Monday February 16, 2004
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND
THE BIG TRADE
OK, everyone who writes about baseball is going to write about the Alex Rodriguez trade to the Yankees. And, I would love to be a little different than the rest. However, this is just way too big of a story to ignore. Yankees fans have to be thrilled. Most Rangers fans are probably happy about this trade too, thinking that their team will now have money freed up to make some better acquisitions.
Here are the specifics, as I know them (which isn’t well). The Yankees will be receiving Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers, along with $43 million, for 2B Alfonso Soriano and a Player to be named later (could be RHP Jose Contreras and/or C Dioner Navarro, or (likely) a minor league pitcher.)
Before I give my thoughts on the trade, here are the thoughts of frequent contributor, Leslie Monteiro. I think you’ll enjoy them.
The big story on this sports day is the Evil Empire is about to acquire Alex Rodriguez.. He could be the final piece to the puzzle for the Yankees. This is just another sad day and I really think this is a blow to the sport of baseball. Whatever optimism Bud Selig has on this sport is gone. If he agrees on this deal, this sport is in serious trouble and it could be the beginning of the end. Boston could not agree on the deal since they could not afford him yet the Yankees can sign him since they are the only team who can afford him. A-Rod does not have to defer his salary with the Yankees. You know what's even worse? Yankees get to accept money from the Texas Rangers with that trade not to mention Rangers will pay some of that salary. Now that's a disgrace and it's a problem. It's simply a sad day.
It's very obvious that Texas wants to get rid of A-Rod in the worst way. So much so that they are willing to get nothing for him. Buck Showalter simply does not want A-Rod around and vice versa. You want to talk about Soriano. Well go ahead, but he is not worth A-Rod. Soriano strikes out a lot as you saw in the postseason and I seriously wonder about his commitment to winning. Plus Soriano is a FA in a year or so. That means he can go back to NY or some big-market team.
What really irks me is that Pay-Rod is jumping ship when the going does not get tough. I hate it. You signed that contract so you should work out your problems. It bothers me that Pay-Rod will be rewarded for his whining like Stephon Marbury was. You know he will play so much harder for the Yankees.
I have grown tired of teams in sports going up to NY sports teams to get them out of this mess. You saw that with the NHL as NHL teams beg the Rangers to take their high contracts off. You see that in the NBA where teams call the Knicks to pick up the salary. Now you see that in MLB. It's sick.
I guess you can say that it was bound to happen. Texas was not going to afford A-Rod down the road. You could see that coming when they signed A-Rod to that ridiculous contract. Sooner or later, he was going to be a Yankee. It makes sense anyway. He is a jerk. I never liked him so he and the Yankees are a marriage made in heaven.
You seriously have to wonder about the future of baseball after this trade. How could teams just keep up with the Yankees and any big-market teams in general? It is a lost cause. Sure those small-market teams have won the battle, but they have not won the war. The only way baseball can solve its problems is by contracting lot of teams and going back to sixteen teams. That means I would contract the AL Central teams sans Chicago and any small-market teams. I think the Rockies should be contracted since baseball is a lost cause over there.
Here's my eight-league format:
AL: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Mariners, Royals, Marlins
NL: Mets, Braves, Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, Astros
I think it's time to contract. It's a lost cause seeing teams lose money and lose players left and right. Plus I think the league could be more competitive with just 16 teams and playoffs could be better. I can care less about the wild-card round anymore. Give me two best teams for each league and make it to ALCS and NLCS. Winners goes to the World Series.
Sure I would love to get a salary cap, but as long as Bud Selig and the MLBPA Union are around, it will never happen. The painful way to solve baseball's problems is contraction. I am a Twins fan and it's not fun talking about my team going out of business, but it may be the only way to solve the baseball's problems.
I think that you’ll find that the general consensus is for most baseball fans and others to be upset with George Steinbrenner, Alex Rodriguez, Tom Hicks, and say that this is a terrible trade. I guess I tend to lean the other way.
