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Rodriguez, Yankees Still In Firing Line

Alex Rodriguez potentially faces a lifetime ban from baseball.

Alex Rodriguez potentially faces a lifetime ban from baseball.

Things aren’t getting any easier for Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees it appears.

After nearly a season’s worth of drama, controversy and petulance, both player and team appear to be nearing a crossroad that will have a huge impact on both.

20130801_AL_EastReports emerging this week suggest that Major League Baseball is contemplating handing Rodriguez a lifetime ban from baseball in response to evidence garnered during the Biogenesis drug scandal. Rodriguez meanwhile has put together a crack team of lawyers to help him fight the charges, or at least that’s what we were led to believe.

It now appears that Rodriguez is hoping to put together some kind of settlement that will see him suspended but able to return to the game, thus earning some of the salary remaining on the $252 million contract he signed in 2007, $100 million of which is still owed. Reports suggest the two parties are not close to a deal though.

Rodriguez, who has yet to play a game for the Yankees this season, is currently rehabbing a quad strain. The third baseman underwent hip surgery in the offseason, a procedure that was expected to sideline him until the All-Star break. The subsequent soap opera was captured in this BettingSports.com blog.

Suggestions have been made that the punishments for those involved in the scandal, most notably Rodriguez, may be handed out in the next few days. That could be bad news for Rodriguez and the Yankees, who are in desperate need of more right handed hitting. 3 1/2 games out of a Wild Card place, the Yankees will need all the help they can get if they’re to make a postseason push.

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter is the latest to voice his abhorrence of the whole saga. But unlike many others, Showalter – who managed Rodriguez in the final year of his contract with the Texas Rangers in 2003, a year in which the third baseman admitted to using PEDs – isn’t critical of the perennial All-Star. Instead, he’s critical of how the Yankees might make out financially if Rodriguez is suspended.

Under the latest collective bargaining agreement, a season long suspension would remove Rodriguez’s $25 million salary from the Yankees’ books, giving the club a good chance of coming in under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014. If the club comes in under that marker, it will only be eligible to pay 17 percent in luxury tax, as opposed to 50 percent for going over. This in turn would give the Yankees money to play with down the line.

Buck Showalter is pointing fingers.

Buck Showalter is pointing fingers.

Speaking to USA Today, Showalter said: “If [commissioner] Bud [Selig] lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax. If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”

Baltimore catcher Wieters is due to become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season.

While it’s no surprise that Showalter is speaking out against his division rivals, it does go some way to demonstrating just how deep the condemnation of the Biogenesis scandal runs.

Other players expected to be issued with a suspension in the coming days include Texas Rangers’ outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego Padres’ shortstop Everth Cabrera, Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Oakland Athletics’ starter Bartolo Colon and Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger Melky Cabrera, all 2013 All-Stars. Colon and Cabrera both received 50-game PED-related bans towards the end of last season.

Rodriguez continues to rehab in hopes of joining the Yankees, suspension permitting, in the near future. He played in a simulated game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Thursday and is expected to join Double-A Trenton on Friday.

Rodriguez isn’t the lone problem in the Bronx. The Yankees currently have just shy of $83 million sat on the disabled list. Francisco Cervelli, Curtis Granderson, Travis Hafner, David Phelps, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis all join Rodriguez on the DL. Derek Jeter’s return and the arrival of Alfonso Soriano have buoyed the team to an extent, but more help is needed.

20130801_AL_WildcardIt isn’t all storm clouds and melancholy for the club though. Both Phelps and Granderson are currently on rehab assignments. Furthermore, Michael Pineda, who hasn’t pitched for the Yankees since being acquired ahead of the 2012 season, continues to rehab in the minors having been removed from the 60-day list.

All of this translates to a team that is not quite eliminated from the postseason picture, but one that is perilously close to being out of the hunt. Bovada currently lists the Yankees at 33/1 to win the World Series, putting the club in joint 13th place on the Futures list with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals.

AL East Preview

Pending suspensions and injuries aside, the Yankees (56-51, 27-26 road) continue their West Coast road trip this weekend, facing three games against the Padres (50-59, 29-24 home) at PETCO Park.

The Padres, winners of seven of the last 10, had a four-game winning streak snapped by the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. The Yankees meanwhile are looking to build on Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

New York Yankees vs. San Diego Padres odds for 8/2/13 are available now. The Padres opened as a narrow favorite, but most sportsbooks are now favoring the Yankees.

The West proves the theme of the AL East this weekend.

Toronto (50-58, 22-30 road) began a four-game set with the Los Angeles Angels (49-58, 28-28 home) Thursday, falling 8-2 at Angels Ballpark. The clubs meet again Friday, with odds and trends available here.

Buck Showalter’s Orioles (60-49, 32-23 home) meanwhile host a Seattle Mariners (50-58, 21-30 road) side that was just swept in Bean Town. Odds and trends for this series can be found here.

Meanwhile, the division-leading Boston Red Sox (66-44, 37-20 home) now host the Arizona Diamondbacks (55-53, 25-29 road). Odds and trends are available here.

Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays (64-44, 35-20 home) host the defending champion San Francisco Giants (48-59, 20-32) at the Trop this weekend. Odds and trends for Friday’s opener can be found here.


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