Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Beware: the Boston Plague has hit New York.

Has food lost its flavor? Is sleep restless and fitful? Do you pace during games, check scoreboards obsessively, or suffer bouts of nausea and despair? Has the gnawing doubt that a run of improbable success quelled momentarily bedevilled you once again?

Alas, with September approaching, the plague has attacked with a vengeance. A trip through two cities haunted with the ghosts of morbid Octobers past has weakened the immune system and invited the infection.

For now, the Yankees have returned home bruised, humbled, and wearied. Though not yet beaten. One month remains. But to survive through September and to salvage the season, the Yankees will have to gather their strength, regain their form, and summon reserves of gut and grit and will to mount one last and final flourish.

But first, they have to man the barricades against an old enemy, poised with confidence, fierce with swagger, free of worry, and hungry for revenge. A Scarlet Letter still adorns their cap and a centennial malice still fills their hearts. Boston has not forgotten the coup de grace New York delivered last August, nor the countless times before then, and will be eager to repay it.

How quickly the roles reverse. Just one year ago it was not the Yankees, but the Red Sox injuries, mismanagement, and unfulfilled expectations plagued. Josh Beckett hadn't realized the potential his acquisiton promised. Age had sapped David Wells and Curt Schilling of the efficacy their names and numbers heralded. And a middle-relief corps stocked with young, overused arms couldn't quite translate onto the mound the buzz generated in the bullpen.

To be sure, the Red Sox bats, on Manny a night, had redeemed them. Oritz's MVP-caliber, late-inning heroics carried the team into August and with the dreadlocked, RBI Machine behind him, the two formed the most lethal tandem in baseball. But at the trade deadline, Cashman outmanuevered his rivals and the Yankees acquired Bobby Abreu, the final ingredient a Red Sox team dependent on offense so desperately needed.

Then the rash of injuries arrived to rob Boston of a post-season and to propel Red Sox management to emabrk upon the type of gluttonous off-season spending spree usually confined to New York. They bought a shortstop and left-fielder. But it was the hundreds of millions spent to corner the market in Japanese arms which reversed Boston's fate. With Okajima bought and Matsusaka delivered, the Red Sox, for the first time in 12 years, seixed the AL East balance of power.

It's an old and simple lesson Boston and New York's eternal battle teaches. '77 and '78 imparted it; '86 - '90 affirmed it; '96 - '03 reinforced it. '07 merely follows the arms race's iron law. That is, the war is decided before the battle is fought. Sure, proficient and powerful bats will bludgeon many an opponent. But over 162 games, the best starting pitching staff wins. PERIOD. And this honor, for now, belongs to Boston.

What's bizzare, actually, is how closely the Yankees have come to resemble their offensive-laden rival's of yore. More specifically, how reminiscent the Yankees' 07 season has been to the Red Sox's of '06. The freakish rash of injuries. The mighty offense led by an MVP candidate. The erratic, ever suspect bullpen. The aged starting rotation. The promising trade that never quite materialized. The callow pitching talent prematurely thrust into a playoff run. God only hopes the '07 Yankees don't reenact its final chapter.

The Wild-Card is still within the Yankees' reach. However, the Yankees will have to hold their own against the Red Sox, stifle the Mariners, and against the Royals, Devil Rays, Blue Jay and Orioles, duplicate their July success, for the playoffs to be within their grasp.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007



Here we go again. Remember when the Baseball Oracles insisted on declaring the Yankees dead in May with the body still registering a pulse? (See below “The Reports of the Yankees Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated.”)

Well, you would think that the Yankees recent resurgence might have chastened them; that it might have dissuaded them from delivering predictions about an unknowable future with an air of infallibility. But it hasn’t.

No, baseball’s fortune-tellers are at it again. First they foresaw a funeral; now, it's a divorce proceeding they prophesy. Alex Rodriguez is leaving the Yankees; the breach is imminent and what's worse, a fait accomplis.

