I'm not sure if you noticed, but A-Rod is having a damn good year.
This is not necessarily a surprise, as he certainly has proved his talent time and again throughout his career, but 2007 has shown us an A-Rod who is not only an extraordinary athlete but a downright vital member of the team
. The Yankees have struggled all year - although last night they did enjoy a brief spell as a member of the .500 club!! - but if not for A-Rod there would likely be little if any hope left for a playoff spot (and no, I am not naive, I am realistic
and recognize the relative improbability of a surge to take over the division or even the wildcard, but as I mentioned at the end of the first half
of the season, there still remains plenty of reason to believe that with a little bit of luck [no more line-drive-induced broken bones, por favor
] and a lot of heart this team is still capable of such a feat). His contributions to this often floundering club have been vital to their survival:
- 31 homers
- 87 RBI
- .317 average
- .415 OBP
- .668 slugging %
- 1.086 OPS
- 17 stolen bases
- .388 average with 16 RBI in "close and late" situations
- .444 average with 2 homers with bases loaded
- .442 average with men on and 2 out
Whether his performance and obviously improved attitude were sparked by some quality Jim Fannin life coaching
, an ego-boosting romp with a stripper, Jeter's attempts at providing his sorta buddy with some encouragement, or a bid to increase his value on the free agent market, his year has caused quite a commotion. The opt-out clause in his "Boras Special"
contract means that he can declare free agency after this season (10 days after the World Series, to be precise), and he has every reason in the world to do just that. The monster contracts that Soriano and Barry Baked Ziti scored prior to the 2007 season and now the doozy of a deal the Mariners struck with Ichiro
have set quite the precedent for multi-gazillion-dollar, mucho-long-term contracts, and a free agent A-Rod would surely be the next beneficiary of such a deal.
Boras has already stated that he anticipates a $30 mil/year deal for A-Rod, and with every homer he hits his stock and asking price climbs even higher. Regardless of his price, there will be several teams willing to shell out the big bucks for A-Rod if/when he declares free agency. The Yankees are well aware that if they want to hold on to him their best bet would be to sign him to an extension
before he gets a chance to be on the market, but unfortunately for us A-Rod supporters he has put the kibosh on any contract talks for the time being.
The bottom line, my most delightful friends, is that I fear the most important part of this year's team may very well be in his last year as a Yank.
I wouldn't blame him much for jumping ship, as New York has not been very kind to him, and he will definitely be rewarded with massive amounts of cash dollars no matter where he goes. At least he'll become the youngest player to hit 500 homers (just 5 to go!) as a Yankee....