The elephant in the room may be getting closer to being, well, the elephant in the room. Alex Rodriguez began baseball activities today and took 20-30 swings off a tee and some ground balls in the field. With all of the off-season controversy surrounding him following his miserable performance in the playoffs, to his hip surgery, to the Biogenesis clinic, the best thing for Rodriguez is to get back on the field.
As much as many Yankee fans, including myself, have thought it best for the team and him to just fade away, we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Like Mariano Rivera this year, and Kobe Bryant next year, star athletes want to go out on their own terms, not injury or ineffectiveness.
The fact is, the Yankees could use a healthy Alex Rodriguez. Before Felix Hernandez hit him with a pitch in late July, Rodriguez was hitting .276 with 15 HR and and 43 RBI in 94 games. Is that A-Rod numbers of the past? No, but, many teams around baseball would take that production from third base for about two-thirds of the season.
A rotation of Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis (and maybe Jayson Nix sprinkled in), wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have at third base. The Yankees are struggling to hit left-handed pitching. A-Rod hit .308 with 8HR and 28 RBI against lefties last year. Even if he can’t play everyday, a platoon at DH with Travis Hafner could be a pretty powerful combo. Do the Yankees have a lot of guys who are going to need to DH, like Rodriguez will have to at times, right now? Sure, but the thing is in baseball that roster spacing works itself out. As soon as the Yankees think they are okay with backup infielders, Eduardo Nunez is now day-to-day.
Does A-Rod throw a monkey wrench in the Yankees plans moving forward? Of course. He makes way too much for what he is now, and with essentially a $189 million cap takes a good chunk of it. Paying him until 2017 will not be beneficial for the Yankees, but it’s a decision they are going to have to live with and end up working around.
The thing is, A-Rod needs baseball and the Yankees. And the Yankees will need A-Rod this year too.