Archive for Alex Rodriguez
Every day during Alex Rodriguez‘s arbitration hearing, news outlets have placed reporters outside the building. Ben and I frequently crack jokes about this absolutely pointless assignment. No one is divulging testimonies. Their only purpose is to sit there and wait for something to happen. Today, their efforts paid off. Something happened.
Minutes ago Rodriguez issued a statement — after storming out of the room — which I picked up from the Daily News Sports I-Team Twitter feed. It reads:
“I am disgusted with this abusive process designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
As with every statement from both sides in this case, there is more it than what A-Rod portrays. Given Selig’s heavy hand in this, he absolutely should come in and justify his decision. I can understand why anyone would get upset in that situation.
But let’s not simply assume that Alex’s intentions are pure here. Perhaps this is a ploy to avoid testifying himself. Perhaps his legal team sees the writing on the wall, knows that he’s going to be suspended, and will instead prepare for a larger fight in federal court.
For the moment, I’ll say hats off to A-Rod for calling out Selig. It’s pretty clear — to me, at least, from the evidence we’ve seen publicly — that Selig does indeed have a vendetta against Alex. If the man wants to levy such a heavy punishment and then refuses to justify it, then how can an arbitrator rule that it’s appropriate? Again, just my input on this. I’m sure opinions on this will come down from every possible angle.
Update by Mike (5pm ET): A-Rod just made a live in-studio appearance on Mike Francesa’s show to discuss today’s events and the arbitration hearing in general. A partial video is above and the full audio is right here. I can not recommend it enough. It’s amazing. Among the major points:
- A-Rod flatly denied all PED allegations stemming from Anthony Bosch and Biogenesis. Francesa asked him directly and the answer was a clear denial, no wiggle room. That’s all on the record. Alex also declined trying to interfere with the investigation.
- A-Rod also said this is personal for Selig, who is retiring after next season and wants “my head on a mantle on the way out.” He also said this is about the money, that MLB wouldn’t have it in for him like this if his contract was so big. I think he’s right, this whole mess doesn’t happen if the league didn’t go for the kill with a 211-game ban.
- It’s unclear if A-Rod will testify as scheduled on Friday. It’s basically a “if Selig doesn’t testify, I don’t testify” situation. He did hedge a bit by saying he’ll talk things over with his lawyers once he calms down.
- Oh, and by the way, Alex is angry at the Yankees. He made that clear. He also said he has an obligation and will play third base for them when the time comes.
Like I said, I can’t recommend the interview enough. Make sure you watch the video. I thought Francesa killed it with his questions and A-Rod scorched every last bit of Earth. Such great theatre.
- When the hearing resumes, it will continue for ten consecutive days if necessary. They won’t take weekends off and will work right up until Thanksgiving in order to get this thing wrapped up. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to take three or four weeks to hand down a ruling once the hearing is over.
- A-Rod will miss a scheduled interview with MLB on Friday because he’s sick and stuck in California, unable to travel according to doctor’s orders. It’s nothing serious and it will not delay the proceedings next week. The interview is required before he can take the stand, however (convenient timing, no?).
- Rodriguez, commissioner Bud Selig, and Yankees team president Randy Levine could all be called to stand to testify at some point soon. MLB is likely to try to prevent Selig and Levine from talking, however. I guess that’s something they’re allowed to do.
- The Florida Department of Health says MLB impeded their investigation of Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch by purchasing stolen clinic documents earlier this year. The documents were originally intended for DOH, so the state was forced to limit the scope of their investigation and Bosch’s eventual punishment ($5,000 fine that was reduced to $3,000). Long story short: MLB said too bad, their investigation was more important.
- Even if A-Rod is suspended for all or part of next season, he could still be around the team in Spring Training. The Joint Drug Agreement says a suspended player has all the rights of a regular player except he can’t play in regular season or postseason games. One of those rights is Spring Training, apparently. If the Yankees try to stop him from showing up to camp, A-Rod could file a grievance and create even more headaches. What a world.
