By: Noah Wright
The Expos are kind of a tragic story in baseball. Throughout their history, there were many times that they could have built a dynasty. However with bad management, and ownership, the team never really did anything in their existence, and eventually were moved to Washington D.C. But in the 90’s, The Expos missed their chance to build up to a dynasty.
Getting close to the 90’s, The Expos made similar mistakes they made in the 80’s. Back on May 25th, ‘89, the Expos decided to trade a young starter who had some control issues Randy Johnson, and two other pitchers to The Mariners for Mark Langston, and Mike Campbell. While Campbell never played a game for The Mariners, it was Mark Langston that was the big piece. Trading Randy Johnson, however, would be something The Expos would probably go on to regret, as his best years were right around the time The Expos could have been great. But Langston was great for The Expos. In 176 and two thirds innings, Langston had a 2.39 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and 1.308 WHIP for The Canadian team. The only problem is that Langston was on the last year of his contract. Instead of resigning a player that could have been their ace, the Expos let Langston walk, and he signed with the California Angels in the ‘89-90 off season.
Another mistake this team made was in 1994-’95 off season. After the ‘94 season, outfielder Larry Walker’s contract expired. Walker was only 27 after the ‘94 season, and he looked to be one of the new up and coming outfielders in the game. He had flashed all the tools in his stint with the Expos. He was an 18+ stolen base threat, a 20+ HR threat, won a gold glove, consistently had double digits in outfield assists per season, and was a .290 hitter in ‘91 and .301 hitter in ‘92. Instead of trying to lock Walker down heading into his prime years, the Expos decided to let him walk, letting him go to the Colorado Rockies where he would go to and win an MVP and get nominated to 4 all star games, and 5 Gold Gloves, and 2 silver sluggers. Sure he was a bit inconsistent with his batting average, and while it is up for debate how he would have done if he had stayed in Monteral, instead of going to Coors Field, he had already shown good tools in Canada, so it’s not out of the question whether he would have built off the tools he had already had, and had been an MVP candidate.
This wouldn’t be the first player they traded, but then go on to regret greatly. The next big name I want to talk about is Pedro Martinez. However I will give the team some credit for the trade they made to acquire Martinez. During the ‘93-’94 off season, the LA Dodgers decided to trade a 21 year old pitcher named Pedro Martinez to the Expos for Delino DeShields Sr. Martinez had come off a very nice rookie campaign for the Dodgers, and could have been the long term rotation anchor The Expos needed. For a while, that’s what he looked like. Between ‘93 and ‘97, Martinez pitched in 797.1 innings, with a 3.06 ERA, 3.17 FIP, and 1.089 WHIP. This 5 season stretch also included the ‘97 AL Cy Young. But the Expos decided it was time to part ways with Martinez, and traded him to the Boston Red Sox in the ‘97-’98 off season for Tony Arms, a pitching prospect that never panned out. This left the team with another trade that went sour.
Then during the ‘96-’97 off season, the Expos made yet another decision that could have been game changing for the team. Outfielder Moises Alou Jr. had hit free agency, and he was likely going to be a highly sought after commodity. However the Expos again decided to pass up on Alou, who was one of their best outfielders in the 90’s. In his Expos tenure, Alou Jr. batted .293/.350/.490. After his departure from Montreal, Alou would sign with the Marlins, then was traded after his first year with The Marlins, only to have a career year in Houston.
To end their horrible decisions, in the ‘97-’98 off season, the Expos had another young outfielder, Cliff Floyd. Floyd was a little bit different to other names I had mentioned here, but it still could be looked back as a mistake. Floyd may not have been an all-star when The Expos traded him, but he was only entering his age 24 season. After his departure from Expos and his arrival at the Florida Marlins, Floyd would go on to be one of the Marlins better hitters in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
This team is baseball’s tragedy. They were a team that had so much talent throughout the the 80’s, and especially the 90’s. They could have had an outfield of Vlad Guerrero, Larry Walker, and Moises Alou. They could have had a rotation that housed one of the best 1-2 punches to ever grace The MLB with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. This team had chances, but never really took them. And that poor ownership and management landed a re-location to Washington D.C. So in the end, this team had potential to be a decade long dynasty, but missed out on so many chances, that they ruined it before it even started.