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Sweeny: Like It Or Not, Yankees Need A-Rod's Bat — At DH

By Sweeny Murti
» More Columns

That Yankee offense never did come around, huh?

Point to just about anybody in the lineup and you can find someone who is responsible for this disaster. Has there ever been a team that finished last in the league in runs and first in attendance? Anyway...

One of the most glaring deficiencies in the Yankees lineup the last two seasons has been their awful production from the DH spot. One of the biggest issues has been putting healthy bodies in the lineup. In 2013 it was about multiple disabling injuries and in 2014 it was about massive under-performance.

Joe Girardi has liked the idea of rotating his DH the last few years, giving him a chance to give a half-day's rest to a player who might need it. And now I'm wondering if the Yankees have gone about this the wrong way; if the way they employ a DH is the reason they get such little out of him.

Let's go back to Jason Giambi, who used to argue with Joe Torre that he hit better when he played first base than when he was DH. And that was quite accurate based on the numbers.

However, Giambi would mainly DH when he had a bad knee or a bad back or some other nagging body part, so didn't it also make sense that Giambi didn't hit as well as DH because he wasn't physically at his best?

This year, Carlos Beltran has been the most regular DH, and it's because he physically wasn't able to play the field as much thanks his aching elbow. But his bat was affected too, so the Yankees didn't really get the most out of using him as DH.

Plain and simple: the rotating DH thing isn't working because they aren't putting healthy bodies in the lineup. What the Yankees need is a relatively healthy player manning the DH spot, someone who can hit for power and not risk more wear and tear by throwing himself around the field. David Ortiz plays DH because that's his best position. And to risk minimizing his bat by making him play the field would be foolish.

And that's why the Yankees best lineup next year will have Alex Rodriguez as their full-time DH.

Wow, I can't believe I just said that either.

As soon as this season is officially over, as soon as Game 162 is in the books, A-Rod is a Yankee again, his Biogenesis-related suspension in the books as well. Back on the roster, back on the payroll, and back in a uniform come spring of 2015. What -- you think the Yankees are going to write him a $61 million check to go away?

It's going to be hard enough to imagine a 39-year-old with two surgically repaired hips and a year off from playing baseball jumping back into the majors. Why make it harder? Tell him to leave his glove at home. The only way A-Rod can help the Yankees is if he can hit. So how about just sticking with that.

Sure, the Yankees have a roster problem -- you could make a similar case for Beltran or even Mark Teixeira. But both of those guys are likely to be better fielding their positions than A-Rod at third base after such a long layoff.

I'm not saying the hitting part will be easy either. Teixeira and Derek Jeter proved this year how hard it is to hit major league pitching after missing a whole year. Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales only missed two months and struggled to catch up. A-Rod vs. major league pitching will not be easy after so much time off.

Teixeira has been bugged by injuries big and small all year, in part because his body wasn't in "baseball shape" -- as he put it -- after his year of rehab from wrist surgery. This will be a challenge for A-Rod even if he isn't coming off an injury like that. But remember those two bad hips I mentioned?

The last time we saw A-Rod, he posted a .771 OPS in 44 games in 2013.

And you know what?

The Yankees would take that right now.

Who plays third base then? Well it could make re-signing Chase Headley an option, or you could move Martin Prado there and bring in a new second baseman. Hey, maybe that new second baseman is Rob Refsnyder after he hits .420 in March!

Sure, the Yankees need more fixes. And maybe there are better ideas. But I don't think there are worse ones.

Sweeny Murti

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