Heres hoping he comes with a splash.
Moises Alou, the five-time All-Star (1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004) and four-time winner of the Player of the Week, brings his home run arsenal to San Francisco where he will hopefully launch a few of his bombs into McCovey Cove (with a splash) for the hometown team.
Baseball is nothing new to the Alou family.
His father, and current Giants manager Felipe, played for six major league seasons. His two uncles (Matty and Jesus) also played in the majors during their careers. His cousin, Mel Rojas, also pitched in the majors before retiring after the 1999 season. Brothers, Felipe Jr. and Luis Emilio, are working their way up the organizational ladders in the minors.
Moises Rojas Alou was born in 1966, Felipes best season, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked Alou second overall in the 1986 draft. After spending four seasons in the Pirates farm system, they sent him packing to the Montreal Expos as the player to be named later in the Zane Smith trade.
Injuries, controversy, closed-door meetings, and benchings defined his five seasons in Montreal. It also reunited Moises with his father for the first time, when Felipe was hired to manage the Expos after the 1992 season.
But nestled in there was Alous break-out season, the strike-shortened 1994 campaign where he batted .339 with 22 homers and led the National League to victory in his first All-Star Game.
In the 1996 season, Alou become a footnote in Atlanta baseball history.
On September 23rd, he was the last player to bat in a regular-season game at Atlanta-Foulton Stadium. Coincidentally, it was his uncle, Matty, in April 1966, who was the first batter at Atlanta-Foulton Stadium.
A couple months later, free agent Alou signed a contract with the promising Florida Marlins who were stockpiling and loading up on free agent talent. It worked. Alou and his teammates became the first wild card team to go all the way to the World Series and win.
Just as quickly as the Marlins ownership was willing to gobble up any high priced talent the off-season before, they were now willing to purge it. Alou, despite a solid post season performance, was not immune, and was traded to the Houston Astros.
Despite missing the entire 1999 season due to injury, his numbers in Houston were still some of his most productive, averaging 32 homeruns and 115 runs batted in. Following the 2001 season, Alou signed with the Chicago Cubs.
In 2003, Alou collected his 1,500th hit and belted out his 250th home run. In 2004, he collected the 1000th run batted in of his career.
After a miserable June and briefing toying with the idea of retirement after the 2004 campaign, Alou battled back, setting a career best in homers for a season with 39. After the Cubs failed to pick up his option, he inked a deal with the Giants.
Offensively, Alou going on 39 this year is, like his career, plagued with the if only. If only he didnt miss all those games to injury throughout his career, what would have been his numbers?
If Alou, who set a career high last season appearing in 155 games, manages to stay healthy, he can be lethal. With a short, compact swing to all fields, Alou swings whenever he gets his pitch, regardless of the count. Alou went after the first pitch 46.4 percent of the time last season and led the league in first pitch homers. While not a patient hitter, he did draw 68 free passes, his most since 1998.
Defensively, Alou is switching fields this season from left to right and has reassured fans and the Giants front office that the switch will be of no concern. Regardless, Giants fans and the front office have a right to be suspect. Alou committed a career-high eight errors last year (and that was playing in a position he was comfortable in).
Wendy J Sotos is a Cleveland based writer who loves nothing more than a Jim Thome blast and an Omar Vizquel barehanded scoop. Both of which, she believes, will be Hall of Famers when their playing days are over.
Wendy can be reached at: designatedwriter@yahoo. com
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