Thursday, January 8, 2015

Alex Rodriguez stubbornly ignores Yankees

Either you have to admire New York Yankees circus ringmaster Alex Rodriguez – or wonder if he’s insane. Rodriguez has more or less been told by the team that he’s got no shot of playing third base, yet he trots out onto his old high school field in Miami and takes grounders. He wants everyone to see how much he wants it. Then he posts a photo to his Instagram account for all to witness – sending the hidden message – I can still do it, see?

Rodriguez feels he can compete for the starting job at third base. It’s laughable.

Rodriguez might want to simply concentrate on the hitting aspect of his game which has been turned off since the end of the 2013 season. By the time he steps foot on the fields in Tampa it will be over 16 months since he’s participated in the official capacity of a major league ballplayer.

By the way, he played in 44 games that season. He hobbled through 122 games in 2012 and 99 contests in 2011. Notice a trend? He couldn’t stay on the field for three years prior to missing a full season. He’s lucky he is under contract.

And that’s the rub. The Yankees, only because they owe him $64 million (and potentially $6 million more for six more home run balls), have Rodriguez penciled-in as the regular DH. I used the term "penciled-in" because there is no assurance A-Rod can hit a lick against big league pitching after his season-long suspension.

The Yankees figure with surgically repaired hips and the time off, Rodriguez will be unable to handle third base. General manager Brian Cashman went so far as to say he was unimpressed with Rodriguez at third in 2013. So, he wisely went out and signed Chase Headley to be the regular third baseman for the next four seasons pushing A-Rod to DH duties.

Here are A-Rod’s offensive numbers from 2013.

Year Age G PA R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS+
2013 37 44 181 21 38 7 7 19 .244 .348 .423 113
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2015.

Small sample sure, but the Yankees would be OK with those numbers extrapolated over the course of a full season. But, with normal decline for a 39-year-old and being a full season removed from playing time, those numbers would indicate there is not much to get excited about. That is especially true for a DH position the Yankees have recently gotten little production from. I won't even get into how he'll perform without performance-enhancing drugs.

The Yankees need Rodriguez to be somewhat productive to warrant the salary, but it will take a miracle for Rodriguez to return full value on the $22 million he is set to earn in 2015. The Yanks probably want nothing more than Rodriguez to show up to camp and immediately look and feel overmatched. Should he decide to walk away, it would save the Yankees a lot in terms of money and nuisance. But, it has to be on his terms, so the Yanks will give him a chance to earn at-bats.

So, why waste time taking grounders at third base? If Headley is injured the Yankees have a slew of options that can man the position. The Stephen Drew signing has truly provided depth in the infield and Yankees manager Joe Girardi would likely pull from that before putting A-Rod at the hot corner. Drew could shift to third while Brendan Ryan or Jose Pirela can play second. Alternatively, Ryan or Pirela can play third. Point is; Girardi will have more mobile options.

There is a better chance that Rodriguez can be productive at the plate versus providing anything of value in the field. So while he still has a chance to be helpful at something, he should concentrate on hitting the baseball. That, in and of itself is going to be difficult for a 39-year-old, let alone one who last stood in a major league batter's box during a regular season game back on September 25, 2013.

What are your thoughts? The Yankees are stuck with A-Rod; should they be strict about his being a DH only, or give him time at third to be ready as a backup to Headley? Let me know in the comments below.

Salary figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



7 comments:

  1. I think a better plan is groom him to be the backup 1B. I suspect '1B backup' is currently Garrett Jones's job, but he's a disaster with the glove who should not see the field, ever. They should see if maybe A-Rod can give them a better option there.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. It seemed like that was going to be an option at one point, but I think despite Jones' fielding issues, A-Rod is not going to get first crack at backing up 1B either. I can't see him being all that great in the field period. Maybe if Teixeira suffers a long term injury they'd think about a platoon of Jones/Rodriguez?

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  2. The Yankees should move on and learn from their mistakes

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  3. Spring training is weeks away. I think he's (Alex) is trying show/prove hes ready to play. He's been working out hard for quite awhile to even get to this moment. I also believe that Alex posting on his IG acct is a positive way to enter back into the media. As we all know hes been under the radar in preparation for the 2015 season, staying out of the spotlight to me shows great maturity. Lets see what hes got and what he can do.

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  4. ARod might be a fall back at third in a blowout, or late in an inter-league game after a double switch, but that's about it. And that would only happen on a night he's not DH and only in an emergency.
    That said, I remember a pretty good MLB player, Red Sox outfielder. Jackie Jensen, who took a year off between his 32 and 34 year seasons. I believe he hit a bit over .280 with decent power at 32. When he came back at 34, he was nowhere near the player he was at 32. I believe he retired for good during the season while hitting below .200. Jensen, known a 'The Golden Boy' for his athletic exploits at USC, kept in shape and still could not come back from a year away.
    And then there is Ryne Sandberg who took a year off for family reasons, as did, Jensen. Sandberg was never near the player he was prior to the year off. Both these players were considerably younger than Alex.

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  5. I agree it will difficult for him to come back, and to perform at any level beyond a bare MLB level. But why deride him for working out and trying to show he still has skills? He is a Hall of Famer, even if voters exclude him because of the steroids. If he wasn't working out and showing the world he was working out, you'd be lambasting him because he hasn't shown any determination to come back. Rodriguez is a competitor, which led him to take the steroids in the first place. Has the bar been set so high on Headley and Teixiera that he can't wrest significant playing time from either of them? Headley's a .260 hitter with maybe 20 home runs, if his back doesn't give out.. Texiera hasn't demonstrated anything in the last two years that can show you he can be anything more than a .230 hitter with 20 home runs. Why shouldn't A-Rod be given a chance to show what he could do? Far from ignoring the Yankees, this "PR ploy" is as much directed to the team as to the fans, and I don't know why the Yankees wouldn't play him if he proves he is a superior option to anyone else on the roster. There is no question that other teams would take a flyer on him if he weren't making the obscene amount of money that he is. If there is even a small chance that he can be some portion of what he was, it would help the Yankees to find that out sooner rather than later.

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