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Friday, February 14, 2014

A-Rod: The Road Not Taken

Stepping on a butterfly needle.


The primordial circumstance that set Rodriguez’s career on an unwanted trajectory was the 1994-95 players’ strike, which began just one month after his major league debut… when the strike ended and the players and owners finally hammered out a new collective bargaining agreement, players were awarded service time for the games that were canceled, including guys in the minors like Rodriguez.  The result was that Rodriguez had just enough service time to qualify for free agency a year early.

...Rodriguez played for the Rangers for three seasons, leading the AL in home runs each year, winning two Gold Gloves at shortstop and one MVP, and missing just one total game. Yet seemingly all anyone remembers is that the Rangers never won more than 73 games in those three seasons despite giving Rodriguez all that money. Apparently, it was A-Rod’s fault the team’s ERAs those three years were 5.71, 5.15, and 5.67.

...Meanwhile, in their very first season without Rodriguez, the 2001 Mariners won an AL-record 116 games with Carlos Guillen as their everyday shortstop. Guillen went on to some great years in Detroit, but that season he hit .259/.333/.355 and was clearly the weak link in the Seattle lineup. Had the new CBA not altered his service clock, Rodriguez would have hit free agency after a season in which he was the best player on a team that likely would have smashed the major league record for wins in a season. The Mariners probably would have won a mind-boggling 120 games. The Rodriguez-free Mariners lost to the Yankees in the ALCS; Guillen had been benched for Mark McLemore in the playoffs, and McLemore went 2-for-14 in the series. Three of the Mariners’ four losses came by one or two runs in a tight series, and Rodriguez’s presence in the lineup would have been huge.

If Rodriguez had led the Mariners to the MLB record for regular-season wins and then propelled them to the AL pennant and possibly a world championship, he would have cemented a very different legacy very early in his career.

...The Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since that remarkable 2001 season, so if Rodriguez’s free agency had come up a year later, the narrative would center on a franchise that never recovered from losing its greatest player, the way the Red Sox flailed after selling Babe Ruth or the way the Pirates endured 20 consecutive losing seasons after Barry Bonds left. Instead, the narrative is that the Mariners set the AL wins record the year after Rodriguez took the money and ran.

Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:34 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: a-rod

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   1. Moeball Posted: February 14, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4657117)
I think it is an interesting article and I recommend reading it.

That being said...yes, sometimes fate makes strange twists and turns, some of which are cruel to us - but it is how we deal with life's twists and turns that ultimately defines who we are, and unfortunately Alex has handled many of his circumstances quite poorly. He has made this bed and now must lie in it.
   2. Jeltzandini Posted: February 14, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4657120)
The 2001 Mariners pythag was only 109 wins though (the slackers), so how do you do reproject the season properly with ARod's 8.4 WAR replacing Guillen's 3.3? They'd have been a better team but maybe have won fewer.

Also not sure it's fair to assume the Sox still win the 2004 and 2007 titles. Ramirez was a monster in both postseasons.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4657132)
Would the Mariners have had to shed some corresponding salary for 2001 to fit A-Rod's salary in the budget?
   4. BDC Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4657134)
Apparently, it was A-Rod’s fault the team’s ERAs those three years were 5.71, 5.15, and 5.67


Well, he was calling the pitches. And he had this irritating inability to hit to the score.
   5. billyshears Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4657137)
I actually think that if the Mets could have backed away from ARod without feeling the need to have Steve Phillips slag him as an excuse, things would have been a lot different. Just frickin' signing him wouldn't have been a bad idea either.
   6. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4657146)
The Mariners would have had a different offseason strategy if they'd had Rodriguez locked up for another year. They did sign Bret Boone and Ichiro more than a month before they knew for certain that A-Rod was gone though.
   7. bookbook Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4657148)
The 2001 Mariners pythag was only 109 wins though (the slackers), so how do you do reproject the season properly with ARod's 8.4 WAR replacing Guillen's 3.3? They'd have been a better team but maybe have won fewer.


Well, according to Joe Scarborough, baseball is the sport where team chemistry matters most (unlike all those other sports that require passing and, you know, actual teamwork in order to score). So the Mariners would have been lucky to win 100 with poisonous A-Rod in the fold.



