Montreal Expos Rumors

International Notes: Fanning, Capitales, Atkins

Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Montreal Expos, has passed away at age 87, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun notes (on Twitter). Fanning played briefly for the Cubs as a catcher in parts of the 1954 through 1957 seasons, but he was better known for the career he built after he was through as a player. He assembled the original 1969 Expos team, beginning with the 1968 expansion draft, and, during his tenure, acquired Expos greats like Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. After Charlie Fox replaced Fanning in 1976, he continued to work for the Expos, eventually taking over as manager in 1981 in time for their first and only playoff appearance. Later in his career, he worked in the Rockies and Blue Jays organizations. In 2000, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are more notes on baseball throughout the world.

  • The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League have announced (link in French) that they will have four Cuban players this season, via an agreement with the Cuban government. Those include outfielder Yuniesky Gourriel, the son of the legendary Lourdes Gourriel and the the brother of star Yulieski Gourriel and the promising Lourdes Gourriel Jr. Outfielder Alexei Bell, shortstop Yordan Manduley, and pitcher Ismel Jimenez will also join the Capitales. It’s unclear whether any of them are big-league talents, although it’s worth noting that the Can-Am League (from which, for example, the Twins signed Chris Colabello) will make it easier for scouts for affiliated teams to see them.
  • Former Cubs and Astros pitcher Mitch Atkins has signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan, J.M.G. Baseball announces (via Twitter). The 29-year-old Atkins last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. He pitched much of the last two seasons in the Braves organization, also pitching in independent ball and in winter ball in the Dominican.

AL Notes: Rays, Montreal, Vargas

The Rays operate on one of the tightest budgets in baseball, but relief could be within sight, writes Cork Gaines of The team’s television contract is set to expire following the 2016 season. While Tampa Bay has a reputation for poor fan investment, they actually draw a strong viewership. Based on recent television deals, Gaines finds a roughly linear relationship between viewership and annual payment. That would put the Rays in line to earn about $80MM to $100MM per season, a large increase over their current $20MM payment. One cautionary outlier is the Twins, who earn just $29MM per season despite a viewer base that would suggest a $80MM yearly return. Gaines noted that ownership stakes were not factored into the analysis.

  • Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon might not be the only Rays stakeholders ready to abandon Tampa Bay, reports Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Despite the impending television deal, owner Stuart Sternberg has discussed a possible relocation to Montreal with potential Wall Street investors. Montreal drew over two million fans four times during the Expos tenure. Tampa Bay has not reached that milestone since their inaugural season. To me, it seems like Sternberg is attempting to improve his leverage in stalemated talks with St. Petersburg, but there is some question about the Tampa area’s ability to support a major league franchise.
  • As we prepare for Game 4 of the World Series, Alden Gonzalez of notes starter Jason Vargas almost didn’t end up with the Royals. Vargas was expected to return to the Angels who coveted a stable veteran presence in their rotation. However, Kansas City was willing to guarantee a fourth year, which was a sticking point for the Angels. Vargas is quoted as having made the decision for his family, although I’m sure he’s quite pleased with how the first year of his contract turned out. Good luck to him in tonight’s contest.

Quick Hits: Expos, Vlad, Indians, Betancourt, Ankiel

Former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie is convinced that the city of Montreal would welcome baseball back with open arms, writes Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. Cromartie is heading up the Montreal Baseball Project — an organization that has been formed with the goal of bringing baseball back to Montreal. The $400K project will be completed by year's end and feature financial analysis, legal consultation and extensive market research among the city's population. Here's more from around the league for those of you in the mood for some late-night reading…

  • Former Expo (and Angel, Ranger and Oriole) Vladimir Guerrero has an offer from the independent league Quebec Capitales, and he's been in contact with the Long Island Ducks as well, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo).
  • The Indians are hopeful of working out a trade with the Rangers to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Chris McGuiness, tweets's Jordan Bastian.
  • The Yankees had preliminary discussions with Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday but don't see a fit, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports (via Twitter).
  •'s Brian McTaggart breaks down Rick Ankiel's incentive structure with the Astros (on Twitter). Ankiel, who has a $750K base salary, will receive $75K for 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances. He'll then receive $100K for 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. All told, he could earn $1.275MM. Ankiel, an Article XX(B) free agent, was named the team's everyday right fielder earlier today.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times expects the Angels to receive a low- to mid-level prospect from the Yankees when the reported Vernon Wells trade is finalized (Twitter link).
  • Joey Nowak of lists 12 notable out of options players who could be traded before the end of Spring Training.

