I-Rod a Shell of His Former Self; Fills Catching Hole After Posada Injury
A day before the Major League Baseball trading deadline, the Bronx Bombers made a bold move, which shored up their catching situation following a season-ending injury to Jorge Posada. Middle reliever Kyle Farnsworth was sent to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for 14-time All Star Ivan Rodriguez, who has went from being the elite at his position to very average amidst numerous allegations of him using performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez, 36, has been in the big leagues since the young age of 19 and is still looked at as one of the better defensive catchers around. The problem has been his hitting, which was a superstar-status .332 with 35 home runs and 113 RBI in 1999, when he won the American League MVP. His production has fallen off considerably since then, with his long ball totals being 27, 25, 19, 16, 19, 14, 13, and 11.
Although Rodriguez is batting .295 in 82 games, his power numbers being a dreadful 5 home runs and 32 RBI. He has also struck out 52 times with only 19 walks. A far cry from the height of his career, which just so happens to be when the suspicions of his steroid use began.
Jose Canseco stated in his first book, "Juiced," that he observed Rodriguez using steroids when both of them played on the Texas Rangers together. John Rocker also made a statement that a doctor hired by the Players' Association had a conversation with him, Rodriguez, Raphael Palmiero and Alex Rodriguez during spring training in 2002 when they were with Texas. The doctor informed the group of players about safe ways to use the drugs.
"Look guys, if you take one kind of steroid, you don't triple stack them and take them 10 months out of the year like Lyle Alzado did, if you do it reasonably, it's not going to hurt you," is Rocker's version of what the doctor said.
Alzado died of brain cancer in 1992 after an NFL career of steroid abuse, but his illness could not be attributed to his drug use. Palmiero tested positive for Winstrol in 2005, while Rocker was one of the players named in the Mitchell Report for receiving two HGH prescriptions in 2003. A-Rod has had his name thrown about by Canseco in accusations, but has never failed a steroid test.
Rodriguez - Ivan, not Alex - has staunchly denied all of the steroid allegations from Day One, but it is difficult to buy that when his three best seasons (1998-2000) came during the prime years of baseball's 'steroid era.' He has also appeared considerably smaller since that time, another indicator used by the media. When Rodriguez' contract expired with Texas after the 2002 season, he had a near-impossible time landing any job, having to settle for a one-year, $10 million deal with the Florida Marlins. Having a good season, Rodriguez was a leader on a young team that got hot and surprised everyone by winning the World Series.
Trying to capitalize on that, Rodriguez once again hit the open market after Florida wouldn't give him a raise, but did not attract a lot of attention. The Tigers, coming off a 119-loss campaign, were the only team to make him an offer, a back-loaded, four-year, $40 million one.
The Yankees are taking on his contract only for the remainder of this season. With Posada re-signed to a ridiculous long-term expensive contract last offseason, they probably will let Rodriguez walk, even though they are trying to wean Posada away from behind the plate.
Rodriguez hopes to parlay his time in New York into another contract. "It's going to be exciting to play with the Yankees," he said to reporters. "It's time for me to take the trade and go somewhere else. Right now, I'm going to be there for two months. I hope I can stay there.
"We'll see what happens, but at the same time, I'm just going to concentrate every single day there and try to make the Yankees make the playoffs again."
Even with his best days long behind him, Rodriguez is sort of a good luck charm in some aspects. The Rangers made the postseason three times during his tenure, the aforementioned run in Florida, and the Tigers rebounded to make the 2006 World Series. Perhaps he can bring some of that to the Yanks, who - at the time of the deal - were a game out of the wild card lead and four back of Tampa Bay in the division.
If they can make a run with the catcher known as "Pudge," the trade will be viewed as a shrewd move. Even though Rodriguez may be a shadow of his former self.