The Lightning (A)Rod

Living in the New York-Metropolitan area, and listening to sports talk radio during a two-hour commute every day, it’s impossible to avoid the drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees right now. To me, it’s fascinating that the man who some consider the greatest baseball player of all-time is left out of the lineup in the postseason — and in his team’s elimination game no less! I understand that the Yankees have All-Stars at every position (including the bench), and that A-Rod is not looking like the player he once was, but still, his status and paycheck would suggest that his is the first name to be written into the lineup card (especially with Derek Jeter injured). I’m trying to draw a theoretical comparison to the Mets and falling woefully short. I guess it would like if the Mets were in the playoffs (ha!) right now and Terry Collins chose to bench David Wright. The last time I can remember a superstar of this magnitude being benched in the postseason was in 1977, when Billy Martin sat Reggie Jackson in Game 5 of the ALCS vs. the Royals. Times were different back then, of course. For example, although there were players who tried to get fans’ phone numbers in the middle of a game, beat writers wouldn’t report it as news.

Something tells me that this A-Rod situation is only beginning — especially if the Yankees are eliminated by the Tigers. Already there are rumors of trading A-Rod to the Marlins, which seems plausible considering Miami’s spending frenzy last winter and continued need to build a fan base. But Rodriguez carries with him another 5 years and over $110M — a staggering commitment, and especially egregious after looking at how much his health and production have suffered since admitting to taking steroids (hmmm …..). Will the Yankees trade him? Can anyone afford him? Will they pay some of his salary to get him out of New York? What kind of package of players can they get in return? Can A-Rod contribute to a championship club, or is it all about fannies in the seats?

What do you think? Are you paying attention to the Yankees drama? Do you find it entertaining? How do you think things will turn out with A-Rod? Post your notes in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. derek October 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    i have to imagine after the old ball/phone num trick…its steinbrenner and cash that are ordering the benching…

    chavez isnt exactly lighting it up to warrant a start over arod…esp with jeter out…just glad wright didnt get caught pulling this move..thats all we needed….

  2. NormE October 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm
    It’s hard to believe that the Yankees would be able to trade a diminished ARod without paying a large part of his salary.
    Will there be interested teams? Probably.
    What we see here is the folly of giving expensive, lengthy contracts to ballplayers over the age of thirty. Add to that a player who came up during the steroid era, and used them, and now must play under somewhat different rules while he is past his prime.
  3. Dan B October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm
    I feel sorry for the Yankees. They spent all that money and all they get to show for it is leading the league in revenue, second in wins, and played themselves into the ALCS. I bet they hate selling all those ARod shirts and getting headlines. I am sure they would prefer to have nobody talking about them as they struggle to draw 2 million and win 73 games.
  4. DaveSchneck October 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm
    Like you, it is hard not to follow this situation. As a non-Yankee fan, what strikes me is that by sitting ARod, despite his struggles. Girardi (and Cashman/mgmt) has not put the best possible team on the field each game. Pinch hitting and unconscious Ibanez for ARod agains Johnson, who blew away ARod the game prior was one thing. Sitting ARod against Hammels and Verlander made no sense, even with them being righties, as has shown power, and power in 2012, vs. each. I guess that’s why they call it the Bronx Zoo. Anyway, we have enough concerns of our own as Met fans, so I’m indifferent to the Yankee woes.
  5. Steven October 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm
    I suspect this is all a ploy to get A-Rod to agree to a partial buyout. The message is if you dont compromise off of your contract, you will be a bench player for the next five years and that is how fans will remember you. On the other hand, if you come to us and show a willingness to make financial concessions, you will have a chance to be a hero for another team and end on a higher note.
    • Joe Janish October 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm
      Interesting perspective. I’m wondering if this is really more about the ball and the girls in the stands, as some have suggested. Maybe this is both Girardi and ownership scolding A-Rod.
      • derek October 19, 2012 at 9:18 am
        the players union will NOT allow arod to take financial concessions….the yanks can eat some of contract and trade him..but arod will not shave money off his deal…nor will union let matter how bad the situation is…..
      • derek October 19, 2012 at 9:22 am
        i heard language in arod contract call for yankees to aknowledge arod hr chase as a “milestone” when he passes certain pts and gets 6 mil….

        but is it a milestone with all the PED’s now….is it as big a deal now that he has been caught then when he inked deal…..that will interesting to see….and if the yanks try and fight it….

        arod is still a very good player and name…i think they hold on to him next yr…hope he plays well then maybe re-visit miami next offseason….

