People continue to assume A-Rod is going to simply walk away from $114 million

73 Comments

More for the “Oh, won’t that nasty old A-Rod just go away, please” file. This from the Daily News. Let’s do this in call and response form:

Alex Rodriguez is unlikely to ever wear the pinstripes again, sources familiar with the Yankees’ situation with their troubled third baseman told the Daily News …

Unless someone from the Yankees says “we’re going to release A-Rod” there is no support for this whatsoever.

“I don’t know why he would want to go through the pain of rehabbing and trying to play up to the caliber of player he was, and come back to a game where nobody wants him,” said a baseball official.

I can think of 114 million reasons. Plus the fact that his entire identity is tied up in being a professional athlete and most professional athletes don’t make sober assessments about when their careers are over. They have their careers forcibly taken from them, often hanging on too long and requiring that teams release them.

Even before the latest steroid allegations surfaced, Yankee officials had already privately begun preparing for the likelihood that Rodriguez would never finish out the mega-deal he signed in 2007.

Yet publicly they all said that his rehab would be six months and that, while it could be longer, it was unlikely. And his doctor said that his hip was less damaged than anticipated. Indeed, no one said A-Rod was finished in New York until about ten minutes after the Miami New Times story broke the other day.

Meanwhile, the Rodriguez scenarios include: (1) A-Rod being forced to retire because of the injury, enabling the Yankees to collect 85% of the insurance on the contract, which would leave him with a paid-up deal that comes off the Yankee books and subsequently lessens their luxury-tax burden.

See yesterday’s commentary about the likelihood of the Yankees being able to collect on an insurance claim for A-Rod.  In any event, even if his hip ended his ability to play baseball — which no one other than columnists have suggested — he would not retire. He’d sit on the DL for five years, just like Albert Belle did, collecting his money. Also: an insurance scenario would not give the Yankees luxury tax relief.

(2) Rodriguez completes the rehab but continues to play in a diminished role, is unhappy with his level of play and decides to voluntarily retire. In that case, the Yankees would engage him in settlement talks.

Again, there is zero incentive for A-Rod to voluntarily retire. If the Yankees don’t want him, they can cut him and he can go play elsewhere while still collecting all the money he’s owed. If no other team signs him, he gets $114 million from the Yankees for sitting on the beach and doing nothing.  There is no reason in the world why he should or would engage the Yankees in “settlement talks.” Unless the writers of this column can come up with one, their suggestion is nonsense.

If Rodriguez is found to have been involved, he could face a 50-game suspension by MLB, or worse: If he was not truthful when baseball officials interviewed him several times over the past years about his involvement with steroids and human growth hormone, commissioner Bud Selig would have the power under the collectively bargained drug agreement to increase the suspension.

The commissioner’s power comes from a paragraph in the joint drug agreement that says anything not covered under the listed penalties can be covered by the discretion of the commissioner.

I have read the Joint Drug Agreement up and down, backwards and forwards, and I cannot find a clause that says this.  If I missed it, someone point it out to me.  If there is something in there to this effect, someone is going to have to tell me how A-Rod’s alleged acts — taking banned PEDs — is “not covered under the listed penalties.”  Like I said earlier today, A-Rod is a player like any other. Just because he makes a lot of money and is hated does not make him eligible for greater discipline than anyone else.

All of this is wishcasting by Yankees sources. Or, more likely, Yankees sources attempting to communicate to A-Rod through the media, telling him that he is unwelcome and hoping he decides to do the highly irrational thing of walking away from $114 million.

Unless and until someone from the Yankees, anonymously or otherwise, suggests that they are going to simply release A-Rod outright, there is every reason to think that he will play for them again.  He will do his rehab and get himself in a position to play if he is able, if for no other reason, than to force the Yankees to play him or release him.  In no event does it make any sense whatsoever for him to retire or to enter into negotiations with the Yankees for a buyout.

We get it, Yankees. You don’t want to pay A-Rod the silly contract you gave him.  But no matter how much you beef about it now, you’re gonna end up paying the guy.

