Tag: Alex Rodriguez

Didi Gregorius

The Yankees are excited to have a shortstop who can actually handle the position


Ken Rosenthal has a good column up today about Didi Gregorius’ play at shortstop for the Yankees this spring. He’s been fantastic defensively, and the Yankees are really excited about it. It will change the way they shift and takes the load off of Chase Headley at third. It’s cool because, while it seems like everyone is thinking it, no one actually comes out and says “man, we were really, really harmed by Derek Jeter’s crap defense the past few years.”

Best part of it, though, is Alex Rodriguez’s breakdown of Gregorius’ game. He does it in scout language, and sounds pretty insightful and intelligent doing so. Like, he’s auditioning for a scouting or coaching job in the future.

Which, my god, I really hope happens.

2015 Preview: New York Yankees

Joe Girardi

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The New York Yankees.

The Big Question: Is there a team with a more extreme possibility of outcomes in 2015 than the Yankees?

Hard to see one. Which may surprise some of you given that, in the mind of the general baseball public, the Yankees are toast. Really, strike up a conversation about the Bombers with casual baseball fans anyplace, even in New York, and the sentiments will very quickly turn to “well, it was a nice run” with very few people giving them an actual chance in 2015.

But it’s premature in my mind to write the Yankees off. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which they win, say, 88 games and make the playoffs. To be sure, that scenario is not particularly likely to play out and getting there is going to take everything breaking right with a lot of older players with injury histories. That’s not, historically, the sort of bet on which smart gamblers make a lot of money.

But nor is it sheer fantasy to suggest that two young, potential ace pitchers — Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda — can bounce back from injury and that CC Sabathia can put in an innings-eatery sort of year which makes him a nice third starter. It’s not crazy to think that Brian McCann will bounce back to his old self after last season’s quite unexpectedly bad year. It’s not insane to think that they won’t get better production at shortstop, second base and third base because, really, it’s hard to imagine it being worse. It’s not a totally loony thing to think that one, two or some combination of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez will give the Yankees more in 2015 than they did in 2014, even if we can’t expect them to be megastars again.

The point here isn’t that the Yankees are a good bet to be a playoff team. They’re not. It’s just that they (a) won 84 games last year, even if it feels like they were terrible; (b) they have more guys who can be expected to have better years in 2015 than they did in 2014 than worse ones; and (c) it’s not going to take 95-100 wins to make the playoffs out of the AL East.

Is this the Bronx Bombers we’ve lived with for most of the past two decades? Is this a mid-dynasty kind of team? Nope. Not by damn sight. Indeed, it’s a team that, if it experiences even an average amount of decline and injury for a roster of its age, could totally crater. And that’s before you take into account the possibility that Tanaka or Pineda could have injury setbacks, which may immediately sink New York if and when it happens.

But, if things break just so, it’s a club that could, without total miracles, improve by five or six games over where it was last year. And in the age of parity and two wild cards, that can be enough.

What else is going on?

  • Oh, one other reason not to write the Yankees off just yet? Killer bullpen. The sort of bullpen which quite often elevates a team no one thought much of into contending status. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller may be the best lefty-righty combination in baseball. Each of them could be a closer for a championship team. Joe Girardi is going to have all kinds of options here, including making them a two-headed closer combo, allowing him to use whichever of these two match up best with seventh or eighth inning threats while still having someone around to lock down the ninth. That’s before you get to the considerable number of other power arms hanging around, and another good lefty in Chasen Shreve. It may not make Yankees fans happy to be compared to the Royals, but it’s a model that works, even if a club has a sputtering offense.
  • While the top three starters I mentioned above provide some upside, it’s pretty darn risky upside. Tanaka’s UCL could give up the ghost, Pineda could struggle with injury once again and Sabathia could show us that all of those innings he tossed earlier in his career have finally caught up with him. Really, the rotation is the most make-or-break part of this club. The break comes from the fact that there really are no reinforcements if the top three guys don’t come through. Starters four and five are Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Capuano. Starters 6-10 may include Sterling Hitchcock and Andy Hawkins.
  • A-Rod got all of the headlines this winter and early spring, but he’s been quiet since camp opened. And he’s been useful, according to his manager. Some have suggested cutting him to get the famous addition-by-subtraction effect. He may, actually, be a nice addition to the Yankees lineup when he DHs or the bench when he doesn’t.
  • Always an x-factor, even if it’s one that goes criminally underappreciated: Joe Girardi. The Yankees have outperformed their Pythagorean record the last two seasons, and he should get a lot of the credit for that. Primarily for his bullpen management. Maybe that’s not the sort of thing that holds up — maybe last year’s 84-win club should’ve won just 77 games and, this year, their results will fall far more closely in line with numerical expectations — but it’s hard to find a team whose manager does less to harm them and more to nudge them ahead than the Yankees. Even if Girardi doesn’t get much credit for it.

