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Braves brass slam agents

POSTED: December 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

BY CHARLES ODUM

The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Braves president John Schuerholz has vowed to never again do business with Rafael Furcal’s agents, whom Schuerholz accused in a newspaper interview of conducting "despicable" dealings with the team.

Schuerholz and Braves general manager Frank Wren were quoted as saying the Wasserman Media Group negotiated dishonestly by taking the team’s signed terms of agreement sheet for Furcal to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who then reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday to re-sign the shortstop.

Wren has said he believed the request by agent Paul Kinzer for a term sheet signed by the Braves meant an agreement had been reached.

Schuerholz said he would never make an offer for any other player represented by the agency, which includes Kinzer and agents Arn Tellem, Adam Katz and Joel Wolfe. Tellem heads the baseball practice.

"Having been in this business for 40-some years, I’ve never seen anybody treated like that," Schuerholz was quoted as saying in Friday’s editions of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"The Atlanta Braves will no longer do business with that company — ever. I told Arn Tellem that we can’t trust them to be honest and forthright. I told him that in all my years, I’ve never seen any (agency) act in such a despicable manner.

"It was disgusting and unprofessional. We’re a proud organization, and we won’t allow ourselves to be treated that way. I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. Take the name of the Atlanta Braves off their speed dial. They can deal with the other 29 clubs, and we’ll deal with the other hundred agents."

Schuerholz did not respond to a telephone message left Friday by The Associated Press.

Wren wouldn’t say if the Braves would stick by their stance of refusing to conduct business with Tellem’s clients.

"I’m not going to revisit it," Wren told The Associated Press on Friday. "John and I discussed it. It just doesn’t do any good to keep this story alive. We’re moving forward. I’m not going to go backward."

The players’ association is likely to maintain that a team cannot boycott players based on which agent they retain.

"I’ve been in touch with Arn Tellem," said Michael Weiner, the general counsel for the players’ association. "I intend to be in touch next week with the commissioner’s office to make sure the Braves are made aware of their obligations under the Basic Agreement."

Tellem defended the actions of Kinzer.

"There was never an agreement reached between Rafael Furcal and the Atlanta Braves," Tellem said in a statement Thursday. "In fact, the Braves were fully aware that Furcal was not prepared to make a decision but had requested an opportunity to sleep on it before deciding."

Furcal, who played with the Braves from 2000-05, on Wednesday accepted a three-year contract with the Dodgers worth at least $30 million.

Kinzer was traveling from Atlanta on Friday to join Furcal in Los Angeles and could not be reached. Schuerholz was quoted by the Journal-Constitution as saying he "expressed my great disappointment" in a telephone conversation with Tellem on Wednesday night.

"I watched as Frank shared with me the circumstances of his negotiations with Furcal negotiations to the point where we increased our offer, and he (Kinzer) then asked for a signed term sheet to be sent over," Schuerholz told the paper. "We never got that signed term sheet faxed back to us, and we later found out why because they took that offer and shopped it."

Tellem said in his statement that he hopes to negotiate for other players with Atlanta in the future.

"We hope that once emotions have subsided, the Braves will act in a manner consistent with not only their obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and the National Labor Relations Act, but also the best interests of the franchise," he said. "In short, we would not want this incident to color their better judgment."

Braves relief pitcher Peter Moylan is a Wasserman client.



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