UPDATE: Rosenthal has updated his column, making it clear that he’s not advocating insurance fraud. Rather, he’s talking about the possibility that A-Rod may not be able to come back absent the PEDs he’s been allegedly taking these past several years. I get that distinction, but I don’t think it changes the calculus much. Insurance companies would still fight any permanent disability claim tooth and nail, seeing them as matters born of opportunity, not of his actual physical condition.
8:31 AM: In the last post we saw Darren Rovell suggest that A-Rod and the Yankees commit insurance fraud. I figured, well, that’s just Rovell being Rovell. He tweets a lot of off-the-wall things. But apparently he’s not alone on the Insurance Fraud Express. Rosenthal goes there this morning:
The Yankees probably cannot void Alex Rodriguez’s contract, and they might not even need to try. A-Rod just might void himself. Specifically, Rodriguez might find a doctor who says he is suffering from a career-ending injury, collect the $114 million remaining on his contract and never play again … A-Rod can attempt to go through his rehabilitation, then make the case that he is physically unable to perform. A doctor surely could make such a diagnosis quite plausible, given the weakened condition of Rodriguez’s two hips.
Absolutely no one was suggesting that A-Rod’s career was over this time yesterday morning. This is 100% inspired by the bad P.R. created by the Miami New Times story. To say it’s “plausible” that a doctor could be found to say that A-Rod is done as a baseball player is the sort of thing ambulance-chasing lawyers who are ambivalent about insurance fraud say. Sure, of course you could find a doctor to say that, I suppose. But it has to actually be true, not “plausible.”
Any insurance company that would be on the hook for A-Rod’s disability claim is ten steps ahead of any columnist baking up such schemes this morning. They have read the December report from A-Rod’s own surgeon in which he said that A-Rod had less cartilage damage than expected than that “his rehab has the highest chance of successfully getting back to the level with his hip that he was before his hip started hurting.” They have also read the reports since yesterday in which the Yankees are portrayed as looking for any way possible to get out from under the $114 million he’s owed. They will fight and fight hard against any claim that A-Rod is permanently disabled, especially given that all of this talk about his alleged permanent disability magically popped up on some Tuesday morning when A-Rod became far more unpopular than he was previously.
Everyone, back away from the ledge. Stop suggesting that A-Rod’s situation is any different than any other ballplayer busted for PEDs. The only difference is that (a) A-Rod is owed a lot more money than most of them; and (b) A-Rod is a lot less popular than most of them. That’s it. And that is all that is inspiring this talk of voiding deals or committing felony insurance fraud so the New York Yankees don’t have to pay him anymore.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.