Quick Hits: Pedroia, Rodney, Expos, Morneau

The Braves played their first ever game in Atlanta on this date in 1966. The contest featured two home runs from Joe Torre, but the Pirates won 3-2. Here are today's links…

  • Ian Kinsler recently signed an extension with the Rangers, even though he was already under team control through 2013. How about Dustin Pedroia, who’s under contract through 2014 with an $11MM club option for for 2015? Pedroia tells Rob Bradford of that he wants to stay in Boston and play for the Red Sox. His agent, Seth Levinson, says "Dustin's value far transcends his statistics."
  • Manager Jim Leyland said the Tigers were "quietly interested" in Fernando Rodney before he signed with the Rays,'s Jason Beck reports. The former Tigers reliever has yet to allow a baserunner in four outings with his new club.
  • Former Expos GM Omar Minaya explained to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the deal that sent Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland occurred under highly unusual circumstances. “Long-term, we were going to be contracted,” he said. “And if you were going to be contracted, the No. 1 priority was to be as competitive as you can.” Minaya, now the Padres’ senior VP of baseball operations, and Mark Shapiro of the Indians completed the fateful Bartolo Colon trade ten years ago.
  • Jim Bowden of couldn’t find any GMs interested in trading for Justin Morneau. The Twins first baseman earns $14MM per season in 2012 and 2013, but Bowden wonders if the Rangers or Yankees could show interest later this summer.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Cox, Crawford, DeJesus

Two years ago today the Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. Holliday hit .286/.378/.454 in exactly 400 plate appearances with Oakland before being dealt to the Cardinals for a package led by Brett Wallace at the 2009 trade deadline.

Street has battled injuries but has been solid when on the mound for Colorado, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 109 innings. Smith has appeared in just eight games for the Rox (all starts), putting up a 6.23 ERA. The real get was CarGo, who will certainly be in the MVP mix after a .336/.376/.598 season with 34 doubles, 34 homers, 26 stolen bases, and a batting title.

The hot stove league will certainly bring us more blockbuster trades, but for now you'll have to settle for this long collection of links, the best the blogosphere had to offer this week…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.

Remembering the 1991 Trade Deadline

Ah, who can forget 1991? A little start-up network named Comedy Central was born, while the Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved. Youngsters Jeff Bagwell and Chuck Knoblauch, NL and AL Rookie of the Year, respectively, served notice that they'd be forces for years to come. And Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro celebrated his first birthday.

Meanwhile, the hot stove produced some interesting moments as well. Let's think back to the time we furiously refreshed using our 300 baud modems…

