It seems that Tony La Russa has been waiting for just the right time to give his statement on the negotiations with Jeff Weaver. Seattle reporter Larry Stone was in town today, and asked about the new Mariner. TLR was ready to comment. Herewith, his response. The first question was simply whether TLR was surprised that Weaver ended up signing the deal he did.
"I would not have been surprised if, as his agent was saying, he had three years and all this money. He even said he had four years. If he had taken a deal that he couldn’t refuse, but to take a one-year deal, yeah, I’m surprised. But in the end, I’m not positive, I can speculate as to what Scott (Boras) was telling him about what we were saying and it certainly wasn’t helpful. But in the end it’s Jeff’s decision. That’s what he decided.
"But I know there was — Scott was less than forthcoming. He kept talking about different messages that Jeff was getting from me and from Dunc versus what the organization was sending with their offers. Exactly what I told Jeff was, to make sure there’s no misunderstanding, you and your agent negotiate this deal and however it goes, it goes. But we want you to be part of the competition this year. That’s what I told him. We want you. Because he asked Dunc one time, how come you won’t give me three or four years, and Dunc told him, ‘Because you had a horse (blank) year.’ We want you and we believe in you. But you’ve got to come back and re-establish. That is, to me, totally consistent with Walt and Bill (DeWitt).
"I don’t understand how agents make misrepresentations and get away with it. The union just, ‘OK, OK, what’s the big deal?’ But if one general manager calls another general manager just to check, that’s tampering. I don’t understand how that’s possible. At the same time, I don’t understand how a player doesn’t take control. And Jeff was very impressive with not just his competing but his thought process. So he decided, but I’m disappointed and I really don’t understand it. But he had his reasons.
"First of all, everything that we did for him, he did for us. As far as I’m concerned, at the end of the season, we were even. No guilt trip was dropped on him, no obligation, nothing. He helped us win and we helped him. But I felt like if what he had done meant somebody gave him a contract like what Jeff got or Jason got, and we weren’t in a position to do that, I could understand it. But to go for one year, I don’t understand. And my suspicions are not the most positive about Scott. And Jeff, I have a lot of respect and affection for him, but I would be curious, in the end, about his decision.
(do you think he will get back to old levels?)
"Yeah, I do. Because I think Dave Duncan is great, but I think there are a lot of people in baseball that are effective coaches and managers, stuff like that. And Seattle’s got that situation. So yeah, I think he’ll be fine."