I wish I could say that I didn't see this coming. I just didn't see it coming this fast.
Yes, it has begun, the inevitable "hey, why don't the Angels trade for Alex Rodriguez?" speculation.
To that I say… really, people? You can watch this maelstrom of media hand-wringing and finger-wagging and think that this is something the Halos should willfully sign up for?
Look, I get the notion that the Angels would be assuming little risk if they brought in A-Rod for the low, low price of nothing (and possibly even getting the Yankees to take Vernon Wells). That does seem to be the only deal that anyone really seems interested in regarding A-Rod, so at least you are getting that part right. The problem is the player himself.
If A-Rod comes to Anaheim, the media scrutiny comes with him. Every time he slumps, it becomes a national story. Every time he winks at a pretty blond, it becomes a topic on PTI. Every time he gets a new girlfriend, the paparazzi start tailing the Angels wherever they go. Every time he does an ill-advised photo shoot for a fashion magazine, the blogosphere explodes with ridicule. Arte Moreno wants the Angels in the national spotlight, but that isn't how he wants to get there.
The funny thing about this is that the baseball side of things is almost an afterthought, though it shouldn't be. Sure, A-Rod is probably an upgrade over Alberto Callaspo, but so are a lot of other people who come with a lot less baggage. He also isn't the star player he used to be either. 2012 marks the sixth straight season in which his OPS has declined and third straight season in which it has been under .900. Old age and a litany of chronic injuries have reduced him to a very highly paid, very distracting slightly above league average third baseman.
The only thing worse than a player who is a constant off-field distraction is a mediocre player who is a constant off-field distraction.
Frankly, I shudder when I think about the kind of public flogging Mike Scioscia will have to deal with as he tries to manage Rodriguez into the twilight of his career. Joe Girardi has been torn to shreds over where he bats A-Rod, when he pinch-hits for him and when he benches him. We've seen how Scioscia handles other aging, brand name player. He kept Vlad Guerrero in the heart of the order well beyond the point where Vladdy was still an actual offensive threat. And Lord knows how hard a time Scioscia has had trying to resist the temptation of penciling Vernon Wells' name into the lineup since he is a veteran with a recognizable name. Imagine the trouble he'll have keeping a decaying A-Rod on the bench when it becomes clear that he isn't a viable regular anymore.
Face it, folks. There just isn't an upside here. Give me Alberto Callaspo and let the Dodgers deal with all of A-Rod's bullcrap.