Since most of you have your minds made up either way about Mr. Rodriguez's place in or out of New York, I doubt this will do much in the grand scheme of things. But I would like to at least TRY to dispell any of these following misconceptions, as I fear people have been brainwashed or merely are just too tired of thinking about A-Rod to look further into the offenses of which they speak. So, I give you, my Alex Rodriguez Magnum Opus of Defenditude. These are several arguments I've heard writers and fans try to give as reasons that Alex should be traded. I think they're all bullshit. Here's why.
The "A-Rod is a Distraction" Argument: When I was in school, and someone was considered a "distraction" it was usually the hyperactive kid the teacher couldn't handle and was somehow taking away learning time from the rest of the class. But if A-Rod is this paste-eating, wound-up child and the Yankees are the innocent second graders with their perfect macaroni artwork, how exactly did he hurt them?
Cano, before and after injury, was Hits Fucking McGee. Damone had a fantastic offensive year. El Capitan was in the mid .300s of batting average for most of the season. Mariano posted his fourth straight season of a below 2 ERA. Posada had the most impressive year I've ever seen out of him behind the plate. Melky Cabrera showed himself to be "the fewtcha". Wang had a surprising season to some, but not to those who saw the promise in him last year. Like, there was so much blossoming on this team, you'd think they were serving Scotts Turf Builder in the pregame buffet.
So who was he a "distraction" to then? Giambi? Hmm. He did only have a .252 batting average...but the man has yet to figure out how to hit around "the shift" teams employ against him. Perhaps he was so busy taking it upon himself to get A-Rod to man up or whatever that he couldn't focus on changing his swing a bit. Was Alex distracting Randy Johnson so hard that Randy had to keep turning around to look at the ADD-kid that he hurt his back? Was Jaret Wright so freaked out by A-Rod's nose-picking that he could never pitch past the 6th inning for fear Alex might wipe his boogers on him? Was he "distracting" Hideki Matsui to the point that Hideki was too busy paying attention to A-Rod mooning the teacher when he should've been fielding, and broke his wrist as a result? I somehow think not.
Oh, and ahem. THEY WON 97 GAMES WITH THAT PASTE EATER. And what was that? Oh, the best record in the AL and tied for the best in baseball. If I can have someone "distracting" me to that point of success in my life, please sit them in my cubicle or in my room when I need to be writing my book.
Perhaps we are talking about the playoffs then? That maybe the entire lineup slumped after Game 1, and Moose wasn't lights-out when he needed to be, and RanJo and Jaret Wright plain sucked because they were so concerned with what Alex was doing? Saying this is as lame as suggesting that maybe they were "distracted" by Jeter's greatness in Game One and subsequent questions regarding that, and that they felt they didn't need to do anything because Jeter and his clutchiness will always get it done.
Or maybe they're a bunch of grown men who I would hope to god have learned by now that what concerns someone else isn't their problem. Aww, the media's asking questions about him -- I'm sure it's hard to think up a bullshit response or simply say "No comment." If it's because they feel "pressure" because they need to pick up where A-Rod's not producing -- it's still THEIR JOB to go out and get a hit when it's needed. And they're not producing either. I don't care if he's striking out or hitting a home run ahead of you, you're still being paid to get on base for yourself.
So, really, I think the only one A-Rod is distracting is you from paying attention to the rest of the team. And really, whose problem is that?
The "A-Rod Needs to Stop Whining About Media and Fans Booing Him" Argument: I know that I am not omniscient and can't possibly have my finger on the pulse of all the media out there, but when, preytell, did A-Rod have this big hissy fit about the media and alleged fans? I'VE complained about it to no end. So have some blogger friends 'o mine, Rudy Giuliani, Reggie Jackson, Brian Cashman and the random columnist. But A-Rod himself? The most I've heard out of him was the whole "They won't be happy till I hit a walk-off homer in a World Series" or whatever he said. And that? Was truthful. I've NEVER heard him blame his play on what the fans are doing or what Lupicass and Friends are writing about him. He was pretty much a boring soundbite all season regarding this, so I'd like to know just where the whole fable of his non-stop whinyness about this issue stems from.
