Archive for Alex Rodriguez
Via Sweeny Murti: Alex Rodriguez‘s return to the Yankees last night netted the YES Network its best ratings of the season. They averaged 393k total viewers for the game and topped out at 756k from 8:30-8:45pm ET, right around when Alex came to the plate for the first time. In terms of Neilsen ratings, YES was at 4.34 for the game compared to a season average of 2.52, which is down almost 40% from last year (4.17) and 50% from 2009 (4.72).
Obviously ticket sales and television ratings are way down this year, that’s no secret, but A-Rod‘s return will definitely help on the business side of things as well as on the field. He’s a car wreck and people can’t look away — most watch because they hate him and some watch because they actually like him. The important thing is people watch. Brian Cashman recently called the A-Rod trade his best not only because he was awesome on the field, but also because he helped increase ticket sales and cable subscribers. The Yankees seem to truly hate A-Rod and want him gone as soon as possible, but I’m guessing they’ll have no trouble taking in all that extra revenue while waiting for his appeal.
I’m going to preface this by saying I don’t think the Yankees are good enough to qualify for the postseason. I’m not even sure they’re good enough to finish the year with a winning record at this point. There are just too many soft spots in the lineup and too many question marks in the rotation. They’ve exhausted all of their depth and then some. I see too many things wrong with the team to think they can turn it around after more than three months of mediocrity.
That said, the Yankees are still only four games back of a playoff spot with a little less than two months to play. Nobody wants to run away with this thing, apparently. It’s a daunting task for New York because there are four teams ahead of them fighting for that spot, but it is doable. They’re going to need some help to do it though, they have for weeks, and they got a very unwanted piece of help on Monday night. Alex Rodriguez and all of his baggage returned to the lineup against the White Sox.
In his first game following hip surgery, a quad strain, and a historic suspension, A-Rod went 1-for-4 at the plate with a jam shot bloop single, two deep fly balls, and a strikeout looking. He worked the count well — 17 pitches in four at-bats — which is more than you can say about most of the lineup these days. If this is all that Alex is capable of at this point of his career, he won’t help the Yankees at all. But it was just one game, one big league game after two Double-A rehab games. It doesn’t tell us much of anything.
What we do know is that prior to Monday’s game, the team’s third basemen were hitting a combined .215/.272/.285 (54 OPS+) on the season, by far the worst production at the position in baseball. In fact, they’re being out-homered by Cubs pitchers 5-4. I wish I was making that up. The Yankees also came into Monday hitting a weak .237/.305/.344 (85 OPS+) against left-handers, which is a far bigger problem in the grand scheme of things. It’s one thing to have a really bad spot in the lineup, it’s another when you can’t hit an entire handedness of pitcher.
A-Rod, even at his age with all those injury problems and off-the-field baggage, is going to help with their hot corner and against-lefties problems. It would an upset if he didn’t. Even last year — the worst full season of his career — he managed a 113 OPS+ overall and a 146 OPS+ against southpaws. If A-Rod comes back as 70-75% of the player he was in 2012, he’d still be an upgrade. In a weird kinda way, he’s lucky the bar has been set so low. Expectations are low and that’s probably the best thing he has going for him. If he sucks, he’ll be doing exactly what everyone expected. No one to disappoint, I suppose.
Outside of the potential on-field upgrade, I do think there’s some small value in the distraction Rodriguez creates. He does draw attention and keep it away from others, which means fewer questions for CC Sabathia to answer about his awful season. Fewer questions for Andy Pettitte, who looks to be at the end of the line. Fewer questions about Derek Jeter‘s calf and Robinson Cano‘s impending free agency and the team’s overall poor play. There is always going to be some kind of hot button issue with the Yankees, the media makes sure of it, and A-Rod is a lightning rod. The more negative attention he takes away from his teammates, the better it is for them.
