Dear Rafael Furcal,
We have really enjoyed your tenure here in Los Angeles, including your tireless rehab last year to make it back to the team in time for the playoffs. You provide a great sparkplug at the top of the lineup, hitting for average and for power, and are a marvel on defense at shortstop. We would love to see you come back.
Now, your agent has said that there are four teams left in the hunt for your services, the Dodgers vying along with the Blue Jays, A's, and Royals. The Dodgers are apparently offering three years, one fewer than you'd prefer (the A's have reportedly offered $35M / four years). But come on, you're coming back after missing an entire season--you have got to understand our prudence.
You don't want to live in Toronto. The turf of the Rogers Centre would worsen any of your lingering back pain, and probably cause you to break down faster everywhere else. You don't speak French. Its natural climate is about as far from the Dominican Republic as you could get. And it's the equivalent of falling off the radar so far, that no one might know you even exist and are playing every day. When's the last time you remember seeing a nationally-televised game from Toronto? Joe Carter's WS HR, perhaps?
You don't want to play for Kansas City. They are, and will continue to be, a reclamation project, hampered by their small market budget and miserly payroll. Sure, you'll live like a men among boys in a town where the nicest department store is owned by a greeting card company. And you'll dig the fountains. But how many barbecue meals at Bryant's can you possibly eat before it starts getting old?
You don't want to play for Oakland. They play in a cavernous football stadium, with tarped-over seats exacerbating the lack of fan noise from the already small crowd. The last game I saw at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, there was only one vendor open for business on the top deck. Now, you can hope that in the later year(s) of your contract, you will be playing in a brand-spanking new Cisco Field facility. But it's in Fremont. And Cisco's stock has dropped by 50% this year, reflecting the economic ills of the Bay Area. I wouldn't count on this park happening. And in the meantime, you'll be playing for a team that its best years stumbles into the playoffs only to be swept in the first round (kind of like the Dodgers, until this year, to be fair). And in its worst years? You're playing on a triple-A team.
Pop quiz: Can you name more than three players on ANY of these three teams?
Look, you know you love it here in LA, with the large Latino / Hispanic population, the diverse culture, the bright lights of a big city, and the loyalty of a fan base unparalleled by your other three suitors. Come on back, Raffy. We'd love to have you.
And we would hate to never see you again in anyone else's
witness protection programs uniforms.
SoSG Steve Sax