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August 14, 2006

A-Rod Offers Split Opinion

First, this morning, I saw this quote from Alex Rodriguez in the Courant:

Rodriguez (.286, 23 HRs, 86 RBI) can't shake the perception that he's not a clutch player. Only a big October will put that to rest.

"That's why I'm not worried about it," he said. "Last year, I had an MVP year and I had a rough postseason, I stunk, and so you're a bum. You can be a bum all year and then do something at the end and you're a hero. It's no big deal."

And, then, later, I saw this about Alex in the New York Post:

Rodriguez was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a double play in his first three trips off Weaver. He rocked Scot Shields for a solo homer over the fence in left. Jason Giambi followed with a bomb to left-center, but Francisco Rodriguez entered and retired Jorge Posada for the final out. Asked about the perception of a meaningless homer, Rodriguez jokingly answered, "Who? Jason's?"

"I could care less," Rodriguez added. "I'm so happy when I hit a home run."

He also inferred that injuries have played a part - both offensively and defensively - in his pinstriped season to forget.

The Post also had another story on A-Rod which included the following:

His scorecard for the season is not pretty. Even with the generous scoring yesterday, his 20 errors are four more than any other third baseman. His 105 strikeouts project to a career-high 149. His 17 groundball double plays already ties his worst mark. And, now, eight of his 25 homers have come in the fifth inning or later with the Yanks ahead or behind by four runs.

If there were a plus-minus system in baseball similar to hockey, Rodriguez would not be the plus the Yanks had expected and just might be an overall minus. Yet, after a 5-3 loss that diminished the Yanks' AL East lead to one game over Boston and diminished Rodriguez even further in the eyes of the fan base, A-Rod vowed the best of his 2006 season is coming.

For the first time, he revealed that during the first four months he was coping with injuries that, perhaps, should have sent him to the DL, but that he could not go due to the DL devastation already ensnaring the Yanks. He would not disclose what the injuries were. However, he said, that the problems caused both terrible throwing mechanics and a change in his swing that led him to constantly get beat with even tepid fastballs.

Which is it Alex (in regard to your sub-par performance this season)? Is it "no big deal" and you don't care or is it because you have an excuse due to injury?

This injury suggestion reminds me of something that the Mets Neil Allen pulled back in the 1980's. After stinking for a while, Allen came to the press and said "I have a drinking problem!" (as an excuse for his woes). Shortly thereafter, it was found that Allen did not have a drinking problem and was using that belief as a crutch for his suckiness.

There's no way that A-Rod struggled like he did in June of this season, and took as much crap for it as he did, and never said "boo" about having an injury. Think about it. Think about everything that you've ever heard from Rodriguez. He would never miss a chance to paint himself the injured warrior. Do politicians ever miss a chance to kiss a baby?

Unless, of course, the "injury" is a mental-and-nervous disorder. That, and a full nondisclosure, I would believe from Alex.

Personally, I hope when Rodriguez' career is over, he writes a tell-all book. Maybe then, someday, we'll get the real answers behind this season.

Then again, maybe someone like Gary Sheffield, once he's done in New York, will do a tell-all and we'll get the answer?

I think it's going to be a heck of a story.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 14, 2006 10:49 AM

Comments

ok, well maybe it's not a problem with his vision.... well here's another idea: has Alex too much involvement in gambling circles? It's so hard for me to understand a slump for this long for someone so talented.

Posted by: Athos333 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 11:32 AM

Yeah, you gotta hate those .280-35-120 down years.

That's a hell of a slump.

Posted by: Mike A. [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 11:45 AM

.280 and 30 HRs, for an A-Rod, is a down year. And, forget RBI totals. Tony Clark would have 100 RBI batting behind Damon and Jeter, just by showing up.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 12:24 PM

Mike A., don't be so ignorant. When you average .307/44/125, those numbers ARE a down year -- by plenty. At this point it looks like Alex's numbers are going to come in under his first year with the team, which were understandable given his move to third and it being his first year in New York.

I'm simply not buying this injury thing. There is absolutely NO WAY IN HELL that A-Rod wouldn't have mentioned it. Don't you think someone in the organization would have intimated to the press that Alex had some injury issues? If it is true, why WOULDN'T they say something?

Alex was getting beat by tepid fastballs last year, too. And this year his swing has just gotten longer. I cringe every time I see Alex go to two strikes because I know the pitcher is going to send one right down Broadway and he's going to swing through it.

