Why the Yankees Must Do Whatever It Takes to Unload Alex Rodriguez Now
The nine-year marriage between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees has seen its share of bliss (2005, 2007 MVP's, 2009 World Series title) and moments of despair (2004 ALCS collapse, 2007 contract opt-out, 2009 steroid admission, Biogenesis scandal), but the latest spat between the injured third baseman and general manager Brian Cashman was a new low for the pairing.
An excited Rodriguez, coming from an appointment with his doctor in Tampa, expressed joy with his Twitter following upon learning his surgically repaired hip is good to go in rehab games.
Visit from Dr. Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news - the green light to play games again! http://t.co/RuzfXOJjHI— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) June 25, 2013
A-Rod would later issue a statement to explain this tweet (h/t Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News), which seems to explain his intensions pretty clearly.
A-Rod statement: “I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win...." (part 1 of 2)— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) June 26, 2013
More A-Rod statement: "... The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly’s prognosis.” (part 2 of 2)— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) June 26, 2013
Of course, that didn't follow Yankees team protocol, angering Brian Cashman to the point where he lost his cool and threw out a stern "shut the **** up" toward A-Rod. The statement embarrassed himself along with casting Rodriguez in another dark light among a fanbase that can be described as tired of the former star's antics.
Protocol aside, the latest transgression from Rodriguez ranks very, very low on the list of things he's done to make the organization shake their collective head since acquiring him prior to the 2004 season.
The nyy have been leaking subtle jabs at arod using the media these jabs are now more direct. The goal: make it so bad he waives no trade— Rich Coutinho (@coutinho9) June 26, 2013
Clearly, we're not dealing with a boy scout here, but Cashman's reaction was out of line, regardless of the context.
The vitriol and anger in Cashman's quote, sensitivity notwithstanding, begs to a larger issue: The Yankees desperately want to rid themselves of Rodriguez, yet can't find any way to realistically make it happen.
Yankees vs. A-Rod: The war is on, it's personal and it's not going away anytime soon. Column: http://t.co/goRbnPISDH— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 26, 2013
If they can, now is the time, before this cloud funnels over the organization, overtaking the purpose of the baseball operations department.
While I don't believe there's a legal outlet to ridding themselves of Rodriguez's contract, the Yankees can certainly buy him out, which would pay him every dime owed to him on his contract that runs through 2017.
From a baseball perspective, it's ridiculous. Not only would Rodriguez be a sunk cost (which you could argue he already has become), but he could revive himself on another American League contender as the Yankees foot the bill.
Also, maybe even more importantly, the Yankees still need A-Rod's bat in their depleted, punch-less lineup. Although the former Hall of Fame shoe-in is a shell of the athlete he once was, the third baseman New York has run out there in his absence make this version of Rodriguez look spry by comparison.
Yet, if Brian Cashman and Co. are going to make every tweet, suspension rumor or gossip page story about Rodriguez as big of a deal as yesterday, it's time to cut ties now.
It's been well documented that Brian Cashman was against re-signing Rodriguez if and when he opted out of his contract during the 2007 World Series. Now, six years later, it felt like that frustration boiled over with reporters on Tuesday.
A-Rod vs. Cashman: It's Reggie and Billy all over again. http://t.co/jERc4iQVQO— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 26, 2013
Rodriguez isn't a boy scout, probably isn't worth the headaches anymore and will be remembered for one of the worst contracts in the history of professional sports (despite actually living up to the first mega deal he signed with Texas), but the Yankees have only themselves to blame for handing him the money and long-term commitment.
If New York thinks public relations tactics, legal loopholes and boos from the home crowd are going to scare away Rodriguez, they're likely very wrong.
Unless Brian Cashman and Randy Levine are willing to write a very, very large check to make a mistake go away for good, the noise from management makes the team, not Rodriguez, look bad this time.
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