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  1. #1
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    Edskin's bi-monthly column: Edition #1

    Time is Now for Lindner, Reds
    by Edskin


    Normally, I find "how they made their millions" stories a tad boring. It's usually through inheritance or some complex business dealings-yawn. However, the story of Cincinnati Reds owner Carl Lindner is quite interesting--- bananas. Yep, he sold a whole bunch of bananas and he turned them into millions of clams. We look at a banana split and say "mmmmmmmm," Lindner looks at a banana split and says, "cha-ching!"

    Lindner sold so many bananas that he decided to buy himself a major league baseball team-that's a whole lotta bananas. Unfortunately, that's where my admiration for the man ceases.

    Upon being named majority owner of the Reds, Lindner made it quite clear that he was not in it to make money, but he also made it quite clear that he wasn't about to lose money either. It's as if he just wanted a big playground for his grandkids that wasn't going to cost him anything. His reluctance to lose a few bananas off the back of the truck, have kept the mid-market Reds drifting in a sea of mediocrity-so close, yet so far.

    Some say that it's his money, his team, he should be able to do as he sees fit. But is that accurate? Does the team really belong to him, or is he just a high-profile caretaker for the city and the fans? I tend to lean towards the latter. I believe that owners have an obligation to their fans to do all they can to produce a winner. If Linder knew from the get-go that he wasn't willing to make the necessary concessions to compete at a high level, then why buy in the first place?

    And perhaps he is being a tad shortsighted when it comes to the bottom line. Linder has three HUGE factors in his favor:

    --The city of Cincinnati loves the Reds. Right now, the fans are battling the negativity, complacency, and frustration that comes with seasons of disappointment and questionable moves from the front office. Nothing gnaws at a fan more than unloading a good player for next to nothing in return, just so the books balance. But the city has always been baseball crazy-give them hope and the turnstiles will explode.

    --The Reds open a new stadium this season, which virtually ensures good attendance. Add a winner to a new stadium and Linder could be swimming in green with the increased concessions and merchandising sales that would be sure to follow.

    --The number one note of comparison in Cincinnati is Bengals owner Mike Brown. Conduct a popularity poll between Brown and Saddam Hussein and Brown would probably win-by a hair. Lindner doesn't have to do much to make his team the only show in town.

    Am I telling another man how he should spend his bananas? You bet. Lindner has a responsibility as a sports owner that owners of other corporations and businesses don't. Right now, the message he seems to send is, "we're probably not going to be all that great, but please, we still want you to come out to the park."

    It's hard to say, but given his position, I truly believe I'd take a different approach. Lindner is a very old man, even if the Reds lost millions this year, it still wouldn't make much of a dent in his wallet. I think it would be worth the financial hit to compete for a World Series--to have your team playing in those magical October games. And as stated before, success on the field translates directly to financial success off the field through a variety of different means. He could very well make his money back-or more.

    The Reds are not in need of an overhaul. Their general manager, Jim Bowden, who at times is his own worst enemy and at other times is the Reds only hope, has done a solid job of building a core of young players that is ready to bust out. Bowden is also a master at annually finding diamonds in the rough who come cheap (see Jimmy Haynes last year). So, the Reds don't need quantity, but they are desperate for quality in one key department--starting pitching. Add two good starting pitchers, or one great one, and the Reds go from a middling team to a true contender. Problem? It's going to cost some bananas. The Reds have the ammo (trade bait) to get a deal done to acquire any number of high quality pitchers (The Expos Bartolo Colon being the golden nugget at this point), but there doesn't seem to be any way to accomplish this without adding payroll.

    Bowden can wheel and deal and find treasures in the trash heap until the cows come home, but the ball is ultimately in Lindner's court. He can keep the status quo and hope that the Reds have a magical season as they did in 1999. Or he can sign off on a bit of a risk venture--- a dare to be great opportunity. In the end, sports is a business, but you can't shake the natural instinct to want to be the best. Mr. Lindner, we know you're a good businessman, now show us that you can be a winner too.

