I’m sure most everyone knows by now that Alex Rodriguez, to put it lightly, has never been my favorite man to sport the pinstripes. I recently did a show here where I talked about A-Rod with my A-Rod-loving Grandma, in which I gave the facts about his numbers and production (or lack of) thus far in 2012. I’ve also ranted about him on facebook, and even created a "Scumbag A-Rod" meme.

So needless to say, I feel awful that Rodriguez broke his hand and will miss at least 6-8 weeks of action. And I feel even more horrible that when my Dad said that this was good for the Yankees because, "At least we don’t have to deal with him in the third or fourth," I agreed with him. Then I felt like an idiot when the Yankees went on a little bit of a slide since his departure. Pitching was the main culprit of their latest 4 game losing streak, but they had their fair share of chances at the plate, and didn’t come through. It seemed that during that slide, the Yankee bats woke up when in the late innings, but they couldn't get enough.

Do the Yankees really miss A-Rod’s bat?

Well, they didn’t need him last night in their 12-3 victory over the O’s that snapped their losing streak, but still – even if A-Rod is hitting just .214 with bases loaded, .218 with runners in scoring position, and .172 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, he’s still a threat in the lineup, right? The name "Alex Rodriguez" should generate some amount of fear from opposing pitchers, I think.

But is he really feared enough to bat third or fourth day in and day out? Is Alex Rodriguez really the best hitter in the loaded lineup that my New York Yankees possess? I assure you, I’m not trying to hate on the guy. I just want what is best for my team.

It’s a shame that this hand injury came at a time when A-Rod showed signs of turning things around with the bat, hitting .315 for the month of July before going down with the fractured hand. Last season he was ravaged by injuries, and never fully recovered. But for some reason, Joe Girardi continued to pencil him in to the cleanup spot, despite his struggles and below-.200 batting average between August and September. And when it mattered most – in October, A-Rod still didn’t perform, hitting just .111 in the 2011 postseason.

I don’t know why Rodriguez struggled so much at the end of last season, but I think the injuries had a lot to do with it. He never really was himself, and even if he was, he needed to rehab more before coming back, instead of trying to face tough postseason pitchers after missing so much action during the final two months of the regular season.

My biggest concern is that we will see a repeat of this exact same unfortunate scenario, and my Yankees won’t win it all because of it. It’s looking mighty similar, and that worries me.  Sub-par first halves gave way to hotter second halves, followed by an injury and DL stint. And after coming back, the production was not there last season, but A-Rod continued to bat in a prominent, run-producer’s spot in the order. I really do not want this to happen again. Last season, the thumb injury was greatly responsible for A-Rod’s struggles…and it’s his hand right now.  Wah. I don’t want this. I don’t want to have to be forced to hate A-Rod for not hitting, when it’s Joe Girardi’s fault that he’s in the lineup spot where production is needed.

If the Yankees are going to win it all, they need A-Rod to perform when it counts. Rodriguez took forever to be good in the postseason, but when forever finally came, A-Rod delivered big. 2009 was an amazing postseason for him, and the Yankees may not have won it all if it wasn’t for his clutch production.

I know I may be getting ahead of myself here. Maybe A-Rod won’t be stinky when he comes back. But if he is, are they really going to bat him third or cleanup again? And if they decide not to, who will take his place? It’s a lot to think about. In yesterday’s 12-3 victory, it was Nick Swisher in the third spot and Robinson Cano at cleanup. I doubt they’ll do that. But the point is, the Yankees have a lot of depth and a lot of options with their offense. If someone is not going to perform, the Yankees have the resources to make a change – that is, if they choose to.

I guess I should worry about all this when the time comes. For now, my Yankees need to start winning some games again, because a 6.5 game lead in the AL East may look comforting, but it can be better.

Get well soon A-Rod! GO YANKEES!

by Virginia Califano