Never mind that the couple has yet to separate. Never mind that the marriage actually looks its most blissful in years. Never mind that-- irony of ironies-- the more affluent of the two spouses can ill afford a split. Never mind, the baseball prophets say, because Alex wants his freedom. He, more importantly, wants more money; and his attorney Scott Boras will accept no less.

Those certain A-Rod will forsake the pinstripes include:

  1. ESP-N’s Jayson Stark (“Think A-Rod won't opt out? Think Again,” April 26, 2007)
  2. ESP-N’s Steve Phillips (ESP-N radio id=2934000): Phillips finds his tarot cards amid women’s apparel. He reads Cynthia Rodriguez’ notorious shirt reading “FUCK YOU” as a omen A-Rod will leave New York. (Of course, Phillips never discloses that he might have an ulterior motive. Few METS fans have forgiven Phillips, the METS' former GM, for refusing to bid on A-ROD when A-ROD was a free-agent in 2000. If A-Rod leaves, however, Phillips could claim vindication, by arguing A-Rod, all along, was ill-equipped to play in New York, whether for the Yankees or the "Me-toos".)
  3. Peter Gammons, Red Sox Nation’s Cassandra, phantasizes A-Rod an Angel or a Red Sox in ‘08 (July 5, 2007 “Michael Kay Show”)(Could Gammons be indulging in wish-fulfillment? After all, A-Rod defection to Bean Town, would finally requite the loss of Ruth.)
  4. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti (Sweeny Blog, To Opt Out or Not? June 21, 2007) (Murti writes, ""Why don't the Yankees offer A-Rod an extension?' Good question. It'll never happen.")
  5. FOX SPORTS' Ken Rosenthal admonishes the Yankees to starting courting replacements. (“Yanks May Need New Third Baseman,” July 19, 2007)
  6. YES Network’s Michael Kay handicaps the odds of A-Rod's exodus at 95%.

The award for the most adamant and vociferous clairvoyants however goes to ESP-N’s Buster Olney. "Buster-damus" has read the tealeaves, the tarot cards, and ostensibly, A-Rod's palm lines. "Buster-damus" has gazed long and hard into his crystal ball and lo and behold, he has seen the future: A-Rod will both opt-out and sign with the Los Angeles Angels or the San Francisco Giants. (“Olney Chat”, July 2nd, Answer to Nick from Boston; See also “Olney Archive”, July 11th). Will a documentary narrated by Orson Welles soon follow?

In fact, Olney has repeated his prophecy so often that on one occasion, he even hallucinated its fulfillment. On July 9th, on ESPN’s morning radio program, Mike and Mike, Olney revealed, “A-Rod has announced that he will opt-out of his contract at the end of the year.” (MVN, July 9th) That A-Rod said no such thing didn't seem to deter Olney. It did frighten the Yankees however. Two days later Yankee officials supposedly told Olney they were receptive to extending A-Rod’s contract to avert the possibility. (“Sources: Yankees Willing To Talk Extension With A-Rod During Season, ESPN.COM, July 11, 2007)


Evidently, the experts have trafficked so long in confidential information that they no longer can distinguish the esoteric from the unknowable and privity from prescience. It is one thing for "Buster-damus" to discover, for example, that X-team is close to acquiring or disposing of Y-player because Olney has sources in one or more GM's offices. It’s quite another for Buster-damus to pretend to fathom what only Alex Rodriguez, Cynthia Rodriguez, and perhaps, Scott Boras, one the one hand, and the New York Yankees, on the other, possibly can know.

(1) That is, first and foremost, does the New York Yankees 3rd-Baseman wish to remain in Pinstripes? Has even considered the matter as yet, let alone, reached a decision? And if A-Rod has, given how guarded he’s been with the press this year, why would he have confided his decision to anyone likely to divulge it when so much money is at stake?

(2) Then, moreover, looms the question of whether the Yankees would sign him as a free agent if he chooses to void his current contract? That is, are the Yankees’ threats that they would not-- their not-so “confidential” disclosures that they only will extend A-Rod’s current contract if he forswears the opt-out clause; that they will NOT pursue him on the free-agent market--does the Yankees’ public position amount to posturing or to a genuine non-negotiable ultimatum?

