Talking Baseball

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Posted by Ben K. on Monday, February 16, 2004

"I'm probably pretty sure it will work out for the best"

Tonight, I finally figured out what was bothering me so much about the whole A-Rod trade. It's not an Evil Empire syndrome. I don't feel bad or guilty that the Yankees went out and fairly acquired Alex Rodriguez. In fact, I'm impressed with Brian Cashman. At first, I assumed this was George Steinbrenner's doing, but after seeing the economic thought that went into this trade, I was convinced that it was Cashman. But more on that later.

What really bothers me about this blockbuster deal--and I think I speak for a lot of Yankees fans when I say this--is that I don't like Alex Rodriguez. I never have, and even while he patrols the Hot Corner (or short) for the Yankees, there will always be a part of me that looks and him and says, "That's Alex Rodriguez. What is he doing in a Yankee uniform?"

Now, don't get me wrong; there's no doubt that I respect the man. It's hard not to when he's already hit 345 home runs, driven in 990 runs, scored over 1000 runs, and has a career OPS of .963. And he's only 28. Obviously, the rhetoric associated with A-Rod is true. He clearly is one of the best players to ever play the game, and you never hear his name associated with steroid use (Bonds and Giambi, take a lesson here). But at the same time, I just don't like him. While some people feel A-Rod belongs in pinstripes, I don't.

First, let's think back to a few weeks ago when A-Rod was named captain of the Rangers. He said, "I'm probably pretty sure this will work out for the best." I wonder if this is what he had in mind: third base at Yankee Stadium. At the time, I railed on the hypocrisy and bad leadership of Rodriguez. I don't need to go into that again. Just click here for that post. (The link opens in a new window so you won't lose your place here.)

Now, let's go back further in time to the 2000 ALCS when Alex was still on the Mariners. This was right before Scott Boras, the bane of Talking Baseball, presented the literal book on Rodriguez that landed him his contract with the Rangers. During Game 4, notorious MLB traitor Roger Clemens presented Alex Rodriguez with a few memorable pitches. If I recall correctly (and I do because I was there a few nights later when David Justice launched one into the night), the Yankee fans loved it when Clemens went after Rodriguez. The Pretty Boy short stop on the Mariners received his lessons of his respect. That annoying, arrogant smile on his face was gone when those 97 mph fastballs whizzed by his chair. On Tuesday, October 17, 2000, the Yankee crowd booed A-Rod with a vengeance every time he stepped up to the plate. Even though A-Rod's been on the Rangers for the past three seasons, he still gets booed at Yankee Stadium.

That's just one reason. I don't like that smile. He's so cocky; he knows he's got what it takes to play this game. The attitude's good, but the facial expression is not. He's grinning, eying some no-name pitcher, thinking, "I'm making more money this year than you will make in your pathetic career with the Devil Rays." Get over yourself, Alex.

Don't even get me started on the money. First, the Yankees pulled off an economic feat. They're paying Alex Rodriguez, the Best Player in Baseball, somewhere around $120 million for 7 years while Texas picks up the rest of his contract. That's a steal; $17 million a year for A-Rod. Derek Jeter will be making more money from the Yankees for the rest of his contract than A-Rod will. Even better, A-Rod is costing the Yankees a grand total of 750,000 extra dollars this season. Soriano and his $5.4 mil are gone; Henson's off the books, finally; and Aaron Boone (who?) will receive a little less than $1 million for playing basketball a few weeks ago. I guess, as an objective Yankee fan, I should thank Boone for playing that game. I know the Red Sox fans and Derek Lowe are cursing him again.

