GM's tackle problem of bat boys

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Baseball executives started heading home Monday from the quiet winter meetings, expecting a flurry of moves later in the week.

Just five significant trades took place during the four-day session, and the only major league free agents agreeing to deals were Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Stanton, Mark Loretta, Deivi Cruz, Matt Stairs, Todd Zeile and Chris Carpenter.

General managers met Monday and adopted a recommendation on a minimum age for bat boys, saying it will be 14 or 16, depending on legal advice.

"The commissioner will make that ruling," said Sandy Alderson, the executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

The bat-boy flap started during the World Series, when Dusty Baker's 3-year-old son, Darren, almost got run over when he tried to fetch a bat.

While Baker left San Francisco to become the Chicago Cubs' manager, the Giants still have several young bat boys who are the sons of players, and Baker hoped to have his son be a bat boy for the Cubs.

"It will be 4 for us, 16 for everybody else," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry joked before turning serious. "Whatever it is, it will affect us."

GMs did not discuss commissioner Bud Selig's idea to have the league winning the All-Star game get home-field advantage for the World Series. Selig may bring it up when owners meet on Jan. 15-16 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

While few deals were made, the framework for some was put in place. The agent for catcher Ivan Rodriguez held discussions with Baltimore and the Cubs, Roger Clemens' agents had more talks with the New York Yankees, and there was the possibility that Greg Maddux might accept salary arbitration with Atlanta by Thursday's deadline.

Busy times ahead

"It's going to be a busy Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," agent Jeff Boris said.

Many teams and agents said Montreal's trade talks clogged the marketplace, with clubs wondering whether they had a chance to obtain pitchers Bartolo Colon or Javier Vazquez.

"I would have liked to get a deal done," Expos GM Omar Minaya said. "I listened to offers, and it was obvious teams were interested in my players. Ideally, it would have gotten done. But it's fine that it didn't."

Stanton, a stalwart in the Yankees' bullpen for six years, stayed in New York by agreeing to a $9 million, three-year contract from the Mets.

Stanton went 7-1 with a 3.00 ERA and six saves in 79 games and became an All-Star for the first time.

This was the second move made by the Mets at the winter meetings. On Sunday, they traded problematic shortstop Rey Ordonez to Tampa Bay for infielders Russ Johnson and Josh Pressley.

In other moves Monday, San Diego signed Loretta to a $1.25 million, one-year deal, and Atlanta traded infielder Wes Helms and lefty John Foster to Milwaukee for left-hander Ray King.

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