Saturday, October 07, 2006

Next Blue Light Special: A-Rod?

With every hitless post-season at-bat, Alex Rodriguez comes closer to having a million dollar question answered.

Well, actually a $16 million-dollar question, as in how much of A-Rod's $16 million-a-year salary will Yankees owner George Steinbrenner be willing to eat in order to make the third baseman go away?

Now, most fans believe A-Rod could and would shore up most any lineup with sheer namepower alone. Bet Phillies fans would sell their souls to see the bat that produced 35 home runs and 121 RBIs this season nestled in behind Ryan Howard in batting order.

The perception sometimes kicks reality's butt. And the perception of A-Rod in the five boroughs of New York is that this player cannot protect a teammate in a lineup when he can't protect his own psyche from the yips. New York City is rough, but not that rough. Yet A-Rod's torment often has reduced him to a figure whose contitution seems no more sturdy than a wet noodle.

Steinbrenner could gag , eating all that crow and cash, but, really, will the Yankees have any choice but to move the game's version of Captain Queeg? The drumbeat among Yankees fans has already begun. A 1-for-11 start with four strikeouts assured that in the Yankees' first three games against the Detroit Tigers in the shock of an American League Division Series. So, too, did two Yankees' losses in the series' three games.

One more loss, one more early exit from a postseason they were supposed to dominate and the Yankees will likely not be merciful, expecially to the player fans in the Bronx never shy away from vilifying, anyway. So don't be surprised to see the Yankees concede the day and see if there is another easy touch, I mean team, willing to take on a Psychology 101 project.

Then the only question will be, how much will Steinbrenner pay to get A-Rod out of town? The bet here says that the amount the Boss will agree to swallow goes up exponentially with each failed October at-bat by A-Rod.

The Boss, of course, bit off a big chunk of lettuce when the Yankees acquired Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers in February 2002 return for Alfonso Soriano and a promise to absorb $112 million of the $179 million still owed on what was originally a 10-year, $252 million pact A-Rod signed with Texas in 2000.

That's an average of $16 million a year - $1 million more than the entire Florida Marlins team earned this season. And the Yankees will be funneling money A-Rod's way until 2025 - an IOU that likely won't go away easy, even should A-Rod wind up playing for another team.

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