Nov. 5, 2010
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That the As picked up their 2011club options on second baseman Mark Ellis (6 million) and center fielder CocoCrisp (5.75 mil) this week was not a surprise in the slightest.Nor was the teams decision to passon the 12.5 million option of third baseman Eric Chavez, who got a 3 millionbuyout instead.The fallout from the Chavez decision,though, threatens to taint the legacy of one of the franchises most popularplayers.By far the most honest player Iveever met, Chavez this week said he might try to play again next season -- butnot with the As. He wants a change of scenery after four years ofnon-stop pain and rehab. Nothing personal against the As,he insisted, and given his inability to speak anything but the truth, you haveto believe him. Unfortunately, his publicly stated desirefor a fresh start somewhere else -- if his perpetually broken body allows it --could be seen as a lack of loyalty to a team thats shown him plenty. The As made the biggestcontractual commitment in club history to Chavez during spring training in2004, giving him a six-year, 66 million extension. Over the following threeseasons, Chavez hit 78 homers with 250 RBIs and grew to six the number of GoldGloves he owns. Over the next four seasons, though,Chavez was on the disabled list far more often than not, pulling in roughly 43million while playing in an average of 38.5 games a year. So of course the As didntpick up that option. They know as much as anyone that Chavezs body isshot. Neck, back, right shoulder, left.But they still had to give him another 3million to get out of what ended up being an albatross of a deal, and whilethey said all the right things about Chavez, a class act with a welderswork ethic, writing that last check has to sting.That sting will feel like a mere pinprick compared to the anvil-on-head drop that would be Chavez getting healthyover the winter, signing with an American League rival such as the Angels, anddoing regular damage to the As in 2011.There are few players in the game Irespect more than Eric Chavez, in part because of the way hes alwaysembraced the First Amendment. I just wish hed have taken theFifth on this one.