I didn’t have the pleasure of hearing WFAN yesterday, so I can’t say what the reaction was to the Mets’ acquisition of Carlos Delgado amongst the few New Yorkers who don’t write Mets blogs. The New York Times’ Ben Shipgel says that Delgado’s views on the Iraq war might become an issue, though Gary Cohen doesn’t seem too worried.
“The climate is different than a few years ago,” Cohen said in a telephone interview. “As long as he produces, his political stances are not going to be any more important than Al Leiter’s political stances . Looking at opinion polls on the issues he was protesting, a lot of people are coming around to his thinking,”
Cohen criticized Delgado last season for not chasing down a ground ball hit by Jacobs, but he said yesterday that the criticism had not been aimed only at Delgado. He said he pointed out everyone who was not hustling.
“Jacobs might turn out to be Carlos Delgado,” Cohen said. “Petit is a guy with a lot of minor league success. You are taking two guys who could be stars and trading them for one of the best hitters, who is an incredibly good teammate, a man of tremendous conviction and intelligence, and the Marlins are throwing in $7 million to boot.”
Over at Baseball Prospectus, Nate Silver stakes out the position that the Marlins’ talent purge was justifiable, if not inevitable.
It is easy to accuse the Marlins of ulterior motives, particularly given an owner with the shady history of Jeff Loria. But the fact of the matter is that selling makes sense for the Marlins, and it makes sense in this market. It especially makes sense if they can get some true blue-chip prospects in return, but even without that, it makes sense from a profit-and-loss standpoint, and it does so by a fairly wide margin.
There’s going to be an effort by the mainstream media to ostracize the Marlins. Ostracization, anthropologically speaking, is an effort to apply social disincentives to dissuade undesirable behavior when the economic incentives aren’t sufficient. And the economic incentives in baseball today don’t discourage the Marlins’ behavior; they incentivize it.
Baseball can no longer count on its owners to sacrifice profit for the sake of good citizenship. There is too much money at stake, and there are too many teams run as real, corporate businesses, rather than family operations. If baseball is serious about discouraging this sort of behavior, it needs to adopt an economically sensible revenue sharing plan, or educate its teams about the risks associated with taking on bloated long-term contracts like the one belonging to Carlos Delgado. Otherwise, the Marlins’ fire sale could be the first of many to come.