Owners, players figure to delay their war until 2003

Oct 30, 2001 7:51 AM

The World Series is more than just the games being played. It’s also the occasion of the gathering of the baseball clans and groundwork for future deals.

Of paramount importance is the basic agreement between the owners and players that expires this month. If any negotiations have been going on, they have been cloaked in total secrecy, as per the order of Commissioner Bud Selig.

There is a feeling, however, among baseball people that the current agreement will be extended at least for one year. Neither the owners nor the players seem willing to risk the wrath of the public at a time when the country is in a war crisis.

Jimy for Houston

Teams aren’t allowed to make an major announcements during the World Series, so a successor to Larry Dierker as manager of the Houston Astros won’t be named until next week.

At least a half dozen candidates reportedly have been interviewed with the frontrunner believed to be former Boston Red Sox pilot Jimy Williams.

In the aftermath of Dierker’s leaving, it comes out that the Astros were not a happy ship this season and that Dierker had lost the respect of some key veteran players.

Schmidt over Bonds

The end of the World Series means the opening of baseball’s free agent market. The biggest name on the market is Barry Bonds.

The San Francisco Giants will make an all-out effort to re-sign him but, surprisingly, he is not the team’s top priority. The top goal is signing pitcher Jason Schmidt, who posted great numbers after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a late July trade.

Schmidt’s salary this past season was $3.2 million. Early talk is of a five-year deal worth $55 million.

Tribal savings

Despite the fact that Juan Gonzalez hit .325 with 35 homers and 140 RBI, the Cleveland Indians are not taking up the option on his contract that would have been for $14 million next season.

The Indians have set their payroll budget for next season at $73 million, $20 million less than this past season. Besides cutting loose Gonzalez, the Tribe is getting rid of Dave Burba ($5 million) and outfielder Kenny Lofton ($8 million).

It’s the first cut in the team’s payroll since Jacobs Field opened in 1994 and why John Hart resigned as general manager.

Park in neutral

New Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Dan Evans has to make a decision regarding Chan Ho Park, who is slated to become a free agent.

Park made $10 million this past season and figures to do better in the free agent market. Evans has to figure out if the club wants to compete for Park’s services given the right-hander’s 7-6 record and 4.40 ERA after the All-Star break.

The Dodgers already have $81.8 million committed in salaries to 13 players for next season.

I-ing freedom

The Chicago Cubs have let it be known they won’t exercise their option to re-sign pitcher Kevin Tapani, who drew $6.5 million t his past season while posting a record of 9-14 with a 4.49 ERA.

Because of his age, accomplishments and future potential, the most desirable free agent on the free agent market is Oakland first baseman Jason Giambi. The Athletics and Giambi have reached agreement concerning a no-trade clause, but he will still test the open market.

A contract totaling at least $100 million is in the offing.

Breeding success

Last Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races have to be judged a success. The crowd of 52,987 was the largest in the three times the Cup has been held at New York’s Belmont Park.

The Classic produced a classic stretch duel between two great horses, Tiznow and Sakhee. The increasing international air of racing was demonstrated by the success of European-based horses.

It truly was the World Championship of Racing. And, one lesson we all should have learned a long time ago was repeated. Never go overboard on a young horse. In this case, it was Officer.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt, hailed as the second coming of Secretariat, was something less than that. If he’s going to be great, he’ll have plenty of chances to prove it. In the meantime, let’s wait and see what happens.

For NCAA only

Much publicity was given to that gimmick play Nebraska used to score the decisive touchdown against Oklahoma last Saturday. Don’t look for it in the pros. The quarterback can’t be an eligible receiver in the NFL.