For nearly two years now we’ve heard about the Yankees’ plans keep payroll below the luxury tax threshold in 2014. The story first cropped up in December, 2011, and a little over a year later Hal Steinbrenner acknowledged it as the organizational goal. Yet he always notes that getting under the threshold is a goal, one he believes is attainable, rather than a mandate. Fielding a championship-caliber team, he reminds us, remains the top priority.
Until the chips start to fall, fans can believe what they want. Some believe that the Steinbrenners are more concerned with lining their own pockets than winning, and won’t be convinced otherwise until the Yankees start doling out contracts. This is not an outrageous stance; given how much money the Yankees stand not only gain, but to take out of other teams’ pockets, getting under $189 million makes sense. At the same time, we saw the crowds at Yankee Stadium last year when the Yankees fielded a mediocre product. Surely the Steinbrenners understand that they could stand to lose plenty if the 2014 Yankees resemble the 1991 Yankees.
For those worried about how the payroll breaks down, we’ve seen some positive stories in the past few days about the Yankees showing interest in a number of quality free agents. On Friday Jon Heyman published one containing an encouraging quote from one of his sources: “Hal is very involved, and he wants to win.” Another interesting tidbit comes a few paragraphs later (emphasis mine).
Word is the Yankees still believe they can keep get their payroll below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million, thanks to $100 million or so in contracts coming off the books, depending to a fair degree on the status of Alex Rodriguez‘s PED arbitration case vs. MLB.
If A-Rod somehow walks away without any suspension, he will count $33.5 million against the luxury tax next season ($27.5 million AAV, plus $6 million after he hits six more homers). If suspended for 50 games that number comes down to around $25 million, and if he gets suspended for 100 games it’s around $16.5 million ($10.5 million if he can’t hit six homers in 62 games, but he did hit seven in 44 games last year). And, of course, if he gets 162 or more games, the Yankees will have a nice heap of cash at their disposal.
The pace of the proceedings between MLB and Rodriguez throw a wrench into the Yankees’ off-season plans. Free agency is already in full swing with the GM meetings this week followed by the Winter Meetings in about a month. A good number of players will sign between now and when the Winter Meetings end on December 12. How can the Yankees make a move if they don’t know exactly what their 2014 books will look like?
The answer is that it shouldn’t matter. If Steinbrenner is truly serious about prioritizing a winning team over the luxury tax savings, he should forget that Alex Rodriguez exists. When arbitrator Fredric Horowitz renders his decision, it should have no effect on the Yankees’ plans. They should work with the assumption that Rodriguez will be suspended for all of 2014.
If the bet works out, the Yankees are in superb position. They can, with relative ease, field a competitive team and stay under the luxury tax threshold with another $33.5 million, in addition to the $40 million or so they have currently (as Mike calculated). That $70-plus million can pay for Robinson Cano, Masahiro Tanaka, plus two or three other starting-caliber players, depending on whether they’re acquired via free agency or the trade market. Chances are Rodriguez will push them over the threshold again in 2015, but at least they’ll have gotten below for one season, resetting the tax and keeping some of their revenue sharing monies.
If Rodriguez does play in 2014, Plan 189 does go out the window, though the luxury tax bill won’t be close last year’s record $29.1 million luxury tax bill. If Rodriguez avoids suspension and the Yankees are butting up against the tax threshold, they will pay $16.75 million in tax. At 50 games the bill would be $12.5 million, and at 100 games it would be $8.25 million.
Therein lies the entire bet. If the Yankees win, they get a championship team and pay zero dollars in luxury tax while keeping money previously sent to other teams. If they lose they still have to pay out those revenue sharing monies, plus luxury tax — though even in the worst case scenario the tax itself will amount to less than they’ve paid in the past four seasons.
