Some ancient cultures punished people who had committed great crimes by literally erasing their names from history. They became nameless entities or a symbol was used in place of their name and I can think of no greater punishment than that for A-Rod. So, from now on, when I comment about A-Rod, I will do so with the following symbol: "<". Why "<" instead of "$"? Well "$" is seemingly appropriate, but I think "<" as in less than, is a better way to describe he who shall now be nameless. Anyway, I don’t think I will be using the < that often, because unless he plays the Yankees, I have no reason to ever discuss him again and I could not be happier about that.
But, before we say goodbye to <, I thought it would be fun to look at something he said, or something he wrote on his blog last year. As a note to all athletes, don’t blog unless you mean it. Here it is:
"After we were eliminated on Saturday, the media asked me a lot of questions regarding my future in New York — whether I want to leave, or if I will be traded, etc. I will tell you what I told them: I am 100 percent committed to being a Yankee now and in the future. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I never have (and never will) run away from the responsibility I have to this team. I believe I am part of the solution to winning a championship here. I want to finish my career in New York."
the link, though I imagine Boras&Co will be smart enough to take this down quickly because how you go from that to opting out 10 days early and not even talking to the Yankees is unfathomable.
As for my own feelings about <’s departure, the stat guy in me is distraught. Replacing that production is going to be very hard. But, the rest of me is actually pretty happy. < was too much of the story in New York, I spent too much time worrying about him and defending him and I can’t help but agree with Andy who thinks that <’s personality detracts from whatever team he plays for. As much as I hate Scott Boras, I don’t think that announcement Sunday night was done without <’s approval. I am not saying the Yankees will be better next year without him, but I have a hunch that <’s departure is not going to be as bad as we think.
And let’s talk about replacements. There seems to be three ways to go:
1- Sign/trade for another third baseman or let Betemit play the position.
2- Move Cano from 2nd to 3rd and find another second baseman.
3- Move Jeter from SS to 3rd and find another shortstop.
Of the three possibilities, #2 is the one I like the least. Cano has transformed himself into a pretty good secondbaseman. He turns a nice double play and his bat (.306/.353/.488) is one of the best at his position. (AL 2B hit .284/.339/.416) If he moves to third, his bat is still good, but not as good when compared to the position. (AL 3B hit .280/.348/.456). I think you leave Cano where he is right now.
I don’t like the idea of Betemit everyday, I think he is perfect for the bench, so I wouldn’t mess with that. The third baseman available in free agency do not impress me. I know Mike Lowell just won the MVP of the World Series, but he is going to be 34 and he had a OPS split of .993/.767 home and away. I think he will get a big contract, and I hope the Yankees don’t give it to him.
Aaron Boone is available. Just kidding, wanted to see if you were still paying attention. But, that’s my point, there isn’t much out there.
Trades may be a better way to go and while many will say go get Cabrera from the Marlins. He scares me. He is bigger everytime I see him and he makes Manny Ramirez look like a model citizen. No, I would check and see if two injured guys might be available on the cheap, Joe Crede and Eric Chavez.
Neither one of these guys is going to come close to replacing the offensive production the Yankees lost at third, but they are both much better defensively than <. You are taking a risk since they both are coming off of surgery, but that is why I am betting you could get them cheaply. Chavez to me presents the most intriguing possibility because I wonder if you could spin off Jason Giambi in a deal for him?
Let me explain, Chavez is signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011 at total of $37 million if he is bought out after 2010. Giambi is due $27 million for 2008 plus a buyout of his 2009 option. Billy Beane is one of the best GM’s in the business and I can’t imagine he likes the idea of 12% of his payroll for the next three years going to a guy coming off of two surgeries. Giambi was incredibly popular in Oakland and I bet he would go back for a last hurrah. If the Yankees paid the $5 million fee for the option and sent something to Oakland, would Beane bite? He would be freed from the Giambi obligation at the end of the season and have money to spend. The Yankees could take the risk on Chavez and get rid of Giambi at the same time which would free up the DH spot for Matsui. I think it is worth a phone call.
As for Crede, Josh Fields hit 23 HR’s in his absence last year and Crede will be a free agent after 2008. Would Chicago be willing to give him up for a mid-level prospect since they might want to go with Fields? Again, worth a phone call.
My last idea is more generalized, but what about moving Jeter over to third? Cal Ripken did it, so why not Jeter? Despite the gold gloves, he has never been a great shortstop and his arm is good enough for the longer throws. At some point, I think the Yankees will have to make this move anyway, so what about doing it now?
There are obviously a lot of other ways to go and we will discuss them more in the future, but from now on it will be about filling the opening at third base and not about <.