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Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Alomar repeats pitch for Mets to move on free agent Gonzalez

December 19, 2001

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— Roberto Alomar has some suggestions for furnishing Shea Stadium perhaps with his buddy, free-agent slugger Juan Gonzalez, in the Mets' outfield.

Alomar, acquired as part of general manager Steve Phillips' reconstruction of the Mets, tried to tread lightly but wasn't shy about sharing his ideas Tuesday as he got a look at his new home.

"I'm not a GM or the owner," the All-Star second baseman said. "I'm just an employee. But I'd love to see Juan here. He's a great player. Adding Juan would make the team better."

Gonzalez, who played with Alomar in Cleveland last season, is available for the right price. Right now, though, Phillips isn't ready to write the check.

"We're working hard, talking to clubs," the GM said. "There may be a few steps to get where we want to be. We could use another bat but it's far more likely to come through the trade market than free agency."

Then Phillips added the kicker: "Unless something dramatic happens."

And what would that be?

"If we make another move that gives us the financial flexibility to consider a premier free agent," Phillips said.

In other words, stay tuned. This Mets team, which added Alomar, outfielder Roger Cedeno and pitchers Mark Guthrie, David Weathers and Shawn Estes in the last week, remains a work in progress.

Phillips is pleased with the progress so far.

"We set out to accomplish a number of things," he said. "No. 1 was to address team offense. We had some plans and some dreams. Fortunately, some of our dreams came true."

That would be Alomar, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, who brings speed and punch to a lineup that lacked those assets last season.

Alomar still seemed a little startled at the turn of events that moved him to New York but believes the Mets busy off-season is a good sign.

"It's great to be with an organization that is committed to winning," he said. "Hopefully, we can add one more big bat."

The one he has in mind is Gonzalez.

"Juan was healthy last season and that was the key for him," Alomar said. "Any team he goes to, he's going to produce big numbers. He's a great player, a great defensive player, too. When you see him every day, he's one of the best in the game. You see his tools, the way he approaches every at-bat. It would be awesome to have him here."

Gonzalez batted .325 with 35 home runs and 140 RBIs with the Indians last season. Cleveland rejected a $10 million option for 2002 and Gonzalez is expected to reject the Indians' offer of arbitration.

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