Arbitrators ruled Monday against the former limited partners of the Montreal Expos in their case against former controlling owner Jeffrey Loria, clearing Major League Baseball to move the franchise to Washington.
Jeffrey Kessler, the lawyer for the limited partners, said they will drop their attempt to gain an injunction to block the move. Baseball owners are scheduled to vote on the relocation Thursday when they meet in Chicago.
So much for that. Now we just to get the financing bill passed and we're home free.
Looks like Frank Robinson might not be the manager in 2005.
Expos manager Frank Robinson, 69, wants a multi-year extension now that the team should have a permanent home in Washington, D.C. If Major League Baseball consented to that, then the Expos' eventual new owners would be saddled with a manager they might not want.This is exactly the wrong time for him to be demanding a long-term deal. MLB is going to make sure they leave as much as possible to the new owners; hence the temporary GM and temporary name. I don't think the cranky near-septuagenarian manager will be the exception.
Special Tacked-On Content: I figured I'd take on the Rosenthal column while I'm up. Fortunately, my player evaluations are little more than knee-jerk Neyerisms, so I don't have to think about much. And I'm so lazy I'm not getting rid of the underlining.
The Red Sox, seeking a possible alternative to free-agent catcher Jason Varitek, inquired about Expos catcher Brian Schneider at the general managers' meetings. Interim Expos G.M. Jim Bowden responded that Schneider was untouchable. Schneider, who turns 28 on Nov. 26, led the majors by throwing out 47.8 percent of his attempted base stealers last season. He also hit a career-high 12 homers in 436 at-bats, though his on-base percentage was only .325 ...I don't think anyone on the Nats roster should be untouchable, and if anyone is, it oughta be Livan. I like Schneider, and it's not like there are legions of catchers out there who can put up a .400 OBP for you, but "untouchable" is a bit much.
Seattle and Washington are among the teams interested in free-agent shortstop Cristian Guzman, who has spent his entire career playing on artificial turf with the Twins. "He won't be able to lay back on balls as much on grass," one scout says. "He'll have to charge the ball more, just like (the Mets' Kaz) Matsui had to do coming over from Japan. But Matsui doesn't have nearly the arm strength that Guzman has." ...Hmm . . . I've been thinking about Guzman. The knee-jerk Neyerism is to say that any amount you pay for a guy who struggles to get his OBP above .300 is too much. But he's still fairly young - 27 next year - and he's a superb defender. He compiled 9.6 defensive Win Shares last year to lead AL shortstops, compared to 7.2 for Gold Glove winner Derek Jeter and 4.5 for Omar Vizquel. Baseball Prospectus has him at 38 Runs Above Replacement for '04, with 24 for Jeter and 20 for Vizquel. In fact, that 38 RAR is as many as Vizquel has ever contributed in a season. As with everything else, it depends on money, but Guzman would be a solid contributor if he keeps his defense at that level and adds a little more offense.
Washington made a run at Angels right fielder Jose Guillen, but balked at the asking price of right-handed reliever Chad Cordero. Washington also is among the teams interested in acquiring Reds outfielder Austin Kearns, but it's unlikely the Reds would deal with their former G.M., Jim Bowden. Another possibility for D.C.: Free-agent third baseman Vinny Castilla. Bowden is considering bringing in former Reds right-hander Jose Rijo as a bullpen coach. The idea would be for Rijo to mentor the team's top relievers, Cordero and right-hander Luis Ayala...I've already complained about the Guillen Affair. Re: Austin Kearns, once again we see the Man conspiring to keep Juan Rivera out of right field. That said, I'd love to have Kearns. One of these days he's going to break out in a big way, and he's still only 25 and cheap. Castilla is still a solid defensive third baseman, but he can't hit. Unfortunately, he's got some decent-looking stats because of Coors Field and a shiny, Batista-like RBI total, and Bowden might get suckered into giving Vinny the lucrative contract he (Vinny) thinks he (Vinny) deserves (stupid vague pronouns).
Any day now Bowden is going to do something really infuriating. Any day now . . .