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Thread: Alex Rodriguez (The A-Rod thread)

  1. #1

    Default Alex Rodriguez (The A-Rod thread)

    February 15, 2004

    Yankees Said to Be Closing Deal to Obtain Rangers' Rodriguez

    By TYLER KEPNER

    In a trade that would join the most celebrated franchise in baseball with perhaps the best player in the game, the Yankees and the Texas Rangers have agreed in principle to a deal that would bring Alex Rodriguez to New York for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be determined, according to several people familiar with the discussions. The deal is all but complete, they said.

    The commissioner's office and the players union must approve the trade, and the teams were working on administrative details last night, baseball officials said. "It has reached the commissioner's office," said Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations, who declined further comment.

    Rodriguez has seven years and $179 million remaining on the 10-year, $252 million contract he signed in December 2000. The Rangers would include money in the mid-$60 million range that would reduce the Yankees' average annual payments to Rodriguez from $25.5 million to about $16 million.

    Rodriguez has performed as the Rangers hoped, leading the American League in home runs in each of the past three seasons and winning the Most Valuable Player award last year. But the Rangers have finished in last place each season and are desperate to shed his contract.

    On Oct. 26, about 12 hours after the Yankees lost the World Series to the Florida Marlins, Rangers officials called Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman to gauge his interest in trading for Rodriguez. Irritated by the timing and confident in his own star shortstop, Derek Jeter, Cashman passed.

    The Boston Red Sox, bitter rivals of the Yankees, reached their own deal for Rodriguez in December, only to have the trade quashed when the players union rejected the restructuring of Rodriguez's contract. But with more financial might than the Red Sox and the lesson of Boston's failed trade to guide them, the Yankees were privately confident their deal would not fail.

    "It is not going that route again," said one person involved in the talks. "That's been clear from the start."

    The impetus for the Yankees' deal came on Jan. 16, when third baseman Aaron Boone seriously injured a knee while playing pickup basketball and Cashman could not find a replacement. Rodriguez, sensing an escape from what had become a gilded prison in Texas, decided he would shift from shortstop to third base if the Rangers dealt him to the Yankees.

    It was no small concession from Rodriguez, who has won Gold Gloves for fielding excellence at shortstop the past two seasons. But Rodriguez has never played in the World Series, and according to one person familiar with the trade talks, he told the Rangers' owner, Tom Hicks, through an intermediary early last week that he wanted to be traded to the Yankees.

    In the Red Sox deal, Hicks had agreed to take on baseball's second-highest-paid player, Manny Ramirez, in return. This deal will save the Rangers more than $100 million. Soriano will make $5.4 million this year and cannot be a free agent until after the 2006 season. The player to be determined will come from a list of five players, probably minor leaguers.

    "It's about flexibility," Rangers General Manager John Hart told The Associated Press last night. "We're trading the best player in the game and we're getting tremendous financial flexibility."

    The Yankees have virtually overhauled their team from last season. Their starting rotation will be mostly new after the free-agent defections of the veterans Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells. The lineup will include the newcomers Gary Sheffield, a seven-time All-Star who signed a three-year, $39 million contract, and another outfielder, the five-time All-Star Kenny Lofton.

    Now comes Rodriguez, who is scheduled to make $21 million this year, $25 million in 2005 and 2006 and $27 million in each of the four years after that. Rodriguez is the crowning piece in a staggering collection of stars and salaries.

    "The more guys they get over there, I just see that place imploding," said an official of another team. "Their payroll could probably go to $300 million, and the owner wouldn't care."

    After three years without a championship, the Yankees' principal owner, George Steinbrenner, has assumed greater control of personnel moves, authorizing a payroll that could top $180 million. Even so, Cashman on Friday referred to the Yankees as underdogs in the A.L. East.

    "Obviously, the favorite appears to be Boston," Cashman said. "They're the team Vegas is picking and everyone else seems to have crowned as the team to beat. I look forward to seeing if we can channel some of that in our favor."

    With Rodriguez, the Yankees would seem to be a strong favorite to repeat as division champions for the seventh year in a row. The Red Sox are chasing them again.

    "We recognize that the Yankees are a more formidable team as a result of this trade," Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox' president, said last night. "But we've long maintained that we are hungry underdogs. So I guess what this means is we're a little bit more hungry and a little bit more of an underdog."

    The Red Sox lost in the seventh game of the A.L. Championship Series last fall when Boone homered in the 11th inning. Boston has since acquired an ace starter, Curt Schilling, and a premier closer, Keith Foulke. But Boone's injury has indirectly hurt the Red Sox again.

    "The Boone occurrence changed the lay of the land, and the Yankees' resources gave them the capability to do what no one else could do," Lucchino said. "But you have to recognize or at least give them credit for their aggressiveness and for going out and making it happen.

    "But they still have to beat us on the field. We're not going around the corner to hide. Maybe we'll test the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting every time."

    Lucchino said he had no regrets about the Red Sox' failed attempts to trade for Rodriguez and that he doubted the Red Sox could challenge the Yankees' trade with a grievance. "I don't know the full details of the deal; we'll certainly inquire into them," Lucchino said. "But I certainly expect that the deal will go through."

    For the Yankees, the trade fills a hole at third base but creates one at second, where Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo would presumably be the leading candidates to start. In dealing Soriano, the Yankees would give up a two-time All-Star who in 2002 became the first second baseman in the major leagues to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. He repeated the feat last year.

    But Soriano is a free swinger who can be exploited by better pitchers, and he played miserably in the postseason, striking out prodigiously and being benched for Game 5 of the World Series. The Yankees flirted with the idea of shifting him to the outfield, and signed Lofton to take over his role as leadoff man.

    Adding Rodriguez will give the Yankees a thunderous middle of the lineup: Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Sheffield combined for 127 homers last season. Rodriguez is also a charismatic figure who presumably would renew his friendship with Jeter. The two had been close early in their careers, and though the relationship was strained in 2001 after Rodriguez criticized Jeter in a magazine interview, the two filmed a commercial together this off-season.

    Soon, Rodriguez will defer to Jeter on the field, moving a few steps to his right and hoping that by playing third base in the Bronx he will win his first World Series ring and Jeter will win his fifth.

    Murray Chass contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

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    February 15, 2004

    BASEBALL ANALYSIS

    The Lure of New York Was Too Strong to Resist

    By JACK CURRY

    Alex Rodriguez would try to hide his obsession for New York when he spoke to people with ties to the city, but the effort was futile. Rodriguez would ask questions about the Yankees, the Mets, the city, everything. He would toss those questions out nonchalantly and act as if he were remotely interested, but then he would inch forward in his chair and wait impatiently for detailed answers.

    That obsession with New York, coupled with his obsession to move far away from the aimless Texas Rangers, is apparently enough motivation for Rodriguez to divert the path of his Hall of Fame career and slide about 50 feet to his right. If moving from shortstop to third base could help Rodriguez get paroled from the Rangers, then Rodriguez, the best player in baseball, would do the moonwalk while he giddily made the switch.

