Alex Rodriguez elicits strong reactions. On the whole, they're overwhelmingly negative and that must be why people think that his injury and ensuing absence from the Yankees can be construed as a good thing. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger are both making that argument, though.
Passan believes the injury will serve as a respite, because it will "allow the $450 million worth of new players to assimilate to a life not wholly consumed by steroids, because being a Yankee is hard enough without a daily happy hour that serves primobolan-and-testosterone cocktails."
Is it really that hard to be a Yankee? Only if you presume CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira's life has been as consumed by steroids as that of a baseball writer, which is probably a shaky assumption to make. A-Rod was off in the Dominican camp before this injury news broke, so the Yankees would have had a couple of weeks to do exactly what Passan is suggesting, except they'd get a healthy A-Rod back at the end of the time. Now he'll be resting and rehabbing, but coming back injured. That's really better?
He closes his piece by suggesting that if A-Rod is out for longer, Cody Ransom's name will start looking like a natural part of the Yankee lineup. That's Politi's general angle as well, because losing Rodriguez might allow the Yankees to return to a time "when the team was the sum of its parts."
Let's look at the sum of those parts, shall we? A catcher coming off shoulder surgery, two centerfielders who can't hit and a designated hitter with the knee of an 80-year old. There's Nick Swisher coming off a 2008 when he hit .219, Robinson Cano at a career crossroads and Derek Jeter showing serious signs of decline. Add all that up, but you're not going to like what you find. The pitching is better and Teixeira can pick up some slack, but this team wasn't built to win without A-Rod's bat in the middle of the lineup.
And that's just the short term. The long term is that a 33-year old player in need of hip surgery that could take four months to rehab and isn't guaranteed to fix the problem. He's getting older, dealing with an injury that's a result of wear and tear and he's only starting the second year of a 10-year contract. Respite, indeed.
Passan and Politi make it clear that they're tired of writing about Rodriguez, which is well and good. It does beg the question of why you keep writing about him, but that's probably a question for their editors. It isn't a reason to ignore reality, though. The Yankees need A-Rod and need him bad. Maybe it's a deal with the devil, but arguing that all is well and good without him just doesn't work.