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Buster Olney on Millwood and ARod

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A couple of interesting items from Buster Olney's blog today...

First of all, he gives a list of 10 veteran pitchers to keep an eye on this season, and includes Kevin Millwood among those on his list. It includes this quote:

"When he goes to the post, he's still a hell of a pitcher and a competitor," said a longtime AL scout. "He's got the stuff of a No. 2 or No. 3, but he's got the heart of an ace. The question is whether he can stay healthy. I think the feeling is that during his five-year deal, he'll be healthy for three years. Which three will it be?"

We also have Olney's response to those who think ARod might opt out of his current deal, but then negotiate an extension with the Yanks:

There is some speculation that if A-Rod opts out of his contract after the upcoming season, he could simply renegotiate a new deal with the Yankees. But the odds of that happening are probably worse than the chances of Hillary Clinton being the Republican nominee for president in 2008. A big part of the reason why the Yankees made the trade for A-Rod three years ago was the Rangers' willingness to pick up about 40 percent of his contract, making him a relative bargain for New York at $16 million a year.

If A-Rod were to become a free agent after this year, he probably could command at least $20 million annually (assuming he doesn't have a disastrous '07), for seven or eight years. That means the Yankees would have to commit an additional $100 million to A-Rod, over the $50 million or so they already have budgeted for 2008-2010, and given their recent shift in business tactics, this won't happen. Since Brian Cashman assumed full control of their baseball operations in May of '05, the Yankees have basically ended their practice of giving massive five-, six- and seven-year deals to 30-something and 40-something players.

And there is a bottom line to this as well: If A-Rod was a production machine and never a distraction, generating 130 RBI and handling everything flawlessly, the Yankees would work this out. But he has increasingly become an inconsistent presence for the Yankees, in his production and in how many sideshows his circumstances generate. Joe Torre, who along with Bobby Cox might be the prototypical players' manager, thought so little of A-Rod's at-bats in the playoffs that he dropped him to eighth in the lineup.

The Yankees, structured by the front office for success in the postseason, will not pay A-Rod $20 million a year for that.

I agree with Olney may just be wishful thinking, but I can't imagine ARod not opting out if he can get, say, 8 years, $160 million, which Olney thinks is going to be the market.

I'm getting optimistic that that extra $8 million that Tom Hicks is having to pay to the Yankees for ARod will come to an end after this season.