What they're saying about A-Rod's 600th bomb

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Initial reactions to A-Rod’s milestone from the columnists and bloggers who make your life such a fulfilling experience.

  • Joel Sherman: “Alex Rodriguez never is going to be fully a Yankee. He never is going
    to be fully appreciated as a clean homer giant. He never is going to be
    beloved in a Hank Aaron kind of way. Too much exists in his past that never goes away. Messy departures in Seattle and Texas. A steroid admission. More cleat-in-the-mouth comments and actions than hits and homers combined. That is all part of his personal record, permanent and resistant to an eraser.”
  • Rob Neyer: “In 2010, 600 home runs just isn’t a particularly thrilling
    accomplishment. And it’s even less thrilling when it’s Rodriguez, who
    seems both joyless and unable to inspire joy.”
  • Stephen R. at The Yankee U: “I’ve covered my feelings on Alex Rodriguez and 600 before and I continue to tip my proverbial cap.  He’s one of the greatest
    players to ever play the game of baseball.  It’s been a pleasure
    watching him play for the Yankees for the past seven years, and I’m
    looking forward to the next seven years with the hopeful anticipation of
    seeing him break Barry Bonds’ record and win a few (read: many) more
    rings in the process.  Congrats, Alex.”
  • George Vecsey: “This numerical milestone, making him the seventh major league slugger to reach 600, is no guarantee Rodriguez will gain automatic acceptance into the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible five years after retirement.”
  • Ian O’Connor: “Rodriguez’s admitted actions challenge the credibility of every swing
    he’s taken. How many of his 600 homers were the product of some
    underground potion or pill? Two hundred? Four hundred? Six hundred? When
    a ballplayer admits he was a cheat for three full seasons, and only
    admits it after he’s been outed by a media outlet (in this case, Sports
    Illustrated), everything out of his mouth sounds like the old Bob Arum
    line: Yesterday, I was lying. Today, I’m telling the truth.
  • Mike Lupica: “Somehow, after everything, history is still history in baseball. Even
    stained. Even when the record book is filled with so many stains you
    think somebody has been spitting tobacco juice at it. Juice being the operative word.”
  • Bob Klapisch: “Rodriguez only wishes home runs would come as easily to him in 2010 as
    they did in his juicing days. The leap from 599 took forever, all of 46
    at-bats, each one of them revealing why A-Rod, minus the enhancers, will
    struggle to get to Ruth’s 714 Hrs, let alone Bonds’ 762 . . . When it was over, after all the man-hugs, high-fives and curtain calls, the past was still lurking. Some stains never wash off.”
  • Steve Politi: “This was the first major milestone for Rodriguez since admitting he used
    steroids during three seasons in Texas, and the moment confirmed what
    we suspected: It is possible to be disgusted by the shortcut he used to
    reach this plateau and still find his slow ascent into history
    compelling and exciting.”

Of all of those I probably fall in line most closely with Politi’s comments. “Disgusted” is far too strong a word for my tastes, but there is certainly an understandable ambivalence to the milestone.

Neyer is right too: 600 homers these days aren’t as special as they used to be, and A-Rod is a hard figure to like. Sherman — in another, better piece, not the one linked above — is right too: 600 is a round and arbitrary number that doesn’t mean as much as we’ve all been pretending it to mean.

Any you know what? Even the Lupicas and O’Connors are right insofar as we must acknowledge that A-Rod’s accomplishments do come with a taint (even if reasonable people don’t cast the taint in as stark and moralistic terms as they do).

But Stephen R. — admittedly a Yankees fan — is right too: there is room to celebrate this milestone on a purely baseball level, and I would hope that in the rush to make the point about just how tainted and un-true-Yankee-like Rodriguez is, we don’t lose sight of that fact.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.