INDIANS GET: Lee Stevens - 1B Brandon Phillips - SS/IF Grady Sizemore - OF Cliff Lee - LHP
How it affects the Expos:
How it affects the Indians:
The way the NL East looks, it's the Braves in another walk. The high-priced Mets are struggling. The Marlins always seem to be a step away from falling flat. The Phillies are pretty much finished. Now with Bartolo Colon (pictured), that leaves the Expos as the only challenger left. Even if a good second half doesn't push them past the Braves, the Expos obviously are thinking wild card. And it could happen. Montreal has a good-enough offense, sparked by 2B Jose Vidro and RF Vladimir Guerrero. With a rotation that has Colon, Javier Vazquez and Tony Armas, it'd be foolish to count out the Expos. They only gave up Lee Stevens, who was hitting only .190, and they don't have to pay Colon past this season. Sure, handing over all the minor-league talent hurts. But for a franchise that's approaching death's doorstep, why wait on the future?
If you think the Indians are mailing it in after dealing away ace Bartolo Colon … well, yeah. But the Indians, despite the relative weakness of the AL Central, weren't going anywhere anyway. They're 15 games under .500 since their 11-1 start and have the worst-hitting team in the majors. General manager Mark Shapiro clearly has a couple of things in mind. First, he's cutting payroll, both by ridding the Indians of Colon (who would have cost $6 million to keep for 2003) and, probably soon enough, 1B Jim Thome. Second, he's positioning the team for a run in 2003 or '04, with guys like Alex Escobar (whom he got for Roberto Alomar before the season) and Brandon Phillips (pictured), one of the three minor leaguers he got from the Expos for Colon.Phillips hit .327 with nine homers and 35 RBIs at Class-AA Harrisburg, and may be the heir apparent at SS to Omar Vizquel.
THE BOTTOM LINE by CNNSI.com's John Donovan
Give the Expos credit. They're clearly not dead ducks. And they're no stooges for Major League Baseball, either. General manager Omar Minaya is going for it all, right now, by ransoming the team's uncertain future. It's a bold, seize-the-moment trade. It strengthens the Expos, no doubt, giving them one of the best top-of-the-rotations in the business. And with what manager Frank Robinson already has done, these Expos will be heard from before this season is done. As for the fans in Cleveland, it's another bitter pill. But by now, they're probably used to swallowing hard. Trading away good players with some time left -- guys like Alomar, Colon and likely Thome -- is never easy. But, face it, it's smart. Shapiro has stockpiled lots of sought-after talent and trimmed the payroll to boot. This year will be one to forget. But in a couple of years, The Jake could be hopping again.