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Change of heart? (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday July 11, 2007 1:27PM; Updated: Wednesday July 11, 2007 1:27PM
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Alex Rodriguez's 30 homers and 86 RBIs were both second-best marks by a Yankee before the All-Star break.
Alex Rodriguez's 30 homers and 86 RBIs were both second-best marks by a Yankee before the All-Star break.
Chuck Solomon/SI
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told SI.com on March 21 that the Yankees didn't intend to chase A-Rod or get into a bidding war, saying, "He has a significant contract as it is. So I don't anticipate any dialogue regarding an extension,'' then making similar statements in other new outlets the following day.

While Cashman's comments were interpreted to mean that the Yankees wouldn't be enhancing A-Rod's current deal, Cashman's words technically provided some leeway. Cashman declined to discuss A-Rod's situation when asked about it on Tuesday, mentioning his intention not to repeat the media firestorm that his quotes caused last time.

There's also the possibility that the Yankees' thinking simply has changed. And if it has, A-Rod's responsible for that. When Cashman spoke back in March, Rodriguez was coming off his worst season ever. But this week A-Rod came to San Francisco as the consensus best player in the game after a monster first half that has caught the attention of not only his bosses but all of baseball. Should A-Rod rebuff the Yankees' overtures, he'll have several suitors, including possibly the Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Red Sox. There's even speculation that Texas and Seattle may want him back.

Whether he stays or goes, the price will be high. It's hard to predict how high, but it's hard to imagine A-Rod taking a pay cut from his currently contracted $27 million 2008 salary. His existing contract calls for him to have the option to ask out after '08 and '09 if the Yankees don't raise his pay "by the greater of $5 million or $1 million above the largest salary of any position player,'' which could give him reason to set the asking price at $32 million.

In any case, the Yankees can't afford to let him leave now.

Is it All-Star Game or AL-Star Game?

The idea that the AL's All-Star dominance is a fluke is losing steam after the junior circuit's latest victory, 5-4 on Tuesday night.

"When you win 10 years in a row, it's because you give a better performance on the field,'' Ivan Rodriguez said.

"The numbers don't lie,'' Magglio Ordonez added.

La Russa move: A Cardinal sin

A fissure is showing in the Cardinals. After NL manager Tony La Russa failed to use Albert Pujols at all in the game -- not even when he could have employed him to pinch hit for Orlando Hudson with the game on the line in the ninth inning -- Pujols remarked regarding La Russa, "He can do what he wants. He does whatever he wants. If I wasn't expecting to play, I wouldn't have come up here.''

Things apparently aren't too tight in St. Louis only months after a World Series championship. And what La Russa may want to do at year's end is move on.

An A-Mays-ing inquiry

Bay Area native C.C. Sabathia said he had goose bumps watching the stirring pregame tribute to Willie Mays. This inspired one reporter to ask Sabathia to recount his memories of watching Mays play, which qualifies for worst question of the week.

Of course, since Sabathia is only 26, he had to tell this gentleman that he had to rely on relatives to tell him about Mays, whose last season was 1973. "The guy didn't seem to like my answer,'' Sabathia said, laughing it off. "But what could I do?''

Did Ichiro not like Mike?

It's a shame most of us don't get to see more of All-Star MVP Ichiro, because he truly is one of the best players in the game. And his new five-year extension for close to $100 million keeps him in Seattle, which is what he wanted all along.

The funny thing about Ichiro's extension is that it came only nine days after Mike Hargrove's surprise resignation, which makes the two developments appear connected. And maybe they are. A couple years back I'd heard that Ichiro was no great fan of Hargrove's. And after all, it isn't too often that a manager retires when his team is hottest.

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