A-Rod Helping the Yankees Turn it Around
You can say what you want about Alex Rodriguez, but there is no denying the impact his return has had on the Yankees.
The Yankees are 9-5 since Rodriguez has returned and that includes winning nine of their last 11 games. The Yankees have averaged 5.6 runs per game in those 13 games compared to just the 3.96 runs per game they are averaging over the full season.
Obviously, Rodrirguez is not doing everything for the Yankees alone. Alfonso Soriano went on one of the greatest streaks you will ever see an MLB player go on and Curtis Granderson has hit .288/.422/.462/.883 since his return from the DL. Also, Robinson Cano has caught fire, as he is finally seeing pitches to hit with Soriano and Rodriguez hitting behind him.
What Rodriguez has really done is make this season relevant again for the Yankees. Forget about all the off the field nonsense, Rodriguez has finally made the Yankees worth watching on it. He has hit .308/.400/.462/.862 with two home runs since returning to the Yankees. The aura around the team seems different and a ton of that has to do with A-Rod’s presence. Even when he is not hitting well Rodriguez’s presence alone usually has a positive affect on the lineup.
The narrative was that Rodriguez’s return was supposed to divide the team and his distraction was supposed to be too much to handle. As is the case with most media narratives, that turned out to be just a total fabrication.
If anything, the Yankees have rallied around Rodriguez, as was evident Sunday night in Boston. After Ryan Dempster purposely threw at Rodriguez three times before finally hitting him, Joe Girardi came out and cursed out home plate umpire Brian O’Nora and Dempster in a big rage.
Fortunately, Dempster was not thrown out of the game and the Yankees crushed the gutless, cowardly and mediocre pitcher to the tune of 7 runs in 5.1 innings. This included an absolute bomb from Rodriguez that went almost 450 feet out to dead center and started the Yankees rally from down 6-3. He hilariously imitated David Ortiz’ home run celebration for good measure. His teammates played with much more energy after the incident, and Dempster might have woken up a sleeping giant.
With all the attention being placed upon Rodriguez, other players seem more free to just go about their business without being bothered. Rodriguez, who is no stranger to all the attention and criticism, has absolutely thrived off of it. His focus to go out there and perform the way he has with everything that is going on off the field is incredible.
With the recent additions of Rodriguez, Soriano, Granderson and Mark Reynolds the Yankees now have a playoff caliber offense. Reynolds was a solid pickup so that Lyle Overbay no longer has to embarrass himself against lefties. The question will be can CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes pitch better?
Hughes pitched very well last night, as he went six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out six. However, it came against a very mediocre Toronto lineup with Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista. I do trust that in big games down the stretch that Pettitte can come up big like he always does. However, Sabathia has not shown many signs that he will be able to turn it around this season. He has just allowed far too much hard contact on his fastball and changeup and has completely lost the strike zone in his last two outings. It may take a whole offseason of changes to fix his problems.
Before Rodriguez came back the Yankees were dead in the water and just a boring team to watch. Now they’re back in the race for a playoff spot, albeit still a long shot at six games behind a playoff spot. Even if they fall short of a playoff spot, at least they will be entertaining to watch the rest of the season. Love him or hate him, but in your heart of hearts you know you have enjoyed the Yankees so much more with the return of Rodriguez.