ATLANTA - Some agents have quietly accepted the fact that most teams have assumed a recession mentality and no longer are doling out long-term, $15-million-a-year contracts.
And then there's Scott Boras.
Baseball's most powerful and relentless agent says the Braves and other teams are providing false or misleading information about revenues in order to increase "profit-taking."
The Braves say they've had annual losses of $15-million or more in recent years, and that's a big reason they're reducing player payroll from $95-million in 2003 to $80-million or less in 2004.
"To say the Braves are losing money is fictional," said Boras, who represents such high-profile players as $25-million-a-year Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez and free agents Greg Maddux, Kevin Millwood and Ivan Rodriguez.
He says owners are cutting payrolls to increase profits.
Richard Levin, Major League Baseball's senior vice president of public relations, said "all our books are available to the Players Association, by contract, according to the collective-bargaining agreement. They have a right to order an independent audit if they wish, if they have a problem, and they've never chosen to do so."
Boras insists that baseball has never been in a better financial situation, and says there's no justification for all the reduced payrolls and free-agent salaries, other than to raise profits.
"The overall structure of the game is very healthy. And then ironically, we've got the transference (revenue sharing) of about $160-million that goes from the top to bottom teams, with the self-proclaimed need that we want to have parity. That was the dynamic, and players agreed to it.
"Now we're at a place where clubs are getting $20- to $22-million in revenue sharing, teams like Milwaukee, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Plus getting $17-million (per team) from the TV packages. These clubs are making close to $40-million off those two elements alone, yet not even projecting payrolls that exceed that.
"Milwaukee is projecting a $30-million payroll, same thing in Tampa. There's not even an attempt at parity."
Ex-Eckerd player arrested
ST. PETERSBURG - Josh Beauregard, a former star outfielder for Eckerd College who now is in the Oakland Athletics' minor-league system, was arrested Saturday for disorderly intoxication at a bar on Central Avenue.
Beauregard, 22, was leaving the Garden around 1 a.m. Saturday when employees told him he couldn't take his bottle of beer with him, police said. He refused to leave it inside the restaurant at 217 Central Ave., police said.
After an employee repeatedly told Beauregard to leave the beer, police said, he threw the glass bottle against a wall.
Records show Beauregard, who lives in St. Pete Beach, bonded out of Pinellas County Jail Saturday on $250.
MARLINS: Outfielder Gerald Williams agreed to a minor-league contract and was invited to spring training.
METS: The team is awaiting an answer from shortstop Kazuo Matsui on whether he'll accept a three-year deal for about $20-million. The Mets think they will get an answer today or Monday.
PADRES: Rod Beck will be back, this time as Trevor Hoffman's setup man, after agreeing to a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1.85-million. Beck, 35, considered an offer from Colorado. Beck jogs out to the mound while Metallica's Enter Sandman blasts from the sound system, and Hoffman takes the mound to AC/DC's Hells Bells. "It'll be headbanging galore," GM Kevin Towers said.