Thursday, October 18, 2012

A-Rod Should Insist on a Trade

Reuters / Ray Stubblebine
So, in the last  hours, the drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees has gone from bad to obscene. The discussion of Alex's struggles are no longer about whether or not he will play and where in the lineup he'll be placed. The conversation has now shifted to this team's most talented player being booted out of the Bronx during the offseason. After being benched for game 4 of this ALCS series, the Yankees biggest game of the year, it has become clear to the media and Yankee fans that the message being sent to A-Rod is that he is no longer needed, nor valued on this team. Couple that with reports of trade talks between Yankees and Florida Marlins ownership for the star and well, the writing may be pretty much on the wall.

I say Alex should demand a trade and get the hell out of town.

While it would sting me tremendously to see one of my favorite players leave my favorite team, a trade to Florida makes sense for Alex. Miami is his home, and he is respected and revered there. Not just for his play on the field, but also for the countless contrinutions he's made to the Miami community. The Marlins are coming off of a failing season where a new stadium, location, name and manager did nothing to improve their standing in the National League. Nor did it improve the number of fans who came out to watch the team play. Alex would single-handedly turn all that around with his presence and the success he's had off of National League pitching.

 Also, being managed by a guy like Ozzie Guillen would be great for Alex. Ozzie is a wild-card that doesn't seem to care about what his players do off the field, as long as they perform on the field. He also does not have the pressure of a "Yankee-style" organization dictating his movements like every manager has to deal with here in New York (although I do believe that Joe Torre had more flexibility in his leadership than any manager was afforded for years prior). Guillen himself has had to battle through being a lightning rod for the media; not being particularly liked by many in baseball; making comments that perhaps were better left unsaid. He could definitely identify with Alex's struggles, and that would bode well for managing a superstar of Alex's caliber.

And let's be real fanatics, Alex was a marked man from the time he put on the pinstripes. No one in 2004 questioned him as a player, but the hatred was there for his strained relationship with Derek Jeter. Seems like no matter what is going on with Alex, Jeter gets thrown into the equation somehow. The truth from my perspective is that Alex has had to succumb to not truly being himself at any time during his tenure in New York because of the backlash of having our revered Captain at odds with him. Any implication of adverse feelings from or toward Jeter makes you a target for hatred in this town. It's not always fair, but if you're a Yankee fan of this generation, you live and die by the Captain.

But the bigger picture in all of this is that what's happening to Alex now is unfair. There, I said it. A crucial game 4 and the decision is to bench him? Again? It's as if the Yankees believe that he is just no longer viable in any capacity, period. So Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher--all of whom have now put up worse numbers than Alex has this postseason--can play for a chance to "run into something," but Alex can't? And let me reiterate from my last post that Eric Chavez has done nothing, absolutely nothing in Alex's place, yet he continues to be given an opportunity to also "run into something?" I don't believe that this is still about Alex not doing well against right-handed pitching. This is personal, and my intuition tells me that these decisions are coming directly from Brian Cashman and even higher, and Joe Girardi's hands are tied, although, I don't see him putting up much of a fight in Alex's defense. Regardless of the struggles, you have to keep putting your best players out there and Alex Rodriguez is still one of their best. He's certainly better than the guy they're replacing him with.

So it's time for Alex to go. You can't continue to fight through struggles for an organization that has already billed you as null and void. Not when you're a player of this caliber. My friend Nicholas, who is staying on top of all this drama, informed me yesterday that Kobe Bryant had a conversation with Alex, basically telling him that while it's ok to be a team player, you have to remember who you are. In other words, you can't continue to sit back and be okay with being treated like you no longer matter when you're still the most dangerous player on your team. Listening to Alex's press conference, it was clear that Kobe's words made him realize that he had to get back to being A-Rod.

"I really feel that in my heart, any time I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team, without any question," Alex told reporters yesterday. He gave a fantastic interview overall, clearly shying away from caring about any backlash his words might incite. He made it clear that he is still a dangerous hitter; still capable of turning this series around; still the guy that has done nothing but give his all and compete his entire career. He also made it clear that he's not happy with being benched and that the relationship between him and Girardi has shifted. Jorge Posada, anyone?

With Alex's contract containing a full no-trade clause, only he can detrmine his fate in New York. Only he has the power to approve any deal. At this point, I don't see him wanting to stay here; not with all that's transpired in this ALCS series. Maybe something can happen from here that will turn things around. ESPN's Buster Olney reported on this morning's "Mike and Mike" show that in batting practice this morning, Alex was "absolutely raking." Maybe Joe could change his mind and include him in today's game; give him a chance at redemption. If Alex makes some noise, it would certainly work in his favor today. But if no chance is given, and if today's game is the last game the Yankees play this year, I see no room for repair. No way that Alex will want to stay here.

But I could be wrong about all of this. I'm speculating like every member of the media and every fan following this story. I hope that I am. I hope that this can all be fixed. I hope that when we all go to bed tonight, a game 5 will be necessary. I hope that Alex gets a shot to do something big. I hope that he can reconcile his feelings and want to stay in New York. I hope that this team can pull off a miracle, and that all of the superstars play a part in that. I hope.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ ra_cooper 

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