As always, the it’s-not-my-money caveat applies. The Steinbrenners have the dollars, so they control who gets paid. But if they are serious about their statements, that winning takes precedence over the budget, they should spend as though Rodriguez doesn’t exist. To win that bet is a coup. To lose means writing another check, though not nearly to the level of last year and a bit below what they’ve paid in the recent past. We can only hope this makes sense to the people writing the checks.
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the baseball world’s most expensive sideshow.
I don’t even know where to start this post. Alex Rodriguez brought an unprecedented amount of negative to the Yankees this past season, both in terms of off-the-field distractions and in a pure on-field baseball sense. It was remarkable. A chore to sit through on a day-to-day basis but utterly fascinating at the same time. I guess the best way to do this is chronologically. Links take you to the pertinent RAB post.
December 3rd: Oh hey, Alex needs major hip surgery
During the very first day of the Winter Meetings, Brian Cashman took to the podium not to announce a trade or a free agent signing, but to announce that Rodriguez needed surgery to repair a torn labrum and a bone impingement as well as correct a cyst in his left hip. The injury apparently occurred sometime late in the regular season and was to blame for his dreadful postseason showing. (Unfortunately the rest of the team had no such excuse.) The surgery required 4-6 weeks of “pre-hab” and a 4-6 month recovery time, meaning A-Rod would be out until the All-Star break or so. The Yankees scrambled to sign Kevin Youkilis as a replacement third baseman and he managed to play fewer games than Alex in 2013, but I digress.
January 26th: Enter Anthony Bosch
This is the first time most of us heard about Bosch, a seedy quasi-doctor in South Florida who was being investigated by MLB and the DEA for allegedly providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes, including A-Rod. This would not be the last time we heard about him. Not by a long shot.
January 29th: A-Rod is officially connected to Bosch and PEDs
A few days later, The Miami New-Times published a lengthy exposé that included detailed records showing A-Rod had indeed received HGH and other banned substances from Bosch during a period of time from 2009-2012. The records included payment schedules and all sorts of other stuff. A number of other players were connected to Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in the report as well. Over the next few days, we heard there was basically no chance the Yankees would be able to void the remaining five years and $114M left on Rodriguez’s contract.
February 12th: No camp for A-Rod
As MLB conducted their investigation into Bosch and Biogenesis behind the scenes, the Yankees started Spring Training without Alex. He was directed to stay home and continue his rehab following the hip surgery in New York. The injury provided a convenient excuse but it obvious the team wanted their third baseman nowhere near the club. They didn’t want the distraction. One day after the announcement, A-Rod was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for the newly-acquired Shawn Kelley.
April 12th: A-Rod may or may not have purchased Biogenesis documents
The Biogenesis story started to get cooky in mid-April, when it was reported A-Rod tried to purchase documents from people connected to the clinic in an effort to keep them away from MLB. Later that afternoon, a different report shot that down. Meanwhile, MLB was in the process of filing lawsuits against Bosch and several other important parties, but not Alex or any other players.
May 2nd: Cleared for baseball activities
A little less than five months following the surgery, Rodriguez and his surgically repaired hip was cleared to resume baseball activities. This was the first step of a long, long road. It wasn’t a typical rehab. A-Rod had to slowly build himself up before returning to the team.
June 6th: Attempted extortion
By now we all knew MLB was out for blood. They wanted to bury A-Rod and Ryan Braun specifically, the biggest names in the Biogenesis scandal. The league was looking to suspend upwards of 20 players, but especially those two because they were considered serial users and multiple time offenders. On this date, we learned Bosch tried to extort a six-figure sum from Rodriguez before agreeing to cooperate with MLB’s investigation. In exchange for Bosch’s cooperation, MLB dropped their lawsuit, covered his legal bills and civil liability, and provided him with bodyguards. Jumping into bed with the league after trying to extort A-Rod is shady, shady stuff.
June 10th: A-Rod to Japan?
Oh, by the way, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan called the Yankees to inquire about Rodriguez’s availability over the winter, but New York never bothered to call them back. This is a real thing that really happened.
