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chosk8
07-02-2003, 09:58 AM
Mets start makeover, send Alomar to White Sox
By Kevin Goldstein
July 1, 2003

The housecleaning officially has begun for the Mets as interim general manager Jim Duquette completed his first trade on Tuesday. New York sent disappointing Roberto Alomar to the White Sox for a trio of minor leaguers: lefthander Royce Ring, righty Edwin Almonte and infielder Andrew Salvo. As part of the deal, the Mets agreed to pay the remaining $3.9 million on Alomar's contract. Considering New York dealt a player of Alomar's quality and ate 100 percent of his remaining contract, it should have gotten more in return.

Acquired from Cleveland in December 2001 in a nine-player deal that sent Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar and Billy Traber to the Indians, Alomar hit .266-11-53 in 149 games in his first season with the Mets, a 70-point drop in batting average from 2001. A 12-time all-star who has won 10 Gold Gloves at second base, he was expected to rebound in 2003 but was hitting just .262-2-22 in 79 games this year. One key to his downfall has been his inability to solve lefties, against whom he hit just .193 while with the Mets. The 35-year-old will be a free agent once his five-year, $38 million contract expires at the end of the season. He's a career .302-203-1,093 hitter with 2,615 hits in 2,216 major league games.

Alomar is expected to replace D'Angelo Jimenez as the everyday second baseman for the White Sox. Jimenez got off to a tremendous start for Chicago, assuming the leadoff role and posting a .396 on-base percentage in April. He since has fallen out of favor with manager Jerry Manuel, thanks to his lackadaisical play and .187 batting average since June 1.



Royce Ring
The best prospect acquired by the Mets in the deal is Royce Ring, who entered the season rated as the White Sox' No. 10 prospect. The 16th overall pick in last year's draft, Ring is a stocky lefthander who set single-season and career saves records while at San Diego State. He has excellent velocity for a southpaw with natural lefty movement, along with a good curve and usable changeup. Starting the season at Double-A Birmingham, Ring had an early-season streak of 20 consecutive appearances without allowing a run and went 1-4, 2.52 with 19 saves and a 44-14 strikeout-walk ratio in 36 innings. Considered one of the more advanced prospects in the 2002 draft, he could be in the Mets bullpen as early as September. With Armando Benitez almost assured of being traded in the next four weeks, the 22-year-old Ring could emerge as the Mets' closer in the near future.

Almonte has caught the attention of prospect watchers by posting a total of 62 saves (tops in the minors) and a combined 1.85 ERA in 2001-02 at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. A 26-year-old righty found in the 26th round of in the 1998 draft, the St. Francis (N.Y.) product depends on his excellent control and a plus-plus changeup as opposed to overpowering velocity, as he normally works in the high 80s. Hitters seemed to have caught up to him this year, because while he has 14 saves for Charlotte, he also has suffered six losses and has a miserable 6.88 ERA. Opponents have been teeing off on him at a .331 clip, and he has an uncharacteristically low 24-14 K-BB ratio in 34 innings. He most likely will be assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

A 22nd-round pick out of the University of Delaware in 2001, Salvo is a second baseman/third baseman with little power or speed but solid on-base skills. Salvo, 23, started the season at high Class A Winston-Salem, but was demoted to low Class A Kannapolis after going 2-for-14 in five games. Used mostly as a reserve, he hit .235-1-6 in 37 games for the Intimidators, with 19 walks and a .359 on-base percentage.