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Where will A-Rod end up?

Special to

October 21

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.

Sox on eBay
If you are an eBay freak, you found this posting this week:

"We are a group of fans looking for several ways to finance the purchase of the Boston Red Sox. We will be selling shares of our bid to buy the Boston Red Sox. Each share will be $500. If you purchase a share, you will receive a certificate showing the number of shares you purchased. And your percentage of ownership in the team in the event of a successful bid. You may purchase as many shares as you like. If our bid is successful, we will be looking to win a World Series in the first year of our ownership. Our plan includes the dismissal of current front office personnel (Dan Duquette, Mike Port) and the contract extension of manager Jimy Williams and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Also the dismissal of batting coach Jim Rice, third base coach Wendall Kim. Current first base coach Tommy Harper will be moved to third base.

"We will be aggressive in the free-agent market this off season. Looking to sign pitchers like Mike Mussina, Rick Reed. And of course hitters like Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez. And we will continue toward building a new ballpark in the Fenway neighborhood. If we do win the bid to buy The Boston Red Sox, we will be holding monthly on-line meetings with all shareholders. In these on-line meetings we will discuss player transactions and trades. All moves made by our ownership will be done by majority vote. And you will have a vote in what our team does.

"This is a DREAM COME TRUE. So purchase a share now, And BUY THE RED SOX with US. All Inquiries and Purchases can E-mail us:

"BUYTHEREDSOX@AOL.COM disclaimer: in the event of an unsuccessful bid all monies collected will be returned to the shareholders minus a twenty percent administration fee.

"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
  • The Dodgers have been quiet, leading to speculation that Rick Down or Jim Tracy will become the club's next manager. But the shakeup in the organization has already begun. Gone are some of Kevin Malone's minor-league people, like coordinator Jim Benedict, and Malone's assistant Bill Guyvette has told friends he may be gone, as well.

  • The Orioles upped the coaching ante, paying Mark Wylie $900,000 for three years to leave his Colorado front-office position and be reunited with Mike Hargrove as the O's pitching coach. Wylie's first big-league job was with the O's.

  • There still is a great deal of uncertainty about Jimy Williams' return in Boston, as some in the organization still believe that Dan Duquette's dry "Jimy Williams has a contract for next season" means-according to the DukeSpeak -- English dictionary -- that if Lou Piniella leaves the Mariners, Pat Gillick can have Williams, for compensation.

  • Duquette has worked hard to re-sign reliever Tom Gordon, despite the flareup that resulted in Gordon being asked to leave Boston's minor-league complex because he was unsigned. They would use Gordon, Rich Garces and Hipolito Pichardo in the seventh and eighth innings and Rod Beck as a one-inning closer -- that is, if they get Beck and Gordon signed and Derek Lowe gets moved into the starting rotation. The last three years, Williams has had the luxury of a two-inning closer in Gordon, Tim Wakefield and Lowe, but Beck would be the more traditional one-inning reliever.

  • With Rheal Cormier headed to free agency -- and he is telling teams he would like to be a starter again -- Boston doesn't have a left-hander, either for their rotation or their bullpen. The closest may be Casey Fossum, a '99 compensation pick who is pitching well in the Arizona Fall League after closing strong in the Florida State League. "He touches 90-91, has command, a good curveball and a change for right-handers," says one Sox official. "He could come quickly."

  • Charles Dolan, who owns Cablevision, has denied interest in buying the Red Sox, but he has told people he's reconsidering if he could get in with a group like the speculated Boston Troika of Steve Karp, Joe O'Donnell and David Mugar, where Karp could do the real estate development, O'Donnell could do the concessions and Dolan the media. But the fact that the limited partners can block the sale of the 53 percent control makes this sale a potential mess. It's been a mess since the day they announced it was for sale in October, 1976.

  • The White Sox have their organizational meetings this coming week, and there they are likely to find out how much owner Jerry Reinsdorf wants to plunge into the free-agent market. James Baldwin is expected to be OK after minor surgery, and they think Mike Sirotka's elbow will be fine, but while they have a stash of great arms, they could use one more proven veteran. They have to make decisions on free agents Jose Valentin and Charles Johnson. They don't have a ready shortstop, so if they pass on Valentin, they will need to sign a free agent or trade for a shortstop. In terms of their catcher, they may let Josh Paul go behind the plate. Paul hasn't yet hit, but that may be due to his trying to learn to catch. With his speed and athleticism he could be a future Jason Kendall-type.

  • It appears certain that Bret Boone will head to his fourth team in four years, be it Texas or Tampa Bay. The Padres are looking for a power corner outfielder and a shortstop and could well end up trading a pitcher to fill their needs (pitching is the one thing they have a surplus of in the minors).

  • Cleveland may also jump into the Ichiro Suzuki sweepstakes, using him as a right fielder/leadoff hitter for a year, then move him to center when Kenny Lofton is gone. Jim Colborn, the Mariners' international director of scouting, who was the pitching coach for the Blue Wave when Suzuki was on the team, feels he faces some adjustments. "He may need to get a little stronger," says Colborn. "He'll have to get used to being pitched inside, and he'll have to get used to being knocked down."

    Those darn long games
    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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    Gammons: N.Y. state of mind

     Peter Gammons believes Alex Rodriguez may be heading to New York...but which team?
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