Archive for Alex Rodriguez
Five whole questions for you today. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Nathan: Looking at their stats since the trade, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano aren’t too far apart. In retrospect, would you still have made that trade? A-Rod has the better stats but has been the bigger headache.
First, the side-by-side comparison (2004-present):
A-Rod was the far better player because he was a better hitter and a better defender at a tougher position. Does the headache, which really only became truly insufferable these last few weeks (at least to me), outweigh the production? I definitely don’t think so. The Rodriguez-Soriano trade worked out marvelously for the Yankees. It’s the new ten-year contract they gave Alex after 2007 that has been mostly a nightmare. The 2009 World Series does still counts for something.
Bruce asks: Why is Michael Pineda still only throwing four innings a start?
The Yankees say it’s “innings management,” and it makes sense they would try to limit his workload following shoulder surgery. He did throw six full innings in his third minor league rehab game (with Double-A Trenton), but since reaching Triple-A Scranton he has yet to throw more than five innings and 86 pitches. The last two starts have been limited to three innings (41 pitches) and four innings (58 pitches).
Pineda has thrown 39 innings in nine official minor league games this year. That doesn’t count all the simulated and Extended Spring Training games though, and there were a ton of those as you probably remember. I’m guessing they want to limit him to about 100 innings or so (hooray round numbers!) this season, and want to make sure there are some left for the big league team in September. Pineda’s has already been down long enough to delay his free agency a year, so that’s not a concern. I prefer flat out skipping starts to short starts to control innings, but the Yankees obviously feel differently. I’m sure Pineda will be allowed to start pitching deeper into the game in the coming weeks.
Sal asks: Based on the way Derek Jeter‘s Yankee Lifelong Legend Legacy is going, and with all kinds of earning potential out there for him even after he retires (corporate sponsorships and maybe even buying a stake in the Yankees), do you think he can end up with more lifetime earnings from the game of baseball than, uh, you know where I’m going with this … Alex?
According to Baseball-Reference, A-Rod is baseball’s all-time career earnings leader at $353.4M. Jeter is second at … $253.2M. That’s a nine-figure gap between first and second place. Geez. Keep in mind that Alex still has four years and $86M left on his contract after this season while the Cap’n just has a $9M player option for 2014. Given what feels like an inevitable Biogenesis-related suspension, A-Rod probably won’t see all of that $86M. He’ll probably still get a nice chunk of it though, so the career earnings gap will only widen.
I am completely out of my element when it comes to sponsorships and ownership stakes; I have no idea how lucrative that stuff can be outside of “very.” Forbes has Jeter at $9M in endorsements (Nike, Ford, Gillette, etc.) this year and A-Rod at just $0.5M. We’ve seen him in ads for Nike and Pepsi, among other stuff, in the past. I have to think Alex’s endorsements well will dry up following the Biogenesis stuff, but will that be enough to allow Jeter to pass him in career earnings over the time? It’s possible, especially if he does wind up purchasing a stake in the team, but he’s got a ton of ground to make up.
Mike asks: Does the Yankees being in 4th place make the waiver market at least slightly more favorite than in years past? Seems like there has been times where another team behind them was able to block a player from getting to them, now will they have easier access to players they want and can they now block players from getting to Boston, Tampa, or Baltimore?
Sure, being this low in the standings will definitely help the Yankees on the waiver trade market. Of course, I wish the team was higher in the standings and didn’t need the players, but that’s not the case. The Yankees have waiver priority over all of their wildcard competitors (Orioles, Indians, Rangers, Royals), meaning they’ll get first crack at whoever is on waivers. That means they can both block players and trade for them, if they want. It’s a nice consolation prize and could be helpful at some point.
Shaun asks: It may be to early to speculate, but do you see ownership’s trend of going above Brian Cashman being a problem with Cashman’s next contract? I know autonomy was a big deal to him during previous negotiations. If anything, ownership is making it more difficult to get under the $189 threshold.
