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Dodgers Seem to Have Sights on Expos' Alou

Baseball: Manager is under contract through 1999, but L.A. is expected to ask for permission to talk to him.

September 25, 1998|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ST. LOUIS — It could be the final weekend of his final year as the respected manager of the Montreal Expos.

Felipe Alou could be managing the Dodgers next year.

"I hear they're going to ask permission to talk to me and that it's also possible the Expos will grant me permission to talk," Alou said Thursday as his team prepared to begin a four-game series against Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Will he talk?

Will he consider rejoining Kevin Malone, the new Dodger general manager and former general manager and scouting director of the Expos?

"I'm not looking for a job," Alou said. "If I was looking for a job I'd have been long gone from here. I've been [with the Expos off and on] for 24 years. I have a feeling for this club and organization. But of course I would talk. Of course I would consider it.

"L.A. is a good place, a good situation. Kevin and I are friends. He brought a lot of wonderful players to this team when he was here. We'll see what happens."

Alou is 63 and completing his seventh year as Montreal's manager, but his job has been a constant rebuilding process because of severe payroll restrictions.

The Dodgers under Fox will have a 1999 payroll of more than $60 million. The Expos, who are 64-94, started the 1998 season with a payroll of $9.5 million.

The battery they sent against the Cardinals here Thursday night--pitcher Javier Vazquez and catcher Michael Barrett--started last season in Class A, characteristic of the current roster and how it has often been for Alou in Montreal.

In a four-day period in the spring of 1995, then-general manager Malone was ordered to trade Ken Hill, John Wetteland and Marquis Grissom.

Name a name: Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Henry Rodriguez, David Segui, Mike Lansing. Former Expos make up their own all-star team, but Alou, who is signed through 1999, said: "I wouldn't leave for more money or greener pastures. I would leave because the circumstances have deteriorated so much that you can see the end is now near.

"There is no assurance that a stadium will be built and no one has identified where the team might move. I'm not an insecure person. I have no reason to be insecure. But the circumstances here have become very insecure. If the club gives me permission to talk, that's a hell of a sign in itself."

The effort to raise money to build a downtown stadium isn't over but has fallen far short. There has been speculation about a move to northern Virginia or Charlotte, N.C., but neither location has a stadium or a concrete plan to build one.

General Manager Jim Beattie has talked about building a young team that would be ready to contend when Labatt's Park is ready--the Expos have sold name rights if nothing else--but Beattie himself is rumored to be headed elsewhere, possibly to Seattle as general manager.

Malone continues to insist he is still evaluating Dodger Manager Glenn Hoffman, but he has only three more games in which to evaluate.

He waxed euphoric when talking in general terms of Alou.

"He's like the lighthouse," Malone said. "He stands solid and he stands strong. He's out there to guide people the right way, no matter how strong the waters are or how powerful the storms. He shines bright through any situation, but the most comforting thing is, he's always on that cliff standing firm against those waves, protecting those around him."

No one knows Alou, of course, better than his son, Moises, who is now with the Houston Astros. The left fielder played for his father from 1992 through 1996, when he left as a free agent, family ties failing to compensate for an Expo offer that was below market value, as usual.

In the visitor's clubhouse at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night, Moises was asked if he thought his father would accept a Dodger offer.

He cited tampering rules and said, "There's not much I can say except they couldn't get anyone better. They need to get some chemistry out there and he'd give them chemistry right away."

Maybe more than that. Felipe Alou might give the Dodgers Moises Alou in left field.

As a player traded--by the Florida Marlins to the Astros--with a multiyear contract (he has three years and $15 million remaining) Alou can demand a trade when this season ends. The Astros, of course, are headed to the playoffs and Alou, enjoying an MVP-caliber year, chose his words carefully.

"The one thing I've always said since I left [Montreal] is that I would like to play for my dad again before my career is over," Alou said. "I played for him for six years and we never had any problems. I can demand a trade like [Dodger closer] Jeff Shaw, but this isn't the time to talk about it."

For Felipe Alou, Thursday night's game might have been the beginning of the end in a Montreal uniform. It's the uniform he was wearing when his first son, Felipe Jr., died in a swimming pool accident, when his father died, when the 1994 strike ended a season in which the Expos had the best record in baseball.

"Oh, yes, I think about it," he said, when asked about the possibility that this could be the last time he wears the uniform. "But the nice thing about having experience and being old is that you don't worry about anything."

Particularly with good friend Kevin Malone out there in Los Angeles.

*

Times staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this story.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Felipe Alou at A Glance

.520

Winning percentage in seven years as Expo manager.

9

Rank of winning percentage among active managers.

2

Highest finish in seven years with Expos (three times).

6

Average number of rookies on Expos each season.

NOBODY'S PERFECT: Milwaukee's Steve Woodard retires the first 18 batters, then Dodgers rally for a 4-1 victory. C3

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