Could it really happen ? Will Angels public address announcer David Courtney actually utter those words on April 4th, 2008 ?
Indeed it very well could. Unless Alex Rodriguez and super agent/super villain Scott Boras have a change of heart and return to the New York Yankees, it appears that the 2007 AL Most Valuable Player is headed to a new team. Rodriguez has opted out of the biggest contract in major league history and is hitting the market coming off another tremendous season. "ARod" hit an eye popping 54 home runs while driving in 156 runs last season. Rodriguez is going to be a great player regardless of where he plays, but for the purposes of this article, we'll discuss what exactly he'll bring to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
One thing is for certain, he looks good in red and has a career .332 batting average, 29 home runs and a 1.076 career OPS in Angel Stadium
First and foremost, Rodriguez would be the "big bat" the Angels have been missing since the 2004 season when Troy Glaus and Jose Guillen provided depth in the lineup behind Vladimir Guerrero. While the Angels offense did improve from their 2006 performance, they were again controlled in the playoffs, and went on vacation in early October.
The Halos would finally have the two headed monster they have lacked. Boston has won the World Series twice with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the middle of the order. In the final game of the 2007 for the Angels, Reggie Willits was "protecting" Vlad in the lineup. No contest.
Adding Rodriguez to an already solid infield offensively and defensively would push the Angels from playoff contender to World Series threat. No longer would Mike Scioscia have to hope youngsters Howie Kendrick and Casey Kotchman could perform like proven veterans. No longer would Scioscia have to rely on an aging Garret Anderson to protect Guerrero. Nor will Halos fans have to wait a month in between team home runs.
The knock on ARod is he hasn't produced in the post-season. Well, neither has our own beloved Guerrero. And actually, Rodriguez's post season numbers aren't horrible. He just hasn't had that big Reggie Jackson-esque huge game Yankee fans were expecting from him.
Rodriguez has career post-season totals of .279 9 hr 17 rbi in 20 games. Hardly horrible when compared to Vlad's post-season totals. And maybe the threat of ARod behind Guerrero is just what Vladdy needs to have a big post-season.
If the Angels add Rodriguez and return in 2008 with virtually the same roster the line up looks a lot stronger, sick even.
1. Chone Figgins LF
2. Orlando Cabrera SS
3. Vladimir Guerrero RF
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Garret Anderson DH
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Casey Kotchman 1B
8. Gary Matthews CF
9. Mike Napoli / Jeff Mathis C
Obviously the biggest question mark will be, is Arte Moreno willing to commit the huge sum it will take to land the best player in the game. After he bought the Angels in 2003, Moreno said his goal was to make the Angels the Yankees West. Well, the time is here for Moreno to turn his words into action.
Since Moreno has taken over as owner of the club, he has landed the team a new television deal with Fox Sports which is far more lucrative than the old deal negotiated by Disney. He also sees the stadium filled to near capacity every game. Plans are in place to raise ticket prices by one or two dollars which would also add a few more millions. Additionally, just how many "Rodriguez" jersey's, t-shirts and other paraphernalia will the Angels be able to sell for a decade ?
If Moreno is concerned about breaking even or turning a profit while still keeping ticket prices family friendly there is a way to find additional revenue. And you're looking at it below
The Angels could simply adjust the hitting background and get rid of the eye sore rock pile in center-field and put in additional seating in the right field pavilion. There is a lot of unused territory under the Jumbotron that could be filled with at least one hundred new seats. LA and OC fans are notoriously fickle. If there is a winning team they will come out, if there is a new superstar to fawn over, they will come out. There is no better an example of that than the NHL's Los Angeles Kings franchise, who despite not being a successful playoff team (or missing the playoffs altogether) still sold out the Great Western Forum with great regularity because they wanted to see "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky.
In baseball, Rodriguez is "The Great One". 32 years old and with 518 home-runs in the bank. Baring injury, he is on pace to break Barry Bonds all time home run record. Rickey Henderson's all time runs scored record. Hank Aaron's all time RBI record with an outside chance of topping Pete Rose's all time hits record. If he plays another ten seasons or so.
All of these records could fall while Rodriguez is wearing the Halo. Having Vladimir Guerrero as first Angel in baseball's Hall Of Fame is one thing. Having the greatest player in the history of the sport is another.
This is Moreno's time to step up to the plate like Gene Autry did in 1982 with the signing of Reggie Jackson and Bruce McNall did in 1988 by trading for Gretzky. These opportunities come around once in a life time. The Angels should not pass on it.