26 November 2007

The Santana Question: To Trade or Not to Trade?

Johan Santana is the 800-lb. gorilla.

OK, so he's really like 6 feet tall and 195 lbs, when it comes to contract negotiations, he's King Kong. The man can essentially write his next contract, and his employer, whomever that may be, just has to sit there and take it. The Minnesota Twins would love to hold onto him for another year, not to mention the rest of his career. They'd love for him to be the centerpiece of a championship team, but of course, so would the other 29 teams. Realistically, the Twins are not in the habit of committing scores of millions of dollars to players, even to players as good as Santana.

While their owner, Carl Pohlad, could buy any and all of the free agents he wanted with all the billions of dollars he has, that's never been his style. He's content to let the team pay for whatever the team can afford to pay on its own merits, and that is not likely to change any time soon. And that is not likely to include a pitcher who makes $25 million per year for half a decade or more.

Which means that they've gotta trade him. The "Now or later?" question is fairly easy to answer: Now. The only reason to hold onto Santana for most or all of the 2008 season is if you think he's going to help them to the playoffs. There's no way they'll get more for him in trade next June or July than they will now, so that's not a motivation to keep him. But would a reasonable assessment of the 2008 Twins suggest a team that has a good chance to make the playoffs?

The Twins finished third in the AL Central in 2007, behind the Tigers and the Indians. Cleveland looks like a team that could be very good again next year, and there's little reason to think that the Tigers are suddenly going to go away. Minnesota's pitching was very good last year, with and ERA that ranked 4th in the league, and keeping Santana, they could be even better next year, as some of their young pitching matures. The hitting was atrocious last year, as they finished 12th in the 14-team American League in runs scored, but they're a good bet to improve at a few different positions, if only because some of the players they ran out there in 2007 (Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Luis Rodriguez, Rondell White) were so horrendous that there's basically nowhere to go but up. Still, even with a substantial improvement, the offense would probably only be mediocre, and they'll have a hard time beating out the Tigers and the Tribe, much less the Yankees or Red Sox or any other Wild Card contender.

So it's not likely that the Twins will be contenders next year, which means that they ought to just suck it up, take the PR hit they'll get by trading Santana away this winter, and build for 2009 and beyond.

This is good news for the Yankees, for while the other 29 teams would all love to have Johan Santana on their roster, only a handful of them can actually afford him, and the Yankees are at the top of that list. Even fewer of those actually have the type and number of prospects the Twins would require to pry Santana away from them, and the Yankees (along with the Red Sox) top that list as well.

Buster Olney says that Peter Gammons says that the Twins would like a package of RHP Phil Hughes, CF Melky Cabrera, and minor league CF Austin Jackson. Based on name recognition alone, that looks like a heck of a lot of talent to give up for one guy, especially if you're then going to have to give that guy 6 years and something like $150 million. But how much are they giving up, really?

Let's start with the best-known commodity first: Melky Cabrera. The Melk Man has been a Yankee Regular more or less for the last two seasons, and I would say that his production level has been adequate, at best. He's very young, and by the virtue of being a major league regular at age 21 alone, his future looks bright, but based on his skills, I'm not so sure. He actually regressed in 2007 instead of improving, losing a few points in batting average and a lot of walks, without gaining anything in either power or speed.

By most accounts and metrics, he is a good or very good defensive center fielder, but whether his bat will ever come around enough to justify an everyday job on a championship team is another question entirely. My suspicion is that he can make a career out of being "serviceable" in center field, with just enough of a bunch of different skills that he's useful, and no glaring weakness (like being error-prone or striking out too much or otherwise pissing off the management and/or fans) that would justify benching or trading him. As long as he's making something below the major league average salary, he's not killing the team, but once he hits arbitration and free agency, look out. There are not a lot of center fielders who can get away with hitting less than 10 homers a year, and the ones who can have skills that Melky does not, like prolific base stealing or high batting averages. At this point, in my mind, Melky could go either way. He's far from a sure thing.

