It really was some kinda week for the shy, retiring Alex Rodriguez. When he wasn’t pissing off the Blue Jays with a juvenille act even his manager couldn’t excuse, his zipper problems were making front page news back home. And having ended the-week-that-was with a dramatic 9th inning game winning HR last night off Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon (he of the rapidly improving death stare — he might’ve served up a meatball to A-Rod, but he looks fucking great doing it), the New York Sun’s Steve Goldman hails The Third Baseman….by insisting “it’s time to trade Alex Rodriguez.”
Rodriguez offers the Yankees their one opportunity for a team repopulating multi-player swap; the team that acquires him would provide the “multi” part of the equation. Although the Yankees have been somewhat successful with pitchers in recent years, because of pathetically poor drafting and development of position players, they boast no non-pitchers above the high-A ball level who could be described as likely starters in the majors, let alone potential stars. Since Brian Cashman became the general manager in 1998, the Yankees have spent high draft picks on outfielder Andy Brown (no.1, 1998), outfielder Tommy Winrow (no. 2, 1999), catcher David Parrish (no. 1, 2000), outfielder John-Ford Griffin (no. 1, 2001), third baseman Eric Duncan (no. 1, 2003), outfielder Jon Poterson (no. 1 supplemental, 2004), and shortstop C.J. Henry (no. 1, 2005). All have been busts.
The team’s one prospect that may grow into a talent too big to be held at the back of the roster, outfielder Jose Tabata, will not turn 19 until August. Tabata is currently batting .306/.372/.377 with one home run for the Tampa Yankees, and he is at least two years away. Even if he were to come faster, Tabata alone could not solve the team’s manpower crisis. Moreover, first base is effectively vacant now. Right field may become vacant if the Yankees exercise their $2 million buyout on their $16 million dollar option on Bobby Abreu. Jorge Posada is unsigned. Finally, Rodriguez has the right to void his contract and become a free agent; he almost certainly will.
Patching these holes through free agency is unlikely ” this winter’s class will be thin. Of course, the Yankees might not see it that way ” any team that concluded Doug Mientkiewicz was a viable first baseman must be drooling at the chance to sign Sean Casey. The Yankees could attempt to resolve the outfield problem by signing a Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones to play center field. This would have the effect of pushing the increasingly limited Johnny Damon to left field and Hideki Matsui to right (both are under contract through 2009), but not to designated hitter, which will once again be held in a death-grip by Jason Giambi, assuming he returns from his current injury in good working order. Hunter, despite his good season, is a poor bet to hold his value over the course of a long-term contract. Jones, despite his bad season, is more likely to rebound. The Yankees might get a shot at Adam Dunn for one of the outfield corners, but only if the Reds decline his option