Brian Cashman spoke to the media today regarding the Chase Headley deal and made a point to say that Alex Rodriguez was the team’s designated hitter at best.
Cashman said almost as much 11 days ago. Likewise, the team’s consistently reported interest in Chase Headley before he was signed made it quite clear that the Yankees have no illusions that A-Rod can be counted on to play third base. Indeed, if he can’t really hit, he probably won’t even DH as Carlos Beltran can do that and the Yankees could use Chris Young or someone like him in right field.
The Yankees are fully prepared for A-Rod to be a non-factor for them. If he can’t play anymore the roster is set up to cut him without much of a baseball impact. If, however, they are pleasantly surprised by his hitting, they will enjoy his services at DH.
This is all a conservative, sensible and non-controversial approach for the Yankees to take. And that they have it all sorted by December 16th means that — barring some crazy comments from A-Rod about how he expects to start in the infield or something — there will be no drama from the team’s perspective. Indeed, this is the dictionary definition of a drama-free approach to this kind of situation.
But if you think the media is going to let that be the case, you’re crazy:
The strangest spring training saga will begin when the Yankees’ full squad emerges from the clubhouse for their first pre-workout stretch . . . the platoon of cameras will be focused on a guy with an undefined role: Alex Rodriguez . . . Reporters will trace his every movement and log Rodriguez’s interaction with teammates, looking for signs that the others around him might shy away from him . . . The search for signs of awkwardness will continue the first time the Yankees’ infielders move to their positions . . . Will A-Rod step in the front of the line, in front of Headley, among those awaiting grounders at third base? Or will Rodriguez defer to Headley? Will manager Joe Girardi feel the need to say something to Rodriguez about who should be first, to make everything crystal clear? Or will Rodriguez and Headley be assigned to separate fields, to protect Rodriguez’s feelings?
That’s all from Buster Olney today and it goes on and on like that. And I’m not singling Buster out here. That echoes the sorts of things a lot of scribes have tweeted in the past couple of days in the wake of the Headley signing and what will, no doubt, be the jumping off point of a dozen or two reporters covering Yankees spring training, claiming it’s a complete circus and “The A-Rod Show” and all kinds of stuff.
But as it stands now, given how the Yankees have handled this, it will only be a circus if the media creates it. And by God, you know they’re going to try to. When they do, don’t blame A-Rod. Don’t blame the Yankees. Blame the people who are absolutely desperate for this to actually be a circus and who will dissect every flinch, cough and blink in order to shoehorn what, as of now, appears to be a pretty straightforward situation into their preferred narrative of A-Rod-fueled, Bronx Zoo chaos.