There two popular scenarios that Yankee fans envision the team pursuing in his absence until his (estimated) May 15th return. They reflect two distinct areas of the fan base and could have ramifications in both cases. They are as follows:
First Scenario: The Yanks are limping along, unable to muster enough runs to allow their improved pitching staff to make the impact the brass had hoped for. They have a record somewhere within a few wins of .500 on either side of the ledger. Alex comes back and lengthens the lineup, puts up his usual great numbers and leads the Yanks to the playoffs. Most of these folks are younger fans who are more sabermetrically inclined.
Second Scenario: The Yankees are flourishing in his absence. Freed of Alex and all the drama that surrounds him, The Yanks play as a team, as opposed to the 24+1 group they have when A-Rod is around. Knowing they don’t have a big bat in the lineup, they do the little things needed to win games. They play the kind of Baseball the Yanks were known for in the late 90′s, when they didn’t have any big stars in the lineup, they had them on the mound. Most of these are older fans who’ve seen the team win in various configurations, some without a big hitter, and think Alex is a choker.
Which scenario will be proven right remains to be seen, but there are implications for both. If the Yanks were to struggle in his absence, the pro-Alex camp would be reinforced in their belief that he is essential to the team’s success. Opponents would be dismissive of this result, and cite the Yanks previous slow starts in recent years, but would get to see what a Yankee world without Alex would look like and be given pause.
If the Yanks were to flourish, especially in the context of previous teams slow starts, then the anti-Alex camp would become even more emboldened. That would remove any doubts they have of the team’s chances to win in a post A-Rod world. They wouldn’t just be criticizing him anymore, but actively rooting for his exit, and making that desire known on radio stations and newspapers everywhere. It would also give the anti-Alex forces in the Yankee brass (which include the GM) further ammunition in their argument for his departure from the Bronx sometime down the road. They’ll need plenty of ammo, because that exit would be very, very expensive.
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