A-Rod Compares Greg Bird to a Yankees Legend

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

In preparation for the upcoming season, Fox Sports aired a special presentation of its studio baseball show. Alongside Pete Rose and Frank Thomas, former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez praised second-year stud Greg Bird.

If anyone knows just how good Greg Bird has looked this spring, it’s Yankees Special Advisor Alex Rodriguez. Having witnessed Bird bounce back in a big way during Grapefruit League action — to the tune of .447/.527/1.085 with seven home runs and 13 RBI in only 47 at-bats —  is enough to invoke fond player comparisons as I did a few weeks ago.

In that article, I stated that it’s possible Bird’s career could be similar — if not greater than former first basemen John Olerud, Will Clark, and Mark Grace — or a more contemporary option such as Eric Hosmer.

Leave it to A-Rod to one up me. As the talk on set in Los Angeles turned to the young talent that Yankees have assembled — namely Bird and Gary Sanchez — Rodriguez was quick to offer his teammate in 2015 a comparison that makes even the most venerable Yankees fan grin with pride.

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"“When you think about the young prospects, we [the Yankees] haven’t had this much depth since 2004. The first names you think about are Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. … They need to find out who’s a prospect and who’s a suspect. … I want to key in on Greg Bird. We drafted him in 2011 as a catcher and converted him to a first baseman. He has the swing and the personality of Don Mattingly.”"

It’s nice that Rodriguez said ‘we,’ when referencing the team still paying him $21.5M in 2017. But could the 24-year-old sweet-swinging lefty really measure up to Donny Baseball?

It’s likely Bird’s defense will never amount to what Mattingly brought out to the diamond with him each game. But I’m pretty sure A-Rod wasn’t referencing Bird’s glove when offering his hot take.

In 14 seasons as a Yankee, Mattingly finished with a .307/.358/.471 slash line, 222 home runs, 1099 RBI, a 32.8 WAR, and one Postseason appearance. Between Mattingly’s best power years being taken away from him due to ailing back problems, and the fact that the Yankees won a World Series just one after his retirement — it’s a crying shame we never got to witness peak Don the Hitman.

As for Bird, he’s a bit of an enigma after missing all of 2016. He’s a soft-spoken guy who doesn’t crave the media spotlight. Bird’s perfectly suited for dealing with the rigors of New York, but it won’t be long until fans and media alike are craving more.

Next: Making Sense of the 40-man Roster

If A-Rod is right about comparing Bird and Mattingly — then we’re in for a real treat. I mean, have you seen the commercial Bird and Brett Garnder recently did? Pure gold!