The Yankees have made it fairly obvious they want nothing to do with A-Rod. The kept him away from the team in Spring Training, kept him away from the team during his rehab, the GM very publicly told him to “shut the f**k up” following a seemingly innocuous tweet, and they pushed back his return from the quad injury as long as possible. I’ve said this before, but I truly believe the Yankees kept him out as long as reasonably possible in hopes he would get suspended and stay away from the club long-term. If Alex didn’t have almost $100M left on his contract, they absolutely would have cut him and gotten rid of the headache. Zero doubt about that whatsoever.
We’ve reached the point of the season where the options to upgrade the team are very limited. The trade deadline has passed and most of the guys stashed in the minors have already gotten an opportunity, so there’s not much available to the team anymore. Replacing the hilariously awful revolving door of third basemen with A-Rod and all of his warts could actually be a significant improvement over the final two months. All he has to do is be a league average hitter — that’s a .253/.317/.398 batting line, so we’re not talking about a miracle here — to be a significant improvement. The Yankees don’t like A-Rod and they don’t want him anywhere near the team, but they also want to qualify for the postseason. Their best chance to do that is with Alex on the field everyday.
The Yankees made a series of roster moves this afternoon, so let’s recap:
- Derek Jeter has been placed on the 15-day DL with his Grade I calf strain. That makes three DL stints this year, or two fewer than the number of games he’s played. The Cap’n correctly said “whole season has been a nightmare” yesterday.
- Alex Rodriguez has been activated off the 60-day DL. Pretty amazing that he received the longest non-lifetime ban in MLB history this afternoon yet will make his season debut tonight. But I was told he would never play again.
- Brent Lillibridge has been designated for assignment to clear both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for A-Rod. He somehow played eleven games and got 37 plate appearances (1 wRC+) in pinstripes. And yes, that’s a 1 wRC+.
- David Adams has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to help out the bench. He essentially replaces Jeter on the roster. Adams has yet to arrive and meet the team in Chicago, but I’m sure that will happen soon enough.
As expected, Major League Baseball (finally) announced Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. It’s officially a 211-game suspension, which is basically broken down in a 50-game first-time ban plus 161 games for interfering with the investigation. From the official release:
Rodriguez’s discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Because he was suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement, A-Rod can file an appeal and play in the meantime. He will do just that, and, in a twisted coincidence, he will make his season debut against the White Sox in Chicago tonight. Here is Alex’s statement:
“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”
And here is what David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s attorney, had to say:
“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”
I wonder if that “all legal remedies available” line is an indication a lawsuit for … something, could be on the way. I guess we’ll find out eventually.
It was rumored Bud Selig would suspend Alex using the integrity clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would have kept him off the field even during an appeal, but that did not happen. Selig & Co. supposedly decided it would improve their case and better maintain labor peace by sticking with the discipline outlined in the JDA.
Rodriguez has three days to file the appeal, which is why his suspension does not officially begin until Thursday. The hearing must take place within 20 days of the appeal and a ruling must be handed down no later than 25 days after that. Frederic Horowitz will preside over the appeal. He was appointed baseball’s arbitrator last June after MLB fired Shyam Das for overturning Ryan Braun’s suspension. Horowitz can overturn or uphold the suspension, as well as reduce the number of games. This isn’t an either/or thing like salary arbitration.
Rodriguez’s camp insisted they would not discuss a plea agreement in recent weeks. MLB threatened to ban him for life using the integrity clause, but that was apparently nothing more than a bluff. A-Rod insinuated the league and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field during a press conference following a recent minor league rehab game. The team responded with a strongly worded statement:
“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.
“However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.”
Union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB on A-Rod’s behalf to talk about a settlement on Saturday, but was rebuffed. Alex contacted the team about buying out the four-plus years and $95M or so left on his contract but was told no dice due to the impending investigation and discipline. Weiner, who indicated a legal battle could drag into November or December, left no wiggle room when saying the union will stand behind it’s highest paid player:
“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”
Players are not paid during drug suspensions, nor does their salary count against the luxury tax. A-Rod’s suspension would cost him approximately $34.2M if it started today, but his contract is front-loaded and his salaries decrease from 2013-2017. The longer the appeal takes and the further the suspension gets pushed back, the less he’ll lose. The Yankees have not been shy about their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold starting next year, so shedding A-Rod’s $27.5M “tax hit” for all or part of the next few seasons would be a huge boon.