Eh, I doubt it. Cashman knows how the Steinbrenner’s operate, and I believe even he said there is no such thing as true autonomy at the GM level. Besides, he signed his most recent contract after the Rafael Soriano signing. Hal is much less meddlesome than his father, though I suppose Cashman could be sick of it after 15 (!) years on the job. Ownership has gone over his head quite a bit these last few years, but it would surprise me if that was a big problem for him going forward.
That said, I do think this is Cashman’s last contract as Yankees GM. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. His current deal expires after next season, at which point I think he will be promoted to some other position. The “President of Baseball Ops” position the Cubs made up for Theo Epstein sounds nice. The Nationals just promoted GM Mike Rizzo to that just yesterday, so it’s already a trend. Cashman will have been the GM for 16 years when his deal is up, and a promotion is the natural order of things at that point. It appears as though former pro scouting director and current assistant GM Billy Eppler is being groomed to take over sometime soon, or at least he’s the only obvious in-house successor. I would be surprised if the Yankees brought in a new GM from the outside and threw them to the wolves. Experience and familiarity with the New York market would be a prerequisite.
Alex Rodriguez will play two games with Double-A Trenton this weekend, the Yankees announced. He felt good following a simulated game in Tampa earlier today and will join the Thunder for their games on Friday and Saturdayday. I suppose if his hip and quad feel good, Alex could rejoin the team in Chicago for the start of their series against the White Sox on Monday. Then again, he might be banned from baseball for life before then.
Via Joel Sherman & Ken Davidoff: Frankie Cervelli is among the nine players who are “leaning strongly” towards taking a plea deal from MLB following the Biogenesis investigation. MLB has told the union which players will be suspended, and Ronald Blum says the announcements could be pushed back to Friday as the various parties work out the deals. That would allow first time offenders like Cervelli to serve their 50-game suspensions this year before starting 2014 with a proverbial clean slate.
MLB is still trying to get Alex Rodriguez to accept a similar plea agreement, though his suspension is expected to be much longer than 50 games because the league claims he tried to impede the investigation. The two sides have been playing what amounts to a game of chicken in recent days —
MLB officials have leaked reports indicate MLB will seek a lifetime ban for A-Rod if he doesn’t settle, and supposedly Bud Selig is prepared to bypass the Joint Drug Agreement and use the power of the commissioner’s office to ban him from baseball citing the integrity of the game. Alex’s camp has remained defiant and insists no settlement will be made. This will all end at some point, right?
Via NYDN: Commissioner Bud Selig is prepared to invoke one of the office’s most extreme privileges and ban Alex Rodriguez from baseball if the embattled Yankees does indeed pass on a plea deal to fight a Biogenesis-related suspension. Article XI, Section A1b of the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows the commissioner to ban someone to preserve the integrity of the game, basically.
If Selig were to go to that extreme, he would be bypassing both the grievance/appeals process and the Joint Drug Agreement, the only document that addresses performance-enhancing drug discipline. They’d rely on evidence showing A-Rod tried to interfere with the Biogenesis investigation, not necessarily evidence showing he purchased a banned substance. It’s pretty obvious MLB and the league is leaking this stuff in an attempt to pressure Alex, and even if Selig did invoke the rule to ban him, it would result in a monster legal battle. A-Rod would have nothing to lose at that point. Seems like a scare tactic, really.
Via Steven Marcus: No Biogenesis announcements are expected to come today. Yesterday we heard the league is planning to announce all the suspensions at the same time this week, and reportedly they are hoping to get an answer from Alex Rodriguez‘s camp about a possible plea agreement at some point today. I was getting worried this story wouldn’t drag on any longer, so needless to say, I’m relieved by this news.
At some point very soon, perhaps even today, MLB will announce the rest of the suspensions stemming from their investigation into the South Florida performance-enhancing drug hub Biogenesis. Ryan Braun was the first casualty last week, mostly because he was willing to cut a deal and not file an appeal. Other players won’t go down as easily, and among those other players is Alex Rodriguez.
Bill Madden, Teri Thompson, and Michael O’Keeffe reported yesterday that MLB either has (or will) offer A-Rod a deal that would require him to sit out the rest of this season and all of next season. If he doesn’t accept that settlement, the league will attempt to use the mountains of evidence they have apparently obtained to ban him from baseball for life. Various reports indicate Alex will not agree to any kind of settlement and instead go through the appeals process and challenge the league head-on.
