Friday, November 16, 2007


"No battle is ever won. They're not even fought. The Battlefield only reveals to man his own folly and despair and Victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools." --William Faulkner

No one likes lawyers very much; less so, agents.

Scott Boras, however, arouses in fans, reporters, critics, and of course, baseball's owners and GMs, an animosity usually reserved for tyrants, subversives, and crooks. His less than scrupulous tactics explains some of it. His arrogance, presumption, and cynicism certainly doesn't help. However, sheer envy accounts for much of it as well. The resentment testifies to the skill. After all, Boras doesn't disguise his ambition to be the best at what he does. And his adversaries' (and rivals') hostility largely proves that Boras has succeeded. Indeed, the man who dominates his field, as A-Rod does his, should take pride in having earned the unalterable hatred of some of the most competitive, rapacious, and frugal business tycoons in the country-- men who since the days of Charlie Comiskey have lied, stonewalled, and colluded to preserve their stranglehold on the profits Boras has managed to re-distribute among the people most responsible for generating them, his clients.

It's no accident, then, that the sports media has crowned Boras baseball's most influential and notorious agent. However, as he recently revealed in a less than flattering New Yorker profile ("The Extortionist" October 29, 2007), Boras actually considers himself a lawyer, first and foremost. To his mind, the lawyer's mantle fits more aptly with his conception of himself as a learned professional driven, above all, by high-minded purpose.

The media, in contrast, prefers to see Boras through its own narrow and jaundiced prism. Baseball Columnist, Bill Madden, for example, would reduce the man he calls "the Avenging Agent," to some comic-book crusader exacting revenge for a minor-league baseball career derailed by injuries and thwarted by inadequate talent. First of all, the caricature exaggerates Boras' actual modest expectations for his baseball career. From which he wanted little more than a practical way to finance his education, first through a college scholarship and later, a subsidy for his law school tuition. And by this measure, Boras can count his minor-league career a resounding success. Secondly, by evoking the vindicitve malcontent who wishes to bankrupt his former bossess, Madden's caricature trivializes the baseball's ignoble legacy of exploitation, graft, conspiracy, fraud, wage-fixing and labor scabs against which Boras fights.

Anyway, what ultimately motivates Boras's crusade is far less important than how he envisions it and what he intends it to accomplish. Which in the modern era is to right the injustice that has enabled baseball ownership to veil their books in secrecy, to siphon undeclared revenue streams, to skirt anti-trust laws, to trade on political patronage, to beggar minor-league players, to deny amateur's legal representation, and to amass exorbitant profits they neither account for nor confine to their proportionate contribution to the game.

Nonetheless, the dynamic of the crusade also explains how and why Boras' mission could so easily could founder in overzealousness, hubris and miscalculation, as it did this time. Boras bungled the A-Rod negotiations and cost his client at least $21 million, if not more, because the incandescence of his righteousness blinded him. Zeal ensnared him in the missionary lawyer's trap. Cause eclipsed client. Boras lost sight of his paramount duty--to fulfill Alex Rodriguez' personal wishes and to advance his limited self-interest.

You see, the legal advocate often strives to vindicate two interests simultaneously, interests that can converge but often as not conflict-- the interest of his cause and the interest of his client. To illustrate, witness the infamous OJ case. One the one hand, when Johnnie Cochran played the "race card," he did so for the simple reason that appealing to his preponderantly black jury's racial grievance promised his best chance for his client's acquittal. Nonetheless, Cochran's indignation at the LA law enforcement's ignominious record of racism animated him as well. Cochran sought to establish a legal precedent for jury nullification where endemic racism has tainted the criminal investigation. Acquitting OJ, despite the incriminating evidence against him would achieve a farther-reaching objective. It would signal to the City of LA that the racism which pervades their police department, unless eradicated, will forfeit their officer's legal authority, void the legitimacy of the arrests they make, and risk exoneration of the guilty they accuse. Serving OJ served Cochran's cause. Or perhaps, more accurately, Cochran's cause served OJ. In either case, the interests of client and cause intersected.

