I’ve been a huge hater of Alex Rodriguez for a long time now. To me, he exemplifies everything that’s wrong with baseball and is a constant reminder of the dark years known as the “Steroid Era.”
After being busted for using performance enhancing drugs, he then admitted to using performance enhancing drugs and yet we still sit here and act like he never did anything wrong. Why is he still being considered as one of the greatest baseball players of this generation? Instead he should be the poster child — along with Barry Bonds — for one of the biggest disgraces in baseball history.
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But that’s neither here nor there. As you can see I feel very passionately about cheating and players who knowingly took steroids, but even I feel a little remorse for what A-Rod (A-Roid) is going through in these playoffs.
We all know by now that A-Rod is not a clutch hitter in the playoffs. Now, I’ve seen him come up big in several situations during the regular season, but when he comes to the plate in a big spot in the postseason, everyone knows what’s about to happen: the whiff.
He has 72 career hits in the postseason and a .265 batting average with 13 home runs. Nineteen of those hits and six of those home runs came during the New York Yankees 2009 World Series run. Eighteen of those hits came during his tenure with the Seattle Mariners. In every other postseason with the Yankees, A-Rod has only managed 35 hits in 167 at bats (.210).
That’s a large enough sample size to justify benching the 37-year-old third baseman in the biggest games of the season. I don’t have a problem with that. But what is difficult to swallow is the $29 million that is sitting on the bench.
Free agency in general has become a huge problem for baseball, and as long as it exists, we’re going to see recurring situations like this. How many times has a long-term contract like A-Rod’s worked out? It always seems teams look to dump players like that two or three years before the contracts are up when players are no longer worth what they’re getting paid.
And does A-Rod care? No. He’s getting his money either way.
What’s worse, he’s on the books for the next five years making $28, $25, $21, $20 and $20 million. Those numbers just make me sick. He makes more every time he strikes out than I make in a year. These contracts are getting out of control and something needs to be done.
But for the time being, the Yankees have got a huge problem on their hands come next season. Now that Joe Girardi has signified that their best lineup doesn’t include the high-paid third baseman, that brings into question who starts at that position next season?
The Yankees are not a team that would normally sit there and knowingly have a glaring weakness. However, management has said they are looking to cut payroll. They were able to eat a lot of A.J. Burnett’s contract last year, but I’m not sure anyone would be willing to pick up this ridiculous of a contract. Quite frankly, the Yankees are stuck.
A-Rod’s ego has been dealt a swift, harsh blow and it will take more than time to recover. Now that he knows how his manager, teammates and fans really feel about him, I believe his interest to perform decreases even more, and he’ll just continue to pick up checks.
Fortunately for A-Rod, the Yankees don’t have a replacement who can man the hot corner for the entire regular season and post similar numbers. He is still a solid producer at the plate, but those numbers have been on a decline for years now and only seem to be getting worse.
I’m not sure how they allow this cancer to sit in their dugout, but I’m afraid they have no choice. At least not right now. With nearly $114 million left on his contract — not including incentives for home run milestones — there isn’t a team on the plant that would be willing to pick up even 75 percent of that contract.
If they Yankees really want to move on from this disastrous situation, they’re going to have to have to pay A-Rod at least $90 million over the next five years to play for another team. I do believe someone would be willing to pay A-Rod $5 million a year; if for no other reason than to draw interest as he tries to break the home run record.
The Yankees have spent money foolishly in the past, and this contract is one of the biggest blunders in the history of sports. Being able to drop A-Rod from your team would bring more than just some financial relief to the team, to me, it’s the only way this team can coexist for the next five years.
As long as A-Rod is a part of this team, he’s going to be a problem in the postseason. And now it’s going to be a problem in the regular season, because fans are going to boo every strikeout, and front-page articles are going to be written about how bad he his.
Either you cut your losses and move on, or you deal with a clubhouse cancer that will rot your team for the five years (i.e., you become the next Red Sox). It’s not an easy decision by any means, but it’s a situation Yankees management has brought upon itself. The Yankees need to suck up, admit their mistakes and move on.