Friday, August 16, 2013

Does Alex Rodriguez need the Yankees more than they need him?

So A-Rod is back in the Yankees' lineup after spending most of the season on the DL. Of course, as we all know, on the eve of his return to the Yankees, the PED scandal broke and A-Rod was implicated and suspended. Now this throws up some questions, one of which is, "Are the Yankees better off without A-Rod?" but I think it is actually a case of who needs who more.

No matter what you think of A-Rod, he is a Yankee (much as some people like to complain about this fact!). However, some people say that the worst deal New York ever made was when they awarded A-Rod that 10 year $275 million contract. This sentiment seems to be growing stronger now with the whole PED scandal in the background. BUT, I think it would be very hard for anybody to argue that his presence hasn't helped the Yankees in the past 6 years (2008-present). Now though, people are genuinely asking if New York needs the "headache" of dealing with him.

So, does A-Rod need the Yankees more than they need him? Let's look at a few key points:

Would anybody else want him?

I'm not speculating on whether there would be a place for him on a team, just, in the ideal world, would another team want him?

This seems like a simple question when you first ask it - of course they would, he's a superstar! Admittedly, looking at his career stats through 2012 (.300 BA, 648 HR, 1,952 RBI, 2,907 hits) it's hard to imagine that somebody wouldn't want to employ him. However, you have to remember a few other things:
Injuries - Let's face it, he's had more injuries and surgeries than most people will see in a lifetime
The media circus - Everywhere A-Rod goes, the media will follow and sometimes this seems to take precedence over the team
Ego/Arrogance - I don't know A-Rod, I've never met him but sometimes there seems to be an arrogance about him and people ask if he's a team player
Would he win another World Series there?

Think about it, all players are playing for October and the chance to win a World Series ring. The Yankees have won more of these than any other team and whilst the shine has come off in some of the past seasons, they're the Yankees! They will always come back and get more rings. I'm not sure if there is any other team in the MLB you can be that confident in. Sure, some teams have made a few good runs but the Yankees are backed by history - would A-Rod want to risk going somewhere else?

Would other fans tolerate him?

A-Rod has a bad reputation with plenty of Yankees fans and you can imagine that this is 100 times worse with other fans. Would fans tolerate A-Rod showing up in their city? I know that all fans want to see their team win and a lot would see getting A-Rod as a big feather in the team's cap but I know how much some people hate him. I'd be fairly confident in saying that there would be a good number of fans who would turn their backs on their team if they took him (Even if they just stop going to the games).

Now, do the Yankees need A-Rod anymore?

Firstly, I refer back to A-Rod's career stats, let's face it, the guy can produce hits, home runs and RBI's! Last time I checked, this is what a team needs to win. I know that pitchers play a key part and you need good defence but without runs, you won't win much - see 2013 Astros, Blue Jays and Yankees (See recent turnaround with Soriano knocking in RBI's all over the place). I know that the Yankees have been missing a number of key bats at the start of 2012 but A-Rod is a key piece of the offence, even with the injury history.

Secondly, if the Yankees tried to get rid of A-Rod before the end of his contract, they would likely have to eat a lot of his remaining salary. OK, so the luxury tax threshold could come into play and it may affect the thinking but these are the Yankees, if it meant a better chance of winning a 28th World Series, do we really think they would pass because of a high salary? If the Yankees had to eat 50% or more of A-Rod's remaining contract would they really want to give him up? Again, the guy can produce!

Finally, is A-Rod a draw to the crowds? If his first game back in the lineup is anything to go by, yeah, he is. His first game back was one of the best attended games so far this season. Love him or hate him, he is a HUGE draw. People always seem to want to watch him play (either to see him make great plays/hits or to see if he messes up). Perhaps because of the media circus that follows A-Rod or because of his ego, people are intrigued by him and want to see what the fuss is about. A-Rod is like Steve Jobs was, full of confidence in his own abilities and able to attract people to his product (in A-Rod's case, his product is HIM).

Ultimately, whilst my heart says A-Rod needs the Yankees more, my head says that the Yankees need him more. Whatever happens, it will no doubt take up many more hours of baseball talk (especially in the lead up to the appeal and the final decision on suspension).

Can I see A-Rod and the Yankees parting company? Not without big losses on both sides but remember, whichever way this goes, A-Rod is still a Yankee and like him or not, he should still be cheered as a Yankee.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)