Friday, July 30, 2004

Used Cars or Poker? 

Joe Garagiola, Jr. -- used car salesman or stone cold poker player?

[Scene: A used-car dealership]

Joe, a salesman: What can I do for you, sir?
Brian, a customer: I'd like a car, please.  Top of the line!
Joe: I've got an excellent model right here.  One of the best two or three in the league, I mean, industry this year.  We can give you an excellent 15-month lease.
Brian: Oh, that sounds just like what I need.  How much?
Joe: Well, quality always costs a little more, but it's worth it.
Brian: OK.  Let's see, I've got about $21 in my wallet -- I've heard that the community has been a little rough on you this year and you haven't done much.  You could certainly use the money.
Joe: C'mon!  Rumors of my financial ruin are greatly exaggerated.  I want to sell the car... to you!
Brian: Well, OK.  I've got a couple hundred bucks at home.  That's a total of $221 in cash money.
Joe: You have got to be kidding me.  Best model going, and you want to pay me $221.  Stop wasting my time.  [Starts walking away.]
Brian: Well, I guess that my '93 Oldsmobile Cutlass still has a few good miles on it.  Thanks for your time...
Joe: [Turns around.]   Hey, wait a minute...

[End scene.]

So now, what, two, three days after a raft of articles speculating that the exploding of the D-Backs was nigh, we all think nothing's going to happen?  As far as I can tell, the reason for the sudden shift in the Republic's coverage comes down to two things:
1) No trade has happened
2) Brian Cashman is quoted as saying "I don't see us doing anything.  It's not due to lack of effort."

Look, Brian Cashman is not stupid.  He's walking away from a deal for Randy Johnson he views as too expensive.  Or is he?  Is he just bluffing?

Of course he's bluffing.  He's going to be working until 1 PM tomorrow to get this trade done.  He's not a used-car customer, he's a poker player, as is every other General Manager.

Peter Gammons reported the rumor that Kris Benson would go to the Mets, sending Ty Wiggington to the Pirates, with the White Sox sending a prospect to the Pirates too.  Now this is just a rumor, but is it one started by the White Sox, making them look so desperate to keep Kris Benson away for the Twins that they're doing everything short of giving the Pirates the free set of steak knives?

Over the past couple days, my thinking regarding the trade situation has split into two: Johnson, and everyone else.
1) Johnson: After getting pounded by the press and fans for the Schilling trade (both at the time and with 20/20 hindsight), the safe choice for Joe is to keep Johnson.  Look, he would be pilloried for doing the deal that's been rumored.  Unless you get something of actual value, forget it, don't do the deal.  Walk away.
2) Everybody else: Finley, Bautista, Alomar -- they're all free agents, even if all you get is a AA prospect, fine by me.  I don't want to say I'll be disappointed or angry if they're in a D-Backs uniform Saturday night, but while with Johnson I want to hold out for a deal that's worthwhile, I don't mind selling these players short.  I would include Hillenbrand in this group, but I do think there's something to be said for keeping him until you decide whether or not you resign Sexson.

For those people who think nothing will happen in the next day or so, just remember about the activity-inducing effect of a deadline.  By this time tomorrow, there are going to be tons of deals to talk about.

By the way, in my rush yesterdayto write about yesterday's game, I got the score wrong.  6-4 D-Backs, not 6-3.  Oops.

Finally, I don't know to handle this, but Bob McManaman's puff piece on Luis Gonzalez in today's Republic included this incident.

"Johnson bristled recently when he was asked how much guts Gonzalez has shown for rying to play out the season with a halfway torn ligament in his throwing elbow.  'Everybody in here has guts,' Johnson said, immediately walking away and defusing an interview before it ever got a chance to start.  'Look, I don't even know what his whole situation is with his surgery or whatever so I really have no comment on it.'"

Who knows what extenuating circumstances might have explained Johnson's hair-trigger response, but it ain't good to have those guys still ticked off at each other.

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