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Where will A-Rod end up?
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
It's practically impossible to guess how much Alex Rodriguez will get once he hits the free-agent market, or from whom he will get that money.
The Mariners say they will not get outbid, and in the emotion of the hours following their defeat by the Yankees, A-Rod said, "Seattle is the favorite."
But as one teamate said, "Alex will go wherever he wants," and once he's out on the market, there will be little emotion, only Gates-esque calculations. "It's hard to believe that this is going to be anything less than 10 years and $200-plus million," says one GM, although Alex might prefer five years at $25M per season. "And unless the Braves decide to get into it, then I can't see it being anyone except the Mets or Dodgers, unless Seattle blows them away."
The Braves have made it clear to other teams that they want to shake things up, but how they do it is another question. Brian Jordan is clearly available, but he is beaten up physically. There has also been speculation that Kevin Millwood could be had if they go after Mike Hampton or Mike Mussina. The word is that Chipper Jones has suggested moving off of third base after the yips that ate at him in the field in the late season and playoffs.
But will the Braves get into the A-Rod or Manny Ramirez sweepstakes? There has been an assumption that Ramirez would go to the Yankees for something in the 10 year, $200M range, although he told friends on a couple of teams he is wary of playing at home in the Bronx. "Manny will go where the money is," says one GM. "And that likely will be the Yankees."
The Indians are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Ramirez, but likely won't get it done for six years and $90M. They then may try to snatch Mike Mussina fast before the Mets (who are working hard behind the scenes on him), Yanks or White Sox can jump in.
There were a myriad of reasons why Juan Gonzalez never signed for the $140M the Tigers offered him in Detroit -- the cold, the ballpark, a divorce, his failing to show up one time -- but never fear, agent Scott Boras thinks he can still get Gonzo 7-10 years. Most people had assumed that after this past season that Gonzalez would take a make-good one-year deal with a team like Colorado, where he could have hit 50 homers and knocked in 160 runs, then go back on the open market.
Meanwhile, the Sammy Sosa dilemma remains. He is asking for six years at $17-18M per. Team president Andy MacPhail still hasn't decided whether he's going to do the deal, or attempt to trade Sosa. The restructuring of Carlos Delgado's contract that now makes him the highest-paid player will put put him on that plateau for a short period of time. But agent David Sloane did a good job striking quickly to get the $68M for four years with new Toronto ownership needing to prove that the Shawn Greens and Roger Clemens exports are things of the past.
It also appears that Johnny Damon won't sign with the Royals because he's happy there or the team is building -- remember, as a union leader he has a lot of pressure to continue the crusade against small- market happiness -- so they will have to move him. The Twins are expected to move Matt Lawton, as well.
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"BUYTHEREDSOX e-mails that he does not want to reveal his identity, but he apparently is not Sam Adams, Buddy Leroux or Jack Clark."News and notes
It's at the point where the whining about pace and length of games is getting as tedious as watching Manny Ramirez take 30 seconds to get in the box or Kazuhiro Sasaki take 37 seconds -- as he did in the ALCS --between pitches. "It's not that tough to attack," says one baseball official. "First, you enforce the one foot in, one foot out rule for batters in the batters box so they can't wander. The Yankees, in fact, are unbelievable how much time they spend out of the box. Second, you enforce the 12-second rule for pitchers without runners on base. Third, you allow pitchers to go to their mouths on the mound as long as they wipe. And no, there isn't anyone who can throw a spitter these days because if they do it can hurt their arms. The rule not allowing pitchers to go to their mouths was put into the rules for one man (Gaylord Perry) and should have been taken off the books when he retired. Oh yes and fourth, call strikes."
Baseball says it may still rehire some of the veteran umpires that were fired last year after an arbitrator ruled on their grievance. "It's been a tough hardship," says Ken Kaiser. "The toughest part of it was having our medical insurance cancelled because there were some of us that really needed that insurance. I'm a diabetic, for instance and they've thrown some kids out there to umpire that aren't ready. It takes five or six years, and with a lot of these guys now, all they want to do is not be noticed."
In the ALCS, everyone knew the umps were reluctant to call balks, so El Duque, John Halama and Andy Pettite all got away with their best balk moves.
Watching the ALCS, three good pitching people have commented on Lou Piniella's bullpen maneuvers. "Lou knew what he wanted to do and had Arthur Rhodes in place," says one. "But the left-right thing is overrated. Groundball-flyball matchups are more important than left-right. While most of that Seattle staff is comprised of flyball pitchers, Jose Paniagua is one of the best groundball guys, and he's a better matchup against a flyball, home-run hitter like David Justice than Rhodes is."
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