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Jim Caple gets it

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Caple has an excellent piece on ARod up at ESPN...some highlights...

I'm no A-Rod apologist. He's a diva, and a bigger phony than most team owners. But you know what? That doesn't matter. Did Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth get along? Was Ted Williams considered a "winner"? Did every teammate like Reggie Jackson? Does Manny Ramirez even know what team he plays for? Baseball is the most individual of sports, and all that really matters is what a guy does on the field. And what A-Rod has done is average 124 runs scored, 45 home runs and 128 RBIs per season the past 10 years.

And don't give me that crap about how A-Rod would upset your club's precious chemistry. I keep reading all these comments praising the great "chemistry" and "teamwork" of the Boston Red Sox. Please. As if the Rockies and Indians somehow had flaws in their character, or were bad teammates simply because they didn't beat the Sox. So the Rockies won 21 of 22 games, and then got swept in the World Series because their bottle of "chemistry" ran out? Nonsense. The Red Sox didn't win it all because their character was somehow superior to every other team's. They won because they had more talent. They won because they had better players, better pitching, and they played the best in October.

It's wonderful if every teammate is like Mike Lowell or Jason Varitek, but it's hardly necessary as long as a player produces. For crying out loud, Curt Schilling's ego is so monstrous it's an official stop on the Boston duck boat tour, while Manny has repeatedly asked to be traded. Talent matters, not personality. Chuck Knoblauch was as moody a player as there ever was, yet the Twins won a World Series and the Yankees won three straight with him in the lineup. Jack Morris was as self-involved a player as I've ever covered, and he was a cornerstone for three different World Series champs.

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At worst A-Rod is like the office know-it-all who wants you to know how cool his 72-inch plasma screen looks, and how well his fantasy team is doing, and where all the cool restaurants are. But he also happens to really know his stuff, and he's able to hack into any system and write code that really, really works. You may not want to sit next to him, but you definitely want him in your office.

I understand people worrying that signing A-Rod would preclude their team from obtaining other necessary players. But that's a needless concern. Signing someone like A-Rod, Derek Jeter or Manny Ramirez to a contract for $20 million to $25 million per year isn't what hurts a team financially. It's signing the likes of Jeff Weaver for $8 million and Richie Sexson for $15 million, then trading for Horacio Ramirez and his $2 million salary (not that I have any particular team in mind). As Bill Veeck once said, "It isn't the high price of stars that is expensive; it's the high price of mediocrity." In that sense, signing A-Rod might help financially, because you'll be less likely to waste your money on some stiff who won't produce (hello, Adrian Beltre).

Word.