1.08.2005

Alfonzo hopes to gain by losing (18 pounds)

According to an article on the Giants official website, Alfonzo has decided to answer criticism about his weight by losing 18 pounds plus has gone back to play in the Winter Leagues in Venezuela, where in 18 games, he is hitting .342 with 2 homers and 13 RBI.

This also answers the question of whether his birthday is bogus or not because some critics had wondered if he is actually older than he says he is (31 years old currently) and poised for a steep decline and theorized that he has been staying away from the winter leagues to avoid having to go through immigration and giving his "true" age (like Pedro Feliz was forced to admit he was actually two years older than previously thought, and Merkin Valdez was found to be almost a year older). However, he hasn't returned to the U.S. yet....

Perhaps:
  • he was unwilling to admit that age was getting to him and he couldn't prepare for baseball the same way;
  • he was put out by the fact that the had to take a "pay cut" the past two years - versus what he was making the year before the Giants signed him - but now that he's making a lot more he feels he needs to earn it;
  • he realizes that there's enough questions about his belonging as a starting 3B that could threaten his chances at free agency multi-millions in two seasons that he needs to do something now (else the question becomes which do you believe, the three seasons of mediocrity or the one season of a contract run. Then again, look at what other one year wonders have gotten...);
  • one of his friends and relatives finally kicked him in his behind and told him to get going;
  • he feels Pedro Feliz' breath on his neck (finally) and realizes that he better get going or find himself "Cirilloed" with some loser team in some city that he doesn't like;
  • it is some combination of these factors or something not even listed here.
In any case, at least finally he's finally doing something that sounds like the conscientious Alfonzo that his NY Mets fans loved so much. If he can return to his previous hitting prowess (though he has been a good RBI guy for the Giants despite he reduced performance) and with him probably batting 6th behind Bonds and Alou for most RHP and 3rd for most LHP, he could have a monster year scoring and driving in runs, perhaps teaming with Bonds and Alou for a trio of 100+ runs and 100+ RBIs.

If he can do that, I would say that the Giants would be the prohibitive favorites to win the Western Division, even if the Dodgers manage to trade Green to somebody and Drew happens to be healthy again (his career looks like a Gary Sheffield career, rarely play over 140 games but pounds the ball when he is in the lineup). That is, do that plus Bonds be close to where he has been the past three seasons (required for any Giants pennant run...). This would be the Alfonzo I and many others thought we were getting when he was first signed. Hopefully that will be true.

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