How A-Rod can silence his critics
Alex Rodriguez isn't a very likable figure in Boston, but he can save his image in Red Sox Nation by helping the team do one thing: re-sign Mike Lowell
It sounds like a crazy idea at first. When looking at the actual numbers Scott Boras wants for his client, it seems almost completely unrealistic. But as the winter progresses, and the more he gets beat up by the media for his asking price, Alex Rodriguez should consider this next little piece of advice that would certainly win him over in Boston forever.
Work out a deal with the Red Sox that guarantees Mike Lowell remains at third base.
This would take a hefty pay cut from the $30 million a year he'll be asking for this offseason. It would also move A-Rod back to his old position at shortstop. But taking less money and changing positions in order for Theo Epstein to dish out the much-deserved cash and years to Lowell would not only make Rodriguez a hero in Boston, it would silence many of the critics that have labeled him as selfish.
Rodriguez chose to opt out of his 10-year, $252 million deal last Sunday, and it was reported that night during Game 4 of the World Series. While the timing of the announcement was absolutely ludicrous, you can't be at all surprised by his decision to opt out and leave New York.
There were three years and $91 million remaining on his contract, and the Yankees were preparing an extension for A-Rod, which was believed to be close to $30 million a year for five or six years. But leaving the Bronx was something that had to be done sooner rather than later.
It wasn't too long ago that Yankee fans were letting him have it for his 24 errors in 2006. And it's hard to believe they were calling him "Mr. April" this year after putting up record numbers in the first month of the season, and slumping in May. Oh by the way, A-Rod finished the year hitting .314 with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs, and is going to be named A.L. MVP for the third time of his career.
Leaving New York was obvious. The bigger question now is, where will he end up? And how much will he cost?
It is believed that Boras will ask for a contract worth more than $300 million, and more than 10 years. There are only a handful of teams that would be able to afford that, if any. San Francisco was thought to be an option, but general manager Brian Sabean has recently said those chances aren't good.
The Angels, Mets, Tigers, and that's right, the Red Sox are the only teams that seem logical to this point. If Boras doesn't let down his guard, you may be able to cross a few teams off that list.
They won't have to look far to see that Boston is one of the few teams that would be able afford him at such a high price. And with Lowell becoming a free agent, the Red Sox can finally have their man. But after a large outcry - and some sign waving by the captain - calling for the re-signing of the World Series MVP, acquiring A-Rod may not go over too well in Beantown.
The Red Sox will somehow be involved in talks with A-Rod. They were willing to part with Manny Ramirez after the 2003 season in order to get him, and that was due mainly in part to Rodriguez' desire to play in Boston.
Instead, he changed positions and went to New York. You would think that signing Rodriguez would mean Lowell's days in Boston are done, making the best player in baseball a villain to his own crowd.
But back to my original advice.
It doesn't have to be that way. No, A-Rod can't travel back in time and help Mariano Rivera close out Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, which would have propelled him into the World Series with a .368 average, two home runs, five RBIs, and eight runs scored, ridding himself of the "postseason bust" label. He can't go back to Game 2 of this year's ALDS and prevent Joba Chamberlain from losing the series with a few wild pitches, making his postseason tenure in New York at least a series longer.
What he can do now is prove people wrong by not only signing with the Boston Red Sox, but by taking less money, and in the process, telling Epstein he will only sign if Mike Lowell is playing third.
Stop shaking your head at this one for a minute.
We know what Rodriguez and his agent are asking for. But would it be so crazy to suggest that the guy still wants a ring? He's going to have two choices this offseason: One, to go for the money, or two, to be a little more realistic with his asking price and play for a winner. Choosing to take the latter would give a few more teams an opportunity to sign him, but there's really only one team he can sign with that will both, give him the best chance of winning and give him the best chance to stick it to his former team.
No, not the Dodgers. There's no way he's going to play for the guy who batted him eighth in a playoff game against Detroit in 2006. But working out a deal with Boston, all while preventing New York from luring Lowell away with the big bucks would be even better than Curt Schilling's famous "I guess I hate the Yankees now" comment during his introduction to the team.
You're still shaking your head, aren't you?
Don't worry, you're not crazy. It's because you're a realist. You doubt A-Rod would ever agree to take a little less money in order to help another player return to his beloved fans.
But remember, the only reason A-Rod isn't with the Red Sox right now is because Gene Orza and the players' union said he was taking too much of a pay cut.
Scott Boras is what he is, but he's not stupid. He knows Boston will be a major player in acquiring Rodriguez. He knows Red Sox fans hate his client. For Boston to be a top priority, which it will be, A-Rod and Boras must have talked about this. They must have sat down and asked, "How can we sign with the Red Sox, get paid, and not be hated like the previous fan base in New York?"
The answer is simple. Take a step back from asking for a $300 million contract, move back to shortstop, and demand that a deal with Lowell gets done.
Because if not, Lowell could test the free agent market, and he should. This is the first time he's experiencing free agency, and coming off the year he had in 2007, he's going to get both the years and money from someone else.
It might even be the Yankees. But it doesn't have to be. A-Rod, love him or hate him, has that kind of power. He's that good. But will he ever use it?
That remains to be seen.