Is A-Rod in . . . The Best Shape of His Life?
A source close to Rodriguez told The News Wednesday that the former AL MVP has been working out “like a fiend,” hitting several days a week at the University of Miami among other places . . .“If anything, this is just making him more determined,” said the source, who saw A-Rod working out in Miami last weekend. “He just wants to prove everybody wrong.”
“This” being the latest furor we discussed this morning.
I still have no idea if a 39-year-old can play effectively after a year layoff. It’s possible he can’t. And it’s possible (probable) that this story is a function of people close to A-Rod trying to focus the story back to baseball on the day news hit about him. Which, heck, is an improvement over A-Rod’s past p.r. efforts, which were akin to dumping kerosene on a flame.
But I really do think that people’s heads will ‘asplode – maybe even literally — if Rodriguez shows up to spring training in great shape and can actually be a useful ballplayer next year. I’m not sure anyone will know quite how to process it.
We’re in that lull between the end of the season and the heating up of the hot stove, and that’s a good time for throwing spaghetti up agains the wall to see if it sticks. Or whatever other metaphors you like in the “let’s make up possible trade scenarios” vein. David Cameron has an intriguing one over at Fox: Johnny Cueto for Yoenis Cespedes.
Now, to be clear, he acknowledges that Cueto — one of the top pitchers in baseball — is more valuable than Cespedes, and acknowledges that the Sox would have to throw in more than just Cespedes to get him. They’d need to put in some young, team-controlled players and/or some salary relief that would allow the Reds to seek some cheaper pitching to fill in the innings lost by Cueto’s departure.
But the basic bones of the deal are that (a) the Reds have A LOT of free agents and commitments in the near future; (b) they need to part with some of them; (c) Cueto is clearly the most valuable trade commodity they have; and (d) the contracts and situations between him and Cespedes are roughly comparable.
I’ll agree with his view that Cespedes’ power would play well in Great American Ballpark. I also think, however, that the Reds would need A LOT more, probably more than Cameron suggests, to part with Cueto. Indeed, given Cueto’s skill and his proven track record of pitching well in a place that eats some pitchers alive, one would think that the Reds would part with him only if they positively, absolutely had to, choosing to let others go instead.
But, like I said, it’s spaghetti season, we’re not general managers, and it’s fun to at least talk about this stuff.
The day after the story broke that Alex Rodriguez revealed his PED use to DEA agents, the expected columns congratulating him for finally telling the truth and cooperating with law enforcement and helping to put away a drug dealer who peddled to school kids are out.
Hahaha, nooo, I’m sorry. That’s not true. What we have are the faux-outraged reactions from columnists who love nothing more than a good A-Rod bashing. Here’s Juliet Macur of the New York Times. Here’s Lupica. Both of them have the hottest of takes, you can imagine.
But it is unquestionably fake outrage. Because the only way one could be truly outraged by learning that A-Rod admitted his drug use to authorities is if one believed that he actually did not do drugs before. Otherwise, all you got yesterday was confirmation of what you knew all along: that Alex Rodriguez lied his face off when he said he didn’t do drugs. Lupica even admits this:
From the start only suckers believed his version of things on Bosch and Biogenesis. Suckers believed Alex Rodriguez was being railroaded by Major League Baseball. Sure he was. How was he getting railroaded, exactly?
Yet he still is shocked and appalled. And he thinks yesterday somehow changed something. How, exactly, he does not say, but dadgummit, the Yankees NOW need to find a way to get rid of Rodriguez. He talks about buyouts and things. Not once explaining how, on the baseball field or in the Yankees front office, anything is different today than it was yesterday. But boy, he sure showed everyone how mad he was.
Despite the baloney from Macur and Lupica, both the Times and the Daily News have good baseball writers who actually have a clue about this situation in general and/or what the Yankees are up to in particular. Tyler Kepner. Mark Feinsand. Feinsand wrote today that A-Rod is working out and focusing on his comeback and that, despite all of the noise yesterday, this doesn’t change anything given that Rodriguez has served his time. He tweeted yesterday that the only way Rodriguez doesn’t play for the Yankees next year is if he, you know, actually can’t play due to his age and the year layoff. Which makes perfect sense.
But I guess actual information and reasoning grounded in reality doesn’t get to lead the sports page when there is yelling and screaming to be done.
Back when the Dodgers hired Paul DePodesta as their general manager the Los Angeles columnists decided that the best and smartest reaction to him would be to make calculator jokes, call him a geek, a stats guru and basically be those stereotypical jackasses in school who liked to shove stereotypical nerds into lockers. Or, I should say, fictional stereotypical jackasses and nerds because the way they behaved and the manner in which they described DePodesta did not actually reflect how anyone acts in real life. The whole thing was like that Simpsons episode where Homer went back to college and fought with the dean and made fun of nerds and all of that. A comedy writer’s idea of what a dumb person thinks about a given milieu.
That was a long time ago, of course. T.J. Simers is now retired and even Bill Plaschke has decided to focus his brand of buffoonery on targets other than sabermetrically-inclined baseball executives. Still, we have Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doing the heavy lifting with respect to the Dodgers’ latest hire, general manager Farhan Zaidi:
The nerds have officially taken over the world. Just give into it. All those guys who used to sit in the back of the classroom with their black horn-rimmed classes, pocket calculators and clothes their mommies picked out?
They run things now. They’re making the decisions and signing the paychecks. All those years spent cozying up to the jocks and the popular kids just wasted . . . The Dodgers have formed their very own Geek Squad.
There’s everything you could want in there. Proudly owned ignorance of numbers and stats. References to calculators and “gurus.” The stuff about nerds and geeks referenced above. It’s like time hasn’t gone on. Like the industry which Dilbeck covers hasn’t evolved into something a lot more complex than the one he wishes it was. It’s almost as if Dilbeck has either completely missed what baseball is all about these days or simply rejects it or revels in his inability to understand it.
In any other industry, such an out-of-touch view of things would put someone’s job in jeopardy. It’s still cool in sportswriting, though.
Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs are interested in a trade for Cole Hamels. My story about how I am interested in a date with Carla Gugino was bumped for this story.
OK, maybe this isn’t as much of a pipe dream. You’ll recall that the Cubs claimed Hamels off revocable waivers back in August, but the Phillies pulled him back. That showed that Chicago was willing to take on a lot of money for an elite starting pitcher. And it is worth noting that the Cubs have a lot of position player prospects for a now openly rebuilding Phillies team could really use.
Still, I tend to think that the Phillies still think, not unreasonably, that Hamels is still young enough to rebuild around rather than deal. If that’s the case, it may be that Chicago will have better luck on the free agent market trying to woo Max Scherzer or Jon Lester. Still, interesting.