        • Joe Janish October 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm
          Interesting points. The Yankees may realize that they don’t want to go through with HR chase, and addressing the issue now — before it looks obvious that’s the reason they want to dump him — would be a smart move. Though, I believe there are MANY reasons that the Yankees want to dump A-Rod — that’s just one.
  6. Dan Capwell October 19, 2012 at 6:01 am
    Well….Atlanta needs a third baseman and more than one career has been revived there.
  7. Izzy October 19, 2012 at 7:41 am
    Remember when Torre “humiliated” AROD by batting him 8th? His relation with the Steinbrenner’s quickly collapsed and in a year he was the one “humiliated” with that one year deal he couldn’t take. Now it seems Girardi did this stuff with Cashman. The Yanks were bad since they built their 10 game lead. The two tried to shake up the club with AROD and it backfired. Look for a new GM in the not too distant future and then a new manager soo after. Dumping AROD just leaves one more big hole for them to f ill and ends the PR they have planned for his gradual rise to the HR king
    • Joe Janish October 19, 2012 at 8:24 am
      Iz, good points.

      I wonder about the HR king thing, though. I wonder if Yankee management and ownership soured on A-Rod once his steroid use was made public. Having A-Rod pass Babe Ruth’s 714 HRs in a Yankees uniform, with the underlying feeling that it is a tainted accomplishment, may be a difficult PR story to spin. If he’s able to pass Aaron and Bonds as well, I’m not sure how much love there will be for Rodriguez. In fact, I bet A-Rod’s admission to using steroids — AFTER opting out of his original deal and getting the Yankees to give him that second, even more obnoxious contract — has been a rotting taste in the Steinbrenners’ mouths that they’ve finally decided to spit out.

      • Izzy October 19, 2012 at 8:43 am
        You may very well be right Joe. In any event, I wonder what Wright’s agents are thinking!!! His value on the market is growing, even tho free agency is a year away. If the Yanks keep AROD long term they could easily move him to DH someday and go after a Wright in a year. If they move him they may not find a long term filler for 3rd opting to go after a FA in a year when a certain Met might be available.. With the miniature right center field dimensions Wright would be in heaven, I mean Iowa, I mean contending for HR crowns. If I were Wright’s agents, I’d be stalling in Met talks waiting to see what finally plays out in the Bronx.
        • Joe Janish October 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm
          Agreed on Wright’s agents stalling. If David Wright signs an extension with the Mets for anything below market value, I’ll be surprised. The Mets franchise he grew up loving as a kid is long gone, and there’s little hope for the Mets turning into something remarkable during Wright’s career. His best case scenario is to leave behind a legacy similar to that of Ernie Banks or Don Mattingly – a great player for a usually bad club, never had the chance to play in a World Series. Is it more satisfying to play 15-20 seasons with one club, or to get a taste of World Series?

          If Wright becomes a FA, he’ll have his choice of where to go. Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers — just about every team will be calling. Heck, maybe the Nats move Zimmerman to 1B to make room for Wright.

  8. Rob October 19, 2012 at 11:54 am
    Hey Joe: Good post. It jibes with something that I’ve been thinking about ever since the Marlins collapsed and sold off a bunch of their established players over the summer. What if the Marlins traded Reyes to the Yankees for Arod? The Yanks have a need for a shortstop (Jeter may be done…or he’s certainly on his last legs) and the Marlins have a need for some splash to put fannies in the seats. It would be a wash financially for the Marlins, trading one contract for another. The Yanks would get good value. I hate the idea, as much as I hate the Marlins, but I’ve been predicting a trade of Reyes over the winter since the Marlins signed him…and I think the evidence suggests that the Marlins (being motivated solely by money considerations) would be inclined to dump him given how far they are now away from play off contention.