The "A-Rod Can't Perform in the Playoffs" Argument: I'm going to lay off the whole "Uh, why aren't you just as mad at the rest of this candy-ass lineup for their lack of hitting" spiel for a sec and address this head on. He sucked this series. He sucked in the Angels series. He had a decent opening to the Sox series, then fell apart (ahem, as did almost everyone else on this team, ahem). I will tell you this -- they don't get to that 2004 ALCS without A-Rod. I was at the game he tied up (and almost won, if the ball had gone a few more inches) for the Yanks in Game 2. In Game 4, with the Yanks rallying back from a nice defecit (thanks to the, you guessed it, shaky pitching staff), he pretty much manufactures the winning run all by himself. This was his first playoff series in Pinstripes, mind you. It's one of only four that he's played in.
Let's see. In the last four playoff series (that A-Rod has also been involved in), Jorge has hit .222, .259. .239 and .500 respectively. With 0 RBI in that first series, 2, 2, and 2 in the next (keep in mind those last two RBI were completely meaningless as the Yanks were being mauled at that point -- because I know this is an argument A-Rod's detractors like to trot out, that being how meaningless his hits/RBIs can be). People weren't crying for his head -- oh, right, because he's a True Yankee. So let's look at the Giambino then. He...well, lookey here. He never saw a playoff game in 2004 because he was popping roids (to cheat, mind you, not for his health) like candy and nearly killing himself. I wonder if that hurt the Yankees at all? Naaaaah. Anyway, so in the other two series he's seen since A-Rod's been here, he hit .421 and .125 respecitvely, with a whopping four RBI in total for both series. I guess because he takes his criticsms like a man, he gets a free pass.
Now, for Mr. Sucktastic himself, A-Rod -- .421, .258, .133 and .071, 3 RBI, then 5, 0 and 0. Hmm. So he was productive in two series and sucked in two. But so have the guys listed above (and others I don't have the energy to bring up right now). And they get to play without people like me having to go in and defend them on their blogs. Nice.
The "He Isn't Liked In the Clubhouse/Isn't Liked by the Team Captain" Argument: This one is rich because in today's Daily News, they ask Jim Leyritz what the Yankees need to do to win the Series again. He says they need someone like himself to light a fire in their belly. He doesn't say anything about A-Rod, but they used this quote in their "Trade A-Rod Now" spiel. Interesting that in either 1992 or 1993 (probably before many even knew this team existed), someone (rumored to be Don Mattingly) left a note in the big-headed Leyrtiz's locker that read "There is No I in Team." That was a good few seasons before he became "clutch" in the playoffs. And let's not forget Reggie Jackson vs. Thurman Munson and Reggie vs. Billy. Yeah, he was great in the playoffs, but if you were running the team, he'd have been out of there simply because, ohmigosh, he wasn't liked!
This isn't high school, these are grown men. Yet everytime I see this argument, I have to wonder how many people are stuck in 90210 mode. And I don't see Jeter and A-Rod growing sideburns anytime soon, so whatever.
The "He's a Liability at Third" Argument: He was atrocious at third this season. Nobody knows why, for sure, but he did seem to come out of it the more the summer wore on. If he'd been god-awful the first two seasons, I'd be very concerned, but the fact that he had two pretty solid seasons defensively before this makes me think this to shall pass.
And stop using Chuck Knoblauch as a measuring stick. Just becauase he went all yippy for a few seasons following his bad one, doesn't mean A-Rod will. Who's Chuck Knoblauch, you ask? OY VEY.
The "If We Trade Him, We Can Get A LOT Back For Him" Argument: Sure, Johann Santana is interesting or any other big-name pitcher or Chone Figgins or any "role player" you could get for A-Rod. But remember why you want to trade Mr. Rodriguez here: You think he (with his 35-plus homers and mid-hundreds RBI totals per year, and MVP performance of last season) can't hack it in New York. Is there any guarantee that somebody from a small market team (hell, even a large market team) can come take the heat of New York? Uh, didn't you just want to ride A-Rod out on a rail because of this?
There's "A-Rod to the White Sox for some of their pitchers" (Uh, yeah, you really think the World Series champs from last year is going to deal their bread and butter?), "A-Rod to the Cubs for their pitchers" (What IS this? Pitching is at such a premium, and the last time I checked, a huge part of winning the game -- you truly think you're going to trade pitching for offense when you don't have a leg to stand on without said pitching?) And my favorite fan trade talk is A-Rod for...Adrian Beltre and Felix Hernandez. Are you laughing at this? It might be the best joke I've heard all year. Adrian had one breakout season three years ago, has been mediocre since then (and was pretty damn mediocre before said breakout year), while Fernandez posted a mediocre 4.52 era last season.