The trouble is the only people who definitively can answer these two questions aren’t saying. Which means that to believe Buster-damus, one must assume he’s not only clairvoyant but a mind reader besides. Otherwise, all the confident predictions about where A-Rod will play next year amount to idle speculation and gratuitous conjecture masquerading as expert authority and special insight.

Don’t let the pretense of infallibility fool you then. The man sitting in Section 2, Row K, Seat 5 at Yankee Stadium is no less qualified to surmise where A-Rod will play next year than Buster Olney and perhaps, no less apt to be right.


For all the oracular forecasts that A-Rod’s days in the Bronx are numbered, Baseball Seer’s appear to minimize, or to overlook entirely, an obvious omen. While no one can determine the future, need and means go a considerable way in shaping it. And the Yankees need A-Rod, desperately so; and they, of course, are one of the few teams with the financial wherewithal to afford him.

In fact, with Yankee major league roster’s growing age and dwindling production, on the one hand, and their farm system’s raw, callow pitching talent and meager supply of hitting prospects, on the other, A-Rod’s importance to the franchise has only increased over the years. Don’t allow Posada and Rivera’s rings and pedigree to deceive you. Alex Rodriguez has become every bit as indispensable, and because he’s younger, perhaps more so.

True, when the Yankees acquired him in 2003, A-Rod was a luxury. The Yankees had just won their 6th American League pennant in 8 years. Meanwhile, A-Rod, was amassing prolific statistics for a Rangers team that had finished no better than 4th since his eagerly heralded arrival their in 2001. Baseball's best player wanted out. And after negotiations that would have sent him to Boston failed, the Yankees interceded and a marriage of convenience was born.

But the core of player who propelled the Yankees to their last Word Series have aged four years since. And not enough talent has existed in their farm system to replenish the major league roster or to replace the obsolescence. Sure, Cano has ensconced himself at 2nd base; Cabrera, in the outfield, and Wang has emerged as the rotation's ace. But youth in the Bronx is in otherwise scarce supply. By season's end, Damon, Matsui, Abreu will all be 34 or older. Posada turns 36 in August, Mariano Rivera, 38 in November. Giambi is a decrepit 36 and counting.

No, A-Rod is no longer a luxury; he’s a necessity. The immediate future of the Yankees belongs to A-Rod and Jeter, as it once did to Gehrig and Ruth. The Yankees won't excel without both of them, not in the immediate term anyway. (This is not to deprecate Posada and Rivera's significance, only to assume that the Yankees recognize that they can't replace either and will re-sign them. Let's hope Cashman and Co. realize that keeping A-Rod is no less important.)

To appreciate fully A-Rod's importance, one only need imagine the Yankees without him. Imagine Opening Day 2009. The Yankees open their new $1.03 billon Stadium. The crowds descend. Electricity pervades the air. The faithful roar with anticipation. The ceremony to honor the great Yankee past begins. There’s Bernie, Torre, O’Neil; there’s Reggie, Murcer, Nettles, and Gossage. Even an 83-yr-old Berra has made it. They wave and the fans eyes wells with tears as they recall the glories of past. But then the ceremony ends and the immortals exit the stage.

Then Bob Shepard announces the 2009 “Bronx Bombers”:

Damon, DH
Derek Jeter, SS
Robinson Cano, 2b
Jorge Posada, 1B
Hideki Matsui, LF
Aaron Rowand, CF
Melky Cabrera, RF
Wilson Betemit, 3B
Ramon Castro, C

Notice the void? Where’s the 30+ home run bat? Where’s the potent cleanup hitter? Where’s the right-handed power? Where’s the player, in late innings, pitchers fear? Where’s the future Hall of Fame hitter poised, one day, to pass Barry Bonds on the homerun list, the player who single-handedly generates buzz and publicity? Where's the star?

