By now, everybody knows about the incredible chuzpah demonstrated by Alex Rodriguez when he, through his agent Scott Boras, announced his intent to opt out of his current ridiculous contract with the New York Yankees during the 8th inning of Game 4 of the World Series (by the way, for what it’s worth, I thought this was kind of awesome). This announcement has set off a chain reaction all throughout baseball. Every team that has even two nickels to rub together is now rumored to be in the A-Rod sweepstakes. The Cubs, the Dodgers, the Angels, the Giants, the Red Sox, and yes, even the Yankees’ cross-town rivals that we like to talk about over here from time to time.
In case you didn’t read about it here, or here and here, or if you have had the radio turned off (not a bad idea, to be honest), the New York news media is all over the Mets on this one. Some are even saying that for the Mets to do anything elss than sign Alex Rodriguez would be a slap in the face to their fanbase. They don’t go into the reasons why signing A-Rod may not work, or why the team might be more than a little hesitant to spend big bucks for a player who would not have a position on this team. It’s only “Sign A-Rod or you are a FAILURE, Omar Minaya!”
So why might the Mets be at least a LITTLE hesitant to sign Alex Rodriguez?
- Money. You may not have heard this, as Scott Boras has done his best to try to keep this quiet, but Alex Rodriguez is going to want more than a few bucks here. The starting point for Alex Rodriguez negotiations are $30 million a season. That’s an awful lot of money. Granted, the Mets make a whole lot of money, and once Citi Field opens, they’re going to make a lot more money, but…I don’t know, isn’t it a little irresponsible to call an offseason a failure if a team doesn’t want to take a $300 million investment in one player? I mean, it’s not my cash, if that’s not the way the Mets want to spend their allotment of salary, why should I get on their case?
- Alex Rodriguez has played two positions in his major league career – third base and shortstop. In case the media forgot (and it seems to be low on their list of priorities if you read their columns), the Mets already have some pretty good players there. David Wright is better defensively at third base than Alex Rodriguez, so it makes no sense to move Wright off of third. Jose Reyes did not demonstrate himself to be a particularly adept player at second, and besides, A-Rod is likely too bulky to go back to second base anyway. The only way this would make sense for the Mets is if A-Rod wanted to come to the Mets so badly, that he was willing to play first base, and with plenty of suitors available for him to play third or short that will offer him big money, he would REALLY have to want to play for the Mets for this to happen.
- Assume the Mets do sign A-Rod and put him at first, or put him at third and put Wright on first (which would be a mistake). What happens to Carlos Delgado? They have him signed for another year, and granted, he didn’t look good for most of the year, but he’s on the books for another $16 million next year. In order to do this, the Mets would then have to move Delgado to an AL team, AND likely pay for the priviledge of his services in the AL, to the tune of at least $10-12 million. So now the Mets are not only paying A-Rod $30 million next year, but are really paying $40 million after they get rid of Delgado.
- Here’s the big one – don’t the Mets seem to have more pressing needs? They don’t have a second baseman or a catcher signed for next year, unless they decide that Ruben Gotay is the second baseman of the future. In addition to signing A-Rod, they would have to spend another $20 million or so to shore up the starting rotation, the bullpen, second base, catcher, and maybe left field if Alou goes elsewhere (although all indications are that he will stay). Why sign a player to play a position that is already filled for next year when there are real positions that do need to be filled? Isn’t that being more irresponsible to the Mets’ fanbase than not signing A-Rod?
Of course, the media knows most of this. They know that signing Alex Rodriguez would be a redundant move that would be done at the expense of moves that really do need to be made. So when the media writes articles like “to not sign Alex Rodriguez is a slap in the face to all Mets fans” and such, when they know that the Mets probably aren’t going to sign him…they’re setting the Wilpons and Omar Minaya up for failure. They’re circling the wagons, getting ready to savage the Mets for not caring about their fanbase, ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness here. They are intentionally setting the Mets up so when they don’t sign A-Rod, hey, easy second column ripping the Mets for not doing enough for their fans. It’s shallow and disingenous, and they only do it to justify their existence in a world where they are becoming increasingly obsolete.
Don’t get me wrong – as a Mets fan, I would love to see A-Rod on the Mets. But as a baseball fan, and more importantly as a realist, I understand that this probably isn’t going to happen without a lot of things changing for the Mets. They would either have to trade Reyes or Wright (which would be foolhardy, especially since after signing A-Rod, they would no longer be in a position of power) or make one of the two learn a new position. Meanwhile, the team needs a catcher and a second baseman, they probably need at least one more starting pitcher, and repairing a leaky bullpen in light of how last season ended is a huge priority for this team. To beat up the Mets for just going balls out and signing the best player available when it may not even be a good baseball decision is dumb at best, and unethical at worst. Then again, I really shouldn’t have expected any better out of the New York media.