Brian Cashman said yesterday that there are “no plans” to release Alex Rodriguez. In a somewhat tortured but also oddly honest set of comments to ESPN Radio he talked about how you simply don’t let a guy go who is owed that much money, especially given that he was still useful a year ago:
“First and foremost, you just have to flat-out admit, it is not easy to eat — meaning release — that kind of money . . . It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. You see players — and I don’t want to name them because they are still playing — but there are players around the game who are on big contracts that have been well-below-average players now for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs, I believe, last year. This is a bigger media market and more attention, and there is certainly a tempest about what should be done. All I can tell you is, slow down a little bit and here is the counterarguments: There is a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as early last year.”
There’s a lot to unpack in that, particularly the “flat-out admit” line that he corrected on the fly and the stuff about the media market which suggests that the front office doesn’t much feel like dealing with the stream of stories and questions that would accompany a release of A-Rod, at least in-season.
As for the “he was effective last year” stuff? Eh, yes, he was. He’s not now, though, and it seems more likely that his good 2015 — which was really just a good one half to two-thirds of a season — was a function of him being fresh and in better shape than he had been in in a long time, thanks in part to so much time off. I suppose it’s possible that Rodriguez puts together a couple of hot weeks because he still knows what he’s doing out there, but I wouldn’t really bet much on it either.
Ultimately, how the Yankees use or don’t use him is the most telling thing. To that end, the Yankees are facing Bartlo Colon and the Mets tonight. Alex Rodriguez has absolutely owned Colon in his career, batting .411/.429/1.000 with eight homers off of him. It’s only 63 plate appearances, most long ago, and using individual batter/pitcher matchups to make strategic decisions is dicey business anyway. But, in practice, managers still use such matchups to fill out their lineups all the time, Joe Girardi included.
Rodriguez is sitting against Colon tonight. If he doesn’t play in this game, what game does he play in?