|Friday, August 23
Updated: August 24, 3:10 PM ET
Torre would give A-Rod the AL's MVP
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Torre has an MVP in mind for 2002, and it doesn't come from his first-place team. It's Texas' Alex Rodriguez.
"When the numbers seem to be that much better than certain people you have to look at that,'' Torre said before New York played the Rangers on Friday. "He's the MVP.''
Torre knows what it's like to be an MVP for a non-championship club. He was the NL MVP in 1971 while with the St. Louis Cardinals, leading the NL in both batting average (.363) and RBI (137).
The Cardinals weren't quite as bad as A-Rod's Rangers, who were 55-70 and 20½ games out of first place in the AL West before Friday's games. St. Louis finished in second place in the NL East, seven games behind the eventual World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I felt bad for Willie Stargell,'' Torre said of the Pirates' leader. Stargell hit .295 with 48 homers and 125 RBI in 1971.
While Torre has a few players on the Yankees who will get consideration for the postseason award -- Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano and Bernie Williams -- he thinks Rodriguez deserves the award. A-Rod is hitting .320 with 44 homers and 111 RBI coming into Friday.
"I know I'll get a slap for this,'' Torre said. "He's probably the best player in the game right now.''
Rodriguez, in his second last-place season with the Rangers since signing a $252 million, 10-year contract was honored.
"Obviously, it's the ultimate compliment coming from a Hall of Fame manager,'' Rodriguez said.
"It'll be a real neat thing when you can tell your kids you won the MVP with so many great players, in the greatest era for the game.''
Even though the Rangers have no hope of making the postseason for the second straight year, Rodriguez does not regret the decision to sign with Texas and enjoys his status on a team of young players.
"I have a responsibility to be an example to my teammates and go out there and play hard every day,'' he said.
He also knows that as baseball's highest player he has a responsibility to the fans and the game itself. With an Aug. 30 strike date looming, Rodriguez said he's willing to do whatever it takes to preserve the game he loves.
"I would take a cut in pay -- 30 to 40 percent -- if it would make the game better,'' he said before adding: "It's not a very realistic proposition.''