BOSTON -- No more Nomar.
Trade rumors finally turned into reality when the Boston Red Sox sent five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in a four-team deal Saturday shortly before baseball's trade deadline.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was gleeful to get him.
"When I got out of the car this morning about 7, I think, I was
prepared for a real big day for the Cubs or I would be in here
hanging my head a little bit today," he said. "You never go to
work thinking he's going to be available."
Garciaparra was in the final year of his contract, and Red Sox
GM Theo Epstein said he wasn't confident the team would be able to
re-sign the two-time AL batting champion. Garciaparra was dressed
in his Red Sox jersey, preparing to play at Minnesota, when he
heard about the trade.
"My initial reaction was 'wow,' " he said.
"If it was in my control, I'd still be wearing a Red Sox
uniform, because it's the place I know, I love. All of those fans,
I'll always remember. But I'm also going to another great place.
I'm going to a phenomenal city with great tradition as well,
phenomenal fans, great organization."
And he added: "Hopefully, we'll see them in the World Series."
The Red Sox wound up with Cabrera and Mientkiewicz, both Gold Glovers.
"I thought there was a flaw on the club that we couldn't allow
to become a fatal flaw, that the defense on this team is not
championship caliber," Epstein said. "In my mind we were not
going to win a World Series with our defense the way it was."
"It was complicated -- so many teams," Twins GM Terry Ryan
said. "I can see why things get bogged down. I don't know if
deadlines are a good thing or not, we were real close."
The Red Sox were close to dealing Garciaparra last winter after he rejected a four-year, $60 million extension.
Boston tried furiously to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas to play shortstop and although it would have been Manny Ramirez going to the Rangers, the Red Sox would have then shipped out
Garciaparra, possibly to either the Chicago White Sox or Los
Instead, Rodriguez went to the Yankees and Garciaparra stayed and stewed. Confessing that his feelings were hurt, he said he
still wanted to finish his career with the Red Sox.
But the good feelings didn't last through spring training. After
eight hitless at-bats, he injured his Achilles tendon and missed 57
games with an injury that was supposed to keep him out a week.
Garciaparra, 31, is batting .321 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 38 games this season.
"When you have a player of that stature, that has spent his
entire career there winning MVPs, All-Star game after All-Star
game, you really are subject totally to what Theo Epstein decides
to do, whether he wants to move him or not," Hendry said.
"I don't think Theo was going to make a deal just to move Nomar because you heard he wanted to leave or he was unhappy. I don't think that was the case at all," he said. "To be truthful with
you, I didn't know for sure if he would ever move him."
In the end, Epstein was willing to deal.
"[Nomar] was surprised but he had said that Chicago was a place he would like to go, and he tried to stay in contact with Arm Tellum, his agent, so he wasn't taken completely by surprise," Epstein told ESPN Radio. "... We just thanked him everything he has done for the organization and wished him and his family all the best and good health and good fortune going forward. And Nomar, as always, was a class act."
The Cubs hoped to have Garciaparra available Sunday at Wrigley Field to play against Philadelphia.
Cabrera, a former Gold Glove winner, is batting .246 with four home runs and 31 RBIs. The Expos' future is uncertain, and they've often been forced to trade their best players for young,
"Just the fact that I didn't sign back with the team, you can
tell from there that I don't like the situation," Cabrera said.
"I'm really excited. I'm going to a contending team. They're
fighting for the wild card right now," he said. "Obviously, I
have to fill some big shoes with Nomar."
Gonzalez has been injured for much of the season. He's hitting only .222 with three home runs and eight RBIs.
"I think (Cabrera) expressed that he wanted to move on and
explore the free-agent market," Montreal GM Omar Minaya said. "We
just felt that it was best for us to go out there and try to at
least not get nothing for him."
Mientkiewicz is hitting .246 with five homers and 25 RBIs. A
crowded roster made him expendable for the AL Central leaders.
Mientkiewicz was in his Twins' gear at the Metrodome several hours before gametime, talking to reporters, when bench coach Steve Liddle interrupted the session and took him away.
A little later, Mientkiewicz was dressed in a Red Sox uniform,
getting ready to start against the Twins. He got a rousing ovation
from his old fans when he was introduced, and his picture on the
scoreboard already had him in a Boston hat and jersey.
"It's a little awkward right now, but I think it's better for
everyone," he said. "The situation over there was a rough one.
They gave me an opportunity in the big leagues, and what the Twins
are all about is they give the young guys chances."