Friday, November 2, 2007

When stream-of-consciousness meets momentum...

For a blog I hoped to devote to Blue Jays ramblings I haven’t talked a lot about the Blue Birds. I guess they haven’t done much to inspire conversation and I’ve pretty much covered off what I wanted to say regarding 2007. There’s a fair bit I wish to touch on so there will be some jumping around from thought-to-thought today.

As far as promoting or more pointedly, not promoting this blog goes, Ball-Hype stumbled across it yesterday and asked if I wanted it added to their site. Since they found me fair-and-square I said yes because I won’t turn down an uninitiated offer to link to me. Now, The Progenitor of Severe Glutial Discomfort or TPoSGD (as Jason at Ball-Hype called it) is listed there … here's a link..

Other than Jason and myself, I don’t think too many people are aware of its existence. It does give me some time at any rate to add some meat to its bones before it becomes noticed. As mentioned, my weekly columns are both live; the Hardball Times article--“Battling Boras” discusses how a potential team may deal with the agent’s outrageous predictions used to justify yet another record contract for Alex Rodriguez. I’m really getting the impression that this is more about Boras than A-Rod.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some time after Rodriguez retires, we will read about A-Rod describing how he felt he let Boras have too much influence over him. Rodriguez appears to be a guy who is quite sensitive to criticism yet he continues to allow himself to be put in situations that make him look bad. Obviously, money is an issue--no surprise there yet he seems to give Boras’s free reign to handle matters without giving the agent feedback on how he prefers to have things done.

It looks like first Boras sells Rodriguez on an idea (opting out and becoming a free agent), then convincing him to give him a free hand to run the show before he starts selling A-Rod’s services. I cannot see a player thinking it would be a terrific idea to announce his intentions in the middle of what is considered the most important part of the season.

The thing is, how many of A-Rod’s contradictory statements are due to the following scenario: Rodriguez speaks his mind. Boras convinces A-Rod that a course of action opposite of his statements is in his best interests. Rodriguez follows Boras’ suggestions. Maybe A-Rod genuinely wanted to stay in the Bronx and Boras appealed to his ego and the lure of untold riches to sway him.

What if Boras asked/told his client:

  • “Do you really want to stay in a city where the fans will turn on you the next time you go 6-for-40?”
  • “You’re the best player in baseball, don’t you deserve to be in a place where fans recognize that?”
  • “You gave the Yankees four outstanding years and won two MVP but they only got as far as the ALCS once. They haven’t won a World Series since 2000--maybe they have lost their touch. Perhaps a different team can use your talent to go all the way.”
  • “Let’s face it, you could win the MVP five more times however the New York media will always say Derek Jeter is the reason for the Yankees’ success.”
  • “The game is rolling in money like never before, it is players like you that are the reason for it. Guys like Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez, Vernon Wells all have or will have years where they will earn $20 million or more. The Yankees last season paid Roger Clemens a pro-rated $28 million for less than 100 innings, a .500 record and a 4.18 ERA. In light of that, don’t you think you’re a bit underpaid?”
  • “If you wait three years, you’ll be 35-36 next time free agency comes around. What if you lose a year to injury? That will hurt your market value significantly. If you want one more big contract, it’s now or never. You owe it to your family to make sure they’re looked after--it’s not greed, it’s called being a responsible family man.”
  • “Have I ever let you down? I got you a record setting contract, I got you on a contending team and I can do it again. Trust me Alex, we’ve been friends a long time and I would never do anything damaging to you.”
  • “The Yankees have the most money, they can’t afford to lose you. If you really want to stay with them, I’m sure it will work out. There’s no way they won’t bid.

Push those particular buttons and it’s hard not to see A-Rod seeing things Boras’s way.

It appears the Marlins uber-masher Miguel Cabrera is available for the right trade. In his age 22-24 seasons, the kid has posted OPS+ of 151, 159 and 150; compare that to A-Rod (136, 134, and 162) or Manny Ramirez (124, 147, and 146) at those ages. While there are some issues regarding his attitude and conditioning habits (or lack thereof), there’s no doubt he’s an intriguing talent. Unless he gets himself into shape, he’s got DH written all over him since his defense in the outfield corners and third base indicate that his hitting isn’t the only thing that reminds folks of Manny Ramirez.

If the Yankees pursue him (where hiring Cabrera’s former manager Joe Girardi makes things interesting), a nice contract extension with clauses/bonuses related to weight and conditioning might help him focus on other aspects of his game. If Mike Lowell re-ups with Boston and Cabrera comes to the Bronx then Scott Boras’s job gets that much more challenging.

If I’m the Red Sox, I ignore Rodriguez; a lot of things go into a championship roster and for now, they have all the pieces in place. I’d be leery of making a change of that magnitude to what they have right now--regardless of the talent involved. Don’t forget, the Yankees had played in six of the eight previous World Series before acquiring Rodriguez and everybody predicted that the Bronx Bombers had ensured a spot in the Fall Classic for years to come.

