Pre-camp thoughts (O’Brien, Garcia, Lima, and more)
With training camp set to open next Monday, here’s what’s happening in Quake-land.
The Ronnie O’Brien saga
Let’s start from the beginning on this one. Similar to what happened to Joe Cannon, the Quakes did not pick up O’Brien’s option at the end of the season. This was done in the hope of getting the Irishman to take a reduced salary (he made around $250,000 last year). Apparently, the pay cut San Jose asked O’Brien to take was in the neighborhood of 40%.
But unlike the Cannon situation, the Quakes front office is operating from a position of strength as it relates to O’Brien. There really isn’t a market for O’Brien in MLS at the moment, at least at his current salary. And the Quakes have adequate cover on the right side of midfield in the form of Arturo Alvarez (yes, I know he’s left-footed, but he’s played on the right before), as well as with Shea Salinas.
That said, a source close to the negotiations indicated that O’Brien thinks he’s worth much more, but when his agent, Patrick McCabe of First Wave Sports, disagreed, O’Brien fired him. McCabe refused to address his relationship with O’Brien, but the fact that O’Brien’s name is no longer on the First Wave web site speaks volumes.
Rumors have been circulating that negotiations between O’Brien and the Quakes have ground to a halt, but they’re not dead yet. Multiple sources have confirmed to CLS that O’Brien and GM John Doyle met earlier this week, so O’Brien may yet be wearing San Jose blue this season. We’ll see.
If O’Brien isn’t signed, then the deal that brought him here from Toronto (the Quakes gave up their first-round draft pick in this year’s SuperDraft plus a partial allocation) becomes ridiculously one-sided.
Garcia signing made official
One renegotiation that went a bit better was with defender Nick Garcia. The Quakes announced in a press release that Garcia signed a multi-year contract. The amount was not disclosed, well, at least until the players’ union decides to disclose it.
The end of Lima Time
There have been multiple reports regarding Francisco Lima’s signing with Serie C1 side Taranto, but the Quakes have been eerily silent on this one. But a Quakes spokesman told me today that San Jose hasn’t yet released Lima from his contract, yet that is a mere formality, and they plan to let him go on a free transfer. For those of you thinking that San Jose should have gotten at least some kind of fee in exchange for Lima skipping town, apparently the Quakes acquired Lima under similar circumstances, and didn’t have to pay a fee then, so it seems only fair.
The “slew” of forwards
Okay. Okay. Poor word choice. So far, Peter Byers and another yet-to-be-identified forward are on their way. The Quakes also have Arturo Alvarez and Ryan Johnson on the books, and the Scott Sealy negotiations are still alive (barely). My original point as it pertained to third round draft pick Quincy Amarikwa was that he’s got a fair number of forwards to climb over before he gets playing time. Yes, it’s happened before, but I’ll believe when I see it.