Tag Archives: Montreal Expos

Trade Retrospective – Nomar Garciaparra


On July 31, 2004, as a part of a massive 4 team trade, the following happened:

Chicago Cubs acquired SS Nomar Garciaparra and OF Matt Murton
Minnesota Twins acquired minor leaguer Justin Jones
Boston Red Sox acquired 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and SS Orlando Cabrera
Montreal Expos acquired SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Francis Beltran and Brendan Harris

The Background

The Red Sox had previously tried to move Garciaparra after nearly acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers, so it wasn’t really a huge surprise that he might get moved during the 2004 season. He was due to be a free agent after the 2004 season, and the Sox were hoping to improve their team overall.

The Cubs were 56-48 at the trade deadline, and over 10 games out of first place. They were, however, in the wild card race, being only 2 games back of that at the time. They had been running the offensive (in a bad way) shortstop Ramon Martinez out there every day, and clearly were in need of an upgrade.

The Twins were looking to cut salary, and had a top prospect ready to take over the first base job in Justin Morneau.

The Expos appear to have been looking for some return on free agent to be Orlando Cabrera. There had been concerns about what would happen to the team following the season. From a CBC article then:

Montreal, which occupies the National League East basement, is rumoured to be on the move to several cities, including Washington, Northern Virginia, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., Portland, Ore., and Monterey, Mexico.

The Moving Pieces

In Boston, Nomaah was gone, but the Red Sox had found an able replacement in free agent to be Orlando Cabrera, and had a solid backup first baseman in Dougie Baseball. GM Theo Epstein had this to say about the trade at the time:

“We lost a great player in Nomar Garciaparra, but we’ve made our club more functional,” Epstein said. “We weren’t going to win a World Series with our defense.”

In Chicago, Nomaah had arrived with the hopes that the Cubs would be able to return to the playoffs for a second straight season, something that they had not done in a very long time. From GM Jim Hendry (via SI.com article):

“I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off,” Hendry said. “You never go to work thinking he’s going to be available.”

The Twins got the salary relief that they were looking for, and were able to plug in Morneau as the everyday first baseman. Strangely, the Twins were actually hosting the Red Sox on the day of the trade, and Mientkiewicz actually played against the Twins in that game. From Mientkiewicz (via SI.com article):

“It’s a little awkward right now, but I think it’s better for everyone,” he said. “The situation over there was a rough one. They gave me an opportunity in the big leagues, and what the Twins are all about is they give the young guys chances.”

The Expos were able to get 3 solid, if not amazing players or prospects in return for Cabrera.

What Happened Next

The Red Sox, helped by acquisitions Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz among many others, won the World Championship in 2004 without the services of Nomar Garciaparra. In Chicago, the Cubs ended up with an 89-73 record, good for only 3rd place in the NL Central and out of the playoff picture. The Twins

The Net Moves

Red Sox – First Level

  • Orlando Cabrera hit .294/.320/.465 with 6 homeruns for the Red Sox, and left via free agency after the season. He netted the Red Sox two compensation draft picks, which they used rather well: Jacoby Ellsbury was drafted with the first pick, and Jed Lowrie with the other.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz hit .215/.286/.318 with 1 homerun and caught the final out of the World Series. He was traded on 1/27/2005 to the Mets for minor leaguer Ian Bladergroen.

Twins – First Level

  • Justin Jones was a reasonable prospect for the Twins, in spite of only being 19 years old when he was acquired. He had been the #56 prospect according to Baseball America, and posted his best season with the Twins in 2005, going 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA at High-A. He was no longer with the organization after the 2006 season, spending 3 seasons with the Nationals. It appears he retired after the 2009 season.

Cubs –  First Level

  • Nomar Garciaparra hit .297/.364/.455 with 4 homeruns and 20 runs batted in for the Cubs in 2004, and resigned with the team as a free agent after the season for a 1 year contract. In 2005, he hit .283/.320/.452 with 9 homeruns and 30 runs batted in over 62 games due to injuries. He left via free agency, and no compensation was received for him.
  • Matt Murton spent from 2005 to 2008 with the Cubs, posting a .294/.362/.448 line with 28 homeruns and 104 runs batted in over 308 games. He was one of the players included in a trade that netted the Cubs pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Athletics.

