July 1, 2003

New Sox

Some days, I have a hard time coming up with a topic I want to discuss on this blog. Those times are rare, but they do occur. And when they do, I usually do a "notes" entry or maybe a "mailbag" entry or something like that. Today was looking like it would be one of those days.

Then I got an email from Lee Sinins' Around the Majors Report at 2:10 PM yesterday, telling me that:

"The Mets traded 2B Roberto Alomar to the White Sox for minor leaguers INF Andrew Salvo and Ps Royce Ring and Edwin Almonte."

This is obviously of great interest to me, because the White Sox are the team I believe to be the greatest threat to the Twins' 2003 AL Central Division title hopes. Additionally, I was sort of hoping that, if an AL Central team was going to go out and get a new second baseman, it would be the Twins.

To be honest though, this move doesn't "scare" me one bit as a Twins fan. Roberto Alomar is a great player - a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion. But he's also 35 years old and, since coming to the Mets last year, he has been a shell of his old self.

Twins fans probably remember Roberto Alomar as this guy:

Year      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR     SB

1999 .323 .422 .533 24 37
2000 .310 .378 .475 19 39
2001 .336 .415 .541 20 30

Those numbers belong to Alomar during his 3 seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He hit for average, he hit for power, he stole bases and he played good defense at second base. And, had the White Sox just traded for that player, I would be extremely worried.

But Roberto Alomar is no longer that player.

Year      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR     SB

2002 .266 .331 .376 11 16
2003 .262 .336 .357 4* 12*

(*Alomar's 2003 totals are his projected numbers for a full season*)

Alomar's .266 batting average last year was his lowest since he batted .266 with the Padres in 1988 - his rookie year. From 1992-2001, Alomar batted .300+ in 9 out of 10 seasons. So far this year, he is hitting just .262.

From looking at those numbers and from watching Alomar this season and last season with the Mets, it seems obvious to me that he has "lost a step."

What is interesting to me, is how he has lost that step...

VS RIGHT                                 VS LEFT

2002 .290 .358 .400 2002 .204 .259 .315
2003 .304 .375 .403 2003 .171 .244 .256
------------------------------- -------------------------------
TOTAL .294 .366 .400 TOTAL .193 .253 .295

Alomar is a switch-hitter and it appears as though he is no longer able to hit from the right side of the plate. His hitting from the left side has also declined significantly, but his hitting from the right side has completely deteriorated.

Plus, not only is Roberto Alomar no longer an all-star level player, the White Sox already have a second baseman with similar abilities.


Roberto Alomar .266 .331 .376
D'Angelo Jimenez .252 .330 .347

Roberto Alomar .262 .336 .357
D'Angelo Jimenez .255 .332 .410

Throw in the fact that D'Angelo Jimenez is 25 and Alomar is 35 and I am not sure I see an upgrade here, long-term or short-term.

Of course, it is entirely possible Alomar will be rejuvenated coming back to the AL to play with his brother Sandy in a pennant race. I think it is more likely that Alomar plays, more or less, like he has for the last one and a half seasons or so, which is at about the same level as D'Angelo Jimenez and nowhere near the level of the pre-2002 version of Roberto Alomar.

Beyond simply acquiring Alomar, this deal has other ramifications for the White Sox.

First of all, it means they are "buyers" and not "sellers." As a pessimistic Twins fan, I was hoping the White Sox would become sellers, simply because getting rid of their expensive/veteran talent would decrease the chances of them staying in the AL Central race with the Twins all season.

Any chance of that happening pretty much went down the drain when the Twins went 12-15 in June. And, while acquiring Alomar doesn't make them a much better team in my opinion, the fact that they are in the business of acquiring players and not trading away players is what worries me a bit.

The White Sox traded three minor league prospects to the Mets for Alomar...

Royce Ring is the best of the 3 and was Chicago's first round pick (18th overall) in last year's draft. A relief pitcher, Ring had a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings last year, along with a 31/11 K/BB ratio. So far this season, he has a 2.52 ERA in 35.2 innings in Double-A, along with a very nice 44/14 K/BB ratio.

Ring looks like a very nice relief pitching prospect, if such a thing exists. He's a good pitcher, but he's still a relief pitcher, and minor league relievers don't exactly have a great track-record of success in the majors. Baseball America ranked Ring as Chicago's #10 prospect before this season and John Sickels gave him a "B" grade.

Edwin Almonte is another relief pitching prospect and was Chicago's 26th round pick in the 1998 draft. He had a 1.49 ERA in Double-A in 2001, with a nifty 62/16 K/BB ratio in 66 innings. Last year in Triple-A, he had a 2.24 ERA and a 56/12 K/BB ratio in 60 innings. So far this year, Almonte has struggled quite a bit. He is pitching in Triple-A once again and has a 6.88 ERA in 34 innings. Baseball America ranked him as Chicago's #23 prospect and John Sickels gave him a "C+" grade.

Andrew Salvo was Chicago's 22nd round pick in the 2001 draft and was not among Chicago's top 30 prospects according to Baseball America and John Sickels did not give him a grade.

So, basically, the White Sox sent the Mets a couple of pretty good relief pitching prospects, one of whom was their first round pick just a year ago. That is not a king's ransom by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is a lot to pay for a declining 35 year old second baseman who may or may not actually be an upgrade over your current situation.

Time will tell if Roberto Alomar plays well in the second-half and is worth it for the White Sox, but if they are going to be "buyers," I am glad to see that they are buying guys like Roberto Alomar and using up some of their better prospects to doing so.

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