    Imagine what a hero Lindner would be if he signed off on the deal(s) that restored the Reds as a champion and gem to the Queen City. He would be the ultimate hero. The fans might just, dare I say………go bananas.

  2. #2
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    Originally posted by MikeS21
    Far too many fans think all Lindner has to do is pull profits out of Chiquita, and pull profits out of Great American Insurance, and pull profits out of Provident Bank, and that will pay for the huge payrolls.
    I don't think that anyone thinks that Carl should mix money like that.

    I do believe that people think that Carl and his band of merry men need to pull out the personal check book and thrown in a couple million each to get a pitcher. Which seems like a lot to you and me, but when you see your name on Forbes list each year, it isn't that much. 10 shares, kick in a million per share. That would work.

    And I don't think that the fans expect that to be a donation to the city. If the owners would show the fans that they are that interested in trying to win, I believe the fans would reward them with higher attendence. Which would put more money back in their pockets.

    Yes it might be a little extreme, but after the Bengal loss today, the fans of Cincinnati are more than a little testy. Carl and the limiteds are going to face a wrath a little more brutal than usual, at least for a while.
    Will trade this space for a #1 starter.

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    GAC wrote:
    Let's say you are an investor/shareholder in UDF, Chiquita, or one of Lindner's other holdings, and he's telling you each quarter/year that your dividends/profits will be alot smaller because he's taking that millions and putting it towards the Reds (and organization that you, as a shareholder, have no part with)?
    This is PRECISELY why the IRS and SEC would be all over Lindner if he did try to pull this. Far too many fans think all Lindner has to do is pull profits out of Chiquita, and pull profits out of Great American Insurance, and pull profits out of Provident Bank, and that will pay for the huge payrolls. I have no accounts with Provident Bank, but if I did and I heard he was taking profits out of the institution where I have MY life savings, in order to pay some baseball player, you better believe I'd be contacting someone with the SEC.

    I agree with what letsgojunior said in the other thread. Lindner needs to get more involved in the front office power struggles and put an end to the three ring circus we've got going on right now. He needs to get a REAL PR department that actually does something besides feeding mid-game injury reports to Marty and Joe in the radio booth.

    Enjoyable read, Edskin. I look forward to more of these columns.
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    letsgojunior wrote:
    Let me clarify my small market comment. The way I meant it was that I am tired of hearing John Allen use it every time the Reds can't get a player or finish under .500. I am fully aware that the margin of error for a small market team is much, much smaller than it is for the Yankees. However, looking at the success of other teams in the league, one can't argue that no success is possible in a small market. It is harder, but doable. That was my point. The excuse I was referring to was the usage of the small market whenever we screw up or when Allen wants to comment about revenue sharing. We can do better than what we are doing now, it is obvious.
    Of course, it's doable for a small market team to compete IF they get extremely lucky and all the cards fall just right.

    When you start tracking the teams that make the post season, you will discover that much of their season is filled with incredible good luck.. They might have 2-3 position players who have awesome seasons at the plate. A pitcher or two will come out of nowhere and put up great numbers. Most of the time, a few guys have career years. Injuries are at a minimum. The bench/bullpen has extraordinary years. That was the Reds in 1999.

    PLUS, not only does it require a lot of luck, but it also requires that your division rivals have poor luck. If key injuries hits your division rival, or the rival team hits a slump, it ultimately helps your team. The Reds benefitted from this the first half of 2002. The Cards and Astros were struggling and that helped the Reds. Take the California Angels this year. if Seattle hadn't self destructed at times during the season, it kind of makes you wonder if the Angels would have even made the post-season.

    That's how small market teams compete. Oakland has gotten lucky because certain players have been availible when they drafted them. And they have been lucky because they have been relatively injury free. You let a couple of those young stud pitchers develop arm trouble, and spend an extended amount of time on the DL, and suddenly the A's are back in the cellar with the rest of us small market flunkies.

