What the average fan might know is that the great Robinson is currently the manager of the Li'l Orphan Expos, which provides a nifty segue into this two-day-old Post article from Dave Sheinin.
If and when the Montreal Expos are moved, somebody somewhere is going to be getting a pretty good franchise -- one that is chock full of solid, young players under club control for several more years (Jose Vidro, Nick Johnson, et al.), a farm system full of highly touted prospects and a refreshing lack of debt obligations in the form of long-term contracts.If he hadn't named names, I'd think Sheinin was talking about the Indians. It's interesting that both the guys he names as "solid" are currently on the DL and out for the rest of the season. Young? Vidro is currently 30 years old; young for a pope, but not for a ballplayer. When he was traded from the Yankees in the offseason, I commented that, given his grisly injury history, Nick Johnson was in danger of suffering through an Erubiel Durazo-esque career. Now that sounds like irrational optimism. Furthermore, everyone who knows anything about prospects (all of whom are not me) makes the Expos' farm system sound like something out of Steinbeck, if not Lovecraft. He's right about the contracts. Livan Hernandez and Jose Vidro are the only Expos signed to significant, long-term deals, and those guys are both worth having.
The main focus of the piece is on general manager Omar Minaya, whom Sheinin believes is worthy of being kept in his position by whoever the new owners might be (let's call them "Not Bill Collins"). I still haven't decided where I stand on this. In my ideal scenario, Not Bill Collins manages to pry one of those clever young men out of Cleveland to rebuild the farm system and whatnot. That aside, and given that Paul DePodesta is not likely to leave LA, Minaya might be a good choice.
The biggest mark against Omar is the Colon trade. In June of 2002, Minaya sent Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, and Lee Stevens to Cleveland for 17 games of Rubenesque right-hander Bartolo Colon. Colon was effective for Montreal, putting up a 3.31 ERA in 117 innings, but the Expos didn't get into the playoffs or anything. Omar wound up hefting Colon over to the White Sox in a three-way deal, getting Rocky Biddle and Jeff Liefer in return. Lee, Phillips, and Sizemore aren't All-Stars at this point, but all three are or have been in the majors, and they're 26, 23, and 22 respectively. Those three would go a long way to making Sheinin's rosy picture of the Expos' farm system look a little less delusional. Also, Rocky Biddle sucks.
So what does Minaya have in his favor? Well, two consecutive 83-79 seasons under bizarre and difficult condiditons, for one thing. I don't know much about the prospects, but Chris Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus does, and she's given rave reviews to Minaya's recent moves. Given that the alternatives would include Dan Duquette and Syd Thrift, I have no problem with Omar Minaya as the first GM of the new Senators.