First, let’s just look at the trade in terms of the players involved. Alex Rodriguez is probably the best overall player in baseball, for sure in the top 3 no matter how you look at it. So, the Yankees are getting a great player who will probably fit into the 3 hole of their lineup. The lone negative is that they are moving him from shortstop (where he is a Gold Glover) to 3B. However, Derek Jeter is a terrible defensive shortstop, and I think he is the one that should be switching positions.
Texas receives Alfonso Soriano who has been a top performing 2B the past three seasons. Forget how badly he struggled in the playoffs last fall, he is always a 40-40 threat. With Michael Young at 2B, it is possible that Soriano could be moved to shortstop or centerfield. Now, the rest of the package going to the Rangers will determine if the Rangers got enough in return, or were simply dumping A-Rod’s astronomical salary. Because the Rangers are picking up $43 million of A-Rod’s contract (plus $26 million in deferred money), they should receive some quality in addition to Soriano. If that player turns into Contreras, then I think that this trade is OK for the Rangers. Contreras could be dominant, even in Arlington. He would give the Rangers at least one good pitcher. If Navarro is part of the package, that is also a great pickup for the Rangers. He is a catching prospect right below the likes of Joe Mauer and Jeff Mathis. With Einar Diaz as the Rangers’ catcher, it is possible that Navarro could contribute within a year.
The move will put the Yankees salaries over the $200 million mark. However, with the Rangers eating some of his contract, the Yankees will pay Rodriguez $15 million the next three years, $16 million in 2007-08, $17 million in 2009 and $18 million in 2010. I think that is a pretty good deal for the Yankees, and they would be crazy not to make the trade.
The Rangers save $112 million by trading A-Rod. Alfonso Soriano will make over $5 million in 2004 and still has another year or two of arbitration before becoming a free-agent. Contreras is owed $8 million each the next couple of seasons. So, if you look at it that way, the Rangers are saving about $90 million. How they chose to use that money now will determine if this team will be successful in the near future.
I find this incredibly interesting. From ESPN.com, “Texas will wind up paying $140 million for 3 seasons with Rodriguez. The Yankees will owe him $112 million for seven years.” Again, the Yankees would be dumb if they did not make this move!
Another point to think about is that the Yankees have an extra $12 million available because of Drew Henson’s decision to go to the NFL.
Who’s to Blame?
So many people want to blame the Yankees, “The Evil Empire.” However, I chose to blame Rangers owner Tom Hicks. He is the moron who signed A-Rod to the 10 year, $250 million contract three years ago even though no other team offered him more than $150 million.
I refuse to blame George Steinbrenner or the Yankees for all of the moves they have made. Under the current rules of baseball, this is well within his right as an owner to do. Because he is well above the “salary cap”, he has to pay a lot into the revenue sharing pool as well as a significant chunk of change because of the luxury tax. That is his choice as an owner.
Good for the Game?
That seems to be a question that everyone is answering with “No!” And I really can’t disagree with that at all. I don’t think it’s good for the big picture of the game to have the Yankees spending over $200 million while the Devil Rays will pay out less than $30 million.
But, although it makes it much more difficult to compete in the AL East, it assures nothing for them in the playoffs. That’s when it really matters for the Yankees, and as we preach all the time, anything can happen in a short series!
The reason that I don’t think that anything is a given for the Yankees is because of age and injury risk. Let’s take a look at their roster again (with ages and 2004 salaries (thanks to Dugout Dollars):
C - Jorge Posada (32, $9 million) - He is a catcher on (as Gleeman says) the wrong side of 30!
1B - Jason Giambi (33, $14 million) - Knee problems and eye problems last year. Still had huge numbers.
2B - Miguel Cairo (29, $900,000), Enrique Wilson (30, $700,000) - I like Cairo, but both of these guys are good utility players.
3B - Alex Rodriguez (28, $15 million - only amount paid by Yankees) - Can’t say anything bad. Will there be an adjustment to playing in NYC?
