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Phillies scouting director defends himself in the wake of the Ben Wetzler incident

May 30, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

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You’ll recall that the Phillies drew a ton of criticism over the winter when it was revealed that Ben Wetzler, the Oregon State pitcher who the Phillies selected in last year’s draft, was suspended for 11 games this season. The reason: his ultimately unsuccessful negotiation with the Phillies was handled by an advisor/agent and the Phillies ratted him out to the NCAA about it.

Now, on the eve of the 2014 draft, Marti Wolver, the Phillies’ scouting director, is defending himself and the organization, saying people got their facts wrong and he and the Phillies did everything by the book:

“Every year Major League Baseball sends out an email and asks specific questions about players that did not sign, who they were represented by, and people send it back in,” he said. “Then it’s up to the NCAA whether or not they want to pursue it. That’s what we did. We sent the information in and left it at that and then it went from there.

“The NCAA did the investigation, not the Philadelphia Phillies.”

He says that people all around baseball have told him he did the right thing and that the only thing he regrets is selecting a player who had no intention of signing.

And frankly, this smells like total b.s. If it’s par for the course for teams to say which unsigned players used agents and it’s par for the course for MLB to share that with the NCAA, why aren’t more players suspended like Wetzler was? Everyone uses agents or advisors despite NCAA’s stupid and counterproductive rule against it. Only Wetzler got nailed. I suspect because, contrary to what Wolver says, the Phillies did or said something out of the ordinary in this case.

He says that the Phillies aren’t going to be harmed in the draft as a result of last year’s Wetzler thing. I suppose we’ll see. But it strikes me that any college player who is selected by the Phillies would be very wary of negotiating with them given what happened last year.

  1. DelawarePhilliesFan - May 30, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Funny you don’t hear about agent led boycotts anymore….

    That aside, this does indeed still look bad on the Phillies – and was very pointless to begin with.

  2. jmcnick - May 30, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    What would pass your smell test Craig?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 30, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      So you don’t find it fishy that “everyone turns in these college kids” and only a couple over the last 5+ years have been suspended by the NCAA? The same organization that levied fines against a team because 3 players had “pasta in excess of a permissible amount?”

      • Kevin S. - May 30, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Actually, Oklahoma self-reported that one and the NCAA said “no, that’s cool.” The issue was that ridiculous NCAA rules are why it was even considered a violation in the first place. Now, the Oklahoma offensive guard whose girlfriend had court side Thunder seats? Yeah, they made both of them sign an affidavit that she wasn’t dating him just because he’s a football player – otherwise, those seats were an impermissible benefit.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 30, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Actually, Oklahoma self-reported that one and the NCAA said “no, that’s cool.”

        The extra pasta came at a cost:
        To have their eligibility reinstated, the three had to donate $3.83 each (the cost of the pasta servings) to charities of their choice.

        http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10484741/oklahoma-sooners-penalized-three-student-athletes-eating-too-much-pasta

        And yeah the football player/court seats was absurd. Not as absurd as the homeless football player at Boise State that [initally] couldn’t receive outside help, to you know, find a place to live…

        http://deadspin.com/homeless-football-player-cant-receive-fans-aid-due-to-n-1576053862

  3. riotpunch26 - May 30, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Craig, you look like Dennis Franz and David Caruso had a love child.

    • summeroftony - May 30, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      Craig you look like a young Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

    • largebill - May 30, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      Hadn’t thought of Dennis Franz in years. He basically retired after NYPD Blue. Oddly enough just yesterday I was reading about him in a VFW magazine article on actors who had served in combat. Weird that he’d be so out of the limelight and then come up twice in a span of two days.

  4. Old Gator - May 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I dunno. To me, Craig looks like a Phillies logo in that picture.

  5. largebill - May 30, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Craig,

    There will be no carry over in negotiations with players drafted in the future. Each player is solely focused on himself and his contract. If the Phillies offer enough they will sign, if they don’t then the player won’t.

    • paperlions - May 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Any potential blowback won’t be related to signing players they draft, but to the willingness of players to provide information to them or to indicate their willingness to sign or the amount they are seeking. Players don’t have to provide medicals to teams, teams ask and the players give them or they don’t. Similarly, almost every team talks with guys they are considering before hand to determine if the guy is signable, what he might want, and his interest in your team (which makes him more signable). There were a number of agents that said they would council their clients that have NCAA eligibility remaining to give Philly the cold shoulder to avoid the possibility of a repeat performance.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 30, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Players don’t have to provide medicals to teams, teams ask and the players give them or they don’t.

        I think I made this mistake last year when this ordeal happened. According to Klaw, it’s an all or nothing proposition. The player provides his medicals to everyone or no one. Looking for the source but I think it was in one of his chats.

      • paperlions - May 30, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Huh. That always made more sense o me t(i.e. providing them to MLB with every team getting a copy if they want it), I could swear I read that somewhere…though it appears to have been wrong.

