Friday, November 16, 2012

Rapids Cut 8, Including Conor Casey

Regardless of if he's Casey Conor or Conor Casey, he's always Rapids #9!

This afternoon as the team broke for the off-season the Rapids announced the players they would be cutting.  8 players in total have been released, with the big name being hometown hero Conor Casey.  With my vacation and the election I never got around to doing my normal breakdown of what I felt the Rapids should do with their lineup, but I'll include my comments on these 8 players and break-down the rest hopefully over the weekend.

Edu - Biggest miss in a signing this year.  A waste of money and space, easy decision to cut him.

Ian Joyce - 3rd string goalkeeper that hasn't played a competitive match since 2010.  I had a soft spot for him since I won his jersey after the 2010 regular-season finale, but at 27 this opens up a spot for a new young keeper.  Not a surprise cut.

Scott Palguta - Anyone who watched him play since mid-2010 could see that he wasn't keeping up with the level of play in the league.  Another easy decision.

Tyson Wahl - The Rapids took a chance on him when acquiring him from the Impact mid-season.  He was never better than adequate but wasn't horrible.  Wouldn't have been shocking to see him kept or cut.  Losing the international spot in 2014 for a player who didn't stick hurts a bit though.

Tyrone Marshall - Good experience, but this season it became evident that the years were catching up to him.  He no longer had the wheels to keep up and he was burned many times this year.  I expect him to go into coaching, so maybe we'll see him on the sideline again but there wasn't going to be a spot for him on the 2013 roster.

Joseph Nane - This was the first name that kind of surprised me.  I thought he had made good progress this season.  He wasn't going to be claiming a starting job anytime soon but he seemed to be a capable backup.  However with Shane O'Neill being signed to play the same position as a homegrown player he was going to struggle to find minutes.  I would assume that the team feels confident in either Hendry Thomas or Pablo Mastroeni returning to take the starting role.  I'm a bit surprised they couldn't trade him for something, unless he was out of contract.

Luis Zapata - He and Casey were the real surprises to me.  Zapata was the regular starter at left back when healthy and played well, if not always spectacularly.  I expected Zapata to go into next season as the starter, with Wallace and any others given the chance to take the job from him.  Clearly they feel confident in Wallace's return to form and/or Chris Klute's ability to step up to the next level as with today's cuts they're the only players with experience at left back on the roster.  Either that or they're planning to find somebody.

Conor Casey - And now the big one.  This was one of the two biggest decisions (along with Pablo) the Rapids had to make this offseason and I wasn't shocked when word leaked earlier this week that the team didn't want Casey back at his current $400K/year salary.  That's a lot of salary cap to tie up in a player who spent the better par of the last season and a half injured.  That said, I figured the team and Casey would agree to a lower number with incentives that Casey could achieve if he stayed healthy.  Occasionally a team will cut a player like this and both sides know that before preseason starts they'll agree to a new contract.  It doesn't sound like that's going to happen with Casey:
“Conor has been an incredibly important part of the Rapids since he got here in 2007, and has forever left his mark on the club,” said Technical Director Paul Bravo. “He’s the Rapids’ all-time leading scorer and the MLS Cup MVP in 2010. But after having a conversation with him about his future, we all decided that it was the right time to move on.”
“It was truly an honor to be able to play in front of my hometown fans and to bring a championship to Denver,” said Casey. “While I am sorry to see my time with the Rapids come to an end, I want to thank the supporters here in Colorado for everything they gave to me and the club over the last several years.”
That doesn't sound like a club or a player that's expecting to reconnect.

I think if the decision was cutting him or paying him at $400K the Rapids made the right decision.  If they were fairly sure he could regain his 2010 form he'd be worth the money, but that seems a long time ago now and tying up that much cap on a player that hasn't bounced back from injury well is a big risk.  I would have liked to see him signed for $200-$250K, but if he wasn't willing to do that, letting him go is probably the right move.

There have been some comments already about the possibility of trading Casey instead of getting nothing for him, but trading a player with his injury history and at his salary is a hard sell.  If he wasn't going to take a lower salary for his hometown team, odds are he wasn't going to take one elsewhere.  He isn't an older player looking for one last shot at getting a championship, being only 2 seasons removed from being named MLS Cup MVP.  Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked if he hangs up the boots at this point if he's unwilling to take a lower contract, but we'll see what happens.  I suppose if another MLS team takes him in Phase 1 of the Re-Entry Draft (which means they're agreeing to pick up his current $400K option) he might continue to play.

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