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Peers like what Phillips has done
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
DIAMOND NOTES, Aug. 4
And when Cincinnati GM Jim Bowden kept calling about Edgardo Alfonzo, Mets GM Steve Phillips finally said fine, but wanted Pokey Reese, Dmitri Young, Aaron Boone and a pitcher in return. That ended the discussion between the two.
It's curious that Phillips has taken heat for trading away Turk Wendell and Rick Reed, considering that the vast majority of other GMs thought he did a great job moving age, medical questions and years. Obviously, Mets manager Bobby Valentine added to that heat by taking the leadoff hitter Phillips acquired -- Matt Lawton --and batted him second. Then, after ripping the Bruce Chen deal to media people, threw him out in Enron Field against argurably the best right-handed hitting team in the league. Chen went on to pitch very well, however.
And then there's the idea that it's Phillips' fault that the farm system is dry. He traded Jason Isringhausen, Terrence Long, A.J. Burnett, Jesus Sanchez, Octavio Dotel, Roger Cedeno, Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson, Eddie Yarnall, Jason Tyner, Paul Wilson and Melvin Mora to win immediately and get owner Fred Wilpon his new ballarpk. Let's see: the Mets made the World Series last year, Wilpon will get his park and it was Nelson Doubleday who forced the Mike Piazza deal.
"We are happy with the team we have," says Cashman, although owner George Steinbrenner erupted after Texas owner Tom Hicks, by the way agent Scott Boras' private golf ball, said "these are not the same Yankees."
Cashman insists that because Scott Brosius' injury is a hairline fracture in his left hand, he will only be out 3-4 weeks and that the Yankees likely won't need to make a deal in the meantime.
San Diego is going to have Sean Burroughs play second base in the Arizona Fall League, an interesting offensive experiment for a guy who would have just finished his junior year in college and currently has a .410 on base and .488 slugging percentage in the Pacific Coast League.
The Jays are looking far and wide for starting pitching, a catcher and a third baseman, but if you're about to roast them on the Tony Batista waiver dump, be aware that the Orioles are back in the market for a third baseman, as well.
"It will be interesting to see how many expensive players get claimed, however. Not many. Teams cannot take on contracts because there are so many bank covenants that are outstanding."
Fellow owners claim the Indians are on a course to lose $23 million, which is why GM John Hart -- who stretched it to sign Juan Gonzalez -- was not given the cash to go add a player or two at the deadline. In ownership's defense, the Indians are over $90 million in payroll. The Braves also took some criticism, but they're at $95 million and still took on the Rey Sanchez, who is making $1 million. They, however, decided to go to their budget before the season and try to provide the best season-long entertainment package for their ticket buyers and TV watchers.
Remember, when they went and got Fred McGriff in 1993, it took them to $44 million, a long way from $95 million. But GMs learned from their calls the two weeks leading up to the deadline that owners are becoming more and more involved in decisions they are not capable of making -- personnel -- and are increasingly adept at the talk show art of second-guessing. There are very few situations where the baseball decisions are made by people who study the game.
It's interesting that in San Francisco, where owner Peter Magowan probably knows more about the game than any of his owner peers, GM Brian Sabean is wisely trusted to make decisions, which may be why the Giants contend every year on a mid-stream budget.
The average payroll -- not A.A.V., but money paid out this season -- is $64.7 million, the median $63.5 million, so the Giants are slightly above in the NL West at $66 million, the Rockies have fallen below (this week's series between the Rockies and Phillies was the single worst in attendance in Coors Field history), the D-Backs are right around the average if anyone can figure out all their deferrals and the Dodgers are up over $110 million.
Incidentally, the bids for the sale of the Red Sox must be in on August 15.
This and that
Jocketty says he got the most calls on Marrero, who Jocketty says "is very close to being a good everyday catcher." This explains why Toronto worked so hard to get Marrero.
Ryan Vogelsong and Tony McKnight can go into the Pirates' rotation along with Todd Richie, Dave Williams and Jimmy Anderson. This rotation might be pretty good when Kris Benson gets all the way back in 2003. And left-hander Adrian Burnside, acquired in the deal they made for Terry Mulholland with the Dodgers, has a live arm.
"Livan is the kind of person who needs to move every couple of years," says a former Giants player.
"Milton is a terrific kid, and with the right people will blossom," says one Expos executive. "The Indians made a tremendous deal." Several other teams, including the Mets, Rockies and White Sox, tried to get in on Bradley.
"For more than 2½ months, no one on this team has played harder every inning of every game," says Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. "We post times to first base, and Garret is consistently our best and most consistent."
Once young right-hander Nate Cornejo makes it up to Detroit and joins the rotation along with Jeff Weaver, Steve Sparks, Jose Lima, Mark Redman, Adam Pettyjohn, et al, they think the pitching will stablize. And closer Matt Anderson on some nights looks flat-out scary because he throws so hard. As for Lima, he has found new life in Detroit.
"Bobby Kielty has a chance to be a far better hitter against good pitching," says one Twins official.
But if you were the Mets, would you deal Rey Ordonez for Vaughn just to get rid of Ordonez? Vaughn would then be a $4 million player because Tampa Bay would then eat Ordonez's contract. Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar has cleared $11 million off the books already, and by the time they're ready to start playing Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Rocco Baldelli, et al in 2003, they'll be down around the $20M mark.
The Rangers haven't signed their first-round pick, Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira, and their next pick, fourth-rounder Houston Memorial High Sschool right-hander Josh Baker (Lance Berkman's brother in law), is headed to the University of Alabama since Texas refused to meet his $1.4 million request.
What a year on the Cape
Two weeks ago, Colorado ran off with undrafted submariner Ryan Speier of Radford College, who set the league save record for Bourne and topped out at 92 mph from underneath. You can be sure he'll be in Coors quickly.
There also may not have been anyone like Bobby Brownlie of Rutgers, who pitched for Falmouth in 2000 and likely will be the first pick in next June's draft. And there were more 90+ mph arms that appear headed to the big leagues than any year in memory.
There was a lot of debate about the best prospect between Georgia Tech sophomore outfielder Matt Murton and North Carolina shortstop/second baseman Russ Adams. They're very different players, but very good. Tech and UNC each had a number of very good prospects, including catcher Tyler Parker (Tech) and UNC products, left-handed pitcher Daniel Moore and first baseman/third baseman Jeremy Cleveland.
Top five positional prospects in the Cape Cod League
2. Russ Adams, 2B/SS, (Orleans) (L/R) North Carolina, '03. Most athletic infielder in the league in years, a 4.1 runner, disciplined at the plate, soft hands, speed and has shown power potential. There are a lot of scouts who think he's the best prospect, period, because he's got so many tools and has great makeup.
3. Bobby Malek, OF, (Chatham) (L/R) Michigan State, '03. Great arm, good mechanics, if power develops he's a skilled right fielder.
4. Aaron Hill, 3B/2B, (Wareham) (R/R) LSU, '04.5. Jason Perry, 1B/OF, (Hyannis) (L/R) Georgia Tech, '03.
Top five pitchers in the Cape Cod League
2. Matt Lynch, LHP, (Harwich), Florida State, '03.
3. Joe Saunders, RHP, (Harwich), Virginia Tech, '03.
4. Ben Crockett, RHP, (Wareham), Harvard, '02. Red Sox have his rights until he goes back to The Yard next month.
5. Casey Shumaker, RHP, (Bourne), Jacksonville, '03. Pirates have rights until he goes back to school.
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