With the recent announced retirements of Mark Teixeira and and Alex Rodriguez, I could not help, along with most of Red Sox Nation, but wonder how things could have been different if either or both had actually played for the Sox. I realize that it’s not truly possible to anticipate all the possible repercussions, but it may still be fun to try.
It’s generally accepted in these parts that if the signing of A-Rod had been approved by the Players’ Association, and all the trade pieces worked out, that the Sox would have likely still won the 2004 Championship. It, of course, would have been with a significantly different cast of characters– and without some that year’s most iconic moments–but it still would have been won. A-Rod would have taken over at short. Nomar, who was getting more and more obsessed with making Jeter money, would have been shipped to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez, and then we would have sent Manny Ramirez–along with some kid named Jon Lester–to Texas, and you have a different looking 2004 Red Sox.
Throw Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz, and Jason Varitek into the mix, and you certainly have one interesting starting lineup. Of course, with Varitek and Rodriquez as teammates, then we lose that moment in July, ’04, when the catcher got between an angry A-Rod and his pitcher, not to mention the playoff game incident when Rodriquez tried to slap the ball out of the glove of Bronson Arroyo. However, we still we would have had our championship.
Do we go on to win in 2007, and 2013? Do the Yankees still win in 2009? Those questions gets a little more trickier to answer, but I find it interesting that the greatest unknown factor in all of that might have very well been the loss of Jon Lester. As a wise individual once said, sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.
I have said, on more than one occasion, that I believe that if Mark Teixeira had signed with Boston back in 1999, and played his entire career as a Red Sox, with Fenway Park as his home field, he would have been a sure Hall-of-Famer. As it was, he has come very close to that level, as he will still go down as one of the top three or four top power hitting switch hitters in baseball history, with over 400 home runs. I have to think that if he had just played these last four or five years in Fenway, he could have achieved that status by using the short left field fence to his advantage.
I have read in more than one place that part of the decline in his offensive numbers was due do his trying too hard to earn his $20 million a year by hitting nothing but home runs. The “Green Monster” is also a good way to compensate for all the shifts that have become so popular these days, and something I’m sure would have helped his numbers. At anyway rate, I’m sure Teixeira is a happy and satisfied individual as he has his ring, and millions of dollars in the bank. What he won’t have, is his picture in Cooperstown.
Finally, talking about deals not made, it became apparent after the trade deadline came and went without the Sox making a blockbuster deal, that everyone wanted either infielder Yoan Moncada, or outfielder Andrew Benintendi, or sometimes both. Although president Dave Drombowski has a reputation for not liking prospects, it was clear that he was intent on holding onto these two.
It was also clear that if you are intent on holding onto them you might as well bring them up. Unfortunately Moncada plays second base (at least for the time being) so there really isn’t any place to put him. Benintendi is an outfielder, and it seems like we are always looking for the next great one. Although at 5’10”, 180–he is built more like “Yaz”, 5’11” 180, then say Jim Rice, 6’2”, 200–he still seems to be off to a good start, going 8 for 16 in his first 6 games, including a 3 for 3, with 1 RBI against the Yankees on Tueaday.
Although it’s a little too early to alert Cooperstown, it does represent a promising start at a time when the Sox, coming off a 5-6 road trip, definitely need a spark. Let’s hope it continues.
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