The Expos are benefitting from one of the best trades of the year; the Giants have some youngsters developing in their system; and the Blue Jays will wait another year before beginning their assault on the AL East. All this and much more news from Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Alex Rodriguez is one of the best players in baseball. He’s also the best compensated. He left Seattle as a free agent to sign a deal with Texas that’s been so widely reported as 10 years and $252 million that it feels futile to protest. As a result, he’s become a pariah of greed. This week, Alex made some comments to the press about maybe, possibly, wanting to be traded from Texas. “If the Rangers found they could be better off without me, whether now or a year or two down the road,” he said, “I’d be willing to sit down and talk.”
Today, as I write this column, I see he’s quickly backed off his comments, trying to calm everyone down.
Frankly, I find this ridiculous. Rodriguez is not a greedy player with a heart made of coal. Articles written about him and his alleged self-indulgence at the expense of his team–calling for him to volunteer for a pay cut and what not–are bitter pieces written by the envious, looking for an easy column in which they can act holier-than-Alex and decry the money-grubbing nature of athletes all at the same time. Have any of these columnists been offered three times their current salary to work in a comparable situation, giving them the ability to fund all of their favorite charities and live comfortably and provide for their children?
I didn’t think so.
Well, the deadline has passed, and it looks like Chris Kahrl has his work cut out for him with all the deals that happened. As I worked the phones yesterday (and had my phone worked), the interesting stories weren’t the trades that got made, but the ones that didn’t for whatever reason. There were some big names and big teams that were working hard, while others did almost nothing to improve their team for the stretch drive.
It occurred to me as I watched Jayson Stark working his phone and ESPN breaking down all the deals that baseball has managed to do what the other sports have given up–they can make deals that for the most part are based on talent and need, not the calculus of a salary cap. As big as I think draft coverage could be, I think Deadline Day could be even better. Heck, let’s rent out an arena, stick all the owners and GMs in one room, and see what happens. I’d watch that, and I have a feeling a lot of you would as well. “Oh no! Billy Beane has pulled out the hypno-rod and it looks like Kenny Williams is giving him a reliever!” or “Has anyone seen Brian Cashman?” could become great quotes from that show.
Alex Rodriguez, who might as well have the number 252 tattooed on his face a la Mike Tyson, inspired a media circus this week by suggesting he would accept a trade if the Rangers believed it to be in the best interest of the franchise. This was immediately misinterpreted as a request to leave Arlington, and brought out the same yahoos who are going to follow Rodriguez around for the rest of his career, criticizing anything he does short of tossing 225 innings with a 3.10 ERA for the Rangers.
But let’s put aside for a second whether or not it makes sense for the Rangers to make a deal that moves Rodriguez. Let’s similarly put aside any ridiculous, ill-informed tripe that suggests Rodriguez isn’t a team guy, or that “winning obviously wasn’t a priority” when he signed with Texas in 2001. Let’s ignore that the Rangers have done an impressive job of blowing money down the toilet on a number of other players with a heck of a lot less return. And for this exercise, let’s not even admit that the Rangers develop pitchers about as often as TV producers improve a show while it’s “on hiatus.”
I’m rarely as aware of how big a baseball nut as I am in late July. I love the trade deadline, and all the speculation, consternation and evaluation that goes with it. I’ve barely slept all week, spending most of my time with one eye on the television, a second on my computer monitor, and a third…um, my ear…pressed to my cell phone. I look forward to the last few days of the month, anticipating the moves and wondering how they’ll change the look of the races.
Which is what made yesterday such a letdown. The story of the day wasn’t the moves that were made, but the number of teams that sat out the dance. The entire National League East twiddled its thumbs; the Astros and Cardinals avoided adding pitching, which makes the Cubs look more threatening than they should. In the AL Central, the Royals and Twins failed to address their holes, even as the White Sox seem ready to leave them both behind.
Transactions galore: the Yankees practice running in place; the Red Sox beef up their bullpen; the Giants aquire a starter for the postseason; the A’s add a little power to their outfield; and the Reds throw up the white flag, but get some pretty good arms in return. All this and much more news from around the league in your post-Trading Deadline edition of Transaction Analysis.