Why are Jeter and Rodriguez Treated Differently?


As the calendar year is ready to turn to 2015, this means that Spring Training is approaching.  For the first time in three years, the New York Yankees do not have a legend retiring to produce a farewell tour.  What they do have is a player, Alex Rodriguez, whom several years ago was viewed by many to possibly become the greatest player of all-time by this point.

The times have changed, however, and as we can already see in December, the Yankees do not seem committed to giving Rodriguez much playing time, if any at all.  While it is no given that the disgraced slugger will even be kept on the roster when camp breaks, if he is, it seems that, barring injury to others, the role he will play will be very minor.

A year ago, we saw baseball legend Derek Jeter struggle through his farewell tour, with the Yankees refusing to move him down in the lineup.  Amongst all eligible players, Jeter had the 6th lowest OPS.  His defense was not too great either, as by season’s end, there were two players, Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew, who were more capable of playing the position, defensively.  While Ryan and Drew both had struggles with the bat, it is hard to say that they could not have saved a few additional runs.  The Yankees, however, did not want to offend a legend, someone who is loved by not only their fan base, but many others throughout the game.

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Jeter, a player who can be argued as the greatest Yankee ever, should not have been treated with the same cold shoulder that is awaiting Rodriguez upon his return, but there is a case to be made that he should have hit lower than second.  Rodriguez, baseball’s villain and public enemy number one, won’t receive a farewell tour, let alone a guaranteed spot in Joe Girardi’s lineup.

With the re-signing of Chase Headley, it became clear that Rodriguez no longer held his spot at third base, although had Headley went elsewhere, he probably still would have had to earn it.  With Headley, a much more skilled defender who was recently signed to a $52 million contract, on board, and Rodriguez having only played 44 games in the past two years due to injury and suspension, it is hard to believe there will be much reps at third base for Rodriguez.

While Headley will man third base, until last week, it was highly assumed that Rodriguez would become the full-time DH, but with the acquisition of power hitting Garrett Jones, he will now have to fight for those at-bats as well.  While less than ten days ago, it appeared as Headley might walk, leaving Rodriguez at third base, and Prado at second, or even Prado at third, and Rodriguez as the primary DH, a lot has changed, and it seems Rodriguez is the odd man out.  Jeter, also missed nearly an entire season, but upon his return, shortstop and the second slot in the order were both waiting for him.

Could the Yankees have won more games by moving Jeter to a lower place in the order, and having him play the field less and DH more?  Probably, but Joe Girardi did not want to be the guy to anger the fan base, and felt the organization owed it to Jeter to let him go out with his pride intact.

That is the difference in the approach with Rodriguez, after suing the organization, they do not feel that anything is owed to Rodriguez, and are keeping him on the roster simply due to the $61 million he is owed.  Jeter, someone who always represented the organization in the best way possible, was no Rodriguez, someone who in about half the time spent in pinstripes as Jeter, has disgraced the organization and disappointed the fan base countless times.

Rodriguez, also, unfortunately is the last player tying the Yankees to the steroid era, and the dark days of a clubhouse full of egotistical juicers.  Until he is removed from the roster, the Yankees will not be able to fully be free from the steroid era.

There is an old saying “treat me how you want to be treated” and Rodriguez has not treated the organization with class and respect, as Jeter did for so long.