What does Johnny Cochran have to do with Scott Boras? Well, Boras, a self-styled labor lawyer, confronted a similar dichotomy between client and cause in his representation of A-Rod. Only this time the two goals diverged. And Boras was remiss in not subordinating his larger cause to A-Rod's avowed interest.

We can assume Alex Rodriguez retained Boras for the reason every performer seeks representation from his agent-- to maximize his share of the money others earn from his performance. The actor from the studio. The musician from the record company. The ball player from the owner.

Accordingly, Boras claimed Alex Rodriguez, as the best player in baseball, deserved a 12-year contract in excess of $350 million. The figure wasn't arbitrary. Far from concealing his logic, Boras recounted it to the point of tedium. In 2000, the year the Rangers signed A-Rod to a 10-year, $252 million dollar contract, major league baseball was $3 billion dollar industry. Since then it's nearly doubled, to approximately a $6 billion dollar industry in 2007. From this figure, Boras, as such, extrapolated that Alex Rodriguez was worth almost double his 2000 compensation package or around $400 million. Now there are a number of obvious flaws in Boras' logic. The obvious one being that A-Rod 2000 contract far exceeded what the market could bear, as the Rangers problems in paying it subsequently proved. Moreover, no contract executed over the last seven years even nearing its average annual value, and only Manny Ramirez's breaching the $20 million+ threshold.

Still, distorted math is not what propelled Boras in the end, who probably understood the logical flaws in his economic model anyway. No, what drove Boras to miscalculate was that he allowed his agenda to subsume his client's. Sure, Boras wanted to secure for A-Rod the largest contract and the most money possible, as he does for every player. He counseled A-Rod to void his contract and to declare free-agency because in most instances, the competitive bidding of the marketplace sets value and inflates price. But like Cochran saw in OJ, Boras saw in A-Rod an opportunity to set a precedent. A precedent that would benefit all his clients and consistent, moreover, with Boras' idea of players' just deserts.

That Boras had another agenda was evident to anyone with enough patience to listen to his tedious and pedantic lectures. At every public opportunity to discuss A-Rod's contract, Boras cited, ad nauseam, baseball's continuing exponential revenue growth. Which he traced to all the new revenue streams the owners have tapped over last decade in new stadiums equipped with corporate luxury suites and more recently, through the regional sports networks and alliances with foreign baseball leagues. To say nothing of the tremendous boom in attendance, broadcast revenue, overseas merchandising, and overall profit the owners have reaped as a consequence-- profits, in Boras' estimation, and many others as well, the owners haven't shared with their players.

This explains why Boras devised a term of art to characterize A-Rod's worth: IPN, standing for iconic magnetism, historic performance, and network value. The network value comprising the key of course. Boras persisted in arguing that A-Rod was worth hundreds of millions to one of the 25-odd teams who had not founded regional sports networks to broadcast their games. Presumably, with A-Rod's contract, Boras intended to set the precedent for a player garnering a share of the profit a team's sports' network generates.

(Boras has a valid point here, incidentally. Regional sports' networks founded on broadcasting a local baseball team potentially enable owners to segregate, if not conceal, the revenue they otherwise would have to declare. To illustrate, when MSG paid the Yankees $40 million annually for the right to broadcast Yankee games, the Yankees could not deny that their operating revenues included $40 million above and beyond the gait. Such is not necessarily the case with the YES Network. The Yankees own 36% of YES, but it's a separate legal entity. Who's to say whether YES pays the Yankees a fair-market rate for broadcast rights?)

The problem, of course, is that A-Rod, evidently, didn't want to serve as the self-sactificing martyr in Boras' grand design. He wanted to play for the Yankees, plain and simple, and to extract as much money from them as Boras could. Boras, it seems, persuaded A-Rod that to accomplish as much, he had to opt-out first, enable the bidding process to begin, and then persuade the Yankees to match the offer. Presumably, if some team like the Giants or Angels interested in founding a sports network offered A-Rod some share in its profits, the Yankees would have to respond likewise.

