Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sandoval contract talks cut off partly due to shady agents

Like you guys, I'm a bit giddy over the Giants' hot start. They're crushing the ball everywhere, and it's nice to know that it's Brandon Belt's world and that we're just living in it.

Other than some early concerns about our rotation, I'm most concerned by the Pablo Sandoval contract situation, and hope that this doesn't turn into a sour-tasting circus.

Gustavo Vazquez while still with Morgan Advisory Group.
Their website is down for construction as they lick their 
wounds and pick up the pieces.
As you know, he is in a contract year. He certainly knows it because he lost a bunch of weight, and has (mis?) placed his trust in his team of agents-- who themselves are about as shady as the absurd 5 year, $90MM contract demands they're making.

Sandoval is demanding Hunter Pence's contract as a STARTING point. Having the gall and huevos to even start there is reason for alarm-- and we're not even talking about Panda's on-field play and weight issues. Secondly, Pablo has chosen a couple of real winners to represent him, and they're out for a payday just as much as The Panda is.

Sandoval is represented by Gustavo Vazquez and Michel Velasquez, who are not exactly the type of people you work with "in good faith". Most agents are by nature, serpentine sleaze merchants and fly-by-night shadesters, but most manage to keep their back alley dealings out of the papers.

These two are not such agents.

From ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:

Gustavo Vasquez and partner Michel Velasquez are defendants in a civil action suit filed in South Florida District Court by Morgan Advisory Group of California. The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages for breach of contract and fiduciary duty and fraud, among several other allegations. 
The suit alleges that Vasquez illegally conspired to use his new company against the Morgan group by "diverting away clients, misappropriating funds, and interfering with and harming the present and future business relationships between MAG and its former and current clients." 
The suit also seeks damages for baseball equipment, computers and other items that the defendants failed to return.
"This lawsuit is not about retribution or payback," said Darren Heitner, the lawyer for the plaintiff. "It's about seeking just relief for damages that were caused to Morgan Advisory Group. Ryan Morgan believed in these guys and pumped money into their fraudulent scheme, and the result is that he's been left without a baseball division."
 Vasquez left Morgan Advisory Group last year to form SPS Sports Group and took Sandoval, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez, Pittsburgh pitcher Jeanmar Gomez, Atlanta reliever Luis Avilan and numerous other players with him to his new agency. 
So, essentially, these two guys decided to go out for themselves, and began an elaborate clandestine exit strategy that involved poaching every baseball client Morgan represented, equipment, contacts,  and property. Most of all, the suit alleges that these two dynamite individuals were fraudulently siphoning money to themselves in order to get their "business" up and running.

That's called embezzlement, larceny, and being total jerks.

This is what the Giants are dealing with: an immature, inconsistent player represented by scumbags. No wonder Brian Sabean said he's "at the end of his rope". Can anyone blame him? He has to talk to these guys. They're about as reasonable as a mentally ill junkie ranting and raving on a corner in the Tenderloin.

It's not even Panda's play, or talent, or anything else baseball related that's aggravating about the situation. It's more about his poor choices over the length of his still young career. Sticking with these sleazards to negotiate the first big contract of his career is going to end badly; whether it is because these guys trick him into signing away too much of his money, or him ending up on some lousy team and eating his way out of the league. They are blatantly using Sandoval to make their first big splash with their new agency, and he's their meal ticket to fancy cars and Cuban cigars.

Of course it could turn out okay, but the combination of Sandoval and these guys just seems less than ideal.

According to the Houston Chronicle, MLB puts no commission limits on player agents, and on average, MLB agents make between 4-10% of a player's contract:

An agent’s commission varies, based on the sport he represents. Generally, a sports agent earns between 4 and 10 percent of an athlete’s playing contract, though some leagues place limits on what percentage an agent can charge in commission. For example, the National Football League states that an agent can't receive more than 3 percent of player salaries. The National Basketball Association places the limit at 3 percent too. Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League don't have any limits on agent commissions, however.
Whaddayou wanna bet that the Vaz/Velas Dream Team take the full 10% commission (or more) on this $90MM Sandoval is supposedly worth. Yeah. Pretty solid bet. Then they're going to take that $9MM, buy giant houses in Miami Beach and swindle other impressionable Latin American talents into giving up too big a chunk of their salaries.

Michel "Michael" Velasquez (left).
Not to say any of this behavior is new. These guys are certainly far from the first to operate like this-- Albert Pujols's agent Dan Lozano comes to mind, the man dubbed "The King of Sleaze Mountain" in a revealing Deadspin article.

It makes me begin to think that Scott Boras isn't so bad after all. At least we know what we're dealing with when it comes to him.

I do really apologize for pissing all over our hot start parade, but there's a fire smoldering underneath the surface, and I'm just trying to put it out a little bit before it starts burning out of control. I also want you all to prepare yourselves for the possibility that this is the last year you see Panda in a Giants uniform. In the end, it's all about the money and good business. But in Sandoval's agents' case-- just about the money. Good business be damned.

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