    The difference between the small market teams and the large market teams is that teams with $$$$ can overcome bad luck by replacing/moving slumping/injured players with more players. Even if the Reds bring in Bartolo Colon, and make all the fans happy, what happens when Colon goes on the DL for two months? There are no replacements and there's no money to bring in another Colon-caliber pitcher. OTOH, the Yankees can stock up on eight starting pitchers. If three of them go on the DL, they still have five others. If Derrick Jeter goes down to a season ending injury, the Yankees can afford to go out and trade for ARod to replace him. If Bernie Williams goes on the DL, the Yankees can go out and trade for Jim Edmunds. But if Larkin goes down, the Reds can only afford to pay Juan Castro. If Junior goes out, the Reds can only afford Reggie Taylor. THAT'S where being a small market team bites you in the rear.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one, and they don't want someone else's shoved into their face.

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    If the Reds had drafted Mulder, Hudson, and Zito, then PROPERLY developed them, I hardly think you would use the word 'lucky'. Drafting is a LOT more than luck. It involves intensive scouting, workouts, etc. And it doesn't stop after drafting. The player has to be properly developed through the system, the perfect combination of patience and caution. Drafting and developing involves a lot of skill. And certain players have been available that the Reds didn't take in various situations. Strong drafting and development is not merely lucky -- good organizations do it well and bad organizations don't.
    I don't dispute what you are saying. In fact, you are making my point. The Reds' INABILITY to do these things is good luck to those teams who take advantage.

    Two years ago, Ty Howington was the #2 ranked left-hander in the minor leagues(according to BA). I would call his injuries in 2002 "bad luck" while it stifled his proper development. (By the way, if you want "bad luck," look at the #1 ranked left-hander in the minors: Rayn Anderson. How many injuries has he had?)

    As far as the Reds' troubles in the draft, see my other post in this thread.
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    Team Tuck,

    I think the TALENT level is better now than it was in 1999. It is PERFORMANCE that has faltered.

    If you want an example, compare the Oakland A's and the Chicago Cubs. The A's have had great success with their young pitching studs. OTOH, the Cubs, who have as good or better young pitchers, have not seen the same kinds of perfomances.

    The Reds OF has definitely improved in talent since 1999. But it has yet to produce Vaugn/Cameron/Young like numbers. The infield is in a state of flux based on who is going to play 2B. Casey has been hurt - he says it happened in spring training last year. But I wonder if it happned sometime before that. Doc Kremcheck said his shoulder looked pretty frayed. This may have been a 2-3 year old injury that began as a weakness - based on Casey's lack of power numbers. Larkin has obviously regressed, and Boone has pretty much remained the same.

    IMHO, the pitching talent-wise is better now. Think about it. We had Neagle, Harnish, Villone, Parris, and Tomko. If we could get one ace to replace Neagle, I think Graves, Dempster, Haynes, and Reitsma is better than the other four. We've just not yet seen the results.

    I do agree with your assesment of Bowden. It seems that the last two drafts have not been as good as you would want. Considering the high draft position the Reds held last June, I was VERY disappointed. Gruler was an OK pick for a high school pitcher, but, since Bullington was already gone, I would have MUCH rather seen Bobby Brownlie drafted because he is more polished and would been closer to the majors. And then during the compensation round, Mark Schrammeck ? Maybe it was just because he came from a small school, but the guy wasn't even on anyone's radar until the 8th or 9th round. And the 2nd and 3rd rounds went downhill from there.

    I hope there is an improvement in the draft this year, or somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.
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    OK, based on what M2 just said - and I think he's made a pretty valid point - JimBo USED to make those deals where he got the great returns for the washed up players. So, why ISN'T he making those deals now?

    Could it be that the "GREAT returns" are the guys who aren't getting it done now? Or do you think that the other GM's are a little more careful now when dealing with Bowden?

    I have no doubt Bowden goes into any negotiation looking for a "Burba for Casey" deal, a "Bichette for Reitsma/Curtice" deal, or a "Shaw for Reyes/Konerko" deal. But I wonder if the other GM's - either out of respect or revenge - aren't about to let themselves be taken by Jim Bowden? Three years ago, Bowden could have traded guys like Walker and Dessens, and would have stocked the farm system for years to come. So what has happned? Has he lost it, or has he been targeted by other GM's?

