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interview_with_bb_abbott_agent_for_chipper_jones_and_brian_mccann_55_game_thread | May | 2009 Articles

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Interview with B.B. Abbott, agent for Chipper Jones and Brian McCann (5/5 Game Thread)

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B.B. Abbott, managing member of Jet Sports Management, and agent for a number of past and present Braves players (see question 5), agreed to answer a few of our questions. Thanks to c. shorter, KomaGawa, GM, desert, scottandwtb, and Stephen Keck for suggesting questions to be asked. As I said before, B.B.'s known for making himself available to fans and for coming out and telling you what he thinks -- a bit like his client, Chipper Jones. (This is also the game thread for the second and final game of our Mets miniseries.)

1. First and foremost, can you give us a Brian McCann update? What's the best-case, what's the worst-case, and what's the most likely scenario for him this year? Is this a common problem for people who have undergone LASIK surgery? When can Braves fans expect to see him back to his old self again?

Brian has been fitted for some custom Oakleys that he will begin wearing in games in Gwinnett on Wednesday night. If everything goes well, he will meet the team Friday in Philadelphia, which is the day he is eligible to come off the DL. If things do not go well with the Oakleys, he will more than likely undergo a Lasik surgery to get his eyes back to where they were prior to the season. Re-enhancements are very common so either scenario is a comfortable situation. He simply wants to try to get back in the line-up as quickly as possible, and there is a chance that the Lasik surgery could delay his return because of vision recovery time.
2. Same question, but for Chipper -- he's already missed games with a thumb injury, and we've gotten very familiar with the nagging foot and leg ailments he's suffered over the years. How's his health?

Feet are not a problem anymore at all. The thumb was something that nagged him at the end of spring training when he got jammed on two separate at-bats. It was something that he simply needed to rest for a few days before it got worse. He has completely recovered from that and he feels good. No injuries, nagging or otherwise, to report right now. Feels great.
3. Another one of our readers asks whether Chipper is considering trying to work as a hitting coach or manager after his playing career ends. Also, does Chipper golf lefty, righty, or switch depending on the shot?

Chipper is a straight RH golfer. The LH golf swing is pretty ugly, honestly! I think the next 6 or 8 years will just be a "play it by ear" deal for Chipper. Chipper will never be the type of player that hangs on after he feels his time is done. He is going to have no problem transitioning into private life. I think he will take a year or two off and then decide what he wants to do with the rest of his life. I can't see him moving too far away from baseball, so I think he might be involved at some level. That level simply might be as a Little League coach! I know he loves watching his sons play, and he hasn't gotten a chance to do that the last 10 years.
4. Many of our reader questions had to do with the Rafael Furcal situation this past offseason. What were your thoughts on the situation?

I have the utmost respect for Frank Wren and John Schuerholz. However, I know what happens with free agency and client management. It makes it extremely hard when your client is in another country and you are trying to correspond with him. It is difficult and inappropriate for me to speak to what transpired in this particular situation, because I was not a party to any of the conversations. I can honestly say that I can understand both sides of the coin. I unequivocally believe Frank and John when they give you their version of what occurred. That being said, as an agent and attorney, you are ultimately bound to pursue the interests and desires of your client. Accountability ultimately rests with Rafael Furcal.
5. More specific questions on Furcal: regarding a term sheet, if you received a faxed term sheet from a team, would you regard that as binding? Or would you still feel, as Furcal's agents did, that you could continue to shop for a better offer? In the agent industry, was the behavior of agent Paul Kinzer and of Arn Tellem and Wasserman Group viewed as justifiable, or as unjustified?

Again, I was not a party to this situation. I can tell you that it works both ways depending on the team and the communications. My experience is that if an agent requests, some teams will give a term sheet so that an offer is in writing and can be discussed with the client. Obviously, it can be shopped under these circumstances. My experience with the Braves is that the Term Sheet is something that is only produced when a tentative deal has been reached. But again, it would be inappropriate for me to speak to what happened here, because I was not a party to these negotiations.
6. Other readers wanted to ask about prospects. At Jet, you've represented a number of Braves prospects over the years. Is that still the case? What do you think about the trends in slot money and guaranteed MLB contracts for draft picks, and how might this year's economy affect that? How are the new draft rules likely to affect future drafts?

I represent quite a few Braves players, both present and past. I now represent Chipper, Brian, Brandon Jones, Todd Redmond, Jonny Venters, Dustin Evans and Cody Johnson. I also represent former Braves such as Macay McBride, Chris Resop, and Chuck James.

I think certain teams will use the slotting system more than others. There have been teams that try to maximize their draft, stock their farm systems, and commit extra money to do so. It has always been interesting to me that smaller market teams are typically the ones that try to follow the recommended slotting systems. These are the same teams that have no money to spend in free agency. What ultimately happens is that these teams have no real money to make their team better during free agency, and they are hamstringing themselves in the draft by only drafting players that will sign for their recommended slot. Therefore, they are not getting the best players in the draft or in free agency, which typically will be a recipe for disaster.

I think it is silly to think that the economy will not affect the draft, as it did free agency. However, I still think the top of the draft will have its premium players that will be paid accordingly, much like happened in free agency this past off-season. The other areas in the draft, and more specifically with certain teams, will probably be affected more.
7. In recent years, a number of players, like Brian McCann and Evan Longoria, have signed long-term contracts very early in their careers, buying out their arb years and their first few years of free agency. Scott Boras is known among fans for not doing deals like that. How do you counsel a young player regarding a deal like that? Do you think the practice is likely to continue increasing?

As I mentioned earlier, the agent ultimately is bound to follow the direction of the client. It is my job to show any talented young player what he is potentially giving up by signing a longer term deal.

With Brian, I showed him what he would potentially be giving up and it was a significant sum of money. If my only focus was to get him the most money possible, this deal would have made no sense. But Brian was coming off of a injury that could have been career threatening in another scenario, and this deal allowed him to be set for life by the age of 29. He knew when he signed this that he would possibly be leaving millions of dollars on the table. But, he loved the city and the team, and he wanted to secure his future. He accomplished his goals, and like I said, it made him happy. It allowed him to focus on his game and improving himself as a baseball player. We always talk about the effect (mentally) that thi s deal had on his game. We firmly believe that it allowed him to relax and be who he is on the field.
8. How's Brandon Jones doing? With Garret Anderson's DL stay, is he likely to get more playing time? Where does he fit into the Braves' plans?

Brandon is doing fine. Garret will be coming off the DL in the next few days and I assume Brandon will go back to AAA. He is out of options after this year and I think he will face one of two scenarios this off-season: 1) He will come to spring training and either make the team and be a major contributor next year, or 2) He will be traded this off-season as part of a package to bring in a big RH bat or other impact player. He is still young and I believe he has a bright future in this game. I do think that the Braves still believe in him as a player.
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