Phil Hughes, on the other hand, seemed like the closest thing to a sure one the Yankees have had in a long time, at least he did until he came up to the majors this year and took a few lumps. The praise for Hughes as a minor leaguer came from far and wide, and though he did not come to the American League and start mowing down batters like Kerry Wood or Mark Fidrych, his chances f being an excellent major league starting pitcher are still as good as anyone's we've ever seen. Again, anything is possible, but he should still be very good. With that said, he my still need another year of seasoning in the majors before he really gets the hang of it up in the AL, and the Yankees are nothing if not impatient with their prospects.

Austin Jackson, a name with which you may not be familiar, was the centerfielder for their High-A Florida State League team, and he hit .345 in half a year. (The first half was spent at Class-A Charleston, and he was decent there, but not spectacular.) Jackson's batting average and slugging percentage (.566) would have led the FSL if he had enough at-bats to qualify, and he hit 10 homers and stole 13 bases in half a season. All-told, he stole 32 bases in 43 attempts at two levels, and had 53 hits for extra bases in 493 at-bats, all at the tender age of 20. Unfortunately he also struck out 107 times and while he will take an occasional walk, they are just that: occasional. Once every 12 plate appearances or so.

Jackson is a kid, and unlike Phil Hughes or Melky Cabrera, he's a kid that's likely at least two full years away from being a major leaguer, if he ever makes it at all. Right now the best evidence in his favor is a half a season of at bats in the Florida State league in which he blew the competition away, but the list of players who have done that may not be riddled with successful major leaguers. For all anyone knows, he may regress to hitting .260 when he gets promoted to AA Trenton next year, may never learn patience at the plate, or may not be able to handle the defense of center field as he progresses through the ranks. After that .345 and 10 homers in Tampa, his value may be as high as it will ever go, so even if he doesn't go to the Twins in a trade for Santana, the Yankees might be well served to send him elsewhere now, as they did with C.J. Henry.

A variation of the trade from George King of the NY Post (and this is a suggestion, really, not a rumor) has Ian Kennedy in the package instead of Jackson, and this to me seems a lot more costly. Kennedy blew through three levels of the minors last year and then impressed nearly everyone, especially opposing batters, in the three starts he made in the majors before getting shut down for the season with a strained muscle in his back. Long-term, though, he should be great.

So, in short, a trade of Melky, Austin Jackson and either Hughes or Kennedy would be, or should be, a no-brainer for the Yankees. Of course they should do it. One pretty good bet to be a good pitcher in one or two years, on centerfielder who's got some potential but will probably never be a star, and a 20-year old in A-ball with exactly half a season of really nice looking stats? Why wouldn't you make tat trade? The money's not an issue for the Yankees, and they desperately need an ace, especially if Andy Pettitte doesn't return. With Joba Chamberlain and whichever of the two (Hughes or Kennedy) doesn't go in the trade, they've still got a pretty affordable starting rotation in 2009 and beyond.

Which is exactly why that trade will never happen. It's just not enough for the Twins.

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20 November 2007

AL and NL MVP Voting Problems

National League MVP

Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins won. You know that. Here's something you may not know:

Rollins 162 716 139 212 38 20 30 94 49 85 41 6 .344 .531 .296
Ramirez 154 639 125 212 48 6 29 81 52 95 51 14 .386 .562 .332

Hanley Ramirez had a very similar season to Rollins. Very similar.

He had exactly the same number of hits, and almost exactly the same number of walks and homers, despite getting about 80 fewer at-bats. His batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs, steals, doubles, total bases, at-bats and some other stats were all among the top 5 in the NL, many of them in the top 2 or 3. Rollins waa similar of course, but he hit for a lower average, lower slugging and lower OBP. he walked less often, stole less often, and hit fewer doubles, though he also struck out a little less, got caught a few less times and hit more triples. He hit one more homer, but needed the help of the best home run park in the majors to do it.

