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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A-Rod    

OK, the media frenzy has finally reached the point that even given my deep distaste for A-Rod, my irritation with the undervaluing of his ability has exceeded my irritation with him. It doesn't make him a sympathetic figure for me or anything, but it is getting confusing. I know I hate dumbass Yankee fans more than I hate A-Rod, and I know that while I still think he's a little mentally fragile, the public perception of him as a choker is so overblown that it's getting ridiculous. But the rest gets a fuzzy. I know he wouldn't be a top choice for me to bat with the game on the line, but I'd probably have to take him over any current Mariner. So where does that leave you?

But how bad of a choker is he? How bad of a teammate? Statheads of course hate the notion of clutch players and chokers. They will quote up and down how he's been just as good close-and-late as basically anybody else (though not this year), and are well versed in the necessary argumentation to shut down any "he's a choker" argument (his overall playoff numbers are actually really good, etc.). But we all saw that series vs. the Red Sox, and we know something went wrong inside that man. And it happened again against the Angels; it's not science, but I'm still confident it wasn't just good pitching that induced that potential-rally-killing 9th inning double play. So if the image of him as a choker is real but exaggerated (and obviously not easily measured), what do you say to stathead folks who quote stat after stat at you about why he's not a choker?

Finally, I don't think A-Rod gets traded. But if he does, where do you think he goes and for what package? What do you think it would take for it to actually be a good idea for the Yankees? I was thinking to the Angels for Colon, Kendrick and Santana. Other guesses?

9 Comments:

  • Five comments... one for each season that has ended since the Yankees last won a World Series.

    1. Kudos to us Red Sox fans for planting The Seed Of Doubt! This, if anything, is proof that we are now engaged in a Rivalry, because Yankee fans (or reporters, anyway) have actually paid attention to some stupid shit we said.

    2. The insanity is totally overblown. It's like the Manny Being Manny fiasco, except about 100 times worse because the fans apparently have bought into what the New York media want them to do.

    3. The contract is the be-all and end-all of this discussion. If he made $15 million instead of $27 million, none of this would ever have happened. Then again, if he made $15 million, he'd still be in Seattle.

    4. Beyond the salary, A-Rod brought a good deal of this upon himself by being a weenie. He really WANTS people to think he's perfect. For all that Jeter is universally adored by Yankee fans, they did all the work for him. Jeter didn't go out and try to make himself the best player ever. You get the feeling he's satisfied to just go out and do his thing. A-Rod, on the other hand, puts so much work into his self-image that he's just begging people to pull this kind of crap and tear him to shreds. He presents this self-sculpted, super-prepared, totally-devoid-of-weakness image. Which is fine from an endorsement perspective, but people hate that shit. He's not a real person to anybody; he's a calculated marketing entity. Nobody gives a shit about hurting the feelings of a marketing entity.

    5. The infamous slap. Jeter would NEVER have slapped that ball. Never, ever, ever. But look at other players of A-Rod's stature, and how they'd have played that ball. Michael Jordan wouldn't have slapped the ball either, at least not without getting away with it. Larry Bird would have elbowed Arroyo in the chops, which I suspect would have been more legal than a glove-slap. The point is that despite A-Rod's desire to be one of those guys, he doesn't carry himself with any genuine class, nor with any genuine competitive spirit; he carries himself with, again, calculated politeness. Totally different. He's basically a big phony. Why would anyone cut a phony a break?

    By Blogger Jeff, at 12:37 PM  

  • Fans can boo all they want.
    Talking heads can cluck all they want.
    Opposing GMs can salivate all they want.
    dorA ain't going anywhere.
    And I, for one, am very happy.

    Why isn't he going anywhere?
    A simple answer... money.
    The Yankees make a shit-ton of money off him, enormo contract or no (and remember, Texas is still paying $10,000,000 annually... bwahahahahahahha!) He brings in a ton of dough in ad revenue and such to the club. Hell, every other day he's in the paper for screwing up so badly this season (which i think we all agree is BS). Press is press, and if dorA has to commit 5 errors a week to get a Yankee symbol on the back page of the NY Post, it's worth it, financially.
    The second part of the answer is also money. As in, dorA would be totally batshit insane to go anywhere else. His marketing value is higher in NY than anywhere else. They're a perennial contender. He has his favorite meat popsicle a mere 25 feet to his left 9 innings a day. Why would he ever give that up?

    Dude's in a slump. That's all. Get over it people.

    Unless Minnesota comes calling with a Mauer/Liriano package, and some serious hypno drugs.

    By Blogger Alex, at 1:21 PM  

  • Well, we're in agreement then. You're happy he's in NY and not going anywhere, and so am I.

