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Phillies issue statement on the Ben Wetzler situation, say very little

Feb 22, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

The Phillies broke their silence today on Oregon State left-hander Ben Wetzler, but if you were hoping for anything particularly interesting, you are probably going to be disappointed.

“The Phillies did participate in the NCAA investigation and a ruling has been issued. We believe it is inappropriate to comment further on either the negotiation with the player or the action taken by the NCAA.”

Thanks for managing to release a statement that says absolutely nothing beyond the obvious, Phillies. Well done.

Wetzler was suspended yesterday for 20 percent of the season — 11 games — for inappropriate contact with an agent, which is forbidden by the NCAA despite most draft prospects doing it anyway. The Phillies reportedly turned in Wetzler for his actions after they drafted him in the fifth round last June and were unable to work out a deal. Wetzler will be eligible to return to return to the field on March 3, so the suspension is a slap on the wrist for the player in the end, but this incident could still do real damage to the Phillies’ reputation in the industry.

  1. AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Embarrassing. I’d hoped to get some explanation but I’m not at all surprised. They’re not going to give up the details. Eh, most of these guys are going to be looking for work soon anyway. I just want to root for my bleepin’ team without having to defend their stupidity. A man can dream.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      “I just want to root for my bleepin’ team without having to defend their stupidity”

      At least you’re not an Angels fan.

      • AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Hey, at least you guys have Trout.

      • racksie - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Hard to believe the Angels have screwed it up as bad as they have but the roughly $ 54 million spent on two guys who are likely well past their prime and one guy who likely never wants to play again is pretty bad. But you do have Trout.

      • NatsLady - Feb 22, 2014 at 5:51 PM

        Yeah, you do have Trout.

        photo/1

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        OMG, that’s hideous. Please, Tigers, don’t do a crown in a similar vein!

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 22, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        I love the Trout hats! I know the guy whose company makes those lol

      • 4cornersfan - Feb 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM

        As a Yankee fan I can’t help but wish there was an animal called a jeter.

    • billybawl - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      I think you raise a good point. This would probably not be the sole reason to clean out the Phillies’ front office. But if this made it more difficult to sign draft picks, firing those responsible would possibly reassure players/agents that this was an aberration. In the meantime, the Phils might want to be very careful before drafting underclassmen below the first or second round.

      • AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        One of the Philly beat writers suggested earlier today that Gillick will be making a trip to the Pacific Northwest to mend a few fences on behalf of the Phils. This will almost certainly have a short term affect on their ability to sign players but it may not be quite so catastrophic down the road.

  2. asimonetti88 - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    I still can’t believe they did that.

    • billybawl - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Did Jeffrey Loria buy the Phils?

  3. historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Why bother to put out a statement if that’s all you’re going to “say”?

  4. twpguy1964 - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Something happened here that’s not being said. MLB teams just don’t do this. What the kid did was wrong too begin with, no excuses. I dont care how many people do it, does that make breaking the rules right? The country has thousands of murderers, do we let some get away with it because others do it? I detect the kid pulled something crooked for the Phillies to do this, but that wont be told by the phillies, ESPECIALLY not the kid.

    • jcmeyer10 - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      He didn’t sign with the Phils. They got pissed and retaliated like children.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        You don’t understand. First it’s the agents but then it’s murderers!

      • Old Gator - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Hey, it’s just like drugs: start with Pepsi-Cola, and pretty soon you’re mainlining crack.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      What the kid did was wrong too begin with, no excuses.

      I’d strongly disagree. Just because the NC double Aholes made up a rule to harm the players, doesn’t mean it’s a just rule.

    • regis18 - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Hey, this is not murder. There are unwritten rules, like crossing against the red light when there is no traffic in sight. That’s the equivalent. The kid wanted to have a professional to deal with the Phillies’ executives because all kids need to have someone in the know on their side. The NCAA be damned. That’s why all kids do it.

    • AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      “Something happened here that’s not being said. MLB teams just don’t do this”

      – Yeah, there is more to the story but nobody is talking. I know this sounds like “BS” but I know a guy who knows a guy who got a quote from a prominent agent who said that there’s a strong possibility that the agent/adviser for these kids effed up and crossed some line that you’re not supposed to cross. The best agents (like Boras) know how to walk the tightrope and the agents in this instance may well have gone too far. But I still can’t excuse the response from the Phils. They cut off their nose to spite their face.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        So they punished the kid because his agent violated the standing gentlemen’s agreement? Fabulous. That sounds like a great argument for hiring Boras.

      • AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        I’m. Not. Defending. The. Phillies.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        I got that.

    • dparker713 - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Breaking an unjust rule is most certainly right. College players should not have to give up the right to legal counsel because they choose to play sports. The NCAA is overreaching and I’d love for anyone to come up with a hypothetical where the Phillies were justified in their actions.

    • tedwmoore - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      Totally agree. There were thousands of nazis, but the “everybody was doing it” argument bought no sympathy at Nuremburg. I mean, if all my friends jumped off a bridge, I wouldn’t do it.

      • tedwmoore - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        So, this was sarcasm. Did that really need to be said? Or did 8 people think it was horribly unfunny? I can see that.

      • raysfan1 - Feb 22, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        No, it’s just that there are plenty of people saying what you did and meaning it.

    • billybawl - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      I think the better analogy is that this is similar to entrapment.

    • voteforno6 - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      Old Gator:

      I think that’s why they have Mountain Dew.

      • Old Gator - Feb 22, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        Yeah, but if you saw Deliverance, you know what that stuff leads to.

  5. pilonflats - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    if you cant do the time, don’t do the crime. Im quite sure the “victim” here was quite aware that his actions were a no no.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      What crime did he commit again?

    • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Well, if by “time” you mean missing games, and by “crime” you mean trying to get a job, and by “victim” you mean a kid trying to break into a job market where older rich men dictate working conditions that disadvantage you so they can make money off your talent, okay.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      I am on old, rich white guy. Even I hate the idea of these kids being taken advantage of by greedy rich bastards.

  6. paperlions - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Every player uses an agent to negotiate, do people seriously think that it is fair of any organization to tell a 20 yr old kid that he is not allowed to have a representative negotiate with a professional negotiator?. The Phillies signed a LOT of players that had NCAA eligibility left and had no problem dealing with an agent when the player did sign (as evidenced by the signings). It is none of the Phillies concern if players break NCAA rules because they are not part of the NCAA. Turning in the players they didn’t sign was just petty and vindictive.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      You forgot to point out that such is not the Cardinal Way. ;)

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Oh, sorry. ahem…such is not The Cardinal Way.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:48 PM

        Man, the weekend commenters/thumbers are a-holes.

      • paperlions - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:52 AM

        More than that, they aren’t very bright and seem to have severe cases of myopia with a complete inability to identify context or meaning.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      In the Phillies defense, there’s little evidence that they have any professional negotiators on their side, so maybe they just wanted a level playing field.

    • billybawl - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      I agree. But I imagine the Phillies’ response would be that if a player actually signs, he is by definition “professional” and there wouldn’t be a violation. Which only shows how stupid and unworkable this rule is in baseball.

      I wonder if the Phils thought they had a handshake deal, and the kid changed his mind after sleeping on it. I’m having trouble imagining any other line that they believe was crossed in this instance, yet not in hundreds of others. Even so, the prudent response would be to tell the kid’s agent that this reflects poorly on him and will harm his reputation. Turning the kid in is just vindictive and actually harmful to the Phils’ interests.

  7. largebill - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    While the Phillies appear to have been jerks to this kid, the bigger issue to me is the ridiculous NCAA rules. If you allow a player to be drafted and consider offers while still retaining eligibility you have to allow him to get proper representation without later turning around and saying the representation violates their eligibility. This is a major contract they are negotiating. Does the NCAA recommend players prepare wills and other documents without legal assistance? Have surgery without medical assistance? Of course not.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      I’m pretty sure they even let them use professional advisors to pick their college classes/degree program.

  8. mikhelb - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    I’d like to see MLB doing something in the cases where teams run bad rumours of HS kids when they know the kids dont want to sign with them, so as to cause the kids to fall down the list in the draft because other teams pass on them based on rumours that kids wont sign and will opt to go to college, so teams use their picks on other ‘less talented’ players.

    A few days ago Ron Darling said it happened to him with something similar (a team ran a rumour that him being in an ivy league college meant he wouldnt sign and prefer to stay in college because he didnt accept 25k or 50k when he first was approached before the draft). It is the same thing Mark Teixeira faced when he was approached by the red sox before the draft, didnt accept their money and the sox ran rumours to cause him to fall in the list and they selected him when he fell to them… he declined and opted to go to college because he saw that as an improper move created to hurt his value.

  9. mantastic54 - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    As a Mets fan, it’s nice to see another bush league organization in the division. Between the Wilpons, loria, and now this, there is quite a collection of ethical businessmen in the nl east

  10. schmedley69 - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    The Phillies have announced that Ruben Amaro has resigned so that he can pursue his acting career. Look for him in the new “Dumb and Dumber” sequel, “Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest.”

  11. cuns2317 - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    What did the kid do wrong? Broke the rules. If he doesn’t like the rules don’t join the organization. No one is forcing him to play in the NCAA. There are many independent leagues he could play for.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      He broke an unconstitutional rule, and if he actually had the money to do it he’d sue the NCAA’s asses. Problem is the NCAA is run by a bunch of cowards. They didn’t go after Mark Appel when Scott Boras was clearly negotiating on his behalf with Pittsburgh because Appel’s family would have buried them in court, so they prey on those who have no recourse to fight back.

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        this is a democracy (sort of) and the fact that justice must be purchased is our fault.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        the NCAA’s worst nightmare has to be a rich kid who knows he’s not going pro and just decides to break some of these “absurd” rules so (s)he can take the NCAA to court. From what Klaw mentions, the Andy Oliver case had a lot of preliminary rulings go in the kid’s favor, which is why the NCAA settled.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        Exactly. I think, between Ed O’Bannon and the Northwestern football team, that the NCAA will break before this comes about, but it will happen eventually.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        Looks like we may have to hold out hope on O’Bannon b/c things don’t look good for NU.

        /cry

      • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2014 at 8:29 PM

        Supposedly Pat Fitzgerald’s testimony did more to help their case than their own.

  12. cuns2317 - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Btw not a philly fan and agree the rule is stupid

  13. onbucky96 - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Yeah, like teams banning Phillies scouts from facilities. D-bag move by Philly, only way I could excuse it is if the agent was Scott Boras.

  14. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    [stealing this from @phylan]

    So if the Phillies are such sticklers for rules, when do they return Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to Cuba? Rules are rules…

    • AlmostForty - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      I think, based on the early reports, that they would be happy to send him back…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        Touche’

  15. willclarkgameface - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    #PhillieDicks

    let’s get that hashtag going on Twitter.

  16. righthandofjustice - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    The fact is if it is a violation of NCAA rule for a college player to hire an advisor to negotiate with a team then it should also be a violation of MLB rule for an MLB team to deal with such a paid advisor.

    It takes two to tango. Either paid advisors should be allowed at the NCAA level or both sides on the bargaining table should be punished for violating such rule.

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