SS - Derek Jeter (29, $19 million) - Bad defensively, but a good catalyst at top of order.
LF - Hideki Matsui (29, $7 million) - he’ll be good. Sophomore slump?
CF - Kenny Lofton (36, $3.1 million) - he’s old, doesn’t run well, nagging injuries, not good in CF.
RF - Gary Sheffield (35, $13 million) - age is only question, has had injuries in the past.
DH - Bernie Williams (35, $12 million) - age and bad knees and bad shoulders.
SP - Mike Mussina (35, $16 million) - he has been a bulldog for a lot of years. Very consistent. But aging.
SP - Kevin Brown (38, $15 million) - epitome of uncertainty. Could be great. Could get hurt… again!
SP - Javier Vazquez (27, $10.5 million) - He’s a stud! One of the game’s best. But has thrown a lot of innings the last four seasons.
SP - Jose Contreras (32, $9 million) - he may be part of the trade. Also, is he really 32?
SP - Jon Lieber (33, $2.45 million) - Coming off Tommy John surgery, hasn’t pitched in a year and a half. Certainly no sure thing.
RP - Tom Gordon (36, $3.63 million) - had a great comeback year in 2003, but has struggled with major arm problems in his careers.
RP - Paul Quantrill (35, $3 million) - he’s been solid and healthy, but isn’t young.
RP - Felix Heredia (28, $1.85 million) - he’s solid and young, not great.
RP - Steve Karsay (31, $5 million) - Was dominant three years ago. Got big contract from Yankees. Hurt ever since.
Closer - Mariano Rivera (34, $10.89 million) - incredible last year, but always injury questions.
Bench - Tony Clark (31, $380,000) - hasn’t done much for a long time.
Bench - Ruben Sierra (38, $1 million) - a million dollar, old pinch hitter.
Bench - John Flaherty (36, $780,000) - backup catcher. Fair deal.
So, there are 23 roster spots and $173.18 million worth of salary. Granted, it is an All-Star team, but the team is not young and many of those players, specifically the pitchers, have had injury-filled pasts. Lieber is the #5 pitcher, but will he be 100%? And because of trades in the last few years, the Yankees have few pitching prospect to either call up or use in a trade.
I guess my point is this; No matter how much money that the Yankees spend, it all comes down to what happens on the field. That is part of the beauty of the 162 game regular season. It’s a marathon and a lot of events happen over that time. Because of the talent on this team, the Yankees will obviously win a lot of games, but they will also have to deal with injuries. They’ll have to probably deal with internal, clubhouse issues. Joe Torre will have to handle egos. And again, this team could win 130 games in the regular season (I would guess maybe 100), but if they happen to falter in a short 5 or 7 game series, it will all be for naught in the eyes of George Steinbrenner.
Let’s not forget the example that Leslie uses above, where in hockey, the New York Rangers have taken on players with big contracts. They just recently traded for Jaromir Jagr. But what does it all mean when the Rangers have not even made the playoffs in 8 years?
The New York Knicks of the NBA were very similar. They had a group of high paid All-Star type players, yet were not good. The New York Mets had huge salary numbers the last couple of seasons, and where did they end up? Nowhere near the playoffs. How good were the New York Giants last year?
Spending money alone does not win games, much less championships. Maybe Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and yes, even George Steinbrenner, need to be given a little bit of credit for spending money in the right places, and this year, that has meant Gary Sheffield, Javy Vazquez and Alex Rodriguez.
The Rangers are not a good team. They have no pitching. They will be lucky to win 65 games in 2004. But, even with Alex Rodriguez, they would have been lucky to win 65 games anyway.
But the Rangers will be adding Alfonso Soriano to a lineup that already includes Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira. My question with the Rangers would involve what their organizational goals are. I have no idea. They seem to think their pitching staff will turn it around. I’m not so sure. If they plan on out-slugging opponents in their small ballpark, there is some credence in that, however, their pitchers will allow the opponents to do a lot of slugging themselves.
