The All-Star break is upon us and Alex Rodriguez is spending that time taking ground balls at first base. After barely playing over the past two weeks, he has appeared in just 15 games over the last 28 days, it is obvious Rodriguez is seeing the end coming.
Let’s be honest for a second. Rodriguez has been dead weight on this roster all season. He refused to take the field last year and the New York Yankees don’t want him playing a lot in the field because he wore down as the season progressed. He entered this season as strictly a DH but he has failed to produce at the plate. If it weren’t for his huge contract he would have been gone a long time ago. See Soriano, Alfonso.
Even if Rodriguez does play some at first base one has to wonder if it is really worth the trouble at this point. He can’t hit righties this year, managing just a .198/.237/.333 slash line with five home runs in 135 plate appearances. Against lefties he has been a little better, managing a .267/.308/.483 slash with three home runs in 65 plate appearances.
The Yankees need to ask themselves if Rodriguez is worth even carrying on this roster right now. Rob Refsnyder is hitting .268/.311/.339 against right-handers in 62 plate appearances and .290/.378/.419 against left-handed pitchers in 37 plate appearances. Is Rodriguez an improvement over Refsnyder when a lefty is on the mound? One thing the Yankees must consider is Refsnyder has the ability to improve. Rodriguez is going to turn 41 this month and it is obvious he is cheating on his swings, starting early in an effort to get through the zone. He is a black hole on this roster at the moment and everyone knows it but refuses to address it.
The Yankees took the first step by benching Rodriguez against right-handers. He has started only one game in the last ten, and with good reason. This team, which is still trying to figure out if they are contenders or pretenders, can’t afford to have a DH on the bench who can’t hit. Having Rodriguez play the field helps some, especially with Mark Teixeira and his ailing knee needing regular rest. However, he needs to hit and should be on a short leash if the Yankees are expecting to contend at all this season.
Quite frankly, the Yankees should be looking to see if having Rodriguez on the roster is worth it right now, and for next season. Yes, by releasing him they would still have to pay him but is playing games with a 24-man roster really worth the aggravation? Would the Yankees be better off freeing up the 25-man roster spot, and 40-man roster spot for someone like Tyler Austin who can at least play a couple of positions passably and offers some offensive upside? Would the Yankees be better off promoting Gary Sanchez and playing Austin Romine and Brian McCann at first base, catcher, and DH?
The quest for 700 be damned. If Rodriguez doesn’t start hitting soon, regardless of his level of play in the field, the Yankees need to move on.