New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez plans on returning to the Yankees’ lineup this Monday after missing most of the season with a hip injury. Rodriguez has struggled, though, in his recent rehab assignment, batting 5-for-28 with six strikeouts. Now, with Rodriguez nearing the end of the time-consuming process of getting back into shape, the question is, do the Yankees really want A-Rod to return to the lineup?
Team president Randy Levine seemed optimistic that A-Rod would return Monday and quite frankly, seemed happy about it. “If he’s ready to come back, and he’s healthy, he’ll be back Monday night,” Levine said. “We need Alex Rodriguez. We need a right-handed bat. We need a third baseman. He’s the best third baseman we’ve got. And if he’s hot, he can carry us.”
Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees by the Texas Rangers in 2004 in a deal that included New York sending Alfonso Soriano to Texas. The Rangers also agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million left on Rodriguez’s contract. A-Rod found instant success in New York, as he hit .286 and collected 36 HRs, 112 RBIs and 28 SBs. He finished 14th in balloting for the AL MVP award.
Rodriguez is a career .300 hitter with a total of 647 HRs and 1950 RBIs. He is a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger winner, four-time AL Hank Aaron Award winner, three-time AL MVP, AL batting champion, two-time Gold Glove winner and a World Series champion in 2009. Despite all of his success, A-Rod’s career has been in question to say the least. In 2009, he admitted to taking PEDs and was quoted saying, “I felt a tremendous pressure to play, and play really well in Texas,” the New York Yankees’ third baseman said. “I had just signed this enormous contract … I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level. I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”
This came two years later, after in December 2007, Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract. This deal was the richest contract in baseball history (breaking his previous record of $252 million). Though the Yankees hoped Rodriguez would be worth every penny of that deal, A-Rod has been on a steady decline in recent years. Last season, Rodriguez had 18 HRs, with a career-low 57 RBIs, while maintaining a .272 BA, a .353 OBP and a career-low .430 SLG. This comes just two seasons after A-Rod hit 30 HRs with 125 RBIs and a .506 slugging percentage.
If the Yankees want to turn things around in the second half of the season, they will need all the help they can get, and bringing back A-Rod should only be a positive. Though he will most likely never perform at the elite level again, given his age (37), New York can only hope that Rodriguez provides that much needed spark and helps gear them up for another run at the postseason.