This just isn’t the time for Yankees to trade Alex Rodriguez

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As far as I can tell, Alex Rodriguez committed two crimes this month. He played pretty horribly in the playoffs, which hardly put him among the minority of Yankees hitters, and he embarrassed his team by reportedly trying to get a woman’s digits from the dugout.

In the case of the latter, absolutely no one would have have cared it he had hit .400 in the postseason instead of .100. He’s not the first or the 100th player to try to hook up from the dugout or bullpen. And one imagines he didn’t suddenly get the idea to try it for the first time in his 2,595th major league game.

As for the former, well, he stunk up the joint, no doubt about it. And because of his salary and stature, he makes for an easy target. But it should be remembered that he was just 2 1/2 months removed from suffering a broken left hand. Even if that doesn’t explain the slow bat, it still gives him a better excuse for his struggles than anything Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson will be able to come up with.

Going forward, Rodriguez projects as a wildly overcompensated complimentary player. He’s 37, his OPS has declined five years running and he hasn’t played in more than 140 games since 2007. The $118 million he’ll make these next five years probably makes him a good $70 million-$80 million overpaid.

That said, his defense at third isn’t bad and he’s never not been an above average hitter. Kevin Youkilis is pretty easily the best third baseman available in free agency, and if he’s a better bet than A-Rod for 2013, it’s only slightly. Both are injury prone, and Rodriguez was the superior hitter of the two this year. And considering what the Yankees would have to pay to get another team to take Rodriguez, they’d almost certainly have to spend more to replace him with Youkilis than they would if they kept him.

After Youkilis, there’s Scott Rolen, who will probably retire, and some singles-hitting stopgaps like Marco Scutaro, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco and Maicer Izturis. The Yankees can re-sign Eric Chavez, but he’s not going to start.

So, if the Yankees actually want to improve their third base situation this winter, it’d likely mean giving up  at least two of their best prospects for San Diego’s Chase Headley. They could also try a prospect-for-prospect deal with the Rangers for Mike Olt, but again, that would hardly guarantee an immediate upgrade.

The way I see it, this is the worst possible time for the Yankees to trade Rodriguez. They’d have to eat the vast majority of his salary to make a deal, and they’d likely worsen the on-field product at the same time. There’s nothing to be gained except for appeasing the media and some loudmouth fans who won’t be any less likely to attend games next year just because A-Rod is still at the hot corner.

Now, there likely will come a time when eating Rodriguez’s salary in order to facilitate a deal will make sense, and the Yankees should definitely be on the lookout for a third baseman of the future if there’s one to be had. But if they trade A-Rod this winter, they’ll likely be worse for it.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.