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Vlad Not right for New York?


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Friday, September 19, 2003



By By Jim Baker

MLB Insider


The current line of thought on superstar free-agent-to-be Vladimir Guerrero is that his disposition might not be right for the bright lights of New York City. The reasoning goes that a quiet, baseball backwater like Montreal is the perfect place for someone with his shy demeanor.


With the season nearing an end and the Expos looking to re-sign their superstar rightfielder (but probably not able to pony up the kind of money he will command), talk is heating up about other possible destinations. The New York Mets -- they of the 19 runs over their last ten games -- are an obvious possibility in that they have the money and they certainly have the need. One could also envisage the Yankees making a play for Guerrero in that another superstar with a big salary is always welcome in the Bronx and rightfield is one of the few spots in their lineup where they would be looking to upgrade what is currently on hand.



Vladimir Guerrero may be pursued by both New York teams.

Mark Hale of the New York Post suggests that Guerrero can expect to command an annual salary in the $15-18 million range and that certainly sounds plausible. He comes out into the free world in the very prime of a ballplayer's career, the age of 27-28. So many times with free agents they are four or five years older than that, making the last few years on a long-term contract a big risk. A long contract for Vlad would not be problematic in that regard. While Guerrero did miss 39 games earlier this season with a bad back, he has come back and produced even better than he did prior to the injury:


Pre-disabled list: .911 OPS

Post-disabled list: 1.055 OPS


As for the belief that he will not be able to handle the media pressure of New York City, teammate Jose Vidro dispels it thusly: "Here would be great for him," he told Hale at Shea Stadium yesterday. "He's got a lot of family here. I'm pretty sure he'd feel comfortable. He's a quiet guy and in a place like this, it could be bad or good. But knowing him, I know he doesn't care much about that. So I think he'd be great here."


Not every man who has put on a Mets or Yankees jersey has been a Type-A personality. It is possible to succeed in New York without being a media-savvy publicity hound. The Expos hope it doesn't come to that, of course. They are trying to sign Guerrero to a long-term deal before he gets an opportunity to test the free agent market. To confuse matters, Hale suggests that Montreal general manager Omar Minaya might be a leading candidate to replace Mets interim GM Jim Duquette. Talk about conflict!


Shea Stadium will be awash in nostalgia tonight as long-time announcers Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner will be reunited for the last time. Murphy has been doing radio for many years while Kiner, the Pirate Hall of Famer, has been exclusively on the television side. With Murphy set to retire at the end of the season, it was decided to have them do one more game together. Inspired by this, 1973-style graphics and broadcast techniques will be used and the Mets will be wearing throw-back uniforms. Met fans starved for a taste of the past shouldn't miss it and those wondering what television used to look like before the advent of multiple cameras, exciting graphics and sound effects should tune in as well.



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