Their free agent signings the last couple of seasons have been very questionable. What happened to Chan Ho Park? Brian Jordan? Kenny Rogers? Eric Young? Is this the direction you go? Maybe John Hart needs to take some of the blame!
Despite the likes of Blalock, Soriano and Teixeira, I don’t see any hope in the Rangers near future. I personally think they would be better off giving playing time to Ramon Nivar and Laynce Nix and let them develop.
Red Sox Perspective
I know that Ben Affleck and the rest of Red Sox nation is probably upset with this deal. Upset at the Yankees. Two things…
First, they had their chance. They could have made a deal to get A-Rod, if only the Red Sox would have worked it out.
Second, it doesn’t mean that the Red Sox can’t still win. Their pitching staff will keep them in games and in the race with the Yankees. Their offense may not be as good, but just last year was a record-breaking offense. So, they shouldn’t feel like they’re second-fiddle to anyone, and neither should their fans.
I’m really sick of Boston whining about the curse and everything the Yankees do. We know they’ll meet up with the Yankees in the AL Championship Series again, and who knows, maybe this is the year they win. And how sweet would that be for Boston?
Here is the reason that it is bad in the eyes of Twins fans. Between the Yankees and the Red Sox, they will win the AL East and the AL Wildcard. The AL West winner will have a better record than the AL Central. Hence the Twins will play the AL East winner again, probably the Yankees.
So, what does that mean? Twins fans need to learn to just enjoy the regular season. 162 games of entertainment. They need to enjoy their rivalries with the teams in the Central Division and enjoy the race for the AL Central title.
Should the Twins win the Central Division, then they can just go in and take on the Yankees. No pressure! See what happens. Maybe their pitching staff will have injuries, or we can catch their offense in a slump.
Losing to the Yankees in the first round, like last year, should not be considered a negative, or even a disappointment. Reality is what it is.
So, there are my thoughts on the A-Rod/Soriano trade which should be completed, approved and finalized within the next couple of days. Be sure to go through the links at the left for much more coverage and opinion on this trade. That leads us to…
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Clearly baseball’s current economic situation leaves much to be desired. So this week’s Discussion Question is devoted to it. It really is more than one question, so I will leave it up to you to answer as you’d like. What is the main problem with baseball’s economic situation? If you were commissioner, what would your plan be to remedy the economic inequities in baseball? I realize this is a big question, but I think it is an important question.
Here is how the Discussion Question process works again.
1.) I post a question on Monday.
2.) The readers read the question and consider their thoughts on a possible answer.
3.) The readers e-mail me with their response to the question.
4.) On Friday, I will post any responses to the question that I receive.
I hope that many of you will take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and send me a message with your response. Who knows? Maybe the right people will be led to this site. Maybe someone in the commissioner’s office or someone with some connections will read it and one of our ideas will lead to a good resolution the next time an agreement needs to be worked out.
For those unfamiliar with these questions, be sure to check back at these previous Discussions:
Who Would You Want to Talk To? - Which ball players would you ask questions to?
All-Time Best Lineups - Who would you pick to play on your team?
Your Thoughts on the Twins Chances - Lots of you were ready to give up on the Twins!!
Is Terry Ryan “The Man” or “The Goat” - Thoughts on Terry Ryan’s moves.
What is your Favorite Sport - Baseball? Football? Basketball? Other? Why?
Twins Bobbleheads/Your Favorite Players - Who you thought would be the 2004 Twins players on bobbleheads, and who your favorite players have been.
(Note - by the way, the Twins have announced their 2004 bobbleheads, they will be:
June 6 - Shannon Stewart
July 9 - Al Newman
August 21 - Paul Molitor
September 19 - Walter Johnson - (part of an 80th anniversary of the Washington Senators championship weekend)
So, please, send me an e-mail and let’s have a great posting for Friday! Thanks!
NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND
OK, it was NBA All-Star weekend, which has really become quite a great spectacle! This year, it starter on Friday night.
