Like It Or Not, New York Yankees Need Alex Rodriguez

By Matthew Cermola
Brad Penner-USA Today Sports

Whether New York Yankees fans want to hear it or not, Alex Rodriguez may end up being a vital piece to the 2013 Yankees puzzle.

Currently, with the recent injury to third baseman Kevin Youkilis, it’s a puzzle which is far from complete. However, the potential return of Roriguez could go a long way towards catapulting the Yankees into October baseball.

We all know the story with Rodriguez. In his prime, he put up ridiculous stat lines, maybe better than any player who ever lived. Other than October of 2009 when he carried the Yankees to their 27th World Series Championship, he has always come up small in the biggest of moments.

As his career has progressed, with steroid allegations continuously circulating, Rodriguez’s production has declined, and he has struggled to stay on the field. In turn, the 37-year-old has fallen out of favor with many fans around baseball, including the ones who reside in the Bronx.

While Rodriguez has been all but written off, if there was ever an opportunity for him to redeem himself with his home fans, it would be a strong final few months of the season that concludes with a postseason appearance. Can Rodriguez actually come through?

It’s been such a long time since he contributed that it feels like a long shot, but is it? Of course, Rodriguez is going to have to dodge a bullet from MLB and their Biogensis investigation. Personally, while I obviously believe he’s guilty, I think it may take a little longer to hand down the suspensions then people may think, possibly even after the season. If he does get lucky and is able to play, I believe he can and will be a major contributor.

As we all know, even when Rodriguez was productive in recent years, injuries quickly followed. I believe this year can be different because of how short of a stretch he’ll be depended upon — probably just from mid-July on. With the realization of how few opportunities, if any, remain for the 19-year slugger, he certainly won’t be lacking the motivation.

With Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter on the DL alongside Youkilis, the Yankees’ offense has come to a screeching halt. As other AL East opponents continue to play well, it’s hard not to wonder how long the Yankees can continue playing with this lineup.

All reports from Tampa are that Rodriguez is progressing normally and is maybe even a little ahead of schedule. While he obviously can’t be rushed, a Rodriguez return by, or around, the All-Star break would be a huge addition to a lineup that will be platooning David Adams and Jayson Nix at the hot corner.

Rodriguez may be despised by a majority of Yankees fans, but at the end of the day, the success of the Yankees comes first. If it has to be Rodriguez who succeeds for that to happen, then so be it.

Matthew Cermola is a New York Yankees and MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @MCermolaRantMLB and add him to your network on Google.

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