Pirates Notebook: Coonelly faults Boras for Royals' involvement

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The Pirates have been charged in some corners with having dragged the Kansas City Royals into the Pedro Alvarez dispute, by virtue of last week citing the Royals' negotiations with their first-round draft pick, Eric Hosmer, as an example of a similar case.

Now, Hosmer, who had a signed contract with a $6 million bonus and was playing in the minors, has been ordered to sit out by Major League Baseball.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who wrote the news release Wednesday that mentioned Kansas City and Hosmer, said he regrets that the Royals have been included. But he placed blame on Scott Boras, the agent for Alvarez and Hosmer.

Minor-league report
Saturday's games
  • INDIANAPOLIS (67-75) lost to Louisville, 4-1. RHP Jimmy Barthmaier (3-1, 3.53) allowed one run and two hits in 62/3 innings. He struck out seven, walked two. CF Andrew McCutchen (.282) went 2 for 4. .
  • ALTOONA (63-77) beat Reading, 5-4, in 11 innings. RHP Yoslan Herrera (6-9, 3.46) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. CF Jose Tabata (.267) went 2 for 4 and had the winning single in the 11th. He had a double, two walks and two RBIs.
  • LYNCHBURG (56-80) beat Salem, 4-0. RHP Matt McSwain (2-2, 5.02) pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed seven hits. He struck out three.3B Eddie Prasch (.267) went 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs.
  • HICKORY (51-86) won at Greenville, 7-6. RHP Emilis Guerrero (2-3, 5.85) allowed five runs and nine hits in 61/3 innings. SS Jordy Mercer (.251) went 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs.
  • STATE COLLEGE (16-51) lost at Auburn, 4-3. RHP Wilson Ortiz (0-2, 5.09) allowed one run and four hits in four innings. 3B Jeremy Farrell (.310) hit his first home run and went 2 for 4 with a double.

"Eric Hosmer was dragged into the process by Mr. Boras, not the Pirates," Coonelly said. "The Pirates feel badly that Kansas City's agreement with Hosmer is now subject to the legal proceeding initiated by Mr. Boras, but that is a necessary consequence of Mr. Boras' actions, and he knew when he asked the union to file a grievance in an effort to renegotiate Alvarez's contract that he was putting Hosmer's contract at risk."

The Royals have not expressed any public dissatisfaction with the Pirates, but Coonelly took the step of phoning Kansas City officials, anyway, to explain his side.

Boras has said he will not discuss the Alvarez matter publicly until after the Sept. 10 arbitration hearing.

Could Alvarez sign?

Given MLB's action against Hosmer, it might call into question: Would Alvarez, if he chose, be allowed to sign the contract to which he verbally agreed -- before or after the midnight, Aug. 15 deadline, depending on the viewpoint -- in advance of the Sept. 10 arbitration hearing?

The answer is uncertain, according to one knowledgeable source: Hosmer signed his contract, so that could be precedent. It also could be weighed that, if Alvarez signed his contract, the union might consider withdrawing its grievance.

At any rate, there is no indication of a signing before the hearing.

Arbitration precedent

Research by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, published yesterday, cited the case of another Boras client, J.D. Drew during the 1997 draft, as a possible key precedent in the Alvarez case.

Boras tried to declare Drew a free agent by having him sign with an independent-league team -- as opposed to with an affiliated minor league -- to make him a professional and, thus, ineligible. MLB then changed its rule to include independent leagues.

The arbitrator in that grievance ruled that MLB was wrong to change the rule but, because he could not rule specifically on Drew because he was not a union member. The specific decision on Drew was to be made by MLB, which, not surprisingly, ruled him eligible.

As Goldstein wrote, "Keep that authority precedent in mind when trying to think through the Alvarez situation. The union carefully worded its statement to clarify that the grievance was not filed for any one player."

Buried treasure

• Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was out of the starting lineup last night for the third time in 10 games, replaced by Luis Rivas. Sanchez has no injury and is batting .329 this month.

Brandon Moss was bumped up to No. 2 in the order for the first time, but Pirates manager John Russell made that sound like a cameo. The idea was to try to pressure Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan early, with six left-handed bats atop the order.

• Third baseman Andy LaRoche, out in favor of Doug Mientkiewicz, took extra grounders in the afternoon as infield instructor Tony Beasley addressed his footwork.


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