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Saturday, September 20, 2003

RUN VLAD RUN

Barring some sort of miracle, Vladimir Guerrero played his last Expos home game the other night. The Expos front office has apparently started some preliminary talks on getting Vlad to stay in Montreal but it's pretty impossible to negotiate with a player and his agent when its public knowledge exactly how much you can spend. And what reason does Vlad have to stay anyways? As an Expos fan and a fan of Vlad, I hope he does go somewhere else where he's given a fair chance at winning. He and the Expos have been jerked around more than a cheap male prostitute at an ambidextrous convention.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Expo's would be in NL Wild Card contention right now if they

a) didn't have the worst schedule in the history of MLB (And in addition, when the Expos were in San Juan they were playing in a stadium that completely played against their strength; pitching.)
b) weren't forced to trade of Bartolo Colon for virtually nothing
c) were allowed a minutiae of payroll flexibility
d) were allowed September call-ups

Who isn't allowed September call-ups? That's crazy.

But the good news is that it looks like the Expos may not have to play a split schedule for the 2004 season. The good news ends right there.

MLB and Bud Selig could have treated the Expos like an investment but have done everything in their powers to sabotage them from the outset. Perhaps because Bud Selig is still too stubborn to admit that a club with a low budget, if managed smartly, can actually succeed he decided to insert Omar Minaya as GM. That was a horribly stupid decision.

Now Omar has done some good things (Livan Hernandez) and some bad things (the Colon trade) since he's taken over but at no point has he shown an understanding of how to responsibly manage his assets. And why would he? He came from a club (the Mets organization) with a 100 million + budget whose idea of putting a good team together is adding one high profile free agent after another. And as you can see it really caught up to the Mets this year and its going to catch up to the Expos next year. Any minor league talent the Expos had has all but been auctioned off by Omar in his lusty pursuit of big name guys like Bartolo Colon and Cliff Floyd. (Do you think players the Expos really could have used and realistically gotten like a Bobby Kielty or a Gabe White were even on Omar's radar?) And if not for a veto by Juan Gonzalez he would have really scraped the cupboards bare. Now the Expos will be going into a situation where they are not going to be able to keep the outstanding talent they currently have and there won't be any talent coming from the minor leagues to take their spots. And forget any free agent in his right mind signing with Montreal.

The smart move would have been to install somebody who had some experience working in an organization with limited fiscal means like the A's, the Padres, or the Twins. But for the Expos to succeed would be the ultimate embarrassment for Mr.Selig and all the other owners who whine about the competitive imbalance in MLB. It's such a potential embarrassment that they'd rather devalue the entire franchise and make it less attractive to potential suitors.

So make 'em run laps from San Juan to Montreal and back and when they ask you for a glass of water kick 'em in the nuts. That's what MLB and Bud Selig have done to the Montreal Expos.

Am I implying all this is intentional? Damn straight I am.

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