Only it soon became clear the Yankees had other ideas. They weren't bluffing about the consequences A-Rod risked in opting-out. The Front-Office was set to replace him. And once Cashman's pursuit of Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell, Miguel Tejada or Scott Rolen accelerated, A-Rod realized his interests and Boras' agenda conflicted. He wasn't going to play somewhere other than the Bronx just so his lawyer could realize his mission to transform baseball's landscape. And who could blame A-Rod for refusing to play the standard-bearer? Who could blame him for refusing the the sacrifice Boras' justice would have exacted? He did that once and he ended up languishing in Texas.

So A-Rod returned to the Yankees and agreed to forfeit the $21 million subsidy his opt-out denied them. While Boras' zeal, perhaps for the first time, cost his client instead of enriching him.

And so this Thanksgiving, we Yankee fans gives thanks that baseball mirrors America, where more often than not, over collective justice, self-interest will prevail.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Evidently, the Yankees have resorted to damage control yet again.

Just as King George's Court Reporters tried to discredit Joe Torre in the wake of the public outcry his ouster created, they've spearheaded the movement to depict A-Rod and Boras as greedy, venal mercenaries and to defend the Yankee Front-Office's decision, as such, to shun them.

At first Cashman Inc. wanted Yankees fans to believe that the reason the organization would spurn A-Rod, if he voided his contract, was because the Yankees would lose the $30 million subsidy the Rangers' committed to pay them through the contract's final three years. Lose the best player in baseball over $30 million-- that is, $3-million-a-year over the 10-year contract to which the Yankees planned to extend him?

Well, Cashman's argument, never especially compelling to begin with, became even more untenable once A-Rod actually opted-out. First, a few reporters revealed that the so-called $30 million dollar subsidy was really only $21 million-- because of the $30 million Tom Hicks still owed under A-Rod's former contract, A-Rod himself was entitled to $9 million of it.

What's more, once reporters began to consider the unpalatable alternatives for replacing him, Yankee fans wanted to know why $21 million-- a sum less than Kei Igawa's posting fee and Roger Clemens 2007 salary and commensurate to Giambi's '07 and '08 earnings-- should preclude the Yankees, at the very least, from negotiating with A-Rod notwithstanding.

Wasn't the business of winning more important than the Yankees' wounded pride or the so-called "credibility" with future free-agents the organization claimed it would squander if it reneged on its warning? And in any case, what credibility were they talking about? Wasn't A-Rod's situation sui generis? The Yankees don't have any other players on their payroll with opt-out clauses. And when was the last the Yankees announced before free-agency started that they wouldn't negotiate with one of their own players if he exercised this right? Answer: NEVER.

So as the Yankees' ostracism of A-Rod increasingly seemed more punitive than prudent, King George's Court, through their press agents, began to pander a few more justifications to bolster their case. The first was that by opting-out, A-Rod indicated he no longer wished to play in New York. Which, A-Rod, then, refuted through his press agents and "unnamed sources close to him" and the spuriousness of which Boras, moreover, exposed by adducing Bernie Williams' example. Was Bernie Williams, in 1998, Boras asked, was any less loyal to the Yankees by declaring free-agency and nearly signing with the Boston Red Sox? No, of course, not. Nor is Mariano Rivera for recently reminding everyone that he would consider playing for Joe Torre in LA.

So with the valence of the "Alex doesn't want to be Yankee" dwindling, the King George's Press returned to their favorite bogeyman-- the money.

Why so few baseball writers ever condemn, let alone question, the amount of money the owners earn baffles this writer? Baseball players actually work for their salaries. What contribution does an owner make? It's not as though baseball owners assume some great risk in purchasing a team. They own a closed-market business. Don't players deserve increases commensurate to the astronomical rise in profit the owner have garnered over the last decade from the advent of luxury suites, sold-out ballparks, local television networks, and a rising gate.