At this point I throw my hands up and finally admit I have no idea what's wrong with Alex. It just doesn't make any sense why he's falling apart. He had the rough first year -- but he played a great third base, and you kind of gave him a pass. Then he comes back with his BEST offensive year. Yes, he played like shit in the playoffs, but it showed he could succeed here in New York. And then... well, this year has been a disaster. There have been so many excuses -- the booing, too much attention, now injuries. When Bobby Abreu came here, no one was focusing on Alex, and he still struggled at the plate. So exactly what is it? Why is throwing balls away and unable to get to anything hit to him?

The best thing that could happen to this team would be for Alex to snap out of it. I just wish someone -- maybe even Alex -- could figure out what it is.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 12:28 PM

The point I was trying to make is that he's having a very good, if not great year, and he's getting blasted for it.

There wouldn't even be any of this "he ain't clutch" talk if it wasn't for that fat guy up in Boston hitting walk-offs like there's no tomorrow.

Of course he's pressing, you would too if you had the media, the fans, and everyone else on your back day-after-day saying "what you do isn't enough." Imagine trying to live your life like that.

Posted by: Mike A. [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 12:58 PM

There was actually quite a bit of speculation that he had an injury, especially since his throwing motion switched from over-the-top to sidearm, which indicated a possible shoulder injury. As far as hiding injuries, last year he did hide the death of his father-figure uncle during the playoffs which was then revealed by his wife in awkward fashion, so you can't say he plays everything up.

That said, I almost wish A-Rod would turn into Steve Carlton and stop talking to the media. He seems to overthink stuff to a ridiculous degree, which the media fuels. A-Rod, get the "Derek Jeter Guide to Stock Answers and Cliches", it will do you wonders!

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:03 PM

Mike - If I were A-Rod, I would be crying all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:03 PM

FWIW, didn't A-Rod say, when the Yankees were in Washington, that his season starts now - thanks to Mattingly's findings? And, then, after that, and an all-nighter with Lou Piniella, he said that his season starts now. And, yesteday, he says that his season starts now.

He's like the guy drawing the line in the sand, saying, "I dare you to cross this line" and, when you do, he draws another line and says "OK, now, I dare you to cross THIS line."

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:07 PM

Way too much attention being paid to what Alex says. For a guy whose rap is that no one likes him because he's so rehearsed, the solution is to simply ignore what he says as a means to ease the burden on you, the adoring public that hangs on his every word, waiting to make the decision whether to pat him on the back or crucify him.

For whatever the reason, 2006 hasn't been his year. It is what it is. Let's move on already.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:20 PM

I'm so bored of hearing about Alex. What about Jeter's current performance? Or Posada's? Alex is actually swinging the bat pretty well right now. Let's talk about the fact that nobody else is showing up right now which more to blame for the losses than Alex's "excuses." I think he'd be making excuses if he went on the DL. I don't even care if he isn't hurt, he's not asking for sympathy (not that he deserves any). Sometimes I really wish he weren't on this team because everywhere you turn, people are talking about him. He must have been using PEDs last year. That's the only explanation for the fact that he stinks this year. He's not having an off-year, he's just off the juice. Now let's move on.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:22 PM

MJ, that made me laugh out loud. Apparently we're on the same page.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:23 PM

if anyone still listens to kay during the games, he had a very telling stat friday night:

Arod is 2nd to last in ALL OF BASEBALL in getting runners in from 3rd with less than 2 outs (40%)! this is our CLEANUP hitter we're talking about. not to mention his league-leading 20 errors.

i know Arod will have nice numbers when the year is up. .280, 33, 115. yeah great. any cleanup hitter with the yanks would have similar numbers.

did you see that RBI percentage list? Arod is among the last on the Yanks.

is it too early to think about trading him in the offseason? maybe for some young pitchers?

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:36 PM

On the substantive point, I totally disagree that A-Rod would have already let people know about an injury. He would be giving opposing pitchers an advantage to let them know ("Uhh...my shoulder has been hurting this week and I have a slow bat"). Jeter hides injuries all the time, and I think that saying A-Rod's disingenuous says more about people's desire to find fault with A-Rod than that he's a jerk. That said, the dude does not have the golden touch with the media...but even there he's in a lose/lose situation. If he doesn't talk, he's a disgruntled selfish millionaire who doesn't care about the fans, if he does talk, he's a mealy-mouthed, all too sensitive guy who wants everybody to love him.

Posted by: festus [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:43 PM

I suspect that, if A-Rod's season continues at the current pace, and his errors continue to mount, and he does not do well for the Yankees in the post-season, he will be traded in the off-season.

Same type of deal as the one that brought him here - the Yankees agree to pay part of his salary, over the life of the deal, and the Yankees get one major league player and one prospect in return. But, not a Grade A prospect.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:45 PM

Wow...In my young life I've never seen a player be such a lightning rod. Even with ARod's struggles will the Yankees be a better team w/o him or with him? What can they possibly get back as far as a major league ready player?