Could this line-up compete with the Red Sox, the formidable Blue Jays, the prolific Devil Rays, or the resurgent Orioles? More importantly, with a YES Network to sustain and 1.03 billion dollar stadium to pay for, could the Steinbrenner family afford mediocrity, could they afford even its possibility? (Remember too that among the Boss’ greatest regrets, he says, is not re-signing Reggie Jackson after the 1981 season. Well, what Yankee since Reggie has been more reminiscent of his magnetic and (polarizing) draw than A-Rod?)

Of course, the appeal of the new Stadium alone will draw fans in the beginning. And it’s also true that season ticket earnings and corporate box revenue, through advance sales, track the previous season’s performance. But come late summer '09, how many fans will brave sweltering hot August days and late September school-nights to watch an average .500 team languishing in the standings? Lest we forget that 52,000 fans a night is not a birthright. Even during the dynasty years, ’96--’03, the Yankees never averaged more than 43,000 a night. Indeed, attendance falls just as easily as it rises. Camden Yards and Jacobs Field don't sell-out anymore for a reason. And as anyone who recently has paid $7.00 for a Yankee Stadium hot dog and $10.00 for its beer, whilst sitting in $17.00 tier seats, can attest—almost 50% of baseball teams’ gate stems from concession sales. The Yankees can’t sell Little Billy a $6.00 Coke while he's watching in his bedroom.

On the other hand, as Barry Bonds demonstrates, mediocrity might not deter Little Billy from dragging Dad to the ballpark if one of his Yankee favorites is nearing homerun milestones. Why else do 5% of the population in the most beautiful city in America flock to AT&T/Pacbell Park to see the woeful Giants play?

That is, A-Rod may not guarantee World Series rings but against the risk of an empty stadium, A-Rod is the best insurance money can buy.


Indeed, the Yankees’ success on the field, their attendance draw, the YES Network’s advertising revenue, the morale of their aging all-stars (would Jeter suffer mediocrity gladly?), the organization’s appeal to coveted free-agents, the profitability of the new stadium—all this depends on Alex Rodriguez remaining. That is because without him, the Yankees will not contend for a championship anytime soon. Certainly not before the skills of Posada, Rivera, Matsui and Damon have long since eroded and/or they’ve hung up their gloves. A-Rod and Jeter, at 33 and 32 years of age, are the bridge between the Yankees past and future, between the aging, veteran position players and its still fledgling pitching prospects.

Furthermore, the Yankees don't have an available replacement for A-Rod at 3d base, nor for his right-handed power and production. Wilson Betemit fills the utility role well but as an everyday infielder, his statistics suggest a 3B equivalent of Andy Phillips, or worse. In the beginning of the season, when the Los Angeles Dodgers played him everyday at 3B, Betemit hit .125.

Meanwhile down on the farm, the Yankees’ best third-base prospect, Marco Vechionacci, is 20 and playing at Single A. Triple-A 1st/3rd baseman Eric Duncan’s stock, on the other hand, has plummeted so low he no longer even grades among the Yankees top 25 prospects in Baseball America’s ranking. (Through 81 games for AAA affiliate Scranton-WB, Duncan has hit .233 with 8 HR, 37 RBI’s, a .316 OBA and a .368 Slugging percentage.)

Nor for the foreseeable future do the Yankees’ have the ability to recoup the loss of A-Rod’s statistics from some combination of prospects at multiple positions. The organization’s best minor-league hitting talent, 19-yr-old Jose Tabata (called “Little Manny” by some) and 20-yr-old Austin Jackson, are raw single A outfielders, at least a year away, if not two or three, from blooming at the major league level.

