When Joe Torre filled out the line-up card for Saturday's game 4 in Detroit, it might as well have been a Dear John letter from the city of New York to Alex Rodriguez. (It might have been his own pink slip too.) I don't see how batting him 8th did anything to help the perceived problem. Actually, I think it only called more attention to his recent post-season struggles. Though, he's got plenty of company in the Yankees clubhouse in that regard, he'll be the player who gets the most blame.
A-Rod won't say that he wants out of New York, but after a couple months full of the Chris Russo's of the world taking their shots at him every day, he'll change his mind. I think A-Rod has played his final game in a Yankees uniform. So let the idle speculation begin.
First, let's limit the suitors to teams that can both afford A-Rod's price tag ($16M/yr) and are in a market large enough for Rodriguez. (He needs the spotlight to be bright, but not too bright.) Once I throw out the teams in the AL East, (The Yanks won't trade him in the division) I come up with a very short list; LA Dodgers, LA Angels, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Houston Astros.
The rumors have already started that the Yankees are looking to revamp their old pitching staff with young arms. The Sox don't exactly have a stockpile of major-league-ready prospects outside of McCarthy. And I can't foresee a trade including McCarthy this off-season, even one that involves A-Rod. The Sox do have two, relatively young, experienced pitchers with a history of post-season success, however, in Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle.
I know you're laughing, but hear me out. We know Kenny is going to, at the very least, inquire about A-Rod. So here's what I'd do.
- Try to get Buehrle to sign an extension -- Coming of the worst season of his career, you might be able to get him to take a lowball offer. I don't want Mark Buehrle to reach free agency next year because he'll almost certainly be gone with nothing in return, which is why I've hinted that I would be willing to part with Buehrle for the right player(s) in return. -- 3/$33M, just to make him the highest paid on staff, sounds like a fair offer to me. When he rejects that offer...
- Offer Buehrle to NY with a 72 hour re-signing window -- Buehrle's got only one year remaining on his contract, so it's not a fair swap. The re-signing window will give NY the opportunity to approach a fair value return. When they reject that...
- Offer Jon Garland -- He leads the major leagues in wins the last two seasons. Two-time 18 game winner, how can you go wrong?
Worry about payroll ramifications later -- There will be a team, among the 4 others I listed, willing to take on A-Rod at 16M/yr. It's not a bad deal at all when you consider that Alphonso Soriano and Carlos Lee are rumored to be asking for 5/$75M this off-season.
Jerry has a notoriously tight hold on the purse strings, but in the past he's shown that he'll pay for the 'right' player. He might be willing to go above the original budget, which I pegged somewhere between $100-105M, to get the Sox back to the post-season with a super-star like Rodriguez.
- Walk away -- When Cashman laughs at the 1-for-1 offers of Buehrle and Garland, just walk away. We can't make this team better in both the short and long term while subtracting multiple members of the starting line-up for just one every day player in return.