You're giving up an MVP First Ballot Hall-of-Famer, who, you know, actually makes a significant contribution (oh, wait, you don't see this. My bad.) for THAT? I'm going to go pop a few Advil now and chase it with a bottle of Vodka.
The "He's Hurting His Career By Staying Here and Should Go Somewhere Where He Can Grow Again": That's a nice thought. But seriously. Do you REALLY think the only reason he's being picked on right now is because he "can't produce" in New York? He IS producing. So he had an "off year," big fucking whoop. If he goes to Anaheim and cranks out a .342 batting average with 56 homers and 154 RBI, he's STILL going to have the stigma over him that he couldn't make it in New York (and that he's a stat-padder). Even if the media/fans don't say that (which they will, who am I kidding?), he's proven himself to be a bit of an obsessive sort, (as have the media regarding him) and that's always going to stick with him. He'll be considered a fantastic player, but when he had his chance to "prove himself on one of the biggest stages" he "failed". So he can't win if he's shipped out, either. But you'll be happy because the Yankees won't be missing the 113 runs he scored (third to Jeter and Damon) or his lifetime .573 slugging percentage or anything like that.
The "He Can Never Win With the Fans" Arguement: Yes, because I want the frat boys from Westchester — who come to one game a year decked-out in the Yankee finery they bought two days ago, who think Luis Sojo is still on the team, who drink about seven beers apiece (by the third inning), who get pissed off when people in their section don't join in The Wave they're trying to start, who read Mike Lupica and believe all the shit they hear on Baseball Tonight (when they watch it once a month), who start booing A-Rod because it's is the Livestrong bracelet of 2006 — to be the ones making the decisions for my team. (Do I really need to insert an eyeroll here?)
Real fans aren't booing A-Rod, and real fans know that their frustrations shouldn't lie with just one person on a team. You know, the team RBI leader. (And before you start in with those those "non-clutch" RBI or whatever, let me remind you that before he came to New York and was So Much Better Than Derek Jeter or whatever, he had a lot of big stats, including RBI totals. Were THEY all "clutch"? Probably not -- yet it didn't deter people from thinking he was the best thing since sliced bread. But put a Yankee uniform on him, and now it's simply not good enough. Interesting.)
We don't know that it's the media and fans and ensuing hullabaloo that made him have this "off" year anyway. The only time I heard him offer anything in the way of an excuse was when he vaguely alluded to the fact that he was hurt and didn't want to talk about it (and which everybody promptly pounced on him for making a "convenient" excuse) And I'm sure if he does bring anything up, even if it's the truth, he'll get shit on for it. Because he really can't win with some people.
But that's not a reason you deal a future Hall of Famer.
Think of all the promising players who came here and couldn't deal with the pressure...and actually sucked. Think of all the players who DON'T want to come to New York because of the "pressure". Yet he has a no-trade clause because, gasp, he wants to stick it out here. Instead of pushing this dude out the door because you are frustrated with the entire team (but refuse to admit this to yourself), why not keep that in mind -- for all the crap he's taken (and not "whined and complained" about it) he wants to find a way to win. Here. Perhaps he knows he doesn't need people behind him to actually accomplish something, but I'd like to think it'd be a lot more fun if they actually did.
The song has remained the same since 2002 -- the Yankees need pitching. Like, four quality starting pitchers and not 2 1/2. With some bullpen help that isn't 74 years old. And they need the ENTIRE LINEUP not to choke in the postseason like they've done since then. You look at the 2002 ALDS, 2003 World Series, 2004 ALCS, 2005 ALDS and 2006 ALDS it has been some combination of the those two things that bounced them. NOT ALEX RODRIGUEZ. Yes, it is frustrating to see him do lousy in big situations. But it's just as frustrating to see it out of the other 8 batters and 2 1/2 pitchers when it counts.
You trade him, he will come back to haunt you, I guarantee it. But more importantly, if you're trading him because you think he's the only problem and that the Yankees will get another title once he's gone...well, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it.
I just happen to think it sucks.