Meanwhile, Ramirez outperformed him in most ways, despite playing in a slight pitcher's park. Unfortunately, Ramirez plays for the Marlins, who had the worst pitching staff in the National League, which means they didn't win much, which means that the voters tended to overlook him when considering their ballot.

I'm not saying that Ramirez deserved the award or that Rollins didn't deserve the award. (Actually, I think Albert Pujols or David Wright deserved it more than either of them.) I'm just saying that Hanley Ramirez deserved to finish higher than 10th.

American league MVP Voting Issues

There's been some heat about the fact that two Detroit beat writers voted for Magglio Ordonez first instead of Alex Rodriguez, as I mentioned yesterday. I read a column over on AOL's sports pages that included a snippet of one of the two writers trying to defend his vote, which was laughable. Here's the quote, or some of it, anyway:

"I saw Magglio play every day. What I saw was a player having an MVP year. I have no quarrel with anyone who voted for A-Rod. He also had an MVP year. But with the injuries the Tigers had and the effort and performance I saw from Magglio, there's no question he had an MVP year."

- Jim Hawkins, Oakland Press, Pontiac, Michigan

I didn't think of this when I was harping on the issue yesterday, but the thing I find really funny about this "logic" is that according to Hawkins, seeing Magglio play everyday told him that he was the MVP. That's it. His subjective experience of seeing Magglio Ordonez play baseball was all he needed to decide to vote for him. But the award is a comparative one, an award given for relative value, not an absolute. That's why it's called the MOST Valuable Player, and not, say, the RVP (Really Valuable Player) or just VP (Vice President, which you'll hafta wrest from Dick Cheney's cold, dead hands.)

This, means, at its logical end, that statistics don't mean anything, or at best that the numbers don't mean as much as the subjective experience of watching him play. Of course, in order to do the necessary comparative work to really vote fairly, to really know who the MVP was, Hawkins would have had to see all of the players play, every day (or at least the ones in contention for the MVP award). After getting home from the Tigers' game each night, he should have watched a tape of the Yankee game, right? And probably the Angels' game and the Red Sox game. Maybe Cleveland. Nah. Heck with Cleveland, he would think.

But nobody does that. Nobody has the time. At least I don't. That's why we keep statistics: So you don't have to watch every game. We can argue about the relative merits of various statistics, to be sure, but Hawkins' argument just throws them out on their ear. By his logic, the NY writers who saw A-Rod everyday could justifiably believe that Alex was the MVP, right? To his credit, Hawkins does not debate this, saying, "He also had an MVP year" without realizing that the logic doesn't work there. Two players, technically, cannot both be the MOST valuable, unless they are both equally valuable, right? But Hawkins doesn't even go that far. He just says, basically, that you can vote for whomever the hell you want to vote for, and getting to watch him play everyday qualifies to you be the resident authority on that player's MVP-ness. So there.

By that logic, someone from the Kansas City Star-Telegram could justify voting for David DeJesus or even Tony Pena for the MVP! After all, he saw them play every day! Who would know better than him? Why should he need statistics? Why would he need to see anyone else's game footage? Based on Jim Hawkins' "logic" a vote for David DeJesus would be beyond reproach, as long as it was from someone who saw him play every day!

Man, I hate Post-Modernism.

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19 November 2007

Good News All Around: A-Rod the MVP, Red Sox Getting Lowell

Just a couple of quick notes on the AL MVP Award...

...no surprise that Alex Rodriguez won it. A little surprised that it wasn't unanimous, but then, I shouldn't be. As long as they can somehow justify it, home-town writers will almost always vote for their guy. The two writers from Michigan both listed Magglio Ordonez first, and while Magglio had a great year, A-Rod was better. How much better? About 9 runs worth, according to Baseball Prospectus' VORP metric. When defense is facotred in, A-Rod wins, hands-down: 11.0 WARP to 8.7, as Ordonez is not much of a defensive outfielder. Actually, if you look at all the candidates, Magglio ties with Ichiro with that 8.7, well behind Curtis Granderson (10.4) and Carlos Pena (9.9). Jorge Posada sat just below them at 8.2 WARP, but nobody else was within two wins or so of that.

