Alex Rodriguez: The Next New York Yankees Designated Hitter
Alex Rodriguez is one of “those” guys. The guy that can do nothing right. As soon as he starts justifying the largest contract in the game, he gets traded to the Evil Empire a.k.a. the New York Yankees. As soon as he starts earning some New York Yankee pinstripes, he slaps a ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove and contributes to the most infamous meltdown in sports history…you get the picture. For all of the hate and press he receives (some of it undeserved), Alex Rodriguez has been out of the media’s cross-hairs for the most part – aside from strictly baseball news. Don’t get used to that though because he could find himself in some significant headlines before the year is out. I’m not predicting a crazy marriage or scandal, but I could definitely see (and would support) the New York Yankees naming Alex Rodriguez their full-time designated hitter starting in 2012.
As most of us know by now, Rodriguez is currently out 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. So not only does Rodriguez have hip issues, but now he’s got a surgically repaired knee as well. That is a problem – especially for someone who relies on his lower half for power and lateral quickness. And at 36 (on July 27th), his knees and hips aren’t getting healthier. Rodriguez is signed through 2017 and owed sooo much money. I would add it up but I’m not really in the mood to feel that lump in my stomach. Wouldn’t it make a ton of sense to transition Alex Rodriguez to full-time DH as soon as possible? Wouldn’t that, at the very least, be a moderately smart idea? With Jorge Posada likely moving on and the DH role opening up after 2011, I think it would be.
Moving Rodriguez to DH would absolutely kill the value he provides to the team in terms of production per salary (or is it salary per production?) modules and all of those things that Yale grads put together. I don’t care. This is one of those times (there are many more) that you don’t play baseball on a spreadsheet or in some fancy algorithm. All of the new age baseball fans and analysts would take advantage of every opportunity to bash the Yankees and remind us that the Rodriguez contract (“$20+ million for a DH!?!?!”) is the worst in the game. I don’t care. What I do care about is salvaging the waning health and productivity that Rodriguez has in his body. Even though he would be a one-dimensional player as a DH, it would allow him to remain healthier throughout the remainder of his contract and do what the Yankees primarily paid him to do in the first place: hit with authority. Who would you rather have? A Travis Hafner type who plays around 145 games a year or a Chipper Jones type who is going to top out at 115-120 contests? Same here.
By the beginning of this paragraph, prospect huggers like me are going to be ready to skip down to the end of the post and rip off a few comments. Take a deep breath though. Moving Alex Rodriguez to DH does not necessarily mean that Jesus Montero will be sent elsewhere. It would definitely help his cause if he could make enough improvements behind the plate though. If I had my choice, Montero would at least have 2012 to serve as Russell Martin’s back up catcher. He could flash his potential with the lumber and help management decide once and for all if he has enough potential with the glove to be their version of Mike Piazza. The main point is that this is an issue that could be pushed to 2013 or one that may resolve itself on its own.
There are certainly some valid arguing points against moving Alex Rodriguez to DH full-time, but the move is inevitable and I do not see much benefit in delaying it. Rodriguez is breaking down and he also happens to be earning $20+ million (emphasis on the ‘+’) through 2017. The New York Yankees need to ensure to the best of their abilities that they are receiving above average production from their aging slugger. He might only contribute to one part of the game as a DH, but not even the Yankees can afford to pay north of $123,000 for games that Rodriguez doesn’t play.