June 25th: STFU
In a passive aggressive attempt to annoy the Yankees and MLB and whoever else, A-Rod was tweeting out details about his rehab. The team didn’t take too kindly to that, to the point that Brian Cashman suggested his third baseman should “shut the f**k up” while talking with a reporter. The GM eventually apologized and all that, but frustration had started to boil over.
July 2nd: Rehab games
Seven months after surgery and two months after being cleared to resume baseball activities, Rodriguez began an official minor league rehab assignment with Low-A Charleston. He went 0-for-2 and played three innings at third base. His 20-day rehab window had begun.
July 20th: When quads attack
Bad weather forced Alex to jump between minor league levels during his rehab, but he was with Triple-A Scranton in the middle of July and was only a few days away from rejoining the team when he felt some tightness in his left quad. Supposedly it wasn’t bad, so he was not scratched from that night’s game. They shifted him to DH instead.
July 21st: Grade I
The Yankees sent A-Rod for tests on his quad, tests that revealed a Grade I strain. Rather than meet the team in Texas to be activated off the DL as scheduled, he would be shut down for roughly two weeks. I am convinced the team delayed his return as long as possible because they hoped he would be suspended so they could be rid of him and the distraction. Completely convinced.
July 24th: Quad injury? What quad injury?
Three days after the Grade I strain diagnosis, Dr. Michael Gross called into Mike Francesa’s show to say he saw no quad strain when he gave Rodriguez an unofficial second opinion. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any injury there,” said Gross. A-Rod reported no pain and said he felt ready to be activated off the DL and play that night. The Yankees later fined Rodriguez because he sought a second opinion without first notifying the team in writing per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He was sent for a third opinion the next day that confirmed the Grade I strain diagnosis. Things were starting to get weird, needless to say.
August 2nd: Rehab, part deux
Rodriguez returned to Double-A Trenton to start his rehab (again) and homered in his first game. He drew four walks the next day, in what was ultimately his final minor league game of 2013.
August 5th: A-Rmageddon
This is when things got completely nuts. On the afternoon of August 5th, A-Rod and a dozen other players were officially suspended for their ties to Biogenesis. Those 12 other players all received 50-game bans and started serving their suspensions immediately. Rodriguez received a record 211 games that covered the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. MLB essentially gave him 50 games for being a first-time offender and 161 games for trying to interfere with their investigation. Despite rumors that Bud Selig would invoke a commissioner’s power that would ban Alex from baseball in the “best interests of the game,” he did no such thing.
Unlike the other 12 players, Rodriguez appealed his suspension and rejoined the team that night. On the same day he was given a historic suspension, he played his first game of the season. Crazy. A-Rod met the club in Chicago for a three-game series with the White Sox and went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first big league game of 2013. Not coincidentally, the YES Network recorded their highest ratings of the season that night. Alex went 15-for-47 (.319) with two doubles and two homers (.897 OPS) in his first 12 games back and gave the offense a major shot in the arm.
August 17th: Enter Joseph Tacopina
Tacopina, A-Rod’s lawyer for his appeal, blasted the Yankees during an interview and said the team deliberately endangered his client’s health by playing him with the hip injury during the postseason last year in an effort to get him out of baseball. He claimed the team hid MRI results that showed the labrum tear. “They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer … They did things and acted in a way that is downright terrifying,” said Tacopina. The next day we learned Alex’s camp had started the process of filing a medical grievance. Cashman told reporters he felt uncomfortable around A-Rod but rooted for him because he wore pinstripes. So very weird.
