February 15, 2004

I Am Ready. There is no way to spin Alex Rodriguez playing for the 2004 New York Yankees as a good thing for the Nation, but after a night's sleep (and even as the deal is being officially announced), I can state that I am not worried. The Yankees are a better team with A-Rod instead of Soriano; only a fool would claim otherwise. His addition does not make the Red Sox worse, although it does lessen whatever puny margin for error existed in the East. ... The existence of the wild card (boo!) certainly removes some of the impact of this deal. Imagine the fervor if the AL East was all-or-nothing.

Let's not forget that Theo & the Trio have put together an amazing team, one that filled the various holes from 2003 (another ace starter, an established closer, a glove at 2B, a competent manager and a stronger bench). Toss in a full season of Scott Williamson in the pen, Byung-Hyun Kim in the rotation and Ortizzle as DH and this is easily the best Red Sox team I've seen in my almost 30 years as a fan.

If Derek Jeter is playing shortstop on Opening Day, I'll be totally shocked. Obviously, there is no way Torre will make any sort of announcement before camp is well underway, but the switch is coming. Why would any team trade for the premier shortstop (and a Gold Glover) and play him out of position in deference to perhaps the least-mobile starting shortstop in the game? ... New York will apparently have no qualms about moving Bernie Williams out of center field for Kenny Lofton, so I believe at some point in March, Cap'n Intangibles will "step up" and step aside.

Speaking of which, in today's New York Post, there is a box entitled "Out of Position." It states: "When Alex Rodriguez joins the Yankees, he'll play third base even though he is statistically a better fielding shortstop than Derek Jeter. ... In the past four seasons, Rodriguez has handled 655 more chances and made 21 fewer errors [than Jeter]." And it includes these statistics:

Ultimate Zone Rating Runs, 2000-03
(runs saved or cost compared to others at position, per 162 games)
Rodriguez -- Saved 10
Jeter -- Cost 28

Range Factor, 2000-03
(putouts + assists per 9 innings)
Rodriguez -- 4.69
Jeter -- 3.87

UZR and RF in the Post? And used to show what a below-average shortstop Jeter is? Strange days indeed.

Dateline November 3, 2000. Alex Rodriguez not looking to be a Yankee
Alex Rodriguez wants to beat the New York Yankees, not play for them. The All-Star shortstop is weighing his options as a free agent, but the Yankees aren't one of his choices. "I would like to sign with another team and help dethrone the Yankees — they've won too much already," Rodriguez said Friday. The Yankees have been rumored to be interested in signing Rodriguez and moving him to third base because they already have his buddy, Derek Jeter, at shortstop. Rodriguez isn't interested in that possibility. "I like playing shortstop and I'm young," the 25-year-old said. "I want to play it until I'm 35 and then I'll study the possibility of being moved."

Check out the big "A-Rod to New York" SoSH thread for over 500 responses (including Curt Schilling at 5:39pm Saturday), stats and the gamut of emotional states. [Royal Rooters and Your Turn]

There is no doubt that the Red Sox knew this was a possibility when they closed the door on a possible Rodriguez-to-Boston scenario. I agree with Zupcic Fan, who wrote in the SoSH thread: "It bothers me that we could have had ARod and Magglio Ordenez and chose not to for financial reasons that would have been risky but probably not prohibitive---and as a result allowed this to happen. If the Yankees are your principal opponent, at least part of your thinking has to be to anticipate these kinds of things. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that the financial value of having ARod on the team in terms of advertising, product sales, etc would have absorbed some of the money the Sox were worried about."

Go here for links to New York papers. ... According to the Times, the Rangers will also give the Yankees about $67 million, reducing Rodriguez's average annual payment from the Yankees to about $16 million from $25.5 million. ... Bob Ryan compares the two teams as of now and rates them: Boston 5, New York 4, Even 3. ... Derek Lowe on Game 7. ... Art Martone on the Red Sox roster. ... Here's another 4:00 am October call-getter: Adrian Wojnarowski.

Let's also take a moment and give thanks that Grady Little (aka Gump, aka That Grinning Jackass, aka Huckleberry Happytalk, aka That *&$%^# Moron) is gone (Game 7 still hurts, but doesn't his reign of error seems like a loooong time ago?) because every game, every inning, will be critical this season. ... Buffalo Head [2/15/04 4:15 am]: "I would hope you'd support who we are, not who we are not. These 25 individuals have made the choice to work, the choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 162 nights for the next six months, to represent you, this fanbase. That kind of committment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team."

I am ready.

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