    Curse the Marlins for what they’ve done and are probably about to do.

    What do you think?

    All the best,

    • Joe Janish October 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm
      Reyes for A-Rod makes sense for all the reasons you mention.

      However, Jeter is the key factor in any such deal. If A-Rod — a superior defender and the “greatest player ever” at the time of his trade to NY — wasn’t going to move Jeter off shortstop, then no one is.

      According to all reports, Jeter is returning in 2013. As long as Jeter says he’s playing, he’s playing SS. I don’t see any possibility of him moving to another position. He’ll stop playing shortstop for the Yankees when he retires.

      • Rob October 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm
        I would agree with you. But on a more general note, do you think that the Marlins will trade Reyes? Would they be that blatant about giving up and “retooling” as they are always wont to do?
  9. argonbunnies October 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm
    I liked A-Rod as a Mariner. When he took all that money to leave a 116-win team for a Rangers’ team whose main problem was pitching, I found all his “want to win” talk completely disingenuous. But, y’know, par for the course.

    A few years later, despite 3 straight monster seasons from A-Rod, the Rangers were desperate to unload his salary, and gee, guess who was the only team with deep enough pockets to make it happen? How about the increasingly egomaniacal all-star team in the Bronx? The same team that just outbid everyone for Mussina and Giambi? Bad enough… but then A-Rod talks about this move, which was a salary dump, and glows to everyone who’ll listen about how great it is to be a Yankee, 26 World Series, blah blah… Well, from then on, I had to root against the guy.

    Then in the postseason, watching him slump as the Red Sox came back, and smack Arroyo’s glove and be defensive about it afterward… Hey, it’s starting to be pretty fun to root against this guy.

    And then in 2005, when Ortiz must have set a record for clutch hits, but the voters gave A-Rod the MVP for hitting 3-run homers in 10-2 games because Ortiz played DH… Boo A-Rod. Cheating on his wife… Boo A-Rod. Doing the ridiculous celebrity dating thing, including sex icon old enough to be his mom in Madonna… Boo A-Rod. Utterly collapsing in ’06 against the tigers… Ha ha, A-Rod! Driving in only 1 run in ’07 against the Indians… Ha ha, A-Rod! Missing the playoffs in ’08… Ha ha, A-Rod!

    I was actually beginning to feel like the forces of good had triumphed over the evil Yankees for a while there. Then A-Rod tied the game off Nathan with a HR in the 9th in the 2009 playoffs, and oh crap. If you put that much talent on the big stage again and again and again, eventually it’ll work out.

    So, it is with great relief that I watch the Yankees choke and fail utterly this year. And, yeah:

    Ha ha, A-Rod!

    • argonbunnies October 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm
      Oops, I meant “took all that money to leave a playoff team”. The Ms won 116 the next year.
  10. argonbunnies October 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm
    Best case trade scenario: Yankee brass puts A-Rod through so much grief in an attempt to get him to waive his no-trade clause that he finally loses his love of the organization. They somehow do trade him, and when he gets to his new team, he comes clean on how the Yankees are jerks. Then I wouldn’t have to root against the guy anymore. That’s my pipe dream.

    However, there’s no way anyone will take A-Rod without the Yanks eating $80mil, and there’s no way the Yanks will suffer the embarrassment of eating $80mil, so no, a trade ain’t happenin’.

    So, my other pipe dream is that A-Rod tries to get Girardi fired and the Yankees spend the next few years in a disastrous soap opera that fuels a media frenzy that sucks the life out of the team, culminating in a 90-loss death spiral. That at least seems possible.

    Girardi was smart to get a hot Ibanez into the lineup, but benching A-Rod that much in favor of Chavez was extremely stupid, reeking of desperation. Remember when Francona stuck with slumping Mark Bellhorn in ’04 and he beat the Yanks with a 3-run HR in the Schilling game? Show a little confidence, man.