Incidentally, Magglio Ordonez' player page on MLB.com says that,

"He, his wife Dagly and three children, Magglio Jr., Maggliana and Sophia..."

How big an ego do you have to have to name not one, but two children after yourself? And one of them a girl?! Poor kid. Well, not that poor.

On the other hand, the Red Sox re-signing of Mike Lowell, who until recently had been rumored to have been courted by the Yankees to play either first or third base, depending on whether or not A-Rod returned, might seem like bad news, but it's snot not. Mike Lowell was coming off the second best year of his entire career, and this at age 33, when most players are starting to slow down, or at best, plateau. Granted, he hit that pretty .324 in 2007, and high batting averages sure do look good in that little box at the bottom of the screen when a guy ocmes to the plate, but in reality, Lowell's 2007 wasn't much different from his 2002 season with Florida, when he was 30 years old, and he hit .276/.346/.471 with 24 homers and 92 RBI's.

Both the high batting average and the high RBI total were due to the fact that he played for the Red Sox in 2007. He hit 6th most of the time, though sometimes 4th or 5th, with David Ortiz (AL-leading .445 OBP) in front of him, not to mention Kevin Youkilis (.390), and Manny Ramirez (.388). As for the batting average, that's an easy one: He hit .276 on the road, but .373 at Fenway Park. That's probably on the short list of the most severe home-road splits (Non-Coors Division) in history!

Looking at it another way, how likely is Mike Lowell to continue to produce like that? Well, coming into this year, Baseball prospectus (who pretty good at predicting these kind of things) thought he would most likely hit .269/.328/.432 with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 489 plate appearances. That was his 50th percentile projection, which means the weighted average of the accomplishments of similar players at age 33.

His 90th percentile was .299/.361/.503 with 21 homers and 85 RBIs, but his actual numbers .324/.378/.501 were notably better than those (Though the homers and slugging matched the 90th percentile projections almost exactly). So let's call what he actually did the "95th" percentile. That seems fair. How likely is it that Mike Lowell, after out-performing 95% of the major league baseball players like him in history at age 33, can do the same at age 34? How likely is it that he'll even do better than the 50th percentile for two of the three years to which the Red Sox have signed him, at about $13 million per?

Not very, I'll tell you that.

So be glad, Yankee fans. When Mike Lowell is coming back to Earth next season, hitting .270 with modest power or worse, at least he'll be the Red Sox problem and not yours.

Your problem is to find a firstbaseman who doesn't hit like an old lady.

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Alex the MVP, Should Stand for Millions inVested Poorly

Well, maybe things are not going to be so bad for the Yankees after all.

It looks like Alex Rodriguez is going to re-sign with the team, despite his having abandoned the contract he had with them and the subsidy they had for him from the Texas Rangers, and despite the Yankees' insisting that they would not negotiate with him if he left. Not that anyone actually believed that, but still. Rodriguez and the Yankees got around the bad PR on that issue by having Alex approach the team through a different agent, in this case, a couple of guys the Yankees know from the investment firm Goldman-Sachs, who helped to broker the YES Network deals.

Does that strike you as odd? It did me. I don't usually think of investment bankers and baseball players in the same vein, but then, there aren't many baseball players who can get contracts that will guarantee them more than the Gross Domestic Products of about half a dozen small countries, are there? I suppose if you've got that much to invest, someone from Goldman-Sachs would love to talk to you, and if they can stake a claim, a "finder's fee" if you will, on the total value of that contract (and why shouldn't they?) then it's obviously worth their while. A finder's fee of 1/2 of a percent is still worth over a million dollars on that $275 million contract.