Expos/Nationals – First Level

  • Alex Gonzalez was only with the Expos for 35 games, posting a .241/.289/.383 line before being traded as a part of a conditional deal to the Padres. It doesn’t appear that any compensation or players was received for Gonzalez.
  • Francis Beltran made 11 appearances for the Expos in 2004, with a 7.53 ERA in 14 1/3 innings pitched. He missed the 2005 season due to injury, and spent the 2006 season in the minors for the Nationals. He left via free agency after the 2006 season.
  • Brendan Harris appeared in 41 games from 2004 to 2006 with the Expos/Nationals as a bench player. He was included in the trade that netted the Nationals OF Austin Kearns, IF Felipe Lopez, and P Ryan Wagner from the Reds.

Red Sox – Second Level

  • Jacoby Ellsbury is currently with the organization, but still recovering from broken ribs this season. To date, he has hit. 295/.347/.412 with 20 homeruns, 128 runs batted in, and 131 stolen bases in just over 3 seasons. He has lead the American League in steals twice, with 50 and 70 respectively.
  • Jed Lowrie is also with the Red Sox still, but has not had nearly the success that Ellsbury has. In 116 games over 3 seasons, he has hit .236/.316/.370, and is essentially viewed as a bench/role player for the Red Sox at this point. A change of scenery might be good for him, as there is no place on the field for him to play with SS Marco Scutaro and 2B Dustin Pedroia manning the middle infield spots long term.
  • Ian Bladergroen spent 2005 and 2006 with the Red Sox in the minors, but was in independent ball from then onward.

Cubs – Second Level

  • Rich Harden pitched well down the stretch of the 2008 season, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 71 innings. He was also with the Cubs in 2009, but injuries derailed parts of both seasons for him, as he went 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 141 innings. He left after the 2009 season via free agency, and signed with the Texas Rangers. No free agent compensation draft picks were received.
  • Chad Gaudin went 4-2 with a 6.26 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, and was not tendered a contract after the season.

Expos/Nationals – Second Level

  • Austin Kearns played for the Nationals through the 2009 season, and posted a .242/.346/.376 line with 34 homeruns and 159 runs batted in over 390 games. He was not tendered a contract after the 2009 season, and became a free agent.
  • Felipe Lopez was with the team through the trade deadline in 2008. He hit .250/.320/.344 with 49 steals in his 3 seasons there. He was released on July 31, 2008 by the Nationals.
  • Ryan Wagner was with the Nationals through the 2008 season, posting a 3-5 record with a 5.05 ERA in 40 appearances. He is currently out of organized baseball.

Overall Reactions

This is one of those trades that is extremely hard to dissect. Clearly, the Red Sox did well with these acquisitions as they were able to win the 2004 World Series. Throw in the fact that they used one of the draft picks they received for Cabrera to draft potential All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury also helps out a lot with them potentially winning the trade. The Cubs didn’t get quite what they needed, but did get solid production from Nomar when he was healthy, and also ended up netting them Rich Harden for 1 1/2 seasons by moving the other player in the deal, Matt Murton. The Twins, sadly, look like they did the worst in the trade, but accomplished what they wanted to in clearing a spot for prospect Justin Morneau.  Even the Expos did alright with this trade as they used one of the pieces in that trade to help facilitate the theft of Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez from the Reds. Overall, I would rank them in this order: Red Sox, Expos, Cubs, Twins. But I think that all the teams ended up accomplishing what their goals were for this trade.

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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: Mark Langston


Next up on the trade retrospective is the trade of Mark Langston on May 25, 1989. He was traded to the Montreal Expos with P Mike Campbell for pitchers Gene Harris, Brian Holman, and Randy Johnson.

The Background

On May 25th, the Expos were in 4th place in the NL East division, but only 3 games back in that race. It was still early in the season, and there was a possibility that a trade for an impact player could still make a difference in the race. The team had a solid if not amazing offense, and some solid pitching as well.

