Tag Archives: Bartolo Colon

Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

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Fun with Old Copies of BA’s Almanac (2003 edition) – Part 1


A couple of weeks ago, I was at a used book sale, and there were a couple of copies of old Baseball America Almanacs available. I picked them up, as I thought it would bring some interesting insights now that it’s been a few years since they were published. I’ll be writing a few posts on and off during the remainder of the season, with plans to cover both this (2003) edition as well as the 2008 edition as well.

The 2003 edition follows after the end of the 2002 season. The Almanac starts out with a recap of the top stories of the 2002 season:

Contraction

After the 2001 season, Commissioner Bud Selig mentioned that he was a proponent of the idea of contracting two of the organizations, as neither team appeared to be economically viable based on their current market conditions. The two teams: The Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins. I can distinctly remember at the time being extremely interested in how they would go about doing this: How would they distribute the players currently under contract with these teams, would they become free agents as well or would there be some version of a contraction draft, similar in nature to an expansion draft. Some of the players who were under team control who could very well have been available in such a contraction draft:

  • Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, A.J. Pierzynski, Brad Radke and Johan Santana from the Twins
  • Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera, Javier Vazquez, Grady Sizemore, Milton Bradley, and Cliff Lee from the Expos

This clearly would have also modified the formatting of the leagues themselves as well, as someone would have had to go to one of the leagues to make both of them have even numbers of teams. I think it is interesting to look at, much in the same manner that it would be interesting to see what happened if MLB were to expand to 32 or more teams as well.

The players’ union was clearly not for this idea, as it essentially amounted to losing at minimum 50 jobs for union members. Thankfully for all parties involved, this idea was shelved with the completion of the next item.

If you look at the baseball landscape now, it clearly would have been a lot different had the Twins and Expos been eliminated. The first thing that pops into my mind is just how much of a viable entity the Twins have become in the Twin Cities. Part of this has also been helped by the fact that ownership changed from Carl Pohlad to his son Jim. The newly opened Target Field appears to be another stunning example of a great ballpark in a downtown area.

Labor Strife and Something Different

The biggest story surrounding the 2002 season, which to be honest with you, I had forgotten had even happened, was the expiration of the previous labor agreement on November 7, 2001, and the potential for a lockout or a strike that could result from this. It clearly did not bode well for the parties involved, as they had not been able to come to an agreement for a labor contract without some version of a work stoppage in the past.

Clearly, this much remains true: The fact that they had set a lockout date (August 30th, before the Cubs-Cardinals day game) shows us just how close it really came to being another work stoppage, and potentially more irreparable harm done to the game. The sides were able to come to an agreement 3 hours before the deadline set by the players.

The impact to me, is that it proved to both the owners and the players that their differences were not such that they could not be met together and solved together. So much so that the 2006 labor negotiations came off without any particularly concrete mentions of work stoppages. Long term, this particular contract really has helped to solidify the labor peace for years to come.

Baseball Games Can End in Ties Apparently

Talk about a disappointing finish. No one ever really thought that the All-Star game was particularly important, and knew that nearly everyone was just showing up for a fun three days, see their favorite players, and go back to the business of winning games. But they clearly ran into a bit of a problem in 2002, when both teams ran out of pitchers after going 11 innings in the All Star Game and commissioner Bud Selig declaring the game a tie and ending it there.

Ugh. What a mess this one created. We have the “Now it counts” campaign, which to me has done very little for the All-Star game’s popularity. The point of the game originally was to showcase the stars of the season, but now it gives the winning league the home field advantage in the World Series. I think it honestly should have stayed as an exhibition, allowing it to be a nice break in the season for all the parties involved. Instead, it’s now become extremely important to win this game. However, watching Tuesday’s All Star game it still seems like the managers are less concerned about winning than MLB would hope. To me, if I am trying to win that game no matter what, I don’t let David Ortiz run the bases after getting on in the bottom of the 9th. There’s no guarantee that Alex Rodriguez would have made it in time to second base, but clearly he’s a better baserunner at this point than David Ortiz.

The Passing of Legends of the Game, and One Gone Too Soon

2002 saw two titans of the game pass on unfortunately. For St. Louis fans, it was almost too much to bear when iconic broadcaster Jack Buck passed away on June 18th. You can see what, to me, was one of his greatest moments ever, when he spoke to Cardinals fans when games resumed after September 11th. Sadly for the Cardinals, the week just continued to get worse, as hours before their game against the Cubs 4 days later, it was discovered that 33 year old starting pitcher Darryl Kile had passed away in his sleep from a blocked coronary artery. The Cardinals were still able to win the NL Central division with a 97-65 record, and lost to the Giants in the NLCS.

The other major passing in 2002 was of the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. The story that ensued afterward became an embarrassment to everyone involved, as the members of the Williams family disputed Ted’s final wishes. The argument stemmed around whether or not he had made a viable determination that he wanted to be cryogenically frozen or whether he was to be cremated and scatter his ashes. Thankfully, the story sort of went away by the end of the year.

MLB, Owner of the Montreal Expos

In an extremely unusual twist of fate, MLB stepped in in early February to purchase the Montreal Expos from their previous owner, Jeffrey Loria, so that he could purchase the Florida Marlins from their current owner, John Henry, so that Henry could purchase the Boston Red Sox. It became a bit of a contentious point as the other 29 teams essentially became the part owners of the Expos, and it was widely wondered exactly how the team would be allowed to operate, including signing free agents, trading players, and managed. MLB placed Omar Minaya in the GM’s office, and Frank Robinson as the field manager. Surprisingly, the team actually performed very well in 2002, to the point where they actually acquired ace starting pitcher Bartolo Colon from the Indians at the trade deadline. However, the team fell out of contention, finishing with a bery respectable 83-79 record but stunting the growth of the franchise by moving future franchise players Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore to the Indians to acquire Colon.

