It was always heat of the moment moral indignation more than rational thought that said the Phillies would somehow suffer significant consequences for whatever role they played in the NCAA suspension of Oregon State Ben Wetzler for using an agent during their negotiations with him last year. Under the new CBA, draftees have very little bargaining power, and if they want to play professional baseball, they will have to do so on Major League Baseball's terms.
So it isn't a surprise that Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever has experienced very little blowback for reporting Wetzler to the NCAA last year.
Here's what he had to say about the situation:
Q: Has there been any blowback?
A: You know what, there hasn't been. And I knew you would ask the question sooner or later, and I completely understand, you wouldn't believe the number of people in professional baseball who have come up to me and our group over the course of the year and say, thank you for what you did. You guys aren't the bad guys in this situation.
We've always operated with integrity and we've been open and up front with kids and their advisers and we will continue to do so. We've got a tremendous reputation, always have and always will. It has not hurt us a lick, because each guy is an individual, every player is different, as it is in the major leagues. We've had nothing but good responses. I know a lot of negative publicity was drawn out of that. I realize a lot of people rushed to conclusions and judgment without knowing all the facts that went on, and we decided to stay out of it. it really was in the hands of the NCAA. So we let them do their job. We gave them the information they asked for and we let them do their job. As I said, to this point,w e really have not had any problems with agents or players, families.
EDITOR'S NOTE: When the story broke, reporters made repeated attempts to get the Phillies to share their side of the story for several days, all of which they denied.
Q: Do the rules need to change?
A: I think a lot of rules need to change, Bob. I think the NCAA needs to stand up and say, look, all these kids are represented, they have agents and advisors, if you are going to have rules, then enforce them, and if you are going to not, then don't have them. There was an incident in 2011 in the draft with the Toronto Blue Jays with a kid in my backyard in Omaha, a left handed pitchers named (something), that he got suspended for 35 games at the University of Nebraska his freshman year. I know because i live there, and nothing much was written about that, it kind of blew over, nobody paid attention. It's happened. I was part of the White Sox with AJ Hinch when we took AJ in the second round out of Oklahoma. To answer your question, if you are going to have rules, I think you should enforce them.
Q: Do you have any regrets with the way you handled the situation?
A: The only regret I have is taking players that had no intent of signing. That's the only regret I have.
Q: Did you reach out to the NCAA?
A: Every year Major League Baseball sends out an email and asks specific questions about players that did not sign, who they were represented by, and every people send it back in. Then it's up to the NCAA whether or not they want to pursue it. That's what we did. We sent the information in and left it at that and then it went from there.
Q: Did you feel like the agents were not following through on what they were saying?
A: No, not at all. In this situation, both of the agents and advisors did a tremendous job. Both of them did their job. Both of them, one chased me out of a hotel in Portland half an hour before the deadline and said he's making a mistake. And I said he sure is. This is a good deal. I think they did their job. And for the most part most agents and advisors do their job. I think the Twins had one. Several other teams had grievances with players. And the players walked away. Now I think part of that is because of the coaches speak to them afterward and convince them, if you come back you'll be our Friday night guy. If you come back you'll be our four-hole hitter. If you come back you'll do this, you'll do that. Some of the kids listen. Some of them don't. I think that's kind of what happened here.
Q: Any regret with Monda? He's going to medical school. Not even playing baseball. Misunderstanding there?
The NCAA did the investigation, not the Philadelpha Phillies. That's one. Two, as I said before, the only regret I have is taking players who wouldn't sign and had no intentions of signing. We were led to believe, prior to the draft, that both of these gentlemen, according to their agents, would sign. Subsequently, that's why we took them. We offered what we offered and both accepted and then decided against it after that. Again, my only regret is we could have taken other players who would be in this organization. There's no compensation and with the new rules the way they are, guess what guys? You can't use that money. I can't use it in the back half to sign Jarred Cosart or Jonathan Singleton or any of those kids. I can't use that money. So all I ask for is for people to be honest and upfront. It's very plain and simple. If you don't want to sign, tell us. If you do, let's try to reach an agreement and let's move forward. Plain and simple.