Saturday, January 11, 2014

The A-Rod Error Should Be Over

Major League Baseball did over-reach when it suspended Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for 211 games ... but not by much.

On Saturday, arbitrator Frederic Horowitz finally issued his ruling of A-Rod's appeal of baseball's ban for PED use and cut the penalty to the entire 2014 season, including the playoffs.

Rodriguez, as expected, is crying foul, saying in a statement that the ban didn't come as a surprise and the deck had been stacked against him. He added that he will seek an injunction and jury trial, though it is highly unlikely either will ever happen, according to ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson. Basically, short of being able to show that Horowitz engaged in any sort of misconduct, Rodriguez is highly unlikely to convince the courts to review an arbitration decision. Horowitz's ruling itself also has not yet been released, but could be made public if A-Rod follows through on his threat to seek and injunction.

Yes, there are questions about baseball's investigation and evidence, but we should learn more about that Sunday on "60 Minutes," which will have an interview with Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch. I'll hold off on commented on the evidence against Rodriguez until I see the piece, though I expect that based on Horowitz's decision, MLB had A-Rod dead to rights.

Getty Images
Wondering where it all went wrong, Alex? Start with PEDs.
So unless Rodriguez's legal team delivers a Hail Mary, A-Rod's 2014 baseball season is over. And the Yankees should make sure his time with them is over as well.

The fact of the matter is A-Rod already is a shell of his former self ... and perhaps that is why it appears he turned to PEDs again. What will he be after a year away from the game?

Last season he came off a second hip surgery, but played just 44 games, hitting .244 with 7 homers, 19 RBI, and .771 OPS. Sadly, he still was the Yankees' best third baseman.

By the time A-Rod is eligible to return in 2015, he will be 39 (turning 40 in July) and will have played just 13.6 percent of his team's games over the prior two seasons.

In addition, Rodriguez clearly has been in decline. Since 2007, when he won the AL MVP, A-Rod's WAR has dropped steadily, going from 9.4 in '07 to 0.3 last season. His power has all but vanished, failing to hit as many as 20 homers in any of the last three years. Defensively, has no range left and on the bases, he just can't run, never mind steal bases like he once could.

Then there's the myriad of off-the-field A-Rod has created for himself. Do the Yankees really need to continue with that farce?

And even with three years and $61 million remaining on Rodriguez's contract, once the suspension ends the Yankees need to cut ties with the embattled third baseman.

Of course, there are issue that come along with cutting A-Rod. The first and most obvious issue is who's going to play third both this year and in the future.

The Yankees can't avoid this question this year, and unfortunately there really are no quality options available. With the farm system lacking any major-league ready talent (nice job Brian Cashman), the Yankees will either have to rely on the Kelly Johnsons, Eduardo Nunezes and Brian Robertses of the world or will have to go out and sign Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Wilson Betemit or Michael Young.

Either way it's going to be a mess for some time to come.

The future can't arrive soon enough
for prospect Eric Jagielo and the Yankees.
Despite that, and with Eric Jagielo, a 2013 first-round draft pick, still at least several years away from being major-league ready, the Yankees can't continue on with A-Rod. By they time he can return, he may not be anything more than a designated hitter at best and the Yankees don't need that kind of player right now or in the future.

The Yankees will also have to face tough choices about the $61 million they still owe Rodriguez. If they Yankees can get rid of A-Rod's contract at some sort of discount because of this suspension, that would be nice.

But that may not be realistic. If Cashman and Co. want to get this franchise back on the right track, they have to eat A-Rod's contract and begin anew. A-Rod is not the future anymore. And we can't put him in the past soon enough.

Lastly, front office has to evaluate how the franchise reached this point. When Rodriguez opted out of his original 10-year deal after the 2007 season, Cashman did not want to re-sign him, but was overruled by ownership. This kind of dysfunction can't continue. The team's general manager needs to be be allowed to make the baseball decisions. Ownership's desires to put the biggest names on the marquee shouldn't factor in the equation.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened in 2007. And now the Yankees are paying the price.

Come the end of the suspension, release A-Rod and move on.

The A-Rod error should be over.

1 comment:

@29sonski said...

Clever title and premise. Recall how the Sox were vilified for putting the squeeze on A-Rod's contract when trying to bring him to Fenway in 2004. The Yankees captured him instead, at full cost.

The Sox had the last laugh that year, and while NY will save some hefty dollars this year, the team still will owe A-Rod plenty more.

For the Yankees, the "error" was committed long ago, but the consequences will remain for three more years.