If you didn't hear, Cliff Floyd was traded for the second time in three weeks, this time to Red Sox for two minor league pitchers, right-handers from South Korea named Seung Song and Sun-Woo Kim.
My friend Mike Markowitz, who has a gift for the polemic, writes:
Let's see if I understand this: The commissioner's other team (not the Brewers, the Expos) acquires Cliff Floyd from the commissioner's lackey in Miami, Jeff Loria. Then the Expos send Floyd, for nothing, to the commissioner's hand-picked owner in Boston, his buddy John Henry . . . and there are no conflicts of interest here?
What a joke. This is the kind of thing that turns me off of baseball, not the possibility of a players' strike.
I have to agree, and here's why:
A) It is very suspicious that the Expos would trade for prospects given that they have been shedding prospects at an alarming rate all year.
B) Well, maybe they have recognized the error of their ways and are trying to stockpile young talent. My first response to that would be why, given that they may not exist next year. If they do exist, they will be run by a different ownership group who will most likely bring in their own baseball people-so what's the incentive for Minaya to amass future talent? Again very suspicious.
C) Let's assume that they have changed direction, however illogical that may be, These do not look like stellar acquisitions. "Song is 7-7, with a 4.39 ERA in 21 games for Double-A Trenton. He was obtained by the Red Sox as a free agent in 1999. Kim is 4-2, with a 3.18 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket." Kim looks OK. But Song is an average Double-AA pitcher. What do the Expos need them for?
D) Why didn't the Expos get at least one outfielder (Daubach or Nixon) given that the Red Sox now have five quality OF's on the roster. Ostensibly, Daubach will replace the underachieving Tony Clarkat 1st, improving the Red Sox in two positions. The Expos have Troy O'Leary who may revive his career, but why wouldn't they demand an outfielder in the deal? Floyd for Daubach and a prospect is still a good deal for the Sox.
E) Minaya's rationale for the trade is also iffy: "Expos general manager Omar Minaya said dumping Floyd's salary and taking on little in return gives him flexibility to deal later. 'Right now, we have close to 50 games left. We've got five teams in front of us,' he said. 'When we acquired Cliff Floyd, we didn't have five teams in front of us. I think we were second in the wild card. That's one difference.'" The Expos may be fighting for their franchise lives-there is no later. Besides this is the trade deadline: what "later" is there? Floyd was acquired on July 12. On July 11, the Expos were 46-42, in second place in the NL East, 10.5 games behind the Braves. They were tied with Cincinnati for third in the NL wild-card race, six games behind Arizona and four behind San Fran. They are still six games back are in are in sixth place in the wild-card race, having been passed by New York, Cincinnati, and Houston. They are slightly worse of given that more time has passed and they have not made up any ground and there are now more bodies in their way, but that's all the more reason to keep Floyd.
F) The Red Sox are competing with the Yankees for the Al East title (Boston is 5 back), and the Mariners, Angels, and A's, whichever two don't win the West, for the wild-card (Boston trails Anaheim by 1 game). The Yankees outfield is loaded and they don't need another lefty bat, but may have wanted to take a shot at Floyd to block the Sox. The Mariners have Mark McLemore and Ruben Sierra in left and Sierra and Edgar Martinez Dhing, so other than added depth (and maybe moving McLemore to center to spell the struggling Mikeameron) their need for Floyd isn't great. But the Angels even with a good outfield could use another bat, freeing up Brad Fullmer to play first base and Spiezio to back up in a number of places. The A's have John Mabry playing way over his head in left. They could definitely use Floyd but may not want to swallow his contract. There are NL teams that could use a left fielder but maybe Montreal did not want to trade with their competitors (or it would be too obvious).
G) John Henry, the Red Sox owner, likes Floyd. Floyd played for him in Florida when Henry owned the Marlins.
H) John Henry sold the Marlins this past offseason and purchased the Red Sox for reportedly less than some competing offers. Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins from Henry and sold the Expos to MLB. Both Loria and Henry have been alleged to be members of the commissioner's coterie.
I) Oscar Minaya is an employee, directly or indirectly, of MLB. The Commissioner and the owners have some say in what direction the Expos take (e.g., if they can take on extra payroll).
I don't know if there was any wrongdoing here, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to follow up. However, like Selig's personal loan from Carl Pohlad or any other minor scandal, this will be swept conveniently under the rug. But it stinks worse than Bud Selig's AquaVelva.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has come under a great deal of scrutiny lately for collecting ballplayers like children collect baseball cards while the other owners are pushing austerity and for his Comcast-vs.-YES-induced spat with Larry Dolan. I wondered at the time why Selig didn't slap a $1M fine on the both of them. Maybe this is his way, and if so he's smarter than he looks, to get back at the Boss.