. The New York Post reported that Boras has some sort of documentation of agreement between the player and him.

Losing a player of Cano's stature would be a body blow for any agent, and Cano has left a small army of agents in his wake. He left ACES before joining Bobby Barad, and left Barad to join Boras, and now he left Boras for Jay-Z, right on the cusp of a massive payday that rival agents predict will be something in the range of $175 million. If Cano actually goes into the free agent market, he will be the highest-paid player. This is like being dumped by the prom queen just before the prom.

But Cano seems to be angling to go back to the Yankees, and Boras seems to be angling to try to get him back.

Which is why I would say to Boras: Just move on. In the big picture, fighting to retain Cano, or a portion of his contract, will cost the agent more than it will gain him.

Almost all players are not sophisticated in their understanding of contractual issues. A handful of players have represented themselves in negotiations, choosing instead to talk to clubs on their own and then hire a lawyer to examine the final paperwork.

But most players will pick somebody and go along unless they start to think the grass is greener elsewhere, that some agent might get their more stuff than the agent they have. I have had agents tell me of clients complaining of teammates getting better equipment than they do. Sometimes players switch agents because a friend or teammate does well with a different agent.

When most players decide to change, they don't really think of binding agreements and agent certification. Most of them figure that if they want a different agent on Wednesday than they had on Tuesday, well, they should be allowed to do that. And as a general principle, the union has had the players' backs on this sort of thing, because, hey, it's the players' association.

If Boras fights to retain Cano, either through lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits, it will get a lot of attention, because Cano is a transcendent star who plays in New York and Boras is the most prominent agent in sports. Cano will continually be asked about it by other players, and other players will read about Boras' efforts to keep Cano.

All along, the players will be thinking: I should be able to do what I want to do. Why won't Boras let Cano have the agent he wants to have? Most players feel they should be able to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

The agent business in baseball is like the wild, wild west, with a whole lot of unwritten rules and raiding of stock going on in all directions. There are stories of agent underlings waiting for hours in hotel lobbies for a rising young prospect to come through, to be intercepted and wooed away from his old agent, with promises of riches to come or other enticements.

Some agents have complained privately that Boras pilfered one of their clients, but few of them have ever gone public with it, because as Hyman Roth told Michael Corleone in "The Godfather, Part II," this is the business they've chosen.

Boras has won most of these type of wars, but it appears that in the case of Cano, he lost. It'd be better for him and move on to fight other fights rather than expose himself to a lot of industry chatter.

Notables

• There seems to be a lot of concern that Aramis Ramirez may have suffered a notable knee injury, on the same day Ryan Braun was scratched with neck spasms. From Tom Haudricourt's story:

Ramirez, meanwhile, might be out awhile after suffering the same injury in the same manner he did in spring training. He wound up missing two weeks trying to recover from that knee sprain.

"This time there's more soreness than the last time, but I don't want to get ahead of myself because I don't really know," said Ramirez, who got off to a hot start by hitting .385. "The last time it took me two weeks. Hopefully, this time it won't take me as long.

"It probably happened because I hurt it before in spring training. It wasn't 100 percent yet. But I was able to play with the soreness. Hopefully, it's not as bad."

Chris Davis is off to the hottest start in history, with 16 RBIs in the team's first four games. From Steve Melewski's story on the Orioles' home-opener:

"[Davis said] I feel good at the plate, to say the least. I don't think you ever envision home runs. The biggest thing for me was to get a pitch out over the plate that I could drive and at least get in the air for a sac fly. I thought that was what it was when I hit it, but it kept going."

Is he just into an amazing and incredible zone at bat right now?

"I just think it's being comfortable at the plate," he said. "Being selective and making sure I'm swinging at good pitches. There were times last year when I was too aggressive and ended up getting myself out. Patience has paid off.

"It's fun. This game is not easy by any means. There are times when it seems you can't do any wrong. But as long as a season as it is, you try to keep your head above water."

From Elias:

HR in each of first four games of season in MLB history:

Chris Davis -- 2013

Nelson Cruz -- 2011

Mark McGwire -- 1998

Willie Mays -- 1971

-- No player has done it in first five games of season

Most consecutive games with HR and 3+ RBI in
MLB history (RBI became official in 1920)

1937 -- Bill Dickey -- 5

1931 -- Lou Gehrig -- 5

2013 -- Chris Davis -- 4*

1932 -- Lou Gehrig -- 4

1922 -- Ken Williams -- 4

* Active streak

• Fans here in Texas gave Josh Hamilton an earful. The day quickly became personal for Texas fans. Hamilton said he wouldn't take back what he said over the winter, as Brad Townsend writes. From his story:

"I can't say that I didn't expect it," Hamilton said of the boos. "I will never take back what I said, until they show up every night (to boo) for 30 years.

"But I'm glad I can help create spirit and fire in this town. Honestly, man, that was louder than any playoff game I've ever been to. So I'm excited for them about that. Hopefully the fans can carry that on through the season for them."

Hamilton was asked whether his batting performance, which began with two strikeouts at the hands of Derek Holland, on just seven pitches, was a sign of anxiety.

"Would you blame me for being a little anxious?" he asked. "Yeah, first couple of bats, you have an idea of what the Rangers are going to do to you. They've seen what other teams have tried to do to me over the years. I had an idea what Derek was going to try to do."