    "What's it like in New York?" Rodriguez asked a reporter last season, a question that could have covered every issue from the chemistry in the Yankees' clubhouse to the niftiest place to devour a slice of pizza.

    To Rodriguez, a lifetime shortstop, it is better to be kind of satisfied at the hot corner for a potential championship team than to be miserable at shortstop for a last-place team. Rodriguez, who had been the captain of the Rangers for a minute or two, was eager to abandon ship, even if that meant surrendering his coveted shortstop position to Derek Jeter. Once bosom buddies, the matinee idols are now professional friends, and to the Yankees, that is close enough.

    In a recent interview with Michael Kay of the YES Network, Jeter basically absolved Rodriguez of the harsh comments Rodriguez made about him three years ago. Jeter, who can hold a grudge for a decade, said that Rodriguez was put in a position he was unaccustomed to when he made those remarks. As transparent as it seemed because Rodriguez has been a national figure since he was a teenager, it was Jeter's subdued way of saying that he and Rodriguez are cool again.

    When it became obvious several months ago that Rodriguez and the Rangers wanted their struggling partnership to end, Rodriguez told an associate that he wanted to play only for the Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. Of course, Rodriguez was savvy enough to know that those teams have the highest payrolls in the sport and were probably the only teams willing to add his immense contract.

    The Red Sox had the first opportunity to wrestle Rodriguez away from the Rangers, but they could not secure the player who was a better fit for them than the Yankees. Now the Red Sox and their fans have one more reason to hate George Steinbrenner: it took the Yankees days to execute what the Red Sox could not do in months. The Boss opened his wallet, again, and got A-Rod.

    "The bottom line is Alex needed to go," said one Texas official who spoke to him recently. "He was tired of hearing about his contract and tired of being perceived as the reason we're not winning."

    As desperate as the Rangers' owner, Tom Hicks, was to overpay $252 million for Rodriguez three years ago, he was even more desperate to unload the debacle of a contract. Hicks told Rangers officials that he wrote too many checks to creditors after the 2003 season and did not plan to do it again. Jettisoning Rodriguez will save the Rangers more than $100 million.

    While Hicks was on the verge of obtaining relief by removing a financial albatross, the Rangers thought it was curious that General Manager Brian Cashman called them last week and, suddenly, Rodriguez was ready to play third. Clearly, one baseball official theorized, Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent, had intimated to the Yankees that Rodriguez would change positions.

    If Cashman did not know that was possible, there would have been no reason to contact the Rangers.

    The interesting thing about Rodriguez's show of humility in shifting to third is that he is a better defensive shortstop than Jeter. Rodriguez has won two straight Gold Glove Awards and has better instincts and a stronger arm than the man who is expected to soon be his teammate. Jeter has lost range and is not as daring as he was before injuring his left shoulder.

    Eventually, whether it is two months or two years, whoever is managing the Yankees might be forced to recognize Rodriguez's superiority at shortstop. Since Rodriguez moved positions so willingly, how would Jeter look if a manager asked him to shift positions and he complained? Jeter, the team's captain, could be accused of putting himself ahead of the team.

    One American League scout said he would start Rodriguez at shortstop and move the softer-throwing yet athletic Jeter to second base to replace Alfonso Soriano. That dynamic duo could rule the middle of the infield and the city for several years, letting Rodriguez personally discover everything he ever wanted to know about living and playing in New York.


    ON BASEBALL

    A Deal Driven by Losing Has the Look of a Winner

    By MURRAY CHASS


    If George Steinbrenner and the Yankees find a way to trade for Alex Rodriguez, Steinbrenner will have done something the Red Sox could not.

    THE Evil Empire strikes again.

    Except this time it isn't something as relatively minor as José Contreras. This is Alex Rodriguez, American League most valuable player, maybe the best player in the game.

    This time it isn't just the Boston Red Sox. It's the Mets, too. Yes, the Mets, the team that seldom gets it right and encounters more ill fortune than the Red Sox, if that's possible.

    As day turned to night yesterday, the Yankees all but completed a deal to add Rodriguez to their lineup.

    "The deal is basically done," a baseball official said. "There are some administrative things to be done to make sure everything is done according to the rules."

    The Yankees and the Texas Rangers were putting the finishing touches on the economic part of the deal, another person familiar with the talks said. The Rangers, he said, will give the Yankees about $67 million, reducing Rodriguez's average annual payment from the Yankees to about $16 million from $25.5 million.

    The deal, everyone agreed, would gain union approval.

    It was the union that had killed the Red Sox' attempt to sign Rodriguez earlier this winter, after it determined that the changes Boston wanted to make in his contract would dilute too much of its value for it to adhere to the collective bargaining agreement.

    Now that the Yankees virtually have Rodriguez in pinstripes, the Red Sox will roar. Maybe they won't climb to the top of the Green Monster and scream from the new seats there; maybe they will decide they have no case and scream silently.

    But they will scream long and loud because not only couldn't they get Rodriguez, whom they viewed as the final weapon in their quest to overcome the Yankees, but now he is set to play for the Yankees against them.

    Evil Empire? If Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox' president, hadn't uttered the phrase about the Yankees when they beat the Red Sox to Contreras a year ago, he would surely say it now and be justified in his view.

    Then there are the Mets. They had their chance to sign Rodriguez as a free agent three years ago, but they didn't want to spend the money it would have required, then they did a silly dance to rationalize their decision. It was not the Mets' proudest moment, and they have paid dearly for it since.

    The Mets, at the time, were A-Rod's No. 1 choice (he was still pining for the Mets at a recent dinner in New York), but they couldn't run from him quickly enough. They said he would be a 1-and-24 guy, meaning they would have to treat him differently from his 24 teammates.

    Ask his Rangers teammates about that now. They're going to miss him, and they would be the first to acknowledge it. No one has played harder or more productively for a perennial last-place team.

    Of course, Rodriguez can't wait to flee the Rangers because he has seen the future and it doesn't look any rosier than the recent past.

    No one should feel sorry for this New York-born 28-year-old. He took the money — $100 million more than the next highest offer — and had to accept the consequences.

    But three years of last-place finishes were enough. Rodriguez was so eager to leave Texas for a team with a chance to win that he was willing to reduce the value of his contract. More telling, he is willing to play third base, leaving his position, shortstop, to his friend but fierce rival Derek Jeter.

    The position change is just a little more significant and intriguing than the willingness of José Reyes to move to second base for the Mets and let Kazuo Matsui, the Japanese import, play short.

    This is an M.V.P., an All-Star, a better defensive player than the man he will play alongside, relinquishing his position to have a chance to play in the postseason, to win the World Series. In Texas, he was light-years from that goal; with the Yankees, he is virtually guaranteed at least the first half of that goal.

