Now that Alex Rodriguez is finally free of the shackles of his paltry $250M Yankee contract, and he and his agent Scott Boras are throwing around numbers like $350M dollareenies, there appears to be some controversy as to whether A-Rod is worth pursuing or not.
I’ll clear it up for everybody: No.
Not even at half the price.
He’s not worth it for two main reasons.
( 1 ) No offensive player is worth that kind of money, IF your goal is to win championships.
A pitcher, possibly, or maybe even a catcher. But even that is only in theory, and unless your name is Josh Beckett, you probably aren’t on the list for this year. Otherwise, no. Big, long-term contracts create too many problems, and for most teams, take away money that could be better spent elsewhere. You win championships with deep, quality rosters, with plugging every hole you can find in your entire organization, not with individuals; throwing a big bag of money at one guy doesn’t help your depth at all, and is likely to hurt it, by a lot.
I could go on and on about this, but I think the evidence is pretty clear that such deals are bad for the team nearly every time and in nearly every possible way, except for generating media buzz and helping with promotions and ticket sales. If somebody has evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it.
(2 ) Even at a much lower salary, his offensive performance at playoff time is average to below-average.
Take a look at his 4 most recent post-seasons (2004-07). A .245 batting avg., with only 10 extra base hits and 9 RBI in 94 AB. OBP: .343 (approx.) SLG%: .404 Almost as many strikeouts as hits (22 vs. 23). Etc. There is nothing to like here, at all. And over 4 postseasons, in 5 series, with 94 at-bats, it’s pretty likely that these stats reflect the true player.
Extrapolate those out to a full season, to have something to compare. Multiplying by 6 gets you a total of 140 hits, 60 extra base hits, 60 RBI, and 130 strikeouts. With a BA of .245 and a .404 slugging percentage. Wow. Sign that guy immediately!
How about for his career? 41 for 147 for a .279 avg., and a .361 OBP, .483 SLG%. Only 21 runs scored and 17 RBI, only 16 extra base hits (9 2B, 7 HR). Multiply those by 4 to extrapolate out to a full season (84 runs scored, 68 RBI, 64 extra base hits, 36 2B, 28 HR). Nice, but nothing special. Again, almost as many strikeouts (38) as hits (41).
Overall, his postseason numbers are pretty good, but not great. Some power production, but with almost none of it in the last four years, and with his last appearance in the playoffs before that in 2000 with the Mariners, 7 years ago, it is a mystery to me why anybody thinks this guy is money.
He appears, just from looking at the stats, to have very little plate discipline, and to hit only mistakes for power. That kills you in the postseason. Or he is a head case, and chokes under pressure. That will also kill you in the postseason.
Either way, why would a team that is close to winning in the postseason want a player like A-Rod, who sucks in the postseason?
Why paralyze your entire roster for the next 10-12 years for that level of production?
Offensive superstars do not, as a rule, bring championships with them when they change teams, especially when that team has other needs like pitching (both starting and bullpen), team defense, team speed, and depth. And who, in major league baseball today, doesn’t have one or (usually) more of those weaknesses?
Can anybody really look at all this data and still want to spend $30M per year on him? If so, I’m really curious … why? Don’t forget, as a bonus, he brings his agent Scott Boras with him, who singlehandedly creates distractions for both his client and his “team”, by enlisting sympathetic media clowns to negotiate for him in the press.
But you know some GM wants him, and you know some owner thinks “well, we’ve already created a market with a ceiling as high as $250M for 10 years, what’s the difference if you go $350 for 12?” Sure, why not, indeed?
So go for it, geniuses. Good luck.