Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Argument for A-Rod

The Angels series proved to be quite a let down for the Yankees. One of these years we're going to abuse the boys from Anaheim the way we have the Rangers and Indians over the last decade. It will be sweet revenge to turn the tables on them after the grief they've caused us lately. The victory last night was a very good way to salvage the series as the key members of the playoff race collectively dropped their games, allowing us to redeem one of our stumbles out West.

Joba Chamberlain has quickly become my favorite Yankee and I'm amazed to see the control he has of 97, 98, 99, 100 mph stuff and an 85 mph slider that bites hitters off at the knees. For a 21-year old kid he has poise and command beyond his age and it's very encouraging to see that he is seated next to the Rocket in the clubhouse. If his stuff is legit and he has his mechanics under control, I feel as though he may be the better of the two young aces currently on the big league roster. With the kind of power he has, his future just might translate to more long term success than Hughes, although it's too soon to know anything for sure. I'll enjoy watching though.

This post is about Alex Rodriguez. You could post about A-Rod everyday if you really wanted to. I try to stay away from it because A-Rod can turn into a circus of giant tabloid proportions if you overdo it. In this case, I want to make the case for signing him long term. Here goes:

Cashman has warned A-Rod and Boras that the Yankees will be out of the sweepstakes if he decides to opt out. I have to support that philosophy 110%. There's a point where the most powerful sports franchise in the world (not named Real Madrid) should set the terms of its own negotiations. The Yankees have too many resources to be played by the likes of Boras. Anyone can be replaced. The A's have repeatedly proved that. I don't think, however, that either party wants to part company. A-Rod could go down in the pantheon of greats as a Yankee, which holds a certain prestige level that is accompanied by cold hard cash, if that happens to be on his mind. The Yankees like to have the best player on the planet on their team, especially if he is in the conversation for the greatest player of all time when it's said and done. The Bonds' home run record might be reachable if A-Rod stays healthy and productive and he would look good breaking that mark in pinstripes.

The opt out is the only real obstacle to having Rodriguez in our uniform for the rest of his career and I believe that the situation will be dealt with (if it hasn't been already) behind closed doors. A-Rod doesn't opt out and the Yankees, as a billion dollar plus franchise, splash outlandish money on him to stay. $30 a season for 8 years is stupid, but in this case I'd make an exception. The extra $3 million in 2008, 2009, and 2010 will bump his annual up to $30 million. Those years would see the Rangers continue to pay between $6-8 million, and A-Rod would then get a straight $30 million a year from the Bombers for 2011-2015. He will be ridiculously overpaid by the end of the deal, but I think this is an exception worth making. Outside of Albert Pujols there is no better player in the prime of his career. Miguel Cabrera may be another marquee guy that the Yankees could pursue that would get the team more value, but the thing is you aren't sure that he will be available to you. A-Rod is in house and he is having a historic season. He already holds the Yankee record for most home runs by a right handed hitter, when he set the mark with 48 in his 2005 MVP season. The third baseman is destined to shatter that this season as he already has 42 with 6 weeks to play. Rodriguez may end the year with homers in the mid-50's, which would look positively unreal when compared to the greats that have worn the Yankees' uniform over the last 100 years.

Not since Mantle hit 54 in 1961 have the Yankees seen anything like this. Maris' 61 is historical, but Mantle's iconic status makes that number so memorable. A-Rod is an icon and his on the field accomplishments in our uniform vaults him among the greatest players to ever suit up in any city. The Yankee aura adds to that legend and he seems like the kind of player that should carry our banner into the Hall of Fame. The money is less of an issue when you consider the bargains that we have on our hands these days. Wang, Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy could be the staples of our rotation for many many years to come. That at a minor league pricetag. Add in Betances and Brackman and you have to like the financial situation. Add in Cano, Melky, Tabata, and anyone else that might emerge in the next few years and you have the recipe for a low payroll, high value roster. There's money to overpay on Posada, Mo, A-Rod and other aging vets that we hope to hang onto. The big money that we overpay is offset by great value in the minors and in young MLB talent. Eventually, the retirement of those Yankee legends will make way for bigger contracts for the current crop of young studs, and the replacement we develop will keep us in the black. It's a great system that almost seems unfair for a billion dollar franchise.

You may or may not like to give Alex that kind of money, whatever your opinion of the man and the player, but I'm voting yes to the expense. If he can repeat this year's performance a few more times before it's all said and done, and if he can remain consistent enough to approach Bonds, we will all be happy about it in the end, whatever the price. Of course, he will be judged by the Yankees ability to win a Series or two before it's all said and done. Whether that's fair to him or not, I can't say, but I believe and I'll continue to be a fan until there's reason not to be. That would take an opt out, or some move to the Red Sox. Otherwise, high paycheck or not, he's my guy.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Mike, I'm with you on the $30 million, but only if he signs an extension so the Yankees get their cash from Texas, and preferably only for six years. That takes him to what, 38? I'd expect we'd want (and have) some better 3B defender at that point and A-Rod would move toward either 1B or DH, and would no longer be a credible threat on the basepaths.
Of course, by then $30 million may not be a lot for a DH who can give you 35 dingers and 100 RBIs a season, but I think you have to hedge the risk of injury and keep the contract to six years.

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