Bud Selig Reviewing Marlins-Blue Jays Trade, But Options May Be Limited
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday said the proposed trade between the Blue Jays and Marlins is now under league review, though it has yet to be formally submitted. Selig following quarterly owners meetings in Chicago said there is no timetable for a decision, though he said he was "very sensitive" to the concerns of Marlins fans regarding the departure of many veteran players. Selig: "I want to think about this and review it. I want to be my usual painstaking, cautious, slow, conservative self in analyzing this. … There are a lot of variables. The questions regarding the Marlins fans are very fair and it's a question I'm extremely sensitive to. I'm aware of the anger." He added he "talked to two independent baseball people who tell me the Marlins did very well" in the trade in pure player and roster development terms. Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria and Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston left the meetings without comment. The commissioner added he was not concerned about the trade and unrest over the Marlins' publicly financed ballpark potentially harming future stadium deals. Selig: "Every one of these situations has its own indigenous characteristics" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
UNION INTEREST: In Miami, Clark Spencer writes the commissioner's office is "not the only concerned entity" in this trade. The MLBPA also is "keeping a close eye on the situation in Miami and, in particular, the Marlins' payroll." The Marlins a few years ago "signed an agreement promising to increase payroll when concerns were raised by the union that the team wasn't using its revenue-sharing money on salaries." The union has "already been in contact with the league about the Marlins' latest sell-off" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/16).
SENSE OF BETRAYAL: In N.Y., Ben Strauss notes Selig "gave no indication that he had plans to block the trade, saying there was no such precedent." Still, a sense of "betrayal exists in Miami" after Loria "promised a new way forward for the former Florida Marlins with a new stadium, new uniforms and a new name last year." Other small-market owners were "reluctant to say where they stood on the pending trade." Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio said, "Every team makes their own decisions on how they handle things." Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said, "You can't sustain success as a small market team. You do the best you can" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman cited sources as saying that the Marlins' trade "wasn't discussed in the full group" at the owners meeting. A source said that Loria "ate alone in the lunch room Wednesday, and didn't converse with the owners." He did "dine with other owners at breakfast on Thursday." However, he "requested and received an escort to accompany him to breakfast" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/15).
APPROVE OR DENY? USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes Selig "just can't stop this trade." Nightengale: "He knows it. The owners know it. But hopefully Loria is so clueless that he doesn't know it." Loria "isn't selling his players and is even paying the Blue Jays" $8M. This "really isn't a bad baseball trade for the Marlins" and it "might even turn out as a stroke of genius." The Marlins have "one of the best front-office staffs and the finest scouts in the business." It is just the "timing is terrible, considering Loria's history of similar salary dumps" (USA TODAY, 11/16). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote Selig is "excellent at communicating his awareness that something controversial has happened." But "rarely, if ever ... does he wade into things and blow them up" (NBCSPORTS.com, 11/15). Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote, "Selig doesn't like to become involved in a team's business, certainly not where players are involved." Unless rules are "being broken, that is." Loria "may not be breaking rules, but he has shattered the trust and the bond that have to exist between a team and its fans." If fans "act on their feelings, Marlins Park will be empty next season." Loria "deserves that much" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 11/15). ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "Commissioner intervention is a slippery slope. Ask David Stern." But columnist Kevin Blackistone said "absolutely" Selig should "look into it, that's why he's the commissioner." Blackistone: "Best interest of baseball when you have taxpayers on the hook for 80 percent of a half-billion dollar stadium and you just sold off everybody on the team except for the guy selling popcorn, are you kidding me? You better look into this" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/15).
PROBLEMS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes, "The cities that don't win often lose big." Miami "backloaded its debt for its new park." Boswell added, "MLB to Miami: Good luck with that, citizens. It's amazing what you can do with a sanctioned monopoly and Soprano ethics" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/16). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes, "The bet here is that Selig would be far happier to say 'See ya!' to Loria than he was to [Mets Owner] Fred Wilpon, for reasons beyond friendship" (N.Y. POST, 11/16). In L.A., Bill Shaikin wrote, "Loria is doing his best to kill baseball in Miami," and MLB "ought to take the team away from him before he can" (LATIMES.com, 11/15).