We've got the Angels and Rangers on Sunday Night Baseball, Jered Weaver versus Yu Darvish.

• Rooftop owners are really unhappy with the Cubs' renovation deal.

• In the midst of the Astros' 8-2 loss to Oakland, I tweeted out some of the incredible numbers that Houston has generated so far, and a small portion of the response from tweeps was: Stop picking on them. We know, they're not very good.

Believe me, nobody's picking on them. Nobody's saying they aren't going to be good in five years, or that the long-term strategy for Houston is wrong, or wrong-headed. But the 1962 Mets and the 2003 Tigers would testify -- as would the 2001 Mariners and 1998 Yankees -- that if you are performing at an extreme level, it will get attention. We've never seen a team do what these Astros have done at the outset of this season, and if scouts are to be believed, this is going to continue, barring the acquisition of players brought in to help stabilize the team just for 2013.

In the first four games, the Astros have averaged 14 strikeouts per game. They have drawn five walks, or the same as what Joey Votto and Denard Span have each accumulated. Keep in mind that Houston has played all of its games at home, indoors, so unlike the Pirates or Cubs or other teams that have struggled, weather conditions have not been a factor in their offense.

The Astros stretched their scoreless streak to 23 Friday before breaking through with a couple of runs.

From Elias:

Most strikeouts by batters through first four team games, since 1900

2013 Astros -- 56

1966 Red Sox -- 44

2005 Reds -- 44

2009 Nationals -- 43

1966 Angels -- 43

Zack Greinke was dominant in his first start with the Dodgers.

• Joe Girardi acknowledged what has been true for a while: It may be a long time before Derek Jeter is in the Yankees' lineup.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Miguel Cairo is filling in for Mark Berry on the Reds' bench, as Berry goes through cancer treatment.

2. The Marlins are trying to find somebody who can play first base.

Dings and dents

1. Adam LaRoche had to sit because of back stiffness, writes Adam Kilgore.

2. Brian Roberts will miss two to four weeks.

3. Jose Iglesias got hurt, and it's always possible Stephen Drew could be recalled quickly.

4. The Yankees are scrambling to best use their healthy bodies, and so Phil Hughes was activated to pitch against the Tigers tonight. Eduardo Nunez was hurt Friday, as Kevin Kernan writes.

5. A Twins pitcher landed on the disabled list.

6. Jose Bautista is dealing with a sore ankle.

7. Jeff Niemann landed on the disabled list.

Friday's games

1. For Prince Fielder, it was a dream come true. Drew Smyly was just about perfect in relief, as Tom Gage writes.

2. Matt Moore is looking to shed the "slow starter" label, and he was outstanding against the Indians.

3. Mike Minor was The Man for the Braves.

4. Dan Haren was hit really hard. You do wonder if the Nationals' decision to invest in the return of Chris Young had anything to do with what they've seen in Haren so far this spring.

5. The games between the Mets and Marlins feel like a battle for fourth place, and Miami won the first one.

6. Kyle Kendrick was lit up.

7. The Pirates' offense was stifled, again.

8. The Indians had no answers against Matt Moore.

9. The Diamondbacks' first foray on the road went well.

10. An error hurt the Padres, as Chris Jenkins writes.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Travis Snider got a chance to start.

AL East

John Farrell got heckled. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are both happy with how this turned out, writes Richard Griffin.

John Lackey is starting anew.

The Jays' roster is getting thin early.

AL Central

The Royals have real hope for the future, writes Sam Mellinger.

Dylan Axelrod will match up against the best pitcher on the planet today. This is what is known in the business as a reverse lock.

Trevor Bauer has a vendetta against pitch counts, as mentioned in this Paul Hoynes notebook.

The Twins' Tyler Robertson got a reality check.

AL West

The Mariners continue to swing it.

Dan Straily racked up double-digits in strikeouts in his start Friday, and he's going back to the minor leagues.

Peter Bourjos was back on the field.

NL East

The Phillies' corner outfield defense is a glaring concern, writes Matt Gelb.

Julio Teheran is feeling confident, as David O'Brien writes.

NL Central

The Cardinals' Shelby Miller is getting ready for his first turn as a regular member of the rotation.

Zack Cozart had a response for the inquisitors, writes Hal McCoy.

The Cubs' offense continues to flounder.

NL West

The Rockies' Blake Street power is back. A couple of Eric Youngs were at the center of Colorado's 20th anniversary celebration.

Barry Zito picked up where he left off in the World Series. For Bruce Bochy, it was all about goosebumps.

From Elias: Zito threw seven scoreless innings and San Francisco's starting pitchers have not allowed an earned run in 26 innings this season. That's the longest streak of innings to begin a season without allowing an earned run for any team's starters since 1976, when the Brewers starters went 31 2/3 innings into the campaign without permitting an earned run.

Other stuff

• Cubs Manager Dale Sveum can relate to injured Louisville men's basketball player Kevin Ware's plight. Sveum's career was forever altered by his injury.

• A Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $2.1 million.

• Mark Appel is showing a mature approach at Stanford, writes Aaron Fitt.

• Vanderbilt beat No. 17 Ole Miss.

And today will be better than yesterday.