The Mariners were in 5th place in their division, and despite having a .500 record were already 7.5 games back in the race. Langston had established himself as a top flight starter in the American League, striking out at least 235 batters in each of the last 3 seasons. However, Langston was going to be eligible for free agency at the end of the 1989 season.

The Moving Pieces

Langston slotted into the Expos rotation, and gave the Expos another horse behind starters Dennis Martinez, Bryn Smith, and Pascual Perez.

Campbell was sent to the minors, where he spent the remainder of the season with the Expos’ AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.

Harris, Holman, and Johnson all were slotted into the starting rotation for the Mariners, with Johnson and Holman spending the rest of the season there, and Harris spending part of the season in the bullpen.

What Happened Next

Langston pitched extremely well, posting a 12-9 record with a 2.39 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 176 2/3 IP. Unfortunately, the Expos faded down the stretch, and finished 81-81, good for 4th in their division.

Gene Harris made 10 appearances with the Mariners in 1989, posting a lackluster 6.48 ERA and 1.860 WHIP.

Brian Holman pitched pretty well, going 8-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 22 starts. His control was a bit of an issue, striking out 82 but walking 62. He was still young though, and due for some growth.

Randy Johnson also made 22 starts, posting a 7-9 record with a 4.40 ERA. He also showed some control issues, striking out 104 and walking 70 in 131 innings.

The Net Moves

Expos – First Level

  • Langston filed for free agency after the 1989 season, and signed with the California Angels.
  • The Expos received two draft picks as compensation for losing Langston. They used these to draft OF Rondell White and P Gabe White.
  • Mike Campbell spent 1989 in the minors before being traded to the White Sox on 4/5/1990 for minor leaguer Rob Fletcher.

Mariners – First Level

  • Gene Harris was in Seattle from 1989-1992. He posted a 2-6 record with a 5.48 ERA in 51 games (6 starts). Nothing particularly impressive, as he struck out 69 in 93 2/3 IP and posted a 1.730 WHIP.
  • He was traded to San Diego on 5/11/1992 for minor leaguer Will  Taylor.
  • Brian Holman was in Seattle from 1989-1991. He posted a 32-35 record with a 3.73 ERA in 80 starts. He threw 544 2/3 IP, striking out 311 and posting a 1.381 WHIP.
  • Holman suffered a career-ending injury during the 1991 season, and never pitched again.
  • Randy Johnson was the prize of the trade, and spent 10 seasons in Seattle. He posted a 130-74 record with a 3.42 ERA, 2162 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. He won the AL Cy Youn Award in 1995, came in 2nd place in 1993 and 1997, and 3rd place in 1994.

Expos – Second Level

  • Rondell White spent from 1993-2000 in Montreal, posting solid production. He hit .293/.348/.480 with 101 HR, 384 RBI, 88 SB, and a 113 OPS+.
  • He was traded to the Cubs on 7/31/2000 for P Scott Downs
  • Gabe White spent from 1994-1995 in Montreal. He posted a 2-3 record with a 6.57 ERA in 26 games.
  • He was traded to the Reds for minor leaguer Jhonny Carvajal on 11/15/1995.

Mariners – Second Level

  • Randy Johnson was traded from the Mariners to the Astros in 1998, and will be the subject of next week’s Trade Retrospective.
  • Minor Leaguer Will Taylor never made it to the Majors.

Expos – Third Level

  • Minor Leaguer Jhonny Carvajal never played in the Majors.
  • P Scott Downs spent from 2000-2004 with the Expos. He went 3-7 with a 5.74 ERA in 14 starts, throwing 69 innings and posting a 1.710 WHIP.
  • He was released on 11/29/2004, shortly after the team announced their move to Washington.

Overall Reactions

The Expos got what they were hoping for in terms of production, but unfortunately the team does not really appear to have had much of a chance of competing for that division title. They did receive the compensation picks, and were successful in drafting solid if not amazing players as compensation. Obviously, the Mariners did much better, as Randy Johnson turned into the ace we all know him as. Brian Holman also appears that he might have had a very high ceiling as well had he not been injured. Next week I will go over the Randy Johnson trade in 1998 that sent him to Houston, and which will help to show just how much of a slam dunk this trade was for the Mariners.

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.