Mariners Analysis

Monday, February 21, 2005

Big year for Alex

There seems to be a new step this year in many major league checklists for Spring Training:

1) Check in with manager
2) Make tee-times
3) Take a shot at Alex Rodriguez

As a slightly miffed M's fan, I rather enjoy seeing players like Trot Nixon take little shots at Pay-Rod. But I have always admired his skills on the field, even when he was cashing Mr. Hicks paychecks in Texas.

However, last year was a bit of a disappointment for Alex playing for the Yankees. I'm not going to say he had a bad year, because he didn't. He played excellent defense while playing a new position, and said and did all the right things.

But playing in that lineup, you expected just a little more from Mr. 252. He's now had his year of settling in to the New York spotlight, and he's had more than just a few reasons to be motivated this offseason. I mean, since joining the Yankees he's had-
* The Karate chop incident (certainly the most serious image blow to Mr. Perfect in his career)
* The 2-17 ending to his season, watching the Red Sox win the WS (the very team he was brought in to beat)
* And now every Boston Red Sox player taking a shot at him
* The big man himself George has privately met with him to tell him to play like a superstar

If Alex isn't motivated to play well after all that has happened, I don't know what else it would take. We all know what can happen when a players signs a life changing contract- some players maintain a high level, and some lose the interest and prefer to stay at the ranch with the fam. So far Alex has been someone who has projected the image of a person much like Tiger Woods- a level of seriousness about his play that precludes the notion of kids taking priority. Now that Alex has a baby in his life, that image of Alex first will be tested.

He is in shape, in the spotlight, and in the perfect position to establish a career year. He's no longer a kid- he is a father entering the prime years of his profession. This SHOULD be a huge year for Alex.

Will he be like Bonds, and just get better and better? Or will he follow a path like Griffey- injury filled and family oriented? This year will tell us whether he's peaked or hasn't climbed the mountain.

The motivation is there. The spotlight is there.

Let's see how Alex performs.