Feb
15

Out of left field: When the Yanks acquired A-Rod

By

A-Rod greets the New York press on February 17, 2004. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Do you remember Valentine’s Day 2004? For many, it was just another Valentine’s Day, a Saturday in February, but for Yankee fans, it was a big day for that was the day we first heard about the Yankees’ interest in Alex Rodriguez. I remember hearing the rumors and being completely unsurprised by them. The Yanks gave up Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias for A-Rod. It was a steal.

Today — February 15 — marks the six-year anniversary of the trade. The rumors erupted on Valentine’s Day, and by the next day, A-Rod was a Yankee, pending approval by the Commissioner. What struck me about the trade at the time was just how under-the-table it was. The Yanks targeted their guy and landed him before anyone really knew what was going on. In a way, it was similar to this year’s acquisition of Javier Vazquez in that no one knew it was happening or who was involved until the trade was complete.

For A-Rod, though, it wasn’t the first time that winter his name had come up. After the 2003 World Series ended and the Yankees and Red Sox looked to reload in anticipation of an October rematch, the early stories focused around A-Rod. Boston had grown tired of Manny Ramirez’s act and had placed him on waivers. The team later had a deal in place to acquire A-Rod for Manny Ramirez. The superstar short stop would have to give up some money, but the Red Sox had their guy. Boston then would have shipped Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox in exchange for Magglio Ordoñez to replace Manny.

The Players Union, however, didn’t see things the Red Sox’s way. The union quashed the deal over the restructuring of A-Rod’s contract. They didn’t want their marquee earner to give up guaranteed money, and so that deal was dead in the water. A-Rod would remain with Texas.

And then, February arrived and with it came a trade Jack Curry described as a “surprise move.” The Yankees would acquire A-Rod and all that came with him. He had his obsession with New York, his chilly relationship with Derek Jeter, his contract, his desire for attention and his prodigious ability and power. He would slide over to third base, and the Yankees would have two future Hall of Famers on the left side of the infield.

As the trade stories unfolded, it appeared as though the February move was a second chance for the Yanks. Tyler Kepner and Murray Chass reported of a phone call between the Rangers and Yankees just hours after the Marlins won the World Series. “On Oct. 26, about 12 hours after the Yankees lost the World Series to the Florida Marlins, Rangers officials called Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman to gauge his interest in trading for Rodriguez,” the two wrote. “Irritated by the timing and confident in his own star shortstop, Derek Jeter, Cashman passed.”

In Boston, fans were disappointed by the Yanks’ moves, and Mets’ fans felt jilted too. A-Rod was the one who got away. For his part, A-Rod said all the right things. ”To me, it was a very easy decision,” he said. ”To me, this came down to winning. Over the last three years, I’ve come to understand that winning is something I respect a lot. It was an easy decision. Hopefully, after today, it will be a dead issue. Derek Jeter is the captain of this team, and I’m going to follow his leadership.”

But the Yankees’ fans were less accepting. Words uttered by Reggie Jackson came back to haunt us all. ‘I’m taking for granted that A-Rod is a performer in the month of October,” Mr. October said in February. Of course, from Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS through the 2007 playoffs, A-Rod would come to symbolize not the Yanks’ successes in October but their high-price failures.

It would, in a way, take until 2009 for Yankee fans to truly embrace A-Rod. He suffered through an ill-timed decision to opt out of his contract, steroid allegations and a bad injury. But by the end of this past year, he was a playoff hero, the guy the Yanks wanted up every time. It all started six years ago today when the A-Rod Era kicked off.

Categories : Days of Yore

74 Comments»

  1. Tom Zig says:

    Whenever Boston tries to be stingy, they lose out on their guy.

    • bexarama says:

      I like to think that the Teixeira negotiations went like this:

      Boston: We’ll give you eight years, $160M for Teixeira.
      Boras: That’s insulting. Not nearly enough.
      Boston: Okay. Give us another week.
      (a week later)
      Boston: Eight years, $160.5M?

  2. Rob D. says:

    I think that day set an all time record for the amount of whining done by fans of other teams. I remember the ESPN boards in particular exploding at the time.

    All in all, a fun day to be a Yankee fan.