MLB is said to have “mountains” of evidence showing Rodriguez purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs from 2010-2012 with help from former Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch. There hasn’t been much info on the evidence regarding his attempts to interfere with the investigation, however. Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB to avoid a lawsuit, though he reportedly tried to extort a six-figure payout from the team’s third baseman first. A-Rod’s army of lawyers will surely look to discredit Bosch.
Considering his age (38), his two surgically repaired hips and overall declining skills, it’s hard to believe Alex will be able to return to the Yankees as a productive player following a lengthy suspension. Thanks to the cash savings, the team would be in a better position to negotiate a buyout of the remainder of his contract after the suspension. Well, it might be easier to swallow, I should say. It’s tough to think the suspension will be anything but a career-ender for A-Rod.
Among the other suspended players is Frankie Cervelli, who received a regular ol’ 50-game ban as a first time offender. His nature of his connection to Biogenesis is unclear. He accepted the penalty and will begin serving the suspension immediately, without appeal. Cervelli is expected to miss the rest of the season with lingering hand and elbow problems, and he’ll be allowed to serve the suspension while on the DL. The Yankees said they “are disappointed” and “it’s clear that he used bad judgment.”
Eleven other players were suspended in addition to A-Rod and Cervelli: Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Fautino De Los Santos (minors), Sergio Escalona (minors), Fernando Martinez (minors with Yankees), Jordan Norberto (free agent), Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello (minors), Jordany Valdespin (minors) and former Yankees farmhand Jesus Montero (minors). Yasmani Grandal and former Yankees Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera were not disciplined after serving 50-day suspensions within the last calendar year.
I wish I could say I’m glad this is all over and done with, but that’s not the case. Not even close. The appeal ensures this will drag on for another few weeks and I’m guessing there will still be regular A-Rod updates even after that. The good news is that we are a big step closer to getting some closure though. The Biogenesis stuff has been in the headlines far too long and is taking a lot away from the games on the field. It’s great MLB is going to such great lengths to clean up the game, but make no mistake, it is coming at a cost.
7:00pm: Joel Sherman reports the Yankees have been informed by the league that A-Rod will be suspended tomorrow, but Bud Selig will not invoke the “integrity of the game” power and ban him from playing during the appeals process. Barring a new injury, he’s going to be in the lineup tomorrow night against the White Sox.
10:00am: Via T.J. Quinn & Andrew Marchand: MLB will indeed suspend Alex Rodriguez on Monday for his ties to Biogenesis, and it’s likely to be a 212-game ban that keeps him out through 2014. The commissioner’s office is expected to prevent Alex from playing during the appeals process by invoking its power to protect the integrity of the game. A grievance will follow and “it could get very, very ugly,” according to the ESPN scribes.
A-Rod played in his second and final minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton yesterday, and afterwards he said he was flying to Chicago to meet the Yankees for their series opener against the White Sox on Monday. Obviously he won’t actually rejoin the team if the report is correct. Rodriguez will lose roughly $34.2M in salary as a result of the suspension, but more importantly, his career will be over. Players in their late 30s don’t miss two full seasons and come back strong.
Eleven other players are expected to be suspended Monday as well, including Frankie Cervelli. He’ll likely receive a regular ol’ 50-game first-time ban, which he could serve this year and return to the team on Opening Day next year. Suspended players don’t count against the luxury tax, which would be huge for the Yankees given their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold next year. Obviously A-Rod is more significant in that regard than Cervelli.
In his latest rehab game with Double-A Trenton, Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-0 with four walks. That’s a rather interesting batting line. He played seven innings at third base as expected, fielding three ground balls and throwing one away when he tried to get the force out at second.
