THE GRAVEL/TANCREDO MEMORIAL NO-SHOT-IN-BLOODY-HELL DIVISION
30. Devil Rays – The scary part is that they might not need him.
29. Royals – No budget for it, and Alex Gordon remains their most valuable long-term keeper at 3B.
28. Twins – Never big spenders, they’re likely moving in the opposite direction this winter.
27. Pirates – New ownership might theoretically be looking to make a splash, but it’s hard to imagine A-Rod settling in here unless his name turns up in the Mitchell Commission report.
26. A’s – I’m sure that Billy Beane has entertained the thought, but Eric Chavez blocks him, ownership won’t pay for him, and there’s no long-term gameplan associated with him.
25. Rangers – Extraordinarily hard to imagine. Even ignoring all of the baggage, Hank Blalock and Michael Young are two of their assets.
24. Mariners – Little chance of a reunion tour. Between Beltre and Betancourt, they have a cost-effective if not spectacular left side of the infield.
23. Rockies – He’d sure get to 756+ quickly here, but the current regime has shown little interest in spending money on big free agent talent, they’re very concerned about clubhouse culture, and they’d have to part ways with Garrett Atkins.
22. Reds – No a priori reason that it couldn’t work, but there’s been little indication that they’re willing to increase payroll even a little, let alone a lot. Edwin Encarnacion is an asset, so Rodriguez would probably need to play shortstop. Still in pigs-could-fly territory here.
THE PAUL/KUCINICH MEMORIAL NO-SHOT-IN-HELL DIVISION
21. Marlins – You can construct arguments where this makes sense, but very unlikely in practice.
20. Brewers – See above.
THE McCAIN/BIDEN MEMORIAL MAYBE-FOUR-YEARS-AGO DIVISION
19. Indians – Not really in line with their organizational philosophy, but they could use a third basemen. If they shocked everyone and went in this direction, they could be 105-wins good.
18. Diamondbacks – With Jeff Moorad’s money and a need for offense, it might get a passing thought, but attendance has been a little sluggish, and it would mean punting on either Mark Reynolds or Stephen Drew.
17. Orioles – Possible money grab destination a year ago, but rhetoric from new COO Andy MacPhail suggests that Orioles are starting to wake up and smell the coffee and wean themselves from their haphazard spending days.
THE HUCKABEE/RICHARDSON MEMORIAL MAYBE-IF-THEY-WIN-IOWA DIVISION
16. Braves – Not the worst idea, since Chipper Jones badly needs to move back to the outfield, but the plan seems to be for more piecemeal increases in payroll.
15. Blue Jays – An underrated fit – Rodriguez could play shortstop in 2008 and then move back to third when Troy Glaus is sent packing – but word is that J.P. Ricciardi wants a quiet winter.
THE EDWARDS/THOMPSON MEMORIAL PLAUSIBLE-BUT-FADING DIVISION
14. Yankees – No indication that they were bluffing, and since A-Rod took a lot of free money from Tom Hicks off the table when he opted out of his contract, it’s hard to imagine them coming to agreement now if they couldn’t before.
13. Padres – All the California teams but the A’s are potential suitors, but the Padres are much stinger than is generally acknowledged about payroll. Becomes more plausible if A-Rod is willing to play second base.
12. Cubs – The sale of the club is likely to take longer than expected, as there are rumors that the Tribune’s deal with Sam Zell is in question, and as they look for non-Mark Cuban suitors to compete with John Canning’s bid. They’d also have to be willing to commit to A-Rod at shortstop for at least several seasons because of Aramis Ramirez’ contract. I’d be shocked if he signs here.
11. Red Sox – They’ll be great with or without him, and odds went way down after Boras’ F.U. to the Red Sox on Sunday.
THE ROMNEY/OBAMA MEMORIAL CHATTERING CLASSES DIVISION
10. Nationals – Dark horse. They may be looking to start spending like the big market club that they are, they certainly need a gate attraction to define the franchise, and A-Rod gets to stay in Acela territory. Would be more intriguing if they did not have Ryan Zimmerman, but if need be you could flip Zimmerman to short in a couple seasons.
9. Cardinals – In the near term, they need a shortstop, with the organization parting ways with David Eckstein. In the long term, they might have to resign themselves to the fact that Scott Rolen is becoming a sunk cost. This team draws like a big market club, and they could desperately use another high-impact bat, but becomes less likely with the direction they’ve gone in the GM position.
8. Tigers – Dave Dombrowski can be bold, and there’s the sense that Brandon Inge is part of the problem rather than part of the solution, but odds went way down after the Renteria trade.
7. White Sox – Between Reinsdorf, Williams, and Guillen, you have three personalities with a knack for surprising. Need is pretty strong too; Juan Uribe is probably on his way out and Joe Crede will likely be gone after ’08. But I don’t see it unless the bidding comes in a little cheaper than expected.
6. Astros – There’s really no incumbent at third base, they’re willing to spend money, and he probably gets them back into playoff contention. I doubt that A-Rod would want to return to Texas, but otherwise it makes some sense.
THE GORE/GINGRICH/BLOOMBERG MEMORIAL MAKES-SENSE-WHEN- YOU-STARE-AT-IT-FOR-TOO-LONG DIVISION
5. Mets – Rodriguez would have to be convinced to play second base for a year – he could conceivably move to first once Carlos Delgado’s contract expires in a year’s time – but $32m/year plus New York endorsement money plus a chance to stick it to the Yankees could do the trick. I dismissed this scenario at first but find it more plausible at second glance.
4. Phillies – Possible mystery team? Their third base situation in 2007 was one of the biggest disasters in baseball, they have more money than they pretend to have, they’re right on the playoff bubble, and there’s some aesthetic appeal to fielding a world-class infield of Rodriguez, Rollins, Utley and Howard. Perhaps the best fit in baseball on paper.
THE MONDALE/DOLE MEMORIAL DEFAULT OPTION DIVISION
3. Giants – San Francisco fans are notoriously tolerant, they could use any offensive help they can get, and Barry Bonds’ departure leaves some cash in their wallets. But this team is probably not going to the playoffs with or without A-Rod, so this is the fallback alternative if the contending clubs don’t bite.
THE CLINTON/GIULIANI MEMORIAL RUNAWAY FRONTRUNNER DIVISION
2. Dodgers – Means, motive, opportunity, a GM and ownership that seem determined to prove themselves, and now Joe Torre at the helm. If A-Rod is spotted house hunting in Silver Lake, look out.
1. Angels – Arte Moreno feigns disinterest, but this team needs a premium hitter and we’ve been hearing all winter that they’re prepared for a payroll blitz.