The End for A-Rod?
- The Yankees won’t say as much, but it is becoming clearer by the day that the sands of time may be running out for Alex Rodriguez.
By benching A-Rod against a righty for the second straight day, Joe Girardi has all but declared his designated hitter, at best, a platoon player. Prior to the game Girardi told The Journal News:
"“Alex has meant a lot to this club over the years. But now we’re going to do something a little bit different and see how it works.”"
The 40-year-old has had a dismal 2016 season and he’s been especially brutal versus righthanders. He’s slashed a paltry .200/.236/.348 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 115 at-bats against righties. The Yankees are running out of time to prove they can stick in a pennant race and they desperately need to get better. Evidently they think they have found a way to do so.
It’s worth pointing out that Aaron Hicks is the other part of this platoon. This, more than anything, displays the Yankees’ desperation. In 85 at-bats versus righthanders, Hicks is hitting just .247/.290/.388 with two homers and eight RBI. In years past Rodriguez would have gotten by on his pedigree, but the Yankees giving these at-bats to Hicks speaks volumes. They have seen enough of A-Rod. Maybe just for now, or maybe for good.
"“[A release is] not something that’s been talked about, but in the short term, this is the way we’re going.”"
Brian Cashman chose his words carefully because A-Rod is going to get chances to dig himself out of this; he’s making $20 million this year and he’s five homers shy of 700. Economically, a turnaround may be the best case scenario for the Yankees as A-Rod is due another $20 million in 2017. But this very well could be the first step in a process that ultimately ends in a release.
If the Yankees want to stop treading water, the A-Rod they’ve seen this year is probably not going to help that. What might help establish them as contenders already exists within the organization.
Carlos Beltran would benefit from taking over as the full-time DH, as would the team. They would no longer have to worry about shaky defense in right. It would also allow him to play every day and stay fresh. There is no scenario in which the Yankees become contenders with Beltran routinely resting. (That’s definitely part of this decision, too. Beltran DH’d in both games in lieu of A-Rod.)
Aaron Judge, the organization’s second-best prospect, would be the presumptive replacement in right field. The 24-year-old has been on a tear in Triple-A, and a big league call-up may be on the horizon. If Judge stays hot he’s going to force the Yankees’ hand.
The solutions are in-house and it’s a certainty that Girardi and Cashman have discussed this.
A-Rod was in the lineup on Tuesday against lefty Cole Hamels. Beyond that not much is known, but Rodriguez definitely won’t be playing this weekend in San Diego.
Perhaps he’s given some at-bats against the White Sox and Indians in the final two series prior to the All-Star break. Cashman and Girardi could then use that time off to evaluate where A-Rod stands.
Having an ineffective Rodriguez on the bench is a waste of a roster spot and so this moment feels like a critical mass for he and the organization. This very well could be the beginning of the end for A-Rod and the Yankees.