There was a time when an opposing manager wouldn’t dare walk anyone to get to Alex Rodriguez.
But that time is long gone. Wednesday, Colorado manager Walt Weiss didn’t hesitate to hold up four fingers with Carlos Beltran at the plate and the potential go-ahead run at second base in the eighth inning of the Yankees’ 9-8 victory at the Stadium.
Rodriguez struck out against former Mets righthander Gonzalez Germen. The Yankees captured the must-win feel game when Starlin Castro homered leading off the bottom of the ninth.
So A-Rod got to celebrate the Yankees’ first victory in four tries against the Rockies with his teammates. He was a mere footnote in the action, going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts out of the cleanup spot, and he did not appear in the postgame clubhouse.
As the Yankees approach July and the month that will decide if they are buyers or sellers, there’s another decision they may contemplate that doesn’t involve swinging a deal with another team.
Is A-Rod part of their future?
Yes, we know Rodriguez is signed for next season at $21 million. We also know that the Yankees could afford to eat that money as easily as any team in baseball.
Ask yourself this: If the Yankees released A-Rod tomorrow, would any other team pick him up? Perhaps his hometown Miami Marlins would because of Rodriguez’s relationship with the city and team owner Jeffrey Loria and Rodriguez’s potential appeal as a drawing card, even if he hardly played. But it’s hard to see any team needing an immobile 40-year-old designated hitter-only.
Including the Yankees.
Now, this is not a call to cut A-Rod tomorrow. He may have some life left in that bat, although he is hitting .215 with eight HRs and 25 RBIs. And he and the Yankees deserve the next five weeks to see if they can be better than they have looked over the season’s first 71 games (35-36).
This is a realization that the same forces that will compel the Yankees to either fish or cut bait with this roster by the Aug. 1 trade deadline could give them an opportunity to cut ties with the larger-than-life but smaller-in-the-batter’s-box Rodriguez.
If the Yankees and A-Rod crater in July, the focus must be on 2017, as painful as that might be for Yankees brass to accept. Notice we didn’t say “Yankees fans,” because the anecdotal, non-scientific evidence is most would accept a tear-down rather than watching the team limp through another one-step forward, two-steps back season.
The Yankees aren’t the team of Jeter and Mariano and Pettitte. They are the team of A-Rod and Teixeira and Ellsbury and McCann now, and they are trying to transition to become the team of Castro and Didi Gregorius and any other young, athletic position players they can find.
If they sell off, then next year the Yankees can also be the team of Greg Bird and Aaron Judge and pitcher Luis Severino and whatever bounty they can get for Beltran and Aroldis Chapman and maybe even Andrew Miller.
Heck, the Yankees might be better off re-signing Beltran and letting him be the DH/father figure for that Baby Bombers bunch instead of A-Rod.
Should a diminished Rodriguez really be a part of the future because of $21 million that’s spent whether he picks up a bat or not for the 2017 Yankees?
Tell you one thing: He said he doesn’t want to do it, but A-Rod would make a great Yankees manager. Maybe a little too soon for that idea, however.