But back to A-Rod and his money. I can't help thinking that while A-Rod is really great, he's also in it for a lot of money, more than he should be. What's the difference between $250 million and $200 million? Not that much really. He's not going to come anywhere close to spending it. I certainly don't think he deserves his own hotel suite on the road, which the Yankees are giving him. He also gets a link from Yankees.com to his own personal Web site. I can't wait to see that one. I would imagine that it will be a shrine to...well, himself. While a lot of the greed image comes from Scott Boras, it's tough to like the man. Now, I know many of you may say it's hypocritical for a Yankee fan to say this, but at least the Yankees are paying what they have. A-Rod and Boras simply played the Rangers to get more and more money. The Yankees made sure this trade was economically fair. I bet Alex and Scott didn't appreciate that aspect all too much.

So those are my thoughts on A-Rod, but I know what happens next. Now that he's on the Yankees, I will root for him to succeed. I won't root against my team. When I get to the Stadium in a few months, I'll cheer when A-Rod launches one into Monument Park and when he makes a nice stab at a tough grounder. But in my mind, he'll always be greedy A-Rod, and I'll always remember that look of shock on his face when Clemens threw up and in during the 15-K performance that was Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS.

Reader Response

While I'm still on the topic of Alex Rodriguez, I would like to address one of our readers. Bruce Bumbalough, a self-proclaimed Rangers and Tigers fan from Texas, e-mailed us during our weekend updates on the trade. Here's what Bruce had to say about the A-Rod trade:

As a Ranger fan, I can see a lot of upside to the A-Rod deal. Soriano has good numbers, is younger than A-Rod and costs about a fourth of what A-Rod will in 2004. He has two more seasons before free agency. He can play center field , a spot the Rangers need filled. I hope the minor leaguer to be named is a pitcher.

I see the trade as a win - win for A-Rod and the Rangers. A-Rod finally gets to play for a winner and be where he wants to be. The Rangers gain about $120 million in salary to go after quality free agent pitching. Kerry Wood is a free agent after this season and is a local guy.
Bruce, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Soriano's a great pick-up for Texas; he's young and cheap. As long as his strike out performance from the postseason doesn't mess with his head, he'll lead that Texas offense for the next few seasons. Even better will be the money that Hicks saved by shipping A-Rod to New York. As long as he doesn't pull another Chan Ho Park signing, Hicks can use that money to sign a quality starter or two. A-Rod will be happier and more productive in New York where he will get a chance to win. I think that your bad times as a Ranger fan might see a happy ending after all, Bruce, if Hicks plays the right cards. And in the end, this was indeed a good trade for everyone involved.

Random Thoughts

According to recent rumors, Greg Maddux it seems is going to sign with, you guessed it, the Yankees. I can't believe this. Nor can I believe this is a good thing. Maddux had 11 win shares last season, down from 19 in 2002. He's definitely not the same pitcher he used to be. At the same time, I recognize that this represents an improvement from Lieber/Contreras and a stabilizing force. But it also reeks of King George. Cashman pulls off the trade of the year with the A-Rod deal and George goes back to throwing money in the face of old free agents. With Kenny Lofton all ready wrapped up, against the better wishes of most of the Yankee management, Maddux would just be more wasted money.

The move I prefer would be the impending signing of Travis Lee to spell Jason Giambi at first base. Lee is one of the smoothest fielding first basemen in the league, and he would be a great upgrade over Giambi and his bad knees. If the Yankees are to sign Lee, I think they should have Giambi DH, have Bernie play center, and have Lee as the everyday first baseman. While Lofton and his bruised ego would have to sit on the bench, this would indeed by the best line up offensively and defensively the Yankees could put together. It's hard to believe though that the only true Yankees are Derek, Bernie, Mariano, and Jorge. This truly has become a team hired to win. The years of loyalty and Paul O'Neill are long gone.

Finally, in a move that defies logic, the Twins won their arbitration case over Johan Santana. Santana was one of the most dominant pitchers during the second half of the 2003 campaign. He ended the season 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 169 in 158 innings and gave up 30 less hits than innings pitched. Yet, somehow, Jack Wilson ("Who?" as Mike said) won his case, while Santana, who should start Opening Day for the Twins lost. As Dave has said repeatedly, this arbitration process is so ridiculously flawed. This goes to show just how bad it really is.

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