As far as the Yankees are concerned, a lifetime ban would be the best case scenario. Not only would they rid themselves of a big distraction, but they would be off the hook for the remaining four years and too-many-millions left on Alex’s albatross contract. That’s the best case scenario, but the best case scenario and most realistic scenario are not the same thing more often then not. As despised as A-Rod is, the union won’t let the league end their highest paid player’s career without a failed drug test and without a fight. It sets an awful precedent. There would surely be an ugly and lengthy legal battle.
Instead, the most realistic best case scenario for the Yankees might be a 250-game suspension, which is essentially the number of games he would miss by being suspended for the rest of this year and next. However, that 250-game suspension would be best served not this year and next, but next year and the year after. That would save them a huge, huge chunk of money against the luxury tax threshold — a suspended player’s salary does not count towards the luxury tax calculation, nor do they occupy a 40-man roster spot — which would be more helpful in 2014 and beyond than it would in 2013.
By sitting out the rest of this year and next, the team would save approximately $37.1M in real dollars. That’s A-Rod’s salary plus the luxury tax hit for the rest of this season. If he sat out next year and the first 50 games of 2015, they would only save $31.5M or so, assuming they actually get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. Five and a half million bucks is a ton of money, even to a multi-billion dollar company like that the Yankees, so they’d prefer the suspension to happen as soon as possible to save the most money. The alternative would be to save $6.5M or so against the luxury tax threshold in 2015.
Here’s the thing though: the Yankees don’t get the choose. They’re just along for the ride. Since A-Rod is reportedly going to fight any suspension, it’s unlikely said 250-game would start this year. Several players are likely to appeal, meaning the process could take a while. Weeks if not months. Think of it as slowly peeling off the band-aid rather than pulling it off. Because of that, it would take something very unexpected — like, say, another quad injury — for Alex to not return to the team in 2013. Instead of saving a few extra million this year, the most likely scenario shaves cash off A-Rod’s future luxury tax hit. That’s an okay trade-off, at least in my opinion.
I truly believe the Yankees are doing all they can to delay A-Rod’s return to the team in hopes of … I don’t know. Maybe they don’t even know. I guess in hopes that he would get banned and not return to the team ever? It’s clear the two sides
don’t trust hate each other, and the club probably doesn’t want to deal with the day-in, day-out aggravation even if he improves their lineup. And improve their lineup he would; it’s hard to believe Alex would be worse that New York’s current third base situation, which is the least productive in baseball.
Unless he a) gets hurt again, b) has his appeal moves to the front of the line, or c) surprisingly decides to settle, A-Rod is going to return to the team at some point soon whether the Yankees like it or not. Under the best case scenario, they would have to begrudgingly sit through another 50 or so games of him this year, when he could help push them into a playoff spot. He could be gone for a year and a half after that, potentially even forever. It would be easier for the Bombers to financially swallow releasing A-Rod or buying him out in the middle of 2015, when the suspension would expire and he’ll be almost 40. That’s the best of an awful situation.
Via Joel Sherman & Ken Davidoff: There are strong indications MLB will announce the rest of the Biogenesis related suspensions sometime this coming week. The idea is that the first time offenders, if they decline to appeal, could serve their 50-game suspensions this season and start next year with a clean slate.
The NY Post duo says MLB is going to demand that Alex Rodriguez‘s punish far exceeds Ryan Braun’s, and it’s possible Bud Selig could push for a lifetime ban. That would surely be met with a legal battle, however. The league won’t end a player’s career without a fight. They could also seek to suspend A-Rod for the rest of this season and all of next year. Alex’s camp has met with MLB recently just to get an idea of what’s coming, but it is “unequivocally untrue” they are working on a settlement. Either way, sounds like we’ll hear something before he returns from his quad injury.
(Update by Benjamin Kabak) 6:27 p.m.: A-Rod himself just went on Mike Francesa’s show on WFAN and stressed his desire to play. It doesn’t sound like he trusts the Yankees’ medical staff right now (fast forward to the 4:30 mark for that one), but he said he has to listen to his bosses. Give the whole thing a listen below (or here on Soundcloud. What a circus this is turning out to be.
