What Will Happen With A-Rod?

It's hard for me, as a Yankee fan, to truly enjoy the season that Alex Rodriguez is having this year because I think there's a really good chance he's going to be elsewhere next season. And the reason will be the endless beating he takes from the media and fans of the New York metropolitan area about how he's no good, and non-clutch, etc.

Everyone piles onto Alex and I actually do feel bad for him, despite the fact that he's a bit aloof at times. But since he's been in New York, I've come to like him a lot more and Derek Jeter a lot less. I still marvel at how good Jeter is at the game, but Jeter seems to be getting more and more arrogant all the time. That's unfortunate.

A-Rod, on the other hand, is putting up insane numbers, year after year, and is still bashed. He's hittong over .500 this year in the 9th inning with something like seven home runs. How do you define clutch? How many games does he have to win by himself? There have been studies of this year's numbers that suggest Alex has been responsible for 7 or 8 wins, by himself. And if you don't think that's a lot, you don't know baseball. For one guy to swing a team that much is amazing. So instead of being on the fringe of contention they'd be under .500 and fading fast. Big difference.

It also almost feels like the Yankees are setting Alex up to be the villian in all this. He's a free agent at the end of the season, if he wants to be. He would need to opt out of the remaining three years of his ginormous, famous $252 million deal. But if you could make $25 million per year for three years or perhaps more than that per year for, like, six or eight years... wouldn't you at least find out about the possibilities?

The Yankees, though, asked him about extending his contract, mainly because they like the fact that Texas is on the hook to pay $9.5 mill per season of his $25 mill for the next three years (the remaining years on the original deal). Basically, the Yankees are getting ARod for a modern-day steal, since he's costing them about $15.5 million a season. Or less than Giambi... or Jeter.

So when ARod said, hey, I'd like to maybe consider testing the free agent market, the Yankees made this public knowledge and painted ARod as tying their hands since, you know, they're on such a strict budget and all.

Of course, nobody can win here. If ARod signs another mega-deal, he'll further cement his legacy as a money-hungry athlete (again, not that I think anyone can blame him) and he'll be further buried in the press. And if the Yankees sign him to a $30 million a year deal, they'll be further demonized by the press and other fans as a team "buying" their titles (even though they haven't won since their payroll began to really skyrocket).

Which brings me to another point: who the hell could afford to pay one player more than $30 million per season? I can only imagine the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels and maybe the Cubs as being in that category.

The Mets won't do it, not with Wright and Reyes on the left side of their infield. Although, if it were me, and I was running the Mets and was opening a new ballpark the same year as the Yankees, I would throw as much money as possible at him and either make him a first baseman or move David Wright to first. What difference would it make? If ARod retires in ten years, you move Wright back to third. Who cares? And wouldn't that just piss off the Yankees if the Mets won even a single World Series with ARod as the hero? Of course, he'd still have to deal with the New York media and he's shown how that can get to him. Still, and this is a Yankee fan speaking, I think the possibilities would be delicious.

The Dodgers think Garciaparra is a good third baseman so that shows their baseball sense.

The Sox won't do it because Theo Epstein thinks he's a genius based on one eight-game luck-steak in 2004. Plus all of Boston hates ARod, including the mouth-breathing, overrated captain of the Sox.

The Cubs could consider it, especially if they're primed for a real run in the next few years. Pinella has a good connection with ARod and if Mark Cuban ever really did buy the Cubs, I think the chances of them going after ARod increase dramatically.

However, I think it's most likely that ARod ends up in Anaheim. The Angels have money to burn and an owner willing to burn it. It's Los Angeles, which means ARod is still in a big market but nobody there really cares that much about sports so the pressure would truly be off. He'd be at every awards show and his hookers would be from Rodeo Drive instead of Toronto. Major upgrade.

He could, of course, still end up back in New York because when push comes to shove I think the Yankees leadership is run by good baseball men, such as Brian Cashman, who hopefully knows just how amazingly, jaw-droppingly good ARod really is. Plus, in eight to ten years or so when he's beloved as he approaches Barry Bonds' all-time home run record, it would be nice for the Yankees to have him in their still-fairly-new Yankee Stadium.

Still, my guess for next year? LA Angels.

Don't Get Your Balls Mixed Up

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