Brian Cashman must be having a miserable April. Have you ever put together a plan with great thought and consideration and then watch it fail to the point where you start wondering if some supernatural power is out to get you? Where things that worked a million times before fail for the first time ever – galactically – and you wonder why you got out of bed in the first place?
Welcome to Brian Cashman's world. Maybe not his whole world, but certainly the part of it that deals with Alex Rodriguez. It's been reported that Cashman has been trying to get rid of Alex for a few years now. I understand his frustration. He has paid $25M+ per year for a guy that did not play 100 games two of the three years prior to last year's suspension.
Then there was that "Memorial Day" plan. Remember that bit of noise that made its way through the rumor mill this past winter? We destroyed it here on BYB. Read "YANKS TO RELEASE AROD" STORY WITH ZERO DEPTH. Allegedly, the Yankees were planning to release Alex right after Memorial Day. There was no confirmation, but who really believes that there was not at least a shred of truth to it? Remember that as of right now, there is a conspicuous absence from the Yankees Press Guide that we are four Rodriguez homers away from BonusGate, where Alex will pass Willie Mays on the all-time home runs list, the Yankees will refuse to pay his bonus, and all-out war will ensue.
The entire Memorial Day plan hinged on the assumption that with Alex being away from the game for so long, and pushing 40 years of age, there was no way he would be playing well. Poof. There goes that plan. He has been the one guy that has been hitting consistently for both average and power. Maybe with the kids coming up and veterans recovering from injuries, the team would be hitting well and they could say that they did not really need him. BOOM! Blown to smithereens! Well, he has always had a bad attitude, so the team would be better off without him. Instead, he has not made a single complaint about not playing third - the position he lost. He arrived at spring training early, in spite of the media circus surrounding his return to baseball, and put in his work. He took grounders at first, since the team might need to rest Mark Teixeira and they could use an extra bat in the DH slot. When asked to DH, he quietly picked up his bat and did what they needed him to do. Brian Cashman’s Memorial Day plan has gone completely up in flames.
Look, I am no fan of Alex Rodriguez. None of his good behavior through March and April excuses his use of PED’s, his lawsuits against MLB and the players’ union, and all his other activities that have drawn attention away from the game of baseball. Furthermore, six weeks of staying out of trouble does not guarantee what May through October will bring. Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice the stark contrast between his behavior and his reputation. Let us imagine that he lived up to the image of the self-centered egomaniac that many believe he is. He could have shown up to spring training late, with a “who cares” approach. He could have referred to last year’s lack of offense and asked, “Did you miss me?” He could have copped an attitude, saying “Hey, if you want to pay me $25M to sit here on the bench, my pleasure.” Worse, he could have gone to the media and pointed out how the Yankees cannot seem to score more than one run per game without him in the lineup. Notice that he has not done any of that. He has DH’ed when asked. He has played first when asked. He has played third when asked. He has pinch hit when asked. He has deflected baiting questions from reporters, especially when on the road, about the robust, loud boos and the fans turning their backs. He is doing EXACTLY what he is supposed to be doing. It is obvious even to a critic like me.
In a couple of weeks, Alex Rodriguez will hit career home run number 661, passing Willie Mays. If the Yankees refuse to recognize and pay, as everyone expects, Brian Cashman will have an even worse May than his April. The pettiness has gotten the attention of practically everyone in the press. You know, the people that will put “BonusGate” on the back page of every newspaper, at the top of every sports website and blog, and milk it for everything it is worth, for as long as they can make it last. Given the Yankees’ propensity for pushing an image of honor and tradition, this could spell disaster for Cashman. Being on the receiving end of criticisms labeling the Yankees as “petty” will wear on the Steinbrenners. My advice to Brian Cashman – give up the battle and win the war. Alex Rodriguez is not your problem. Not winning is your problem. Trying to duck a bonus payment just to make a point is moot when your team is in last place and all that your fans are talking about is how they expect this to be a long season. Recognize those that are doing well – including Alex – and work on fixing the rest. Then we can put these controversies to bed and get back to focusing on winning.
Originally posted on Bleeding Yankee Blue.