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Behind the A-Facade
2003-12-13 02:31
by Mike Carminati

The Red Sox-Rangers deal involving the two highest paid players in baseball—Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez—either has stalled or is taking on an air of inevitability depending on your point of view.

It seems to be based on money according to all the reports merging about the deal. According to Sean McAdams, the Red Sox are adamant that they will not pay any of Ramirez remaining contract if they trade him.

Meanwhile, the second-best shortstop in baseball, Nomar Garciaparra, is publicly feuding with the Sox through his agent eliciting nasty responses from team owner John Henry. This is all while the Red Sox refuse to discuss the possibility of a trade.

And again MLB is stepping in to add GM-in-training Theo Epstein make the deal [Thanks to Chris for the article]:

The deal would be a swap of baseball's only $20 million-a-year players. In a sign of how extraordinary the situation is, commissioner Bud Selig is allowing the Red Sox to speak directly with Rodriguez. In most situations, a tentative trade must be in place before baseball grants a window for a team to speak with a player under contract to another club.

"To the extent that it happened, the commissioner has approved it," said Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

Double-speak much, Sandy? To quote Bill Ray Valentine, "Thanks, you've been halpful."

Texas GM John Hart has requested that the deal be resolved by the end of the GM meetings on December 16:

"As long as this potentially is alive, it precludes us from having a road map of what we can do with anybody else," Hart said Sunday.

C'mon, John. Nobody wants to go to Texas anyway. The Sox should be worried about losing focus since they are ignoring at least one glaring hole (second base) and potentially creating two (add left field).

This is my basic problem with the deal for the Red Sox. The Rangers are making to lop off some of A-Rod's salary. The Sox, however, have more urgent needs than replacing the second-best shortstop in baseball with the best. Aside from losing starting second baseman, Todd Walker, and having no viable replacement, the Sox are still weak in the tail-end of the rotation and in the pen. Reports have them pursuing Keith Foulke, who would be a fine pickup if a bit pricey.

Besides, let's say the Sox make the deal. They have A-Rod at short and either flip Nomar for a starting left fielder or a second baseman. Anaheim is interested in Garciaparra but has already stated that they will not trade Garrett Anderson to obtain him.

I'm still not convinced that Theo Epstein is nothing more than a rotisserie league GM. He cornered the market on first base-left field- DH guys last year. They started the season with two starting third basemen but no viable closer.

If Epstein really were a genius and really were trying to improve the club, the one player he would divest the Sox of would be Johnn Damon in center. If he were creative, he'd find a way for the Mets to take on Damon's contract while coughing up a decent tail-end starter.

How much better is A-Rod expected to be than Garciappara? Or perhaps a better question is, how much better is A-Rod and a player-to-be-named in left than Garciaparra and Ramirez? Especially when the PTBNL probably will come in a trade for the suddenly superfluous Garciaparra, when they have no leverage.

I can see what they are thinking though: Garciaparra is reticent in dealing with the media and his contract will be up soon. Ramirez is a pain in the neck and Tim McCarver doesn't like him. This would kill both of those birds off with one A-Rod.

But the more I think about it, the more it reminds me of the Mets plans in the late Eighties to improve that proved to unravel the team. It started with swapping Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juas Samuel. Next, they trade five young pitchers for one veteran one, Frank Viola. The then traded the other center fielder, Mookie Wilson. Before you could say Frank Robinson, their mini-dynasty was at an end.

The Sox should learn from the Mets' troubles. Maybe Bud can help Epstein do that as well.

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