Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated relays the story of how A-Rod almost wasn’t a Yankee anymore. It’s a nice look back on a story that was pretty much lost in the rest of the off-season hoopla. Once the Santana derby took front page, we all kind of swept A-Rod under the rug. Which is nice, since he was taking the brunt of it from the fans for the few weeks in which this situation was up in the air.
According to Heyman, the Angels, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers, and Giants were in on A-Rod, whether explicitly or implicitly. Further, A-Rod planned to meet with all of them, if for no other reason than to increase his leverage. However, it appears his desire to remain in the Bronx remained at the forefront of his mind.
So why did he opt out?
Rodriguez and Boras had believed that the Yankees needed to see, 1) that A-Rod was willing to leave, a serious concern since Boras thought A-Rod tipped his hand too much throughout his glorious 2007 season, and, 2) that others were willing to pay much more. Boras always believed the Yankees would get back in and pay the market rate, which he felt was 10 years for at least $300 million, for the three-time MVP with as much marquee power as home-run power — but only after he opted out and gave them a reason to.
And so we had the opt-out situation, in which many of us waved goodbye to A-Rod, even though it wasn’t our ~$21 million he had blown. The Yankees had made it pretty clear that he wouldn’t be welcome back if he opted out.
Boras felt the Yankees needed to be shocked. And while the opt-out did that, it apparently also shocked A-Rod. Rodriguez understood he’d be opting out, but he didn’t plan on the quick negative reaction by fans, media, and especially by the Yankees, including new boss Hank Steinbrenner, who publicly said the Yankees were done with A-Rod. “Good-bye,” Steinbrenner announced on opt-out night.
We did plenty here at RAB after the opt-out. Namely:
- Bid him adieu, noting that the opt-out signaled that he never intended to re-sign.
- Moved his category from “Current Yankees” to “Selfish Jerks.”
- Created a new one: “A-Rod’s Shimmy Makes the Women in New York Puke.”
- Explored the myriad options open for the Yankees to fill the third base vacancy.
A few weeks later, though, we learned that A-Rod was talking to the Steinbrenners about a contract. We were baffled a bit — and I talked to more than one person who thought it was a facade to extract more value from the other teams on the market. But after a day or so, it became apparent that these talks were serious, and that A-Rod would be a Yankee for the rest of his career.
Rodriguez triumphantly called Boras from the meeting with the Steinbrenners. He mentioned some hope for incentives but didn’t seem to care too much about them. Boras nonetheless pressed for $30 million in very attainable home-run milestones and finalized the contract language. So with the $10 million Texas was obligated to pay after the opt out, that could bring the total haul to $315 million — which is not too bad for a guy who was portrayed as crawling back. Yet, it probably still fell short of what he could have gotten elsewhere (or maybe even from the Yankees, had he waited it out).
Given the treatment of A-Rod by the fans and media in the past, I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to his re-signing. While a number of fans thought that we were making a mistake by giving him 10 years and $275 million, he was for the most part welcomed back with open arms.
And A-Rod is glad to be back, too.
“New York brings out the best in you. And the worst,” Rodriguez said the other day. “You have to be able to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself I didn’t want to go to a place and hide and have my weaknesses be swept away. New York has made me a better man. And it’s made me a better baseball player.”
It might be spin, it might be PR speak. But it’s damn nice to hear those words from the best player in baseball.
In January, word broke that an outdoor New York Rangers game could be the last sporting event at Yankee Stadium. At the time, I was not too thrilled to hear that the Yanks would not be closing out Yankee Stadium. Today, the Daily News reports that this proposed game is moving closer to a reality. While this game will be exciting for all of the Ranger fans out there, I still want to see the Yanks play the last sporting event at the Stadium. Call me a traditionalist, but the Yanks should close out their 85-year-old home. · (11) ·
In the never-ending search for some bullpen support, the Yanks have their eyes on Damaso Marte and Brian Fuentes, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote yesterday. As our buddies at MLBTR point out, Fuentes is owed $5.05 million this year, and Marte will make $2 million in 2008 with a 2009 club option for $6 million. If I had my choice, I’d go with Marte. He has AL success and better numbers overall. · (22) ·
Joba Chamberlain, 22, is a New York celebrity because of and in spite of throwing only 24 innings at the Big League level last season. During the winter, he seemingly became the face of the Yankees, garnering press conference and media attention at every fundraiser and holiday event. now, according to The Post’s Kevin Kernan, the Yanks would like Joba to set aside the celebrity and focus on his preparation. With Joba’s own admission that the popularity is impacting his preparation, I’m glad to see the Yanks step in to set their young pitching stud on the right path. · (4) ·
I got the idea for this post from the great Mariner’s site Prospect Insider. After seeing their take on the top tools in the AL West, I shot Jason an e-mail and asked to
steal copy the idea and apply it to the Al East. Not only did he give me his blessing, he was also kind enough to provide the HTML code.
