|Decline Still Coming for A-Rod||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on August 05, 2010
A-Rod got number 600. So what?
Unless you are a Yankees fan, it's hard to get excited about Alex Rodriguez's managing to hit number 600.¬† After all, he's already been outed as a user of performance enhancing drugs, and the odds of him ever upsetting the applecart and becoming the all-time home run leader and taking that shameful crown from another PED user are long indeed.
That leaves A-Rod looking like he does today at age 35, capable of maybe 20-25 home runs with further decline likely every year from now on.¬† Throw in the injuries which have begun to crop up over the past two seasons (torn labrum, tendonitis) and what you have may well be a ballplayer standing on the edge of a precipice, and a ballplayer who's making between $30-$38 million per year. (His bonus kicked in when he hit number 600 yesterday meaning he'll earn $38 million this year.) ¬†Even the most die hard Yankees fan will have a hard time justifying that based on his production this year.
Almost across the board Rodriguez is having his worst season ever since becoming a full time player.¬† He no longer looks like the confident hitter that he used to be.¬† He's swinging at bad pitches; drawing fewer walks; his AVG, OBP and SLG have fallen to little more than league average (and in some cases are under it) and his speed seems to have vanished.
Clearly management still believes he has more in the tank, but there has to be some worry there.¬† A-Rod occupies the cleanup spot in the Yankees lineup only because the team is afraid to break convention at this point and make a change -- not because he's the team's most feared hitter or its best.¬† That would be Robinson Cano.¬† That's something the organization has yet to publicly recognize, but something that the fans certainly have.
While plenty of them are hoping this is just an "off" season, the reality is sinking in that due to his age (35) and recent injury history, that this is far more likely to be a trend than just an off year.¬†¬† It is unlikely that he'll finish 2010 with more than 610 home runs considering we're 107 games into the season and that he'll probably sit, or play sparingly in, at least 7-10 of the remaining 55 games.
That would leave him over 145 home runs short of the real all time home run record set by Henry Aaron, and another 8 behind the steroid bloated record of Barry Bonds.¬† He'll even be more than 100 short of Babe Ruth's Yankees home run record, a record which the Yankees may have second thoughts about him breaking should his skill set continue to diminish, leading to more and more bitterness about his play and his contract among the New York fans.¬† A-Rod certainly hasn't been helping in building a loyal following by doing things like selfishly missing the team photo on Tuesday which endears him to neither fans nor fellow players.
Certainly he can redeem himself in their eyes with brilliant play and by flashing the lumber in October, but just doing it once more, especially this year won't be enough.¬† New Yorkers just aren't that forgiving, and while Yankees fans are still gloating about last year's Fall Classic, there is no question that the "What have you done for me lately?" mentality will kick in on a player that even devout Yankees recognize as a mercenary.
And no matter what A-Rod is laughing all the way to the bank.¬† He's due $174 million dollars AFTER this season and is under contract through 2017, so even if he falls of that cliff like fellow proven and suspected steroid users the Yankees will be paying him.