5:23pm: The Yankees will fine Rodriguez for not notifying the team before getting the second opinion, according to Jon Heyman. No idea how much, but it’ll be a drop in the A-Rod bucket no matter what.
3:24pm: A-Rod was examined by Dr. Dan Murphy in Tampa, who went over the MRI and agreed with the original Grade I quad strain diagnosis, according to Brian Cashman. There has been some improvement and the two sides agreed to a rehab plan. They hope to get Alex back into a simulated or rehab game on August 1st.
2:30pm: Via Steven Marcus: The Yankees will indeed discipline Alex Rodriguez for violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement and getting a second opinion on his quad injury without notifying the team in writing. They have not yet decided what that discipline will be, but I would be surprised if it was something serious like a lengthy suspension.
A-Rod, meanwhile, issued a statement today saying yesterday’s fiasco was the result of “crossed signals.” You can read the full statement right here. Unfortunately, “enough doctors, let’s play” isn’t nearly as catchy as “we play today, we win today, das it.” Rodriguez is being re-evaluated again today, presumably by a team-approved doctor.
Ready for some drama? Dr. Michael Gross, head of sports medicine at Hackensack and the doctor behind A-Rod‘s second opinion, just said during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN that Rodriguez is not injured. Gross said that A-Rod has no pain and also noted that A-Rod thinks he could play tonight if the Yanks so choose. Gross examined an MRI earlier and had authority from Rodriguez to discuss the results on the air. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any injury there,” Gross said while acknowledging that a slight Grade 1 strain may not appear on an MRI.
The Yanks haven’t said anything yet, but they can’t be pleased. The team cut A-Rod’s rehab short this weekend when a quad injury occurred, but many reports, based on anonymous sources, described A-Rod’s unhappiness with the decision. Now, with Gross’ public comments, A-Rod is forcing the issue. If he could play right now and the team is holding him back over the looming Biogenesis suspension, I think he’s completely in the right for allowing his doctor to speak publicly on the FAN. I’m sure we’ll hear more over the next few hours. (Additional reporting by Benjamin Kabak)
Update (4:20pm): According to Chad Jennings, A-Rod never informed the team he was getting a second opinion. The CBA gives players the right to get a “second evaluation” from a doctor of their choice, but they have to notify the team in writing first. Brett Gardner used the rule to get a second opinion on his elbow last season. It’s unclear if the team can hand down any discipline in this case, but various reports indicate it wouldn’t be anything significant. Alex may simply have to pay for his own doctor’s visit.
Update (4:40 p.m.): Ken Davidoff spoker further with Gross, and the doctor clarified his views. He did not examine A-Rod, but rather, he saw the MRI results and spoke with Rodriguez. He also stressed to The Post that he has not approved A-Rod for game action.
“I can’t clear him to play,” Gross said. “I’ve never examined him. He knows I can’t clear him to play. I wouldn’t even call it a second opinion. The Yankees have nothing to do with me. The only thing he said to me was he feels he’s ready to play.”
The Yankees haven’t released a statement yet, but Gross seems like he does not want to be the center of attention here. “I have no agenda in this,” he said. “I think that’s probably why they asked me, because I’m not a big name, a famous guy. I’m not Alex’s doctor. I’m not the Yankees’ doctor. In my opinion, I didn’t see much going on. I’m happy to say that, because it’s factual. All I’m saying is, this is what I saw or didn’t see. What they do with it, what they make of it, have fun.”
Via Bob Nightengale: Alex Rodriguez is not planning to cut a deal with MLB regarding the Biogenesis investigation. Ryan Braun accepted a settlement and has been suspended for the rest of the season. Jim Axelrod reports Alex could face a lifetime ban — I assume MLB will try to treat each piece of evidence as an “offense,” allowing them to skip over the 50 and 100-game suspensions — but that won’t happen without a massive legal battle. For the sake of self-promotion, here’s what I wrote about the situation earlier.