We all know the story. The PED suspension, the denials, the lawsuits, the “consummate victim” mentality that Alex Rodriguez has displayed for the better part of the past year. We’ve also seen the accepted the suspension, the dropped lawsuits, the attempt to mend fences between a player and his union. Unfortunately, most of the fan base of the New York Yankees thinks it’s just as easy as telling him to go away. Think again.
A-Rod’s suspension ends after the conclusion of the 2014 season-one that could just as easily become a repeat performance of last year’s disaster as it could be a run at title number 28. Cracks are beginning to show. The starting rotation is injured, old, ineffective, and flat out terrible other than rookie Masahiro Tanaka. While Yangervis Solarte has been a nice surprise and a breath of fresh air in the Bronx, he should most likely move across the diamond to second base next year. The Brian Roberts‘ experiment will be over, thank God. That leaves you know who to re-assume his role as the starting third baseman for the Bronx Bombers. Many say “Just cut him loose.” It’s not that easy. From 2015 through 2017, the Yankees owe Rodriguez approximately $61 million dollars in base salary. Even the Yankees can’t just throw that money away.
Joel Sherman of the NY Post recently suggested, that A-Rod attempt to rehabilitate his image, but accepting a type of deal that former Red Sox pariah Manny Ramirez is currently using: a player/coach do as I say, not as I do-type of role with anyone that will give him that chance. That is fine and dandy three years from now, but there is still an issue at hand: A-Rod is coming back to play in 2015.
What can we expect to see from a 39-year-old who hasn’t seen game play in over a year? Sherman pointed out, and it is almost always overlooked with A-Rod because of his personality: he works extremely hard, and is a student of the game. His ego is tremendous, and there is no way Rodriguez will plan on coming back, only to embarrass himself with sub-par statistics. While he may not be what he was while under the use of PEDs, and age will no doubt have taken it’s toll as well. Is .260 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI too much to ask if he can play 125 games?
The ball park is built for hitters, and while those numbers may not be what the Yankees paid for all those years ago, they are more than serviceable for ANY third baseman in the game. His health, and ability to stay on the field will be big obstacles to overcome, as will his ability to avoid controversy. We already know that spring training 2015 in Tampa is going to be a circus. Can Alex Rodriguez stay focused enough on the task at hand to become relevant once again as a baseball player rather than a Page 6 headline? The 2015 Yankees could look very different with the retirements of Derek Jeter and most likely Hiroki Kuroda. Some stop-gap measures that have already proven themselves to have failed will be gone (Roberts, and Kelly Johnson), there might be a new closer yet again if David Robertson chooses to leave via free agency. One thing will be familiar…Alex Rodriguez, like it or not, will be the New York Yankees’ third baseman.