162 Games

162 games.

     162 games. I can safely say that I am surprised by this verdict of suspending Alex Rodriguez for a whole season. As I have said before, I lean slightly Team A-Rod, so I guess I am biased against this, but there are so many questions I still have:

 

     Question #1: Why can’t we see the evidence used in the hearing and why isn’t the arbitrator forced to show it? Whenever the Supreme Court hands down a ruling, they must present a written-out verdict, explaining why they ruled a certain way. I want to see exactly what the arbitrator saw, just so I can have some clarity on the matter. I want to see what evidence he saw. If we had more information, maybe the suspension would seem more reasonable, but for what it’s worth, given the evidence we as a public have received, 162 games seems a bit excessive. This process probably was never meant to be transparent, but I think it would be good if it were, at least a little more.

     Question #2: Why didn’t Bud Selig testify at the trial? We, as a country, have granted defendants the right to face their accuser. A-Rod did not get this. He was right to be upset and even said himself that he wanted to face the man who was trying to further run his career into the ground (more so than A-Rod has already done to himself).  If you are going to hand down a much larger suspension to one player than all of the other players, I think you need to get up there and explain this. If Selig was forced to testify, A-Rod should testify, too.

     Question #3: What are the Yankees going to now? There are still a lot of loose ends here. Obviously, they will have quite a chunk of money to spend, to go after players that will produce more and make them a much stronger team to go all-in on Tanaka. The off-season has been good to New York and they have signed a bunch of great offensive talent, all of whom would probably produce more than A-Rod. New York is coming out of this in a relatively scoff-free manor. The Yankees are probably pleased with the verdict, as they should be. With A-Rod still fighting a legal fight, they will be in limbo for a while, but now they have more flexibility. But remember, he is under contract through 2017.

     Question #4: Why wasn’t there such a “witch hunt” when people like Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire were playing? I have no answer to this one, but it troubles me to see MLB glance over this era and then come down so hard on a single player. Because they didn’t do anything about the PED issue then, why on earth are they doing something now? Bonds and McGuire filled seats and McGuire and Sosa’s epic homerun battle entranced everyone. Was that why nothing was done? I dunno. I honestly have no idea what the logic behind all of this is, but I do know that something is very wrong.

     Question #5: Why was A-Rod specifically targeted? Again, I have no idea. Unless I can see the documents that were specifically in the hearing, I don’t think anyone ever will. It’s not fair to A-Rod to be targeted in such a way.

     Question #6: What should A-Rod do now? Well, he says he will keep fighting. His chances of succeeding in a federal court are slim to none, at best. Would he fare better in front of a jury? It’s anyone’s guess. Should he gamble on it? Should he just accept his suspension? It’s all a mess. A big, big mess. No one can sort it out except for him. Will it be worth it to spend millions of his own money to fight this? I wouldn’t, but I’m not Alex Rodriguez. He no longer has the Union behind him, but I highly doubt that will stop him.

     Question #7: What’s his legacy? Beats the hell out of me. We cannot discount all the amazing feats he accomplished. If we still hold Bonds’ records in account, we cannot just throw away A-Rod’s. Will he be in the Hall of Fame? Probably not. Should he be? I’m not sure. His skill is incomparable, or at least, was incomparable.

 

     So, if A-Rod cheated, he should be punished, no question. But with no documents released confirming that he did, I’m stuck. It’s widely known that he did not test positive for PEDs. Let’s face it: this whole thing a mess. MLB is saying one thing, players are saying one thing, writers are saying thing, the fans are saying one thing, and A-Rod is saying one thing. It’s a crazy, crazy mess and I have a feeling it won’t be sorted out any time soon. I can’t say what the next moves should be, but I will say that I truly believe he was unfairly targeted and made out to be an example. I hope I see him in pinstripes this year, but it’s starting to look like that’s just not going to happen. I am accepting that and looking to the future, but it’s hard to say if A-Rod will do the same.

     I’m not going to sit here and say A-Rod is not guilty in any of this. It’s clear he has made some bad choices in this whole ordeal, but someone has to play devil’s advocate here. I’ll play devil’s advocate because I am not convinced justice has been done. MLB is guilty. A-Rod is probably guilty of something. There are really no winners here, except MLB’s drug eradication program. 

