Every time the New York Yankees are eliminated from the postseason, there are always cries from fans and the media for change, particularly of the radical kind. This year is no different, with several of them wishing for their scapegoats to be shown the door from the Big Apple.
Many of the scapegoats include Curtis Granderson, whose options New York has picked up, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, but none of them compare to the biggest one of all.
Alex Rodriguez, the hero of the 2009 postseason which ended with the Yankees’ 27th World Championship, is indisputably the biggest scapegoat for the Yankees’ stunning defeat at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez was three for 25 in this year’s playoffs with no extra base hits or RBIs and 12 strikeouts.
He was pinch hit for by Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning of Game Three of the Division Series (we know how that turned out) and was benched in both elimination games for the Yankees this season.
He was frequently replaced against RHP as he was completely overpowered by the likes of Jason Hammel, Jim Johnson, Miguel Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez, not a group you should be shut down by.
Now it seems that his relationship with manager Joe Girardi and the ownership and front office has been irreparably damaged. Many wish for them to part ways this offseason.
However, this would be a foolish decision to make, and for quite a few reasons. Rodriguez has five years left on his deal with the Yankees and is owed at least $114 million. Why should the Yankees pay him to play for another team? That’s just a bad business and baseball move. They should not deal him at all costs like they did to AJ Burnett.
There’s also the fact that A-Rod is still an above average player, especially at his position. Although he put up career worst numbers, he still put up a 112 OPS+, a .353 OBP, and led the Yankees in stolen bases until Ichiro arrived. He ranked 9th among all 3B in OPS at .783 and 8th in wRC+ at 114.
However, there’s also a concern other than the fact he struggled in the postseason. His numbers have seriously declined every year, and injuries have only catalyzed his decline. After surviving a hip injury in 2009 and carrying the Bombers to the title, he has suffered injuries to his knee, which held him to just 99 games last season, and a wrist fracture caused by a hit by pitch from Felix Hernandez.
Overall, Rodriguez has batted under .280 in each of the past three seasons. His isoP(isolated power, slugging percentage minus average) has been under .200 in the last two season. According to some metrics, his bat speed has also declined, as seen when guys like Jim Johnson were able to blow their vicious sinkers past him in the postseason.
Also, there is the problem with replacing him. Eric Chavez would not be able to hold together for a full 162 game season. Eduardo Nunez cannot hit RHP either and his fielding at any position is probably worse than Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax combined.
The Yankees could pursue Chase Headley, who broke out in 2012, hitting 31 HRs, driving in 115 RBIs and put up a 144 OPS+ at PETCO. Unfortunately, the value he supposedly had at the deadline has only skyrocketed which could drive up the price on him.
So even if Alex is traded, the Yankees will have to spend or give away even more to find an adequate replacement.
Unless you can find a way to get a team interested in his services that is willing to take at least part of his contract, Alex Rodriguez is not leaving New York anytime soon. And he shouldn’t.