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Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Moderator: Jerry Crasnick will hit the chat room at 2 p.m. ET to discuss his new book, "License To Deal: A Year in the Life of a Maverick Baseball Agent". Please note, this is not a 2005 Draft chat. Allan Simpson will be here Friday afternoon to discuss the upcoming draft.

 Q:  John S. from Gastonia asks:
Why do players select Scott Boras as an agent -- all it seems he does is delay the beginning of careers. With guy like Stephen Drew getting such a huge offer, why not sign?

Jerry Crasnick: John, Thanks for the question. Obviously, Boras is a huge lightning rod both pro and con. I think he definitely appeals to a certain type of player. Many of his advisees -- and their parents -- feel they're worthy of "special'' treatment because of their elite talent. History shows that Scott is going to get you a lot of money. But if you're a kid who wants to go out and play right away, he's definitely not for you.

 Q:  PimPim from Philly asks:
What are the legalities for getting agents? why are college players allowed to have advisors? Isn't that the same?

Moderator: PimPim, The system of baseball players having agents or "advisers'' is rife with hypocrisy. A kid can't sign with an agent until after the draft because he risks losing his college eligibility. But everybody knows the teams are talking to the advisers, and vice versa. It's just a given that it's part of the process now.

 Q:  Cheryl from Toronto asks:
What are the qualifications for being an agent? Do you have to apply somewhere or be certified?

Jerry Crasnick: Cheryl, It's surprising how much difference there is between baseball and, say, football. In the NFL, you have to pass a test, pay a fee and fulfill certain educational requirements. In baseball, you need to have a 40-man roster client, and you're essentially an agent. And you can't have any felony convictions. So I guess Charles Manson wouldn't qualify.

 Q:  Finners from Cleveland asks:
Do agent steal clients from one another? What is that process like? Does a player sign a year long or more contract with an agent?

Jerry Crasnick: Finners, Yes, agents steal players from each other with regularity. You'd be shocked by how pervasive it is. That's a major handicap for people trying to get established in the business -- fending off the sharks. One problem is, the union hasn't shown that it really cares about the issue very much.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
What is the common eduactional and occupational background of the agents you have researched for your book?

Moderator: Mike, I don't think there really is a common trait. Being an attorney helps, given all the contract work, and some agents sell the fact that they're former ballplayers. I think that's Boras' biggest selling point -- he's both a lawyer and a former ballplayer. Honestly, the most important thing a person needs if they're trying to get established as an agent is a big bankroll. You can lose an awful lot of money for several years.

 Q:  Josh from L.A. asks:
Who really is making the call here? Can't Stephen Drew or Jarrad Weaver just tell Scott Boras to stop it and they want to sign? Do they ever talk to the players?

Jerry Crasnick: Josh, That's what Boras' critics say -- that he calls all the shots, and that the players basically work for him instead of the other way around. Boras denies that's the case, obviously. I'm sure Scott talks to his players, but they depend a lot on his advice and his counsel.

 Q:  Mark from Coral Springs, Fla. asks:
What percentage of players don't have agents? What is the biggest disadvantage in not having an agent? Does a player really need an agent?

Jerry Crasnick: Mark, I talked to a lot of parents while doing my book, and most of them said it was very helpful to have an adviser during the draft process. The draft is a stressful time for families, and it's tough to deal with all those scouts, the rumors, preparing for the draft, etc. Even people with teams tell me that they'd rather deal with an agent, or adviser, in many cases, because it removes the emotion from the process. On the other side of the coin, I have to wonder if a kid being picked in the sixth or eight or 18th round really needs an agent. And a lot of scouts would say that "slotting'' makes agents a lot less relevant.

 Q:  Ken Jennings from JeopardyLand asks:
Jerry! I love your work on ESPN and can't wait for the book! The except mentions Matt Harrington working at Target now. Does he have any legal recourse for the seemingly AWFUL job Tanzer did?

Jerry Crasnick: Ken, Thanks for the nice note. Harrington was in the process of pursuing legal action, but it's been settled out of court, and my understanding is that he recouped a sizeable amount in his settlement. Still, that entire episode was a mess, and hopefully we won't see anything like it again.

 Q:  Brian from Austin asks:
How much money to the best agents make? If some pick signs for five million, how much does the agent get? is it different with signing bonuses for draft picks and mlb free agents?