A bearish free-agent market the next few years casts life without A-Rod in an even bleaker light. The 2007-8 crop at 3d base offers few desirable alternatives: Mike Lowell turns 34 in February and he’s the best of the lot. (Mike Lamb, Russell Branyan, and Abraham Nunez comprise some of the others. Enough said.) http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2000/04/2007-free-agents.html

The 2008-9 cohort of 3d baseman is slightly more promising, but only marginally so. The Yankees would have to choose from a 33-year-old Troy Glaus, a 31-year-old Joe Crede, a 34-year-old Morgan Ensberg and if the Rangers and Braves don’t exercise their options, Hank Blaylock and Chipper Jones. (Don’t count on Blaylock’s availability: the Rangers’ can exercise his option for ‘09 for a paltry $6.5 million; while Chipper turns 37 on April 24, 2009) http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2002/02/2008-09-free-agents.html

In other words, the Yankees can’t replace A-Rod and the one third-baseman remotely worthy of his mantle doesn’t qualify for free agency until 2010. In the meantime, the Yankees’ chances for obtaining Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins without relinquishing the very young pitchers Cashman refuses to trade, Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, ranges somewhere between slim and none.


In fact, the only way the Yankees could compensate for the loss of A-Rod, if not exactly off-set it, would be to sacrifice the 2008 season—the year before they enter their new ballpark, in itself a risk—and then gamble that in the ‘08 off-season, they could sign both Mark Teixeira and Johan Santana or C.C. Sabbathia[1] for a sum approximate to the $30-35 million they would have to pay A-Rod. It’s a perilous gamble, first of all, because the Twins and Indians could sign their aces to contract extensions before then. The Twins and Indians, despite modest payrolls, $70 and $60 million respectively, possess the means to spend more. The Indians’ attendance records in the late 90’ shows they have the fan base to sell-out Jacobs Field when management fields a winning franchise. The Twins, on the other hand, open a new stadium in 2010 and Twins owner Carl Pohlad is a multi-billionaire whom many gauge the wealthiest owner in baseball. That is, the Twins have the means to re-sign Santana, if they only summon the will.

Signing Teixeira is an equally uncertain proposition. Although the Braves don’t expect to re-sign him, Teixeira is a Boras client. Which means, on the one hand, Teixeira is destined for free agency and on the other, means, Teixeira is likely to command a contract as exorbitant and onerous as A-Rod’s. Teixeira, what’s more, has intimated he wants to play for the Orioles.


On the few occasion when baseball's oracles are constrained to justify their conclusion that A-Rod's exodus is imminent, they adduce the following logic:

  1. Scott Boras’s clients never forgo free agency and the opportunity to earn more money.
  2. Boras secures the most money for his clients in free agency by pitting numerous teams against each other on the open market. (The bidding process usually culminates with the eleventh-hour arrival of “a mystery team” ready to pay millions in excess of the last best offer.)
  3. Boras, on the other hand, recoils from closed-markets, like the Matsuzaka negotiation, where a single team bids against itself, for obvious reasons. A closed-market confines negotiation to a single team, reduces his leverage to take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums, curbs the inflation natural to the auction process, and of course, forecloses the mystery suitor.
  4. Ergo, A-Rod will decline to entertain a contract extension (the consummate closed market) and instead will void his current contract and opt for free agency.
  5. The Yankees, true to their word, will refuse to compete for A-Rod’s services in an open market.
  6. The Angels, Dodgers and/or Giants, in turn, will bid $300 million and A-Rod will flee to the West Coast, joining Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham’s pantheon of infamy.

Their pretension to understand baseball economics notwithstanding, baseball's prognosticator overlook a rather glaring detail. In its financial terms, A-Rod’s contract is sui generis. It's the only contract in baseball that two teams, not one, pay. And this unique wrinkle enables the Yankees to offer approximately $30 million more than any other team on the open market without having to pay the balance. More importantly, it enables Boras to earn more for his client through securing A-Rod an extension than by his opt-ing out and filing for free-agency.

I explain why below.


When the Yankees acquired A-Rod in 2004, remember, the Rangers’ owner, Tom Hicks, signed a separate, collateral agreement, committing the Rangers to pay $67 million of the $179 million still outstanding on Rodriguez's contract. This means that under the current terms of A-Rod’s contract, which runs through 2010, the Yankees pay approximately $16-17 million of his annual salary. The Rangers pay the rest, about $9-10 million each year. This means that of the $67 million, then, still due Alex for 2008-2010 under his current contract, the Rangers owe $28.7 million.