No, New York players do not get an unfair bump in Hall of Fame voting

Getty Images
17 Comments

Angels owner Arte Moreno said something interesting yesterday. He was talking about the retired former Angel, Garret Anderson, and said “If he would have played in New York, he’d be in the Hall of Fame.”

The initial — and, I would add, the most on-point — response to this is to note that, for however good a player Anderson was at times, no definition of the term “Hall of Famer” really encompasses his legacy. He was OK. Pretty good on occasion. Nowhere near a Hall of Famer, and I don’t think you need me to go over the math to establish that. The only way Anderson would ever sniff the Hall of Fame one day is if we sent Tony La Russa back in time to manage him for several years and then brought him back from the past to strong-arme the Veterans Committee.

The more interesting question to me is the matter implied in Moreno’s comment: that players in New York get an unfair boost when it comes to the Hall of Fame.

I get why he might say that and I get why people might believe it. New York gets all the press. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere and, my God, people in New York will not let you forget it for a second. East Coast Bias™ and all of that.

Except it’s baloney, at least as far as the Hall of Fame goes.

I think it’s fair to say that, yes, if you play in New York, your reputation gets elevated more than if you played elsewhere, but I think there are limits to that what that elevation gets you. You’re more famous if you knock in 100 as the third-best guy on a Yankees team or if you are involved in a notable game or series or controversy as a Met, but it doesn’t mean you get some extra helping hand from the BBWAA five years after you retire.

At least one guy I know, Adam Darowski, has taken a rough look at this on the numbers. He has determined that, by at least his measure, Yankees players are the fourth most underrepresented contingent in Hall of Fame voting. Red Sox are fifth. Mets are in the middle of the pack. It may be more useful to think of this without reference to any numbers, though, and look at it in terms of who is and who isn’t getting some sort of unfair bump.

If there was a New York Premium to Hall of Fame consideration, wouldn’t Bernie Williams, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Elston Howard, Don Mattingly, Roger Maris, Jorge Posada, David Cone, John Franco, Keith Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and a bunch of other guys of that caliber get more support than they’ve historically gotten? I’m not saying all of those guys deserve to be in the Hall, but they all have better cases than Garret Anderson and none of them got in or appear to be getting in any time soon. They are close enough on the merits that, one would think anyway, an aura of New Yorkness surrounding them would have carried them over the line, but it never did.

Meanwhile, almost all of the most borderline Hall of Famers are old, old, old timers who were either poorly assessed by the Veterans Committee or who had the good fortune of being good friends with Frankie Frisch. Again, not a ton of Yankees make that cut. A whole lot of Giants do, but I suppose that’s another conversation. The questionable Hall of Famers of more recent vintage represent guys from all over the big league map. The only Yankee I can think of in relatively recent years who raised eyebrows was Catfish Hunter, and I suspect more of that was based on his legacy with the A’s than with the Yankees, where he really only had one great season.

Here’s what I think happens, practically, with New York players: If you play in New York, merely good and notable performance makes you huge in the moment and in casual remembrance, but your historical legacy is often written down a bit as a function of overall team success. Also — or, maybe, alternatively — it’s a matter of every good Yankees era being defined by such a big meagstar — Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Reggie, Jeter — that the really good, even Hall of Fame-worthy guys who played with them are overlooked to some degree. Which, when you think about it, kinda sucks even worse for them because their megastar teammate is, thanks to the rings, in some ways getting elevated by team success while the lesser stars are denigrated because of it.

Which is not to say that we should cry for New York players. Paul O’Neill will never have to pay for a steak dinner in Manhattan for the rest of his life and, thanks to all of his friends in the press, Andy Pettitte’s obituary won’t mention his PED use at all while Barry Bonds’ obit will mention it in the first graf. It’s getting to the point where if you can simply avoid infamy and not suck for a five-year stretch you can get your number retired and a place in Monument Park.

But New York players aren’t getting unfair consideration in Hall of Fame voting. Indeed, I think they’re probably getting graded a bit too harshly.