Why A-Rod’s Suspension Will Benefit the Yankees
With the latest steroid scandal out in the open, Major League Baseball has begun to drop the hammer on the players who accepted human growth hormone from the Biogenesis of America clinic. The first player, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, has been suspended for the rest of the season, as well as the 2013 playoffs, if the Brewers, who currently stand at last place in the NL Central and a whopping 19 games back from the first-place Cardinals, even make it there.
Braun is certain to be only the first player that the MLB punishes over the next couple of weeks for involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, and all eyes are currently on the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez as the next target. Rodriguez, who began the year on the 60-day disabled list after arthroscopic surgery on his hip to replace a torn labrum and still has not played a single inning in the majors this season, could potentially face a 150-game suspension if the MLB can prove prior offenses. Considering he publicly admitted in 2007 that he had used steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers, this will not be a major difficulty. Such a suspension would effectively put the final nail in the coffin on his career.
However, if this were to happen, it would be far from a burden on the Yankees. If anything, suspending Rodriguez would actually lift a burden. Rodriguez is roughly halfway through a 10 year, $275 million contract signed in 2007. There is still about $100 million left on that contract. If he were to be suspended, the money he would not receive could potentially go towards restocking the Yankees’ farm system, something the team desperately needs. With most of their stars aging, injured or both, and Mariano Rivera leaving the game of baseball after his illustrious 18-year career, the Yankees will need young talent that can come up through the farm system and get acclimated to the environment of the organization before they officially put on pinstripes. It can be argued that such fostering of talent was what allowed the famed Core Four of Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada to handle the pressure of playing in such a high-profile, high-pressure environment as New York, an environment that Rodriguez has not handled so easily in the past. Trading for big-name stars may help, but for every move that pays off, like Mark Texiera, there’s a Carl Pavano who cracks under pressure and fails to live up to the performance that got the Yankees interested in the first place.
Not only that, but A-Rod’s suspension could permanently open up a spot on the Yankees’ roster at third base, perhaps one called up from their Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The key here is that the Yankees find and/or build some talent among the youth of their organization, because in a division like the AL East, where a record that could have been October anywhere else might only be good for third or even fourth place, no team can afford to put off doing what will help their organization most. Alex Rodriguez may have been a premier player and a significant factor in acquiring the Yankees’ 27th ring, but the fact of the matter is that he is past his prime and his time as an active player is running out rapidly, suspension or no suspension. Removing him from the picture could be exactly what the Bronx Bombers need.