  • 2008-10 A-Rod’s earns $81million ($27 million annually)
  • 2008-10 Rangers pay $28.7 million (app. $9.57 million annually)
  • 2008-10 Yankees pay $52.3 million (app. $17.43 million annually)

See Cot’s Baseball Contracts: http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/12/alex-rodriguez_01.html

However, if A-Rod opt-outs on November 10, 2007[2], his current contract is voided and the Hicks’ collateral agreement perishes along with it.

Why does this matter, you ask? Well, because Boras, in this one instance, actually stands to make MORE money for his client if his client declines to void his contract and negotiates a contract extension instead. The confluence of two anomalies in A-Rod's contract status suggest this result: (i) as, I observed above, on this one occasion, the team granting him the extension, the Yankees, can offer A-Rod $30 million more than they actually would have to pay; and (ii) the market for A-Rod is comparatively smaller than for other players because, unlike the conventional free agent, very few teams can afford to pay one player $25 million a year, let alone the $32-35 million Boras recently said his player is worth.

Let's consider the implications of the second anomaly first-- that is, A-Rod's market problem. Now, to most major league players, it is impossible to assign a market value until the player actually enters the free agent marketplace and multiple teams bid against each other for his services. This is why Boras clients almost always pursue free-agency rather than sign contract extensions, even where the player hopes to remain with his current team. The reason is because there is always some team that realizes it can't land the player without offering millions above what the next highest bidder is prepared to pay, thus inflating the price his former team initially contemplated.

The wrangling surrounding Bernie Williams' contract, for example, illustrates why Boras clients choose free agency even when they wish to remain with their current team. Bernie, all along, wanted to remain a New York Yankee but to extend his contract, the Yankees were willing to offer no more than 5 years at $60 million. It wasn't until after Bernie entered the free agent market that his market value soared to above $80 million. To entice him to play for his rival, the Red Sox had to offer seven years and $80+ million, which in turn, compelled the Yankees to raise their offer $27 million to retain Bernie. (Johnny Damon, on the other hand, dramatizes the inherent risk Boras' brinksmanship entails. Even though Damon wanted to stay in Boston, the Red Sox, in the end, refused to match the Yankees' offer.)

But neither Bernie's nor Damon's contract were confined by a market ceiling. Their market value accordingly was whatever a team was willing to bid. A-Rod's market value is far less elastic. First, there are far fewer franchises that can afford a $25 million-a-year player, let alone the $32-35 million a year Boras recently claimed A-Rod is worth-- far fewer than could pay Bernie or even Barry Zito, for that matter, $20 million annually. Second, as the games' highest paid player there's only so much higher his $25 million-a-year salary can climb before it outprices the marketplace. That is, the market value for A-Rod, unlike for a Bernie Williams, say, is finite. What is that sum? I don't know. But it can't be much more than the $25 million-a-year A-Rod currently earns. Figure the market can bear an increase in A-Rod's salary roughly equivalent to how much the sport's aggregate revenues have increased from 2000, when A-Rod signed his current contract, to 2007.

A-Rod, then, is the one player whose maximum value Boras can estimate reasonably BEFORE contract negotiations begin. In fact, Boras already has calculated it. He has announced that Alex is worth between $32-35 million a year.[3]

This is where the second anomaly enters the equation. For the $30 million subsidy the Yankees receive stands to profit Boras' client more through a contract extension than through an open-bidding process.

Let’s illustrate. Say Boras gauges that the highest bid A-Rod could command as a free agent is $280 million for 8 years ($35 million annually), because at least one team among the Angels, Giants, Tigers, Dodgers, and/or the Red Sox can pay him that much, and what's more, one of them is prepared to offer it to him. (And lest you think that’s impossible because Boras can’t ascertain this without suborning a tampering violation, recall the J.D. Drew episode.) That is, Boras concludes that if A-Rod voids his contract, his client could earn, at most, $35 million annually for 8 years for a total contract value of $280 million.

Boras, in turn, tells the Yankees that to retain Alex, the Yankees would have to pay him commensurately. Hence, he expects a 5-year contract extension for at least $199 million.

