The Commish Online www.thecommishonline.com
Media Unable to Pull Off Trade - ARod Stays a Ranger
December 24, 2003
Despite endless reports from major sports outlets suggesting a myriad of 3 team deals, Alex Rodriguez will remain, as expected, a Ranger for the 2004 season. Even Bud Selig tired of the negotiations which were tied up in legal and financial complications to the point that it became obvious a deal would not happen. Selig issued a deadline on negotiations, only to have Rangers' owner Tom Hicks extend his own deadline several days later.
The media somehow took this second deadline seriously even though the commissioner claimed that a deal would not happen. No damage was done other than a few hyperbolic headlines adorning some major sports websites over the past weekend. No one on the inside believed a deal would happen because there were never any specifics. Was it going to be ARod to Boston, Manny to Texas, Nomar to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez, then Nomar to the Dodgers for some pitching? Not a chance. The White Sox would have just shipped Ordonez to the Dodgers for pitching and avoided any involvement in the deal. That leaves Manny and Nomar for ARod, and Boston wouldn't pull the trigger on that deal without getting a high caliber outfielder in return.
While the Rangers will be "stuck" with the best player in baseball, Red Sox owner John Henry and GM Theo Epstein will have to do some major damage control this winter to convince fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra that he is still wanted. Worse yet, if Boston can't unload Manny Ramirez by April, they will see the true meaning of disgruntled. Epstein is making some shrewd moves (thanks to Henry's fat wallet), but it's the ones he fails to make that may spell the downfall of the Red Sox in 2004. Team chemistry doesn't show up in a box score or in a Bill James handbook, but the Marlins showed that it can help pave the way to a championship.
Hicks, while not exactly revealing himself to be the swiftest of negotiators while outbidding only himself to pay Rodriguez $252 million and signing Chan Ho Park to a huge contract when everyone else knew that his talent didn't extend outside of Chavez Ravine, is not going to trade the highest paid player in baseball for the second highest paid player and not get any pitching in return. The last thing the Rangers need is another expensive bat in the outfield and no one to throw the ball to the catcher.
With ARod and the up-and-coming Michael Young anchoring the middle infield, Texas will have a solid lineup for years to come. A few crafty moves toward improving the rotation and the bullpen can make this team competitive. The pressure on Hicks, as has been the case since ARod's signing, will be to make the RIGHT moves so that the Rangers can win with Rodriguez rather than lose in spite of him. There is some talent in Texas, and as long as Tom Hicks can afford his past mistakes, a good team can emerge.