Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The path leading to nowhere… fast!

Yesterday we speculated about a Sosa-to-Mets deal by connecting the Delgado-to-Marlins dots with the fact that the Mets still need another big name/power bat. As we noted yesterday, Bob Klapisch from the Bergen Record commented that plan B for the Mets was to acquire Sosa if they lost out on Delgado - which, in fact, they did. This type of speculation was also entertained by Chris De Luca in the Sun-Times today:

What is significant to the Cubs is that Delgado didn't choose the New York Mets or Baltimore Orioles, teams that were known to be interested in Sosa but were pursuing Delgado as Plan A.

Now it could be time for Plan B, and a new round of talks concerning Sosa.

Sources say Cubs general manager Jim Hendry hasn't spoken with Mets GM Omar Minaya in at least two weeks while the Delgado derby got serious. Expect the phone lines to begin heating up immediately.

On the other hand, Jayson Stark reported yesterday on ESPN that the Mets ownership has nixed the idea of acquiring Sosa:

Mets ownership has told Minaya it doesn't want him to now turn around and trade for Sammy Sosa, in the wake of losing Delgado,'s Jayson Stark reported. So it's believed the Mets will keep Mike Cameron for now and explore other possible outfield options during spring training, unless something arises before then.

However, in an interview today on ESPN, Stark was more guarded in his language and he acknowledged that Sosa was, in fact, still one of the Mets “plan B options.” He speculated that he thought Sosa was nevertheless on the backburner for them, which is certainly less definitive than his earlier report that “Mets ownership has told Minaya it doesn't want him to now turn around and trade for Sammy Sosa…”

As I noted yesterday, only time will tell who is more reliable – Bob Klapisch or Jayson Stark.

Regardless of who proves to be more trustworthy of a source, Chris De Luca made these comments today which frustrate me to no end, as they seem to so accurately characterize the limp-wristed strategy of the Cubs this offseason:

Sources said the Cubs wouldn't make a serious run at Ordonez until a Sosa deal was completed. With Delgado off the market, Ordonez could find a new home within a week. The four-time All-Star had a face-to-face meeting with the Tigers on Monday but hasn't worked out for teams to show progress in his knee.

This is the same passive and hands-tied posture that prevented them from making a serious run at Beltran. Now is it just me, or does it seem foolishly naïve to think that another team is going to take Sosa and his bloated contract when a superior free agent is available? What GM not named DePodesta is going to pass on available players like Beltran and Ordonez so they can acquire a moody high maintenance slugger on the downside of his hall of fame career?

Hendry seems to think he can pawn off Sosa on some unsuspecting schmuck-of-a-GM so that he can snatch up the better player on the free agent market! “Here, take my garbage so I can go look for something better! Don’t be fooled by the glitter of a Beltran or Ordonez – let me go after them – just concern yourself instead with this guy over here. Did I mention he’s a hall of famer?”

If you are intent on moving Sosa, instead of this passive nonsense, why not take charge of the situation and drive up demand by decreasing supply?! The decreased interest in Sosa has been driven by the fact that there were and are superior free-agents available. If Hendry snatches up Magglio, the Mets, Orioles, and Rangers will have less options and more incentive to take the $25 million dollar millstone off of the Cubs hands! That’s not saying they would, of course, but it certainly would limit their options. Dave van Dyck reasons along similar lines in today’s Tribune:

Will the Cubs outbid the Mets, Orioles, Tigers and at least two other teams for the last major free agent, Magglio Ordonez, whether they trade Sosa or not?

And, most interesting of all, what if the Cubs sign Ordonez, leaving Sosa as the only option for teams that lost out in the Delgado derby and teams that have done virtually nothing to add power to their lineups this winter?

Things could get very interesting very soon, as days until spring training are dwindling as fast as baseball's talent pool. The expected sequence of events is Ordonez signs first, then left-out teams could increase their interest in Sosa, although they might feel the longer they wait the more the Cubs will pay of his $17 million salary.

Regardless of what the Cubs do - this passive, “we can’t do anything until you take Sosa off our hands” attitude is frustratingly inept in my opinion! I would rather the Cubs just explicitly state “Forget the free agents. We’re going to stick with Sosa and hope against hope that this year’s team will produce better than last year’s team, even though it’s not dramatically that different” (i.e., they added Nomar – but lost Alou & Clement).

In case you haven't noticed, Mr. pessimism is back in full force, and he is not a happy camper these days!