Still, reporters' prefer to decry escalating player salaries. So, perhaps, it wasn't surprising when the new reason they offered for the Yankees to shun A-Rod focused on the financial difference between the contract extension A-Rod rebuffed and the cost of signing him as a free-agent. A cost, Jayson Stark observed, wasn't $30 million-- the amount commensurate to the Rangers subsidy-- no, it was actually $203 million. What, $203 million? Where did that come from? Let's see.

Bill Madden, one of King George's favorite leakers when he wishes to replace his manager and unregenerate Boras-hater (Madden calls him "The Avenging Agent"), illuminates.

Madden's premise is that A-Rod now will cost any team he signs with a minimum of $300 million. The reason: the total extension package the Yankees were prepared to offer A-Rod would have netted him at least $300 million. According to Madden, an extension for A-Rod that retained the terms of the old contract would have looked as follows: (See NY Daily News, "Just Shea No," November 11, 2007

'08-'10 Rangers Contract $91 million ($32M for '08, $32M for '09, $27M for '10)
'11-'17 Yankees' Extension $203 million ($29 million per year for 7 years)

TOTAL NET WORTH TO A-ROD = $294 million

Following Madden's logic one-step further, ESPN's Jayson Stark purports to account for this $203 million premium the Yankees now would have to pay to sign A-Rod. To his credit, Stark's calculations account for an additional variable many other commentators missed. A-Rod, potentially, costs the Yankees more than any other team, apart from the Red Sox, because the Yankees' current payroll exceeds the luxury tax threshold. As such, the Yankees would have to pay a 40% surcharge on A-Rod's annual salary if their pay roll exceeds $155 million for 2008, $162 million for 2009, $170 million for 2010, and $178 million for 2011.

Accordingly, Stark calculates the "$203 million difference" as follows:

Yankees Proposed Extension: 5 years, $145 million
Rangers' Contract: 3 years, $81 million
A-Rod's Take: 8 years, $226 million (28.25M per year)
Yankees' Luxury Tax Premium: $226m + ($226m * 40%) - ($30m TX subsidy)
Total = $287 million

A-Rods' Demand: 12 years, $350m
Luxury Tax: ($350m * 40%)
Yankees' Total Bill: $490 million
Total Difference for Yankees = $203 million

But before we address the two basic fallacies Stark's analysis betrays, let us update his calculation with the figures Madden provides. Remember: Madden reveals, on the one hand, that (1) the Yankees were prepared to offer A-Rod a full 7-year extension, not just five; (2) that the Yankees only receive $21 million of Hicks' $30 million outstanding obligation; and on the other (3) that Boras, despite demanding $350 million, could accept a minimum of $300 million for A-Rod and still claim a victory.

Stark's Numbers with Madden Addendum
Yankees Proposed Contract Extension: 7 years, $203 million
Rangers' Contract: 3 years, $81 million
A-Rod's Take: 10 years, $284 million (28.4M per year)
Yankees' Luxury Tax Premium: $284m + ($284m * 40%) - ($21m TX subsidy)
Total = $377 million

A-Rods' Minimum: 10 years, $300m
Luxury Tax: (300m * 40%) = $120m
Yankees' Total Bill: $420 million
Total Difference for Yankees: $43 million

Now, $43 million is not exactly $203 million. But let's concede for the sake of argument that Boras already has a suitor willing to pay his ransom of $350 million and the Yankees would have to match it to retain A-Rod. (Under such a circumstance the Stark difference would rise from $43 million to $113 million.) The problem is that two assumptions still plague Stark's argument. One of which is spurious, another of which is indeterminate.

Stark's extrapolations assume (i) that the Yankees' payroll will exceed the luxury tax threshold for the entire duration of A-Rod's contract and (ii) that following the expiration of the current labor agreement which runs through 2011, the owner and player will renew the luxury tax. The corollary assumption to which is that the Yankees payroll for the last six years of A-Rod's contract ('12-'17) still will exceed the height to which the new labor agreement raises it.

