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July 11, 2010
The Big Trade and our National Pastime
The recent trade between the United States and Russia happened so quickly that most of the details weren't available at the time and are still sketchy at present. The swap which involved a total of 14 players will have no impact on the upcoming MLB All-Star Game, but could influence the World Series.
The U.S. is not as strong as in previous years, but they should win the west again despite crucial managerial shortcomings and an utterly inept front office. Meanwhile Russia looks to be on the rise in the east despite strong competition from China.
The 10 minor leaguers sent by team USA to Russia had compiled unimpressive stats in limited duty, according to the New York Times.
The spy ring assignments, described in secret instructions intercepted by the F.B.I., were to collect routine political gossip and policy talk that might have been more efficiently gathered by surfing the web. And none of the agents faced charges of espionage, because in all those years they were never caught sending classified information back to Moscow. The 10 in custody were charged with conspiring to act as unregistered agents of a foreign government, and eight were also charged with conspiring to commit money laundering, which was later dropped.
Christopher Metsos who was rumored to have been included in the package chose to pursue free agency than accept either re-assignment or a trade.
In exchange for the 10 minor leaguers the Russians sent 4 veteran players to the U.S. According to The Moscow Times the 4 players are.
On the surface the trade appears to be lopsided with the U.S. getting four experienced players with solid career stats in exchange for 10 low-level players who were merely taking up roster space. No salary information or financial terms of the deal have been released at this time, but it is likely that team USA will be taking on additional salary with the transaction which will be subject to the "luxury tax" escalator in the revenue sharing agreement.
This was the first trade between the bitter rivals in many seasons and has been met with suspicion by many of team USAs most loyal fans. Many of us are wondering why the Russians would give up 4 of their top level players and get seemingly nothing in return. In time will this trade be as infamous as the Red Sox sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, or the Cardinals sending sore-armed Ernie Brolgio to the hapless Cubs for Lou Brock?
A top-level executive in Russia's front office at the Kremlin offered an explanation for the trade in a statement made to ITAR-TASS.
"It became possible due to the new spirit of Russian-U.S. relations, a high level of mutual understanding and trust between the presidents of the two countries which nobody can shatter," the official said.
Time will tell which team got the best of this trade, but given the inept and self-defeating leadership of team USA one has to wonder if our front office had any clue what they were trading away or if they even made an honest effort to find out. In any event with revenues down and the team in dissaray the stock holders of team USA are not likely to extend the current president's contract when it expires after the 2012 season. Many in the fan base are hoping for a more immediate change in leadership during the off-season when most of the contracts for lower-level officials are set to expire.