  • The Toronto Blue Jays got a jump on the trading season on June 27th by dealing Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten and Denis Boucher to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Candiotti and Turner Ward. Candiotti had been a hard-luck pitcher with Cleveland- his 2.24 ERA had produced a 7-6 record- but his trade to a contender didn't help, as his 2.98 ERA in Toronto produced a 6-7 record. Just another lesson in the perils of won-loss record. Meanwhile, Hill and Whiten went on to similar careers-both bounced around the major leagues, hitting home runs. And Boucher, a Montreal native, eventually made a triumphant homecoming, pitching to a 1.91 ERA for the 1993 Expos.
  • On July 15th, the New York Mets, still in the race at 49-36, 4.5 games out of first, traded Ron Darling and Mike Thomas to the Expos for Tim Burke in an attempt to shore up their bullpen. Burke certainly did that, pitching 55.2 innings of 2.75 ERA baseball, but it didn't stop the Mets from a freefall that left them at 77-84 for the season. Darling, meanwhile, was a disaster in Montreal, posting a 7.41 ERA in three starts before being shipped just 16 days later to Oakland for Russell Cormier and Matt Grott. Back on American soil, Darling found his rhythm again, pitching to a 4.08 ERA over 75 innings for the Athletics.
  • Oil Can Boyd fared only a bit better than Darling, post-trade, after being dealt from the Expos to the Rangers on July 21 for Joey Eischen, Jonathan Hurst and Travis Buckley. Boyd had a 3.52 ERA in 120.1 innings with Montreal, but collapsed to a 6.68 ERA in what turned out to be the final 62 innings of his major league career for Bobby Valentine's Rangers. Not that Boyd was finished pitching, of course- he had several more seasons in independent league baseball, including a 3.83 ERA stint in 110.1 innings for the 2005 Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League, at age 45.
  • And in an indication of just how much the past 19 years has inflated the cost of deadline-deal closers, the Phillies traded Roger McDowell to the Dodgers for Mike Hartley and Braulio Castillo. Hartley was a veteran middle reliever, while Castillo was a fringe prospect at best. McDowell was just what the Dodgers needed, saving seven games and pitching to a 2.55 ERA in 42.1 innings. The Dodgers, however, finished one game behind Atlanta, meaning that a 93-69 season earned Los Angeles… nothing.

Odds And Ends: Hudson, D’Backs, Expos, Jays

More links to look through for the evening, including a little history…

  •'s Mark Bowman reports that Tim Hudson was scratched from his rehab start tonight with a sore groin.
  • D'Backs GM Josh Byrnes told that he expects a "pretty active" August around the league, trade-wise. It'll be interesting to see if Doug Davis and Jon Garland clear waivers; if they do, the D'Backs could be among the teams making trades.
  •'s Joe Frisaro says Nick Johnson was the last member of the Nationals to play for the Expos. 
  • Erik Manning of FanGraphs doesn't get the Scott Rolen deal from the Reds' perspective. Neither does Tyler Hissey.
  • You thought the Roy Halladay saga was over, but it's merely on hold. J.P. Ricciardi says he'd "have to listen" to offers for his ace after the season, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Next time, the GM hopes the offers are "a little better."

Omar Minaya Trade Profile (Expos)

Omar Minaya has done so much wheeling and dealing through the years that I’ve decided to break up his trade profile into two parts – Expos and Mets.  The vast difference between the two situations is another reason to separate the posts.  Click here to Download new_york_mets_minaya.xls, an Excel file with Minaya’s entire trade history. 

The 2002-04 Expos were owned by the other 29 baseball teams, with Minaya at the helm.  It was a unique and bizarre situation.  Probably a conflict of interest, too – Bud Selig did not allow the playoff-contending 2003 Expos to add September call-ups that year because it was deemed too expensive.

Anyway, Minaya made 25 trades in his three years as GM of the Expos.  Let’s analyze some of the bigger deals.