(This is to say nothing about another flaw in Stark's argument. The Yankees receive some percentage of the luxury tax they pay to defray the cost of the new stadium they're building.)

Stark's first fallacy subsumes its second. Evidently, Stark didn't look beyond the 2008 season in assuming the Yankees would exceed the luxury tax threshold throughout the duration of A-Rod's next contract. Because had he, he would have come to a more equivocal conclusion.
After the 2008 season, the Yankees will discard the following contracts:

1) Giambi $22 million
2) Abreu $16 million
3) Mussina $11 million
4) Pavano $11 million
5) Farnsy $5.5million
6) Pettitte $16 million (provided he doesn't retire this year)

Total Lost after 2008 season = $81.5 million

(I will assume that the loss of other players beyond the players listed above following 2008 will off-set the increases the Yankees will incur from the rise in salaries of arbitration-eligible players like Wang and Cano)

ESPN calculated the Yankees 2007 payroll to be $195 million

So let's estimate their 2008 and 2009 payrolls, should the Yankees change their mind and sign A-Rod. In 2008, with A-Rod, the Yankees payroll would rise as follows:

1) + $1million Posada's Contract
2) + $4.5million Mariano (I assume Rivera re-signs for 3 years at $45 million)
3) +$1 million Abreu
4) +$1 million Pavano

Total Increase w/o A-Rod = app. $8million

A-Rod Increase = $14million ($30 million '08- $16 million)

Aggregate increase for '08 = $8million = $14million = $22 million

  • Estimated 2008 Yankee payroll with A-Rod = $215 million
  • Estimated 2009 Yankees payroll with A-Rod = $215 - $81 (expiring contracts) = $134 million

Which means, all else being equal, the Yankees would be about $28 million under the luxury tax threshold for 2009. Two implications follow: (i) if the Yankees don't incur the luxury tax after 2008, the cost differential of signing A-Rod on the open market versus extending his contract drops to little more than the $21million Rangers' subsidy and (ii) that even with paying A-Rod $35m-per-year, the Yankees potentially would have about $28 million dollars at their disposal to spend on Johan Santana, before MLB would assess a luxury tax in 2009.


In fact, should the Yankees change their mind, A-Rod's contract, along with Posada's, Rivera's, and Jeter's, would remain the only long-term contracts the Yankees would have to pay past 2009, when the Yankees' luxury tax threshold would rise to $170 million and in 2011, to $178 million.

So can the Yankees afford A-Rod? It's difficult to evaluate definitively, of course, because the Yankees, like every other major league team, don't have to account publicly for their revenue and indulge in creative book-keeping to minimize the profits they declare. Still, the Yankees enter a new stadium in 2009 with 60 corporate luxury boxes and suites and seats throughout the ballpark whose prices many estimate will rise from 75% to 400% in addition to commanding "a licensing fee" surcharge for season-ticket holders. Whether they maximize this earning potential will depend on whether fans fill the ballpark and spend their money on concessions and souvenirs, which in turn, will hinge, in the long-term, on whether the Yankees win.

So, once again, can the Yankees afford to re-sign A-Rod? To which a Talmudic answer seems most apropos: i.e., Can the Yankees afford not to?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


"Hell hath no fury like a Steinbrenner scorned"

Villify him, if you will. Deplore him, if you must. Renounce the mercenary temptress who stole your affections and trampled your heart.

After all, you embraced him and he rebuffed you. You defended him and he betrayed you. You let him seduce you; and then when you offered him millions to stay, he spurned your calls.

But then, please, let the indignation, recrimination, and malice subside. And then, once you've shed the scorned lover's bravado; once your wounded pride has healed, ask yourself whether your beloved Yankees can prosper without him?

Because if you're honest with yourself, if you eschew the temptation to overconfidence and self-deception; you'll have to confront the stark reality. The Yankees cannot win a championship next year without A-Rod's production. Worse, the remedies readily available for assuaging A-Rod's loss can cripple the Yankees more, in the end, than the loss itself.

