With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp this week, now is as good a time as any to reflect on the busy offseason we’ve had.
What were some of the most interesting and most influential moves and transactions?
“It was a big winter,” MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “You start looking at a lot of the different contracts, a lot of money in the game. Even today, the Diamondbacks announced that they got a billion-dollar TV package for their local TV coverage. So that is big. I look at what the Padres did, all the moves they made – those are huge. To get Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers – they transformed that club.”
“But guys, there’s only one story,” Reynolds continued, before verbalizing the inevitable. “And that’s Alex Rodriguez. He’s dominated the news and he’s going to for awhile. That’s why I call it ‘Lightning Rod.’”
Rodriguez, 39, issued a handwritten apology to the New York Yankees and their fans this week for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In the letter, Rodriguez, who still has three years left on his contract, said he took “full responsibility” for his actions.
“Well, I think the soap opera (is going to continue),” Reynolds said. “The big question is, what can he do? You’re going to have all this stuff that we’re hearing now and all the drama around it. But until he hits the field, takes a ground ball, takes a swing, we’re really not going to know. And then, if he happens to play pretty good, he’s going to continue to be in the news. But he’s never going to fade away.”
And why not? Why are we so fascinated by Rodriguez?
“I think the allure with Alex is that when he came into the big leagues – obviously the story’s amazing,” Reynolds said. “He was at 19 years old and he got in. But what was happening on the landscape of television in baseball is we didn’t have every club every night. We didn’t have MLB Network. There wasn’t all these different teams that you saw on a nightly basis. He played on the big club and he was on the big game and he became the big star. Then he got the big contract. That’s why he still hangs around as this huge attraction in sports.”
Rodriguez hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 44 games last year. He’s played in 100+ games just once in the last three seasons and hasn’t played in 140+ games since 2007.
What can we expect from the soon-to-be 40-year-old? We’ll find out soon enough, but Reynolds believes spring training will be very telling.
“I look at it this way from a baseball standpoint,” Reynolds said. “It’s hard to hit when you’re playing once or twice a week or you’re going to be a DH or you’re going to platoon. Spring training, you play every day, you have extra hitting, you get yourself in a great groove, and you do it for six weeks. So if he doesn’t perform in this six weeks, that tells me a lot. (Then) there’s no way he’s going to perform when the season starts. This is his best window to be in shape every day.”