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MLB player agent Scott Boras "despises what he has seen" from MLB's new draft rules that place "significant limitations on clubs' spending," according to Nightengale & White of USA TODAY. Boras said, "There was all forms of artificial behavior in the draft. The purpose of the draft is that it's supposed to create parity in the game. You want teams with the greatest needs to get the best available talent. That has not been achieved in this draft. It's created a mockery." Nightengale & White note that as part of MLB's new CBA, there is a "cap on total money paid through the first 10 rounds of the draft." The new system "might have wreaked havoc on the very top of the draft." Stanford P Mark Appel, who is being advised by Boras, "was forecast to be the No. 1 pick in the draft." But the Astros, with the first pick, instead selected SS Carlos Correa out of Puerto Rico. Astros Owner Jim Crane said yesterday that the club "had reached an oral agreement with Correa, who is expected to receive a bonus" in the $4.0-4.5M range, far less than the $7.2M slot for the first pick. The Pirates selected Appel with the eighth pick, and the "plummet lowers Appel's slot" to $2.9M. It is "unknown whether Appel will consider signing with the Pirates." Cubs draftee OF Albert Almora, the first Boras client selected this year at No. 6 overall, said that his "main priority" was his scholarship offer from the Univ. of Miami. Nightengale & White: "Translation: The $3.25 million figure for that draft slot probably won't be enough" (USA TODAY, 6/7).
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Crane suggested yesterday that his club's under-slot agreement with Correa "will help the Astros sign some of the more demanding high school players they drafted." Crane said, "We've approved the amount, and we hope that he'll sign this agreement and pass the physical." Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said that no deal "was in place before the draft (such an agreement would be against the rules), but he got a good understanding of what it would take." In Houston, Zachary Levine noted the Astros have $11.2M "to put toward their first 11 picks, with any overages costing them a tax and/or forfeiture of picks." Anything under the slot value of $7.2M "for the first pick can help them keep tough-to-sign players" (CHRON.com, 6/6).
HUFFING AND PUFFING: In Chicago, Phil Rogers notes while the Cubs "paid as much due diligence to Almora as anyone else in the 2012 draft," President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer and Senior VP Jason McLeod "apparently missed one or two factors." Either Almora "doesn't want to play for the Cubs or he doesn't care how he comes across to Cubs fans, and neither is a good thing." But Rogers writes, "I don't think anyone should overreact, because Almora almost certainly is going to sign with the Cubs before the July 13 deadline. That's what I think, anyway. But it's always smart to listen when Boras -- or, in this case, a Boras client -- is talking. Almora has taken the first step into the territory of J.D. Drew/Philadelphia Phillies, circa 1998, and nobody wants to go there." Boras was "beside himself after the draft spending limits were announced in November." Rogers: "So how far will he go to challenge the changes the players union, long under the influence of the most powerful agents, signed off on?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/7).
The Wegmans LPGA Championship begins today at the Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., but the two-year contract the tour signed with the course and title sponsor Wegmans “expires Sunday afternoon, and the future of the tournament is very much up in the air,” according to Sal Maiorana of the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE. Tournament Coordinator Linda Hampton said, “We haven’t negotiated anything because we opted to wait until after the 2012 tournament week to do it. In the 31 years I’ve been doing this there’s been a new contract almost every five years, and most of those were negotiated during tournament week and we were taking away from being able to enjoy the week that we just worked a year to put on. So we’re letting this experience speak for itself and that’s our strategy going into negotiations with the LPGA.” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, who “thinks the sides might sit down sometime in July, was fine with that decision.” Maiorana notes the LPGA, Wegmans and Locust Hill in ’10 “agreed to a two-year contract extension, mainly because the LPGA wanted to keep its options open.” But now the LPGA “may want to find a more visible and cosmopolitan city than Rochester to become the permanent host.” Maiorana asks, “With a great sponsor, great course, great history, tradition and support, what more could the LPGA possibly want for its own major championship?” The “most interesting aspect of the coming negotiations will be the answer to this question: What if the LPGA decides to move the championship out of Rochester, but asks Wegmans and Locust Hill to return to hosting a regular tour stop?” Tournament co-Chair Jerry Stahl said, “Anytime in life you move back from where you’ve been, it becomes a tough situation, so yes, it would be a challenge” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 6/7).
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff yesterday “approved the sale of alcoholic beverages inside stadiums" ahead of the country hosting the '14 FIFA World Cup, according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Alcohol sales have been "the most contentious issue" leading up to the event, and getting resolution to the issue “was a demand by FIFA because Budweiser is a major sponsor.” FIFA will “have to negotiate the sale of alcohol inside stadiums" with some local governments. Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has said that FIFA's “need to deal with local governments shouldn't be considered a problem since the states and cities signed agreements with the governing body and promised to abide by its demands" when Brazil was picked as host in '07 (AP, 6/6). Beer sales have been “illegal at football matches" in Brazil since '03. The ban was introduced “as part of measures to tackle violence among rival fans and hooliganism” (BBC NEWS, 6/6).
Shortly before the NFL on Monday locked out the 121 members of the NFL Referees Association, a league exec sent out a memo to scouts asking again for their help in finding replacement refs and officials, and asking them to target college football and other football officials who had retired or had been passed over for promotions. NFL Recruiting Officials Dir Ron Baynes wrote in the Saturday, June 2, letter to scouts, “All applying officials should be in good health and look the part of a fit and capable official.” Baynes sent out a similar memo to scouts earlier this year, according to a report by Fox Sports in May. Baynes, in the June 2 memo, wrote that the league was seeking to interview the non-NFL officials and referees as part of a “contingency officiating replacement plan” in case a CBA is not reached. Baynes wrote that the NFL was “targeting” a certain type of official and listed seven attributes the league was looking for, including: "(1) An Official who [has] recently retired from a successful career in College officiating and is still physically able to officiate at a high level of competency. (2) Lower division college officials, professional league officials and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked." Baynes also wrote that the officials should be prepared to participate in an intensive training program; be able to pass an extensive background check; and provide a statement from their personal physician stating they are capable of the physical expectations of the work. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello declined to make Baynes available for an interview. Aiello said in an e-mail, “We are hiring experienced college football officials from all levels.” NFLRA General Counsel Michael Arnold did not respond to a text for comment on this story.