Alas, A-Rod and Boras knew exactly what they were doing when the AL MVP voided his contract: the Yankees need A-Rod far more than A-Rod needs the Yankees. And all the threats King George's Men issued over the past three months only reaffirmed where the balance of power rested. For an ultimatum is a sure sign of weakness. More dangerous still, ultimatums invite defiance or reprisal.

Reveal to A-Rod once or twice the consequence of opting-out and the Yankees, perhaps, deter him. Repeat the threat multiple times, as the Yankees' hierarchy did, and you almost certainly provoke him. Because no one can acquiesce to an ultimatum without surrendering his self-respect. A-Rod only demonstrated that he was less desperate to remain a Yankee than the Yankees were to retain him.

As well they should have been, because A-Rod is no less indispensable to the Yankees future than the Yankees other free-agents, Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada and perhaps, more so.

Lose Mariano and the Yankees, at least have Joba Chamberlain to stanch the bleeding. (Not that the body still won't ache.)

Lose Andy Pettitte and the Yankees can turn to their farm system's one surplus commodity-- young pitching. Or they can wait a year; and with the bonanza of elite starters likely available, the Yankees can go shopping and purchase a substitute in the marketplace. (Following the 2008 season, Santana, Sabathia,Sheets will be free-agents. And if their team don't exercise their options and Peavy and Lackey will join them and Burnett, too, if like A-Rod, he exercises his opt-out.)

Lose Posada? Well, the Yankees will suffer and profoundly at that. In fact, of the dynastic threesome, the franchise can afford to lose their catcher least. Nonetheless, a catcher as prolific as Posada is an anomaly, more windfall than necessity, in the long run. All else remaining the same, the Yankees would survive with Jose Molina, Yorvit Torrealba, or Michael Barrett behind the plate for a year or two until either Francisco Cervelli or Jesus Montero, their two top minor-league catchers, displaces him.

But tragically, all else is not equal. Because with the player responsible for 17% of their runs last seaason, the hitter who accounted for 14% of their total bases, the bat that comprised their sole source of right-handed power, the Yankees refuse to negotiate. It's one thing to shun a player because his price exceeds his worth. Quite another, when pride, spite, and stubborness forestall rational decision-making. But this is precisely what the Steinlittles current stance betrays. They've ostracized A-Rod in a fit of pique. Did A-Rod court banishment, by refusing, when he did, to discuss an extension? Of course, he did. But Scott Boras is the Godfather of agents. With him, it's never personal; it's only business. Would that the Steinlittles emulated him. Because in their vindictiveness, the Steinlittles harm themselves above all.

Have the Yankees record-breaking attending records induced complacency or overconfidence? Do the Steinlittles honestly believe they will draw 4,000,000 fans with the Yankees languishing in third place on September 1st? (Sure, 50,000 fans may attend Yankees Stadium's final farewell ceremonies, but ask Larry Lucchino how many fans braved muggy September nights in 2006 after the Red Sox fell out of playoff contention.)

And a forlorn September is precisely what the Yankees now face. Indeed, A-Rod's departure, if irrevocable, threatens to push the Yankees to the precipice of mediocrity, the lesser of all the teams they barely surpassed to make the playoffs this year-- a slightly more expensive, slightly more productive incarnation of the '07 Blue Jays or Twins. Because whether the Yankees' front-office acknowledges it or not, the Yankees, during the last four years, have grown increasingly dependent on A-Rod's production. As such, his loss leaves a void the size of a crater and the most readily available means to fill it would require the Yankees to dig themselves deeper into the hole, by relinquishing the young pitching prospects which hold their future's foundation.