A fairly obvious, though as yet (I think) unstated observation from this development is that yet another of the long list of Scott Boras Lies has been proven false. Boras had said, among other things, that,

"Alex's decision was one based on not knowing what his closer, his catcher and one of his statured pitchers was going to do," Boras said. "He really didn't want to make any decisions until he knew what they were doing."

That quote came directly from an ESPN.com article, which got it from the newswire. Boras has not said that he was misquoted, and Alex has not denied this.

Trouble is, those three questions have not yet been answered. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. Posada has re-signed with the Yankees (to an un-recommended 4-year, $52.4 million deal), but to date, Rivera and the Yankees are still working on a deal, and last week, when Rodriguez came back to the table, Rivera was still holding out for a fourth year. Pettitte opted out of his $16 million offer, and is still undecided as to whether or not he'll come back. If he needed to know about those three before making a decision, how can he be back already?

The one solid piece of information Alex does have now that he did not have when he opted out of the contract is that Joe Torre, his manager for the last four seasons, will not be back. If anything, you'd think that would push him away from New York, right? Torre was so good at taking the heat for Alex, trying to get the sportswriters to put things in perspective, maintaining that whatever ills he was suffering were temporary, even when he was knoblauching the ball all over the infield last season. If Torre's departure wasn't enough reason for him to leave, what would be? (NOTE: I'm sure, that in the public relations love-fest that will inevitably follow the signing of the new, record-setting contract, Rodriguez will tell us how much he loves Joe Girardi, and always has, even though he's never before said a single word about the man in public. You just wait.)

In any case, this much is clear: There were not many, if any, other teams out there willing to pony up the kind of dough that Boras and Rodriguez were seeking when they hit the free agent market. CNNMoney.com's Chris Isidore, who apparently just believes anything Soctt Boras tells him, was wrong about that. As was Boras, for that matter. These days, teams have more money than they know what to do with, but even so, nobody else is rich enough to be able to afford the mistake of spending almost $300 million on one player.

That's right: Mistake.

As good as Alex Rodriguez is, and he's very good, there is no way that the Yankees do not regret this contract before it's over, maybe even before it's half over. As I pointed out a few days ago, when Alex Rodriguez is 38 years old, the Yankees will still have 5 more years and something like $150 million worth of payments to make on this contract, since they tend to be back-loaded. Does anybody in his or her right mind think that any player's age 38-42 years could be worth $150 million?

Think of the greatest "old" hitters in modern history. The ones with similar skills to Alex Rodriguez (average, patience, power, maybe some speed in their younger days) include Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, Dave Winfield, Edgar Martinez...pick someone, almost anyone. Very few of them have many full, healthy seasons after age 37. Many of them were productive, at least some of the time, when they played, but they just didn't play enough to justify this kind of money. Among those I listed, only Winfield ever played 150 or more games in a season after his 38th birthday (he did it twice), though several of them are in the 140's. Granted, Barry Bonds did win two NL MVP Awards after turning 38, despite not playing more than 147 games in either season, because he was so damn good when he played. But of course, Bonds had a little "help", i.e. better living through chemistry as Dow used to say, and I don't think we want to count on that in Alex's case.

The reality is that the man is going to get hurt. He's going to have an off year or two or three some time during this ten-year contract. And insurance companies are smart enough not to insure that much money that far off in the future, especially not on a commodity as volatile as a 40-year old baseball player. Which means that when the other cleat drops for Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees will have to eat all of the $30+ million he'll be making that year.

Good thing they can afford it. Sort of.

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05 November 2007

Scott Boras & Alex Rodriguez: Making Sense of the Cents

There has been a lot of speculation as to why Alex Rodriguez decided to opt out of the remaining three years of his contract with the Yankees, and more specifically, why his agent, Scott Boras, chose to announce it when he did, i.e. during the last game of the World Series. Boras has said that he didn't mean to upstage the World Series, and he's "sorry", or whatever, but that's a load of crap, and we all know it. Scott Boras leaked that info (or had someone leak it) exactly when he wanted to, (and then crossed his fingers and prayed that the Red Sox would win that game) so that everyone would know that

A) they were serious about testing the market, and
2) Alex Rodriguez is the most important human being you have ever laid eyes on.

