As I mentioned in my previous blog I’d like to look at both sides in the deal which traded away Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s. I’ve looked at how agents and players often overlook the loyalty aspect of staying with a team when money is the driving agent. Now I’d like to look at managements responsibility and whether more blame is due for Rockies management or not.
Like a kneejerk reaction, the moment many Rockies fans heard Matt Holliday had been traded, it was a deep sigh and here were go again. When will they ever pay for a team? This reaction would not be that far off as many fans are accustomed to bungled deals of so called retread “big names” that fall apart and the Rockies are left holding the proverbial bag of doodoo as players fade into the sunset.
Reactions to owners getting rid of players have gone back since the beginning of baseball and even made the foundation of the one largest running stories in “the curse of the bambino.” Rockies fans are wondering if they are cursed by ownership who seemingly fails to show the money. But is it fair?
Reports from the Rockies state they offered him around $20 million in a four year deal. Holliday has been reported to have turned down the offer because it did not include a no trade clause and he did not want to uproot his family. Only the two parties in the room know what was said.
Money and baseball have gone back to its early years. Baseball historians will tell you all this began in 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings fielded the first ever salaried team. Baseball was changed forever when it went from a fledgling fraternity game to one in which players became a commodity to be bought, sold and traded.
Denver fans are livid that Rockies ownership won’t pay top dollar for that commodity. Was the $20 million really the deciding factor? In the business that is baseball was it worth it for the Rockies management to decide to not offer a no trade clause? Everybody has an opinion on whether this was a good deal or not, inevitably time will tell.
Rockies management knew last spring they were faced with a situation where Matt Holliday would be “looking” around if he did not get the deal he and his agent felt were fair. Could they have done more to compromise? Did Rockies management really feel there was no compromise and they had lost their bargaining power because Holliday’s contract would end in ’09? It’s true the organization was at a disadvantage point in that come the end of the ’09 season they probably would get little in return for him. Teams could just wait till his contract expired and begin the courting process and Rockies management would be the girl at the dance with no date. All in all I think they had to pull the trigger or suffer an even worse blow in ’09. They had minimal bargaining power outside of a mandatory no trade clause and they knew it. The power hasn’t always been in the players hands’ though.
In baseball’s beginning years players were often unable to bargain from a strong position. Their main options were to play for the pay offerered, hold out until hopefully the got what they wanted or just quit the game altogether. A favorite quote of the time I love to read is that of Cincinnati’s pitcher Fred Toney to team owner Garry Herrmann in 1916. Giving his unsigned contract back he wrote, “I see you want to give me a good fu***ing” but “I’ll pick sh*t with the chickens before I’ll play for any less.” He’d rather quit than be “f***ked by no Jew Sonofa..” Toney wanted his $6,000 salary. Unfortunately there was never any evidence he got that money when he went back to play for the team.
Matt Holliday wanted what he felt he was worth, and maybe within the fine lines if he did really want that no trade clause, it will no doubt show up in his next contract negotiations. Maybe too someday there will be a discoverd letter to Dan Odowd from Holliday expressing his dislike of the offer like Fred Toney!