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/10270220/alex-rodriguez-discussed-accepting-lesser-suspension-source-says

Alright, alright. I gotta get this off my chest: Hi, my name is Hannah and I am Team A-Rod.

Yep. You read that right.

Look, I get that he may not be the most likable guy and it is possible he cheated the game. If he did, he should be suspended, no question. But, is it odd to anyone else that he specifically has been targeted by MLB? Isn’t it odd that Bug Selig was never asked to testify in A-Rod’s trial, considering he basically used the “just because” clause when bringing down the 211 game suspension? And isn’t it odd that nothing like this was happening years ago when the likes of Barry Bonds and other juicers were filling the seats in stadiums across the country?

I’m not going to pretend I know everything about this trial, but there are a lot of things I don’t agree with. But, if A-Rod can agree to a shorter suspension instead of gambling for a not-guaranteed win, I think he should, not that he has the leverage to do that. If he gets less than 100 games, he has some thinking to do. If he has more, well, he won’t go down without another fight.

Big Moves, Big Bucks, and the Big Elephant in the Room

Slowly but surely, we are seeing the New York Yankees going back to their big-spending roots, and as a fan, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Signing catcher Brian McCann was the best first step they could have made. Signing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was another good step, despite the already-crowded outfield. Even signing the big-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran was a smart move, considering how badly they needed a big bat in the lineup.

But they need more. Our starting rotation is, well, not as great as it could be. CC Sabathia is still a fine pitcher, but he is in decline and his power numbers are nowhere near where they used to be. Ivan Nova has the potential to be a lights-out pitcher, but he is inconsistent in his starts. You do not know if you are getting a shutout game from him or a messy start. Lastly, we have Hiroki Kuroda who is a great pitcher, but his stumble during the latter half of last season is a bit concerning. And don’t even get me started on our bullpen. There are a few young pitchers in the minors who could be helpful, but they need more.

Who they need is Masahiro Tanaka.

The lights-out pitcher from Japan would be a great asset to the team, hoping of course that he would provide the high-caliber pitching he is known for. He could give the rotation the dominance they as a group have the potential to acquire. But this hype could be all for nothing if he is not posted.

And then, of course, there is the elephant in the room: the hard-hitting, polarizing, and always-embattled elephant, Alex Rodriguez. He is why the Yankees are in a bit of a limbo. You see, the Yankees are hellbent on not going over the $189 million luxury tax threshold (although I remain unconvinced that they will make that happen) and A-Rod’s salary is eating $25 million of it, not to mention he has some pretty sweet incentives on the table, too. It is hard for the Yankees to make any more moves unless they know if his suspension will be upheld. I personally do not think he will have to serve all 211 games, but it will be probably be near 75-100 games. Needless to say, I think the Yankees need to prepare to pay at least some of his salary.

A-Rod’s possible suspension is also hindering their need to sign infielders. After the fallout of an offer made to Omar Infante, it’s hard to see where the Yankees stand. If A-Rod is there for some of the season and stays healthy, they don’t need to go out and get a full-time third baseman. If he is gone for the whole season, that changes things because they will need a full-time player, who will want to be making a full-time salary. Would it be better if A-Rod is not in the line-up? Hard to say. It’ll be better financially if the Yankees want to stay under $189 million, but it is difficult to tell is his replacement would be a better hitter or fielder.

The other issue is Robinson Cano’s somewhat surprising departure. His bat and fielding kept the Yankees alive last season longer than expected. The Yankees, having learned from the whole A-Rod debacle, were not willing to offer ten-years on a player over 30, which makes sense. Could they have upped the financial ante? Totally, but they made it clear they were not going to wait around for Cano to make his choice. Signing Ellsbury so quickly might have pushed Cano away, but all that says to me is that he was looking for financial motive, not a lasting legacy. Now, the Yankees need a second-baseman to fill his spot, and that will not come easy or cheap.

The Yankees will have a good chunk of their players coming back from injury, such as Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, which will help a lot. They are slowly but surely filling in the holes in their line-up, but have a long way to go. Staying under the $189 million cap will be nearly impossible if A-Rod is suspended for the whole season and completely impossible to stay under the cap if he is not. Frankly, it was a hard to goal to begin with, but they need players more than they need to stay under the tax threshold. So, Yankees, get your checkbooks ready because you have some work to do.