Alex Rodriguez’s recent recasting as the lefties-only DH on the Yankees roster has some thinking maybe he shouldn’t even be on the roster at all. In 166 AB in 2016, he’s hitting .223 with 53 SO. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was certainly feeling pretty salty about the situation this morning.
Rodriguez never plays the field and never pinch runs. Never. Now, he is going to only be in the lineup against southpaws. The Yankees played their 75th game Monday night. Twenty-four were against a lefty starter. So, we are talking about a player who will start roughly one out of every three games and never play the field.
At 40 years old, there’s an entire history of injuries (and other, unique-to-A-Rod stuff) behind Rodriguez as he sits in the dugout this season, and you know that’s the stuff that’s swirling around in people’s brains when they talk about him. But the stats, at this point, speak for themselves. To be granted a role of any greater importance than he currently has, Rodriguez would have to start being so effective against lefties that the Yankees would feel confident about putting him out there against anybody. Which doesn’t seem likely; he’s hitting .275 against lefties this year, and only .200 against righties, despite his career numbers showing him leaning in the opposite direction. And without a pitcher to hit for in every game, pinch hitting chances are going to be uncommon.
While benching A-Rod against Chi Chi Rodriguez, a righty, manager Joe Girardi explained it as simply as he could muster: “...we’re going to do something a little bit different and see how it works.”
ESPN’s Andrew Marchand has seen enough, calling this the “beginning of the end” for A-Rod, using no shortage of grim language in doing so:
Once the most gifted -- yes, chemically aided -- athlete in the game, time has already taken his glove, his speed and much of his power. The Yankees have now placed his bat on life support.
Sensing the feeding frenzy being primed among ravenous members of the press, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already said that the potential release of Rodriguez has not been discussed; though he has also expressed displeasure in being a “pretender” team sitting at .500, fourth place in the AL East. Granted, A-Rod is a huge part of the game for a multitude of varying reasons, but how much leeway does that grant him as his role withers and withers, until he’s just a sad pair of eyes staring out from the railing?
As has historically been the case, A-Rod has no plans to rid you of himself just yet. After every chapter of his career, he’s found a way to slip back into the Yankees’ lineup, and now, even with his 41st birthday on the horizon, is no different.
"I've always enjoyed proving people wrong and I'll be ready when my number is called," Rodriguez said.
A-Rod will get to hit tonight as the Yankees taken on lefty Cole Hamels in the Bronx.