Great stuff from Harvey Araton -
There is no more doubting that [Alex] Rodriguez’s days as the prototypical five-tool player and even the most feared bat in the Yankees’ lineup — not with Robinson Cano around — are over. Age and mileage and possibly the chemical spikes he admittedly added to his spinach have taken their toll.
Assuming his knee is fixed and he is able to drive the ball, Rodriguez can still do damage. He is only one season removed from 125 runs batted in. October is coming, and with the likes of Texas, Detroit and Boston in mind, the Yankees will be a more dangerous team with Rodriguez for the next two months.
Increasingly and alarmingly, the larger question looming is: How will they manage to coexist for the next six years?
If you think Yankee Nation has been in deep distress and debate lately over the investment return from pitcher A. J. Burnett, imagine what awaits Rodriguez all the way through 2017 if his physical decline continues at the rate it has been going.
There was hip surgery in 2009, a visit to the disabled list last season for a calf injury and this year’s breakdown to go along with eye-opening drop-offs in power numbers. Is it a stretch to imagine a day when Rodriguez’s 10-year deal, which could earn him more than $300 million — including bonus money for breaking the career home run record — will be considered the most ill-advised player contract in the history of the game?
Come to think of it, that very characterization might be the most fitting punctuation to an era bloated by illusion and greed.
Because of the headlines Rodriguez has generated, with more possibly to come, he will ultimately bear the brunt of the contract abuse. He, of course, didn’t give it to himself, no more than he made the former owner in Texas, Tom Hicks, hand him a $252 million deal a full decade ago.
Remember how Rodriguez opted out of that contract in 2007 and the Goldman Sachs people acted as intermediaries between player and team after negotiations collapsed and both sides announced they were moving on?
With the heavy hitters reaching out in his behalf, establishing another proud Wall Street legacy, Rodriguez called Hank Steinbrenner and had him at hello.
“Trust me, he would have gotten probably more,” Steinbrenner said in 2007, referring to a market that did not exist. “He is making a sacrifice to be a Yankee.”
Next year will be interesting for A-Rod. He has to be available for more than 120 games in a season. Anything less than that is a joke. But, he sure is trending that way…