    I'm just thinking out loud here.
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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Originally posted by letsgojunior
    I wouldn't call winning 93 games self-destructing.
    I agree. I prefer to use the word "choking"

    I stand corrected Raisor. Though I think $$$'s had something to do with it also. And I hate "no trade" clauses :mad: . Talk about hamstringing an organization. It's not like they aren't giving these players the "sun and the moon" already.

    lgj says further..."We've been drafting as high as Oakland in the recent years, yet don't have a pitcher to show for it while they have three bona fide studs. That reeks of an organizational deficiency and not pure luck."

    You hit the "nail on the head" right there girl . IMHO, this is the one area where this organization has shown me that they have huge deficiencies (possibly ).

    If you're telling me that, as a small market team, you can't afford to enter the FA market and basically "run with the big boys", so you must therefore focus your attention/efforts on scouting, drafting and development youth. Then you had better have the right personnel in those places to accomplish this goal. And I'm referring to scouts, coaches, trainers, etc. And I've stated that numerous times over the last few weeks on here. Marge Schott completely down played the importance of this, and destroyed these progams throughout most of the 90's. She hated paying scouts.

    Building new facilities, such as in Dayton & Louisville, and reorganizing your farm system is great. And this organization has done that in the last 3-4 years, and I think that is movement in the right direction.

    But when I hear of guys like Grant Jackson walking out, and also hear stories of scouts quiting, then that disturbs me somewhat.

    And we seem to have a huge "turnaround" in some of our coaching areas.

    Now does that necessarily mean that there is something wrong, or that they were simply tendered better offers elsewhere? That I do not know. But that still shows me an indication of a problem somewhere, if we can't retain these people.

    And we seem to have made great strides in drafting when it comes to developing "position" players, such as a Dunn, Kearns, etc.

    And while in the last 2-3 years we have loaded up on alot of young arms... how many times have we fans seen us make a deal/trade a player and get a pitching prospect in return?... how long (in years) should it take before we start to see results, or if this young pitcher has it or not?

    Because I really don't think we seriously started loading up on alot of these young arms until around the '99 season. We traded for Graves. Willy was brought up through the system. But beyond that...our program for most of the 90's was stripped and in shambles.

    So, if we didn't start seriously making this effort until within the last 3 years.... how long before we start seeing results?

    Or are we going to make the same mistake we did in 2001, nd end up rushing (and possibly ruining) some of these young arms?

    Is it feasible for us to expect to see some of these pitchers to show they are ready for 2003? or should we be showing more patience, and expect it more in '04 or '05?

    Especially when we are drafting high school kids? I mean, to me, it would look like they'd have to be in the system for 5-6 years before we would be able to see results, if any at all.

    I'm not making excuses here. Just asking a question on this issue... "Are we expecting too much too soon when looking at the starting point when this FO started to seriously pursue this?"
    Last edited by GAC; 01-02-2003 at 05:26 AM.

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    I fully understand what you are saying lgj; but what kind of market/payroll do those 3 teams you list (M's, SF, and Indians) have and exist in?

    I have never "bought into" the logic teams use when they say building a new stadium will greatly help a teams chances to compete. Sure, it will help some; but it is always a temporary fix. I look at the Indians. Where are they at now? Sooner or later you will reach that "saturation point" where the revenue brought in will be out paced by the expenditures. If you cannot control the other various costs, then in the long run, you are fighting a losing battle.

    And organizations such as the Brewers and Pittsburgh, who have just opened new stadiums, is further example of that IMO. It simply "stifles" or slows a process that is continuous, out of control, and will sooner than later catch right back up, out pace, and put a team right back in the situation they were before.

    If a new stadium brings in 20-25 Mil in extra revenue, there is still no way any team is gonna be able to invest more than 50-60 % of it back into payroll due to other misc costs that they will incur with the building of that stadium (stadium lease? any agreement made with the city where located? etc etc.).

