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Tuesday, March 21, 2006
More Fallout from Bronsongate: The "Idiot" Checks in

Yesterday we discussed how the Red Sox, by trading Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena, may have broken a verbal no-trade promise to Arroyo after he--against the wishes of his agent--agreed to a below-market contract two months ago. Although the verbal promise (if there was indeed one) is not legally enforceable, one might wonder how this story will affect the trust placed by Red Sox players in team officials. But was there, in fact, a promise?

Well, Red Sox fans are certainly expressing their dismay as to how Arroyo was treated by Red Sox management. Take a look above at an unscientific poll on the Boston Globe's website: over 60% of fans believe "what the Sox did was wrong."

Earlier today, a clearly distraught/peturbed Arroyo conducted a Q/A with Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe:
What was it about Boston and the team that made you want to sign that contract?

“Just, you know, going to Fenway Park 81 times a year, man. There's an excitement in that place I'm not going to get anywhere in the National League except maybe Wrigley. So that was the No. 1 thing. And then, just the group of guys we've had that a lot of 'em still here, pitching to Varitek. I felt like Boston was my second home and I hadn’t felt that way about any other place I've ever played. So, you know, stuff kind of being uprooted. You feel like you're being ripped out of your home."

How did you find out you had been traded?

”Theo [Epstein] called me, as soon as I saw his name come up on my [cell phone] I figured he traded me. Yeah, definitely surprising. I always knew it was a possibility just because I'm a young guy who's got a pretty low salary, but I still didn't think he'd trade me, either.”

You said they made no guarantees that they wouldn't trade you, but what was the conversation?

“The conversation almost exact was ‘I'm not signing this deal to end up in Tampa Bay in two weeks.’ And they said to me, ‘There's no deal for you on the table right now and we don't foresee trading you in the near future.’ Those were the exact words. Near future is relevant to whatever you think. Obviously, there was no guarantee. But in my mind, this is pretty soon. But um, you know, they told me there was no guarantee, and I knew that. But I figured it would probably be further down the road if that happened, pitching bad around the All-Star break or whatever . . . I was surprised when Theo called me, I was really shocked."

Is there a part of you that wants to say, “how could you?”

“Uh, yeah, a little bit. Of course, man.”

Have you talked to Red manager Jerry Narron or GM Wayne Krivsky?

“No I talked to three other people. I don't even know who they were. I couldn't listen, you know, my brain was scrambled yesterday after Theo told me that. I talked to a few other people, some of the clubhouse guys. That was it.”

How long will it take for the trade to sink in?

“Probably when I turn on the TV and see the Red Sox playing, you know, and I'll be playing someplace else. You know, it's tough, man, but what are you going to do. All you can do is go pitch. I got three years until I'm a free agent so I'm going to pitch and see where you end up.”
So, in other words, there was no promise, explicit or implicit. Nevertheless, former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon (the self-described "idiot" who signed with the New York Yankees this off-season), believes the Sox have wronged Arroyo:
"I'm really upset for Bronson. He should be able to become a free agent after this year, re-do his contract. This is what they were afraid of - his agent was right."
While criticizing Red Sox management for lack of loyalty, Damon cited his own failed negotiations with the team. Incredulously, he also alleges that, in 2004, he bought a house in Boston that the 4-year, $32 million he signed with the Red Sox in 2001 couldn't support:
"I bought a house that I could not afford at the time, in Boston because they said, `We're going to keep you, we'll get something done real soon.' This was right after we won the World Series [in 2004]. Obviously, that never happened. After they didn't come to me during the [2005] season, my loyalty to them wasn't there anymore either. I felt the loyalty from them was gone."
Lastly, Damon criticizes the Red Sox for their use of computers and technology in making personnel decisions:
"They have their plans, and they have their computers, and they believe that's right. Unfortunately, computers don't judge a person's heart. Getting along with the younger kids and helping them along, unfortunately, computers don't [evaluate] that."
Clearly, somebody needs to introduce Johnny Damon to the writings of Ray Kurzweil.


Poor Bronson. Or not. Life is tough. It still amazes me how often ballplayers whine about this stuff. Until the day we institute total free agency, like most non-athlete professionals have, this is one of the occupational hazards of playing professional sports.

Damon is an idiot if he really believes Arroyo deserves to become a free agent because of this alleged verbal promise.

Blogger some guy -- 3/21/2006 5:08 PM  

I'm a Bronson fan. I will miss him as a Sox fan. The decision he made did not work out as he had hoped, but that is all this is. He knew that there was a chance of this happening. In fact, by agreeing to the lower amount, he arguably increased the likelihood of this happening. It is unfortunate that his decision and the information made available to him (especially the advice of his agent) has become so public. At the end of the day, it's all a matter of leverage. One could argue that he should have negotiated the lower salary in exchange for some protection against a trade, but its highly unlikely the Sox would have agreed to that when they didn't have to. As with every sports contract (and any contract for that matter) the parties' business leverage has the greatest influence in dictating the terms.

Blogger Chris Callanan -- 3/21/2006 6:55 PM  

He took a discount in his mind, but the discount might also be related to the fact that Boston was really only buying out his arbitration years. And it's not like it was a terrible deal for Bronson. No, he won;t get to go to arbitration, but then he does now have a guaranteed multi-year contract.

Anonymous john -- 3/22/2006 10:54 AM  

As a die-hard Reds fan, I hope Bronson will be able to focus and committ to his new team although he feels it is unjust to be there. Hopefully any angry will be directed towards Boston, perferably when we play them in interleague.

Anonymous Adam -- 3/22/2006 11:09 AM  

These type of things happen when you deal with a franchise like the Red Sox. Typical Boston. Maybe he will go on to win a few Cy Youngs like some other pitcher who they let go in the past. At least it happened at the same time the Patriots let their Hall of Fame hero kicker go to a hated rival.

On the flipside is this like a reverse Carlos Boozer situation?

But it is a business and in the business world in America you always do whats best for our business, however you just should not include bad faith.
Other franchises who did similar things did not say the same things to present bad faith.

Anonymous tommie -- 3/23/2006 7:08 PM  

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