First, there was the Celebrity game. Granted, this wasn’t necessarily the best basketball I’ve ever seen, but it was fun to watch. Just from watching the game, here would be my celebrity roster. PG - Nelly, SG James Lafferty, SF - Donald Faison, PF - Steve Howey, C Michael Rapaport, and 6th Man, Henry Simmons.
Later Friday night was the Got Milk? Rookie Challenge. This year’s rookie team featured Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The sophomore squad featured the likes of Yao Ming, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer, Manu Ginobili and Nene. It was a game with no defense and a lot of dunks! It was incredibly fun to watch! The final score was 142-118. Amare Stoudemire set a record with 36 points on his way to the MVP award.
Saturday was full of fun events to watch. In the shooting stars competition, the LA team of Derek Fisher, Lisa Leslie and Magic Johnson won when D-Fish knocked down a half court shot. LA native Baron Davis won the Skills competition. Peja Stojakovic was dethroned by former Minnesota Gopher guard Voshon Lenard in the 3 point contest. The dunk competition was so unfortunate. First, I thought Chris Anderson deserved far better scores. Jason Richardson had the dunk of the night though. He threw the ball off the glass and caught it and went between his legs with a dunk. Fred Jones did some great dunks too. The unfortunate thing was the in the final round, both ended up missing dunks. Jones won the competition in a very anti-climatic fashion, when Richardson, the two-time defending champ, missed what would have been a clinching dunk.
Finally Sunday was the actual All-Star game. The best part of the event, for me, is seeing the introductions. Using Outkast to perform with that was a good touch. As a Timberwolves fan, it was fun to see the Wolves coaching staff, Flip Saunders and Sam Cassell get introduced. It was great seeing KG get introduced and he was dancing, smiling and generally looking like he was having the time of his life! Then the game started. These teams play too much defense, but there are still plenty of dunks and three-pointers, no-look alley-oops and the annual T-Mac pass to himself off the backboard. It was a fun game to watch and the score remained close most of the game leading to a great conclusion. The West was again victorious with a 136-132 win. Shaquille O’Neal was the games MVP. In 24 minutes, he scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Teammate Kobe Bryant scored 20 points. How did the Wolves players fare? Kevin Garnett started and played 29 minutes. He scored 12 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Sam Cassell played 14 minutes and scored 4 points and had 7 assists.
Any thoughts on the NBA or All-Star Weekend? E-mail me.
This weekend, I also watched a couple of movies worth writing about.
My Boss’s Daughter - A perfect role for Ashton Kutcher. He was able to play a clumsy guy whose character was incredibly nice and thoughtful. He develops a crush on Tara Reid’s character, which is very understandable! However, her father is the mean boss at the company that he works for. She tells him to come over, and he thinks it is to go to a party. Turns out that he will be house sitting. Of course, it turns out to be a mess. I wouldn’t call it a great movie, even a classic, but it is worth watching once.
American History X - I had always heard what a great movie this was. I saw it in a bin with some $4 movies, so I decided to buy it. I watched it and absolutely think it is one of the most powerful movies I have ever scene. I normally don’t like Edward Norton movies, but I have to say that he was incredible in the movie. Edward Furlong was very good too. It is the story of a group of nazi group of white supremacists. Norton’s character goes to jail for 3 years and when he gets out, he leaves the group. He then has to explain to his younger brother why. He tells the story of what happened to him in jail, and how his opinion on racial issues changed. Again, it is incredibly power. It is not a movie for all ages. It is graphic and violent and the language is strong. Also, there was just too much male frontal nudity, and an overly graphic scene in the jail’s shower room. But it all does fit into the movie. I would encourage viewing the movie.
If you have any thoughts on these movies, or movies that I should be watching, please let me know. E-mail me.
Well, that is it for today! Check back tomorrow. I am working on a couple more ‘conversations’ and we’ll see what we come up with the rest of the week. Be sure to answer this week’s Discussion Question, and e-mail me to answer it, or if you have any other questions or comments. Have a great week!
Back to Archives Home