Jerry Crasnick: Brian, Well, if a kid signs for $5 million and the agent gets a 3-5 percent cut, that's $150,000 to $250,000. But not many kids sign for $5 million. And after the kid signs, it might be 6-7 years before he's making decent coin in the big leagues -- if he gets there at all. Even Scott Boras told me that it took something like 8 years before he started running his agency in the black. You have to have patience and a strong stomach.

 Q:  J.P. Whatley from Spray, Oregon asks:
Jerry, after what you've learned about agents writing your book, would you ever consider being an agent yourself?

Jerry Crasnick: J.P. God, no. I don't have the money, for starters. And I couldn't stand the constant confrontation. I talked to dozens of agents who eventually became jaded or bitter because of the client-stealing, the animosity, etc. It's an unbelievably tough racket.

 Q:  Chris from Raleigh, NC asks:
Jerry, I enjoyed the excerpt. IN hanging around the Sosnick-Cobbe group for a while, did you have a sense that Dontrelle Willis was getting in better shape this offseason, and would come out so strong this year (last night's start notwithstanding!). Thanks for your time.

Moderator: Chris, Actually, Dontrelle had a quality start last night (6 innings, 3 earned runs) and might have had a chance to win if the bullpen didn't implode. I think the more you hang around him, the bigger a fan of him you become. He's incredibly well-grounded for a kid who has had so much early success. He attached himself to a good role model -- Juan Pierre -- who knows the meaning of hard work. And now he's reaping the benefits.

 Q:  Mike from mineola, ny asks:
What else does the job of an agent entail. AFter a guy signs, is the process pretty much over until his next contract needs to be negotiated? THANKS FOR THE CHATT!!!!!

Jerry Crasnick: Mike, To be honest, if an agent is representing a kid in the minors, he spends a lot of time making sure the kid has equipment and helping him with girlfriend problems and other issues. In some ways, agents are like glorified babysitters. The interesting stuff comes when the kid makes it to the majors and is eligible for arbitration or free agency. But by then, he might have already left for one of the mega-agencies.

 Q:  Justin from Columbus asks:
Is Tanzer even an agent now? Why would anybody hire him?

Jerry Crasnick: Justin, Tommy Tanzer has combined his agency with CSMG, which is run by Alan Nero. Tanzer still has several established clients, like Steve Finley, but he's gradually stepping away from the business. He told me that he wants to be a "sports gossip comedian.'' Whatever you think of him, the guy is quite entertaining.

 Q:  ROBERT from SEATTLE asks:

Jerry Crasnick: Robert, That definitely depends on who you ask. A lot of scouting directors and general managers might say so, but I think they respect him as a formidable adversary. Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew, Bernie Williams and Kevin Brown sure like him a lot. Gene Orza of the Players Association said he admires Boras because Scott doesn't care if teams like him. Boras thinks that's a sign he's doing his job.

 Q:  Coop from Upper Arlington, OH asks:
Many NBA players (like Ray Allen) now just have lawyers instead of agents, as a lot of the contracts are fixed, moneywise. With the draft having slot bonuses, do you see this happening in baseball?

Jerry Crasnick: Coop, We've already seen it in the big leagues, with guys like Matt Morris, Curt Schilling and Jamie Moyer negotiating their own deals with the help of a lawyer to go over the contract language. I'm pretty sure that Rickie Weeks of the Brewers uses Lon Babby, a highly-respected attorney who represents a bunch of NBA players. The problem with the baseball draft is, a player's adviser is going to influence where he's picked -- and that might have an impact on his bonus. I don't care what teams say -- that's how it works.

 Q:  Mark DeCascos from The Worst Lumbario in Rio asks:
What do you make of the Yankees? Are we seeing the real team during this 10-game win streak or is it a product of weak competition? Do you anticipate them being able to climb back into it before the all-star break?

Jerry Crasnick: Mark, Glad to take a non-agent question. The Yankees definitely benefited from playing the A's and Mariners, but they'll also benefit from playing Kansas City, Tampa Bay and some other AL punching bags once they get rolling. Now that the hysteria has subsided, I think we're looking at a 95-win playoff team. I know they're old and vulnerable to injury, but they've got too many weapons not to be a contending club.

 Q:  Chuck from Lenexa asks:
How do clubs have enough time during the draft to call agents players and ask them these signability questions? I mean, the guys you're calling could be picked right as your on the phone, and the draft goes so fast.