Screw the Red Sox. Screw the World Series. Screw Major League Baseball. Alex wants his money, and he wants it now. Don't believe that garbage about needing to know whether or not Mariano and Jorge and Joe Torre were returning. That was just a convenient excuse to do what they wanted to do in the first place: get ALex out there on the auction block, where he can go to the highest bidder.

Scott Boras never does anything wihtout a design on making more money for his players and ultimately, for himself. He's a master tactician, like Tony LaRussa without the surliness and with better hair. He works his butt off to get his players the best possible contracts, frequently to the dismay of the teams and towns that sign them. He spends hours preparing carefully worded statements and charts and graphs and tables full of specifically selected statistics and other data that will paint his players in the best possible light, even (and sometimes, especially) if that means completely obscuring their true worth.

There are more stories about Scott Boras getting ridiculously and inappropriately lucrative contracts for his baseball players than anyone in any sport you've ever heard of, and with good reason. Sure, he represents some great players, All-Stars, Cy Young and MVP award winners, etc., and has done well for them. Besides A-Rod, he represents or has represented Greg Maddux, Carlos Beltran, Barry Zito, Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Eric Gagne, Bernie Williams, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Kevin Brown and J.D. Drew, to name but a few.

Many of those are or were very good players, but many of them also have created quite a headache for their employers by performing well below expectations while costing their teams millions of dollars. Beltran, Drew and Zito were disappointments in their first year of free agency, though at least Beltran has since redeemed himself. Bernie's contract was an albatross for three of its seven years. After the first two years of his seven-year, record $105 million contract, Kevin Brown waffled between being a Cy Young contender and not pitching at all, doing a lot more of the latter than the former while with the Yankees. Gagne, Damon and Varitek all got hurt soon after signing big free agent contracts.

But two players, specifically, highlight Scott Boras' ability to make teams pay through the nose for sub-par talent: J.D. Drew and Darren Dreifort.

Darren Dreifort earned $55 million from the Dodgers between 2001 and 2005, and he pitched just over 200 innings in those five seasons, winning exactly nine games in the major leagues. He didn't pitch at all in 2002 or 2005. Almost any contract he signed would have been a waste of money, and of course you couldn't have predicted that he would fail so miserably and so completely, so soon. But you could have predicted that a 29 year old with a 39-45 career record and an ERA just over 4.00 (despite spending his whole career in Chavez Ravine), one who had never managed to pitch more than 192 innings in his six, mediocre seasons in the big leagues, would not suddenly be worth $11 million per year. And you'd have been right. For some reason, though Scott Boras managed to cloud the Dodgers' judgment just long enough to get them to sign that ludicrous contract. And for some reason, teams will still talk to him.

But Drew may be the even more remarkable case. Under Boras' guidance, he spurned the Phillies and went to the independent leagues, not because he disliked the Phillies (which, in my mind, is both understandable and a pretty good excuse for not wanting to play for them) but becaus ethe Phils refused to meet his signing bonus demands ($8 million, if I recall correctly). Drew then signed with St. Louis, the following season, for way less than the previous year's demands, and played six injury-plagued, generally disappointing years. He was traded to Atlanta, where he played a solid and mostly healthy season and parlayed that into a $55 million, 5-year contract with Los Angeles. Whereupon he resumed the getting-hurt-and-generally-disappointing-the-fans act. Amazingly, Boras talked him into opting out of that contract after two years, and an organization I generally consider much smarter than the Dodgers, namely Boston, signed him for five more years and $70 million! Oh, and he played worse, and less often. Will they ever learn?