    With Rodriguez, the Yankees may achieve the goal that has eluded them the past three years. Their failure to win the World Series in those years has not made George Steinbrenner, the team's principal owner, happy.

    As a result, the popular perception has been that Steinbrenner made all of the Yankees' personnel decisions this off-season himself. People who work for him, speaking on condition they or their positions not be identified, dispute that view, especially where the pitching moves were concerned.

    "He was very upset about losing," said one member of the organization. "He wanted to win. But he calmed down and let the baseball people take control, especially with the pitching."

    Another person said, "He listened to some people."

    When the off-season began, according to those who were interviewed, the baseball staff ranked the pitchers who were available, either in trades or as free agents: Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Bartolo Colón, Curt Schilling, Andy Pettitte.

    Pettitte was last on the list of the baseball people. The Yankees tried to sign him, but they waited too long and he escaped to Houston. But they did trade for Vazquez and Brown, dumping Jeff Weaver in the process. Everybody wanted to get rid of the disappointing Weaver, one of the people interviewed said.

    Until the sudden Rodriguez development, Gary Sheffield was the major hitting addition. A Tampa native and resident, Sheffield was the decision of the Tampa half of the Yankees' hierarchy.

    Tampa generally prevails when it disagrees with New York, because Steinbrenner is Tampa.

    Briefly, when the Sheffield negotiations appeared to be collapsing over the deferred money in the three-year, $39 million deal, the Yankees considered Vladimir Guerrero. But Tampa wanted Sheffield.

    Tampa wanted Kenny Lofton, too.

    Steinbrenner decreed that the Yankees needed a center fielder and prototypical leadoff hitter. He identified the 36-year-old Lofton as that player.

    "That came directly from Tampa," said a member of the Yankees family. "Everybody in New York was dead opposed to it."

    Steinbrenner wasn't alone in Tampa in his desire to sign Lofton. Billy Connors and Bill Emslie wanted him, too. Connors, a former pitcher, is vice president for player personnel and a longtime Steinbrenner baseball confidant. Emslie, a former umpire, is a member of the Yankees' professional scouting staff who gained credibility with Steinbrenner by pushing to sign David Ortiz a year ago.

    The Yankees didn't sign Ortiz, a free agent, but the Red Sox did, and he had a terrific season (he had the league's third-fattest slugging percentage), so terrific that after the season Steinbrenner used it against his general manager, Brian Cashman.

    So when Emslie, among others, endorsed the signing of Lofton, there was no stopping Steinbrenner. Bernie Williams, long an overrated defensive outfielder, would be moved out of center to designated hitter, and Lofton would play center and lead off, even though he appeared to be far shakier than Williams before a revival in the second half of last season.

    The Yankees' latest foray has not been a Steinbrenner orchestration. Cashman initiated talks with the Rangers about Rodriguez, and Steinbrenner needed only to approve what was just another expenditure.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3

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    More torment for Beantown.

  4. #4

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    I am so excited! A stranger actually approached me on the street yesterday to tell me the good news.






  5. #5

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    Announcement at 2 P.M. today....(sunday) :lol:

  6. #6

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    February 16, 2004

    Deal for Rodriguez Makes Dollars, and Sense

    By TYLER KEPNER

    The Yankees and the Texas Rangers have completed a trade that will send Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named, baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said last night. The players union has approved the deal, and all that remains is Commissioner Bud Selig's approval, which is expected today.

    A Major League Baseball official said Selig was merely waiting for a weekday to complete the paperwork.

    Rodriguez, the consensus best player in the majors, has longed for years to play on the New York stage. He is expected to be introduced at a Yankee Stadium news conference tomorrow, the day the team's pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training in Tampa, Fla.

    The deal includes more cash — $67 million from the Rangers to the Yankees — than any previous baseball trade. The most staggering part of the deal is not what the Yankees are paying Rodriguez, but what they are not.

    Rodriguez is working under the richest contract in sports, a 10-year, $252 million deal he signed with the Texas Rangers after the 2000 season. The Rangers are receiving significant financial relief by trading him, but because they are paying so much of the $179 million Rodriguez is owed, he is something of a bargain for the Yankees.

    Rodriguez, the American League's most valuable player last season as a shortstop, will switch to third base for the Yankees, and he will essentially cost them no more this season than they had originally budgeted. The Yankees will pay Rodriguez $15 million in 2004, but he is deferring $1 million. The third-base prospect Drew Henson was scheduled to make $4 million this season before quitting to pursue football. The $5.4 million salary for Soriano, the All-Star second baseman, is also off the books, and the Yankees would save about $4.8 million by cutting third baseman Aaron Boone, who voided the guarantee in his contract by tearing up his left knee while playing basketball last month.

    The expected payouts to Henson, Soriano and Boone total roughly $14.2 million. The $942,623 in termination pay the Yankees would owe Boone, in addition to the $14 million they will pay Rodriguez this season, would raise the Yankees' payroll by less than $750,000.

    "We traded an All-Star to get a Hall of Famer at a gain of very little for this year," a Yankees official said.

    The Yankees' overall payroll for 2004, based on average annual payouts to 24 players and including the termination pay the club is expected to give Boone, will be about $180 million.

    Before deferrals, the Yankees will pay Rodriguez $15 million in each of the next three seasons; $16 million in 2007 and 2008; $17 million in 2009; and $18 million in 2010. Rodriguez will defer $1 million in each of the first four years of the deal, at zero-percent interest, and receive the $4 million in 2011, after the contract expires.

    The Rangers are expected to reduce the interest rate on the money Rodriguez has already deferred to 1 percent from 3 percent. That could have jeopardized the deal because the union does not allow its members to devalue contracts; that was the rationale behind the union's rejection of Boston's trade for Rodriguez in December.

    The Yankees had to add value to the contract for the union to approve it, and they did so in two ways: They guaranteed Rodriguez a suite on the road, a perk the Yankees almost never allow, and gave Rodriguez permission to link his Web site to the Yankees' team site.

    The first year Rodriguez will not defer money is 2008, when almost all of the Yankees' long-term contracts will have expired. Jason Giambi will be in his final year, leaving only Derek Jeter and Rodriguez signed for 2009 and 2010.

    Rodriguez, who turns 29 in July, is the classic five-tool player, with well above average skill in hitting, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and running. As the Yankees considered the deal last week, at least two club officials called Rodriguez the best player they had ever scouted.

    There was palpable excitement among Yankee officials yesterday because the team improved itself markedly on offense and defense without giving up a pitcher of consequence. The player to be named will come from a list of five players at Class A or Class AA and will not include the top prospects Dioner Navarro, a catcher, or Eric Duncan, a third baseman.

    "The middle of the lineup looks like: Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield and Giambi, and Bernie fits somewhere in there," the Yankee official said. "That's not too shabby."

    The Yankees are expected to sign Travis Lee, complicating their order when Lee starts at first base and Giambi is the designated hitter. On those days, either Bernie Williams or Kenny Lofton would have to come off the bench.

