The Kansas City Royals’ miraculous run through the 2014 MLB playoffs exposed baseball fans across the country to the idea that, contrary to popular belief, a team could win in today’s game in a small market. A team could spend multiple first-round picks across several years and build a truly homegrown lineup and have success.
Meanwhile, over in Detroit, the Tigers could only sit and watch as the team they pulled away from late in the season to win their fourth consecutive American League Central Division title pushed the San Francisco Giants to Game 7 of the World Series. The Tigers had put together a team full of recognizable names — Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, and so forth — and spent a lot of money in the process to end up being swept out of the American League Division Series by the Baltimore Orioles.
One team’s small-market success by no means defines a trend or proves one system better than another, but the question is worth asking: do the Tigers have the right approach in building their team?
This winter, second baseman Robinson Cano will likely join the elite club of MLB’ers to earn a contract exceeding $100 million. Cano has deserved the contract that he will receive–a career line of .309/.355/.504, with the ability to hit 30 home runs and drive in 120+ RBIs is definitely worthy of such recognition. Tack on two Gold Glove awards and an MVP trophy, and it’s clear why Cano is this year’s top free agent.
He obviously deserves the paycheck that he will get from whichever team antes up the most money, but a GM that wants to make that kind of investment in one player needs to know what he’s getting into. In my opinion, devoting that much money to Cano over what will likely be upwards of five or six years is too great of a risk to undertake.
Enough with the New York Yankees-MLB-Alex Rodriguez soap opera.
I’ll be the first to say, I loved Alex Rodriguez for a long time. That Mariners team of Griffey, Rodriguez, Buhner, Randy Johnson, etc. was so much fun to follow. He was one of my favorite players for a while.
But then steroids happened. And a massive contract happened. And the first New York/A-Rod soap opera happened. Fast forward all these years, and I just want him to shut up.
Funny thing is, that as much as I hate to admit it, I really feel bad for the Yankees right now. They traded for Rodriguez at the prime of his career, and have dealt with his ego, attitude, and (more recently) injuries the entire time. He has under-performed in the playoffs, only helped them win one ring (2009), and has been a constant distraction for years.
That said, the Yankees are not innocent victims here. Far from it. The “Evil Empire” made the choice to extend Rodriguez and make his deal worth an insane 10 years and $275 million (plus another $30M of potential performance bonuses), when the guy was already 32 years old! It’s clear that the organization wants to be rid of Rodriguez and his contract, but that’s what happens with this mega-contracts.
But the way that Rodriguez has treated the Yankees of late, and the media frenzy he has caused, has been disgusting. He admitted to using steroids from 2001-2003 in a 2009 interview, and now is facing suspension for being involved in the Biogenesis scandal hitting the MLB. His hip injuries are his own thing, but calling in his own doctor for a second opinion without team approval is just childish. Going to the media about how the Yankees are out to get him, and won’t let him play even though his quad strain isn’t an issue, is unnecessary.
The worst part about all of this for the Yankees, though, is if all of this Biogenesis stuff is true. Reports indicate that the MLB wants to ban Rodriguez for life based on tampering with the investigation against him, as well as other labor violations in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). If it’s true, Rodriguez will have lied to both the MLB and the Yankees about his performance-enhancing drug (PED) use, meaning the Yankees will have paid millions of dollars for a fraud.
Void his contract and kick him out of the game.
Is what Pete Rose did really worse than this? Rodriguez knowingly cheated, lied about it repeatedly, then continued his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, and allegedly “coerced” a witness during MLB’s investigation into the matter. This guy clearly thinks he’s above the game, and continues making these terrible choices even after being caught.
The MLB needs to send a message with this: no one is above the game. Cheat and you will be caught. Continue and your punishment will increase. Go as far as to tamper with MLB operations, and you’re out.
Sadly, this may not happen. Rodriguez’s reps are hammering out a settlement to avoid arbitration and a fight from the players’ union. A message will still be sent, but not to the extent that it should.