March 05, 2009
Most of my "columns about nothing" are rambling and have no theme. Today, I get the chance to write about Alex Rodriguez, Terrell Owens and Manny Ramirez on the same page. Let's run with it and see where it takes us.
This blog is usually about finding answers. Today, with Alex Rodriguez, all we can really do is pose the questions. Heck, the shifting news of the day has forced this column to be tweaked a couple of times.
You've no doubt heard the news today, oh boy: A-Rod has a cyst and a labrum tear in his right hip. The Yankees don't want Rodriguez to have surgery now. "We're going to take this day by day, week by week, month by month," Brian Cashman said Thursday. "That does not mean surgery is off the table. That’s how we’re going to handle it."
It hasn't been A-Rod's best camp, has it?
If Rodriguez plays through the hip problem, what's the chance that he needs a procedure later in the season? Will Rodriguez less aggressive on the bases ? Does the depth of the AL East – there's no division on paper that can match the star power here – encourage the Yankees to try to manage this physical issue as opposed to getting it fixed immediately? How much is the rest of the order affected by Rodriguez's condition and/or absence? Is anyone excited about Cody Ransom? Will the Yankees look into a possible free-agent addition to add depth to the spot?
And where the heck do we draft A-Rod now?
I'm not a medic and I don't play one on TV, but barring some significant upturn in this story, this pushes Rodriguez out of the top two rounds for me. Too much uncertainty, too much risk. After about 25 picks, I'll re-evaluate, depending on league context and penetration, personality of the other owners, and a zillion other things. It's not my personality to be that risky with my early picks.
You've got a spin on this, no doubt, and I want to here it. Comment away. Play nicely. We'll get through this together. If a third re-write is needed for the A-Rod portion of this blog, I'm just starting over.
• We know Terrell Owens is a locker-room distraction and a me-first guy and a quarterback killer and he's clearly lost a step at this juncture of his career – he wasn't beating anyone's jam at the line of scrimmage last year. But he still looks like a dynamite add for someone – in the right situation.
Let's consider the logical Owens checklist. He needs to go somewhere where he can win, where he'll be relevant, where he'll draw attention, and where there's a winning culture to keep him in place. My buddy Chris Liss suggested the New York Giants, and I'm seeing that fit as well. Don't sweat the Coughlin-Owens dynamic, remember Owens co-existed with Bill Parcells for a while.
It's all about timing and motivation with Owens, and the best time to own him is during the first season, the honeymoon year. The Giants can offer four juicy grudge-match carrots every season, the games with Dallas and Philly. From a professional standpoint and a fan standpoint, this is the storyline I'm pulling for – let's get Owens into the Big Apple and watch him arm-wrestle Amani Toomer for No. 81.
The Owens release also sets up nicely for Roy Williams, who was confused and utterly useless in his half-season with the Pokes last year. You can't be thinking on the field, you need to be reacting. Williams now gets re-installed as his team's No. 1 option, and he's got a spring and summer to get used to the offense and his new quarterback. Washing out the stench of 2008 provides some extra motivation, too. Welcome back to fantasy relevance, big guy.
• Today's Los Angeles Dodgers minute is sponsored by the letter M. That's M as in Manny, M as in Money, M as in "Me-Me-Me," and M as in Motivation – the most important word to consider as we appraise life on Planet Ramirez.
The Dodgers hit the Manny lottery down the stretch in 2008, landing the frustrated superstar at just the right time. Ramirez had basically quit on the Red Sox, and he wanted to quit on the two years and $40 million remaining on his contract, too. But to get a fat new deal, you need to show you can still be one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the game, even at age 36. We all remember what happened next – Ramirez touched down in LA, hit the absolute cover off the ball for 10 weeks, then batted his eyes at free agency and awaited his giant payday.
Ah, but timing was not Manny's friend when the cold winter hit. The national economy continued to spiral into the toilet, and related to that, the free-agent marketplace changed throughout baseball. A few of the younger stars still got their enormous paydays, but a host of established players did not. Bobby Abreu accepted peanuts (relative speaking) from the Angels. Adam Dunn got a modest deal with the Nationals. And most teams took a "thanks, no thanks" approach to Manny, afraid of any number of things – his lack of range in the field, his personality, his age, his contract demands (four years, righteous bucks).
The Dodgers, of course, were players from Day 1 – the only players in this entire dance, as it turned out. They put a competitive two-year offer on the table. Team Manny passed. LA put a thick one-year payout on the table. No go, Team Manny said. Scott Boras insisted Manny had another interested clubs, but other than some vague sound bytes tying the Giants to Ramirez, nothing ever came to the forefront.
Eventually, GM Ned Colletti and owner Frank McCourt came running with the bailout. Rather than sit behind their leverage, rather than insist that the market had changed and take their deal down substantially, rather than wait it out and see if Ramirez had the stomach to sign with a losing team for a lot less money, the Dodgers let Team Manny save some face and agreed to a two-year, $45 million deal, basically what had been on the table all along. Manny gets an option on the second year and some of the money is deferred, but don't worry for Planet Ramirez. He'll be able to make ends meet, and pay his agent a healthy commission, too.
The roto take on all this? I'm letting someone else reach for Ramirez, letting someone else chase the siren song of last fall. I'm not suggesting that Manny is going to not try (you know, what he did against Mariano Rivera last summer), but the Motivated Manny LA got in late 2008 is long, long gone. He got paid. The sting of Boston has worn off. Let's see how Manny plays ball when his immediate livelihood doesn't depend on it. Yeah, I'm a little skeptical.
I suppose I could have saved a lot of time and borrowed the perfect words from Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Manny and the Dodgers deserve each other.