      • Cris E - May 30, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Exactly. If the kids is going to sign and the only issue is money then there will be no blowback. But if they want to work with any juniors they’re going to have to be awfully sincere sounding before any discussions get serious. That may not sound like much, but if you think of it as shrinking their draft pool by eliminating most college non-seniors it could have a serious impact.

  6. yahmule - May 30, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Good a place as any to talk about this. Anybody still thinking Dom Brown is going to turn it around is in for a disappointment. Pitchers quickly realized there’s no reason to throw this one-month wonder a strike and he is back to the old chase and flail. It would be very Phillie-like for them to demote Darin Ruf instead of Brown when Cliff Lee comes off the DL.

    • summeroftony - May 30, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Yeah he’s terrible.. The Phils are a mess tbh. They are probably about 5 years away from contending again. They need to blow up this old team and start over.

      • schmedley69 - May 30, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        The old guys are the only ones playing well. Get rid of the young guys (like Brown) who are clueless and can’t play at all. Makes no sense to dump the old guys for a truckload of garbage prospects (see all Cliff Lee trades).

    • schmedley69 - May 30, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      He’s a complete mess, at the plate and in the field. Former #1 prospect in all of baseball, which shows you how meaningless those prospect lists are.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - May 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Trade Brown. Now. He still could get something in return – though a lot less than it would have been this past off season

      • toodrunktotastethischicken - May 30, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        The best you’d get is a bag of battle practice balls and some Big League Chew at this point. He had a good month of May last year then cooled off tremendously.

  7. twpguy1964 - May 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Fact of the matter is, This kid and his agent probably thought, Hey lets play chicken, try to get a boat load of cash off of them and if not we’ll go back to school, bit ya in the a** didn’t it kid? Oh well, your agent is still getting paid, what he care! YOU hired an adviser, meaning agent, suck it up and act like a man!

    • paperlions - May 30, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Not familiar with the story or the actual facts about the matter, are you? Amazing how easy it is to make up a story based on complete ignorance.

      • twpguy1964 - May 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Difference between you and me, I can see through the B.S. and your not able too!

      • paperlions - May 30, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Uh huh. You don’t see through anything, you just don’t know what you are talking about.

        Amazing that you can see through this imaginary BS but no one else in the industry can. Wetzler isn’t even the only guy Philly turned in last year. They also turned in their 6th round pick, but he wasn’t punished by the NCAA.

        College juniors that are picked in those rounds don’t try to leverage their position for a big payday because the current system simply doesn’t allow for it. They are lucky to get full slot. A lot of those guys choose to go back for their senior year for whatever reason, and the only team to report any for the last several years was Philly. If the lies the Philly scouting director told were true, dozens to hundreds of players that are drafted and don’t sign would be punished by the NCAA every year.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 30, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        I’m sure he knows the difference between your and you’re though.

        And what BS did you “uncover”? That every single player hires and agent/adviser/lawyer to negotiate on his behalf? Great sleuthing there Sherlock? Is your next big reveal that teams often make deals with players before the draft as well?

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 30, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      You mean he tried to get himself the best deal possible like everyone else? And the Phillies reaction to him not taking what they offer was to rat him out for a rule that nobody wants enforced. Not even the Phillies?

    • raysfan1 - May 30, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      There is a salary cap for draft picks.
      He was a 5th rounder.
      Thus it is highly unlikely he would make a truly outrageous salary demand as his agent would be able to tell him what his slot value was.

      Agents are paid by commission, so…no, he’s not getting paid yet either.

      Wetzler is a 1st team all American this year and is the first Oregon State player to be selected as an all American three times. So he will probably be picked earlier in the draft this time around and make more money as a result.

  8. binarymath - May 30, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    “Now, on the eve of the 2014 draft, Marti Wolver, the Phillies’ scouting director…”

    is REALLY saying this:

    “OK all you HS hot-shots out there, listen up. You and your dads think you are the second coming of Ted Williams. For you, this is once in a lifetime. But we do this negotiation stuff for a living. And while you think you are the hottest prospect in baseball history, so do a thousand other kids and dads – EVERY YEAR!!!

    You want to bring in an agent to play us in your negotiations, fine. But don’t be surprised when the NCAA comes calling. It’s called leverage, bub. And we have it. And you do not.

    So if you are serious about this MLB thing, come to the table and make your best deal. If you can’t stare down a couple of 50-something scouts (who desperately WANT to sign you), that does not bode well when you have to stare down a Verlander fastball on the inside half.

    The preceding has been a public service announcement on behalf of Phillies scouting. Do have a nice day!”

    In other words, it is far more likely that the Phillies revived this story themselves, as opposed to any other team or agent wanting to gain advantage. Why would ANY agent deliberately alienate one of only 30 teams that can pay his commission?

    Simply a reminder of the golden rule – those with the gold make the rules. And in the case of the MLB draft, it is most certainly the teams, not the prospects.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 30, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      You want to bring in an agent to play us in your negotiations, fine. But don’t be surprised when the NCAA comes calling. It’s called leverage, bub. And we have it. And you do not.

