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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Alex Rodriguez just wants to play but the Yankees won't let him, not even for Tampa Rays.

Alex Rodriguez wants to play baseball more than anything. The New York Yankees won't let Alex Rodriguez play for them or for any other team. That's just mean.

The Yankees have actually made Alex Rodriguez a pretty sympathetic figure. Rodriguez paid a heavy price for his past deceit but now it's Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman who grapple with:

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!

That special contract that Rodriguez is supposed to sign to be a Yankee consultant in 2017 increasingly seems like a way for the Yankees to prevent Rodriguez from playing for another team while the Yankees pay Rodriguez his $21 million a season contract through 2017.

The Yankees do not want Rodriguez to play for them and are finally willing to stop trying to provoke Rodriguez into demanding a trade or release and foregoing all that money. However, in exchange, the Yankees got Rodriguez to agree to remain a Yankee for life or at least through 2017 after which it would be very doubtful that Rodriguez would play again.

All this combined with more and more people considering that Rodriguez has been the most vilified user of performance enhancing drugs (PED), who ironically never failed a drug test, and also the player punished the most by missing an entire season, makes Rodriguez a good natured figure.

The conduct of Alex Rodriguez since his return from being suspended for the entire 2014 season has been exemplary. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Steinbrenner and Cashman. Rodriguez has been pleasant in very unpleasant circumstances and situations. Rodriguez has not sulked or become surly as might be expected with the public ridicule and now humiliation of being in uniform but not allowed to play by order of both the owner and general manager.

If Rodriguez is now so bad a player, why don't the Yankees let him play for Tampa against the Yankees after his final Yankee game Aug. 12, which is against Tampa? Wouldn't that help the Yankees with those subsequent games against Tampa? The Yankees insist that they are simultaneously continuing to compete for a spot in the tournament and also bringing up minor players to determine their future value. Since trading DH Carlos Beltran Aug.1, the Yankees have brought up one player, catcher Gary Sanchez, whom they immediately plugged into the DH spot for the two games against the Mets at Yankees Stadium. This was obviously to block Rodriguez from being the DH even though the Mets were pitching a lefty and then portly 43 year old Bartolo Colon, who had little success against Rodriguez.

Something happened at the All Star break. Cashman decided that Rodriguez must be completely purged. When Beltran was traded everyone outside the inner circle of the Yankees naturally assumed that Rodriguez would reclaim his DH position from the hot hitting Beltran. But the first two games were in the Mets home park, where the DH is not allowed. Then the ensuing two games at Yankee Stadium with the unproven Sanchez in place of Rodriguez.

In the second of those two games in the 9th inning the Yankees put two runners on base with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, the next batter was Rob Refsnyder, who was playing first base instead of Mark Teixeira, who had won the previous game with a three run homer. Refsnyder has zero home runs in 2016 in 124 at bats. So logic would dictate pinch hitting either switch hitter Teixeira against the righty pitcher or pinch hitting Rodriguez. Yankee manager Joe Girardi followed the company policy and froze out both veterans and let Refsnyder bat. He hit into a game ending double play.

Such is the closed minded Yankee retribution against its veteran players who embarrass them by not performing up to hopes and expectations. A few days ealier, 36 year old Teixeira had seen the light and announced that he would retire after this season. Teixeira, Rodriguez and pitcher CC Sabathia are the only starters left from the most recent (2009) and possibly last Yankee championship team. Now two are marginalized and squeezed out. It's not right. It's not even efficient as Cashman wants us to believe.

Rodriguez would play as the DH. Minor league players brought up in August before the September roster expansion would have only about three extra weeks of major league experience. Who the heck would want to evaluate them by playing them at DH, a position they have not played in the minors and which would be so uncomfortable as to make their evaluation almost meaningless? Rodriguez at DH would not interfere with any real team objective, unless the objective is to banish Rodriguez and any lingering memory of how much Steinbrenner, Cashman and Yankee president Randy Levine hate the fact that they were so stupid and inept as to give Rodriguez that new contract years ago.

Allowing Rodriguez to play would also expose them to public ridicule, especially if Rodriguez hit well. They also seem bent on not allowing Rodriguez to reach 700 career home runs. If Rodriguez played in 2017, he would likely pass Babe Ruth (714) and then the Yankees would have to pay Rodriguez $6 million from a separate contract that the Yankees signed with him to limit their luxury tax payments to small market teams. In 2016 when Rodriguez passed Willie Mays (660) the Yankees crudely refused to pay Rodriguez the $6 million claiming that his PED use negated the positive impact that the achievement was expected to cause. Eventually, the sides resolved the matter but the Yankees looked really bad.

That petty resentment is apparent again as the New York Yankees will not let Alex Rodriguez play baseball, not for them, not for any team. The Yankees are being mean to Alex Rodriguez.

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