The Best Move The Red Sox Never Made: A-Rod

A-Rod Faces Media

A-Rod Faces Media

I don’t spend much time defending the New York Yankees. As a Boston Red Sox fan, I readily yell “Yankees S***!” at Fenway Park. I think the Yankee organization is actually evil incarnate: that those who wear pinstripes to play baseball are inherently the devils of the diamond. I think that Aaron Boone has an unmentionable middle name, and that Johnny Damon looks like Jesus, acts like Judas and throws like Mary.

It is safe to say that I think that the Yankees’ reported thoughts about voiding Alex Rodriguez’ contract are deplorable. I understand that A-Rod hasn’t been the player he once was. I get that he is on a newly released list of PED users. I understand that he makes upwards of $20 million a year. But even with all of these elements in place, I don’t think the Bronx Bombers have the right to void Rodriguez’ contract.

But this isn’t about me trashing the Yankees: this article is about me praising them. In the 2003 offseason I was fuming. I had just watched every game of what came to be a miserable campaign for the Red Sox. They took a run at the ALCS and failed in spectacular fashion; largely due to certain individuals with certain unmentionable middle names. It was clear that Boston needed some help to put their team over the top. To me, there was one prize — through the free agent market or otherwise — that the Sox should chase coming into 2004: Alex Rodriguez.

The guy had just finished an MVP season. Mind you, I do not mean to say MVP-type season, like the Jacoby Ellsburys of the world: I mean “MVP” like he actually won it. A-Rod had the best numbers in the game in 2003: .298/.396/.600 slash lines with 47 home runs in 161 games played. He was the best all-around player, creating plays on defense (at shortstop!) as well as offense.

It is true that he was accused of and admitted to using PED’s between 2001 and 2003. It’s a fact that he openly regretted his signing with the Texas Rangers to the media. Still, to use a turn of phrase coming out of Terry Francona’s newly published book, he was a very “sexy” player.

At the time I would have not blamed Red Sox brass if they were able to pull off the deal that would have sent him here. In fact, I would have run out the door to the Pro Shop and bought a jersey with “Rodriguez” emblazoned on the back as soon as possible. You can’t call me a pink hat for that: you’d have done the same.But the deal didn’t get done. A-Rod didn’t break the Curse of the Bambino. The way things look right now, it seems the Red Sox avoided another Curse. They won it in 2004 and again in 2007 while the Yankees played second fiddle to Beantown for once. In the end, its easy to feel vindicated, easy to feel right about the fact that Rodriguez didn’t come here.Knowing how close the Sox were to getting him though is what leads me to praise my rivals. The Yankees got their man. They eventually got him again in the form of Mark Teixeira, and before I die (happy that I saw the Sox win it twice), they’ll probably get their man again. Maybe New York overpaid for A-Rod (via trade and then again after re-signing him). Maybe A-Rod took Performance Enhancing Drugs. Maybe Ray Lewis killed a guy. The bottom-line here is that none of this is certain.The market value for Alex Rodriguez at the time of his signing was high. The Red Sox would have liked to have met that market value just as much as the Yankees did in 2003 (though maybe not so much in 2007). Sometimes investments don’t pan out. In nine years with the Yankees, Rodriguez has hit .292/.387/.538 with an average of 33.5 home runs per year. He also aged from 28 in 2004 to 36 last year.

In that span, he exceeded his home run totals from 2003 twice and exceeded his batting average from that MVP year three times. A-Rod finished in the top-10 for MVP voting four times since signing with the Yanks. He may not have produced very well in the playoffs, but then that’s not what he was evaluated on after his time in Texas, nor was he evaluated particularly on playoff performance in his time with the Yankees dating up until 2007. Nobody said he was clutch. Nobody said he was the central component to any winning team. However, I have to claim that A-Rod was a good investment.

Food will spoil eventually after you buy it. Good things don’t last forever. Baseball players age, and they may or may not take PED’s. A-Rod was once one of the game’s best players and the contract he signed is derivative of that fact. Whether he did or did not take anything from anyone in Miami is of no consequence. You get what you pay for.

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