By Joe Giglio
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After nine years in pinstripes, Yankees fans have seemingly had enough of Alex Rodriguez. From the failures in the clutch to the off-the-field personal issues to the latest allegations in the Miami New Times story this week, there is a sentiment of “enough is enough” around the media and fan base.
Unfortunately for everyone out there clamoring for A-Rod to just “go away,” he’s not going anywhere. Despite the influx of columns, tweets and stories written this week about Rodriguez possibly playing his last game as a Yankee, it’s more delusion than reality.
Not only will Rodriguez play baseball again, but he’ll play for the Yankees. That, at least to me, seems pretty obvious.
The less obvious part of this mess? The fact that this team still needs him.
First, can we dispel the notion that has floated out there from national and local media of a retirement from Rodriguez due to hip surgery complications? Five days ago, Rodriguez was recovering from surgery, mapping out a rehab schedule and looking to return around the All-Star break. Now some media outlets are wondering if the hip will “never” heal, and if the team can look to get out of the contract via an insurance policy. That disputes the claim from actual medical professionals.
Dr. James Gladstone, a sports medicine specialist, told the New York Post, “I can’t think of a reason why anyone would be able to say he couldn’t play again.”
Furthermore, the notion of A-Rod claiming that the hip isn’t responsive — in order to help out the Yankees — would be insurance fraud.
While the vitriol from fans — both home and away — will be hard to handle for A-Rod, don’t pretend he hasn’t gone through this before. He’s hated and seemingly always has been. Some of that has been out of his control, and some of it has been his fault. The bottom line is that boos and jeers from fans isn’t going to stop a player from doing his job. Rodriguez has $114 million dollars owed to him over the next five seasons. The idea of him simply walking away from that money, his career and the only profession he’s ever known is ludicrous.
As is the idea of the Yankees releasing him or paying him to leave. This is the team that wouldn’t give $3 million to Scott Hairston to play right field in 2013, yet some fans think the front office is willing to dish out copious amounts of money to make the clubhouse more acrimonious and appease fans. It’s not feasible. Nor is the idea of the Yankees “getting out of the contract” or cutting him on the basis of breaching their agreement. The Players Association may not love A-Rod, but they love the money he’s made for them. Expect a legal war from the union if the team actually attempts to void the biggest contract in Major League Baseball history.
On Thursday, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti tweeted the following: “Anyone who thinks ARod will be suspended, released, or retire tomorrow is painfully mistaken. This will be a loooooong process.”
The investigation in Miami is in it’s infancy. Baseball will take their time. If disciplinary action is taken by the league, expect a 50-suspension — technically, this would be A-Rod’s first offense — which can be served while he rehabs his hip injury. When Rodriguez is eligible to return, expect him at third base in the Bronx.
When notified of A-Rod’s intentions to not retire in the midst of this allegation, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman offered a one word response: “Good.” Although he may very well wish that the 10-year, $275 million contract was never agreed to in 2007, Cashman has to realize that his offense can still use a healthy, productive Rodriguez. It’s easy to dismiss him as finished after the way the 2012 season ended in October, but let’s not forget that there was a major injury present.
It’s nonsensical to think that A-Rod will ever be the player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t lengthen and solidify the Yankees lineup. Among all 30 MLB teams in 2012, only 10 saw their collective third baseman hit for a higher OPS than the .801 OPS that Rodriguez has put up over the last two years. His .353 OBP was seventh among all third baseman last season. On a roster filled with left-handed hitters, A-Rod’s career .388 OBP and 159 HRs against left-handed pitching still presents matchup issues for opposing managers. While Kevin Youkilis is a high-priced, veteran insurance policy, he’s also a medical risk. The lineup is better with both of them on the team, regardless of the perception.
The A-Rod era isn’t over in New York.
All of the controversy aside, do you think the Yankees still need A-Rod in their lineup? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…