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Inside Baseball | AROUND THE HORN

Maybe Money Can't Buy Happiness

August 03, 2003|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

First the news, then the views ...

News: Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez, three years into his gaudy 10-year, $252-million contract, is unhappy with losing, drops his I'm-here-for-the-long-haul stance and is willing to consider a trade.

"If the Rangers find they could be better off without me -- whether now or a year or two down the road -- I'd be willing to sit down and talk," Rodriguez said. "I want what's best for Mr. [Tom] Hicks [Ranger owner]."

Views: How noble of A-Rod, Mr. Take One For the Team. It took three years for him to suddenly realize the Rangers don't have the pitching to even sniff contention in the American League West?

The Rangers didn't have good pitching when A-Rod signed his record-breaking deal, they don't have it now, and they probably won't be able to afford it because they have so much invested in their prized shortstop.

A-Rod could have signed $100-million deals with the New York Mets, who were coming off a World Series appearance in 2000, the Seattle Mariners, who have averaged 100 wins a season for three years, the perennially contending Atlanta Braves, or even the New York Yankees if he was willing to move to third base.

But he went for the super-sized contract -- it's no coincidence his deal was exactly twice the size of the previous largest deal, Kevin Garnett's $126-million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- and now he has the gall to complain about losing?

If A-Rod is serious about his desire to win, he'll put his mouth where his money is and offer to renegotiate his contract, with a considerable pay cut -- he could probably squeak by on $12 million a year -- so the Rangers could get equal value in a trade or free up some money to pursue good pitching.

Of course, the chances of that happening are about as good as the Dodgers stringing together three 10-run games in a row.

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News: The Cincinnati Reds fall 11 1/2 games out in the NL Central last week, fire Manager Bob Boone and General Manager Jim Bowden on Monday, and Chief Operating Officer John Allen says, "This doesn't mean we're throwing in the towel on this season."

Views: What were those white cloth-like things fluttering from the sky over Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park all week?

After canning Boone and Bowden, the Reds traded away All-Star third baseman Aaron Boone, outfielder Jose Guillen, their best hitter, and reliable relievers Scott Williamson and Gabe White, saving $9 million in contracts.

Reds' fans were promised a team that would compete for the title in 2003 if they would vote for a new stadium. The new ballpark is in place; the team is rubble.

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News: After trading for Guillen, whose .337 average, 23 homers and 63 runs batted in were better numbers than any other player in an Oakland offense that ranks 13th in the AL in batting, A's third baseman Eric Chavez said:

"We definitely needed another bat from the right side. We definitely needed a bat, period. From the right side, especially. I think [catcher] Ramon [Hernandez] is doing most of our damage from the right side."

Views: Is shortstop Miguel Tejada still on the team?

Granted, Tejada is still recovering from a horrible first half and his numbers beginning the weekend (.257, 16 homers, 64 RBIs) are far off last year's pace, when he batted .308 with 34 homers and 131 RBIs.

But Tejada is still the reigning AL MVP, and he has provided more offense than Hernandez, who was batting .255 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs.

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News: The Padres and Pirates are unable to finalize a deal that would have sent Southern California native Brian Giles and catcher Jason Kendall from Pittsburgh to San Diego before Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, but the sides are confident they can consummate the deal in August.

Views: If the Padres can acquire the power-hitting Giles and Kendall, a former All-Star, without giving up young third baseman Sean Burroughs or breaking up the core of their young rotation, they could open the 2004 season with a lineup that looks like this: Mark Kotsay (CF), Kendall (C), Giles (LF), Phil Nevin (RF), Ryan Klesko (1B), Burroughs (3B) and Mark Loretta (2B).

The 1927 Yankees, it isn't, but that lineup could be enough to vault the Padres into the middle of the pack in the NL West and, with the opening of their new stadium, attract the kind of free-agent pitcher this winter who could anchor the rotation.

Dodgers beware: If you don't upgrade the offense this winter, you could be looking at a last-place finish in 2004.

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News: After making five trade deadline deals that sent six veterans packing on July 31, 2000, then-Oriole GM Syd Thrift said, "Somebody is going to be able to sit up here three years from now and say how smart they were."

Views: Not Thrift, who was relieved of his GM duties last winter.

Give him credit for the Mike Bordick deal, which netted Melvin Mora from the Mets, but the only players acquired in those trades who are still on the 40-man roster are part-time catcher Brook Fordyce and reserve infielder Jose Leon.

The rest are broken down, released or disappeared, or, in the case of Luis Rivera, the Braves' pitching prospect who was supposed to be the best of the lot, all three.

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News: The Kansas City Royals sign Jose Lima from the independent league Newark Bears, and the minimum-wage right-hander goes 7-0 with a 2.17 earned-run average in his first eight starts, a performance that can be described only as fee-nominal.

The Dodgers sign Rickey Henderson from the independent league Newark Bears, and the outfielder bats .194 with two walks and 10 strikeouts in his first 11 games.

Views: Enough said.

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