    But the lineup Manager Joe Torre could use is potentially devastating. Lofton would lead off, followed by Jeter. The 3-4-5 spots could go to Rodriguez, Giambi and Gary Sheffield, with Williams, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui to follow. Those eight players have made a combined 39 All-Star teams.

    Batting ninth would be the second baseman, and the Yankees do not seem as eager to fill that hole as they were to find a new third baseman. Rodriguez's offense at third base erases the need for a slugging second baseman. "Hit ninth, hit .250 and play catch," the Yankee said. "The rest will take care of itself."

    Miguel Cairo, 29, signed a one-year, $900,000 contract in December and has been a reserve for the last three seasons. But from 1998 to 2000, he played in 373 games at second base for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, fielding at about the league average. He is a .269 career hitter. The veteran backup Enrique Wilson has played only 96 games at second base over seven seasons.



    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    February 16, 2004

    ON BASEBALL

    Summer or Winter, the Yankees Show the Red Sox How to Win

    By MURRAY CHASS

    In the end, the Yankees' trade for Alex Rodriguez is just another instance in which the Yankees beat the Red Sox. They beat them by finishing first in their division last season; they beat them in the postseason and went to the World Series; and now, in the game of winter hardball, it's Yankees 1, Red Sox 0.

    The funny thing about this latest competition is that the Yankees were not even competing with the Red Sox for Rodriguez, a star shortstop and the American League's most valuable player last season. When the Red Sox were trying to get him in a trade from the Texas Rangers this winter, they were all alone. It was as if they had their batting practice pitcher throwing to their own hitters in the American League Championship Series.

    And the Red Sox still couldn't win.

    They had an exclusive period to meet and court Rodriguez, courtesy of an overly sympathetic baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, and they still couldn't win. The Yankees weren't in the picture; they were almost disinterested observers. Nevertheless, with the official announcement of the trade expected today, it's Yankees 1, Red Sox 0.

    "We wouldn't be much of a contender for a title if we couldn't take a punch," Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox president, said yesterday. "This is a haymaker, to be sure, but you still have to win it on the field."

    But what chance do the Red Sox really have of winning on the field? Sure, the teams have to play 162 games, but the Red Sox could lead the Yankees for 161 games and still lose to them. They could have a three-run lead and be five outs from going to the World Series and — oh, right, that happened in October.

    "The Red Sox had a chance to get this done," a baseball official said. "They thought in the end there was no other competition."

    The Red Sox would have been right had they worked out a deal that was acceptable to the players union, but the union found that the Red Sox' proposal was a reduction, not a restructuring, of Rodriguez's contract — by far the largest in baseball history — and rejected it under provisions in the collective-bargaining agreement.

    The Yankees found a way to maintain his salary, and the union approved the deal yesterday. All that remains is for Selig to approve. He would most likely have taken that step yesterday, but an official said he wanted to take more time because never before had so much money, $67 million, been included in a deal.

    "This is a historical deal," the official said. "This is the result of the largest deal in baseball history." Rodriguez and Tom Hicks, the Rangers' owner, agreed to the $252 million deal three years ago, but by this winter both wanted out of it. Hicks had to do it for personal reasons and team economic reasons; Rodriguez wanted to flee the Rangers.

    "They had a clubhouse thing that was intolerable," an official said. "Alex told people this winter that the thought of going back to Texas was driving him crazy."

    In their negotiations with the Red Sox, the Rangers offered no money to offset Rodriguez's salary. Instead they wanted the Red Sox to give them $15 million. But the Rangers will pay an annual average of $9.57 million of Rodriguez's salary, leaving the Yankees with an average of $16 million a year for seven years.

    "That's a great deal for the Yankees," a general manager of another team said. "It's a steal."

    The Yankees also got Rodriguez to defer an additional $1 million a year for each of the first four years with no interest. They offset that reduction in value by giving Rodriguez a hotel suite on the road (an old players' perk) and allowing him to link his Web site to the Yankees' Web site (a new perk).

    The Rangers, who will work out Rodriguez's New York State tax payments, agreed to purchase Rodriguez's house in Texas (he is so eager to flee the Rangers that he will not be going back anytime soon) and his suite at the American Airlines Arena.

    The Red Sox, on the other hand, wanted to reduce Rodriguez's salary by $4 million a year and in return offered to let him become a free agent after each season. Some additional benefit that would have been. Give up salaries of $25 million and $27 million and try to find that money elsewhere in a declining market.

    Compounding the problems toward reaching an agreement acceptable to all sides, the Rangers asked the Red Sox for $15 million to offset the salaries they would pay Manny Ramirez, who would have gone to Texas. Given that a trade would have relieved the Rangers of $179 million on Rodriguez's contract, some dictionary might use the Rangers' request for money as the definition of chutzpah.

    But Ramirez did figure in the difference in the deals the Rangers made and did not make. Ramirez is owed $97.5 million over the next five years. But Alfonso Soriano is signed only for the coming season at $5.4 million. That difference made it easier for the Rangers to agree to pay part of Rodriguez's salary.

    "One of the keys here is Texas taking Soriano instead of Ramirez," a baseball lawyer said.

    In rejecting the Red Sox proposal, the union offered a counterproposal, but the Red Sox wanted no part of it. It will be a cold day somewhere before Lucchino accepts a union idea.

    Baseball's telephone lines were hot yesterday as owners and general managers called one another and major league officials to discuss their views of the trade. One general manager said he was stunned at the suddenness of the trade but not surprised that the Yankees pulled it off.

    Some general managers just shook their heads, at least figuratively, and said that's the Yankees.

    "I respect them," Mark Shapiro, the Cleveland general manager, said. "I don't begrudge them. Within the standards and rules they've got, they're making a great deal that will make them a better team. There's the competitive balance issue, but that's not their problem. I don't know why they should be expected to restrain themselves. They're playing by the rules and doing a good job within those rules."

    Jim Beattie, a Baltimore executive, added: "It's baseball. It's the way the game is right now. You can't fight the way the game is now."


    SPORTS OF THE TIMES

    Yanks' Pitching Must Be A-O.K., Too

    By DAVE ANDERSON

    IT appears so easy for the Yankees now. Maybe too easy.

    Alex Rodriguez is about to be the new name on the Yankees' marquee, the third hitter in the batting order and the third baseman. His arrival has created a hole at second base with Alfonso Soriano en route to Texas, but the owner George Steinbrenner surely will find somebody special to fill that hole. If only Rogers Hornsby or Jackie Robinson were available.

    But the Yankees should not design their 2004 World Series championship rings just yet.

    For all of A-Rod's anticipated 80 home runs and 200 runs batted in, how far the Yankees go into October will ultimately depend on their new pitching rotation of Mike Mussina, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, José Contreras and Jon Lieber, especially in the postseason pressure cooker.