Jerry Crasnick: Chuck, There's a lot of advance planning and pre-draft intelligence that goes into the process -- especially in the first few rounds. These teams have meeting after meeting and have to anticipate dozens of scenarios.

 Q:  Derrik from Texas asks:
Does Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver make it in the top 5 this year? Or the top 10 for that matter?

Jerry Crasnick: Derrik, If I had to place a wager, I'd bet that Drew signs with the D-backs and Weaver signs with the Angels right before the draft. Call me cynical, but I think a lot of this is posturing and gamesmanship.

 Q:  Ray from LaLaLand asks:
Jerry -- last year there seemed to be record bonuses left and right in the later rounds of the draft. Do you see this trend continuing and is it a specific strategy by agents to say their player is unsignable to see if they can get him to drop to a team with extra money? It seems like guys like Mark Trumbo and that Rozier guy got more money by being "unsignable" than they would have otherwise.

Jerry Crasnick: Ray, My understanding is that big league teams have a set amount budgeted for the entire draft, and they might choose a seemingly "unsignable'' kid in the late rounds. If an early pick doesn't sign, that money becomes available -- and presto -- your low-round pick is suddenly in the fold.


Jerry Crasnick: Catherine, Thanks for the note. Good luck with the draft (and make sure to tell your friends about the book).

 Q:  Derrik from New Braunfels, TX asks:
How does a person get into any type of baseball job? Anything from managing, scouting, or even an agent? I would probably become a work-aholic if given the opportunity.

Jerry Crasnick: Derrik, My best advice is to go to the baseball winter meetings in December and check out the minor league job fair. They have a ton of great (albeit low-paying) jobs to help people get experience. The problem is, a lot of people want to start in the big leagues, and that's tough to do.

 Q:  Gary from Santa Ana, CA asks:
A kid who is possible a lower round pick, or in my case, just the last couple of weeks generating any interest form por clubs, would it be beneficial to have an advisor?

Jerry Crasnick: Gary, My knee-jerk reaction is probably no -- I doubt you really need an adviser. The best agent in the world isn't going to turn a 20th round pick into a 5th round pick. But it might help to find a kid who was in a similar situation and find out how it worked for him. There are an awful lot of chat boards now where families can share draft experiences and minimize the pre-draft stress.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
Through your research and followin some of these agents. If you had a son what agent would you pick

Jerry Crasnick: Bryan, It's hard for me to come out and endorse someone. I think it generally depends on the circumstances. If you're a fringe prospect, or a kid who doesn't care about the bonus and wants to sign right away, Scott Boras probably isn't for you. If you're an elite kid and don't mind waiting a while to sign, you might lean more that way. Matt Sosnick and Paul Cobbe, the agents I wrote about, like to get their kids signed quickly and try to cultivate positive relationships with the clubs. It's worked pretty well for them so far.

 Q:  Carl from Boston asks:
How do contract negotiations work? If a team says four dollars and the agent insists on six dollars, do they just hang up on eachother and then wait for one of them to callback? it just seems like a giant game of chicken to me.

Jerry Crasnick: Carl, That's generally how it works -- although when agents and general managers are negotiating, I think there's a lot more screaming involved.

 Q:  Bobby from Astoria, NY asks:
Jerry, Is the book currently available in bookstores, and if not when is it coming out? Thank you

Jerry Crasnick: Bobby, Glad you asked. My understanding is that the book will be in stores within the next week or so. Amazon and Barnes and Noble say it will be out in June, but I think it's already available on those sites (or will be in the next few days).

 Q:  Ozzie Fan from Chicago asks:
So are the White Sox for real?

Jerry Crasnick: Ozzie Fan, I have my doubts that they're this good -- how many one- and two-run games can a team win? But if the starting pitching holds up, they'll be a threat all season.

 Q:  Phife Dawg from Queens, NY asks:
Agents get a bad rap because most people assume they are sleazy. What is the biggest misconception about them?

Jerry Crasnick: Phife Dawg, Many agents are sleazy. But I think the biggest misconception is that they don't all wear $2000 Italian suits and drive around in Corvettes. A lot of these guys work hard to build clienteles, and it's pretty heartbreaking for them when players reach the cusp of stardom, then bolt for bigger agencies. I found the backbiting and internal battles among agents pretty fascinating. Well, I guess my hour is up. I just want to thank everybody who sent emails. Sorry I couldn't get to all of them. I hope people enjoy the book. Maybe we can do this again soon. Jerry C.

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