The fate of New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez is still unknown at this point. He, along with the Yankees and the rest of the baseball world are waiting to hear the decision of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. If Horowitz hands down a decision that Rodriguez will live by the ruling of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, A-Rod is done for all of the 2014 season and the first portion of the 2015 season. What if Horowitz rules that MLB doesn’t have enough evidence based on testimony that A-Rod is free and clear to continue his baseball career?
It means that the Yankees have their starting third baseman for 2014 and beyond. A-Rod is under contract through the 2017 season. He missed significant time last season while recovering from hip surgery, that made headlines as A-Rod and general manager Brian Cashman had a war of words over whether A-Rod was fit to play, or if the Yankees were trying to prevent him from returning to the field at all.
The situation could be worse for the Yankees. Sure, he’s owned $25 million dollars, which will go well over that when he reaches career home run #660, which is a marketing bonus for matching all-time great Willie Mays on the career home run list. Rodriguez is said to be working out and preparing for next season as if he is going to win his freedom from the arbitration hearing. However, since the Yankees are already on the hook for his contract, and he becomes available to play, he can still be a solid contributor to the Yankees already potent revamped lineup.
This winter’s free agent market was thin on productive third basemen to begin with, and factoring in the Yankees’ loss of Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners, the Bombers could use solid production from the hot corner. If A-Rod has fully recovered from his hip surgery, and comes into camp ready to go, there is no reason to think he can’t hit between .270 and .280, with 20-30 home runs, and between 80-100 RBI. Of course this is assuming he is healthy, beats the arbitration rap, and plays more than 100 games.
What will be interesting to see, is if he does win his case, and opens the season as the starter at third base, how the Yankees fans will welcome him back. A recent Twitter question addressed the issue of whom did the Yankees have distaste for the most, A-Rod or Cano:
#Yankees fans…Who do you now dislike more: A-Rod or Cano?
— Billy Brost (@Billy_Brost) December 13, 2013
And these were some of the responses received…
@Billy_Brost Arod still…
— Kate Palmer-Thompson (@KPT7) December 13, 2013
@Billy_Brost Arod, always and forever
— NYFanRant (@NYFanRant) December 13, 2013
— JonMichel Sipes (@YanksonmyChest) December 13, 2013
@Billy_Brost Definitely A-Rod. I don’t dislike Cano.
— Christina Brown (@CADBII) December 13, 2013
Fellow Yanks Go Yard scribe Brendan Fitzgerald even chimed in with his own take on the questions posed:
— Brendan Fitzgerald ⚾ (@BFitz13) December 13, 2013
Can Alex Rodriguez even endear himself to the Yankee faithful ever again? What must he do, aside from stopping the reality show-type drama, retire from the game and walk way? Would returning to MVP-form make the fans forgive and forget? Would being a vital part of another World Series championship run make everything okay? Would a monster postseason make all of the boos turn into cheers?
Yankees fans may not love Alex Rodriguez, and they might not like him even a little bit, but the fact remains that he could very well play a big part in the success or failure of the team in 2014. Nobody likes to be lied to, and A-Rod received a bit of a reprieve after his 2009 postseason performance that helped crown the Yankees as the Kings of Baseball once again.
With the latest news of Biogenesis, the nonsense that has surrounded his arbitration hearing, and the aftermath of his walking out of said hearing after a foul-language laced tirade by the former 3-time league MVP, and the embarrassing appearance hours afterward on the Mike Francesa Show, one has to think that anything short of batting 1.000 with a home run every time he steps to the plate, along with never making another error at third base the remainder of his career, Alex Rodriguez will remain the most hated man in professional baseball. What options do the Yankees have if he’s suspended for the next season and a half? A platoon of Mark Reynolds, Kelly Johnson or some unknown, yet to be signed free agent whose ability doesn’t hold a handle to that of A-Rod’s? Where’s the love Yankees fans, because after all, do you care what he does if he performs when it matters most?