A couple of days following Mark Teixeira’s emotional announcement that he would retire at the end of the season, it looks like something similar could happen tomorrow for Alex Rodriguez. The Yankee slugger who is four home runs shy of 700 will have a press conference tomorrow at 11 AM. Unlike Teixeira, it’ll probably be to announce his release. Is it the end?
A year removed from a great comeback season in 2015 that saw him pace the Yankees in home runs (33) and place second in runs batted in (86) behind Brian McCann, it’s been a tough 2016 for Rodriguez. The recently turned 41-year old has been limited to 62 games. In 216 at bats, he has nine home runs and 29 RBI’s with a .204 batting average.
On a rebuilding team emphasizing a youth movement, A-Rod has become the odd man out in Joe Girardi’s lineup. He was already only getting limited plate appearances against lefties. Now, he’s basically been reduced to an emergency pinch-hitter. A sad sight for Yankee fans. His .252 on-base percentage and .356 slugging are his lowest since he debuted with the Mariners as an 18-year old in 1994.
While it’s true Rodriguez is at the end of the road, Girardi hasn’t handled him well. Especially considering what A-Rod contributed to last year’s team which made the wildcard before losing to the Astros. At least Teixeira still plays. He only has one more home run and two less RBI’s in 78 games (272 AB).
The Yankee skipper has treated Rodriguez with kid gloves. A player of his caliber should have been given more at bats. Any player needs reps. Even one of the all-time greats whose body has broken down. Of course, the brilliant career of A-Rod will always be controversial due to steroids and performance enhancers. Through no fault but his own, Rodriguez’ use of illegal drugs tarnished a lock down Hall of Fame career.
After Brian Cashman acquired Rodriguez from the Rangers for Robinson Cano, he won two more AL MVP’s. That included a league-leading 54 dingers and a career best 156 RBI’s with an AL best 143 runs at age 31 in ’07. He also won MVP in ’05 hitting .321 with 48 home runs, 130 RBI’s, 21 stolen bases and 124 runs with a 1.031 OPS.
Rodriguez still has $21 million left from a record 10-year, $252.87 million contract that runs thru 2017. The Yankees would owe him the remainder even if he’s released. With him at 696 career homers, would he really hang it up four away from 700? That doesn’t seem like A-Rod, who’s always been prideful and loves the game.
Retirement is probably the last option. The question is this. Whatever happens tomorrow, is there a team willing to take a chance on Rodriguez? That’s the million dollar question.
For his career, Rodriguez is a lifetime .295 hitter with 696 homers and 2,084 RBI’s. He’s recorded 3,114 career hits over a 22-year major league career. A 14-time All-Star with six top three MVP finishes including three MVP’s (’03 Texas, ’05 Yankees, ’07 Yankees), he led the Bronx Bombers to a record 27th world championship in 2009 hitting six home runs and driving in 18. Five homers and a dozen RBI’s came in series wins over the Twins and Angels.