    That Angels package is way too much. Remember, the last trade netted Alfonso Soriano and not a whole lot else. Besides, Colon smells a bit like a salary dump at this point, and the Yankees declined to pursue him as a free agent. The Yankees, if smart, would ask for Mssrs. Weaver and Napoli if they're smart. Posada gets relegated to backup/"personal catcher" status behind confirmed ass-kicker Napoli. Or if the Angels balk at coughing up Weaver, maybe they take Brandon Wood instead, who gets spun off (with cash) to the Nats for Zimmerman. Neither scenario is likely to happen, though.

    But let's assume that we're in some kind of fantasy universe where A-Rod is available, and examine the package required. Requirements are financial solvency, a need/willingness to take him on, something to offer, and an opening at third base or shortstop. Some ideas are worse than others. Do not laugh.

    BLUE JAYS
    Burnett, Rios and a prospect
    WHITE SOX
    Konerko, Brandon McCarthy, and a positional prospect
    TIGERS
    Bonderman, Shelton and a positional prospect
    ANGELS
    Jered Weaver and Mike Napoli
    PHILLIES
    Abreu and two blue-chip pitching prospects
    NATIONALS
    Soriano and Zimmerman, LOL
    BREWERS
    Lee and Capuano (if Lee signs)
    CUBS
    Ramirez, Wood and a pitching prospect
    DODGERS
    Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Jonathon "Badonkadonk" Broxton

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2:39 PM  

  • Right, Mauer-Liriano nets anybody they damn well want, except who would want something besides Mauer-Liriano? Anyway, Colon was part of the package I came up with exactly to offset the some of the salary. I didn't realize at the time just how much of his contract Texas was still playing. I knew it was a chunk, but maybe they don't need to offset salary after all. And I was assuming Weaver was more or less untouchable.

    Also, A-Rod can veto trades, right? He said he wouldn't go to Philly, for whatever that's worth. I guess he also said he'd rather die than not be a Yankee anymore, so if we're going to take his word for it this whole conversation becomes pointless. So, never mind.

    The only teams I can really imagine him going to are Anaheim, LA, and Chicago. Everywhere else just seems like too small of a market for him after NY. At least with the Angels he'd have a perennial chance to win, a forgiving fanbase full of rich posers like himself, and all of his offense would matter because their pitching is so good. I think he'd thrive there, but I don't think he'll leave NY.

    Actually, the Angels should offer up Wood with their package, so the Yankees can start grooming Jeter's eventual replacement. With A-Rod, they wouldn't have to worry about losing Wood, so it's no skin off their back. A-Rod would be a better SS for at least the next 5 years, and the Angels farm system can come up with another answer by then. And if Wood ends up being an all-hit SS who should be playing another position, well, perfect, Yankees fans will be used to that.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:20 PM  

  • If the Yankees do trade him, it's because a) they believe this is A-Rod's peak value (31 and becoming a head case and/or distraction) or b) because Steinbrenner decides to reinvolve himself with a drastic, silly decision. In either case, it requires an assessment that his value (at least in NY) has declined. And if they make that assessment, then they're not going to get an All-Star and two blue chip prospects.

    I think we're all in agreement that this trade is highly unlikely, and it's just NY media and ESPN blowing a slump out of proportion, plus the fun of speculating about a major trade (in fact, I think each of you has said something more or less to that effect. Also, I'm in agreement with Jeff and Lehr's separate opinions: I'm glad he's not in Boston, but I'd think the Yankees would be silly to trade him. Not exactly sure how that works).

    So back to the speculating: the Yankees would need a potential 3B replacement, some pitching and maybe an OF, right? So maybe something like Wood, Santana and Erstad would work. They could shoot for Tejada and Bedard (and the O's could counter with Tejada, their good pitching prospect whose name I can't remember, and Patterson), but both teams would be reluctant to trade within the division. Detroit and Chicago could get something together, and both were after Tejada, but the thought of the Yankees trading A-Rod to the team with the best record in the AL or the team with a leg up in the wild card chase seems unlikely (plus, I can't imagine Detroit would be all that eager to radically reshape the team right now). Maybe it's hypocritcal then to talk about the Angels, but I guess I'm a hypocrite.

    Ultimately, I think the Yankees would prefer to move A-Rod to an NL team, and I think there may be a few good options there. The Astros want an offensive upgrade, were/are after Tejada, and have some serious bullpen depth -- maybe Everett, Wheeler and a super prospect (if they have one). The Cubs could be interested (yeah, those fans would be a lot more easygoing about a slump) and have some arms -- Yankees could ask for Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez and a prospect (Rich Hill?), Cubs could counter with Prior instead of Zambrano. You know Bowden and his giant ego would like to make a deal to move A-Rod back to short, but I can't see them moving Zimmerman, Soriano wouldn't be enough (free agent and may cost as much as the Yankees are paying A-Rod), and they don't have a pitching prospect -- they'd need two of those three to go with Kearns. I think any of the teams out West would be interested: while the Giants would be the most interesting, they don't have what the Yankees want, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have the youth to do it, but seem to be trying to go the homegrown route, and I don't know enough about the Padres. I could see him winding up in Colorado -- I don't know enough about their roster, but I think he'd be a fit with their bland team personality.

