By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Kenny Williams has always had a thing for twilight.
His soft spot for end-of-career greatness has brought to town such fading stars as Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones, Jose Canseco, Roberto Alomar (twice) and Sandy Alomar Jr. (three times). Some could argue to include Kevin Youkilis on the list of those allowed to use US Cellular Field as pasture.
Williams probably loved Willie Mays on the Mets, Eddie Murray as an Angel in 1997, Elvis Presley in Rapid City in 1977, and Michael Jordan on the Wizards. I hope he caught the “My Fair Lady” revival at the Arie Crown Theater in 1981, where Rex Harrison kept forgetting his lines as Henry Higgins.
A report this morning in USA Today indicates the Yankees are set to move Alex Rodriguez, and that he will waive his no-trade rights. The “likely” destinations mentioned are the Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, and…White Sox.
Rodriguez is 37, has five years and $114 million left on his contract, with his production in unmistakable decline. Here is his yearly OPS, starting all the way back in 2008: .965, .933, .847, .823, and .783 in 2012. His wOBA tracks thusly: .409, .401, .365, .362, .342. You don’t have to be an analytical wizard to crunch those numbers.
The Yankees see ARod’s game degrading quickly, and view his tabloid headlines as a clubhouse distraction. Fair or not, it appears the response to their likely playoff ouster will be to move him out and eat most of the remaining money. They can afford it.
Williams and GM-to-be Rick Hahn have to look at it simply. In theory, if the Yankees were to pay every last penny of the contract and insist on essentially nothing in return, would it still be worth doing? Would the Sox be closer to winning the World Series by taking a no-risk shot?
There is always the temptation to picture a short-term snap-back, and that happens. It’s possible that a lighter workload in the field would benefit him, but a team with both Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn has no place for another DH. Rodriguez would have to be the full-time third baseman, which may also be wishful thinking.
And this would not be an in-season, pre-deadline move to merely shore up a known contender with a pedigreed commodity for the stretch run. It would be dropping a wealthy, moody, eroding megastar onto a team in transition.
Next year’s Alex Rodriguez is better than, say, Brent Morel. But so is Chi-Chi Rodriguez.
In all likelihood, whoever acquires A-Rod will have to part with something resembling a prospect and will have to pay a nominal amount of money over the remainder of that onerous deal. Our examination of downside potential is based on an absolute, unfettered freebie.
Oddly, there would be a kind of fit here, since the Sox themselves seem to be at the end of something. The core already is getting old: Konerko will be 37, Dunn 33, Alex Rios 32 and Alexei Ramirez 32 in September. They could take one more shot, knowing they currently have no viable alternative at third base. A forced marriage of desperation.
Non-baseball folks might also like a high-wattage name to keep them in the news, considering attendance headwinds. There’s no proof that one translates to the other, but such instincts die hard. And their crosstown rival will be in the larval stage for at least another season, probably more.
They would be trusting a manager still new to the job with the task of handling an enormous – if mostly passive – ego in the clubhouse. A manger hired primarily due to the steadying force of his even-keeled personality.
A move like this probably wouldn’t work, but it would be so Kenny Williams