Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You're Traded! (As Long As The Other Guy Says It's Okay)

So what do you think Baltimore Orioles GM Jim Beattie will say to pitcher Sidney Ponson the next time he sees him?

"Um...that little trade thing...you didn’t take that personally, did you?"

"I didn’t really want to trade you....ownership made me do it"

"I knew it wouldn’t go through...I just had to humor the Padres."

"Sometimes the best trades are the ones that get blocked by the other player’s no-trade clause."

The Orioles had a deal on the table with the San Diego Padres: Ponson for first baseman Phil Nevin, straight up. It was shaken on by both GM’s -- Baltimore’s Beattie and San Diego’s Kevin Towers. The newspapers reported it. Both players were informed. Both managers started plotting their strategies with their new players plugged into the roster. Fans from both cities flooded sports talk radio with their opinions of the new Oriole and the new Padre.

Only one problem: Nevin didn’t feel like going to Baltimore. Normally this wouldn’t mean a hill of beans, because players get traded all the time, even if they go to their new city kicking and screaming. But being a "5 and 10" man -- five years with one team, 10 years in the big leagues -- Nevin has the right to waive a trade, plus it’s in his contract. And he wanted to waive that right, very much. So Ponson stays an Oriole, Nevin a Padre, and both GM’s are presumably consulting White House staff for their advice on damage control.

The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time the Padres have tried to trade Nevin, only to be rebuffed by their player. Nevin nixed a deal in December 2002 that would have sent him to the Reds for Ken Griffey, Jr. If I were Phil Nevin, I’d approach GM Towers and ask, "What part of NO-trade clause don’t you understand?"

And how about Ponson? He didn’t have such authority to say yea or ney to a trade, so he basically twisted in the wind while Nevin made up his mind: surfing or crabcakes? Uprooting his wife and kids wasn’t an attractive idea for the die-hard Padre, so Ponson stays with a team that can’t exactly be giving him a warm and fuzzy feeling right about now. I thought Baltimore’s 40 year-old first baseman Rafael Palmeiro showed his experience by uttering these "cover my ass" words about the trade, prior to Nevin’s decision to stay put: "I think it would be great to have a hitter like (Nevin) in the lineup, but we have to worry about our pitching staff now." Well done, Raffy, well done!

They say trades are part of the game, but what about almost-trades? How is a player like Ponson supposed to handle this? Granted, he’s been slumping, but what do players typically say when they’re dealt? "At least I’m going somewhere where I’m wanted." I guess Ponson is left to say, "Well, I almost went someplace that wanted me; now I have to go back to a place that thought they’d be a better team without me on it." Great cure for a slump, I tell you.

The richest quote in the aftermath of Ponson-almost-for-Nevin came from Towers, who was also behind that non-trade of Nevin to the Reds.

"It’s pretty clear where he (Nevin) wants to be," Towers said.

Ya think, Kevin?

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

Here's how I see it: I think this happens a lot, but we just never hear about it - unless a team (San Diego or Baltimore) leaks it to the press as a way of saving face. ("Hey, don't blame me! I tried to make the team better, but Jerky here wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.")

Baltimore probably let it be known that they wanted to trade Ponson, maybe in the hopes it would light a fire under his (considerable) behind. And San Diego is apparently going to keep trading Nevin until he finally accepts one. Meanwhile, he's like "The Guest Who Just Wouldn't Leave."