I know it’s been a long season, and this is why we watch the games, the highs and lows: to watch our team get to the playoffs. With each team so evenly matched, every game is critically important, and we want to see every member of the offense firing on all cylinders. In an ideal world, this would happen. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. Not every guy in the lineup is going to hit a grand slam every time up. So, for the love of everything, Yankees fans, please stop calling for the benching of Alex Rodriguez.
Listening to sports talk radio and reading Twitter this week, I anticipated somewhat of a tempered attitude towards the beleaguered third baseman. Boy, was I wrong. About a third of all the comments and callers were clamoring for A-Rod to be benched.
Seriously. I thought I covered this last week.
You want Alex Rodriguez benched? For whom? Eric Chavez? I’m a big fan of the guy- he’s a multiple Gold Glover winner, nice bat, etc. But he’s also about as durable as a daisy in a tornado. Eduardo Nunez? Stop it. Not gonna happen. Even if he did get replaced, you honestly think the $25 million dollar a year man is going to sit on the bench? I’m a big believer than the contract or reputation doesn’t guarantee a place in the lineup everyday or a starting role, but who do you honestly think is better on the team to play third? No one.
Furthermore, whether we like it or not, A-Rod is here for the next five years, and owed about $150 million dollars. He’s not going anywhere. No one is going to trade for him. The contract is bad, and about as perfect a rationale against long-term contracts as any, but he isn’t going anywhere, and he isn’t going to sit on the bench for a guy who is an error machine and another who isn’t anything more than a spot-starter and bench player at this point in his career.
A-Rod can still contribute. Alex still gets his walks, and he still hits, even if his swing has suddenly devolved into a singles swing and lost his power ability (as I write this, it’s about 70 ABs without a homer), which doesn’t bode well given his advanced age. I realize he has one hit and several strikeouts over the last two games, and has the dubious honor of being the only MLB player to end the game with a strikeout in four separate playoff games. I get it. However, he isn’t going to be benched. Furthermore, what can be accomplished by benching him, especially if there is no one who is a markedly better option to replace him? The only thing that can be accomplished is to lose the player with another five years left on the contract.
Believe me, I understand the frustration regarding the lack of production out of A-Rod, even if he may have the worst luck in the world by perpetually ending up in a potential game-winning situation. Realistically, the best option is to drop him in the lineup. I can agree with those who say that he is over-matched at the plate of late (it doesn’t really take a genius to see it), and I don’t think his current production plays well in the third spot in the order, particularly on this team which scores runs in a feast-or-famine fashion. Perhaps it would be better to drop him to 5 or 6, but bear in mind, Mark Teixeira, who despite a 4-for- start is coming off an injury and Nick Swisher has also been dreadful thus far in this ALDS. Girardi will need to shuffle the lineup to make sure Robinson Cano can get the necessary protection, while still making sure that the lineup can generate the most offense. Either way, it warrants a demotion for A-Rod in the batting order.
I’m not saying any of these options are good, and I’m not saying that it’s not frustrating to watch A-Rod play. I have, many times. I probably wouldn’t have even offered the contract to begin with, and would have let A-Rod walk, but that point is moot now. The fact of the matter is he’s here, and there is no way Joe Girardi can let Alex Rodriguez rot away on the bench for Chavez or Nunez. The bottom line is, again, we are here. We have no other options but to play him. It is what it is, so please, stop calling for the benching of Rodriguez, it’s not going to happen. I would also like to take this time to point out that it was only three years ago that his offensive explosion (he hit over .365 that year in the postseason) helped propel the Yankees to Number 27, so for all you calling for his head, take a deep breath and think about that.
Listen, I want the Yankees to win just as much as you all do, I do. I understand that as fans, we get way too invested in our team at times. But folks, stop making snap judgments; I beg of you. Alex Rodriguez — whether we like it or not — isn’t going anywhere. If the Yankees win the series, terrific. If they lose, it certainly won’t be solely on the third baseman — how many men were left on-base in Game 2? How many times this season has getting hits with RISP been a problem? Hasn’t anyone else noticed that that this team scores runs in bunches, or barely hits at all? Take a look up and down the lineup and tell me who the great offensive force is thus far in the playoffs. One player cannot do it alone. A-Rod is a lightening rod, for some deserved reasons, such as his contract, and others that are undeserved, but that doesn’t mean it is fair, and it also doesn’t mean that it is a rational decision to bench him, either. So please, stop screaming for trades or benching. A-Rod isn’t going anywhere.