It is oddly fitting that the day that one of baseball’s classiest players in Derek Jeter retired, baseball pariah Alex Rodriguez was reinstated from his year-old PED suspension. As one of the most beloved Yankees walked out of the clubhouse for the final time, in walked a player who may be the most hated in baseball. The irony is on a level that even Alanis Morrisette would be able to understand it.
While the common consensus is that the Yankees should just pay Rodriguez to go away, sending his egomaniacal ways, non-stop media circus and centaur painting away for good, that may well be the wrong path to take. The Yankees of 2014 were definitely not the Bronx Bombers of old – they were simply old Yankees. Despite their track record and the numbers on the backs of their baseball cards, the 2014 Yankees were ranked 12th in the American League in OPS, behind such offensive juggernauts as the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros.
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Given that Mark Teixeira appears to be nothing more than a shell of himself and that third base is currently manned by a giant question mark, it may be worth the Yankees’ time to keep Alex Rodriguez around. Even though it is extremely foolhardy to expect that a 40 year old Rodriguez, coming off that one year suspension, can produce at anything close to his previous level, he may still be able to outproduce what the Yankees third basemen last year. In 2014, Yankees’ third basemen combined for a .259/.335/.391 batting line with 15 home runs. Since Rodriguez hit at a .244/.348/.423 rate with seven home runs in his 44 games in 2013, similar production may be a fair estimation.
Call to the Pen
What the Yankees have in Rodriguez is an insurance policy, albeit a very expensive one. While the Yankees may still go out and resign Chase Headley, there is not much left at third should he depart for another team. Martin Prado can play third, but does not have the type of power one would typically expect from a corner infielder. Prado is also extremely valuable as a utility player and may well have to play second base for the Yankees. Rodriguez could end up as the third baseman by default.
It may go against popular opinion but the Yankees need Alex Rodriguez. They certainly could have used his bat in the lineup last year, as the Yankees were desperate enough to the point where they had Zelous Wheeler and Scott Sizemore at third. Even if Rodriguez is but a mere shadow of himself, he certainly could have helped.
The New York Yankees need Alex Rodriguez. As sad as it may be, Rodriguez could be a key part to the Yankees success in 2015.