Under normal circumstances, A-Rod would join the Yankees in Chicago for the start of their series against the White Sox on Monday. These aren’t normal circumstances though. Alex is facing a lengthy (and potential lifetime) ban due to his ties to Biogenesis, and the suspensions are expected to be announced on Monday. There’s a decent chance this was the final game of A-Rod’s career.
Via the NYDN: Alex Rodriguez reached out to the Yankees today to discuss a possible settlement for the $90M-something left on his contract. MLBPA head Michael Weiner also reached out to MLB to talk about a plea agreement on A-Rod‘s behalf, but both requests were shot down. Apparently his comments on Friday were the last straw.
According to the report, A-Rod’s camp suggested an 80-100 suspension with a promise to retire after the ban during their previous talks with MLB. The kick? He still wanted to be paid the remainder of his contract. The league is expected to suspend Alex for the remainder of this year and all of next season at some point very soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. They’re reportedly considering a lifetime ban as well. Obviously both the Yankees and the league are quite comfortable with the evidence they have against Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez started what is supposed to be a quick little two-game rehab stint with Double-A Trenton last night, hitting a long homerun and playing five innings at third base. During his post-game press conference, the team’s third baseman came out swinging with some thinly-veiled accusations. Here are the quotes, courtesy of Ronald Blum:
“There are a lot of layers,” he said after homering Friday night for the Double-A Trenton Thunder in his return from a leg injury. “I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that’s not my teammates and it’s not the Yankee fans.”
“I think it is pretty self-explanatory. I think that is the pink elephant in the room,” he said. “I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That’s a must. I think all the players, we feel that way. But when all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract and stuff like that, I think that’s concerning for me, it’s concerning for present — and I think it should be concerning for future players, as well.”
Poor Alex can’t even get through a simple cliche without messing it up. He also said he expects to return to the team Monday in Chicago “unless I get hit by lightning, and these days you never know.”
Anyway, it’s obvious A-Rod is referring to the Yankees here, and he isn’t exactly wrong. There have been countless reports in recent weeks and months suggesting the Yankees are trying to find a way to wiggle out of the 4+ years and $90M-something left on his contract, not to mention all the stuff about MLB wanting him out of the league. He’s just saying what we all know.
Between the recent Mike Francesa interview shenanigans and these quotes, basically all the public barbs the two sides (technically three sides) have traded in recent weeks, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: if A-Rod goes down, he’s going down with guns blazing. I’m not going to lie, part of me is looking forward to the ensuing chaos. It will be fascinating.
In his first minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton, Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with a walk and a long homerun to left-center field. Even the reporters who don’t like him admitted it was a bomb on Twitter. Here’s video. He struck out in his other at-bat.
A-Rod played five innings at third base as planning and fielded two ground balls. He’s scheduled to play seven innings with the Thunder tomorrow night, but who knows after that. Alex could join the team in Chicago for Monday’s series opener against the White Sox, or he could be suspended for life. I suppose there’s a chance this was the last homer of his career, and that kinda makes me sad.
Via Jon Heyman: Alex Rodriguez‘s camp is considering accepting a plea agreement from MLB that would keep him off the field until 2015, but they may are still seeking a more favorable deal. The league considers even a 150-game suspension to be light given their evidence. Ronald Blum hears A-Rod and the other players may be given until Monday to accept their deals, just in case you were worried this wouldn’t drag out any longer.
Meanwhile, Julie Brown reports the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami is now digging into Biogenesis. That could be a problem for MLB because Anthony Bosch would be unlikely to testify in front of an arbitrator (during an appeal) if he’s being investigated by the feds simply because he wouldn’t want to incriminate himself. The league promised they would put in a good word for Bosch as part of their agreement, but who knows how that far will go. Given all this talk about possibly banning A-Rod for life, I get the sense that any suspension that doesn’t keep him off the field until 2015 would be considered a loss for MLB. They backed themselves into a corner a bit.
I think we’re all sick of this Biogenesis stuff by now, but if you’re going to read one article on the subject, I recommend this one by William Rhoden.