January 11, 2014

A-Rod suspended for 2014 season

Five years ago last night I started this blog.

Last night, reports surfaced of an "imminent" ruling from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz on the A-Rod case.

This morning, the ruling came. All 162 games of 2014, plus the postseason. Alex, your thoughts (with my emphasis):

“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.
"I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court.
"I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship."

... well then. Maybe we'll see A-Rod in 2014 after all? I'd rather not explore that notion at this time.

What does this mean for the Yankees?

It's a huge win for the Yankees, and Major League Baseball. It is a minor win for A-Rod, originally hit with a 211-game ban, but the Yankees will save $25 million for his salary, even more millions for incentives A-Rod could have earned, and potentially keep them under the luxury tax limit.

As far as 2014 is concerned, the Yankees have hired a trio of infielders to replace Robinson Cano and A-Rod (and potentially spell Derek Jeter): Brendan Ryan, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts. 

Brendan Ryan: As we saw last year, Ryan can really play D. Unfortunately, he offers nothing with his bat. He hasn't cracked .250 since '09.

Kelly Johnson: Underrated. Look for Johnson to fill in for Cano at second in 2014. He's got some pop and some speed. He'll be 32 next month. I like this guy.

Brian Roberts: "If" is all I can say. If he stays healthy, sure, there's a chance he can help the Yankees in 2014. Unfortunately, again, he hasn't played more than 77 games since '09. It's also worth noting he's another player we'll cross off the list of players who played their whole career with one team. He had 13 seasons under his belt in Baltimore, and now he'll be a Yankee.

A couple other quick personnel updates: Kevin Youkilis signed with Japan's Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and just yesterday the Yankees DFA'd Vernon Wells. So, what does the lineup look like? Here's take two:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Carlos Beltran RF
4. Brian McCann C
5. Alfonso Soriano DH*
6. Mark Teixeira 1B
7. Kelly Johnson 3B**
8. Brett Gardner LF
9. Brian Roberts 2B

Two key assumptions:
*Soriano, Jeter, Beltran and McCann should split time at DH.

**If Roberts is healthy, he should be the starting second baseman. But that's a big "if", and I expect Johnson to play second for most of the year, opening third base for Ryan or maybe Eduardo Nunez.

Will A-Rod be back in 2015?

As we saw in the release from A-Rod's camp, he's still trying to win another ring with the Yankees. But man, wouldn't that be awkward if he showed up for spring training next year? He's already suing the Yankees! On the other hand, the Yankees still owe him $61 million through 2017, according to the website SportsBettingDime.com

I don't know what's going to happen, but if I had to guess I'd say the Yankees will play him. What else can they do? Let him go? And eat $61 million? It hurts to play him, but that doesn't seem like a good business move.

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