And he had this irritating inability to hit to the score.


I do recall the many complaints that A-Rod hit all his home runs for the Yankees as solo shots when the game was not in doubt. All several hundred of them.
   8. villageidiom Posted: February 14, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4657176)
Two teams diverged in the AL West,
And sorry I could not play for each
And be one player, long I guessed
If Seattle's contract was the best
And Safeco would help records reach;

Then took the Rangers, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because of a quarter billion there;
Though as for that the roster bare
Had made them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In a division ESPN ignored.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing Yanks might pull me away,
I doubted the M's would ever afford.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two teams diverged in the West, and I—
I took the one not drafted by,
And that has made all the difference.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 14, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4657181)
Bravo, vi! Well done!
   10. bookbook Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4657216)
All hail the idiom! Exactly the right poem for the man and this article.

If only there had been a horse in there somewhere it would have been perfect.
   11. KronicFatigue Posted: February 15, 2014 at 12:24 AM (#4657223)
Can someone explain to me why the Yankees weren't all-in on A-Rod when he was a free agent before 2001? After 2001, Brosius and O'neill would retire, and David Justice (who appears to have been the DH) would leave the team. So there's two simple options: 1) Move Jeter to RF, Oneill to DH, and get rid of Justice. 2) Move Brosius to DH (again getting rid of Justice) and Arod to 3rd.

The best player in all of baseball was available, at the age of 25. If they had lost the subway series to the Mets, would that have changed things? Instead of being "in the middle" of their dynasty, they would be playing 2nd fiddle to the other NY team. That could have opened George's wallet.

If A-Rod signs with the Yankees, the story isn't about him having the biggest contract ever. It's the MF Yankees signing the best player, despite having just won a bunch of world series. MAYBE there's some backlash to A-rod if the Yankees don't win the next couple of world series (especially if he had moved Jeter off of SS). But nothing like what happened in Texas. With Texas, it was all "why Texas? Oh, he JUST cares about money". He never gets that label if he signs with the best team in baseball.

So why weren't the Yankees in on A-Rod?
   12. billyshears Posted: February 15, 2014 at 12:30 AM (#4657224)
Can someone explain to me why the Yankees weren't all-in on A-Rod when he was a free agent before 2001?


Arod wasn't willing to move to 3b at that point. And having just won a bunch of World Series, the Yankees weren't in the let's just throw a ####-ton of money at the problem phase yet.
   13. puck Posted: February 15, 2014 at 01:17 AM (#4657235)
Rodriguez didn’t have anything to do with the strike, and had in fact gone back to the minors 10 days before it began. But when the strike ended and the players and owners finally hammered out a new collective bargaining agreement, players were awarded service time for the games that were canceled, including guys in the minors like Rodriguez.


I guess this makes sense, as without this explanation I never knew how his service time added up. What was the actual decision after the 1994-1995 strike, to give service time to all the players on the 40-man roster?
   14. DFA Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:49 AM (#4657250)
Would the Mariners have had to shed some corresponding salary for 2001 to fit A-Rod's salary in the budget?


I, for one, am glad that AROD wasn't part of the 2001 Mariners.
   15. shoewizard Posted: February 15, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4657256)
I really don't care if a guy is an arse hole. I don't care if he enhanced his body in any way. (30 years from now when they are growing new body parts like hearts that pump harder and make people run faster and stronger, this era will seem quaint). I don't care if he's gay either. May as well put all this crap together. The stuff people care about just mystifies me.

I just care about the game, and how it's played on the field. He was great. It's sad to me that baseball and it's chroniclers feel the need to cannibalize the sport.
   16. villageidiom Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4657389)
If only there had been a horse in there somewhere it would have been perfect.

With a shortstop who couldn't field
On too frail a team we played
Behind too 'roided a horse
In a half-filled Yankee Stade.

And a man came from MLB
And took our horse by the snout
And with the help of Tony Bosch
Deliberately kicked him out.

The ponderous beast went down
But not before a final fight.
And when at last his suit withdrawn
He slowly trotted out of sight.

The most unquestioning fans
That ever accepted fate
And the least disposed to ascribe
Any more than we had to to hate,

We assumed that the man himself
Or Selig he had to obey
Wanted us to go on
And without him return to play.

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