    Hitting can win a division. Over 162 games, the Yankees' hitting should overpower enough bad teams with bad pitchers to win enough games to finish first in the American League East ahead of the improved Red Sox.

    But in the postseason, particularly in the World Series, as the Yankees know only too well, the team with the best big-game pitcher usually wins.

    Maybe Mussina, Vazquez or Brown will be that big-game pitcher for the Yankees next October. But maybe not. Only time will tell.

    Brown has been on a winning World Series team, the 1997 Florida Marlins, but his vulnerability to arm trouble could limit his effectiveness, if not his season. Mussina has been spotty for the Yankees in two losing Series. Vazquez, for all his potential, might need time to adjust to the New York goldfish bowl. Contreras is still a question mark. So is Lieber, coming off arm surgery. Maybe some or all of those pitchers will come up big in the big games, but it's not as if Andy Pettitte or Roger Clemens will be walking out to the mound.

    Before each of his six World Series as the Yankees' manager, in fact before each of his eight postseasons, Joe Torre has always summed up the situation with the words, "If we pitch." When the Yankees did pitch, they won the Series — in 1996 against the Braves, in 1998 against the Padres, in 1999 against the Braves, in 2000 against the Mets.

    When they didn't pitch, they lost — to the Indians in a 1997 division series, to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 Series, to the Angels in a 2002 division series, and to the wild-card Marlins in last year's Series.

    As good a big-game pitcher as Pettitte was against the Twins and the Red Sox, the best big-game pitcher in the World Series turned out to be the Marlins' Josh Beckett. On three days' rest, his 3-0 six-hitter closed out the Yankees in Game 6.

    In the loss to the Diamondbacks, Arizona's Randy Johnson was the best big-game pitcher, winning twice as a starter and again as a late-inning reliever in Game 7.

    And for all of the Yankees' 26 Series triumphs built on bats swung by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, each of the Yankees' 13 Series losses turned on the opposing team having better big-game pitching.

    Even with the young Ruth, the Yankees lost the 1921 and 1922 Series to the Giants. Even with the young Gehrig added to the Babe in 1926, they lost to the Cardinals when 39-year-old Grover Cleveland Alexander won Game 6 and closed out Game 7 in relief.

    Even with DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller and Phil Rizzuto in 1942, they lost to the Cardinals when right-hander Johnny Beazley won twice.

    Even with Mantle, Berra, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard, Gil McDougald and Billy Martin in 1955, they lost to the Brooklyn Dodgers when Johnny Podres pitched a 2-0 eight-hitter in Game 7 at the Stadium.

    Even with Mantle, Berra, Howard, Bauer, McDougald and Tony Kubek in 1957, they lost to the Milwaukee Braves when Lew Burdette was 3-0 with an 0.67 earned run average and 13 strikeouts in three starts.

    Even with Mantle, Berra, Roger Maris, Howard, Kubek, Bobby Richardson and Bill Skowron in 1960, they lost to the Pirates on Bill Mazeroski's home run off right-hander Ralph Terry in Game 7.

    Even with Mantle, Maris, Howard, Kubek, Richardson and Joe Pepitone in 1963, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers as Sandy Koufax won twice, and Don Drysdale and Podres each won once.

    Even with Mantle, Maris, Howard, Pepitone, Clete Boyer and Tom Tresh in 1964, they lost to the Cardinals because Bob Gibson won twice, notably Game 7, with a total of 31 strikeouts in 27 innings.

    Even with Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles and Lou Piniella in 1976, they were swept by the Reds.

    Even with Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Bob Watson, Willie Randolph and Piniella in 1981, they lost to the Dodgers.

    Even with Jeter, Williams, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martínez and Scott Brosius in 2001, they lost to the Diamondbacks, and even with Jeter, Williams, Soriano, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui last year, they lost to the Marlins.

    So hitting isn't everything, especially in the World Series, but pitching usually is.

    In winning those 26 Series, the Yankees had the pitching: Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing; then Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, Eddie Lopat and Whitey Ford; then Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry and Tommy John; and in the recent reign, Pettitte, Clemens, David Wells, Orlando Hernández and, most important, Mariano Rivera.

    But if the Yankees are to win the World Series this October, they must have a lead in the ninth inning, if not the eighth, for Rivera to protect. That's why the effectiveness of the new starting rotation will be more important than A-Rod.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    February 16, 2004

    Friendship of 2 Stars Is Safe After They Were on the Outs

    By JACK CURRY


    Derek Jeter, left, and Alex Rodriguez at the 2002 All-Star Game. Both are under contract to the Yankees through 2010.

    Alex Rodriguez was a high school senior the first time he spoke with Derek Jeter. Rodriguez was expected to be the first choice by the Seattle Mariners in the 1993 amateur draft, but true to his already poised approach, he contacted a fellow shortstop, Jeter, about being picked in the first round by the Yankees a year earlier.

    The fact-finding call led to more calls, more chats between two baseball-crazed teenagers, and the discussions stretched well beyond baseball.

    Soon, two players with different backgrounds and similar goals developed a strong friendship that grew as they climbed toward the major leagues.

    Rodriguez, now as recognizable as any player in baseball, would laugh as he recalled fans' routinely mistaking him for Jeter when Rodriguez was with the Mariners. Jeter slept at Rodriguez's house when the Yankees were in Seattle, and Rodriguez would find a bunk in Jeter's apartment when the Mariners traveled to the Bronx. Rarely have two higher-profile opponents been as close.

    "At this point," Rodriguez once said, "Derek has become like my brother."

    But the friendship took a turn when Rodriguez said some unflattering things about Jeter three years ago in an article in Esquire. Jeter was irritated when Rodriguez told Esquire that when preparing for the Yankees, Jeter was "never your concern." The implication was that Jeter was benefiting from being in a better situation with the mighty Yankees and that he was not as talented as Rodriguez.

    Publicly, Jeter mostly ignored the static created by Rodriguez's remarks. But the words bothered Jeter, and so did having to answer questions about the depth of his friendship with Rodriguez.

    "When you think about the things Alex said, there had to be some kind of jealousy," one of Jeter's friends said. "Why else would you say that?"

    After Rodriguez maligned him, Jeter retreated and their friendship cooled. Jeter, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has said that he can make a quick decision to end a friendship if he feels wronged, which is what seemingly happened with Rodriguez for a spell.

    The passage of time and Rodriguez's explanation of how a few critical comments should not undermine dozens of laudatory remarks he had made about Jeter over the years reduced the tension.

    The two, though not road roommates anymore, are cordial again.

    They filmed a commercial for Major League Baseball last month that included Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia. Jeter absolved Rodriguez for his comments of three years ago, seeming to rationalize them in an interview on the YES Network when he said that Rodriguez had been in foreign circumstances, with his status soaring after he signed his record-breaking contract with Texas and with unfamiliar kinds of questions being tossed at him.

    "We're friends," Jeter has said.