      Is it hard getting through life without being able to read? Every single prospect brings someone in to negotiate. Why did the Phillies act like pricks for this particular kid?

      Read the article. Read the comments. Or just be ignorant and post stuff that’s been asked and answered.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 30, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        It’s amusing to read how many people don’t realize that every single 1st round pick has a real agent pretending to be an advisor only for these kids.

        It’s not a secret, there is a list available, Boras is on it many times.

        They all have agents, MLB always looks the other way, except this one time when a team decided to rat out a player for it.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 30, 2014 at 12:51 PM

        Last years draft

        1. Houston Astros – Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University – Advisor: Scott Boras
        2. Chicago Cubs – Kris Bryant, 3B, University of San Diego – Advisor: Scott Boras
        3. Colorado Rockies – Jonathan Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma – Advisor: Jay Franklin (BBI Sports Group)
        4. Minnesota Twins – Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X High School (Tex.) – Advisor: Darek Braunecker (Frontline Athlete Management)
        5. Cleveland Indians – Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville High School (Ga.) – Advisor: ACES
        6. Miami Marlins – Colin Moran, 3B, University of North Carolina – Advisor: Casey Close (Excel Sports Management)
        7. Boston Red Sox – Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle High School (Ind.) – Advisor: Darek Braunecker (Frontline Athlete Management)
        8. Kansas City Royals – Hunter Dozier, SS, Stephen F. Austin State University – Advisor: Darek Braunecker (Frontline Athlete Management)
        9. Pittsburgh Pirates – Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson High School (Ga.) – Advisor: Excel Sports Management
        10. Toronto Blue Jays – Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian High School (Ca.) – Advisor: Greg Genske (Legacy Sports Group)
        11. New York Mets – Dom Smith, 1B, Serra High School (Ca.) – Advisor: Danny Lozano (MVP Sports Group)
        12. Seattle Mariners – D.J. Peterson, 3B, New Mexico – Advisor: Excel Sports Management
        13. San Diego Padres – Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State – Advisor: Bo McKinnis (McKinnis Sports Management)
        14. Pittsburgh Pirates – Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood High School (Wash.) – Advisor: Matt Sosnick/Adam Karon (Sosnick Cobbe Sports)
        15. Arizona Diamondbacks – Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada – Advisor: Matt Sosnick/Adam Karon (Sosnick Cobbe Sports)
        16. Philadelphia Phillies – J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood High School (Ca.) – Advisor: Len Strelitz (Wasserman Media Group)
        17. Chicago White Sox – Tim Anderson, SS, East Central CC (Miss.) – Advisor: Reynolds Sports Management
        18. Los Angeles Dodgers – Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville – Advisor: ACES
        19. St. Louis Cardinals – Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga – Advisor: Randy Rowley (Rowley Sports Management)
        20. Detroit Tigers – Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida – Advisor: B.B. Abbott (Jet Sports Management)
        21. Tampa Bay Rays – Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington High School (S.C.) – Advisor: Frontline Athlete Management
        22. Baltimore Orioles – Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys High School (N.C.) – Advisor: Beverly Hills Sports Council
        23. Texas Rangers – Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts – Advisor: Jason Wood (Arland Sports)
        24. Oakland Athletics – Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West High School (Tx.) – Advisor: B.B. Abbott (Jet Sports Management)
        25. San Francisco Giants – Christian Arroyo, SS, University of Florida – Advisor: Emil Bodenstein (O’Connell Sports Management)
        26. New York Yankees – Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame – Advisor: Frontline Athlete Management
        27. Cincinnati Reds – Philip Ervin, OF, Samford – Advisor: Michael Moye (Moye Sports Associates)
        28. St. Louis Cardinals – Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph High School (N.J.) – Advisor: Excel Sports Management
        29. Tampa Bay Rays – Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas – Advisor: Jason Wood (Arland Sports)
        30. Texas Rangers – Travis Demeritte, SS, Winder Barrow High School (Ga.) – Advisor: ACES
        31. Atlanta Braves – Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State – Advisor: SFX
        32. New York Yankees – Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State – Advisor: PSI Sports Management
        33. New York Yankees – Ian Clarkin, LHP, James Madison High School (Ca.) – Advisor: John Boggs and Associates
        Competitive Balance Round A
        34. Kansas City Royals – Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State – Advisor: Scott Boras
        35. Miami Marlins – Matt Krook, LHP, St. Ignatius High School (Calif.) – Advisor: Matt Sosnick/Adam Karon (Sosnick Cobbe Sports)
        36. Arizona Diamondbacks – Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall University – Advisor: PSI Sports Management
        37. Baltimore Orioles – Josh Hart, Parkview High School (Ga.) – Advisor: SFX
        38. Cincinnati Reds – Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Cal State Fullerton – Advisor: Scott Boras
        39. Detroit Tigers – Corey Knebel, RHP, Texas – Advisor: Excel Sports Management

  9. kinggator - May 30, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Phailures!! LOL

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