Colorado fans are finding out that they do too.
Players on Block Have Last Word
This has already been a busy year for the rumor mill, with reports almost daily about potential deals for such stars as Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa. But with the July 31 trade deadline still a month away, there's reason to believe much of the talk between now and then won't progress past that rumor stage. Many players who will attract interest have the power to derail blockbuster deals by invoking clauses in their contracts.
The Orioles could be especially hamstrung if they elect to hold a midsummer fire sale. Righthander Mike Mussina, who can become a free agent after this season and will attract interest as long as his negotiations for a new deal drag on, has a no-trade clause in his contract and said in May there is "no way" he would waive it this season. Outfielder B.J. Surhoff, whose lefthanded bat is a sure attraction for teams in the playoff hunt, has a limited no-trade agreement that lists six teams—the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Expos, Mariners, Mets and Pirates—to which he can refuse to be dealt. The Cubs' Kevin Tapani, another veteran pitcher contenders might covet, also can't be traded without his permission.
A number of other players, including Sosa, have the right to veto any deals involving them because they are 10-5 players—they have 10 years of major league service, the last five with the same team. More players are on the brink of gaining that power. Baltimore righthander Scott Erickson, for example, will become a 10-5 man on July 7 unless the Orioles deal him before then. Another 11 players, including Cardinals outfielder Ray Lankford and Indians righthander Charles Nagy, will earn their veto rights by the end of the season unless they are sent packing before their date comes up.
Nilsson in Japan
Land of the Sinking Brewer
Dave Nilsson had every reason to believe he'd be a success this season playing for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League. After all, unlike many major league expatriates who turn to Japan in last-ditch attempts at extending dying careers, the former Brewers catcher was in his prime. Nilsson was an All-Star with Milwaukee last year, hitting .309 with 21 home runs in 115 games before missing most of the season's final month with a broken right thumb. In the spring a major Japanese sports tabloid even named him the country's most promising foreign player.
The move to Japan came about because Nilsson, a native of Brisbane, Australia, wanted to represent his country in the Sydney Olympics in September. His one-year, $2 million contract with the Dragons guarantees him time off to do that, a concession he would not have gotten in the U.S.
He can only hope his Olympic experience goes more smoothly than his stay in Japan. Nilsson was eaten up by Japanese pitching in the opening weeks of the season. He hit .170 with one home run in his first 15 games, and on April 22 was banished to the Dragons' Western League farm team in Nagoya.
In the minors Nilsson, who has been used mostly as an outfielder in Japan, regained his stroke—at week's end he was hitting .330 with six homers and 24 RBIs—but a return to the Dragons didn't seem imminent. His spot in the lineup was filled by South Korean outfielder Jong Beorm Lee, who was hitting .277 and was tied for second in the league with 10 stolen bases. A minor back ailment was another complication. In May, Nilsson returned to Australia for chiropractic treatment he couldn't get in Japan.