(Vito, right is sad to see A-Rod go, but he’ll still be meeting you at the Giant Bat).
Mindful of David Wright’s earlier pledge to switch positions, the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch wasted little time after A-Rod’s opting out of his Yankee deal to pester the Mets third baseman.
“Nobody has talked to me about any free agents,” Wright wrote in a text message. “I would want to speak with Jeff [Wilpon] and Omar [Minaya] first.”Of course, there’s no guarantee A-Rod would sign with the Mets, even if Wright moved to, say, second base. Could the Wilpon family write a big enough check? Apparently so. With free agents Tom Glavine ($10.5 million), Shawn Green ($3.7 million), Paul Lo Duca ($6.25 million) and Jose Valentin ($3.8 million) all likely to come off the books, Rodriguez’s asking price of $30-something million isn’t quite so prohibitive.
“We can afford him,” one Met insider said confidently. “It’s going to be a baseball question more than a money question. Do we want him? Is he a good fit for one team? That’s what we have to talk about.”
Wright seemed to feel Rodriguez was a perfect match — and that was before A-Rod blasted through the greatest regular season of the last 50 years. Putting aside his insatiable appetite for money and ruthless negotiating tactics, the Mets ultimately will have to decide if A-Rod’s 50-plus homers and 150 RBI are worth the tidal wave of controversy that would follow him into the clubhouse.
What remains to be seen is whether the Mets’ interest would tempt the Yankees to reenter negotiations. It’s hard to know who’s bluffing and who’s not. Friends of Rodriguez believe he would have a sincere interest in playing for the Mets “ at the right price, of course “ regardless of how it would damage his Yankee legacy. It’s worth noting that Rodriguez was house-hunting in Greenwich, Conn., in the last few months, and the idea of staying in New York was seconded by his wife, Cynthia.
The other issue is where Wright actually would play. Second base is the obvious choice, but there’s nothing that says he could learn the position quickly, if at all. And the wear and tear of turning double plays also might factor into the Mets’ thinking.
And then there’s the dark cloud that seems to dog Rodriguez wherever he goes. You can now count the Yankees as part of the anti-A-Rod army. Despite general manager Brian Cashman’s graciously worded statement that bid farewell to the third baseman, the organization’s truer feelings were reflected in the comments of one high-ranking official, who was disgusted at the timing of Rodriguez’s opt-out on Sunday.
Not only did the announcement upstage the World Series, but, as the official said: “He had [agent Scott] Boras tell the media before he told us. That’s not right.”
Asked if the Yankees would use the 15-day window during which they can negotiate exclusively with Rodriguez, the executive said: “No chance. Absolutely none. We’re done with him. He’ll never play here again”
Granted, A-Rod would only have 81 games at Shea before the park’s closing, but given the park’s dimensions, 50/150 seems wildly optimistic, even for a hitter of Rodriguez’ talents.