    Yeah, that was too long.

    By Blogger chas, at 5:07 PM  

  • One more thing, it appears that Steinbrenner himself has actually been instructing the YES network to go after A-Rod the way they have been. So, while I assume it's because he's just trying to light a fire under him, it could an attempt to justify his eventual decision to move him. I can't see it, but Steinbrenner is a unique individual to say the least.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 5:15 PM  

  • The more we hear Steinbrenner's name in the papers, the better off the rest of us are. Keep it up, Steinie...

    Anyway, Chas, I don't think the Washington idea is so insane.

    First off, Bowden likes making trades more than getting the best out of a trade. He's an idiot. He'll love the splash he can make, especially on his way out the door. And getting A-Rod for an expiring (to Washington) contract and a certain star 3B is still a pretty good deal, presuming Soriano leaves. What's better for the Nats... getting, say, Brandon McCarthy and a dice-roll, or helping to net a guy of A-Rod's caliber?

    Second, Soriano's worth insane money as a second baseman, and was expendable to Brian Cashman because of his horrific defense at second base. As an outfielder, however, he's exactly what the Yankees need. He'll get "merely" fair market value (16-18M I'd guess). The Yankees can totally afford that, and assuming they DH Sheffield, they can move Godzilla to right and put Fons in left.

    Third, if the Yankees balk, the Nats can toss in Livan "100 Buffalo Wings" Hernandez to sweeten the pot. Everything's gotta go...

    Finally, I want to know the answer to this question: "how would Jeff Doucette react if A-Rod became the face of his adopted hometown's team?" Would I actually root for him? I have no idea. In theory, the notion of rooting for him as a reclamation project is kinda interesting.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5:22 PM  

  • Livan! Of course! The Nats actually have plenty of pieces. Some combination of Soriano, Kearns, Livan, Zimmerman/Kory Casto (supposedly one of their top prospects, blocked because he plays 3B. Interestingly, he plays a little OF too), Nick Johnson/Larry Broadway (their other top prospect) and Ryan Church could work. Not sure how it would all work -- maybe the Yankees would send some players back if the Nats included certain players. Plus, you know Steinbrenner would personally give Nick Johnson and Soriano a piggyback ride back up to NY (or at least make Cashman do it).

    Personally, I like the Nats from the first half of last year -- a collection of low-salaried, scrappy players -- but, uh, better. At the same time, I've actually come to like Soriano with Washington, and would be psyched if they traded him, then resigned him in the offseason (ignoring that he'd take the trade too personally to allow that to happen, that they wouldn't be competitive until after he's too old to be the centerpiece, that he's probably not this good, and that keeping him would be the kind of move that team I would want to root for wouldn't do). I like Church a lot, for no particular reason, and I'd like to see him playing every day almost as much as I'd hate to see him in NY. And I don't think I'll ever get over my dislike of A-Rod. I think the most I can hope for is that my dislike for him recedes to the point that I barely notice it. On the other hand, if Washington could get the Yankees to pay part of his salary, it'd be pretty sweet if it took 3 teams to take care of Hicks' financial (ir)responsibility.

    P.S. I hate A-Rod. Hatehatehatehatehatehatehate.

    By Blogger chas, at 6:35 PM  

  • Also, this deserves its own post (since it's completely off topic), but I would love to see the Braves catch the Mets in the East (mostly out of mean-spirited voyeurism directed at some Mets fan friends -- I'm the He Hate Me of baseball fandom). I actually think it's possible, mostly because (a) the Braves always make late season surges, (b) the Mets have the kind of vulnerable pitching (and Pedro injury) and streaky hitters (particularly Reyes, who I think could totally fold in the leadoff spot) that could cause a losing streak, that would cause panic among Mets fans, that would cause the team to press, (c) there's something about Chuck James that makes me think he could be a Francouerish difference maker over the rest of the season, (d) the recent move to pick up Wickman puts some stability at the end of their bullpen (he's been better than his stats this year, which look bad due to some games where he got lit up just so he could "get some work") and things could improve around him (like when the Sox just put Williamson in the closer role and everyone else started pitching better). And if they manage to pick up Linebrink without dealing Betemit, their bullpen could actually be a strength, (e) Hudson has to be better than this, and (f) that team would be PERFECT for a late run push, followed by a typical Braves first-round smackdown. Lastly, I've been saying they had a dcent shot at catching the Mets all along -- I don't know if that's self-promotion or an admission of stubborness. Probably both.

    Oh, and uh, it would be great if the Nats got back in the race too, somehow. And also, A-Rod for some reason. Nice.

    By Blogger chas, at 6:48 PM  

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