    So yeah, an extra 15 Mil ain't gonna hurt; but looking at today's economy in MLB... it'll be eaten up very fast with the way player's salaries are escalating.

    10 years ago, we were one of the top teams in MLB with a 42 Mil payroll. And in a short period of time, a team with that kind of payroll is NOW considered at the bottom tier. That's one heck of an inflation rate when looking at player's salaries.

    And whose fault is that? I cannot fault alot of ML teams who are unable to keep pace with that.

    And the fans solution is...owners need to cough up more and more money, year in and year out, to keep pace with that phenomenal rate of growth in player salaries.

    What good is that gonna do when you have characters in NYC who will always out spend you, and even with a new CBA, shows no regard for the game at all IMHO?

    The vast majority of teams in MLB cannot compete in spending of that types.

    Teams like the A's, Twins, and Anaheim have shown that it can be done by scouting and developing players, while holding down payroll for a time. But unless you can keep "churning" those lplayers out year in and year out, you're still facing an up hill battle come contract time with alot of those players. They want their money, and will go where it's at...PERIOD!

    We can all argue this issue forever. But the problem is alot bigger than what we are facing as an organization.

    Having the money is not the only problem this orgainzation, and so many others are facing.
    Last edited by GAC; 01-04-2003 at 08:20 AM.

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    I agree with ya TT.

    The vast majority of MLB owners/organizations are in the same boat as the Reds are. Even teams with payrolls in the 70-80 Mil range (some, not all) were mediocre teams with won-loss records that were nothing to brag about.

    It tells me there is more to it, and may have alot to do with your organization's infra-structure, and having the right personnel in the right places to scout, develop, make those "key" baseball related and on-field decisions, and yes, at the right times, make acquisitions.

    And I will agree that this may very well be the area where this organization has huge weaknesses.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Edskin
    Thanks Boss Oh, and check your PM's!
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    Good article Ed.

    I have agreements and disagreements with this position.

    I can fully understand someone (such as us "average joe's) making the contention that it wouldn't hurt a billionaire like Lindner to lose several million investing in this team, if it could possibly bring a winner.

    To be honest. If I was a billionaire, I'd probably have no problem doing it. But then I'm a baseball-addict (and Carl is not)

    But my question is... is it simply "his" money to be able to do this?

    Yes, he's the CEO; but does that give him the right to lose money on a yearly basis (and that's what the trend would be), and then have to justify it to his LTD partners and shareholders of his various investments/company's? Would they stand for that?

    I, and most of us, don't know what the situation is when it comes to his "readily available" or liquid assets.

    Put yourself in the position of being one of those partners/investors.

    Let's say you are an investor/shareholder in UDF, Chiquita, or one of Lindner's other holdings, and he's telling you each quarter/year that your dividends/profits will be alot smaller because he's taking that millions and putting it towards the Reds (and organization that you, as a shareholder, have no part with)?

    And again I ask the question (which has been asked many times before; but no one seems to know the answer )... How much is enough? Does it ever end? Or is Lindner and his partners suppose to be content with that situation year in and year out? Because looking at the economic environment in baseball, it's not a pleasant scenario.

    Should we take the risk of say the D'backs owners, who have their team in a very precarious financial situation?

    Some say they wish Lindner would sell the team to an owner who would pour millions into this franchise to bring the fans a winner. But teams like the Angels, A's, and Twins have shown that it's not simply about pouring money in, in order to be competitive and win; but having the right personnel, player development, etc.

    Look at the payrolls of teams like LA, Boston, Baltimore, etc. When was their last WS? Organizations like the Angels, Twins, and A's embarass these guys IMHO.

    And with the exception of owners like King George and the Red Sox, who else is following that philosophy of spend, spend, spend?

    Some have held up Dolan as an example. Jacob sold the Indians at just the right time. Look what Dolan is now having to do. Economic losses within his personal investments/holdings, along with the fact that the revenue from the new stadium have finally reached a "saturation point", have forced him to cut payroll, loose key players, and begin to rebuild, after only owning the team a few short years.

