Interesting article on Grantland about intriguing "what ifs" in Alex Rodriguez's career that may have had an impact on the Detroit Tigers and the run to the World Series in 2006.
The first such intersection came in 2000, when he had just enough service time in MLB to be a free agent, and scored the huge 10 year 252 million deal with the Rangers. That departure opened the door for Carlos Guillen to take over as the everyday shortstop in Seattle. Granted, Guillen was later trade to Detroit, so maybe the extra year of experience wouldn't have affected that move. But then again, one more year as a utility infielder, who knows what that might have meant for how #9's career might have developed?
The more direct impact came from what happened after Tom Hicks got tired of of losing (despite A-Rod's production, which as we now know was PED aided, by his own admission) and looked to move him and his albatross of a contract. I knew about the proposed move to Boston that eventually got nixed by the MLBPA over the idea that players might give up contracted for money. But I never knew the details about some of the other pieces that were being discussed as part of that proposed deal.
A deal was reached, and all sides were amenable: The Rangers would trade Rodriguez to Boston in exchange for Manny Ramirez and a prospect named Jon Lester. The Red Sox would then trade incumbent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez and a prospect named Brandon McCarthy.
Imagine that Sox lineup with A-Rod and Magglio protecting Big Papi. Or, more to the point for the Tigers, imagine that 2006 season without Magglio's curly hair patrolling the outfield at Comerica, or imagine game 4 of the ALCS without that moment that's ingrained in our memories.
Who knows what A-Rod's legacy might have been had he been able to go to Boston after 2003? Regardless, I can't help but think that the Tigers would have suffered had that trade gone through, that just maybe, that 2006 AL Championship pennant doesn't fly over Comerica if not for the help of Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez.