Well it took long enough, but David Robertson certainly appears to have righted the ship after an awful start to the season and has solidified himself as the leading candidate to take over the 8th-inning role now that Joe has relieved Joba of those duties. Since his blowup against Toronto early this month, Robertson has been lights out in his last 9 outings. Observe:
And if you're like me and still appreciate the simpler, outdated stats, Robertson has lowered his ERA from 6.15 to 4.54 over that stretch. The most important stat out of the line above would have to be the 2.89 BB/9. Robertson's strikeout numbers have been on par with his career numbers this year, but it's been the home runs and walks that have really hurt him. To have a lower BB/9 number than we're used to seeing from him suggests that he has finally rediscovered the command on his devastating fastball/curveball combo, and that has allowed him to attack hitters and get ahead in the count to set up the hook as his K pitch like last year. His confidence seems to grow each time out, which is a good thing heading towards the homestretch of the regular season in a bullpen that has been shaky at best all year.
So now the question becomes, with Robertson firing on all cylinders, J-Alba and Mitre providing a change of pace in the bullpen rotation, Mo being Mo, and Ace possibly coming back before the end of the year, what do the Yankees do at the trading deadline regarding the bullpen? Do they tell Toronto to get fucked with their 'Jesus Montero for Scott Downs' proposal? Do they say the same thing to KC about Joakim Soria?
The Adam Dunn talks have stalled and there are no decent starters left out on the market, so the bench and bullpen still look like the areas most likely to see a change. But one thing's for sure; the re-emergence of Robertson as a viable bullpen option certainly lessens the urgency with which the Yanks should be looking to fill the other holes out there.
Because I really don't. And I'm not just saying that because SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight have jumped all over how long it's taken him to do it and how he now has the most at-bats between 599 and 600 in history. I'm saying it because in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter how many he hits. Especially not if he keeps producing like he has been and the Yankees keep winning.
Let's face it, because of his steroids admission last year, whatever records A-Rod ends up attaining are always going to be tied to his juicing. Nobody talks about what McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds did years back anymore as if they were any kind of serious accomplishments and now A-Rod will be placed in that same category when he retires and his stats reach their final tally. Add to that the fact that the media is still overly anti-A-Rod and you can pretty much take it to the bank that nobody outside of Yankee Stadium will pay tribute to his accomplishments and final stats, so there is little meaning or significance to be had. Is that his fault for taking the steroids and cheating? Of course it is. Nobody can deny that. But even if he had never been outed or had never even juiced in the first place, there are plenty of other arguments that people would have made had A-Rod ended up breaking the all-time home run record that would have rendered it meaningless, so when you really think about it, does it even matter how many he hits?
What really matters is winning, something that A-Rod finally figured out a year or two ago and something that he is much more focused on now than he was earlier in his career when he was putting up bigger home run numbers and jabbing needles in his ass. And winning happens to be what the Yankees are doing right now, and they're doing it better than anybody in baseball. They are, without a doubt, the favorite to win the World Series and go back-to-back for the first time since 2000.
And not only that, A-Rod is one of the key cogs in that winning right now. He isn't hitting home runs, but he's still producing and driving in runs at a healthy rate. After last night, dude now has 85 ribbies on the season, which puts him 2nd behind Miguel Cabrera not only in the AL, but in all of Major League Baseball. He has 12 in his last 10 games, 31 in the month of July, and barring serious injury he's a sure bet to drive in at least 100 and maybe closer to 120-130. Maybe I'm a little crazy here in my assumption, but that seems like a pretty goddamn good number to me.
Yes, he's older. Yes, he might still be a little banged up. And yes, he's obviously not the dominant power hitter he used to be, as his .275 BA and .834 OPS (over 100 points below his career OPS) shows. But Alex Rodriguez is still one of the most dangerous and best hitters in the game today and he's been making the hits he has gotten count all season long. His .275/.346/.488 season tripleslash rises to .292/.365/.530 with runners on base, and rises even more to .301/.370/.549 with RISP. And if you really want to be impressed, in 16 bases-loaded at-bats this year, A-Rod is hitting at a .500/.500/1.125 clip with 3 HRs and 29 RBIs.
So fuck his 600th home run and fuck his home run totals. I'll take all the RBI singles and bases-clearing doubles I can get as long as he keeps doing what he's doing in big situations as the cleanup hitter, continues to play a fantastic third base, and the Yankees keep winning. And if he comes up big in the postseason again this year like he did in 2009, then I don't care if he ever hits another home run again and you shouldn't either. Let Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark rattle off all the inane stats related to A-Rod's 600th home run that their little hearts desire. I'll just sit back and watch him drive in runs as he and Yanks steam towards another title.
Welcome to the rotation, Dustin. Good to have you aboard.
(Photo courtesy of The AP)
Between Moseley's performance last night and Mitre looking 10 times better coming out of the 'pen for 2 innings on Wednesday night, the Yanks might have just filled 2 holes before the trade deadline without giving up or bringing in anybody. Yeah, I know it was just the Indians, but still.