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A-Rod acquisition doesn't break bank for Yankees

by Tracy Ringolsby
March 1, 2004

TUCSON--The addition of Alex Rodriguez has only minimal impact on the New York Yankees 2004 payroll, which is close to $185 million, roughly the same payroll the Yankees had at the end of last season.

Rodriguez has an $18 million salary for 2004, but $3 million of that is deferred, and Texas is picking up that portion as part of the $67 million it will pay out of the $179 million that Rodriguez is guaranteed over the next seven years.

And that's not all. The Yankees save the $5.4 million salary of Alfonso Soriano, who went to Texas in the Rodriquez deal, and the $4 million salary of Drew Henson, who decided to give up baseball and pursue a football career. And then there is Aaron Boone, whose knee injury in a pickup basketball game prompted the need for the trade for Rodriguez. If the Yankees release Boone, they will have to pay only $800,000 of his $4.8 million salary, and there is the possibility that the Yankees could void Boone's contract, eliminating the entire $4.8 million, because he suffered the injury in a basketball game that violated his contract.

That's roughly $17.2 million that the Yankees have to offset Rodriguez's $18 million.

Red Sox Have No One To Blame

Other fallout from the Rodriguez deal:

The Red Sox can whine all they want about the Yankees acquiring Rodriguez, but it was the Red Sox who made the first attempt to acquire Rodriguez and came up short.

And it wasn't about money. Rodriguez was willing to work out a compromise to go to Boston after the initial deal was vetoed by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

There's one reason Rodriguez changed his mind about Boston--Red Sox President Larry Lucchino--who tried to put Rodriguez in the middle of his battle with the Players Association.

The Yankees may win the AL East, but it won't be simply because they added Rodriguez. Rodriguez is arguably the best player in baseball, but the argument can be made that he doesn't add a whole lot more offensively to the Yankees lineup than Soriano, who is now in Texas.

While Rodriguez played in one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the American League with Texas, he had only 44 home runs, 108 runs scored and a .279 average on the road the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Soriano, who was playing in Yankee Stadium, hit 45 home runs with 133 runs scored and a .311 average on the road the last two years.

If there's a deal that the Yankees made this winter where they gained an unfair advantage it wasn't Rodriguez for Soriano, it was being able to unload Jeff Weaver, who is guaranteed $15.5 million in the next two seasons, on Los Angeles and obtain the dominating right arm of Kevin Brown in return.

Brown showed last year that he's healthy again, and there isn't a better competitor in the game.

Odds And Ends

Greg Maddux's contract with the Chicago Cubs is actually a two-year, $15 million deal. There's an option at $9 million for 2006. For that to kick in Maddux has to pitch a combined 400 innings this season and next.

Based on his career, Maddux should attain that total, but it provides the Cubs with protection just in case. And there are some warning signs to heed. Maddux did not average six innings a start in either of the lat two seasons.

He has, however, failed to pitch 200 innings only once in the last 16 seasons, and he did work 199 1/3 innings in 2002.

Statistical analysis may be the hot topic among baseball execs, but it is not something new. Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell devised a system known as Total Average when he was the paper's Baltimore Orioles beat writer 25 years ago. As well as taking into consideration batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, Boswell also factored in stolen bases, caught stealings and double plays.

Proud of his work, Boswell showed his formula to then Baltimore manager Earl Weaver.

"Earl told me, 'That's very good,'" recalled Boswell. "He let me feel good for about 30 seconds, and then he added, 'but when Branch Rickey used that 30 years ago he factored in extra value for home runs because of their impact.'"

That's right, long before the stat freaks of today were even born, Rickey, the architect of scouting staffs and farm departments, was using statistical analysis to help in his evaluation of players in the minor leagues.

Paul DePodesta is the fifth general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the firing of Fred Claire during the 1998 season. Before that, the Dodgers had only four general mangers in their first 40 years in Los Angeles.

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