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Francisco Rodriguez: The Long Goodbye

So the LA Times and other outlets cornered Frankie upon his appearance at Spring Training and he bit, mentioning that 2008 is probably it for him in L.A. of ANA.

The best reason he has for testing the open market is that Mariano Rivera got 4 years, $15 million per year from the Yankees a few months back. Of course agents and players want the field to be level when those numbers appear in dry ink.

But Mariano Rivera got that much from the Yankees for a number of reasons that hardly have anything to do with his ability to perform at his typical level of performance over the next few seasons.

The worst thing that could happen as far as the Yankees are concerned in the case of Rivera would be for him to be the closer for another team in baseball and to appear in an historic postseason appearance or two. Imagine Rivera being the closer on the mound for the Cubs when they win the World Series in October. More than a dozen years of Yankee greatness would be a mere asterisk. Paying Rivera this much is basically buying the certainty that the Yankees logo will always be on any piece of memorabilia associated with this certain future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. In an era of steroid suspicion, Rivera stands as a paragon of integrity. By the 4th year of this deal, the agreement will be all about branding - Rivera is the all-time Yankees closer and will become Ruthian in proportion as the years go on.

But try telling that to any top-level closer. They see the bucks, they see the numbers and they want the green they believe they deserve. The Yankees gave Rivera the reverse on the old hometown discount - they gave him a bonus for having been this good for them this long. Frankie might get a $12 million per year contract for 4 seasons with some club, and he may earn every dollar of it over that period of time. But the Angels are the only team that Rodriguez could ever have the same meaning that Rivera has to the Yankees; unless, of course, it is Frankie on the mound in the arms of a Catcher in Wrigleyville some Octobers from now.