CONTRACT EXTENSION: PROPOSAL 1: Why Hicks' $ Benefits the Yankees

  • $175 million for 2011-2015 (avg. annual salary $35 million)
  • $24 million raise for 2008-2010 (avg. annual raise $8 million)
  • Total extension for 2011-2015 = $199 million
  • Total amount still owed 2008-10 = $81 million (avg. annually $27 million)
  • Total 08’-’15 = $280 million (8 years, $35 million per)
  • 'o8-'15 Yankees pay $251.3 million
  • '08-'15 Rangers pay $28.7 million

The key here is that an extension preserves the terms of A-Rod’s current contract under which Tom Hicks pays $28.7 million of the $81 million still due A-Rod through 2010. As a consequence, the Yankees get for about $250 million what every team on the open market would have to pay $280.

But the Hicks wrinkle benefits Boras and A-Rod as well. That is, Boras can earn almost $28.7 million above the market rate, if he convinces the Yankees simply to match it. Suppose Boras informs the Yankees, for example, that A-Rod doesn’t really like New York as much as he does California. So to compete with the Angels and/or the Giants’ likely offer of $280, the Yankees will have to grant him a 5-yr $229 million extension to ensure A-Rod earns $310 million for 8 years.


  • $ 205 million for 2011-2015 (avg. annual salary $41 million)
  • $24 million raise for 2008-2010 (avg. annual raise $8 million)
  • Total extension for 2011-2015 = $229 million
  • Total amount still owed 2008-10 = $81 million (avg. annually $27 million)
  • Total 08’-’15 = $310 million (8 years, $38.75 million per)
  • 08'-'15 Yankees pay $281.3 million
  • '08-'15 Rangers pay $28.7 million

The reason why Boras can demand as much is because he knows the Yankees, under such a circumstance, wouldn’t have to pay any more than the market rate. That is, for convincing the Yankees to pay what every other team would pay in the open market ($280 million), Boras earns $28.7 million more for his client than the market otherwise would command. Quite a bargain!

The more likely scenario is one in which both Boras and the Yankees profit from the Hick’s subsidy. Ever the shrewd lawyer, Boras avoids overplaying his hand, calculating that the Yankees would balk at paying market value for a player they’ve had under contract for less than market value for the past four years. So Boras offers to split the difference. Instead of $199 million extension or a $229 million extension, he asks the Yankees for one in between: let’s say, 5 years at $215 million.

CONTRACT EXTENSION: Proposal 3: Mutual Advantage

  • $191 million for 2011-2015 (avg. annual salary $38.2 million)
  • $24 million raise for 2008-2010 (avg. annual raise $8 million)
  • Total extension for 2011-2015 = $215 million
  • Total amount still owed 2008-10 = $81 million (avg. annually $27 million)
  • Total 08’-’15 = $296 million (8 years, $37million per)
  • 08'-'15 Yankees pay $267.3 million
  • 08-'15 Rangers pay $28.7 million

In this scenario, both Boras and the Yankees gain. Boras wins $16 million more than the $280 million the market otherwise would value his client. He also can boast that under the extension A-Rod’s annual salary increases $10 million (from $27 million to $37 million) and that he, Boras, consequently, secured the first (and probably, the last) $38 million-a-year player. Meanwhile the Yankees benefit as well. They get to congratulate themselves for paying less than market value for A-Rod-- paying $267.3 million to a player actually worth $280 million.


Now, this isn’t to say that financial incentives alone will induce A-Rod to re-negotiate his contract with the Yankees. If A-Rod learned anything from his odyssey in Texas, it is that no amount of money can buy a player contentment-- certainly not for 10% more on the dollar. The $30 million more the Yankees can offer him on a contract likely to total $280 million is, by itself, unlikely to sway him if he dislikes playing for the Yankees or he no longer can abide New York.