Fun starts after the jump, let me know what you think in the comments.
The Yanks face the Twins today
in a rematch of last week’s rain-shortened perfect game. Phil goes again with Kei Igawa to follow him. The game isn’t on TV, but you can watch it on MLB.tv or follow the game on MLB Gameday.
In other Yankee news, Francisco Cervelli will be out for eight to 10 weeks following yesterday’s collision. The Yanks will retaliate when they face off against the Rays later this spring. I understand the desire to win, but collisions and dirty plays during Spring Training are simply unnecessary.
The Yanks, losers of four in a row, could use a good game today from the back-end of their bullpen.
As if getting hit in the wrist by David Price wasn’t bad enough, Frankie Cervelli had his wrist broken on a collision at the plate with Elliot Johnson during today’s game. Slated to start the year with Double-A Trenton, Cervelli will be out for an undetermined length of time. “I think it’s uncalled for in spring training. You get people hurt and that’s what we got, we got Cervelli hurt,” said Joe Girardi. I can’t agree more–there’s no place for a play like that at this time of year, and I’m fairly certain there will be some retribution at some point. The two teams meet again on Wednesday, and the Rays visit the Bronx for a weekend series starting April 4th. Watch out. (Hat tip to barry for the link.) · (32) ·
The Yanks are taking on the Rays this afternoon, and both Evan Longoria and David Price made the trip for Tampa. You can catch the action on YES. Lineups courtesy of PeteAbe:
A-Rod DH (Posada to follow)
The Big G 1B
Cody Ransom 3B
Moose, Karstens, Farnsworth, Albaladejo, Ohlendorf on the mound.
Bossman Jr CF
Garza, Dohmann, Anderson, Birkins, Munter, Price on the bump. Comment here on the action.
FYI: Patrick is looking for a few more Yankee bloggers for the YanksBlog.com Fantasy League. If you run a Yankee-focused blog and are interested in joining the league (I’m in it), head over there and sign up.
Some random stuff I discovered whilst surfing the web:
- While all standard sample size warnings apply, LaTroy Hawkins has recorded each of his outs this spring via the groundball. Considering his whole shtick coming in was that he transformed himself into a sinkerball pitcher last year, this is nothing but encouraging.
- Former Marlins’ first rounder Jeff Allison is back in camp with the team after 15 months of sobriety. I was hoping Allison would fall to the Yanks at the 27th overall pick in the 2003 draft, but alas, they ended up with Eric Duncan after the Fish made the high school southpaw the 16th overall pick. Allison’s story is a bit more self-destructive than Josh Hamilton’s, but if Hammy can come back, maybe Allison can too.
- Which pitching line is the ugliest: Josh Wymer’s, Craig Chaput’s or Kevin Nabors’? I say Nabors’.
- The more I think about Pedro Alvarez’s injury, the more I realize there’s almost no chance he falls all the way to the Yanks at #28. Mark Teixeira broke his ankle his draft year and not only went fifth overall anyway, he also received a deal worth $9.5 million. Alvarez isn’t in Tex’s class, but there are some out there that think he is. Something crazy could happen.
- There’s still a big chunk of Spring Training left, but I can totally see Scott Patterson making the team. Girardi’s been using him in a fireman role – bringing him in the middle of an inning to work out of a jam – and he’s been perfect so far. Brian Bruney may have lost some weight and grown out his hair, but he’s still craptastically ineffective. Patterson’s making the most of his opportunity; Bruney isn’t. Simple as that.
- Here’s your top two prospects for the 2009 draft. Gibson’s video doesn’t do him justice; he’ll be the best pitching prospect to come out of the draft since Prior.
- Eric Erickson is now 3-0, 2.75 ERA, 0.81 WHIP with a 23-2 K/BB ratio in 19.2 IP with Miami this year. The Yanks drafted Erickson out of high school in the 43rd round of the 2006 draft, but didn’t sign him. He’s the lefthander the system is sorely lacking. Ho hum.
- More from the “What Could Have Been” files: Rick Porcello is having himself a damn good spring considering he’s a 19-year-old in big league camp. 9-1 GB/FB ratio so far. Wow.
- Torre’s been getting a mixed bag from some of his personal favorites so far. At least Joe’s third base decision just got a whole lot easier.
- Last but certainly not least: I know steroids are bad and everything, but weren’t the games more fun to watch when the players could do this? I’d say so.