    The soul brothers who separated and regained some footing in their friendship after a verbal slip-up will be in the highest of high-rent districts on the left side of the infield at Yankee Stadium. That will become a reality if Commissioner Bud Selig approves the trade today, as expected.

    Rodriguez is considered the best player in baseball, and he was chasing the title of the best shortstop in major league history, but he was so desperate to leave the Rangers that he surrendered his love affair with shortstop and agreed to move to third base. Rodriguez has snared the last two Gold Glove awards and is considered the better defensive player, so maybe he thinks a return to shortstop is always a possibility. Why not? Who thought this startling deal was possible?

    Jeter helped the Yankees win a World Series title as a rookie in 1996 and added three more rings in the next four seasons. He said Rodriguez talked to him about reaching that same level. Leaving a legacy is crucial to Rodriguez; he told Jeter that he wanted to be a champion, too. That was not likely to happen in the near future in Texas.

    Jeter, reared in Kalamazoo, Mich., with two strict parents, won the Rookie of the Year award after batting .314 in 1996, when he was 22. Rodriguez, who grew up in a single-parent home in Miami, hit .358 with 36 homers and 123 runs batted in that season, but 1995 was considered his rookie season, when he had 142 at-bats. Rodriguez made his debut as an 18-year-old in 1994, playing in 17 games for the Mariners.

    The argument about the superiority of the shortstops raged in the early parts of their careers, but the debate began to follow a pattern. Rodriguez always had the gaudier statistics, typically dwarfing Jeter's power numbers: he hit 57 homers in 2002 and at least 40 in his last six seasons. But Jeter's teams usually had the better records and he excelled in October, when he was typically the Yankees' premier player.

    Tall, regal and eloquent, Rodriguez is as polished a player as there is in baseball. He already knows several New York reporters by name, and he will probably have many more memorized before spring training ends. He seems to relish the spotlight and will instantly swipe a big part of it from other marquee Yankees.

    For all of Jeter's appearances on the gossip pages, he works diligently to keep his private life private. When Jeter talked about his friendship with Rodriguez, he would usually describe it as close; it was Rodriguez who used terms like brothers. Jeter is polite with reporters, but he does not offer the voluminous answers that Rodriguez does.

    "We always talk about getting old, gray and fat when our careers are over and just having a good time," Rodriguez once said. "He's like me. He wants to have a good time and be a good person. It's a weird situation for us. It's just like we're looking in the mirror."

    One of the most memorable incidents involving the two occurred during a beanball-charged game between the Mariners and the Yankees in August 1999. They were near each other as the brawl dissipated, and Rodriguez playfully told Jeter, "If we fight again, I'm coming after you."

    Jeter said he smiled or smirked at Rodriguez. The Yankees' Chad Curtis confronted Jeter by the dugout, saying he had been disloyal, and lectured him in front of reporters in the clubhouse, telling him, "You're a good player, but you don't know how to play the game."

    Jeter was angry at Curtis, a backup outfielder, for admonishing him so publicly and for assuming to know what had happened. Curtis apologized for the way he reprimanded Jeter, but never apologized for what he said. Jeter stopped talking to Curtis.

    Rodriguez rushed to Jeter's defense, calling him the "ultimate team player" and adding, "For a platoon player to talk about Derek, I thought that was ironic."

    Despite the connections and comparisons, Jeter and Rodriguez probably never discussed playing together. Why talk about something that was an impossible long shot? They both played shortstop, so there did not seem to be any way they would ever unite.

    When Michael Kay interviewed Jeter for YES recently, Jeter agreed to talk about Rodriguez's being traded to the Red Sox so they would have a canned answer in case the deal happened.

    Obviously, George Steinbrenner's network will never broadcast Jeter's response to Rodriguez's being on the Red Sox. He will be a Yankee soon, and now the question for Jeter is what it will be like to play alongside his old phone friend, not against him.



    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    02/15/2004 4:32 PM ET

    Press Row: A-Rod reaction

    MLB.com

    The back -- and front pages -- were screaming with joy in Gotham. Meanwhile, Red Sox Nation was staggered.

    News of the Alex Rodriguez trade to the Yankees triggered noteworthy takes from coast to coast.

    Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

    Geez, Joe, whaddya think?

    Derek third, A-Rod fourth, and Giambi fifth? Or Derek second, A-Rod third, Giambi fourth, and Posada fifth? Sounds good, but then who's gonna tell Sheffield he's batting sixth?

    And then there's Matsui. Isn't there an entire nation that now thinks its man should be occupying a prime spot in your order, not batting seventh? Which leaves Bernie -- omigod, it can't be -- eighth?

    Lou Piniella doesn't have these problems.

    Terry Francona doesn't even have these problems. At least Joe Torre knows who's batting ninth (the second baseman, whoever that will be). And first (Kenny Lofton).

    Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

    Everyone knows the Red Sox and Yankees have been lobbing pies in one another's faces with increasing frequency these past couple of years. We've all enjoyed seeing the rivalry ratcheted up to the highest levels. But A-Rod to the Yankees deals a crushing blow to the psyche of Red Sox Nation. Just when it finally looked like the Sox were ready to overtake their nemeses -- after a terrific offseason of healing and reloading by the Boston brass -- the Yankees get the guy the Sox coveted? On the eve of spring training? Say it ain't so, Theo.

    A-Rod to the Yankees? It's instant folklore alongside Ruth to the Yankees, Lyle to the Yankees, Dent into the screen, Clemens to the Yankees, and New England burning down while Grady Little slept.

    And now this: The Valentine's Day Massacre of 2004.

    Gordon Edes, Boston Globe

    The acquisition of Rodriguez is certain to be viewed as the latest example of the Yankees responding to their most bitter rival. The Red Sox had made two big moves this winter -- acquiring starting pitcher Curt Schilling and closer Keith Foulke -- that had swung the balance of power in the eyes of many, including Las Vegas oddsmakers who had made the Sox favorites to win the American League pennant.

    But with the Yankees acquiring A-Rod, that would seem to tilt the odds back in their favor.

    "I think it clearly keeps the Yankees as the favorite," (Red Sox CEO Larry) Lucchino said. "We're the hungry underdogs. This makes us a little more hungry and a little more the underdog."

    Said Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi:

    "A-Rod is a big, big get for the Yankees. Listen, before this I thought the Red Sox had the best offseason of any team in the league.

    "Acquiring Schilling and Foulke are two two gigantic moves. But now you're talking about one of the top one or two players in the game. From our point of view, it doesn't change much. We thought it would be Boston and New York that we had to find a way to beat. And that's still the same climb for us.

    "You've got a team spending, what, $200 million? Another team that's $125 million? It seems the Red Sox do have a limit. But it just looks like the Yankees have no limits."

