Patrick Reusse: Let the courtship of free agents begin

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 30, 2007 - 7:40 PM

Boston needs some replacement parts for another run, A-Rod will cause a bidding war and the Twins could dangle Santana as trade bait.

DENVER — The Boston Red Sox had completed another sweep of an overmatched National League opponent Sunday night. They celebrated for 15 minutes on the infield of Coors Field, then headed through the dugout and to the visitors clubhouse for the champagne-spraying ritual.

Now, there were players being convinced to return to the field for television interviews. The Tulo-come-lately followers of the Rockies had departed, leaving the stadium under the control of a minimum of 12,000 Red Sox fans, chanting and cheering whenever a Boston player popped from the dugout.

Third baseman Mike Lowell was the MVP of the sweep and he cut across the field to appear in the interview room. When the Bosox legions saw their new favorite free agent, they started a rollicking command to the team's front office:

"Re-sign Lowell, re-sign Lowell."

The zaniness went on for more than an hour and then someone in the Red Sox crowd started the night's most-creative chant: "Don't sign A-Rod, don't sign A-Rod."

It was the winter of 2003-04 when the Red Sox made a deal with Texas to bring Alex Rodriguez to Boston, with Manny Ramirez headed to the Rangers. The players association objected because there were adjustments to A-Rod's contract that the union felt would devalue it.

Rodriguez wound up landing with the despised Yankees for the 2004 season.

Eighty-five years earlier, Boston had sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The result: 26 World Series victories for the Yankees and zero for the Red Sox.

The Curse of the Bambino finally was cured with the A-Rod Antidote. Four seasons ago, Rodriguez went to the Bronx rather than Boston, and since then the championship total is Red Sox 2, Yankees 0.

Before Sunday's game, there was a news conference at Coors Field to announce the winners of the Hank Aaron Award for the most outstanding offensive performers in the National and American Leagues. Aaron was in attendance, and so was Milwaukee's Prince Fielder, but not Rodriguez, the AL winner.

"A-Rod knew he wouldn't be playing baseball in late October, so he probably scheduled a vacation," a St. Louis-based journalist said.

This was a reference to Rodriguez's sorry postseason history, where he consistently failed to produce and the Yankees went 1-4 in playoff series.

As it turned out, Rodriguez chose to interject himself in the World Series not by missing the Aaron award presentation but with a sneak attack.

Midway through the Red Sox's 4-3 victory in Game 4 Sunday, agent Scott Boras notified Jon Heyman, his pal at SI.com, that Rodriguez would opt out of the remaining three years on his contract and become a free agent. That word spread rapidly, to the point that it was reported by Fox in the eighth inning of its game telecast.

The fact Boras and Rodriguez chose the middle of a World Series game to make such a pronouncement only confirmed that Boras has no conscience and A-Rod is a rival to Barry Bonds as baseball's most selfish player.

The Yankees made it known earlier that they were prepared to offer A-Rod a five-year, $150 million contract. This didn't even get them a chance to sit down with Boras and his slugging loser.

Boras went straight to the opt-out, in the belief he can get a $300 million package for Rodriguez. It sounds preposterous, but Boras has spent his whole career sounding preposterous and then finding an idiot owner to give him the deal he wanted.

The most popular guess on Boras' plan is that he will get the Angels and the Dodgers bidding against one another for P.R. dominance in the Southern California market.

Whatever the actual franchises that Boras has targeted, A-Rod being on the free agent market has created a tremendous opportunity for Bill Smith, the new Twins general manager.

How can the Yankees make the folks who bought 4½ million tickets this season forget about A-Rod? They acquire Johan Santana from the Twins for pitchers Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy and outfielders Melky Cabrera and Jose Tabata.

The Twins also add Joe Nathan to the deal and get bullet-throwing Joba Chamberlain.

And what if the Dodgers don't want to go A-Rod steep with their payroll? They acquire Santana from the Twins for pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton, outfielder Matt Kemp and third baseman Tony Abreu.

Let's go, Mr. Smith. Show us what you got.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays at AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. preusse@startribune.com

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