For the general baseball fan, the ongoing divorce drama between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez (with MLB squished right in the middle) is practically as good as prime time entertainment is going to get in the offseason.
Even in the wake of the massive Ian Kinsler–Prince Fielder trade between the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, it really won’t take very much for the game’s biggest pariah and the target of what you could reasonably call a glorified witch hunt to draw the attention back towards his direction. Another incendiary ‘interview’, perhaps? One more knock at the flawed arbitration process? It’s not exactly a good thing for baseball, but those are the cards that they’ve been dealt.
Well, A-Rod hasn’t only shown his hand, but he’s basically tossed them in his opponent’s face and punched the dealer for good measure.
The Yankees knew it was going to get ugly even as the first volleys were fired in the summer, but even the organization would have had to be surprised at how quickly it all escalated, no? What should be even more concerning is that in spite of this ever-growing saga that’s threatening to envelop the franchise like only Rodriguez can, the Bronx Bombers still have a job to do on the field.
In fact, until the suspension drama is truly cleared up, their biggest disgruntled employee still has a job to do as New York’s third baseman.
Talk about an untenable work relationship, right? Not that it was ever truly amicable with Brian Cashman hurling expletives at the embattled star and A-Rod’s camp essentially accusing the Yankees’ doctors from holding him back from action, but now that everyone has been thrown under the A-Rod bus from MLB commissioner Bud Selig (who is no saint himself) to the arbitrator Fredric Horowtiz, the only thing that’s clear is that the on-field relationship cannot go on.
Or so you’d think, anyway. Even if Rodriguez somehow ends up winning this battle and has the suspension overturned, the end result to the war will likely be the same: with him not taking the field for the Yankees for the duration of his contract, even if it means New York eating a huge amount of money for him to stay home at Miami.
And I mean, he’s almost certainly going to try to find himself another job in the bigs if that happens, but whether you side with MLB or A-Rod (or neither), I think you could say that the chances of that happening are limited at best.
In that sense, there are really no true winners here, but only a number of individuals and organizations with much to lose, whether it’s legacy, credibility, or just plain ol’ money. What it also means is that the Yankees cannot wait for the conclusion of this drama to make a move at the hot corner — especially with the market being fairly limited.
They could make a run at Juan Uribe now, but they’d find themselves going up against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are not exactly going to be pushovers when it comes to free agency. A better target and one that they need to move on now would be Jhonny Peralta, a shortstop by trade with past experience at third base (and even in the outfield) who might just be the best option available.
Considering that he’d be able to both spell Derek Jeter in 2014 as needed in short and also take over the hot corner, there are few teams that he’d fit on better than the Bronx Bombers.
Yet, the 31-year old could quickly slip from the team’s crosshairs if they lose focus on the product on the field due to this biggest of off-field distractions. The veteran has his share of suitors, most notably the Yankees’ crosstown rival New York Mets, and the shortstop-needy team will have money to spend this year with Johan Santana coming off the books.
That puts the onus on the Yankees to be preemptively active about their biggest developing problem, which is now clearly at third base and not at second, where the market for Robinson Cano is far less active.
The A-Rod saga, on the other hand, might just be starting to really hit its stride.