Interview with Pro Star Management on winter meetings, Aaron Cook, Brett Gardner and more
Through The Fence Baseball recently had the chance to interview the Vice President of Pro Star Management, Ryan Bick. Pro Star Management has represented the likes of Paul O’Neill, Brian and Marcus Giles, Buddy Bell, and Terry Mulholland, just to name a few. Current highlights on their roster include Brett Gardner, Aaron Cook, Chris Denorfia, Kevin Youkilis, Eli Whiteside and many top prospects including one of our writers, Tyler Stohr. If you’re interested in reading more about them, you’ll get the chance at the bottom of the interview, or you can head over to their website following the link above. These guys have been standup the whole time to us and it was a pleasure working with them through the interview. Many thanks goes out to Ryan for taking the time with us.
Through The Fence Baseball: How do you approach the offseason when it comes to new deals, free agents and new clients?
The offseason is the most important part of the MLB calendar for us. Preparation is key. Preparing our packets and powerpoints for our free-agent clients is a big part of it. Getting those ready and sent out to all 30 teams’ GMs is essential. If we have any arbitration-eligible players, we must prepare as if we will go to a hearing. There is a lot of preparation that goes into these arbitration cases. The teams always have a great case prepared, so we must make sure ours is better.
TTFB: It’s safe to assume that the offseason is really your “season.” How crazy are the winter meetings?
No question, the offseason is our real “season.” Getting our free agents signed is number one on the list, as well as preparing our arbitration cases, if we have any arb-eligible clients. The winter meetings are a very important part of the free-agent period. It is a great way to meet with front-office execs, and let them know who our free agents are, and possibly sit down and discuss a deal. With everyone gathered in one place, it’s our best chance to spread the word on our free-agent class.
TTFB: Any good stories that have come out of the winter meetings? It’s not all business is it?
The meetings are certainly not all business. They are a lot of fun, and I look forward to them every year. As we like to say: There is plenty of “lobby hanging” to go around during the four days at the hotel. This “lobby hanging” makes for some great baseball talk, and in turn, makes for some great stories. It really is a great time to see faces you don’t get to see very often throughout the year.
TTFB: Is there a plan going into the winter meetings, or is it “let’s go and wing it”?
We don’t wing it by any means. We go in with a plan. We know who our free agents are, and who some of the best suitors for each guy will be. We make it a point to meet with the best suitors for each client. We prepare quite a bit before we head to the meetings. We also use the meetings to meet face to face with all the equipment reps, and get our clients equipment deals for the upcoming season in place. There is preparation for those meetings, as well.
TTFB: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to implement into a contract to make it work; for example, Roy Oswalt’s bulldozer?
Ha! We do our best to keep contracts uncomplicated! We haven’t had anything like a bulldozer implemented into a contract … yet.
TTFB: With Marcus and Brian Giles as clients, how excited were they to play together on the same team, and how difficult was it to make it happen?
Brian and Marcus were absolutely thrilled to play together in San Diego. As brothers, they grew up playing on the same teams, so getting that chance at the big-league level was a dream come true. It wasn’t too difficult, as San Diego really wanted Marcus on its roster. When Marcus was non-tendered with the Braves, we focused on getting him on the Padres club. When we were able to get Marcus signed, everyone was really excited, including us. Again, this was a dream come true for the Giles brothers.
TTFB: It was rumored that the Pirates were the frontrunner for Aaron Cook, but he ended up signing with the Red Sox. How did this unfold and what is expected?
Aaron had a number of teams interested in his services, but the Red Sox ended up being the best fit. He is very excited for the opportunity in Boston, and really excited to be back with his pitching coach, Bob McClure, from his early days in Colorado. We know Aaron can be a full-time starter in Boston’s rotation, and this will be a tremendous bounce-back year for Aaron. He plans to show he can still pitch to his All-Star form of 2007 and 2008.
TTFB: Any updates among your clients for the offseason? Potential extensions, etc.?
We have one arbitration-eligible client in Brett Gardner, which we are currently working on. We hope to have Brett signed and avoid arbitration. We have a few remaining minor-league free agents to get signed, as well.
TTFB: How important are having clients like Kevin Youkilis and Brett Gardner, two stellar personalities, headlining your client list?
Kevin and Brett are extremely important to our company. We couldn’t ask for two better men to headline our client group. They truly are two terrific guys. Both Kevin’s and Brett’s off-the-field charity work is significant, and they make it a point to give back to the communities they play in. We are very lucky to have Kevin and Brett on board with us, and consider both of them vital assets to Pro Star Management.
TTFB: What’s the future like for our writer, Tyler Stohr?
Tyler’s future is very, very bright. As you know, he is on the 40-man roster now, and should start the year in triple-A. He has recovered from Tommy John surgery perfectly, and has come back throwing harder than ever. Tyler’s stuff is electric, and he has a chance to be a dominant relief guy in the big leagues for 10-15 years. We are extremely excited for Tyler’s future, and success couldn’t have happened to a better person.
TTFB: If you were a player, do you sign with your agency?
Well, of course, I sign with us. Pro Star Management wants good people. It’s very important for us to have high-class individuals as clients, which all of our guys are. We always say we would rather have a good quality person and player, than a head case who is a superstar. We pride ourselves on having clients teams want in their clubhouses, and in their communities. I believe our clients choose us because they are looking for the same thing in their representatives. Good, quality people who will not jerk them around and who work very hard for them. Are motto is “Honesty, Integrity, Professionalism, Dedication and Experience” Our clients sign with us because they know that’s what they’re going to get with Pro Star Management. Our philosophy is to be extremely well prepared, deal with people honestly, always be first-class individuals, take pride in your work, care about what you do and how it reflects upon you, provide outstanding personal service, always work hard and be the best.
TTFB: Last, but not least, what’s the first thought and words that come to mind when you get asked, “Hey, have you watched that movie Jerry Maguire?”
It’s funny because for a lot of people who do not know very much about baseball, baseball agents and the business of baseball itself, Jerry Maguire is the first thing that comes to mind for them when you tell someone you’re a baseball agent. Someone will ask what I do for a living, and I will tell them I am a baseball agent with Pro Star Management, and they’ll say “Oh, like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire?” The Hollywood depiction of a sports agent is just that, Hollywood. There are some things in the movie that happen on a day to day basis, and some of the film shows an accurate depiction of a day in the life of a sports agent, but for the most part it’s a movie for entertainment purposes. I will say I really enjoyed Jerry Maguire, and I actually own the DVD. Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. did a great job in the film.
About Pro Star Management …
Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in August 1986 by Joe Bick, a respected and seasoned veteran in the baseball industry. A family-owned and operated firm, Pro Star has focused exclusively on the needs of professional baseball players since its inception, earning an unblemished reputation and respect in the game among clients, their families, team executives and members of the media.
The select group of players who elect to become Pro Star clients take comfort in knowing their all-important, individual career decisions are based on, and guided by, people dedicated to one goal: helping them to make the right decisions. This comfort comes from assurance that all elements concerning each decision have been thoroughly investigated, researched and discussed before any negotiations take place. Pro Star Management clients also know the Pro Star team is fully committed to its pledge of honesty and integrity, and doing what is the absolute best for each individual. This not only pertains to maximizing client value and success, but also includes upholding the player’s reputation and keeping in mind how he is perceived by his organization, community and fans.
The executives of Pro Star Management are company founder and president Joe Bick and his sons, executive vice president Brett Bick and vice president Ryan Bick. The company was incorporated in August 1986 in Cincinnati, which still serves as its base of operations. The firm’s offices are located at 1600 Scripps Center, 312 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, directly across the street from Great American Ballpark.