"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Why is it so hot?

According to the Associated Press, the Yankees and Rangers have agreed to terms on “the trade,” and the Player’s Association has given their blessing as well. Now, all that is left is for Bud Selig to sign off on the trade that will bring Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees. He is expected to do so either later today or tomorrow.

Apparently, Texas will pay $67 million of the remaining $179 million on A Rod’s contract. This is how the contract breaks down:

Texas will wind up paying $140 million for three seasons with Rodriguez. The Yankees will owe him $112 million for seven years.

Under the deal, the Yankees pay Rodriguez $15 million in each of the next three seasons, $16 million each in 2007 and 2008, $17 million in 2009 and $18 million in 2010, according to contract information obtained by the AP from player and management sources.

In each of the first four years, $1 million will be deferred without interest, to be paid in 2011.

Texas will pay $43 million of Rodriguez’s salary over the remaining seven years: $3 million in 2004, $6 million each in 2005 and 2006, $7 million in 2007, $8 million in 2009 and $6 million in 2010. In addition, the Rangers will pay the $24 million remaining in deferred money from the original contract, with the interest rate lowered from 3 percent to 2 percent.

All the deferred money owed by Texas — $36 million including salaries from 2001-03 — will be lumped with the original $10 million signing bonus, of which $4 million is still owed. The payout schedule will be pushed back to 2016-2025 from 2011-20.

This must be a a tough day in Boston. Just ask Red Sox pitcher, Derek Lowe:

“We had every opportunity to get him — a number of times — but we didn’t,” Lowe said. “And it’s even more upsetting to know that he was willing to switch positions and we could have kept Nomar too.

“Everything that I heard, I thought it was going to get done. I thought he was going to play for the Red Sox. All sides seemed to want that to happen. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

…”I’ll tell you what, this rivalry is at an all-time high,” he said. “I don’t hate the Yankees. And they don’t hate us. But when we step on the field against them, the passion we have to beat them is unlike anything else you can experience. Now it’s bumped up another notch.”

“But I’m sure they have the same respect for us and some of the changes we made. This rivalry is at an all-time high.”

I should note that both The Daily News and The New York Post ran graphics today comparing Jeter to Rodriguez, using advanced metrics like Range Factor and Zone Rating. The results are what the sabermetric community has known for a long time now: the two aren’t even close as defensive players. There has been a wide gap in the public perception of Jeter’s defense: many mainstream analysts and casual fans believe that Jeter is a good defensive shortstop, while sabermetricians and the more astute fan know that Jeter is a poor defender. There was no telling how long this gap in perception would continue, but now, A Rod’s arrival in the Bronx just may force the issue. If so, I think that is great.

Again, I think that many baseball fans will be like Rich Lederer, and feel cheated if Rodriguez is asked to move from his natural position at shortstop. Jeter, who is known as a team-player, will not look good if he is ultimately hurting his team. But is Joe Torre going to ask him to move? Or will Boss George do the dirty work himself? It is a sensitive issue, as big egos are involved here, but I think after a reasonable amount of time, Jeter will do what is best for the team. (I certainly hope he does.) Whether that is in spring training or even this year, I can’t say. But I do know that the first couple of ground balls that easily skip past Jeter into center field will be hard for Jeter apologists to defend. Forget the excuses, the Yankees now have a significantly better option on their roster. Jeter’s flaws will become more apparent then ever before. And come oh, the middle of April, they will be tabloid fodder.

If only every team could have such problems.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver