Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Waived players

Galaxy waived Celestine Babayaro, Kelly Gray and Kyle Martino. They apparently had no takers for Gray or Martino. I would expect to see both of them land on their feet soon. Babayaro is a bit of a surprise because he was brought in much like Abel Xavier, a past-his-prime-but-can-still-play defender fresh off an EPL club. But unlike Xavier, Babayaro never got into an actual league match.

Ridge Mahoney's got the info here. I wasn't chasing Galaxy stuff yesterday because I'm trying to finish up other stories for my paying jobs but I did send some e-mails to Galaxy and league officials first thing in the morning. In fact, I woke up at about 4:50 a.m., gave myself a minute to collect myself, grabbed my laptop from under my bed and sent those e-mails. It's 6:16 and haven't gotten any confirmation of the cuts.

Anyway, what's also important about Ridge's story is the new rule in effect that maybe most MLS fans weren't aware of. In other sports, when a team puts a player on waivers, other teams can pick him up with no strings attached. So if the Dodgers put some scrub pitcher on waivers to give him his outright release, the Padres can pick up said scrub pitcher - who'd probably be an ace on that crappy team - without having to compensate the Dodgers. But in MLS, teams still held players' rights so if you wanted to pick up a player on waivers you still had to trade for him. But now, players like Martino and Gray can clear waivers and sign with whatever team they'd like without their new team compensating the Galaxy in any way. That's a good thing.

In terms of Martino and Gray, I felt both of them could have helped this season. Martino is out of position on the left side, where he spent a lot of time last year. He's better in the middle, but that's where the Galaxy had a semblance of depth a year ago. Gray is versatile if nothing else. He can go in at right back, right midfield, center midfield and be fine in any of those spots. But the Galaxy had to trim salary and this is how they did it.

ADD: And the release from the club arrived while I was tending to family stuff here at the Bueno household...

CARSON, Calif. (Tuesday, March 4, 2008) – The LA Galaxy waived three players on Monday, the day that all teams must be roster and salary budget compliant in accordance with MLS rules. The club has waived midfielders Kelly Gray and Kyle Martino, as well as defender Celestine Babayaro. All three, as well as players waived by each of the other 13 MLS clubs, will be available in an MLS Waiver Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, beginning at 12 p.m. (PT).

A native of Kaduna, Nigeria, Babayaro had spent the last month training with the Galaxy, playing once in last weekend’s match against FC Seoul. The 29-year old Nigerian had spent time with Belgian club Anderlecht, as well as English sides Chelsea and Newcastle United prior to training with the Galaxy. A Gold Medal winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Babayaro also represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups.

Gray originally joined the Galaxy on July 3, 2007 in a trade that sent Nate Jaqua to the Houston Dynamo. A six-year MLS veteran, he appeared in six regular season games, as well as three SuperLiga matches and one Open Cup game for the Galaxy last year, but missed most of the final two months of the year with a pair of calf injuries.

Martino played in 35 games in a year and a half with the Galaxy, scoring three goals and adding two assists. The 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew, Martino led all Galaxy field players with 26 appearances for the club in the 2007 regular season, as well as playing three times in SuperLiga and three times in the Open Cup, where he scored once.


Anonymous said...

Babayaro wasn't "fresh from an EPL club." Newcastle had cut him lose months and months before because he wasn't fit and was crap for them. Look at where they are in the table, hardly a ringing endorsement, even for an MLS player.

Anonymous said...

thanks for these news :)

glad the G's don't pick up Babayaro for whatever reasons (visa/work permit, too high salary demands, not rated by the coaching staff)

as for the 45 mins he played - he was awful...

defenders who played for Newcastle are suspect anyway... ;-)

with Gray, Harmse gone I think it's likely that the brazilian oscar is going to stick around...

with Becks seemingly playing again on the right, leaving Tudela and Vagenas or drafties to fill in otherwise in the center.

Cheers Ben

Anonymous said...

I think to be considered versatile, you should play reasonably well at all the areas of versatility. Kelly Gray maybe could play in all those positions you mentioned, but he played all of them very poorly. He will not be missed.

Bet Blogger said...

Babayaro was a useful player a few years ago but was clearly past his 'best' at Newcastle so it was no surprise to see him leave but I thought he'd have a better time in MLS. I'm sure if he had been given more of a chance he could have been vital, a player with that much experience has his worth on and off the pitch.

James said...

Don't know if you know this or not, but could this be a first step towards an "actual" free agency system? Maybe I chose the wrong term, but here's what I'm getting at:

Greg Vanney was out of contract with DC United. However, he could not sign with any team he wanted. He had to be traded to LA.

Any other North American sport, if you're out of contract, you're a "Free Agent."

The new rule about waivers seems like they're walking towards that direction, but it's still really confusing to me.

L.B. said...

Hopefully we'll get to see some real free agency. It's absurd how players have zero freedom to move from team to team without a trade. For instance, it probably wont ever happen, but if John O'Brien ever wanted to play in MLS again, he'd either have to do so with Chivas USA or get traded to do so with another club. Again, just using him as an example, not saying he'd actually ever resurface.

Free agency, though, would probably require some involvement from the players' union because that would be one less thing owners have control over. I don't think the league or the owners would just allow players to move freely from club to club unless pressured to do so. Having said that, this new wrinkle in the waiver draft is progress, however minimal it may seem to some.

The Hammer said...

I think John O'Brien got injured last week trying to make a telephone call... he'll be out 6-8 months. Will miss out the rest of the Dancing with the Stars season.

Good move on waving Babayaro. Any of the reasons Ben gave are legit.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Celestine Babayaro: Another great "find" from the Galaxy's "scouting" department....

I hope Chivas USA picks up Martino, just for spite.

just another one of you said...

Martino and Gray would be good additions just for depth on most teams, the Galaxy included. Perhaps if their payroll wasn't so out of whack they'd have held on. Those guys would have trouble finding time on any real contender but the Galaxy doesn't fall in that category.

papa bear said...

not to split hairs, but in baseball a player isn't free and clear until he clears waviers also. Teams toss people on players all the time to see if someone is looking to trade for them. So the MLS system is pretty much the same.

I would be shocked as hell if true free agency didn't make it into the CBA. There have been far too many contentious transfer sagas for that not to be an issue. The players will have to sacrifice something else to get it (perhaps lower minimum salaries than they were going to shoot for) but it'll make the league better for it.

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