  3. Chris says:

    Boston probably would have signed Magglio Ordoñez to replace Manny.

    I believe Magglio was still with the White Sox at the time. If I remember correctly, the (supposed) plan was to trade Nomar for Magglio.

    • Stryker says:

      my god, i can remember one specific instance (perhaps it was the famous july 1, 2004 game) where all the announcers talked about was how separated nomar was from the rest of team. they kept panning to him sitting there, sulking in the dugout when everyone else was on the top step.

      what a fall from grace that guy has experienced. he and manny were boston baseball gods, now he sits at home every spring with mia hamm.

      i also found it hilarious that the young crop of up-and-coming shortstops all had numbers that went in numerical order: jeter (2), a-rod (3), tejada (4), nomar (5).

      • bexarama says:

        my god, i can remember one specific instance (perhaps it was the famous july 1, 2004 game) where all the announcers talked about was how separated nomar was from the rest of team. they kept panning to him sitting there, sulking in the dugout when everyone else was on the top step.

        Yeah, that’s exactly the game it was. They also kept showing him sulking as Jeter was leaving the field with a bloodied face.

        I kind of don’t blame him. I mean, when you’ve got idiots (or Idiots, whatever) like Kevin Millar on SportsCenter prior to the 2004 season and they ask him “So who’s the Red Sox shortstop in 2004?” and he’s blurting out “A-Rod!”, it can’t be too good for your ego.

  4. Steve H says:

    I was out ice fishing with a bunch of Sox fans when I heard the news, it was great timing to find out that after the Sox had botched getting the best player in baseball (ok, the AL), the Yankees got him, seemingly out of nowhere.

  5. Stryker says:

    i know people have had their thoughts on and complaints about alex rodriguez – we all know what they are.

    it just has to be said — and loud enough so everyone can hear — it’s been an absolute pleasure having him on the yankees for the last six years. he’s one of the greats of our generation, believe it or not. fact of the matter is that he’ll more than likely go into the hall of fame wearing the interlocking NY, and he’s been a joy to watch on the field.

    • bexarama says:

      +13

      Well put. He could have never won a World Series with the Yankees and I still would have felt really, really lucky that I got to see a player that awesome play on my favorite team.

    • More than likely? It’s a lock. He’ll have spent the vast majority of his career in NY, won the World Series here, won the MVP twice. If he breaks the HR record, it will be in NY. His legacy is as a Yankee.

      • Steve H says:

        won the World Series here, won the MVP twice

        At least.

      • Januz says:

        It is a given that he will go into Cooperstown as a Yankee (Unless of course, they writters say NO over steroids). The reason being, if he completes his contract, he will have spent 14 years in The Bronx, which is far more than Seattle or Texas. To be fair, I really don’t like the rule where the Hall dictates what cap you must wear. It really sucks that Andre Dawson must wear the cap of a defunt team (Montreal), over the Cubs.
        There is little doubt that the Rodriguez/Soriano trade is one of the top 10 one sided trades of the past half century (Despite what Prime 9 thinks). Number ONE being Randy Johnson/Mark Langston (How that trade or the Jeff Bagwell/Larry Anderson trade did not make Prime 9′s list, is a complete mystery to me).

        • bexarama says:

          How that trade or the Jeff Bagwell/Larry Anderson trade did not make Prime 9’s list, is a complete mystery to me
          Because they had to talk about how awesome Jason Varitek is, obviously

          • Januz says:

            The Veritek/Lowe for Slocumb trade was one sided, but did not involve HALL of FAMERS (Which Bagwell will be), so it did not deserve to be a “Prime Nine”. Thus, overrating it is 100% correct. Keep in mind they put the Babe Ruth “Trade” FIRST on their list. Although it was a SALE not a TRADE. It was like they discussed the Ruth transaction from the BOSTON perspective (Saying how the curse was lifted when Boston won).

            • bexarama says:

              I really like Prime 9 but I did think that was a very very Boston-friendly Prime 9 (still haven’t watched Prime 9 Comebacks because I know what #1 is gonna be).

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                Still pretty awesome how numbers 2 and 1 involve Yankees-Red Sox.

                The rivalry=EPIC.

                • bexarama says:

                  What was #2 again?