Lord knows he has reason to. The fan’s abuse. The relentless media scrutiny. The double standards by which he’s judged; the indignities and outrages he has had to endure. The New York Post’s prurience. Jeter’s snubs. Torre’s disfavor. Yankee management’s aloofness.

Indeed, New York, to its discredit, hasn’t exactly embraced one of baseball’s future immortals or showered him the adulation and gratitude his accomplishments warrant.

A-Rod wins an MVP in 2005, yet fans jeer him the following season because he only hits 35 homeruns and 121 RBIs.

In the 2004 ALDS, A-Rod goes 8 for 19, a .421 AVG and .476OBA, with 1 homerun and 3 RBI’s (to say nothing of the impressive post-season statistics A-Rod earned while a Seattle Mariner: 18 for 51, a .353BA, with 3HRs and 8 RBIs). Yet his critics still ignore the foregoing statistics and selectively cite his 2 for 15 performance in the 2005 ALDS and his 1 for 14 performance in 2006 to prove that A-Rod doesn't perform in the post-season.

(It never occurs to A-Rod bashers that 39 AB's simply may pose too small a sampling size to assess a player's performance. Over equivalently small post-season stretches, for example, other so-called "clutch" Yankee players have similarly floundered: (i) through the six post-season series preceding the 1998 World Series, Tino Martinez, as a Yankees was 18 for 96 (.188 AVG) with 1 HR; and (ii) even "Mr. November" himself, Derek Jeter, went 6 for 44 between Game 1 of the 2001 ALCS and Game 7 of the World Series.)

No, no matter how preternatural his achievements, A-Rod can't seem to win over his detractors. Not even this season. A-Rod’s offensive production can carry the Yankees through the first 3 months of the schedule; A-Rod can hit dramatic, game-winning homeruns against the Orioles, the Indians, and the Red Sox; he can go 15 for 31, a .484AVG with a .579 OBA, 7 HRs and 19RBIs in the ninth-inning through 112 games; he can become the youngest player in major league history to reach 500 HRs and the first, ever, to hit at least 35 HR and 100RBIs ten seasons in a row; he can have a 2007 season that, in its late-inning heroics, awe-inspiring numbers, and record-setting feats daily baffle the imagination: he can accomplish all this and hostile talk-show hosts like ESPN radio’s Steven A. Smith can opine, on the very day he reached 500 HR’s no less, “I don’t consider Alex Rodriguez a great player until he performs under pressure… until he performs in the post-season.”

That A-Rod already has Stephen A. Smith refuses to heed.


Of course, the jeering, ungrateful fans; the petty, invasive media; the staid clubhouse with the martinet-like rules and unremitting pressure to win may, indeed, make the appeal of an Arcadian California, where a golden sunlight bakes the brain and robs fans and press of all aggression and animus, too beguiling to resist. Could the seers be right?

Or does A-Rod crave something more permanent than prodigious sums of money and unconditional adulation? Does he have a future to consider and a legacy to cultivate? When remorseless Age exacts its mortal toll-- when the bat slows and the arm weakens and the legs fail-- when the incessant travel, the oppressive heat, the fickle crowds begin to pall and retirement beckons like a seductress' warm, nurturing embrace-- what, THEN, will A-Rod do? Does he want a Second Act, outside baseball, or will he be content to exit the stage and retreat from the limelight into the reflected glow of memory-- to the abstraction of record books, the graven images of museums, and the tepid affection of family?

[1] The Padres, Angels, and Dodgers all retain options for the ’09 season on Peavy, Lackey, and Penny, respectively.
[2] A-Rod can opt-out after the 2008 and 2009 season but only under very specific conditions. The Yankees can avert this contingency by increasing his salary to $32 million. Or in the unlikely event, some other free agent position player has secured a contract that pays him more than A-Rod earns annually, the Yankees would have to raise A-Rod’s annual salary $1 million above his.
[3] (Coincidentally enough, the morning before A-Rod hit his 500th homerun, Boras told Peter Abraham, the Yankees’ beat reporter for The Jersey Journal, that Alex is worth between $32-35 million a year. See Day 110, http://yankees.lohudblogs.com/)