Let me start by saying, because I don’t think I can really stress this enough, that I really, utterly, totally, absolutely, genuinely, without equivocation, loathe Alex Rodriguez. This is very important knowledge for you, the reader, to have in your head before you read further, because there will be moments whilst you read the rest of this, that you will think I am defending Alex Rodriguez. Trust me, I am not. The point is not to come to A-Rod’s defense, but rather lambasting the Yankees, really baseball, okay sports in general, I guess and their knee-jerk reactions. Got all that? Okay, good, you may read on.
Now, is there a problem with Joe Girardi benching A-Rod in the playoffs? No, not so much. In the postseason every game counts and you need to give yourself the best chance at winning. A-Rod was not hitting whatsoever and has struggled mightily against right-handed pitchers since he returned from injury, to the tune of a .158 batting average and a sub .500 OPS. The trouble here, as can tend be the trouble these days, is that high-priced superstars do not like to be benched. More importantly, the top brass in an organization will often times force a coach or manager to play a guy simply because they are paying a buttload of money and they ain’t shelling out those dollars for their studs to ride the pine, as it were. But in this instance, which seems rare these days, the manager and the head honchos in the organization seemed to be okay with sitting the slumping A-Rod. It’s the playoffs and you need to do what it takes to win, even if it means throwing millions of dollars on the bench. If you were looking at just stats, as you generally should if you want to win games, benching A-Rod was something of a no-brainer. The thing that is something of a surprise, and that will be the story for the rest of the postseason and into the Hot Stove season, is the swirling rumors of A-Rod being traded. Huh?
It seems that the Yankees, or perhaps the media, are thinking that A-Rod’s poor postseason performance and benching means it is time he parted ways with the Bronx Bombers. Is all this really coming off the heels of a 25 at bat postseason stretch? I mean it was a bad stretch for sure. He was 3-25 in the postseason, which as you know, is less than good. In fact, it’s downright abysmal. But the rest of the Yankees were not exactly tearing the cover off the ball either. They hit .211 in the ALDS against the Orioles and an even worse .157 in the ALCS. Robinson Cano hit .056 in the ALCS and Mark Teixeira hit .200 for the series. But all of a sudden, everything seems to fall on A-Rod. Now remember, I am not defending A-Rod. I loathe A-Rod. But it’s strange if this is the basis for the A-Rod trade rumors, it seems. It’s not as if A-Rod has a history of being clutch in the postseason, right?
A-Rod is not only not thought of as clutch hitter, he is thought of as being the complete opposite, someone who is notoriously bad in the clutch and in big games. Here are his bating averages in his last five postseason series’ .273, .190, .111, .125 and .111. So it should not come as a big surprise that he is not great in October this year. In fact, since becoming a Yankee A-Rod has only hit over that .273 mark in three of his thirteen postseason series’. Now batting average is not one of my favorite stats, but the OPS which I love, was not much better. In the last five postseason series’ he has not had an OPS over .606 and in the last two postseasons he has posted an OPS under .400. Not even remotely good. But in the postseason it can also be more about the quality, not the quantity of the hits, right? But even there, A-Rod as not been much help. He has six, count ‘em six, RBIs in his last 21 postseason games, including zero this postseason. So, is this the real issue?
Now some, including myself a couple paragraphs ago, are saying that the trade rumors are based on his recent 25 postseason at bats. But maybe, just maybe, this is a matter of enough being enough. I mean, really, we have been hearing for years about how A-Rod does not hit in the clutch or in big games when his team needs him to produce, but in no other season have we heard these trade rumors. I don’t find A-Rod to be a genuine, or even nice, guy. I don’t feel he is a great team player or helps to create a good clubhouse atmosphere. So is it a matter of this being the final straw? I mean for the Yankees, not winning a World Series more or less means that the season was a failure and if the people they have will not get them another ring, then it is just time to cut bait. Is this a smart move for the Yankees, though?
Clearly the Yankees had more issues than just A-Rod this postseason, but A-Rod is probably the least likeable player on the Yankees so there may not be much of an uproar about trading him. Just a run-of-the-mill 24-7 media bonanza until we know what happens to A-Rod and which uniform he will don in 2013. Rodriguez has five years left on his contract and the fact of the matter is, based on what I have been hearing and reading, he is only bound to get a one year, five-million dollar deal. The Yankees are due to pay him 28-million in 2013, and while this will go down each year, they would still be looking to throw 20-million at A-Rod in his age 40 and 41 seasons. If they trade him, they are still going to have to eat a lot of his contract over the next five seasons. Now before his injury he was doing well, so with an off-season of rest he could be back to or close to his normal hitting numbers, so it is a matter of what is the best decision for the Yankees as far as production per dollar goes. Now it is the Yankees, who have money to spend (and spend it they do) but that does not mean they should not make good financial moves. Now I don’t know what they could get or how much of his salary the Yankees will have to end up eating, but throwing away millions of dollars on someone who won’t even be dressing in the pinstripes, just seems a bit foolish to me, even if you have buttloads of cash at your disposal.
Basically if this is based on this postseason, which many people seem to think that it is, it seems like a knee-jerk reaction that may not be the best move for the Yanks. However, if there is more to it, like the postseason body of work in his Yankee career, or his general unlikability, or any other personality clash or what have you, then the Yankees gotta do what the Yankees gotta do. Also, again, just one more time, for the record, I really, utterly, totally, absolutely, genuinely, without equivocation, loathe Alex Rodriguez and am quite enjoying him being thrown under the bus and how much he is getting trashed by everyone around. So, I guess we will just have to wait and see what the Yankees will do.