                  I also think they’re running out of Prime 9s to do. The Hot Stove program had like a two-minute Prime 9-type thing for each of the positions during the past decade. Maybe they should have made that its own program. I mean, “unique pitching motions”?

                  They also called Jack Morris the #1 player of the 1980s. o_O

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  #2 was 1978′.

                  Man, was that a year. I still remember that Bucky Dent HR. After he hit it out, I ran onto my porch and yelled into the air. Good times…

                • bexarama says:

                  Oh, Prime 9 Comebacks. I was thinking Prime 9 Unbalanced Trades. I wasn’t alive for the Bucky Dent HR, but I know my mom had to go to Boston for work a few days later and wore a Yankee hat. She is a brave, brave lady.

                  What were the other Prime 9 Comebacks, if you remember? Like I said, I just couldn’t watch it. ._.

                  I have such a love/hate relationship with the rivalry.

                • bexarama says:

                  I wasn’t alive for the Bucky Dent HR

                  Okay that just sounds weird. I wasn’t born yet.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  I don’t even remember. I knew before it started that # 2 would be 78′ and # 1 would be 04′. I vaguely remember the Miracle Boston Braves of 1912 (I think-one of the most unsung storybook seasons ever)and the 69′ Mets being on the list somewhere, but I really didn’t care. I was just flipping back every now and then to see when they got to number 2.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          What a cop out, making Ruth for 100,000 dollars the number 1 “trade”

          I argue it’s the Yankees “trading” money to Mark Texeira for the use of his services for 8 years. Just as valid.

        • MikeD says:

          He’s already been in more games and had more plate appearances with the Yankees than any other team. He’s a Yankee.

    • Steve H says:

      he’s one of the greats of our generation all time.

      Fixed.

    • Dalelama says:

      I think you are stretching it a bit as I dont think Arod has been worth the money and has definitely has spit the bit frequently in the post season. While he redeemed himself somewhat recently I wouldn’t rank his acquisition as a great transaction.

      • bexarama says:

        I dont think Arod has been worth the money
        152 OPS+ 2004-2009

        and has definitely has spit the bit frequently in the post season
        Absolutely true. However, the biggest factor in why we didn’t move on in previous years was the pitching, not one guy having a bad four games.

        I wouldn’t rank his acquisition as a great transaction.
        We got one of the best players of all time for a player that isn’t nearly as good as he is and a whole crapton of money, which we can pay. What’s not great about that?

      • I wouldn’t rank his acquisition as a great transaction.

        That’s humorous. I laughed. Of course you wouldn’t.

      • Steve H says:

        What would you rate it as, the greatest transaction?

        Any time you can trade for the best player in baseball, and it costs you an extremely flawed player (of the same age) and some low level prospects, it’s a great transaction.

        • dalelama says:

          I expected more than 1 championship in 6 years when we acquired Arod. If we hadn’t acquired him we wouldn’t be sitting with his current outrageous contract which will be a disaster in a few years. I will of course change my mind if we win a few more championships over the rest of his contract. Admittedly, I forgot about the Texas kick in to his previous contract when I posted originally. Perhaps I will never forgive him for stranding Miguel Cairo at third base with one out and Mariano warming up in the bottom of the eighth against the Sox in 2004. In that at bat when we could have put the Sox away he couldn’t even get his bat on the ball and the Curse was broken. Perhaps it is the fact he has let me down more in the clutch than I would expect from a guy making $25M. Don’t get wrong it was a deal I would do again (I wouldn’t have done the second deal) but I really expected more production when it mattered.

          • So what you’re saying is that you dislike the trade because of one at-bat six years ago when the Yanks already had the lead? I don’t mean to put words into your mouth, but that seems rather irrational to me. The vast majority of the Yanks’ postseason struggles post-2004 were due to pitching, not A-Rod’s struggles. In fact, they lost in 2004 because of pitching. A-Rod’s struggles were only a part of the offensive whole.

            Meanwhile, as a Yankee, he’s hit .300/.401/.567 with 238 home runs. He’s won two MVP awards, and the team has a World Series championship under its belt. Blaming him for the struggles is missing the forest for the trees.

