Friday, November 16, 2007

A-Rod Begs For Forgiveness

This is the thing I hate about baseball.

To recap, Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez orchestrated one of the most ill-conceived attempts to break the bank in the history of team sports. A-Rod opts out of baseball's richest contract with baseball's most storied franchise, leaving $72M on the table and leaving the Yankees $21M lighter in the wallet (a subsidy from the Texas Rangers that required A-Rod to actually be a Yankee for them to collect it). Adding dishonesty to arrogance, he cites the uncertainty of the futures of Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte as the reasons he is opting out, thus completely ignoring the real reason (cue "cash register ringing" wav file). A-Rod then sends Boras, who may or may not be Satan (we're still working on this one), out into the baseball wilderness with a bunch of graphs, charts and Powerpoint presentations to pitch to his potential audience (at the time believed to include the Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, and Angels) why The Chosen One is worth $350M over the next 10 years. Only one problem -- the potential audience actually consisted of one team. The team he left at the altar a couple of weeks ago -- the jilted Yankees.

So once the Powerpoint presentations to baseball's richest franchises not named the Yankees were all finished (to the rousing sound of crickets chirping), Scott Boras and A-Rod realized their worst nightmare. "Holy shit, there's no $35M/yr market for a lamb-killing diva whose testes shrink into his abdomen when the calendar turns to October!" (Let alone the $30M/yr the Yankees had been willing to offer A-Rod in a multi-year extension just before he opted out of his deal). So A-Rod did the only thing he could do, swallow his pride, plant his tail between his legs, and go back to the Yankees, knowing full well that the Yankees would still probably offer $5M more/yr than any other suitor. You see, if "Bidding against Yourself" were an Olympic sport, the Yankees would be Mark Spitz and Eric Heiden rolled into one (see Rivera, Mariano, proposal to; OR see Posada, Jorge, signing of). A-Rod was also ordered to leave Boras at home, kind of like when a company is ordered by a client to change the sales rep on their account. "Sure Alex, we'll meet with you, but leave the beady eyed sales guy with the faux combover at the office. Bring the hot chick instead." (Note: It's worth mentioning that Alex's wife seemed to be heavily involved in this process, perhaps smelling a future divorce settlement.)

The fact of the matter is that I don't think anyone (other than the team who wound up with A-Rod) was going to offer A-Rod anywhere close to the $27.5M he wound up signing for. A-Rod and Boras grossly miscalculated his worth. There is no doubt that Alex Rodriguez is the best regular season player in baseball. But is it really worth paying him $30M when that can fetch you a decent third basemen and two good arms? Especially when A-Rod seems to do his best work in the middle of August against the Royals and the Devil Rays? When the score is 9-2? Boras really thought that other baseball teams wouldn't see this? It's one thing to have a "devil may care" attitude when you're signing Ted Lilly to a $10M/yr deal; it's another thing entirely when you have to scratch out $350M to one player AND that player has a history of postseason failure AND that player is seen by many as a phony and a prima donna. There's really only one team with the combination of money, stupidity, and history with A-Rod to pull this off -- and they got him.

One very underrated subplot amidst the A-Rod signing is the foreshadowing of how much fun it's going to be to watch the Brothers Steinbrenner run the Bronx Bombers (into the ground?) these next few decades. This from Yankees senior VP Hank Steinbrenner:
"... and if an agent gets out of line or makes bad decisions, then that's going to hurt the player. And obviously, that's one of the things that happened here."
So it would appear that Hank thinks Boras' decision to go for more money was miscalculated and wrong. (Before the Yankees came along to bail Boras and A-Rod out, I didn't disagree. No one else would've paid A-Rod anywhere near $27.5M per year.) But when it was suggested the Yankees overpaid to re-sign A-Rod, Hank goes into crazy spin mode, saying that there were others out there who would've paid more than the Yankees:
"There are a few cynics who say, 'Well, he really couldn't get this there.' Trust me, he would have gotten probably more. He is making a sacrifice to be a Yankee, there's no question. ... He showed what was really in his heart and what he really wanted."
So let me get this straight, Hank. You think A-Rod was given bad advice by Scott Boras. This bad advice consisted of Boras telling A-Rod to opt out of the last three years of his contract because he felt A-Rod could make more than he was going to make in those three years under his then-current deal ($24M/yr, by the way). Yet according to you, Hank, there were many other teams out there who would've paid more than the $27.5M which A-Rod eventually got from you. (Let's not even get into how he eventually wound up making more money from the Yankees themselves.) So how exactly was this bad advice, Hank? I mean, A-Rod and Boras didn't get the $35M/yr they wanted, but thanks to you, Hank, A-Rod did get a sizable raise and assurance that he'd get paid into his 40's, not to mention a bunch of bonuses tied to revenue increases centered around his chase of the all-time home run record held by "he who shall not be named".

If we're scoring at home, here's how all of the luminaries involved in this signing grade out:

SCOTT BORAS: The deal finally gets done when he is very publicly removed from the negotiations. His misfire on A-Rod's market value and his door-to-door sales approach reinforce the world's hatred of diabolical sports agents. Presumably, he does still get his commission, but his "Boras gets what he wants" aura takes a major hit. Survey says? LOSER

They have to foot the bill for all of this over the next 10 years, and are setting a nice precedent of paying players well over market value into their 40's. This should be fun to watch. Mitigating factor is that they are rich, however that is more than canceled out by the fact that they look like their old man. No amount of money is worth that. Survey says? LOSERS

FANS: The front office of their favorite team has just ensured them that they will not win a World Series until at least 2018, which means that there will be teenage offspring of Yankees fans very soon who start to go through the same "will the Yankees ever win a World Series in my lifetime?" paranoia that I went through as a Red Sox fan in the 1980's. This makes me very happy. Survey says? LOSERS

Gets $27.5M over the next 10 years, a 15% raise over what he was slated to make in 2008, 2009, and 2010, despite sucking in the postseason, having the personality of a twice baked potato, and wearing purple lipstick when it gets cold outside. Survey says? WINNER

Yeah, this is the thing I hate about baseball.

1 comment:

JRJ said...

The winner in all of this is the NY Post. They guaranteed to sell millions of papers with Pay-Rod, Stray-Rod, and F-Rod covers for the next 10 years.