As the Yankees continue to offensively struggle, and news of a some potential injuries within the rotation, it is helpful news that the walking wounded of the Yankees- Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter- are all making their way back to big-league action. However, when it comes to the one player that could possibly have the biggest impact, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees fans seem more eager to lose the division, miss the playoffs, and whiff on a chance to progress as a team rather than welcome back the lightning rod third baseman. So, here’s my question… why?
Look, I get that ARod doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt as it pertains to his antics. In fact, I wrote in defense of GM Brian Cashman’s blow-up at his third baseman last week. I’m not changing that position. ARod has been a magnet for poor decision-making (ironic for a guy surrounded by all the smart people that money can buy to help him make good decisions) from the moment he ended up in New York. However, he has been a big contributor on the field- when healthy.
[Note: I know everyone is going to start yelling about PEDs. Alex has never failed a test during his time with the Yankees, and by his own admission, has not used PEDs since his time in New York; he has not tested positive for any banned substance, even since news of Biogenesis has broken. As such, we really have no other choice but to operate on the assumption that he has not used PEDs since his confidential baseline test in 2003.]
Despite the Yankees failures in the post-season, the 2007 campaign was a monster of a year by Alex Rodriguez, which led to an MVP. True, the Yankees fell out of the sky in the playoffs, but many a Yankee fell off a cliff that post-season to lead to that elimination. Again, in 2009, Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui led the charge in helping the Yankees claim a World Series title over the Philadelphia Phillies. His production has declined, to be sure, but he has also produced at a fairly successful clip for the Yankees, considering his constant breaking down and age.
Think about this: last year, after suffering knee issues and eventually revealing that he would have to have offseason hip surgery, Alex Rodriguez hit .272/.353/.430, with 57 RBI and 18 homers in 122 games. All things considered, those are pretty respectable numbers, and it would have been interesting to see what kind of power numbers he could have maintained if he had been healthy. By contrast, the combo of Kevin Youkilis and David Adams (excluding the very small sample size of Alberto Gonzalez and Vernon Wells twirl at third) have hit an average: .203/ .278/.290, with 4 homers and 17 RBI. That is abysmal, and for a team that has lost the production of Curtis Granderson/Mark Teixeira/Nick Swisher from last season, plus the offensive woes this season, that does not win games.
Which is exactly why I cannot, for the life of me, understand how any Yankees fan- who must clearly adhere by the Steinbrenner Doctrine of championship or bust- could possibly throw away the chance for the team to succeed because they didn’t like a player. No one ever said you have to be a fan of every player on your favorite team. And don’t spout out at me about how Alex Rodriguez’s behavior- again, admittedly ridiculous on a multitude of levels- goes against this proverbial “Yankee way.” Where was that attitude when hard-partying Jason Giambi showed up in pinstripes? Or Reggie Jackson, with his attitude? Has ARod made mistake off the field; no doubt. Can the guy help you win; yes.
Look, who knows what could have been out of third base if Kevin Youkilis is healthy, or if David Adams blew the lid off his first long-term major league role. But that hasn’t happened, and even if it did, it would not negate the near $100 million dollars or years owed to Alex Rodriguez. I understand if you don’t like him. I understand if you think he is making way more than he deserves. I understand if you don’t like the way he has represented himself, or the Yankees, for the last decade or so. However, you have the guy- he isn’t going anywhere- and he can help you win. After all, for a Yankees fan, isn’t that all that should matter?