Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.
Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez
Its hard to think that Alex Rodriguez can have a better season than he did last year. He hit .314 with 54 homeruns and 156 RBI's. He also stole 24 bases and made 13 errors at third base after having 24 errors there the year before. On the first game of the 2007 season he was booed early on for dropping a flyball in foul territory. He then went on to crush a homerun in late innings to help beat the team formerly known as the Devil Rays. If you got to see A-Rod last season you saw that he was a different person than he was in 2006. I went to a game against Cleveland at Yankee stadium where he went 0-4 before blasting a Joe Borowski pitch into the Yankee bullpen for a walk off three-run homerun. A-Rod had finally put behind him the demons that plagued him in 2006 and nothing else would get in his way. No blonde stripper, no derogotary words printed on his wife's shirt, not even yelling something that would confuse the crap out of Howie Clark could get in his way. I will admit that I was an A-Rod detractor in 2006, but he won me over in game 1 of the 2007 season, and hasn't disappointed me since.
My Fearless Prediction:
I expect A-Rod to have another outstanding season. It would be tough to replicate what he did last season, but if his off season work out is any indication of how he'll play, then I think we're going to see an amazing A-Rod. If you didn't get a chance to read it, the Miami Herald has an article about A-Rod mentoring a 20 year old collegiate player at the University of Miami where he works out in the off season (Thanks to Bryan Hoch for pointing this out on his blog). Mientkiewicz is quoted in that article as saying "'How many guys would have the year he had and get back to work and do more than what he did the year before?" By the sounds of it, A-Rod wants to replicate. A healthy A-Rod will make a run at the true single season homerun record of 61 set by Roger Maris. The important thing for A-Rod is to stay out of his own head. I don't know what goes on in there, but it can have an adverse effect on his performance.
Much of A-Rod's run production will be determined by whether Abreu will not stay in a slump for half the season, and how good the batters behind him turn out to be. If Giambi is healthy there will potentially be another power bat behind A-Rod, which certainly helps. He's definitely a shoo-in for 120+ RBI's, but that's not really a fearless prediction, so I'll bump him up to 140+.
My real fearless prediction has to do with his post season play. A-Rod is too good for him to continue playing a mediocre post season. He will mash this post season, and that's my real fearless prediction.