I make no secrets about the teams for which I root for. Some of them are the most hated in all of sports, the New York Yankees. Other teams I root for tend to garner me some sympathy (Phoenix Suns, Miami Dolphins) but not many players that have been members of any of the teams I root for, or of any other team garner as much negativity as New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez.
It’s easy to pinpoint faults with Rodriguez. He is a player who has possessed other-worldly talent in his career along with a contract to match. Rodriguez is no stranger to criticisms. Mostly for his massive $200 million+ contract, some about his admitted steroid usage during 2 season in Texas with the Rangers. Others hate how arrogant and self-absorbed he appears to be and his failure, in many Yankee fans eyes, to become a truly beloved Yankee.
But while some of those arguments are better for another day, and better assessed after Rodriguez hangs up his cleats for good, there is one topic I would like to put under the microscope.
While many vilified Rodriguez for the contract and how much he has cost the Yankees, he has handled the pressure of the contract better than some other players in the MLB. Let’s take a look.
Alex Rodriguez (10-year, $275 million) New York Yankees
Rodriguez arrived in New York in a trade from the Texas Rangers and opted out of his contract in 2007. Although rumors indicated he flirted with the Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he resigned a 10-year deal with the Yankees.
Say what you will about the way Rodriguez conducts himself or his admitted steroid use with the Rangers (not with the Yankees). Rodriguez has had the following interesting bulletpoints during the length of his contract:
- 2007 MLB Most Valuable Player (.314, 54 hrs, 156 rbis)
- 2009 World Series Champion
- Batted 8th in 2006 ALDS against Detroit Tigers
- Joe Torre slams/ridicules Rodriguez in book
- Hit 600th career homerun
- Over 250 homeruns as a Yankee
- Steroid scandal released
Certainly people will point to the steroid issue. But keep in mind while other players denied their false tests (Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Ryan Braun) Rodriguez admitted to it and outlined when he used it (with the Rangers). Taking into account those are the facts presented to us, the steroid scandal had no baring on his performance with the Yankees, meaning save the steroid talk for when you are looking at his tenure with the Rangers, when it was proven he did in fact take something illegal.
Albert Pujols (10-year, $240 million) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
While Rodriguez certainly belongs in the conversation of possible “greatest of all time” so does Albert Pujols. And while I admit that this may be a tad unfair at this point seeing how Pujols hasn’t played more than 3 months for the Angels, it’s still worth exploring.
Pujols has been dreadful in Anaheim. Through 34 games Pujols, a career .320+ hitter, is hitting .195 with 1 homerun and 12 rbis. But Pujols has also crumbled under the massive pressure of the contract. Take a look at some of his bulletpoints
- Longest homerun drought of career
- Throws glove at teammate, Eric Aybar, for elbow tapping him instead of high fiving him (See here)
- Publicly criticizes hitting coach Mickey Hatcher (click here)
- Benched for a game due to poor play (read here)
Certainly doesn’t seem like the type of behavior that fits Pujols’ reputation of being a professional. In fact, it’s more accurate to describe the behavior as arrogant, immature and unprofessional.
When you compare the start of Pujols’ career with his $200+ million contract vs that of Rodriguez’s it’s easy to question if Rodriguez gets a bad rap.
Surely, Pujols is too darn talented to keep this up, one of the best hitters this game has ever or will ever seen, but at present moment it looks like the Angels got hosed in this deal and Pujols is crumbling under both the pressure of the contract, expectations for the Angels, the move to the West Coast and more importantly, the move to the American League which is hardly ever mentioned as an issue.
Carl Crawford (seven-year, $142.0 million) Boston Red Sox
Remeber when Carl Crawford was considered one of the best outfielders int he majors? It wasn’t that long ago. But Crawford hasn’t just been dreadful in Boston, he’s been absent.
After batting .307 with 19 homeruns, 90 rbis and 47 stolen bases in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford signed a megadeal in Beantown, one that made the BoSox a heavy favorite to compete for a World Series title.
In 130 games in 2011 with Boston, Crawford batted .255 with 11 homeruns, 56 rbis and only 18 stolen bases. Take a look at his other bulletpoints.
- Injured wrist in 2011 that has lingered to 2012
- Has not played a game in 2012
- Historic collapse down the stretch
Mark Teixeira ( 8 year, $180.0 million) New York Yankees
Teixeira, one of the majors best first basemen, signed an 8-year contract with the Bronx Bombers back in 2008. In 2009, the Yankees won the World Series title and owe a large part of that to the play of Teixeira.
With Teixeira has been a model citizen with the Yankees and a great clubhouse guy, he has consistently declined each season in the Bronx, more specifically at the plate.
This season alone Teixeira, who is off to another abysmal start, is batting just .223 with 4 homeruns and 17 rbi’s. While this may anger most Yankee fans what should really anger them is the decline of Teixeira’s performance at the plate year after year. Have a look at the breakdown since he came over to the Bronx:
- 2009 – .290 ba, 39 hrs, 122 rbis
- 2010 – .256 ba, 33 hrs, 108 rbis
- 2011 – .248 ba, 39 hrs, 111 rbis
While it’s easy to give Teixeira a pass due to his consistent home run and rbi totals, it really should not give him any pass. Take into account that his On Base Percentage has also steadily declined, and his playoff numbers are borderline atrocious. Take a look at his last playoff appearance
- 2011 – .167 ba, 0 hrs, 1 rbi
Teixeira is as solid a first baseman as there is, but are the Yankees getting ripped off in this deal?
I know for a fact I left out some other large contracts, but these 4 were the ones I really wanted to focus on. All are big market teams that made huge splashes when they signed that particular free agent. My question to you is, does this make you view Rodriguez differently? Better yet, who is getting hosed the most?