Keegan: A-Rod perfect for K.C.
Alex Rodriguez is the new rich kid with shiny shoes who gets bullied with insults on his daily walk to school. Classmates won’t play with him during recess. The harder he tries, the more they turn away.
He doesn’t know how to fit in with the Derek Jeter/Joe Torre Yankees and he never will because the way to fit in is to be yourself, play ball, and let it happen. A-Rod doesn’t have that in him. He’s as out of position in the clubhouse as he is at third base. He’s a small-market shortstop, and a great one at that, not a third baseman surrounded by negative forces, real and imagined.
Alex Gordon, 22, is every baseball fan’s dream, a can’t-miss prospect, the future, the savior, the guy who hasn’t made an out yet. He tore up Double-A pitching for the Wichita Wranglers, batting .325 with 29 home runs and 101 RBIs in 130 games. He figures to become the second-greatest left-handed hitting third baseman in Kansas City Royals history, which is saying quite a bit considering George Brett is the greatest in baseball history.
A general manager trades a player like Gordon and he goes to the grave sooner than he otherwise would have and earns himself the epitaph, “Here lies the man who traded Alex Gordon.” The last two words, “… the fool,” are understood.
Every rule has an exception, a moment in time when everything is aligned in such a way that it makes sense to think the unthinkable. The Kansas City Royals are in that moment. In the Yankees they have the perfect trading partner, in A-Rod the perfect match.
Dayton Moore, take a deep breath and place a very gutsy phone call to Brian Cashman and try to arrive at this trade: Gordon, Mike Sweeney and Angel Berroa to the Yankees in exchange for A-Rod and $8 million.
The Rangers already have picked up a healthy portion of A-Rod’s remaining salary. The Yankees are responsible for roughly $64 million over the next four seasons. In dealing Sweeney, who would waive his no-trade clause for a chance to win a World Series, and because his contract stipulates that his salary jumps from $11 million to $12.5 million if dealt, the Royals save $11 million. The Yankees wouldn’t want Berroa, guaranteed $8.5 million over the next two seasons, so force them to take him in order to get Gordon. Subtracting the contracts of Berroa and Sweeney, plus taking $8 million from the Yankees, means the Royals would have A-Rod for the next four seasons for approximately $9 million per.
The initial outrage over dealing Gordon would fade as soon as A-Rod started winning games. He would jack attendance and instantly make the Royals more competitive.
In New York, the focus tends to be on what ballplayers don’t do. In Kansas City, starved for a winner and a superstar, the focus would be on what A-Rod is doing, namely reviving a dormant franchise. At 31, he’s still in his prime. As recently as 2005, Rodriguez hit 48 home runs, drove in 130 runs, scored 124 and was named MVP for the second time in three seasons.
Getting A-Rod to see the light and approve a trade to the Royals would be difficult, yet it’s worth a try. Landing him would give the Royals a deadline of four years to pull off a Detroit Tigers-like reversal. That sort of urgency is needed.