While I’ve been having fun with the Bizarre Moves from Seasons Past series, I also don’t want to come across as overly negative, and so I thought I’d counter some of these criticisms with a post commending the Yankees for a transaction that worked out very well.
Following the Yankees’ 2003 loss to the Marlins in the World Series, Alfonso Soriano was perhaps the most-maligned Yankee this side of Jeff Weaver. While ALCS hero Aaron Boone was actually the worst Yankee batter in the World Series (Soriano OPSed .655 to Boone’s abysmal .422), Soriano’s entire postseason was a nightmare, striking out 26 times with a slash line of .225/.267/.296 (and, as I pointed out after Game 4 of the World Series, eerily similar to Robinson Cano’s struggles in the 2009 postseason), leading many fans to begin questioning just how valuable Soriano was to the Yankees. Unfortunately for Soriano, his miserable 2003 postseason overshadowed the fact that he had just come off two consecutive outstanding seasons for a second baseman, tallying OPS+’s of 129 and 126, respectively.
In December of 2003, word came that the Red Sox had a deal in place that would bring Alex Rodriguez to Boston. Thankfully that deal fell apart due to Boston’s desire to restructure A-Rod’s contract and the player’s union’s unwillingness to allow that to happen. Little did I know that a little less than two months later, incumbent third baseman Aaron Boone would provide the Yankees with an even greater gift than his walkoff home run in the form of a wrecked knee from a pick-up basketball game, enabling Brian Cashman to swoop in and successfully orchestrate a trade that sent Soriano to the Rangers for the American League’s reigning Most Valuable Player and one of the best players in baseball.
I’ll never forget the day news broke of the A-Rod trade. I had gone up to Dartmouth that weekend with two of my buddies — one of whom was obviously a Dartmouth alum — and we had partied like we were still in college all weekend. That Saturday afternoon, February 14, 2004, we stopped by my friend’s grandparents house as they lived just off the campus. While enjoying some gentle conversation, I received a call from Dave (who comments as Davey on this blog), telling me that the Yankees got A-Rod. I was absolutely floored. We listened to the FAN nonstop the entire ride home the next day, and I was downright giddy with excitement, dreaming about the havoc the new Yankees lineup would wreak on the American League.
We don’t even need to look at the numbers to know how fantastic this deal was for the Yankees, but let’s do it anyway. Here’s what they did from 1999 (Soriano’s first call-up to the Majors) through 2003:
|Soriano OPS+||A-Rod OPS+||Soriano wOBA||A-Rod wOBA|
And here’s what they’ve done since the trade:
|Soriano OPS+||A-Rod OPS+||Soriano wOBA||A-Rod wOBA|
Simply put, A-Rod has been
absolutely and utterly wonderful in pinstripes. It still boggles my mind that there have been hordes of Yankee fans who have hated A-Rod, as if a .414 wOBA over a six-year period grows on trees. Thankfully A-Rod’s masterful 2009 postseason — what did he hit again? Oh yeah, .365/.500/.808. I’ll never get tired of that — should have eradicated even the most idiotic of A-Rod haters.
While we can endlessly debate the Yankees’ resigning of A-Rod to another 10-year deal (for $275 million!) that began with his age 32 season, and that, no matter how good he may be, is probably unlikely to ever provide more monetary value than what the Yankees paid for, I’m still more than happy to have Alex Rodriguez and his career .412 wOBA in pinstripes for years to come.
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