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Larry Lucchino on Making Room for Floyd, Conspiracy...

8.20.02  8:15am EDT:  Larry Lucchino (LL) on with on with Dennis (JD) & Callahan (GC) on The Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI:

JD:  Steinbrenner, etc., have been calling this move a conspiracy...

LL:  Complete and utter nonsense, what's best for Expos?  Keep Cliff Floyd and get draft pick compensation if he leaves and signs somewhere else vs. three players, fairly high-quality pitching prospects?  They don't have to spend millions to sign draft picks... we saved them money and they helped their franchise.

GC:  Did you think about the long-term prospects of signing Floyd when you went after him?

LL:  We did have a sense that this might be a good fit for him long term. John Henry knows his personality.  But signing him will depend on his agent, market conditions...  when he sees what it's like playing in front of full houses night after night, we think we'll have a shot, but deal wasn't tied into the long-term signing.

JD:  Does the fans impression play any percentage into this deal (i.e. your cheap if you don't do anything)?

LL:  Yes, if I gave it 10% that would be an answer, not much more than that... still, I shouldn't say we're on trial, but let's say we're being examined for operating principal, our commitment long-term.  Commitment to players is more important as the end of July approaches, if you go out and make a move that will help them it's the one dramatic thing you can do to convince them that we're all on one team... used to say stay close, we'll get you what you need.  Important message to the fans, yes, but more important to the players and coaches.

GC:  Trades are a symbol, fun, playing for today, win now.  But what about down the road?  I don't know who is up there worrying about 2-3-5 years down the road.

LL:  It's always an interesting dynamic, what's good for us now vs. what's good for us long-term.  We have payrolls and rosters going ahead four and five years.  Theo Epstein and John Henry have a sense of long-term player development issues.   The dynamic is having those two guys being the guardians of the long-term development.  Mike and I may make more arguments for more immediate things, commitment to fans to make it happen this year.  This is a very hard game, if you're close, you can't just sit on your duff and let things fall into place, you gotta go for it.

GC:  You have guys in their prime (Pedro, Nomar), you can't just say wait till next year...

LL:  Right, there's injuries..  we have two excellent starters, we can go (far), just have to get to the post season, have to give them a chance.

JD:  Floyd stacks up nicely with 3-4-5 with Yankees (as in today's Globe graphic).

LL:  Yes, but I would caution, sometimes trades that get accolades don't work out, and trades that have been panned do work out.  It may take a little time for him to tget used to the American League, it may take some time for Bobby, that may not go as smoothly as you would like.  Fans should understand that there is an adjustment period.

GC:  Did you plan to send Melvin up to Montreal?

LL:  We sent Doug up there in case lightning was going to strike at the last minute.  We felt they would deal Floyd, and it would make sense to them what they could get from us vs. what they could get in the Fall.  We put the probability at a 10% chance for signing Colon as they have him signed. 

If contraction takes place it takes two teams in baseball, we're talking about contraction in 2004, not 2003.  Management has that prerogative, if you have franchise at McDonalds at part of town doing poorly, they have right to revoke franchise agreement.  In baseball we have 30 franchise agreements, and we also have a very aggressive, assertive Players' Association, anything we do, they now need to be involved in.

GC:  Why do they (Player's Association) have a say in revenue sharing?

LL:  That's an excellent question Callahan, an excellent question.  I would say because of a historical lapse on our part... we let them under the tent.  It has an indirect effect on player salaries, that's their argument.  It's been hypocrisy for years.  Marvin Miller said the problem was revenue sharing "get your own house in order" he would say... when we did, they said "hold on, not so fast, not that way, we want a say in it"...  we let them under the tent.

JD:  Are some of these owners content to pull the plug and blow the thing up and start over?

LL:  Now I should beg off on that, tactical question that I can't comment on being so close and with Selig's directives.  Franchises are in different circumstances, but by-and-large Selig has a uniformity, a general support that people bring to this negotiation at the time.  Problems are so obvious, so endemic, that there is widespread support.

Back to being in Montreal - LL:  Nobody allowed anyone in the room for negotiations.  We said 'should we sit by the phones (like the other teams) or because Omar Minaya has worked with Doug Melvin before, should we can have a Canadian on the ground in Canada, and be close to the guy that used to work for him, so if lightning struck, we'd be the closest tree?'  That's what we did.

JD:  Conspiracy theory on trade?

LL:  Bud believes in reform in the system.  He would want evidence that system isn't working, i.e., Yankees running away with it.  This move wouldn't support that.

GC: (with move coming today) We know you like to break news here Larry, who gets sent down?  Who gets released when Floyd and Howry show up in Texas?

LL:  (Ha, oh yes Callahan)  I'm going to wait and let Mike Port do that.  He's going to Texas, which would indicate that this isn't your garden variety move, he will communicate the motivation behind these moves (directly).  Remember that in September we can bring more guys up.  If someone did go down, that person could come up in September.  But Mike has some more unusual approaches (to this roster situation today).

GC:  Would you not release someone with a large salary because of a possible strike (you'd be stuck paying the salary/contract during a strike)? 

LL:  Yes... that would be a factor.  But it's the depth of a team that matters in August, September, and October.  How many times have we seen the big blows in pennant races struck by the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th guy on the team.  So in this case, we're not worried about the luxury of that issue.  I think that means taking on a slightly-enhanced financial risk.

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