  • 3/23/02: Sent Guillermo Mota to the Dodgers for Matt Herges.  Since Mota went on to have a couple of dominant seasons for L.A., we’ll give the advantage here to Dan Evans, then the Dodgers’ GM.  Herges was later spun by Minaya to the Pirates for Chris Young.  I still can’t credit Minaya though as he subsequently gave Young to John Hart and the Rangers for junk in April of ’04.
  • 3/25/02: Sent Jason Bay and Jim Serrano to the Mets for Lou Collier.  I’d dock some points from Minaya for this one or give Steve Phillips props, but no one respected Jason Bay in 2002.  He was traded two more times before ending up a Pirate.
  • 7/11/02: Sent Carl Pavano, Graeme Lloyd, and others to the Marlins for Cliff Floyd, Wilton Guerrero, Claudio Vargas, and cash.  Floyd was quickly spun to Boston for Sun Woo Kim and Seung Song.  Essentially Minaya gave up Pavano and Floyd for Vargas.  Vargas never did much in Montreal, so I’ll give this one to Larry Beinfest and Mike Port (Red Sox GM at that time).
  • 7/28/02: The big one: Acquired RHP Bartolo Colon and minor league RHP Tim Drew from Cleveland in exchange for 1B Lee Stevens, minor league SS Brandon Phillips, minor league LHP Cliff Lee and minor league OF Grady Sizemore.  Even with the future of the franchise in question and a desire to win now, this was just too much to give up for Colon.  You have to give this one to Mark Shapiro. 
  • 1/15/03: Big three-team deal: Acquired RHP Orlando Hernandez and RHP Rocky Biddle, INF/OF Jeff Liefer and an undisclosed amount of cash from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team trade involving the New York Yankees, while sending RHP Bartolo Colon and INF Jorge Nunez to the White Sox.  I lack the full context of this deal, but it appears that MLB wanted Minaya to trade Colon because of his $6MM salary.  I’m a little skeptical of that though because El Duque was paid $4.1MM in ’03.  Biddle and Liefer were already looking like failed prospects at the time, so Kenny Williams won there.  The Expos also missed the boat on El Duque, as he soon developed shoulder problems and needed rotator cuff surgery.  He never pitched a game for Montreal and was non-tendered the following winter.
  • 3/24/03: Traded RHP Jim Brower and a player to be named for RHP Livan Hernandez, catcher Edwards Guzman and cash.  This is clear ownage of Brian Sabean, as Hernandez became the team’s ace and the premiere innings-eater in baseball for a three-year span.
  • 12/4/03: Traded RHP Javier Vazquez for the Yankees’ 1B Nick Johnson, OF Juan Rivera and LHP Randy Choate.  Just an awesome deal for Omar, maximizing the return for Vazquez.  A huge bounty was expected though as Vazquez was 27 and coming off his career year.  As you’ll later see, Choate became John Patterson.  So that’s three bona fide solid big leaguers for Vazquez. 
  • 12/15/03: Traded C Michael Barrett to the A’s for minor league pitcher Jonathan Brett and a player to be named.  You can dog Omar for this one, though Billy Beane turned around and sent Barrett to the Cubs  for junk.  Plus, Barrett had been terrible in ’03.  Credit goes to Jim Hendry for recognizing his talent.
  • 1/5/04: Minaya acquired two still-useful players from the Indians in Ryan Church and Maicer Izturis for reliever Scott Stewart.  Stewart, a 28 year-old southpaw, had posted two fine seasons for the Expos but flamed out shortly thereafter.  Perhaps not full revenge on Mark Shapiro for the Colon deal but it was a start.
  • 3/25/04: Snagged John Patterson for Randy Choate.  Patterson’s pretty messed up these days but you can’t deny the value of 198 innings of 3.13 ball in 2005.  That’s more than Choate ever game the Diamondbacks; advantage Minaya.
  • 7/18/04: Acquired RHP Jon Rauch and RHP Gary Majewski from the White Sox for OF Carl Everett and cash.  Jurassic Carl was always pretty average for the White Sox, while the Nats’ are still enjoying the fine work of Rauch.  Doesn’t top Kenny Williams’ Colon fleecing (ewww, gross) but it’s a start.  And Majewski?  Jim Bowden later used him as a major piece in order to acquire Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner.  Another fine move by Omar.
  • 7/31/04: Another three-team blockbuster: Traded SS Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox. Acquired SS Alex Gonzalez, minor league RHP Francis Beltran and minor league 3B Brendan Harris from the Cubs.  Beltran never panned out, but Minaya saw something in Harris that many GMs missed.  Harris found his way to Tampa Bay and is currently sixth in VORP among rookies this year.

Looking at this progression of trades, you can see Minaya kind of learning his way.  He got burned quite a bit on his trades from 2002 through the Colon to the White Sox deal.  But then Minaya went on a major winning streak and managed to acquire some talent for the Montreal/Washington franchise on his way out.  Your thoughts, and did I misinterpret any of these trades?  We’ll cover Omar’s Mets deals next time.