Rob Neyer does a good job of breaking down the Expos' payroll issues. One point that he raises is something on which I wanted to comment. The Expos, I believe, on the day that there budget restrictions were announced, signed veteran Wil Cordero to a $600 K, one-year contract. These seemed insane to me at the time.
Neyer makes a good point regarding the signing: "Simply put, for $600,000 you can have either one Wil Cordero, or two players just as good as Wil Cordero." I would say two players better than Cordero, but the point is well taken. Cordero, perennially one of the more overrated players in MLB and a GM's delight, returned to his original team, the Expos, last season. He left a 23-year-old shortstop full of promise and returned a 30-year-old journeyman trying to hang on by playing corner outfield positions, first base, and DH. He played well as a backup in Montreal, but the Expos should have shaken his hand, thanked him, and sent him on his merry way. He will be 31 in 2003. He cannot be said to be a credible starting player in the majors any longer. The Expos are in a bind financially. Given their situation and his salary, he may have to be their starting first baseman next year.
Would that be such a bad thing? I could see Cordero producing 15 HRs, 60-odd RBI, and .260-.270 average. However, he also will walk only about 30 times, ground into 20+ double plays, and steal nary a base (unlike his early days). We're talking about a player that has a chance to be slightly better than average OPS-wise, something that should be a liability for a slow, defensively-poor first baseman. Maybe the Expos are OK with that, but that calls into question Omar Minaya's creativity that Neyer says is essentially to the Expos' restructuring process.
Though Minaya appears to be a media darling, I have to say that a GM who goes through as much talent as the Expos did last year, acquiring and then trading a number of players, either has an extremely detailed plan or doesn't know what he's doing from one day to the next. I, for one, am not convinced that this, the latter, is not the case.