August 18th: Officer Ryan Dempster, Baseball Police
In the finale of a three-game set with the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Dempster took it upon himself to punish Rodriguez for his alleged PED crimes. He threw the first pitch of their first encounter behind A-Rod’s legs, the next two inside at his waist, and the fourth at his ribs. Joe Girardi got tossed after storming out of the dugout because both benches were warned but Dempster was not ejected despite obviously throwing at a player. The righty would be suspended five games a few days later. A few innings later, Alex hit a monster solo homer to dead center against Dempster, the team’s longest homer of the season. New York came from behind in the late innings to win what was then a huge game. Probably the highlight of the season, no?
September 10th: Hamstrung
With his batting line sitting at .301/.388/.496 after 31 games and 129 plate appearances, Rodriguez was forced out of a game against the Orioles with tightness in his left hamstring. No tests were performed and A-Rod returned to the lineup the very next night as the DH. The Yankees were fighting for a wildcard spot, after all. He would not play the field again the rest of the season.
September 15th: Now, the calf
Five days later, Alex had to leave a game against the Red Sox with tightness in his right calf. The team was off the next day and A-Rod returned to the lineup the day after that, again as the DH. At this point he was playing on a bad calf, a bad hamstring, and two surgically repaired hips. It was obvious the mounting leg injuries were affecting him at the plate as his swing was basically all arms late in the season. He looked like he did during the postseason last year. In his final 13 games of the season, basically from the hamstring injury through the end of the year, A-Rod went 4-for-43 (.093) with two homers (.483 OPS), including his record 24th career grand slam. He finished the season with seven homers and a .244/.348/.423 (113 wRC+) batting line in 44 games and 181 plate appearances.
September 30th: Now the show really starts
The appeal hearing of Rodriguez’s suspension started the first day after the end of the regular season. MLB kicked things off with about a week’s worth of testimony — the two sides traded public barbs the whole time — but scheduling conflicts put the hearing into a recess until mid-November. The hearing will resume on November 18th and a ruling is not expected until sometime in mid-December.
October 4th: Lawsuits for everyone
If A-Rod goes down, he’s going down with guns blazing. Early last month, his legal team filed two separate lawsuits: one against Selig and MLB for their “witch hunt” and trying to push him out of the game, and another against team doctor Christopher Ahmad for misdiagnosing his hip injury last fall. Refer back to the August 17th entry. He reportedly asked the union to step down as his lead counsel during the appeal because he felt they had not take advantage of opportunities to challenge the league’s shady investigation. Rodriguez is burning every bridge in an attempt to clear his name. Proceedings for the lawsuit against MLB started just yesterday. Nothing had started in the case against Ahmad as far as we know.
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So that is all of it. Eleven months of scandal and injuries and baseball and more scandal. It’s something only A-Rod could pull off, really. The Yankees can now do nothing but sit and wait as the appeal process plays out, hoping their highest paid player gets suspended for a most if not all of next season so they have some extra money to work with this offseason. What a crazy world we live in.
The appeal hearing of Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension does not resume until November 18th, but don’t worry, there is still plenty of nonsense being leaked to the media. A trio of New York Times reporters published this ultra-juicy look into the league’s investigation yesterday, which included six-figure payouts for evidence, an intimate relationship between an investigator and a witness, and an off-the-books investigative team approved by Bud Selig. Like I said, it’s ultra-juicy. Check it out.
Within that article we learn A-Rod reportedly tested positive for a stimulant during the 2006 season. The test result wasn’t made public and he wasn’t suspended because that’s what the Joint Drug Agreement says is supposed to happen. Only repeat offenders are punished for stimulants. A-Rod’s legal team denied the failed test in a statement, and, according to the New York Daily News, they’ve filed a formal complain with arbitrator Frederic Horowitz over MLB’s non-stop leaks to the media. Considering how much they’ve boasted about all of the evidence at their disposal, the league sure seems to be going out of its way to disparage Rodriguez publicly, no? Just let the evidence speak for itself.