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:49 PM

The Rangers got Soriano for him, FWIW.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 01:50 PM

Steve, I had broached this 'trade Alex' months ago. I am in favor of parting ways, although we'll see how he does vs. the Bosox and in post season, if the team makes it that far. He does seem to have set us up for low expectations with this injury claim.

Of course they will need a 3rd baseman in the event he is moved.

But Cashman might just be able to make a most satisfactory deal.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:00 PM

As someone pointed out on another blog, this season by a third baseman on a team with a record identical to the Yankees':

.310/.386/.545 22 HR 86 RBI

has NY writers clamoring for an MVP

while this season:
.286/.388/.512 25 HR 83 RBI

has NY writers and certain bloggers calling for the player to be traded. You guys can't be serious.

And further, on the Post article: 8 of 25 homers are past the fifth inning in games where the run differential is greater than 4. That's one way to look at it. The other way is that 17 of his homers have come in close games... that's a pretty good number, right. Sure, only 2 of 25 are in "close and late" but his immediate comparison, to a player at the same position with a team with the same record... David Wright has... three close and late homers.

I'm tired of it. We now know that 2005 was the exception, not the rule. I would rather have 2004/2006 A-Rod over any other man who has ever played third base in the history of baseball.

Posted by: mehmattski [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:25 PM

I guess all those errors mean nothing to you. I guess over half his play, which sucks this year, is meaningless. Tell it to the pitchers.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:31 PM

Sigh. I have a nice, week long vacation, come back and it's still about A-Rod.
Other A-Rod down years:
1999: .280/42/111
2004: .286/36/106
His current year fits well within his historical parameters. Pity he can't hit .500/75/200 every year.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:33 PM

For starters, I go back to Steve's great point a few months ago that A-Rod isn't a monster of a slugger, in the same vein as say, Micky Mantle. As Steve said, he's more like a super-sized Cal Ripken: can hit to all sides of the field, good enough to play the right end of the defensive spectrum, but has holes in his strike zone.

That said, it's totally in the range of variability for A-Rod to be having he kind of season he's having. A-Rod and Jeter are close enough in their hitting ability that it's likely for one to have a better season than the other (as Jeter is doing now). Look at Beltran this year and Beltran last season for an extreme example.

Finally, I don't see any way the Yankees trade A-Rod. If anything has proven to work for the organization, its continuity. What are you going to do, trade him and recoup maybe 75% of his value up front? You move Eric Duncan back to third base? Where's the satisfaction in this?

Posted by: RichDank [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:34 PM

I suspect that one can interpret the numbers in a way that benefits either side of the argument. What I do know is that as an avid Yankee spectator, I worry more about a RISP at bat or a ball in play to Arod than I do for most of the other Yanks. If it's bottom of the 9th away, and we need the third out to win, I'm praying that either Jeter, Mariano, Giambi or Cano get the infield ball.

Posted by: Athos333 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 02:40 PM

RichDank - thanks for remembering that one!

I still stand by that one! Here it is:

http://www.waswatching.com/archives/2006/05/mr_mislabeled.html

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 03:14 PM

jeez, no one is asking him to hit ".500/75/200 every year." how about hitting a sac fly more than 40% of the time? or not striking out with men on base so often? or fielding your position like an average 3b? i'm not asking for anything extraordinary, especially considering he's our cleanup hitter and the highest paid player in baseball.

could we get aybar & santana from the angels? they were willing to give them up for tejada, why not arod? then i would think aybar or cano would move to third (didnt cano play there in the minors?).

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 03:16 PM

Has there ever been anyone who handles the press worse than A-Rod, though? His wife trotting out the dead father-figure after the playoffs. Suddenly talking about injuries being the cause of his struggles. Talk about monumental blunders. This is fodder for the press. Great material for them to ridicule him.

A-Rod may or may not be a sincere guy (it's hard to tell), but he has an outstanding ability to put his foot in his mouth.

Even if he did have this injury, talking about it now SOUNDS like an excuse -- even if he didn't mean for it to. A-Rod seems totally disconnected from how people will perceive what he says.

I think we can forget about the "trade Alex" idea -- the Yankees don't want to do it and neither does Alex. It means too much money for both sides (that's the real issue). If the subject even came lost to reality I would hope the Yankees would pay some salary for prospects in return.

