Is A-Rod a Sox kind of guy?
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- From the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, notes on a GM meetings' scorecard:
Scott Boras' brilliant 50-page book on Alex Rodriguez is not an attempt to convince anyone that he is the greatest free agent since Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally won those rights in our bicentennial year.
"What Scott is doing is presenting Alex and asking teams to explain how they can market him like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan," says one GM. "He's not talking money, he's asking teams to step forward and be creative. To me, that means the Mets or the White Sox."
It should be noted that Phillies manager Larry Bowa, who was close to A-Rod in Seattle, says, "he talked a lot about the White Sox. It's a rising team. The players are his age. He likes the manager. He knows what Reinsdorf did for Jordan (and Jordan did for him)."
John Hart laid out what we all knew -- that with an $87 million-$88 million payroll, he's not going to give $18M-$20M more than 20 percent of the payroll -- to Manny Ramirez. "We've never had a player making much more than 8-9 percent of our payroll," says Hart. "We've been very successful doing so." And Hart will move on to Mike Mussina and dabble in Ellis Burks and others if he feels by next weekend that Manny is unsignable. "I think Jeff Moorad will try to get Ramirez done quickly," says one GM, "because there aren't many players and he wants to set up the market for Jeffrey Hammonds. The Yankees are going to go after him and they expect to get him to sell their new TV deal."
"Mike Hampton wants to be the No. 1 starter for someone," says a GM, "so the Braves are no slam dunk." The Hampton sweepstakes have all the makings of something fascinating, although he wants to stay in the National League.
The Mariners are dying for Ichiro Suzuki, and the bids have to be in on Wednesday.
The Padres have worked really hard on the marketing of Phil Nevin. "We have to get a young shortstop in any deal," says GM Kevin Towers. The Mariners (Antonio Perez, the key to the Junior Griffey deal), Cubs, Red Sox, Brewers (Santiago Perez), Yankees and others are in, big. "We may be able to move quickly," says Towers.
Speaking of GMs who work quickly, the Reds' Jim Bowden is trying to make a deal for a pitcher, and if he can, could move Scott Williamson to Oakland for Ben Grieve.
Royals GM Allard Baird hoped to have something done with Johnny Damon this week. But Boras stated that Damon will pull an A-Rod and play it out until he's a free agent next November, so teams trading for Damon can't expect to sign him, lessening his trade value. Seattle, both New York teams, Tampa Bay, Boston, Detroit, Oakland and others are in on it. "Allard is doing it right, exploring everything," says one executive.
Houston hopes to make a quick deal for Roger Cedeno, with the Brewers and Tigers up front and leading and the Mets interested. New York's problem is that with so many pitchers being free agents, they have no depth to deal. The Mets also got bad news with Dave Wallace choosing not to come back as pitching coach. GM Steve Phillips hopes to keep Wallace as an assistant, but the Dodgers want him as a pitching coach.
The Red Sox have talked to several teams about Carl Everett. The Brewers (Jeromy Burnitz), Seattle, Colorado (Larry Walker, if he'd accept the deal) and several others are interested. But late Tuesday, GM Dan Duquette said, "we're getting less inclined to trade him," and told a couple of teams he wasn't dealing the controversial center fielder. "He's posturing," says a GM. "This may take some time."
The Phillies are leaning toward solving their bullpen problems on a short-term basis with John Franco and Jose Mesa. There are several bidders for Franco, including Boston.
As the polls closed, with the economy ripe, the superiority of the Democratic National Committee people, the overwhelming and powerful bias of the media and the fact that for the first time the Democrats outspent the Republicans, if Al Gore loses this thing he will be the Baltimore Orioles of politics.
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