Baseball doesn’t work that way--it’s a team game; one man generally isn’t a difference maker between a champion and an also-ran. Here are some other recent examples:

  • 1996: Indians lose Albert Belle. In 1997, they make it to the postseason.
  • 1996: White Sox sign Albert Belle. In 1997, they miss the postseason.
  • 1999: Mariners lose Ken Griffey Jr. In 2000, they make it to the postseason.
  • 1999: Reds acquire Ken Griffey Jr. after finishing second in the division. In 2000, they miss the postseason.
  • 2000: Indians lose Manny Ramirez. In 2001, they make it to the postseason.
  • 2000: Red Sox sign Manny Ramirez. In 2001, they miss the postseason.
  • 2000: Mariners lose Alex Rodriguez. In 2001, they make it to the postseason.
  • 2000: Rangers sign Alex Rodriguez. In 2001-03, they miss the postseason.
  • 2001: A’s lose Jason Giambi. In 2002, they make it to the postseason.
  • 2001: Yankees sign Jason Giambi. In 2001, they fail to defend 2000 World Series title.
  • 2007: Tigers acquire Gary Sheffield. In 2007, they fail to defend their AL title and miss the postseason.
  • 2007: Yankees trade Gary Sheffield. In 2007, they make it to the postseason.

If you have a contending team, then losing one player generally doesn’t change that. If he’s lost via free agency, the team simply uses that money to replace the lost production or shore up other areas. If an average team acquires a very talented player, then you’ve generally got an average team with a talented player. The players cited above either are future Hall of Famers or players well on their way at the time who were derailed for some reason (Giambi: steroids, Belle: career ending injury) yet we see the lack of impact on their old and new teams.

Enough of that for now. There will be lots of words to come on all this since it’s going to be a long, drawn out affair.

The MSN article was: The impact of the Mitchell Report. Same old, same old; follow the money and you’ll see the importance of this to Bud Selig.

A final thought: Barry Bonds recently gave an interview where he said he will boycott the Hall of Fame if his asterisked baseball is put on display and there’s an interesting discussion going on at Baseball Think Factory regarding it. Bonds will be learning a lesson that everybody will one day understand: You will reap what you sow. When Bonds was on top of the world he could the dictate terms of any relationship--whether personal or professional--because he was Barry Bonds®.

While he holds several major records, his name doesn’t inspire the same feelings that Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Babe Ruth invoke. Retirement is soon--possibly an enforced in 2008 and while his amazing talent will be missed, his personality will not be; it’s as when Albert Belle’s degenerative hip obligated the moody slugger to hang up his cleats. Folks missed watching him swing the bat, but the feeling was generally one of profound relief--there was no more need to walk on eggshells when he was around.

However, Bonds is still trying to dictate terms to those around him--in this case the Hall of Fame. Bonds is a bit of an oddity; while he doesn’t wish to be bothered or approached at the same time, he doesn’t want to be ignored either. He’s Barry Bonds®, his probable, though alleged steroid use began when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run chase in 1998 was eclipsing his star. He wanted his spotlight back and did whatever it took to reacquire it.

He gave himself a way out to change his mind when he’s elected and I think he will. Despite his rhetoric he, and probably a couple of other players will be inducted into the Hall; Bonds will want his spotlight back as he did in 1998. He’ll show up in Cooperstown if for not other reason that he will not allow either the attendees or the other Hall of Famers present to forget that he’s Barry Bonds®--one of the all time greats in the game.

Right now, between trying to find a job in 2008 and the stigma of the asterisked ball in the Hall, he will soon understand that the bill for all the slights he gave others, whether to baseball executives, players, fans or media have come due and must be paid. He will be forced to deal the fact that he used to be Barry Bonds®.

More on Bonds….


Drunk Jays Fans posted yesterday: It's November, Isn't It? Start voting for Tom Cheek every day! The post reads in part:

"Every Jays fan knows that it's a travesty how the legendary Tom Cheek has been continually passed over for the Ford C. Frick award-- baseball's highest honour for a broadcaster. Well, throughout the month of November the Hall is taking votes from fans to help put three names on the 10-name ballot. You're allowed one vote per IP address per day. So show your respect for Tom by clicking the nifty little banner at the top of the page, above the Boggs head, and let's finally right this wrong!"

I had the privilege of meeting Cheek and getting to know Jerry Howarth (who was kind enough to have my nephews as guests of his for a game last August 19 and recorded a personal message to them that I will always be grateful to him for doing) over the last couple of years. They’re both fine men and tremendous broadcasters and deserve to be honoured. So, click the link to Drunk Jays Fans and vote! Don’t forget to leave a comment to show your support!

Best Regards


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