Thursday, August 14, 2008

Frank and Scott

Jeff Passan has an interesting article up over at Yahoo! about the relationship between Frank Coonelly and Scott Boras and how he thinks Coonelly's old job as the slotting system watchdog is affecting the Pedro Alvarez situation. If you haven't taken the time to read it yet, you should probably head over there and do so before you read the rest of this post.

Coonelly's a hard guy to get a read on, and this article doesn't change that. He didn't talk to Passan at all for it, so everything that's said about him is either in someone else's words or strongly implied by Passan. I've joked that Coonelly's ship is run tighter than a papal conclave, but I'm no longer certain that I'm joking when I say that. If the man doesn't want us to know something, we won't know it. That being said, there's one question that Passan asks early in the article that is very easily answered:

What’s more important: The sanctity of something he helped build with the sport’s best interests in mind, or the success of the team he’s trying to rescue from years of mismanagement?
Helloooooo first round money for a sixth-round pick! Seriously, if Grossman's $1 million signing bonus doesn't answer the questions about whether Coonelly's work enforcing the slot money is going to carry over into his role as Pirates' CEO, norhing is ever going to answer those questions. This isn't Passan's fault since it happened after his story went up, but it's certainly relevant.

The other thing from the story that I find fascinating and relevant to the conversation is this passage right here:

Coonelly is learning the complexities of running a team, and that’s a good thing. Some baseball insiders see him as a strong candidate to be baseball’s next commissioner and regard running the Pirates as a management apprenticeship that would complement his labor expertise.
I've seen a lot of disbelief on the internets today that Coonelly's a commissioner-in-waiting, but you won't see any from me. I know that when he was hired, I read in at least one place that he's angling for baseball's top job down the road. Having seen the guy in action for a year, it seems pretty obvious to me that he's an ambitious guy and I doubt his career goal is CEO of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Given the jobs he's held in the past, it makes perfect sense to me that he'd take this job as a stepping stone to being Bud's replacement.

But what does that mean? I guess it's possible that Coonelly might be trying to curry favor with the owners by making a stand against Boras, but if Coonelly's true goal is to become the commish, it seems much more likely to me that he wants the feather in his cap to be rebuilding one of the worst franchises in baseball. Making a stand against Boras for a political point seems like a stupid thing to do to me, especially because it would be an incredibly unpopular move with the Pittsburgh public.

The part of the story that concerns me the most when it comes to signing Alvarez is the implication that Boras and Coonelly have a testy personal relationship. If there's one thing that can derail this negotiation, it's a petty personal feud between the equally egotistic Coonelly and Boras. It's hard to know how much there is to something like that because neither man is particularly willing to talk to the press about stuff like this.

The bottom line is that Alvarez signing with the Pirates is best for everyone involved. It's best for Frank Coonelly because he's a huge talent that will vastly improve the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's best for Pedro Alvarez because whatever he signs for will likely be more than he could make next year and because sitting out a year sets his career back unnecessarily a year, and it's best for Scott Boras because it's best for best for Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez signing is still the outcome that makes the most sense and it's still what I think is going to happen.