There have been some pretty convincing articles on the breathless subject of A-Rod and the Mets of late, even if they contradict each other. The ever-popular Tim Marchman came out against on Wednesday; the ubiquitous and solid Howard Megdal weighed in for on Thursday. They both made compelling points. There has also been a Harper's share of immensely inane takes on the subject, ones that swear you easily distracted lemminglike Mets fans must have Alex Rodriguez right now if you know what's good for you.
I'd prefer to A-Void A-Rod. I don't mean not sign him, but not write about him. What am I going to tell you that you haven't already considered for yourself? That he hits really well? That he plays two positions that we have well covered into the next decade? That's he's going to be six-star hotel expensive? That he's kinda creepy? That he's one of the all-time offensive machines? That he's Alex Rodriguez and all that implies?
We don't need A-Rod, but we could always use a bat like his. If he could catch, I'd say give him the new stadium, the rotunda and every darn brick on the Fanwalk. But he's a shortstop/third baseman and I do believe we're set there. His presence might have accounted for those couple extra wins we required last season, but there's no guarantee (though John Harper would have you believe otherwise) that he would lift us over the top on an annual, dynastic basis. One man, even if he's one of the greatest of the greats, is still one man, especially if he can't pitch into the eighth inning. Plus, given the franchise's general well-being — collapse notwithstanding — we don't need a map-putter-onner for 2008. Call off the cartographers; we're on the map. We're not all waiting for ownership to trade for George Foster or the GM to lead us out of the woods by way of Pedro Martinez. We're more secure than that. If local columnists are worried we don't get enough back pages, they should talk to their editors.
Then there's the money. While I don't doubt books get cooked to a crisp in baseball, I nevertheless prefer my team not commit hundreds of millions of dollars to a single player who a) is guaranteed only to get older at this stage of his career and b) has shown a predilection for wanting out of every situation he's been in. It's not our money except when our club demurs on bidding for the next pitcher or player it really needs…and digging deep for tickets and concessions at Citi Field figures to be an onerous enough task as is.
Let's get A-Rod at this time seven years ago. Or let's be a little worse in 1992 so we can draft him No. 1 overall in 1993* as the Mariners did. The A-Rod we've intermittently watched out our side windows since 2004? The one who waltzed into an allegedly ideal landing spot yet leaves it richer but no better off? Give him fill-in-the-blank million over too many years? So somebody who deserves better can play out of position? While the best-compensated team-sport athlete in the history of civilization inevitably presses too hard to live up to his deal, elicits boos instead of buzz and scans his contract for another brilliantly crafted opt-out clause?
This is a twist on “if you have to ask, you can't afford it.” This is “if you have to think about it, do you really want to think about it?” Alex Rodriguez practically produces by himself in a year what the Met lineups of my youth produced en masse. That should be all a fan needs to know: We can get the best hitter in the game? DO IT! But there is too much to think about it and too much to pay if you have to think that hard.
*Actually, it occurs to me that the A.L. and N.L. switch off in drafting first, with the odd years belonging to the American League's worst team from the season before, so no, we could not have drafted Alex Rodriguez in 1993 no matter how bad we might have been in 1992. Then again, we didn't have to use the eighth pick in the nation in 1993 to select Kirk Presley, did we?