Via Larry Neumeister: MLB’s lawyers have sent a former letter to U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield requesting that the lawsuit filed by Alex Rodriguez‘s legal team be thrown out. A-Rod‘s camp filed the suit claiming the league is conducting a “witch hunt” to get him out of baseball. Apparently there is a Labor Management Relations Act issue depending on whether the case is heard in state or federal court. I’m not exactly sure what’s better for whom. Proceedings for the suit are scheduled to begin in early-November. Remember, this is completely different matter than A-Rod’s appeal of his 211-game suspension.
Monday: According to Ronald Blum, the hearing will not resume until November 18th. That means a ruling might not come down until mid-to-late December, and who knows how the holidays will affect things. This might not be resolved until after the Winter Meetings, which would be very bad for the Yankees given their payroll and third base situations.
Sunday: Via Mike Mazzeo: The appeal hearing for Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension is expected to resume sometime in November. MLB is finished making their side of the case, now A-Rod‘s camp has to do the same. There’s no word on how long that could take, but Mazzeo says it is likely to be about a week, which is what MLB needed.
Meanwhile, Ken Davidoff says both sides admitted to paying for Biogenesis documents. That’s bad news for both parties. First, MLB denied paying for evidence in a statement following A-Rod’s lawsuit. Second, the suspension is based on A-Rod trying to interfere with the investigation, which they’ve effectively admitted to doing. Who knows what that means, legally. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to hand down a ruling within 25 days of the end of the hearing, meaning it may not come until late November or December.
Thursday: Jim Baumbach says the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit agreed to push the conference back two weeks to November 7th. Remember, this is not the appeal hearing of A-Rod‘s 211-game suspension, this concerns his lawsuit against MLB. Two different matters.
Saturday: Via Ken Davidoff: Proceedings for Alex Rodriguez‘s lawsuit against MLB will begin with a conference on October 24th. This is not the ongoing appeal hearing for the 211-game suspension, this concerns the lawsuit A-Rod filed claiming the league is conducting a “witch hunt” and is trying to get him out of the game. Rodriguez also filed a malpractice suit against Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad over the handling of his left hip injury last fall. He’s going out with guns blazin’, eh?
During a recent radio interview, Brian Cashman acknowledged the obvious, that it’s really hard to replace Alex Rodriguez. “If it comes down to, would we want the player we signed to be playing that position without any problems? Absolutely, no question about that,” said the GM. “It’s not like, all right, well, Alex is gone. It’s not like, all right, we’ll take that money and go in this direction. It was not easy to plug holes [in 2013] because the talent just doesn’t exist.”
At age 38 and with two surgically repaired hips, A-Rod hit .244/.348/.423 (113 wRC+) in 181 plate appearances this year, right in line with last year’s production (also 113 wRC+). Only nine third baseman topped that output in at least 400 plate appearances this past season, so there aren’t many players out there who can contribute as much as old and crippled Alex. At least the guy he was the last two years, anyway. As we saw this year, finding good players is hard.
Meanwhile, Bill Madden says the Yankees are preparing for the offseason under the assumption that Rodriguez’s salary ($25M) will not be wiped off the books by suspension next season. That’s the right thing to do, obviously. The money isn’t off the books until MLB says it is off the books, and right now it doesn’t seem like official word is coming anytime soon. It stinks, their hands are going to be tied for a little while until they get some resolution, but that’s life.
Via Serge Kovaleski & Steve Eder: Alex Rodriguez‘s legal team formally requested that the players’ union step aside during the appeal of his 211-game suspension. The MLBPA serves as the player’s chief representative on the three-person arbitration panel. The letter with the request was sent to the union in late-August. The appeal hearing started last week and is not yet complete.
Rodriguez and his lawyers recently filed lawsuits against both MLB and team doctor Christopher Ahmad. The letter claimed, among other things, that the union failed to “fairly represent his interests” and missed opportunities to challenge the league’s aggressive investigation. Apparently the request was rebuffed, because MLBPA general counsel David Prouty is on the arbitration panel as A-Rod‘s representative. This isn’t another lawsuit or anything, just a request on A-Rod’s part to use his own legal team.