Ken Rosenthal has a new short column up at FoxSports — more like a blog post, really. The title: “Yankees are not better off without A-Rod.” As one might expect, he says just that and then elaborates using facts, like the Yanks ranking seventh in the AL in runs scored last season. They then lost Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu, who are replaced by Teixeira and the hope that Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Nick Swisher rebound from disappointing 2008 seasons. All in all, a reasonable, if not completely obvious, thought by Rosenthal.
The column is so obvious, in fact, that it seems like Rosenthal is addressing someone in particular. Who actually thinks that the Yankees are better off with Cody Ransom than A-Rod? No one I know, and I talk to plenty of people who hate A-Rod. Oh, wait, whats this? A column in the Bergen Record titled “Better off without A-Rod?” written by Ian O’Connor (who also happens to contribute to FoxSports). I believe this is the target of Rosenthal’s ire.
O’Connor’s column is chock full o’ A-Rod haterade. For example:
The Yankees could go back to being the Yankees. They could go back to being the team that won four championships in five years with reliable pitching and a harmonious band of position players that didn’t need a slugger whose favorite teammates are Me, Myself and I.
You hear that? Cody Ransom doesn’t need above-average stats to help the Yankees. He just needs to be harmonious. And gritty and a grinder and all those other awesome baseball terms.
This is, of course, patently ridiculous. The dynasty teams that many in the media pine for were built differently. You can’t just replicate that, or else everyone else would do it. The Yankees might have gotten by with lesser third basemen than A-Rod in the past, but those teams were assembled differently. The Yanks had a superstar center fielder. They had Derek Jeter, Chuck Knoblauch, and Jorge Posada at premium defensive positions. They weren’t a team with so many question marks from so many important players.
The Yankees can certainly survive without A-Rod, especially if it’s for a relatively short stretch. But by no means are they better off without him. Writers spew platitudes every day about team chemistry, but it really comes down to production. The Yankees offense is less productive without A-Rod. He’ll certainly provide them a boost when he returns in late April or May.
Bonus quote from O’Connor
But facts are facts: The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series in Rodriguez’s five seasons, and they reached six in the eight seasons before he arrived.
Coincidence, or guilty as charged?
In a world where correlation meant causation, I’d go with guilty as charged. Otherwise, I would not.