In any case, Scott Boras knows what he's doing. If he can get $55 million for a waste of roster space like Darren Dreifort, imagine what he can do for someone who's actually good, like Alex Rodriguez!

The only reason for Alex Rodriguez to opt out of the (depending on your source) $72 to $90 million he was already guaranteed plus an additional $150 million or more of guaranteed money is that he thought he could get more. He (and more important, Boras) thought they could do better than $222M to $240M for eight to ten years. Heck, they thought they could do better than $252M for ten years, his previous contract. They thought they could get ten years and $350 million out of New York, and if not them, then someone, or they would not have done it. Simple as that. They wanted A-Rod to be the highest paid player both in average dollars per year and total contract dollars, and they wanted it by a substantial margin, so that there could be no mistake who the most valuable player (and the most valuable agent) in baseball are at any time for the next decade.

The Yankees, however, obviously used the promise of non-negotiation as a threat to keep him from going, because obviously they stood to lose a lot if he did. They had a nice, $21 million si\ubsidy from Texas that was forfeit when Rodriguez became a free agent. But Boras, too, stands to lose a lot if the Yankees won't talk to them, because they're the ones who can offer the richest contract, and even if they don't, they're the ones Boras can allege to be offering the richest contract as he negotiates with other teams. He loses a big leveraging tool if everone knows that New York isn't in the discussions.

But the Yankees stand to lose even more if A-Rod and his prodigious talent go to help some other theam to a championship. They'll negotiate with him if they think it's in their best interest, in spite of the chiding they'll take from the news media for going back on their promise to shun him. In the long run, both the Yankees and the A-Rod Camp recognize this and won't let the media backlash get in the way of baseball and the (millions of) bucks.

Of course, $30 to $35 million per season is preposterous, but then so was $25.2 million per year back in Y2Krazy, when A-rod signed with Texas. No there's no real evidence to show that Alex Rodriguez will help prop up your regional sports network, as Boras has been saying, but there is evidence that ALex actually earned his salary last year. Baseball Prospectus has a metric they call MORP, Money Over Replacement PLayer, a measure of how much more a player's worth compared to a freely available talent, based on average salaries, inflation and some other stuff I don't really understand. According to their 2007 formula, Alex was worth about $44 million last year, and of course he "only" made about $23 million, a third of which was paid for by the Rangers, so the Yankees really got a deal, according to BP, anyway.

But for Alex to "earn" his $30 to $35 million per year, he has to have an MVP-type season every year for the next decade. He needs to be worth at least nine Wins Above Replacement for each of the next ten seasons, and thats just not going to happen. Nobody's ever been able to produce like that for more than four or five seasons in a row, and there's no way Alex Rodriguez has found some fountain of youth that has eluded everyone else on the planet for the last 150 years.

Between the ages of 20 and 31, a span of 12 seasons, Rodriguez probably deserved the AL MVP Award eight times. He actually won it in 2003 and 2005, and will win it this year, but probably also should have gotten the award in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002 and maybe 2000, though that one was a lot closer. He didn't win any of those other five, of course, because too many of the voters don't know what the hell they're doing, but in any case, most people would agree that he was one of the three to five best players in the AL in each of those years, without question. But does anyone with any sense think that he can do that again? Earning two out of every three MVP awards for the next ten years? Let's be realistic, people.

Will he be good? Sure. Great even, at least for a few years. But even if he maintains the kind of production to which we've become accustomed, a .300 batting average, 40+ homers, 120+ runs and RBIs, 20+ steals at high success rate, how long can he be expected to do it? Five years? Six? How long before age and injuries start to slow him down? At the end of the 2012 season, when he's only half way through the $350 million contract that Boras is demanding, Alex will be 38 years old. And more than half of that $350 million will still be owed to him, as these contracts are usually backloaded. Does anyone think that an infielder (probably a firstbaseman by then) in his late 30's and early 40's will actually be worth $35 million per year?

How much more does Boras expect the dollar to fall, anyway?

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