Any day now, Alex Rodriguez could be released by the Yankees. But the date hardly matters. It’s only paperwork, a few keyboard taps, an email to MLB headquarters on Park Avenue.
Truth is, Rodriguez has been gone for a while, an invisible man draped in pinstripes. For all practical purposes, Rodriguez doesn’t exist, other than as a daily headache for Joe Girardi, who views A-Rod as nothing more than a question he no longer feels like answering.
“This has been difficult for him, difficult for this organization and difficult for me,” Girardi said Tuesday. “It takes a toll on people because there’s a lot of emotions in it.”
Then here’s a simple solution. Just put an end to the A-Rod saga. And this week would be the perfect time, as the Yankees look to reboot the franchise with a few Triple-A Scranton call-ups, starting Wednesday with Gary Sanchez, followed by Tyler Austin and maybe Aaron Judge a little later.
Obviously, the Yankees could carry A-Rod for another month, as rosters expand Sept. 1 anyway. But what’s the point? Rodriguez is due roughly $7 million for the remainder of this season, along with $20 million in 2017 and he’ll be collecting every dime, whether he’s sitting on a Bronx bench or water skiing at home in Miami. The Dodgers ate nearly $35 million by cutting Carl Crawford back in June, so A-Rod is a bargain.
If the Yankees truly want to start game-planning for the next dynasty, they’re better off with Rodriguez sunning himself somewhere instead of clogging the roster. Cashman already has stated the team’s priority of playing the youngsters in the coming months — a strategy endorsed by Hal Steinbrenner — and Rodriguez is merely a costly roadblock in that scenario.
A-Rod knows it, too. The past few weeks have been miserable for him as well, as he sits four home runs short of 700 and can’t crack the lineup. Since June 19, Rodriguez is batting .174 (12-for-69) with one homer and 20 strikeouts. Overall, his .611 OPS ranks 255th out of the 274 players with a minimum of 200-plus plate appearances (Mark Teixeira is right below him at .595). A-Rod has made only two starts in the past 11 days — — he struck out four times Saturday in Tampa Bay — and Girardi won’t even play him semi-regularly against lefthanded pitchers.
Look at it this way. The Yankees traded their designated hitter Monday in sending Carlos Beltran to the Rangers and Girardi still refused to pledge any more playing time to A-Rod. When asked if Rodriguez would DH Wednesday — against lefty Steven Matz, back in the Bronx — Girardi declined to give a definitive answer. Was that a not-so-subtle hint A-Rod may not be in uniform for that game?
“In the future do I see him getting a ton of at-bats?” Girardi said. “No, I don’t.”
That was a telling quote from Girardi, who usually dances around such combustible topics. But the manager was uncharacteristically blunt Tuesday during the A-Rod discussion, probably because he desperately wants it over with. The same appears true for Rodriguez. He’s endured plenty of humiliation during his 12-year tenure in the Bronx, most of it due to his own bad decisions. But nothing like this, being the 26th player on a 25-man roster, a former three-time MVP who can’t hit his own weight.
“I have to look in the mirror and I have nobody else to blame but myself,” Rodriguez said. “Whatever they do, I’m at peace . . . I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse. But if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”
A-Rod said Cashman told him he wouldn’t be released, but added the GM “has the right to change his mind.” Judging by Tuesday’s comments, Rodriguez seems to have checked-out already. During the Mets’ batting practice, A-Rod stood behind the cage, talking to Pat Roessler, their assistant hitting coach who once held the same title with the Yankees.
Was Rodriguez prepping for his next career move, like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire before him? Anything is better than what he’s doing now, which is zero for the Yankees.