    Howard Bryant, Boston Herald

    Let's see if I've got this straight: The Yankees' Opening Day lineup is slated, barring injury, to feature Kenny Lofton (DH), Derek Jeter (SS), Jason Giambi (1B), Alex Rodriguez (3B), Gary Sheffield (LF), Bernie Williams (CF), Hideki Matsui (RF), and Jorge Posada (C). They've got everything but a second baseman. Maybe they'll sign Rogers Hornsby tomorrow morning.

    William C. Rhoden, New York Times

    After you get past the stunning news that Alex Rodriguez will most likely join Derek Jeter in the Yankees' infield, the question that arises is why.

    The deal the Yankees are about to conclude would send Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers, perhaps along with a prospect, and move Rodriguez to the Yankees.

    Now the fun begins.

    The simple story behind the news is that third baseman Aaron Boone tore up a knee; the Yankees needed a star infielder and went after Rodriguez. A-Rod would play third, and his good friend Jeter would stay at shortstop.

    But there is something more to this, a larger question: Whose head is George Steinbrenner throwing at now? I think it's Derek Jeter's head. Again.

    About a year ago, Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, publicly criticized Jeter for lacking focus and keeping late hours. Steinbrenner said all of the charity work and the bachelor lifestyle had been affecting Jeter's performance on the field, and he also singled out Jeter's defense.

    Jeter took offense and said that the Boss had crossed the line by questioning his integrity. Jeter also defended his work ethic.

    Ultimately, Jeter and the Boss made amends. They shot a couple of Visa commercials together and the Yankees reached the World Series.

    But if Steinbrenner's comments before last season were a brushback pitch, the latest move is a knockdown.

    Rodriguez is the best all-around shortstop in baseball -- not just the best in the American League, but the best in baseball. Yet he would go to third in deference to Jeter.

    How long do you think that arrangement will last? Jeter missed six weeks last season after dislocating his shoulder in the opener on March 31 in Toronto. He also injured his thumb during the American League Championship Series against Boston. If Jeter is injured and Rodriguez fills in splendidly, the debate over who should be playing where will be unimaginable.

    Jack Curry, New York Times

    To Rodriguez, a lifetime shortstop, it is better to be kind of satisfied at the hot corner for a potential championship team than to be miserable at shortstop for a last-place team. Rodriguez, who had been the captain of the Rangers for a minute or two, was eager to abandon ship, even if that meant surrendering his coveted shortstop position to Derek Jeter. Once bosom buddies, the matinee idols are now professional friends, and to the Yankees, that is close enough.

    Murray Chass, New York Times

    This is an M.V.P., an All-Star, a better defensive player than the man he will play alongside, relinquishing his position to have a chance to play in the postseason, to win the World Series. In Texas, he was light-years from that goal; with the Yankees, he is virtually guaranteed at least the first half of that goal.

    With Rodriguez, the Yankees may achieve the goal that has eluded them the past three years. Their failure to win the World Series in those years has not made George Steinbrenner, the team's principal owner, happy.

    Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

    It takes something like this to rattle New York City, to send a breathless buzz across our sporting landscape. It doesn't happen very often. Maybe the last time was Nov. 10, 1971, the day the Knicks traded Mike Riordan and Dave Stallworth to the Baltimore Bullets for Earl Monroe. Maybe you have to go all the way back to Babe Ruth before that. If you are a Yankees fan, this is one of those days you will remember for a lifetime. If you aren't, you will grumble about payrolls and competitive balance and Evil Empires, and that is your right, because it really might be the greatest example of gluttony since Henry VIII was introduced to the Ponderosa food bar. Yankees fans don't care. They shouldn't care.

    They get Alex Rodriguez in pinstripes now, the greatest baseball player on the planet. They get 162 games worth of A-Rod, who will anchor the most potent, most astonishing lineup we've seen in baseball in decades. Maybe ever.

    Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News

    In an incredible turn of events, the Yankees have once again trumped the Red Sox -- their ancient rivals -- and shocked the rest of the baseball world by working out a deal to get A-Rod from the Texas Rangers, after the American League MVP agreed to move from shortstop to third base. A-Rod was never a member of the Red Sox, but tell that to Boston fans, who endured weeks of talks and speculation that the Bosox would get the player many consider the best in the game.

    "Every once in awhile, you have to tip your cap to your adversary," Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino told the Boston Herald last night. "They went out and did it and they got the job done. As hard as it may be for us to say or our fans to hear, the Yankees do deserve credit for deploying their resources as they have."

    Ken Davidoff, Newsday

    A person who spoke with Alfonso Soriano yesterday said the slugging second baseman was waving off Newsday's report of a Soriano-for-Alex Rodriguez trade. A veteran of so many trade discussions over the years, Soriano apparently figured this was just another report that would conclude with him still a Yankee. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, this likely was Soriano's final error as a Yankee.

    With the Yankees and Rangers having agreed in principle on a deal that will send Soriano and a player to be named to Texas for Rodriguez, the Yankees will cut their ties with perhaps the most exciting player of Joe Torre's reign.

    ...

    Last year, teammates said Soriano's self-esteem seemed a little too high, his work ethic a little too low. He continued to chase pitches, his defense didn't improve nearly enough, and he ended the season with an awful October, culminating in his benching for Game 5 of the World Series.

    Had the Rodriguez trade not come along, Soriano would be a Yankee, looking to "redeem" himself. But if Soriano realized that trade discussions were part of being a Yankee, he also should have realized that getting traded is part of being one.

    Suzyn Waldman, YES Network

    It's very simple. When you have the chance to get the best player in baseball, you do it.

    Don't tell me that it's overkill. Don't tell me about what Alfonso Soriano may or may not become. Don't tell me that you'd rather see the Yankees try to develop Erick Almonte. Don't tell me that Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo would do nicely at third base filling in for Aaron Boone.

    When you have the chance to get the best player in baseball, you do it.

    Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    A $120 million charitable donation from George is coming this way.
    Alex Rodriguez, we hate to see you go.

    But it was time. And it is best for Alex, and best for the Rangers. Both will agree on that.

    ...

    The Yankees will send 26-year-old second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a minor leaguer to be named later to the Rangers.

    Soriano is owed $5.4 million for next season, and that's it. The Rangers are expected to try him in center field. Soriano, however, was originally a shortstop, who was moved to second by the Yankees, where he failed defensively. Another shortstop candidate will be Mike Young. That was also his original position before Young worked himself into a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman. So with A-Rod gone, there are options at shortstop.

    Above all else, Soriano is a power hitter (.290, 36 doubles, 38 homers, 91 runs batted in last season) and a proven base-stealer (35 last season). On the negative side, he also strikes out frequently. But as a plate threat, the Rangers added another dimension.

    No, Alfonso can't pitch, but when considering the massive size of Alex's contract and the flexibility of Soriano's contract, plus Soriano's talent, this is a good trade for the Rangers, who weren't exactly dealing from a position of strength.

    Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News

    Aaron Boone, the Rangers owe you one.

