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Rest in peace, Michael . . .
Let’s lead off with a dandy trivia question from MLB Network (the Yankees are involved in it):
There are seven currently active MLers who have a chance of playing in four decades (80s,90s,00s,10s). Can you name them? Here’s a hint: three of them have played at one time or another for the Bombers. Answer later.
- Like Tyler Kepner, Buster Olney also wonders what has become of A-Rod:
The question is this: Is Rodriguez, a month from his 34th birthday, much less of a player because he presumably no longer takes performance-enhancing drugs?
It’s a question that can never be answered, but it’s a question that will continue to be asked, probably more within the Yankees organization than anywhere else. And really, if you want, just consider the question in terms of money.
The Yankees are still on the hook for about $250 million in the next eight-plus seasons. The player who will receive that money can never give them quite what they paid for, in a sense, because A-Rod, as a marketing tool, is damaged forever. They would settle for paying him just to hit well, field effectively and run the bases as well as he did for 15 years — doing all the things on the field they needed him to do when they signed him to the highest salary in the game.
But he is not providing any of that, either. Even after delivering a crucial two-run single in the Yankees’ win over Atlanta on Wednesday night, Rodriguez is batting .210 this season; since June 7, his batting average has dropped 45 points. His slugging percentage of .441 is by far the lowest in any season since 1994, when he had a handful of at-bats for the Mariners as a teenager.
“He looks like a record playing at a slower speed,” said one talent evaluator who saw Rodriguez over the past two weeks.
Said another, “He looks old. He’s a first baseman. How many years does he have left on the contract?”
[My take: He looked pretty solid at the plate Thursday night. Let’s see if he can keep that going, or will he need a rest again soon?]
- He apparently won’t be resting this weekend versus the Mets:
“It’s our home city, and I think our guys enjoy the Subway Series,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday before New York played the Atlanta Braves. “Alex feels good, feels like he’s got a lot of energy in his legs. He feels good, so we’ll let him keep going.”
[My take: Well, they DO have an off-day on Monday, but after that its 13 games in 13 days prior to the ASB.]
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick thinks the Yanks might be looking for some bullpen help:
“The Yankees’ bullpen has logged 225 innings, fourth most in the American League, so I can see Brian Cashman trolling around for a veteran reliever. David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke and Brian Bruney all have solid numbers, but that’s a pretty inexperienced group.
. . . I can see the Yanks being interested if Jose Valverde, Huston Street or someone of that ilk becomes available.