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SI FOR KIDS
If Belle hits, does it matter if he's a jerk?
Posted: Friday July 23, 1999 04:51 PM
By Dan George, CNN/SI
Oh, Albert Belle.
If you read last week's column, you know that in a battle of jerks most readers feel Juan Gonzalez would be completely overmatched by Bad Albert. Given the slugger-formerly-known-as-Joey's surly history, it's hard to argue. Belle needed just three months to wear out his welcome in Baltimore, adding clubhouse destruction and more obscene gestures to an already unsavory resume.
"Trading deadline is near," writes reader Kevin Purcell, "and I were the O's, I'd trade Belle for ANYTHING of value. ANYTHING! Another starter, middle relief, outfielder, you name it. How about Bob Higginson and two season tickets at Detroit's new park next year?
Kevin suggests a trade would not only lower the Orioles' payroll -- Belle is in the first season of a five-year, $65 million deal and somehow still unhappy -- but would also improve morale on one of baseball's most disappointing teams. "How Cal Ripken plays on the same team with him is beyond me. Even Will Clark probably can't stand him," says Kevin. "Maybe Montreal would offer Brad Fullmer and a case of Molson's. If Belle were in Montreal, we wouldn't have to hear from him as much. It would do baseball a world of good."
Amazingly, a deal could be in the works. Belle reportedly agreed to waive his no-trade clause after O's owner Peter Angelos began looking for ways to void the rest of the outfielder's contract, and the Yankees and Red Sox could use a slugger who traditionally gets hot after the All-Star break. On the other hand, can you imagine what might happen if Albert flipped off fans in Fenway? Or the Bronx?
But how do you feel about Albert? From a fantasy standpoint, I mean. Do you care whether he's a nice guy or not? I was once in the same league with a guy who refused to own former Padres starter Eric Show because he disagreed with the right-hander's (or is that right-winger's?) openly conservative politics. Does a player's politics or personality make any difference to you when you're building a team? Or are you interested solely in production? Let me know.
With the July 31 trading deadline approaching, Belle isn't the only one who could be on the move. Pitching, as always, is especially in high demand and numerous teams have hurlers on the market. Kevin Appier, Rolando Arrojo Scott Erickson, Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Darryl Kile and Kenny Rogers are the names popping up most often. Among hitters, Bobby Higginson, Tony Clark, Rondell White and even Mark Grace are mentioned most frequently.
This has fantasy implications on a couple of fronts. Granted that somebody like, say, White isn't having his best year -- hey, that's why he's available -- but if you're in an NL-only league and he's shipped to the Yankees that's still a pretty big hole in your lineup. And after suffering with Erickson all season in your AL-only league, it sure wouldn't be much fun watching him have a strong finish with the Reds.
How does your league handle midseason trades to the other league? What if players from more than team in your league are involved? What's your compensation system?
Secondly, does trading in your league pick up at this time of year because of the majors' deadline? Or is it harder to make a deal because of apathy among the teams that are out of it? Last year in my AL-only league, non-contenders dealt Ken Griffey Jr., Mo Vaughn and Ivan Rodriguez for prospects just days before the deadline. What are your rules regarding "dump" trades? Do you observe the majors' deadline? Is there a lot of wheeling and dealing in your league, or not? And why?
And what's your own trade philosophy? Rather trade for pitching or hitting at this time of year? In my league, Junior has been traded several times during the season, but he's never been on a pennant-winner, whereas Vaughn and Pudge took their new team to a title last season. Roger Clemens has been dealt during each of the last two seasons, each time ending up with a championship. But I once traded for both David Cone and Appier in July, and still came up short.
There should be a lot of action in the next few days, and I'd like to hear how it affects your teams and leagues.
Dan George, a senior producer at CNN/SI, has played fantasy baseball since 1985. There is no truth to the rumor, however, that his daughter Maggie is named after Magglio Ordonez - at least that's what he's told his wife. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com.
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