FIRE JOE MORGAN: Utterly Fantastic


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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Utterly Fantastic

Gorgeous. Wonderful. Goofy-riffic. Lupica.

The Yankees have about three weeks left to decide how much Alex Rodriguez is worth to them. This is what they should do: Let him go if he wants to go.

Sure. That's an option. Absolutely. No question, they could do this, and there is probably an argument in favor of doing it, if the Yankees wish to go in a different direction (that direction = "worse.")

ARod, 2007:

.355 EqA
54 HR

Please replace that at third. Or even when spread out over a number of different positions. Especially when you are about to lose Posada's numbers (even if he stays, the dude has to act his age eventually, right?) and maybe Abreu's, and your best option at first is Shelley Duncan (please please please please keep Shelley Duncan at first. Please. I beg you. It will be so funny if you think Shelley Duncan can be an everyday first baseman. Please.)

By now you know the deal about his deal. The Yankees say that if Rodriguez exercises a contractual right to become a free agent within 10 days after the World Series ends, then they will tell him not to let the clubhouse door at Yankee Stadium hit him in the exact same place where he and the Yankees have ended up in October since he came to town.

The Yankees have ended ARod's ass?

Because here is the question, not just for Yankee fans, but for any good sports fan of the city of New York: How much do YOU think A-Rod is worth?

Well, now, that's a good question. He is probably worth more to the Yankees and their new stadium than he is to anyone else, because they can pay any amount of money they want, and because he is the best hitter in baseball, and because of their other free agents. I would say he is probably worth $30m+ per year to the Yankees. How much do you think he's worth, Lupy?

At a time when A-Rod and his bagman, Scott Boras - who loves the sound of his own voice lately the way Mother Teresa loved the poor - want the Yankees or somebody else to invest more money in him per season than any ballplayer in history, how invested are YOU in A-Rod's future?

A lot, and I'm a Red Sox fan. Imagine the difference between a line-up with him and without him. Without him = Smiles Times for me.

Boras, the agent, is one of the great buttoned-down phonies of baseball in this way: Every time he has a big client looking for the biggest possible money, he talks about organizations and relationships and "dynamics." Boras is huge on dynamics. But everybody who knows his record and his client's record knows that the only dynamic here is the most money.

Scott Boras: hate the player, love the game. He's an agent for God's sake. What is he supposed to do? Give the other side a break? Compromise? What kind of agent would he be if he didn't try to maximize the amount of money his clients get paid? Answer: he would be a "bad" agent.

This is not about loyalty to the Yankees, or Yankee tradition - and doesn't have to be, by the way. Boras is a businessman and A-Rod is a businessman and they can shoot for the moon again, the way they did with the Texas Rangers seven years ago when he became a free agent the first time.

Correct. What point are you making?

Just don't suggest, even for a New York minute, that this has anything to do with who the next manager of the Yankees is. Rodriguez couldn't care less as long as he gets paid $30 million a year or $35 million a year or whatever he and Boras are looking for.

Refresher course: he gets $27m next year, of which the Yankees pay about $16m if he stays. Then he gets 32m in 2009 and '10. So, he's going to get that money. Either way. And I do think that a guy like ARod does care a little about the constitution of the franchise for which he plays. Doesn't everyone? A little?

This is about getting paid. Or A-Rod was just passing through here the way Hillary Clinton was.

Ha ha! Screw Hilary. She's a chick. What does a chick know about anything? Nothing, that's what. Carpetbagger. Just like ARod...who waived his no-trade to come to New York and changed positions and will have won two MVPs in four years and lifted up the entire team and heaved it into the playoffs pretty much all by himself when he was the only dude on the team hitting a lick in the first few months of the season. Carpetbagger!

Understand: If the Yankees allow him to break the Bank of Steinbrenner as a way of keeping him away from free agency, they are not just saying that he stays on as their third baseman and cleanup man and top run producer. It is so much more than that, both realistically and symbolically.

You cannot break the Bank of Steinbrenner. The Bank of Steinbrenner made a $10m investment a few years ago that is now worth well north of a billion dollars. The Bank of Steinbrenner is bottomless. It's like Scrooge McDuck's gold coin-filled pool.

