Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pay the man: Why the Yankees will have to pay out A-Rod's milestones

I think it is hilarious, in a way, that the Yankees are so dead set against paying out Alex Rodriguez's milestones in the contract that they signed, that they don't want to see that he is about the only interesting thing going in Yankeeland these days. Oh, and by the way, he can still play well, which is more than I say for some of their other high-paid players.

Five games in, not only have the 2015 Yankees been playing miserably so far (so much for that great defense, eh?) but they are a snoozer of a team, especially against the Red Sox. Yes, I know it's early, and perhaps their bats will get better, but they just aren't very compelling to watch. Brett Gardner -- nice player. Very good player. Not a superstar, as Fred Wilpon would say. A-Rod is pretty much their only compelling personality.

Anyhow, the New York Daily News' Bill Madden, the court stenographer for the Yankee front office, announced the other day that the Yankees still intend on fighting paying him any of the $30 million in milestone money that they owe him. Not the $6M for tying Willie Mays, nothing -- they intend on fighting all of it.

Madden, who once claimed that A-Rod would never play again (click for a list of his many wrong-headed predictions), writes:
According to a source familiar with the agreement, signed in 2007 after Rodriguez agreed to re-up with the Yankees, it is up to the club to declare A-Rod’s accomplishments “milestones,” which they will not do. “They say the records are tainted,” the source said, “and therefore they’re not milestones that can be marketed.”
Madden then writes about how A-Rod could take the issue to arbitration, but thinks he would not want to:
According to the source, the Yankees would then have to show an arbitrator they acted in good faith in declining to pay the bonuses. The timing of a hearing would be up to Rodriguez and the union, although it is unlikely they would want to schedule it in the middle of the season. “The steroids stuff will all come up again,” said the source. “It’s doubtful he wants that.”
First of all, I would like to see the actual wording of this contract. I don't think the Yankees can unilaterally decide something is or isn't a milestone. After all, MLB, unlike college football, doesn't erase milestones. Whatever you think of Barry Bonds, he holds the all-time home run record.

Second, the players' union will fight hard here, due to the precedent involved. Look at how Angels' owner Arte Moreno is licking his chops, hoping to void Josh Hamilton's contract because the most famous MLB recovering drug addict of all time had a relapse. Think the players' union wants to have the Yankees win here? No way.

Third, about the person who told Madden: “The steroids stuff will all come up again,” said the source. “It’s doubtful he wants that.” If Madden actually were still a journalist, and not that court stenographer for the Yankees, he would think about who has more to lose here: A-Rod or the Yankees.

Everybody knows what A-Rod did. Heck, his steroid habits have been written endlessly in books and newspapers. But what we still don't know for sure is how much the Yankees knew about Rodriguez juicing. What if Rodriguez has evidence that they knew (and given that his alleged nickname in early years was b*tch t*ts, and given how many juicers the team had over the years, it's pretty clear they knew the signs of a PED user)? How are they going to explain that?

Fourth, I would like to know what the t-shirt sales for A-Rod are like. How does he rank this year compared to the rest of the team? How many of the #Forg1v3 shirts has Bald Vinny sold? When Rodriguez gets close to 660, will ticket sales and ratings increase? All of these things can and will be used when it comes to talking about how the Yankees can market A-Rod's homer milestones.

I noticed that the New York Times wrote a less inflammatory article on the issue, issuing what appeared to be a trial balloon of having MLB step in and negotiate a settlement, with having A-Rod make some sort of donation to charity with at least some of the money. To which I say, it's Alex's money, fair and square. Pay the man, Yankees, and be done with it.

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