If the Yankees had chosen to return Alex Rodriguez to the line-up Sunday along with Derek Jeter, they would have had four of the top 20 active career players on the field. Curtis Granderson announced he was back Thursday with a 3-3 day that included a home run, and Ichiro Suzuki has played the whole season. Rodriguez is not only the odd man out, but things have gotten so bad he cannot even get a phone call returned for four months.
The Yankees rebuked Rodriguez’s request to return this weekend, and all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson says he has not had time to return a phone call from Rodriguez from four months ago.
“Henderson said A-Rod called him before the season started, leaving a voice-mail asking how he stayed healthy deep into his career, and what kinds of things he did to do so. He said he hasn’t had a chance to return A-Rod’s message yet,” reported Scott Miller of CBS.
Even at their reduced production levels at the season-starting respective ages of 32 (Grunderson), 37 (Rodriguez), and 39 (Jeter and Suzuki), a healthy quartet may have given the Yankees enough fire power to sneak into the playoffs.
However, with the growing assumption that Rodriguez could be heading for a season-long or even lifetime base from baseball for illegal substances, the Yankees seem to have moved on. Last week they acquired Alfonso Soriano, who projected to be an all-time great when he competed for the MVP and just missed consecutive 40 home run, 40 stolen base seasons for the Yankees 10 year ago. However, Soriano has never reached those levels again, and for the past five years has played only at the level of a borderline starting player.
From a purely statistical perspective Rodriguez is by far the best career player in baseball, and Granderson and Jeter are in the top 20 (based on WAR). However, by that same measurement Barry Bonds came within one game of equaling Babe Ruth’s value, and yet he will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame today. Rodriguez, a one-time lock for the Hall of Fame – now just hopes to see his name on a major league line-up card again one day.