As I am sure it is with any season, the 2002 season had its own share of major stories. Anyone remember any other specific stories from the 2002 season? Post them in the comments below.

The next post from this series will be early next week, and will look at BA’s 2002 Minor League All-Star Teams.

Trade Retrospective: Bartolo Colon


The next trade up on the retrospective list is the acquisition of Bartolo Colon by the Montreal Expos in exchange for 1B Lee Stevens, P Cliff Lee, OF Grady Sizemore, and SS Brandon Phillips. The trade was completed on June 27, 2002.

The Background

The Indians had started the 2002 season hot, winning 11 of their first 12. However, by midseason they had faltered, and it had become quite clear that they were not going to compete that season. Their most coveted trading piece had become starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.

The Expos had spent the majority of the offseason prior to the 2002 season trying to keep from being contracted by MLB, but had managed to stay in the race much to everyone’s surprise for a large portion of the 1st half of the season. It was an extreme surprise to say the least when the Expos went out and acquired Colon from the Indians.

The Moving Pieces

Bartolo Colon came to the Expos, and his main goal was to help guide the Expos into the playoffs.

Lee Stevens was slotted in to help out at 1B and in the OF, but was not particularly expected to be a part of the future of the Indians. He was included more to help offset some of the salaries.

Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore were prospects at the time, and the Indians were hopeful that all 3 would provide value at the Major League level when they were ready to compete again.

What Happened Next

Colon pitched extremely well. In 17 starts, he went 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 39 walks in 117 innings pitched. Unfortunately, he was not able to carry the Expos to the playoffs, as they finished 83-79, good for 2nd place in the division, but unfortunately 12 games out of a playoff spot.

The Indians sent all 3 prospects to the minors, and had September call-ups for Lee and Phillips.  They finished out the 2002 season with a 74-88 record, which was surprisingly able to put them in 3rd place in the division.

The Net Moves

Montreal – First Level

  • Colon was moved in January of 2003 in order to help cut salaries for the Expos. He was traded to the White Sox for pitchers Rocky Biddle and Orlando Hernandez, 1B Jeff Liefer, and cash.

Montreal/Washington – Second Level

  • Biddle spent the 2003-2004 seasons with the Expos, posting a 9-16 record with a 5.83 ERA in 120 appearances. At the end of the 2004 season, Biddle was released by the team.
  • Orlando Hernandez spent the entire 2003 season rehabbing in the minors for the Expos, and was a free agent at the end of the 2003 season.
  • Liefer finished the 2003 season with a .193/.217/.330 batting line with 3 HR and 18 RBI in 35 games. The 26 strikeouts to 3 walks were not particularly helpful to him either. He was waived at the end of the 2003 season.

Cleveland – First Level

  • Lee Stevens finished off the 2002 season, appearing in 53 games and hitting 5 HR and 26 RBI for the Indians. He didn’t play in the Majors after the end of that season.
  • Brandon Phillips spent portions of the 2002-2005 seasons with the Indians Major League team. In 135 total games, he hit .206/.246/.310 with 6 home runs and 38 RBI. He was traded 4/7/06 to the Reds for minor league P Jeff Stevens.
  • Cliff Lee evolved into a top-tier pitcher. With the team from 2002-2009, he posted an 83-48 record with a 4.01 ERA in 1117 innings pitched. He also won the 2008 Cy Young award with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA. At the trade deadline in 2009, he was traded to the Phillies for P Carlos Carrasco, P Jason Knapp, IF Jason Donald, and C Lou Marson.
  • Grady Sizemore spent the 2002-2003 seasons in the minor leagues, and has been the starting center fielder since 2004. In that time, he has hit .275/.366/.484 with 129 HR, 418 RBI, and 131 SB. He also won 2 Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger in that time.

Cleveland – Second Level

  • Jeff Stevens spent the 2006-2008 seasons in the minors for the Indians, and was traded during the offseason after 2008 to the Cubs as a part of the trade which brought the Indians IF Mark DeRosa.
  • Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, and Lou Marson are all still with the team, with Marson being the only one who has already become a regular starter for the Major League team. Carrasco and Knapp are both considered to be high-end pitching prospects.

Cleveland – Third Level

  • Mark DeRosa spent half of the 2009 season with the Indians, posting a .270/.342/.457 line with 13 HR and 50 RBI in 71 games. He was traded on 6/22/09 to the Cardinals for pitchers Chris Perez and Jess Todd.

Cleveland – Fourth Level

  • Chris Perez has been slotted in as the closer while Kerry Wood has been on the disabled list, and Jess Todd is currently working in the minor leagues for the Indians.

Overall Reactions

This trade looked like a steal for the Expos at the time, as Colon was a widely sought after starter and had been pitching extremely well. As time has progressed, the Expos/Nationals clearly would have been better served if they had not made this trade. Lee and Sizemore both have been All-Stars for the Indians, and Phillips has been an All-Star for the Reds. The Indians essentially traded 1.5 seasons of Bartolo Colon to the Expos for Carrasco, Donald, Knapp, Marson, Perez, and Todd, along with 6 seasons of Cliff Lee and 6 seasons of Grady Sizemore. The Expos then got 1/2 a season of Colon for essentially nothing back in return from the White Sox. The Indians CLEARLY won this trade.