    Aaron "Bleepin'" Boone, as he is known around Boston for the homer that kept the Red Sox out of the World Series, finished last season as the New York Yankees' third baseman. Boone tore up a knee while playing basketball last month.

    Because of Boone's accident, the Yankees need a third baseman.

    Because of Boone's accident, the Rangers are set to take advantage of a rare second chance and help themselves by trading Alex Rodriguez.

    With stunning speed, what began with an exploratory call from the Yankees last week has turned into a deal that would send Rodriguez, the team captain for all of three weeks, and his oppressive contract to the Bronx.

    Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle

    The Yankees lost three-fourths of their starting rotation -- Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells -- but have acquired Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, Sheffield, Kenny Lofton and now apparently Rodriguez.

    It's unclear who'll play second base, but the other starting eight will average $11.13 million per player.

    Rodriguez will be the highest paid Yankee at $21 million (even if the Yankees pay only $16 million), but Jeter ($17 million), Brown ($15 million), Mike Mussina ($14 million) and Sheffield ($13 million) are also making huge money.

    If the pitchers -- especially Brown and Jon Lieber -- stay healthy, the Yankees will be favored to make a ninth straight postseason appearance.

    Manager Joe Torre's challenge will be keeping Steinbrenner, who has orchestrated every move, quiet when the club has a slump.

    His other job will be getting all the various pieces to play as a team. But there's so much talent that it could overcome even those problems.

    Larry Stone, Seattle Times

    A-Rod in pinstripes? So much for the notion that competitive balance is returning to the game. The acquisition of Alex Rodriguez, if it is completed, would be the ultimate statement by the Yankees that the rules don't apply to them. Not to mention the ultimate "in your face" to the Red Sox, who spent all winter trying to land Rodriguez.

    The Yankees' payroll would go soaring up to near the $200 million mark -- more than six times greater than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who have to compete in the same division. New York's infield alone -- Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and a second baseman to be named -- would be a veritable gross national product.

    Buster Olney, ESPN The Magazine

    The Alex Rodriguez deal would jack up the pressure on the Yankees -- and the Red Sox -- in a way that probably has never been seen.

    An executive who knows Rodriguez says the infielder has absolutely no idea what type of burden he will assume in New York. He's played in a small media market in Seattle, and when he went to Texas, the Rangers always were the story played below the newspaper fold, under the breaking story of the latest Cowboys long-snapper. If the Yankees win championships, A-Rod's stardom could transcend baseball. But if the Yankees lose, he will stand in the crosshairs of blame, in the most demanding market in the game.

    Yankees owner George Steinbrenner already expects his team to win every World Series, and now he is assuming the biggest contract in sports and about another $20 million in luxury tax. If this team -- with A-Rod, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter -- fails to win 11 out of every 10 games, he will inevitably breathe down the neck of the players, demanding results -- and the fans in Yankee Stadium will reflect Steinbrenner's moods with their visceral reactions.

    www.yankees.com

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    Its amazing the buzz this trade has generated around the city and metropolitan area. I can't go anywhere without hearing about it, and its been 3 days already...








  13. #13

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    I don't know anything about baseball or that dude but as long as you're happy :lol:

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    NY Post...

    JETER GREETS OLD PAL A-ROD

    By DAN MANGAN
    February 17, 2004

    Alex Rodriguez jetted to New York late yesterday, heading straight for old pal and new teammate Derek Jeter's Big Apple pad just hours after officially becoming a Yankee.

    Rodriguez arrived as Bronx Bomber fans rejoiced that their legendary team had nabbed the best player in baseball - who was unsuccessfully wooed in December by their hated arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

    The city's newest sports phenom flew into New York by private jet late yesterday afternoon with his wife, Cynthia, and was immediately driven with Jeter in a black SUV to the Yankee captain's $13 million apartment in the Trump World Tower near the United Nations.

    A-Rod will be formally welcomed by the Yankees today at a press conference at the House That Ruth Built, where he will don a pinstripe jersey bearing his new lucky number - 13.

    "This is a great day for the New York Yankees and for the City of New York," crowed team owner George Steinbrenner after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gave final approval to the blockbuster deal that sent Rodriguez here from the Texas Rangers.

    "In acquiring Alex Rodriguez, we are bringing to New York one of the premier players in the history of the game."

    Rodriguez, 28, made the trade possible by agreeing to move from shortstop, where he won six All-Star team slots and last season's American League MVP award, to third base, allowing Jeter to stay at his position.

    Rodriguez, who was born in New York, will begin spring training in Florida with the team next week.

    A-Rod just beamed when a Post photographer caught him outside Jeter's apartment and asked him how he liked being in the Big Apple.

    Yankee GM Brian Cashman was not so reserved.

    "I really cannot describe how happy I am to have been able to acquire a player of the caliber of Alex Rodriguez," he said.

    "It was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am ecstatic that a lot of hard work enabled us to consummate a deal of this magnitude."

    Yankee skipper Joe Torre said, "It's tough to come up with words to describe how you feel when a player of Alex's ability and class is suddenly in your lineup. I know the fans of New York are going to love having him here on an everyday basis. I couldn't be happier."

    The Yankees will pay Rodriguez $112 million for the remaining seven years of the unprecedented $252 million contract he signed with Texas three seasons ago. The Rangers, in an unusual arrangement, will pay A-Rod the $67 million balance of the contract through 2025.

    In exchange for A-Rod, the Rangers got star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later.

    The deal gives the Yanks, who lost last season's World Series and who have not won it since 2000, a player considered to be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

    And it gives A-Rod, whose Rangers have been dreadful despite his presence, the chance to play for a legendary winning team. The Yanks in recent years have either strongly contended for or taken the American League title, and have worn four World Series crowns since 1995.

    The trade stunned the baseball world, which had expected A-Rod to stay with the Rangers after a recent aborted attempt to trade him to the Sox.

    "I think this is one of the best trades in the history of baseball," said former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a rabid Yankee fan. "This is going to make the season very exciting."

    The trade was so big, it became Sports Illustrated's cover at the last minute, knocking a feature on ex-Yankees Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte off Page 1.

    Manhattan teacher Amy Strassler-Goldstein, who traveled to the Stadium yesterday to buy tickets, said, "It's the A-Rod icing on the Yankees cake."

    Anthony Sedia, 38, a construction worker from The Bronx, was there, too.

    "The minute the trade was confirmed, I said, 'I'm gonna get season tickets for me and my son,' " he said.

    There also was glee in Rodriguez's old neighborhood of Washington Heights.

    "I think this is a beautiful thing," said Carlos Rodriguez, 34, a building superintendent. "It'll keep New York in the buzz."

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    Is it as simple as that to get tickets for te yank's? For example: it's saturday morning and you don't have any idea what you're gonna do that day. Can you just go to the stadium and get tickets? The same question is valid concerning basketball.

    Here you need to have a "fan" card to go watch a game: and if you don't have that card: go play with your weiner, man!!!!

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