Prediction: All of that talk about upside notwithstanding, let us not delude ourselves. The Yankees are still an old team. They’re an old team counting on multiple guys with serious injury histories and risks to bounce back and be healthy and effective. That could happen, but it’s gonna require long odds to pay off and multiple needles to be threaded. Ask the Phillies how those sorts of bets pay off. If everyone feels their age and even one or two key injuries happen, this could be the worst Yankees team in 25 years. If everything breaks right and the bullpen powers them forward, they could sneak up and snag a wild card.

So let us hedge our bets and say that they’ll find themselves in Third Place, American League East, even if a more likely outcome is both better and worse than that.

A-Rod has given Joe Girardi confidence that he can be a useful player

Alex Rodriguez

Despite so many people saying that his days as a useful player were over, that he was going to be a distraction and that he was only going through the motions of wanting to play because there’s so much money in it for him, Alex Rodriguez has shown this spring that he can be a useful player for the New York Yankees.

That’s not my opinion. That’s his manager’s:

“I definitely think he’s swung the bat pretty good,” Girardi said. “I just think his at-bats are more consistent; his timing is more consistent.” . . . Rodriguez has shown Girardi enough in the field to give the manager confidence to play him at third base if Chase Headley needs a day off, and while A-Rod hasn’t played first base in a game yet, it looks like that will happen at some point before the spring ends.

He’s hitting .286 with two homers and three runs driven in in 13 games this spring. Oh, and we’ve heard almost nothing from him in terms of quotes or other sorts of antics that could label him a distraction.

If he can avoid a cratering of his average, particularly against lefties, hit a handful of homers and stay out of the tabloids, I think that would exceed most people’s expectations of what he’d be able to provide.

A-Rod’s cousin Yuri to plead guilty in the Biogenesis case

Clinic at Center of MLB Doping Scandal

The last we heard from Alex Rodriguez’s infamous “Cousin Yuri” Sucart, he was in a hospital bed and his wife was claiming that A-Rod re-enacted the peeing-on-the-rug scene from “The Big Lebowski” as some sort of warning or something. The Daily News was playing along, of course, painting the drug distributor who was under a seven-count indictment and who was pretty clearly shaking down his rich cousin as a victim and A-Rod as Darth Vader.

Today, however, the Daily News reports that Cousin Yuri is going to plead guilty to one count in the Biogenesis case. He’ll likely serve a small amount of time. Go for the information, stay for the de rigueur slamming of Rodriguez too.

My favorite part: calling A-Rod’s proffer and testimony against Sucart “Queen for a Day” testimony. Which is a term that, yes, is used in criminal cases to describe situations in which someone involved tells what they know about a crime in exchange for immunity or leniency. But it’s sort of an antiquated term, used colloquially in discussions among criminal lawyers and rarely seen in actual news reporting about informant testimony. The Daily News can’t help itself here, however. I mean, if it has a chance to call A-Rod a name, it’s not going to pass it up.

Anyway, with Yuri’s plea, the Biogenesis case is all over except for the jail time.