Their Yankees farm system is barren of major league ready offensive talent. Their two best hitting prospects, Tabata and Austin Jackson, are outfielders and still years away from burgeoning. The next two years' class of free-agent 3B is a middling lot: with the 34-yr-old, pull-hitting Mike Lowell leading the '07 class and what will be a 33-year-old, oft-injured and steroid-tainted Troy Glaus leading it in '08. While the one major-league player who could both play 3B and approximate A-Rod's production is Miguel Cabrera, who would cost them Hughes, Kennedy, or Chamberlain, one of the very young pitchers upon whom the Yankees future depends.


So why can't the Yankees just stick Joe Crede or Wilson Betemit at 3B and rely on their young pitching to carry them? After all, didn't the Yankees contend for six championships in nine years with Charlie Hayes, Scott Brosius, and Aaron Boone at 3B?

Well first of all, Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy, and Wang have hardly proven they're the equal of Cone, Clemens, El Duque, and Pettitte just yet. Neither Hughes nor Chamberlain has exceeded 140 innings in a single season . And Ian Kennedy has started a sum total of three major league games, all in September, no less. Sure, the Yankees budding three, with Wang, could burgeon into a modern day incarnation of Cuellar, McNally, Palmer and Dobson, the Orioles Fab Four. Then again, it's possible, if unlikely, Chamberlain-Hughes-Kennedy could no more meet the enormous expectations that now saddle them than could the Mets' notorious triumvirate of Isringhausen, Pulsipher, and Wilson.

The real flaw in the Brosius fallacy however is that it fails to account for how much the current lineup's complexion differs from its championship-laurelled predecessors. From '96 to '03, the Yankees only asked their third-baseman to field his position because they received consistent, and widespread, production from CF (Bernie), 1B (Tino), and DH (Fielder, Justice, Chili/Strawberry). Even the '96 through '00 teams, founded on their pitching had 3 or more players that hit 19 or more home runs. '96 (Bernie, Tino, Fielder/Sierra, O'Neil ) '97 (Bernie, Tino, O'Neil); '98 (Tino, O'Neil, Strawberry, Bernie, Brosius, Jeter ); '99 (Tino, Jeter, Bernie, O'Neil, Chili) '00 (Posada, Bernie, Justice).

Now, the Yankees receive little offensive production from 1B and CF and considerably less from their DH.

Remember: The 2007 Yankees were not the 2004 team when A-Rod's 36 HRs and 106 RBI's complemented Gary Sheffield's 36 HRs and 121 RBI's and Hideki Matsui's 31 HRs and 108 RBIs (and even Bernie William contributed 21 HR and 70 RBIs). Nor were 2007 Yankees were not the 2006 team when A-Rod's 35 HRs and 121RBIs reinforced Jason Giambi 37 HR's and 113 RBI's.

The 2007 Yankees were a collection of left-handed singles and doubles hitters; a 36-year old switch-hitting catcher with a career season; a right-handed SS, if among the best clutch hitters in history, who doesn't hit for power; and the AL MVP and best all around player in baseball, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Subtract A-Rod and the Yankees's lineup suddenly looks very ordinary-- bereft of power, right-hand deficient, wanting at the infield corners, regressing at the outfield corners, old and overloaded at DH, and in general, entering the first-stage of decline -- a series of 33+ yr-old veterans whose most productive seasons have passed them by.

Damon, Abreu, Matsui and Giambi all regressed this year, with the latter two's erosion the most disconcerting because they're the only other two hitters who hit for power.


Refusing to negotiate with AROD because in opting-out, he cost the Yankees $21 million dollars-- an amount less than Kei Igawa's posting fee; a sum less than Roger Clemens '07 salary; a total equivalent to Jason Giambi's '08 income-- means the Yankees face on the following two options.

1) Mortgage the future and relinquish Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and (Humberto Sanchez or Alan Horne or Ross Ohlendorf) for Miguel Cabrera.


2) Concede '08 as a rebuilding year. Take the risk that no team acquires Santana and signs to a long-term deal before the '08 season concludes. And hope that the Yankees can sign him and another Boras' client Mark Teixiera for the money they would save on A-Rod.

Either entails considerable risk. Far more risk, that is, than offering $280 million dollars over 8 years for the best player in baseball.