Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Someone Else Give A-Rod A Chance

Alex Rodriguez will play his final game for the New York Yankees on Friday. It's the end to a saga that seemingly has such a sad trombone effect to it. No matter what you feel about Alex Rodriguez the human, or even the ballplayer, this doesn't feel like how the script was supposed to end. Then again, I'm not really of the belief that this is it either.

I have no idea what the contractual obligations boil down to. Rodriguez isn't a free agent until the 2018 season, at which point he'd turn 43 in the middle of the year. The Yankees were on the hook for $21 million next season, and there was $30 million allotted for marketing purposes tied to home run milestones. Throw all of that away though, forget the money, and just assume Alex Rodriguez isn't done.

After hitting 33 homers and owning an .842 OPS a season ago (his best mark since 2010), Rodriguez has fallen off of a cliff in 2016. He owns just a .609 OPS and has cracked just nine big flies in 62 234 plate appearances. What's worth contextualizing though is the way in which Rodriguez has been utilized this season. After starting 18 of the Yankees first 22 games (with an ugly .185/.274/.400 line to show for it). He's drawn just 37 starts in the last 89 games, with just 28 of them being on back to back days. The last time A-Rod started a game was July 30, and he hasn't started two days in a row since July 21-22. At this point in his career, he's far from a regular, but finding a rhythm with that schedule can't be easy either.

Assuming that one way or another, Rodriguez sorts his contractual obligations with the Yankees out, he'll be free to sign with another team. On a one year deal, I'd love to see it happen, and I'd love to see it happen for one reason. Alex Rodriguez has 696 career home runs, and I want to see him hit four more.

You can probably all but guarantee that Rodriguez will never surpass Babe Ruth's 714 homers, and he's not going to come anywhere close to Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron. 700 is within his grasp though, and watching him clutch it would be an all time great baseball moment. Over the entirety of Major League Baseball's existence, only three players have surpassed the 700 milestone.

Babe Ruth entered the 700 home run club on July 13, 1934. Hank Aaron became the second player to join the club, 39 years later on July 21, 1973. Barry Bonds turned the duo into a trio when he launched number 700 on September 17, 2004, 31 years after Aaron's feat. Now, just 13 years after Bonds, we could watch Rodriguez make it a part of four. Seeing two players hit 700 home runs in my lifetime is something I selfishly want to see take place.

I've outline my stance on PED's previously. If you missed it, you can read it more in depth here. In short, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and yes, even Alex Rodriguez all belong in the Hall of Fame. Trying to arbitrarily rule after the fact as to what is right and wrong is something that has no business in baseball. I have as much of a tough time with A-Rod the person, or at least the perception of him, as the next guy, but the feats he's accomplished in this great game can't be ignored.

Some point in the not so distance future, I hope the Yankees cut ties with A_Rod. He doesn't need a plaque in Monument Park (though a case could be made for one). He doesn't need a celebration or a sendoff. No, he just needs a brief chance from one team willing to celebrate history.

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