I’m a regular reader of the New York Times, and I have to say that I have really been enjoying the recent columns about how the Bombers are stuck with Alex Rodriguez for at least the start of the 2015 season. Today’s article is particularly bitchy and pissy, and it just tickles me no end, as I think it should any fan of the other 29 teams in MLB.
Today’s article says the Yankees should show some intestinal fortitude and cut A-Fraud and eat the remaining $61 million of his contract. Well, that might be satisfying for most baseball fans, but that’s just not the way MLB works.
Until Rodriguez actually shows he has nothing left, the Yankees won’t cut him. MLB teams know from long experience that Americans in general and sports fans in particular are front-runners all the way. If ARod posts a .900 OPS in 2015, all will be forgiven by most Yankees fans, at least until he stops hitting. In fact, the 2015 Yankees look so offensively weak than an .800 OPS might be enough for Yankees fans to grin and bear Rodriguez, as long as he performs at that level.
If, on the other hand, Rodriguez posts an OPS below .600 two months into the 2015 season, the Yankees are going to be a hell of lot more likely to cut his sorry ass and eat all the remaining salary, particularly if he hasn’t yet reached the $6 million bonus that comes with his 660th home run (tying Willie Mays). The team will probably arbitrate to reduce the total any amount they can, even though any qualified legal observer would say the odds are slim that the Yankees can eliminate any portion of the guaranteed $61 million.
Again, any fan of the other 29 teams should just be loving the Yankees’ current dilemma. It’s only the team’s insistence on handing out contracts of the type that ARod got that allow the other teams to compete against the Yankees’ revenue streams. If the Yankees drove harder bargains, paying only 10% or 15% more than any other team would pay for elite free agents, they’d lose 10% or 15% of the elite free agents they’re now signing, but their roster would be an awful lot deeper.