Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York Yankees: Five gruesome months of A-Rod talk ahead

As soon as the San Francisco Giants secured the final out of the 2014 World Series, New York Yankees third baseman (or first baseman, or designated hitter or dumpster fire) Alex Rodriguez was back on the club’s 40-man roster after fulfilling his yearlong ban from the game due to his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Seconds after the Giants' celebration began, there were plenty of A-Rod supporters and detractors on Twitter reminding everyone how blessed quiet it has been without him. Now we’ll be subjected to five months of chatter about his health, his demeanor, his ability to play at a major league level and whether or not he is clean before he begins stretching out with his teammates in Tampa.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I think he will be worthless to the team in the end. I just don’t see how he’ll be able to overcome the year off, after having minimal plate appearances in 2012 (181) and reconstructed hips. Despite A-Rod’s work ethic, he's 39 and well I don’t care how much one works at it, once a player approaches 40, he’s not going revert back to his prime as many misguided souls believe.

Let me say that my judgment here has nothing to do with his actions. Nor am I anti-Rodriguez. I was just as leery about Derek Jeter’s return after missing a "full" season. He was nothing like the Jeter of old, and you can’t tell me The Captain didn’t bust his butt during the offseason and regular season just to stay on the field.

The Yankees can spin this whatever way they want (they outwardly suggest he is their third baseman), but I truly believe they want A-Rod to fail (and they'll have no alternative but to have a solid backup plan in place). They have no choice (and 61 million other reasons) but to let him come back and try to play the game. A-Rod is not going to run away without giving it his all. But, would he embarrass himself in the process? I don’t think so.

I envision him getting hurt in early March with something that has him starting the season on the disabled list. Figure he’s back in late April and then suffers another injury after a week of playing (and not well). After trying to rehab for several weeks, he simply works it out with the Yankees and hides – forever.

Until then, Rodriguez will regain his share of headlines. He’ll say all the right things and if he’s learned anything he’ll try to be quiet about his personal life. His proponents will foolishly suggest the Yankees need his elite power (it’s long gone), and the disbelievers – myself included – will continue to claim he was in a downward spiral well before missing all of 2014.

Five months. It’s going to be difficult.

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.