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A-rod here to stay


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Baseball beat: A-Rod here to stay

By PETER ABRAHAM

THE JOURNAL NEWS

 

(Original publication: July 15, 2007)

 

Alex Rodriguez will have three years and $81 million remaining on his contract once this season is finished. There are escalator clauses in the deal that would add another $5 million in salary in 2009 and 2010.

 

If the Yankees offered him an extension of three years for $90 million, Rodriguez would have a total package of six seasons and $181 million. That would take him to 2013 and the age of 38.

 

Here is the question Scott Boras has to answer: Can his star client get more on the open market? The answer is no, which is why Rodriguez is in New York to stay.

 

Rodriguez has until 10 days after the World Series to decide whether to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract. The Yankees have let it be known they hope to sign him to an extension before then.

 

But the team also has made it clear to Boras that if no deal is reached, they will not pursue Rodriguez as a free agent. Not having the Yankees as a suitor would greatly decrease the leverage Boras loves to wield.

 

That leaves only six teams - the Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs and White Sox - that could even consider the idea of signing Rodriguez for that long and that much.

 

Boston already has $90 million accounted for on its 2008 payroll spread among 10 players. Only two of them (Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka) are starting pitchers. Adding $30 million for Rodriguez would bring their payroll up to $120 million with 14 other roster spots to fund.

 

Beyond that, Rodriguez would have to be a phony of the highest order to sign with a team whose fan base has mocked and despised him for the last four seasons.

 

The Mets have David Wright and Jose Reyes on the left side of their infield. They don't need Rodriguez.

 

The Cubs will be auctioned off to the highest bidder after the season. That process will take months to finalize and be assured that commissioner Bud Selig will exact a promise of financial sanity from the winner in return for his support. Scratch them, even if billionaire publicity hound Mark Cuban ends up with the team.

 

The Angels, Dodgers and White Sox each have payrolls of roughly $108 million this season. Signing Rodriguez would mean they devote 28 percent of their resources to one player or climb over the luxury-tax threshold for the first time.

 

No owner wants to be the next Tom Hicks, the Texas fool who was duped by Boras into giving Rodriguez $252 million back in 2000. There could be a rabid dog out there (say Baltimore's Peter Angelos), but it's unlikely.

 

Rodriguez makes financial sense for only one team - the desperate Yankees. Excluding Rodriguez, they have $114.5 million in payroll commitments for 2008 but only $50 million in 2009 and $25 million in 2010. With the young pitching they have on the horizon, Rodriguez's salary fits in easily.

 

The Yankees also have a new stadium opening in 2009, which will greatly increase their revenue stream. Keeping Rodriguez also retains the $21.3 million the Rangers would owe them from 2008-10 under the teams of the 2004 trade that sent Rodriguez to New York.

 

That would be a healthy 23 percent of his salary over the next three seasons. Getting Rodriguez at a discount for three more seasons makes an extension far more palatable.

 

You will read and hear much in the coming months about whether Rodriguez is comfortable with the Yankees or wants to leave the turmoil of New York. His wife, his daughter, his legacy, his relationship with Derek Jeter, his desire to play shortstop again ... it's an endless cycle of amateur psychology and speculation.

 

It's all bunk. The final decision will be financial. Boras creates wealth, not happiness, and a player understands that when he hires him. They say money doesn't buy happiness. Whoever they are haven't been to listening to Boras since they were 17.

 

In the end, the most wealth for Rodriguez will come from staying right where he is. He's our A-Rod, whether we like it or not.

Around baseball

 

Down goes harmony: Rick Down once told me one of the reasons he enjoyed working for the Mets as the hitting coach was that they conducted their business differently than the Yankees.

 

The Mets, he said, didn't look for scapegoats after every losing streak.

 

So much for that theory. For reasons that weren't made entirely clear, the Mets fired Down on Wednesday. General manager Omar Minaya said it was an organization decision. Manager Willie Randolph said it was Minaya's decision.

 

The era of good feelings is gone at Shea Stadium. Down was one of Randolph's first choices for his staff in 2005. "A brother" he called him.

 

It was a sloppy exit. Down learned of his firing from a reporter before Minaya called him. The Mets also didn't have a replacement in place for Thursday's game, then named Howard Johnson the hitting coach a day later.

 

Hiring Rickey Henderson to replace Down on the staff could prove to be a brilliant move. Few people know more about getting on base and scoring runs. But firing Down has created division between Randolph and Minaya where none existed before.

 

Barry, Barry bad guy: Forget the fact, if you can, that Barry Bonds has more drugs in him than your neighborhood Walgreens. He's just a bad person.

 

Fans in San Francisco have embarrassed themselves nationally with their cloying support of Bonds over the years. They lined up at booths on the concourses of AT&T Park to vote him into the All-Star Game.

 

He rewarded them by refusing to enter the Home Run Derby, a callous move that upset even owner Peter Magowan, another unabashed Bonds enabler.

 

Bonds then partied until 3 a.m. the night before the game and said the National League shouldn't expect much from him. He left the contest after two hitless at-bats.

 

There is a silver lining for San Franciscans. Those who know Bonds well say he will go in the tank with the team on the road and wait until the Giants return home on July 23 before he tries to pass Hank Aaron. Bonds knows he would get booed if he breaks the record on the road.

 

Around the horn: The Yankees play the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow night, the first meeting between the teams since the celebrated incident on May 30 when Alex Rodriguez yelled, "Mine!" to distract their infielders from catching a pop-up. The Blue Jays were seething after that game, and Rodriguez could get a fastball in the ribs tonight from Josh Towers, who was one of the pitchers that night. ... Word out of Boston is that David Ortiz has serious problems with his right quad, knee and hamstring, which explain his lack of power this season. But Boston's pitching should prop up its offense enough to hold on to the AL East. ... A headline on MLB.com read, "Midsummer Classic Electrifies Selig." Bud Selig has been many things. Electrified is not one of them. ... Is the Home Run Derby over with yet? Major League Baseball needs to get that mess under control. Fewer entrants would be a good start.

Extra innings

 

Blog power: A Seattle Mariners fan blog, USS Mariner, wrote an open letter to pitching coach Rafael Chaves regarding the pitch selection of Felix Hernandez early in games. With data explaining it, the blog showed that Hernandez's tendency to throw nothing except fastballs in the first and second innings was catching up to him. Chaves printed out the post for Hernandez to read. In his next start, on July 7, Hernandez threw three breaking pitches in a scoreless first inning and went on to pitch eight scoreless innings against Oakland, allowing two hits. Attention Yankees, we'd be happy to give advice over at Yankees.lohudblogs.com.

 

All hands on deck: Philadelphia's Adam Eaton, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard and Michael Bourn helped the grounds crew in Colorado get the tarp down last Sunday when a strong burst of wind nearly carried it away. Umpires Bill Welke and John Hirschbeck also helped. Alas, only one player from the home team, LaTroy Hawkins, pitched in.

 

One way to do it: Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is working on his English by watching television and hitting an occasional movie. He saw "Transformers" over the All-Star break. "I could understand enough," he said. "It was a lot of things blowing up."

Quote of the week

 

"We have to get better everywhere. I don't think we're going to get worse. That's not possible." - White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on his team's prospects in the second half

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this is what i ultimately see happening, everyone now is saying boston...but if a-rod leaves NY, its mostly because of the media, which is just as bad there if not worse. they will have $ to throw around but when it comes down to it if steinbrenner really wants a-rod to stay (which it appears he does now) he will make him an offer he can't refuse.

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