If the Bartolo Colon trade was some big Selig conspiracy, how come Minaya offered Colon a $50-million, four-year extension? Bud had to approve that contract. Only after Colon rejected it, did Minaya trade him. Why wasn't that mentioned? Oh, I get it - if it's A FACT but it doesn't fit the conspiracy template/make Bud look bad in EVERY situation template - just ignore it.
The end always justifies the means when it is Bud we are attacking. I don't mind opinionated journalists, but when you ignore important facts to make your argument look better, it destroys your credibility. Is BP's urge to bash Bud that strong that you must always embellish your pro-MLBPA side and ignore facts that might weaken your argument?
Jonah Keri has ably analyzed the Colon trade and its ridiculousness for the Expos. I want to focus on the deal as an indicator of the shadiness and shame implied by the league's ownership of the Expos.
First, some background. For better and for worse, Major League Baseball is a legal cartel. As such, it may be thought of as a sort of open, friendly conspiracy (it conspires to keep any competing league from offering top-level baseball in North America). Nothing wrong with that in itself -- we happily put up with cartels in most of our major sports, and in other areas of life as well. And as long as I the consumer understand the arrangement, benefit from it, and have some kind of recourse to get out from under it, what's the problem? No one makes me spend money on MLB or the NFL. If I have a beef with one of these cartels, I can always boycott their sponsors, or push for new laws to rein them in, or just go to Longhorn games instead. So far, so good.
But for their own long-term health, sports leagues must convince their consumers that they field a fair product, or else the entire attraction of honest competition is ruined. By this token, baseball's fans must be able to believe that MLB holds itself in check by various means, whether in the structure of the amateur draft, or in a player's arbitration calendar, or in the rules of the waiver wire. These rules (and many others) allow for open explanations of events: The Red Sox signed Johnny Damon fair and square under the free agency rules; the Yankees got stuck with Jose Canseco's contract because the Rays really were looking to unload him via waivers; there's only so long the Expos can hold onto Vlad Guerrero thanks to his free-agency calendar. And so on.
Whether we like an individual piece of news or not, we have reason to believe that matters were handled out in the open. The league's internal rules are made even more potent in this regard since they're monitored by a powerful player's union and, at least in theory, by an independent press.
Onto the problem at hand. The very nature of the league's ownership of the Expos raises the specter of misconduct - of a violation of consumers' trust - because it subverts this system of checks. Because the league now controls the Expos' players, this specter extends not just to Expos fans, but to fans of other teams (like the Red Sox), and to followers of the league as a whole.
Protestations of innocence from Selig & Co. are irrelevant. Maybe the Commissioner does have firewalls in place such that he holds no sway on the Expos' day-to-day operations. It doesn't matter. Again, it is the very nature of the arrangement that opens the way for back-channel, conspiratorial explanations for events. Indeed, given the current arrangement, it actually becomes logical to entertain such notions.
One of the biggest questions this off-season has been what Major League Baseball will do with the Montreal Expos.
One of the biggest questions this off-season has been what Major League Baseball will do with the Montreal Expos. With owner/saboteur Jeff Loria jumping ship to take over the Marlins in last winter's game of musical chairs, the Expos became wards of MLB, with the other 29 teams taking over control of the Expos franchise in the expectation that the franchise would die as part of Bud Selig's ill-conceived contraction scheme.
Omar Minaya was named GM of the Expos, and to MLB's credit he was allowed to make moves as he saw fit to try to improve the Expos, with one restriction: payroll could not be increased. Minaya managed to add a couple of significant players (and salaries) by insisting that salaries balance in the deals that he made (which is why Lee Stevenswas part of the package going to Cleveland forBartolo Colon and why Carl Pavano and Graeme Lloyd went to Florida in the trade to acquire Cliff Floyd). The Expos fell short in 2002, but at the very least it was an interesting summer in Montreal where the team was trying to win.
The 2002 season is over, and now MLB has to figure out what to do with the Expos in 2003. Minaya is back as GM, and the team is slated to play a significant number of "home" games in Puerto Rico. But the big question is how much will the Expos payroll be in 2003? Rumors have the brain trust of MLB, in its infinite wisdom, pegging the Expos' payroll in 2003 at $40M, pretty much the same as it was in 2002. To determine what kind of position that puts Minaya in, lets take a look at what the payroll for the Expos roster projects to be in 2003.
Last Tuesday night around 9 p.m., my mother asked me how I was planning to write about the All-Star Game if I wasn't watching it. I told her that I wasn't writing my column while away, and that I wouldn't write about the All-Star Game when I returned because no one cared about the All-Star Game past about 10:30 a.m. the next day.
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
True story #1:
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If the off-season deal involving Roberto Alomar did not signal the direction in which the Cleveland Indians are heading, then the June 27 trade of Bartolo Colon certainly did. The Indians sent a clear message that they are rebuilding, specifically for the 2004 season.
If the off-season deal involving Roberto Alomar did not signal the direction in which the Cleveland Indians are heading, then the June 27 trade of Bartolo Coloncertainly did. The Indians sent a clear message that they are rebuilding, specifically for the 2004 season. The process may take some time, and will require some intelligence and luck, as well as convincing themselves and their now-spoiled fans that this is the right thing to do.
Coming into the 2002 season, first-year GM Mark Shapiro was straddling the fence. On one hand, he wanted payroll and roster flexibility, knowing that he was about to embark on a rebuilding process; thus, the trade of Alomar. On the other hand, he still felt the Indians could be competitive in the American League Central, a division with no dominant team. The team signed Ricky Gutierrezand Brady Anderson to free-agent contracts and extended the contract of newly-acquired Matt Lawton. The three deals, which appeared to be well above the players' market values, were made in an effort to stay competitive. All of these moves were questionable at the time; three months into the 2002 season, they look even worse. Anderson has been released, Gutierrez is on the disabled list with a .595 OPS, and Lawton has been a disappointment, hitting .241/.350/.402.