MLB

HOCH: Trade ends Alomar's New York nightmare

Share This Story

foxsports admin

 
   
 

NEW YORK

It was December 2001, and former GM Steve Phillips could do no wrong. One year removed from an appearance in the World Series and eager to revamp his underachieving roster, Phillips pulled off an eight-player blockbuster deal that would bring 10-time All-Star second baseman to the Big Apple. The all but booked the Canyon of Heroes for a lavish ceremony; the Amazins were back, and Phillips was the architect who'd brought it to them. On paper, the deal was a no-brainer: Alomar was coming off of the finest season of his career, having batted a career-high .336 with 20 homers and 100 RBIs for the Cleveland . With Alomar solidifying the right side of the ' infield and taking over for underproducing at third base, the were the sure-fire champions of the Hot Stove League. As we all know, the blaring headlines and hype — one New York columnist, noting that Alomar was surely headed for baseball's Hall of Fame after his playing career, tagged Phillips for Cooperstown as well based upon the one trade alone — didn't translate to victories on the field, eventually costing manager Bobby Valentine his job after last season. Alomar's mostly weak, and sometimes indifferent, performance on the field would also contribute to Phillips getting the ax as well, as the embattled former GM is currently riding out the summer sipping pina coladas on a tropical beach somewhere, a paid vacation after interim GM Jim Duquette took over the reins last month. That brings us to today, and just as Phillips could do no wrong by bringing Alomar into New York, Duquette — in his first trade — could do no wrong by dealing Alomar to the Chicago for a package of three prospects, including highly regarded Double-A closer Royce Ring (2.52 ERA, 19 saves at Birmingham). "I was comfortable in New York. It's a great city, a great atmosphere," Alomar said. "(But I) think the team situation didn't feel real comfortable. The New York weren't the right fit." No matter what Duquette was able to get in return for Alomar, it would have been enough. Alomar has earned himself a reputation around the game for only giving 100 percent in situations where his team is close to a pennant race. When his team is out of it, as the most certainly are (16 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East entering play Tuesday), Alomar packs it in. outfielder didn't necessarily know if those rumors were true about Alomar, but if true, he cautioned that that type of behavior was both unacceptable and unprofessional. "Even if there are things, like if a guy doesn't like New York," Burnitz said, "or if he doesn't like the team he's on, he's still got to execute on the field." Perhaps because he knew full well of the media attention, and the accompanying advance scouting, surrounding the ' recent six games against the , Alomar seemed to raise his game a notch of late. Before Tuesday's trade to Chicago, Alomar had batted safely in 10 of his last 11 games and was appearing to play a little crisper on defense, a welcome change of pace from his usual style of bailing out on double plays and the like. "Sometimes, it helps to play on a team that's close," Alomar said. "It gets you motivated every day to go to the ballpark. Hopefully, I'll go there (to Chicago) and play the way I'm capable of playing." It doesn't appear as though the will try to make a move for another second baseman; at least not this season. With this season's fate already decided, New York plans to play out the string using a platoon at second base between veterans and , with the call-up of Triple-A infielder Danny Garcia — Duquette compared him to the ' — also on the horizon. Clubhouse malcontent 's future is uncertain, but it's expected that the will either cut him loose at some point or deal him for a low-level minor leaguer. "We felt like we had adequate coverage at second base for the rest of the year, and we could pick up some prospects with this trade," Duquette said. Eighteen months ago, it was a mystery as to why the would part with a perennial star such as Alomar for a mostly unproven batch of players, headlined by "five-tool" outfielder Alex Escobar. Today, the have a better understanding of why Alomar is joining the sixth team of his major-league career. The Alomar who came to Shea Stadium over the last year and a half was little more than a shadow of his former self, leaving some within the organization to wonder if perhaps, after 2,200 games and over 2,500 hits in the major leagues, Alomar was washed up. On-field performance aside, Alomar was also reportedly unhappy with club management for not hiring a liaison for Latin American players (he had suggested friend Ray Negron, whom he knew from Cleveland). "He's just not the guy we thought we were getting," one veteran said recently. "I don't know what's up with him." Said Alomar: "Maybe I put too much pressure (on myself). Maybe I did that, felt like I wanted to do too much. I'm only one guy."

How it went down

Duquette said the and reached a general understanding of the trade around 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, with the two teams just needing to gain final approval from the commissioner's office to complete the transaction. While it was no great secret that Alomar, a free agent after the season and unlikely to return to New York, would be available in the right trade, things didn't really seem to heat up in negotiations until Friday. Duquette said that "as many as a half-dozen" other teams showed interest in the veteran second baseman, with the , , and among them. In fact, Duquette said that it was very likely that Alomar would have been headed to a team other than the had Chicago GM Kenny Williams not offered up prized lefty Ring early this week.

Beyond the deal

The trail division-leading Minnesota by just 3 1/2 games entering play Tuesday, and will slot Alomar in immediately as their starting second baseman, relegating to the utility role he probably is better suited for. The deal not only gives Alomar the opportunity to step right into the thick of the AL Central race, but also presents him the chance to rejoin his brother, Sandy, who was a teammate of Roberto's back in the Cleveland days. Alomar said that his older brother had been relaying some great news about the city of Chicago, and that he couldn't wait to arrive in the Windy City on Wednesday. "I'm happy I'm going to a team with a chance to win," Alomar said, "but I'm not happy to leave my friends behind. I really wanted to have the best of years here in New York, but it didn't happen." For the , the trade of Alomar could just be the beginning of a series of moves that sees them unload a number of high-priced veterans. Outfielder and closer are both free agents after the season, and both have solicited their own due amount of interest. Burnitz would like to play for a team closer to his California home, making the -less a prime option, while every team with bullpen trouble from Boston to San Francisco could make use of Benitez. "We have a lot of free agents, and when you start (your dealing) with a future Hall of Famer, you have to suspect that's just the beginning," said outfielder . "I'm not mad at the situation, I just hope this is the beginning of what we need to do to be a better ballclub." In the meantime, fans and sportswriters alike are left to ponder what kind of a black mark Alomar's tenure in New York has left on his otherwise notable career. Seemingly on the express line to Cooperstown before he arrived at LaGuardia Airport, Alomar will leave town tomorrow knowing that his overall performance in the media capital of the world left much to be desired. "It's only two years of my career," Alomar said. "If you guys (writers) are going to judge a player like that, you are wrong. Two years as a player won't make a career." Bryan Hoch is a contributing writer to FOXSports.com. He can be contacted at bryanhoch@yahoo.com.
Tagged: Orioles, White Sox, Indians, Yankees, Athletics, Reds, Dodgers, Mets, Giants, Melvin Mora

More Stories From foxsports admin



SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..