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The Yankees, Alex Rodriguez, and Unforced Front Office Errors

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I was greatly amused by this line in Joel Sherman's New York Post column for today:

...Remember, the only Yankee signed longer than Sabathia (set through 2016 with a 2017 option) is Alex Rodriguez, and the organization already is horrified what A-Rod will look like for the remainder of his contract.

Reading that, I thought, "Well, who the hell asked them to sign that deal?" Rodriguez signed his current contract in December of 2007. He was coming off of an MVP season, but he was also heading into his age-32 season. He had opted out of his contract three years early, which was a gift to the Yankees, a chance for them to avoid paying for his age-32-34 seasons. These turned out to be good, but with declining production each year. Of course, the danger that wasn't that Rodriguez would suddenly lose all value, but that the Yankees would violate Branch Rickey's dictum that it's better to ditch a player a year too early than a year too late--by more than a year and at great expense.

In giving in to the demands of Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, the Yankees put themselves in a position where they were almost inevitably going to break Rickey's law. The math on a ten-year deal was pretty simple to do. The contract was front-loaded, with Rodriguez getting his biggest payments in the first half of the deal, but he will still be receiving a minimum of $20 million a year until his age-41 season. Rodriguez's fall, whenever it was to come, was from a very high perch, so perhaps it would be measured, but it was still going to happen.

Arguably, that is exactly what has happened. Rodriguez did well up until 35, but now the termites have gotten to him, as they get to most ballplayers by this point. A-Rod might have a rebound in him, but he also hasn't played 140 games in six years (for whatever reason), so the combination of fragility and declining offense means the Yankees are going to need an Eric Chavez equivalent for the next five years.

If the Yankees are "horrified" by that possibility... What did they think was going to happen?