    My whole point is... regardless if Lindner sold this team. I don't think we'd see anyone come in here and just start pouring money into this franchise. Whether it's this team's geographic location, market size, or the limitations on generating large amounts of revenue... I just don't see that happening.

    And if we start the 2003 season with a payroll near 60 Mil, then what is wrong with that? Most, at one point months ago, were saying they'd be ecstatic to see that kind of increase. Now it's not enough?
    Last edited by GAC; 12-29-2002 at 05:44 AM.

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    But if we can't sign Colon long term, then it was all wasted IMHO. he is due to make 8.25 Mil in 2003, before entering FA. If he has another solid year, is it preposterous to assume he will be demanding somewhere in the area of 12-14 Mil/year in a multi-year deal?

    And if this organization was willing to pay that, could you see him being the highest paid player on this team? Not trying to assume or start anything; but could that lead to a "sticky" situation?

  13. #13
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    I'm sorry, but Ron Oester not getting the manager's job is Ron Oester's fault.

    I don't care what kind of money they offer you. You get the chance to manage...and you jump on it! He was the idiot in that scenario IMO.

    And I don't blame the Reds for one second for passing up on Colon last year, knowing his pending free agent status. And I don't care what little the Expo's had to give up to get him either.

    What were the Indian's demands (player-wise) from this organization for Colon? It was far greater than what they settled for from the Expos at the time.

    And I don't think Colon would have made much of a difference anyway, due to the injuries to key offensive players we incurred anyway.

    We're arguing over a moot issue here LOL
    Last edited by GAC; 12-30-2002 at 07:39 AM.

  14. #14
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    I'm not making any determination/evaluations until i se who takes that field on Opening Day. There's still plenty of time for certain "key" moves to be made.

    And I agree on our most important need right now being pitching. And I also think this FO realizes that too. It's the one ingredient that we need to add to a healthy squad.

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    I agree FTLOTG. And not only have the A's had success in doing this, but also the Twins.

    But then at some point and time, when these players "hit", we see what can easliy happen, and is a "drawback" from being a small to mid market team on a limited budget. Where's Giambi at now? And why did he leave?

    The Twin's GM has already came out and stated that they are probably not going to be able to retain all of their young star players, and OFer Hunter is one of them, due to their upcoming salary demands.

    The point is that you can scout, develop, bring these young players through your system, and hold onto these players for several years before they are arb eligible, and then free agency. But sooner or later, you're gonna have to "face the music".

    You have to have all the right personnel in place to keep "churning" out these young players in order to replace the ones you very well may lose in the future due to they amount of $$$'s they are going to demand, and what the market dictates.

    We're going to face that with kids like Dunn and Kearns in a few years, among others.

    It is so much harder on small to mid market teams. Impossible? NO..but alot harder.

    I don't know the A's financial situation, or the contract situation of their star players. But lets see how long they can keep this star rotation together?

    Where are all the big money players going to this off-season? Or for that matter, players, due to their performance, are DUE to get big money?

    Yankees, Atlanta, Philadelphia (who are idiots IMO), and the Red Sox?

    Some one explain why teams like KC, Pittsburgh, Fla, Milwaukee, Cincy, and so many others aren't in the bidding for these players?

    MONEY

    I guess if you want to, you can level the charge that their owners are just cheap. But I don't think that is the reasoning at all.

    That's why teams are all huddled around the Expos right now. They know that they have as good a shot as anyone at meeting the Expo's demands, because those demands are high level, but currently inexpensive, prospects.

    That's what it's gonna cost you at this point.

    But at least you can "sit at the table" and make a viable a offer if you have the talent. The only "sticking point" IMO is that the Expos want someone to take Tatis (and his salary) off their hands. And that would cause the eligible bidders to dwindle down to only a few teams then. A team like the Red Sox or Yanks could afford to do that (eat that salary). But a team like the Reds would have to "make room" salary wise to be able to accomodate that, along with giving up some talented prospects. It makes it tougher.


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Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

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