Pay A-Rod this way and they are officially making him the centerpiece of their franchise and the face of their franchise for the next decade.

It won't be Derek Jeter, won't be the new manager and won't be Joba Chamberlain.

Derek Jeter is a mediocre defensive SS who's turning 34 next year and whose HR totals have dropped for four straight years. The next manager is going to fill out line-up cards and answer questions from dummies like you, but that's about it. Joba Chamberlain appears to be very very good, but he's either going to be converted to a starter (and he's had arm problems in the past) or he's going to throw about 50 innings next year. Alex Rodriguez should be the centerpiece of the franchise. Because he's the best hitter in baseball.

It will be A-Rod, who puts up huge numbers except at the time of year when the greatness of the New York Yankees has been grandly defined. Bucky Dent has a more impressive October résumé with one swing.

Bucky Dent, career, postseason:

23-83, two extra-base hits. .277/.310/.301. (.301 SLG!)

ARod, career, postseason:

41-147, 16 XBH (including 7 HR). .279/.361/.483. Even with several far-below-average series in a row now, the guy is so much better than Bucky Dent in the postseason it's like comparing apples to turds.

People say A-Rod's not the only one who let the Yankees down. He's not. But he's the guy routinely called the best player in the game, the one who's supposed to break the all-time home run record someday, the one who is obsessed, along with Boras, with breaking contract records.

The bar is supposed to be set higher for him.

This is fair. The bar should be set higher for him, and in that way, yes, he has been a disappointment. But he would not have been able to disappoint people if he weren't the best player in baseball, because if he weren't the best player in baseball, the Yankees wouldn't have gotten to the postseason. The Yankees won the WC by 6 games over Seattle. ARod was worth 13.7 wins to his team. If Casey Blake (a pretty good third baseman) and his 6.3 WARP were the Yankees' third baseman, the Mariners take the WC. Same with the 1999 or 2000 version of Scott Brosius.

We keep hearing how "random" the playoffs are. Hear it about the outgoing manager especially. Well, somebody down in Tampa asked this question to Joe Torre the other day, and it was a pretty good one if you ask me: How come we never heard about how random things were in the playoffs until the Yankees stopped winning them?

Because you were writing about how magnificent and calm-eyed and wonderiferous and scrumtrellescent the Yankees were. (You also weren't writing about their pitching.) You were writing about Jeter and Mr. November and The Flip and all kinds of stuff that you attributed to Derek Jeter being a Winner. You weren't writing about how Jeter went .211/.318/.211 in the "Flip" series against the A's in 2000***, or 2-17 (.118/.200/.118) in the 2001 ALCS against the Mariners or 4-27 (148/.179/.259) in the World Series against the DBacks (when he was dubbed "Mr. November, BTW). Because they were winning, for a lot of other reasons. Like pitching. And the biggest reason the Yankees lost to the Indians this year was Chien Ming Wang. It was not ARod. ARod is like sixth. And #5 is: bugs. Tell me that shit isn't random.

The Red Sox are in the same random, crapshoot playoffs and have now gotten off the deck and come back from 3-0 down and 3-1 down in the last four years, and which of A-Rod's Yankee teams do you think were capable of that?

Josh Beckett. Curt Schilling. The bullpen. Some lucky bounces. Good hitting. The fact that it was a longer series. All of these things were factors.

The Red Sox were able to do this because their biggest stars - David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez - stepped up to the plate in all ways.

Ortiz was 1-9 with a walk in the last two games.

Now A-Rod wants to be paid as if he's indispensable, because the Yankees wouldn't have made it to the playoffs this year without him. True enough. Here's something else that is true: They sure don't make the World Series very much with him on their side.

Causality takes another beating. Jeez. They also haven't won very many World Series with Jason Giambi on the roster. Or Mike Mussina. Or Robby Cano. Or with George W. as President. Or ever since Woody Allen started using Scarlett Johansson in his movies.

It is why the Yankees should absolutely call his bluff about opting out. If he really wants to go, let him.

Yes. Please let him. Please.

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posted by Unknown  # 12:08 PM
***I am a huge dummy, as David points out, because the Flip series was in 2001 when Jeter went 8-18 at the plate.
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