          • bexarama says:

            I expected more than 1 championship in 6 years when we acquired Arod.
            If everything else was the same, only we never got A-Rod and had Soriano instead, we wouldn’t have any more championships. Maybe we don’t even make the playoffs in 2007.

            If we hadn’t acquired him we wouldn’t be sitting with his current outrageous contract
            agreed

            which will be a disaster in a few years.
            What lottery numbers should I play?

            I will of course change my mind if we win a few more championships over the rest of his contract.
            Of course.

            Perhaps I will never forgive him for stranding Miguel Cairo at third base with one out and Mariano warming up in the bottom of the eighth against the Sox in 2004. In that at bat when we could have put the Sox away he couldn’t even get his bat on the ball and the Curse was broken.
            I hate to say this, but if Mariano closes out that game successfully, nobody ever talks about that at-bat again. Oh, and I think the Yankees only had a lead in that game because of a home run by A-Rod.

            Perhaps it is the fact he has let me down more in the clutch than I would expect from a guy making $25M. Don’t get wrong it was a deal I would do again (I wouldn’t have done the second deal) but I really expected more production when it mattered.
            Confirmation bias is awesome.

  6. bexarama says:

    It was awesome before it was so sudden. One minute he was going to Boston. The next, he was staying in Texas and going to be the captain. And then my mom was calling me and screaming about how the Yankees got A-Rod… just freaking awesome.

    (And they’ve never been to a World Series since then. Coincidence I THINK NOT!!!!!111!!!!!)

    • bexarama says:

      because it was so sudden* wowwwww

    • JGS says:

      they’ve never been to a World Series since then

      you mean Texas? Because they have never been to a World Series ever. Heck, They’ve never even been to the ALCS

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      The Yankees will never win a WS with A-Rod. He hurts the team. They should just trade him and eat the tremendously monstrous contract. That’s the only way they’ll get any value out of him.

      Sincerely,

      Adam Schein, SNY, circa March 2009

  7. Yankeegirl49 says:

    I was having lunch at the White House sub shop in Atlantic City…Kiersten called me yelling “OMG we just got Arod”…which I then proceeded to yell out and all the Yank fans in there were high fiving each other.

  8. Hey ZZ says:

    I think the most overlooked part of the A-rod trade was how much of the bill Texas was picking up. Paying him only $16 million for a few years there was a serious bargain. Of course we all know how that story ended though…

    • Hey ZZ says:

      On that note, it would be great if anyone was ever able to uncover really how A-rod pulled off that $300 million contract. Where is Selena Roberts when you need her?

  9. Steve H says:

    I loved when it was later discovered that Soriano was the same age as A-Rod, not 2 years younger as previously thought, that was the icing on top.

  10. Jake H says:

    I remember when this happened. I was shocked. Cash is a ninja

  11. AndrewYF says:

    I love this quote:

    Bracken holds no ill will toward Rodriguez. He did, however, direct some ire toward the Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner.

    ”It’s another example of George Steinbrenner trying to buy another World Series,” Bracken said. ”If there’s a bitterness at all, that’s it.”

    Red Sox Nation: the world leader in cognitive dissonance.

    • Tom Zig says:

      So the Yankees landing A-Rod is deemed buying a championship, but if the Sox landed him, it isn’t considered trying to buy a championship?

    • Januz says:

      There is a famous quote that you can apply to the Red Sox and their legions of fans: “Consider The Source”. Everyone knows what the Sox are all about. Anyone remember this quote from Jim Rice?: “You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez], you see Jeter … Guys that I played against and with, these guys you’re talking about cannot compare,”. The Sox will always be Texas A&M to the Yankees University of Texas (UT)…….. The other team, in the sport, better than the Baylor’s of the world, but rarely on UT’s level. So all they will ever do is whine and pout.

  12. craggy (formerly crapula) says:

    I am just happy he’s got a ring. I don’t think anyone was happier that day than Arod. I’m glad for him (and for us).

  13. pistol pete says:

    He’s probably not worth what he’s making, but boy is he good and I’m glad he’s on our team and not our competitions.

  14. [...] Ben over at River Ave Blues points out, today marks the six-year anniversary of the trade that brought the Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx. [...]

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