November 4, 2007

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD 'EM:

The Windup: The A-Rod Gamble: With the opt-out, superagent Scott Boras is now overreaching (Franz Lidz, Nov 2 2007, Portfolio)

Though a perennial All-Star and M.V.P. candidate, A-Rod was considered a stats-first phony in the Yankees’ clubhouse. Many teammates privately called him A-Fraud.

A year ago, during A-Rod’s psychic meltdown, Jason Giambi told me: “I’m always asked two things at parties: ‘What’s Jeter like?’ and ‘What’s A-Rod like?’ Answer No. 1: ‘I love Jeet. He’s a fun guy.’ Answer No. 2: ‘A-Rod’s as gifted as anyone who ever played the game.’”

A day ago, another current Yankee told me: “Boras’ announcement before a national TV audience showed he’s an egomaniac who thinks only about himself. A-Rod’s the same way: During his four years in New York, he never put the team before himself: It was always all about A-Rod.”

Over those four years, A-Rod was astonishingly productive in the Bronx from April to September (he averaged 43 home runs and 128 R.B.I.). In October, however, he was staggeringly unproductive. During his last 17 post-season games, he batted .136 and went 0 for 27 (including 11 strikeouts) with runners on base. Not only did he knock in none of those 38 runners, but he stranded all 12 in scoring position. The Yanks won 3 of those 17 games and never advanced to the World Series.

Despite this, Boras insists that “Mr. Opt-ober” is that rare player imbued with what he calls I.P.N.—for Iconic magnetism, historic Performance, and Network value. By Boras’ calculations, A-Rod’s I.P.N. adds up to $80 million to his team’s annual cash flow, and would justify a 10-year pact for $400 million.


Given what he can do for you in terms of tv and radio revenue, media coverage, and marketing--nevermind on the field--it probably isn't possible to pay him too much money. The mistake a team may well make though is to pay him for too many years. The recent unusual performances by players in their late 30s/early 40s appear to have been entirely pharmaceutical in nature. If he has a more normal late career track anything over about 4 years gets too risky at that price.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 4, 2007 1:24 PM
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