March to the Sea: A-Rod is Boston's Answer
Well, there is something new to talk about this week. Theo’s staying on the ball and so are we. Who would you rather have? Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez and “players to be named later” (the left fielder to replace Manny and the player(s) the Sox will get for Nomar)?
A good argument can be made for Nomar and Manny. They represent the heart of Boston’s order, the third and fourth hitters who make everyone around them better. David Ortiz can put up MVP caliber numbers when Nomar and Manny are hitting in front of him. A-Rod, alone, can’t make up for the 230-plus RBIs that Nomar and Manny create.
But all Red Sox fans are united in one respect: only a World Series championship is enough. Being a “good team” doesn’t cut it. Nomar and Manny make the Sox a contender. A-Rod makes them a World Series winner.
This guy is far and away the best hitter in the majors. He’s hit over 40 home runs the past six seasons. Six! And he’s a gold glove shortstop! His OBP is just about .400 since 2000—compare that to Nomar’s usual .350. He’s had over 130 RBIs in three of the past four seasons. What was the only year he didn’t do it? 2003—and he still won MVP.
More importantly, he’s only missed one game in the past three seasons. While Nomar battles injuries and Manny takes games off to dine with friends and weeks off to nurse the common cold, A-Rod gets it done every day.
And Rodriguez could have easily taken time off playing for the worst team in baseball. I mean, did it really matter if he was in the lineup come September? But he was out there, trying to earn every penny of his gaudy $252 million contract.
Think Manny would have been played every game? Unless the game we’re talking about is flip cup in the Park Plaza bar, I’m guessing no.
Nomar is going to be a free agent at the end of the season. As is Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, Ortiz, etc. Trade him now. Get something for him—anything. If you can get A-Rod, do it. Theo, you’d be foolish not to. And if that someone is Kevin Brown, whoa mama. Can you imagine Pedro, Curt Schilling, Kevin Brown, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, Byung Hyun-Kim? That pitching staff is better than some fantasy teams. And Red Sox fans, remember the playoffs a couple months ago? Oh, you do? Thought you had forgotten. Well, remember who starred for the Sox? It wasn’t Nomar. And Manny’s .320 OBP didn’t help much either.
It was Todd Walker and Trot Nixon who came up with the goods. And all year long, Bill Mueller, Ortiz and Kevin Millar contributed to the Red Sox success seemingly just as much as a poor defensive left fielder and a good shortstop who is past his prime.
A-Rod is at the top of his game. Stick him in the middle of the lineup, and you won’t see a drop off from the rest of the team. Whoever replaces Manny in left will do the job. Jose Guillen or Raul Mondesi—the Red Sox will have the money to pay a pretty good player if they can dump Manny’s $20 million and Nomar’s $11.5 million.
If Red Sox nation can sign a good defender to replace Manny in left, and A-Rod replaces Nomar at shortstop, look out, Brenda Lee. Put your party hats on Boston, because 2004 will replace 1918 in sports vernacular for the remainder of history. And if the Red Sox don’t win, blame Brenda. She’s evil.
—Staff writer Alex M. Sherman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.