A $30 million player isn't supposed to produce a .083 batting average in the third spot of your lineup during the playoffs. Nor is he supposed to hit .190 and .111 the previous two postseason series, or .133 in 2005 and 0.071 in 2006. Such is the reality, though, with the New York Yankees' heavily maligned third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and as Wednesday night against Baltimore proved, manager Joe Girardi has better, albeit much less expensive, options.
After great controversy and speculation, Girardi opted to start Rodriguez in Game 3. After going 0-3 with two strikeouts however, Girardi pinch hit him with veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez. Ibanez promptly tied the game with a home run, only to win it in the 12th inning with an upper-deck shot.
"I couldn't be happier for Raul," Rodriguez said afterward. "Ten years ago, I might have reacted differently. I admit I might not have taken it as well. But I have matured."
While A-Rod may have matured as he's gotten older, his game certainly has not. This is the second consecutive season where he has failed to register 100 RBI and 20 homers. At 37 years old, he no longer runs well and lacks the remarkable bat speed he once possessed, often being mowed down by power pitchers who challenge him inside. While still a decent player, the reality for Rodriguez is that he's more of a threat in stature than anything else. His 647 career homers are not indicative of the threat -- or lack thereof -- that he is today.
As the Yankees get set for Game 4 Thursday night, now is the time for Girardi to act decisively: Drop Rodriguez down to seventh or eighth. Remember, this is not a dominant Yankee club. Despite winning the AL East, they don't have speed nor do they have dominant pitching, save for C.C. Sabathia. Mariano Rivera is out and if they can handle the Orioles in four, than they have the luxury of Sabathia starting Game 1 of the ALCS.
There was once a time when Alex Rodriguez was today's Miguel Cabrera. Every manager and every team feared him. He is the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs and he helped revolutionize the game from the shortstop position. But this is 2012 and times are a helluva lot different. The Orioles, young and full of moxie, don't fear Rodriguez. Every pitcher he has faced has attacked him and his one measly single in this series is just not getting it done.
Girardi made a brilliant move in going with Ibanez in Game 3. Baseball, as we know, is a game of chess. His next move? Drop Rodriguez down for the remainder of the postseason. Truthfully, the choice has already been made for him.
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