I'd like to hear more of this theory that A-Rod isn't a "slugging monster" like Mantle, since A-Rod is going to outslug him when all is said and done.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 03:21 PM

I have to ask: given ARod's enormous talent, isn't it worth it to find out if 2006 is just a down year for him and perhaps give him the chance to bounce back in 2007 the way he did so nicely in 2005? All this talk about trades, etc. seems premature to me. Most would have you believe that the time to trade is now, before he sinks any further. But, seriously, if this is "bad" for ARod, is it really going to get worse? I mean, he's not going to go Giambi '04 on us and hit .213 or some crap like that. Overrated, underrated, whatever sort of rating, ARod is still in the top 10 in terms of talent and ability in this game. Let's just worry about making the friggin' playoffs right now and worry about the offseason or 2007 when it's more appropriate.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 03:24 PM

The negativity just reeks from certain posters around here(Baileywalk/98Yanks/& the host himself Lombardi). What were you guys like in the 80's? You're totally coming off like some entitled spoiled ass fans. Arod will finish his career as one of the best this game has ever seen, and it still shocks me how much some of you cannot stand to see him in Pinstripes. This is his second full season w/the Yanks; and at 31 he has some monster seasons ahead of him, and some of you are talking about trading him?!! Arod is not going anywhere for the rest of the year, so why not pull for him, and get off your high horses. You guys are the "boo everything except perfection" type Yankee fans I can't stand.

Posted by: bloodyank78 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 04:27 PM

You dont know anything about me, so dont judge me. For the record, I've been to about 10 games this year, and haven't booed Arod ONCE. I havent booed him since he was on Texas.

Look, I already gave some good reasons why he could be traded. Look above and read them.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 04:39 PM

You dont know anything about me, so dont judge me. For the record, I've been to about 10 games this year, and haven't booed Arod ONCE. I havent booed him since he was on Texas. And I DO pull for him. If you've been watching games, besides the boos, he's also gotten more ovations going up to bat than anyone outside of Bernie or Jeter.

Look, I already gave some good reasons why he could be traded. Look above and read them.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 04:40 PM

Your reasons for trading Arod
-"field his position like an average 3B"
-"not strikeout w/men on base so often"
-"hit a sac fly once in while"
-"get young talent like Aybar or Santana"
Come on, trade a future HOF for an unproven but talented young infielder, and a #3 starter? As for his fielding, I think we all know how capable of a fielder he is capable of being. As for his hitting in key moments just look up last years stats for RISP w/two outs, or RISP during close and late situations. He's having a statistically down year "by his standards". Look at what the man has done his whole career and tell me you still feel that you would like to see him playing in something other than a Yankee uniform.

Posted by: bloodyank78 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 04:56 PM

Totally off subject but I hate Joe Torre. Asking a man, your #3 hitter, to bunt when he hasn't had a sac bunt in nearly a decade...just for the opportunity to give the opposition an open base to create the DP. No matter what ARod does at this point in the game, Joe Torre's a fucking moron.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 09:19 PM

PS - ARod got a sac fly in a clutch spot. To the haters, I hope you were watching.

But it doesn't change the fact that Joe Torre got bailed out big time. I don't get that strategy at all...taking the bat out of the hands of your #3 and your #4 hitters...insanity.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 09:38 PM

I don't know of anyone posting here who 'hates' Alex.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:31 PM

bloodyank78, you're going to have to point out where I was negative about A-Rod. I like the guy, and I said he wouldn't and shouldn't be traded. He does have mental issues right now, and he is having a down year, and if that's being negative, then fine. I take exception to your accusation (well, not really, but I like writing that).

MJ, you are totally right about the bunting. Beyond stupid. You make your number three bunt, which opens a base so they can walk your cleanup hitter, bringing up a guy struggling in the big spot. What the HELL was he thinking? It was so bizarre I almost couldn't believe my eyes.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:33 PM

Yankees win, Bosox lose, the bitching goes on.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:42 PM

Don, there's bitching and then there's legitimate questioning of a manager's strategy. I'm not upset the Yankees won; quite the contrary. I'm just as happy that Boston lost. But if you're going to tell me that you agree with Torre's decision to bunt with Abreu thus setting up the inevitable intentional walk to Giambi, well, I guess we'll just agree to disagree. As far as I'm concerned, Abreu (OBP .426) and Giambi (OBP .412) not only represent 2 of the best lefty batters in baseball but they each represent a better than 40% chance of a hit or a walk with men on base.

Like I said, I'm not bitching, I'm just vocally disagreeing with Torre's strategy there.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:53 PM

didn't torre's stupid strategy result in the game winning RBI?

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 09:39 AM

Torre's strategy in the bottom of the seventh inning is getting Randy the win...he know Randy is done for the game and wants to reward him for pitching a very good game against a good team.

Posted by: Jason [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 12:09 PM

you don't play for a big inning in the 7th inning of a 2-2 game, with Farnsworth and Mo ready to go. torre played for the winning run, which was the right thing to do.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 12:55 PM