It’s official. The rumor season has started for the Marlins. Last night and this morning, bandwidth has been spent reporting on a conversation between Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Randy Levine of the Yankees. The subject? Mot mangers. Not front office personnel. Players. Specifically, a third baseman at the start of the downhill side of his career, who’s still owed a crapload of money, but can’t hit well enough to avoid losing AB’s to a pinch-hitter in the playoffs. The source is the stable, sober-sided, most non-hysterical reporter in the history of forever, Keith Olbermann. Please take appropriate precautions regarding the veracity of the rumor. Hip waders and a sturdy shovel might be a good start. Aaron Somers has an in-depth review here.
This is bad news for Marlins fans all the way around. First and foremost, Loria is back out there in full-on “look at me” mode. I’m sure it’s a big thrill for him to be in the midst of conversations about a future HOF player, but he’s forgotten that he’s an owner again, and not the GM. One that has been reported to want an $80m payroll this year.
Alex Rodriguez is owed roughly $114m over the next five years, plus bonuses for milestone home runs and other achievements. Averaging out to $22.8m per year, picking up that contract would have one player representing over 25% of Loria’s rumored payroll cap for 2013. A wrinkle in the deal might come in the form of relief from the Heath Bell albatross, as the Yankees might need a late-inning guy to set the table for Mariano Rivera, if he comes back next year.
While Mr. Rodriguez is most definitely a welcome sight around town, and is certainly one of the city’s marquee products in the sports world, he’s a star that looks to be fading fast. The number of games he’s played has dropped since 2009, as have his HR totals and slash lines. During the ALDS, Raul Ibanez famously pinch-hit for Rodriguez, popping clutch homers to defeat the tougher-than-expected Orioles.
I guess the question for Loria might be: If you’re busy wiping the egg off of your face for the last high-dollar, long-term contract for a player you overrode your GM to sign (Bell), why on earth would you look to drop better than 25% of next year’s payroll on a guy who looks to be on the far side of his career? Joe Girardi’s unwillingness to play him in a clutch situation is just doubling down on the warning signs.
This, however, is typical of the kind of deals that owners like Dan Snyder and George Steinbrenner (during his bonehead years) simply couldn’t pass up. Yes, Rodriguez belongs in the pantheon of Great Yankees, but that doesn’t mean that the Marlins have any business dropping a quarter of the payroll on a guy that is very likely headed for Buck/Sanchez stats in the next year or two. It would be much better to develop six or seven players with superstar potential, than to make an offer to an aging player to go to Florida for his retirement. We get enough of that on our roads. We don’t need it in our ballpark.