Friday, November 16, 2007

Dear Yankees fans…

Unless you have been off-planet the last couple of days, you no doubt know that Alex Rodriguez has decided to stay in pinstripes. While I realize that he is a polarizing figure, it doesn’t change the fact that he truly wanted to remain a member of your favourite team. A quick caveat: I am a Blue Jays fan and as such, we have to deal with his bat for the next decade if we ever hope to see the post season again. I am writing this as one baseball fan to another.

Yes, he allowed his agent to do some pretty stupid things however, giving Scott Boras free rein has always worked for him in times past. This time, for whatever reason, Boras thought the off-season marketplace was conducive to a $300-$400 million contract and was likely of the opinion that it would come from the Yankees. To get this deal however a few hoops had to be jumped through, the biggest of which was getting your team involved in a bidding war with Boston and both LA teams.

Evidently, Rodriguez wished very much to stay with the Yankees. So much so that Boras announced the opt out before they even had a chance to make an offer. Boras was concerned that a face-to-face meeting with the front office and the Steinbrenners would end up with A-Rod saying ‘Where do I sign?’ before other clubs had a chance to weigh in with their offers. He instructed Rodriguez to not return calls and, to make sure nothing could prevent him from entering the marketplace, he announced the opt out before the World Series concluded. Yes, part of that was calculated on Boras’s part (and it backfired) but part of it was to not give your ex and now third baseman a chance to sign an extension with New York.

After seeing the fallout from Boras’s strategy, A-Rod decided that if he wanted to stay with the Yankees he had best make it happen himself. Rodriguez had been down this road once before with Boras and it landed him a bowel-loosening contract with the Texas Rangers who were never a serious choice until his agent told him so. Rodriguez knew that both his agent and the players union would attempt to convince him to sign with whichever team made the largest offer. Boras wasn’t looking for a contender, he was looking for a pigeon. After the desired contract was secured and buyer’s remorse set in after a season or two, then a trade could be engineered to a contending team if his new club looked like they were still a ways away from making the post season.

Alex Rodriguez the apparently grabbed the reins from Boras and built a bridge back to the Yankees. While it’s tempting to think that this was all a ploy by Boras there are some things that need to be considered.

To begin with, A-Rod didn’t sign with Texas until late January 2001. His agent is big on making teams sweat and the longer the bidding goes on and the higher the contract goes. This didn’t happen; it’s November 16 and it looks like they’ve come to terms and are just hammering out the details. The Yankees offer wasn’t shopped to other clubs. Finally, the deal signed in 2000 was a ten-year contract averaging $25.2 million per year. Despite inflation, the lower value of the dollar and the fact that revenues are far higher than they were in 2000 his new ten-year pact averages just $27.5 million annually.

Yes, it’s a new record but in context, it’s not as shattering as the deal signed seven years ago. People forget that when Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the Cincinnati Reds he gave what was viewed as a hometown discount. That discount was still the largest total package given to a player up to that point in time. In 2000, the second largest deal was Manny Ramirez’s with the Red Sox for eight years/$160 million--almost $100 million less than A-Rod’s deal with the Rangers. Rodriguez’s new deal is just a bit over a quarter of the spread from his old contract despite inflation and the game’s record revenues.

It’s a nice package to be sure, but not a Boras masterstroke. Some are claiming it is, that Boras deliberately bid high so a lesser figure would seem palatable and reasonable. That’s not what happened in 2000. Seven years ago Scott Boras primed the public for a ten year/quarter billion contract and got it. Bear in mind that $200 million was his stated baseline the previous time; this time it was $350 million. He topped the first baseline by $52 million and fell $75 million short on the second.

Bottom line Yankee fans, just put Scott Boras and his machinations out of your mind. Alex Rodriguez loves it in the Bronx and wants to win a World Series there. He manned up, swallowed his pride and did what was needed to don the pinstripes in 2008 and beyond. He is a helluva ballplayer and proved to this cynical Blue Jays fan that his heart is indeed pinstriped.

I hope all of you will ignore the media’s vilification and realize that you’re the fans he wishes to play in front of for the rest of his career. Opening Day 2008, get on your feet, put your hands together and welcome the prodigal son home.

Best Regards


1 comment:

June said...

I love you so much