Latest A-Rod troubles have team frustrated

NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez was speaking on a conference call.

"A huge debacle," he said. "Distasteful."

That was on Dec. 13, 2007, when he re-signed with the New York Yankees and was discussing his decision 1½ months earlier to

become a free agent.

Now those words describe how some in the team's front office feel about A-Rod's $275 million, 10-year contract.

Once considered a player who could shatter

the career home run record, Rodriguez has transformed from All-Star to


for some in the Yankees organization. He hasn't played a full

season since he was voted his third AL MVP award in 2007, he's

out for at least the first half of this year following hip surgery

on Jan. 16 and now he's been accused of again receiving

performance-enhancing drugs — an allegation he denies.

Even before the charges were published

Tuesday by the alternative weekly Miami New Times along with accusations

against Melky

Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani

Grandal, some Yankees executives were wishing Rodriguez would

just go away. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the team

isn't publicly commenting on A-Rod's latest troubles, they

revealed their frustration with the slugger.

And they have a big incentive for A-Rod to

disappear. If he doesn't play again due to a career-ending injury, about

85 percent

of the $114 million he's owed by the team would be covered by

insurance, according to one of the executives who spoke on condition

of anonymity.

New York also might be able to free itself from having the $27.5 million average annual value of Rodriguez's contract count

in its luxury tax payroll in each of the next five seasons, a key factor as the Yankees try to get under the $189 million

threshold in 2014.

If Rodriguez is on the disabled list, his contract is included. But if he's on the voluntary retired list, it would not be

part of the total.

And if the Yankees fall under that $189

million benchmark, their luxury tax rate would drop from its current 50

percent to

17.5 percent for 2015. That would give them far more flexibility

to pursue pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Justin

Verlander if they become free agents following the 2014 season.

New York is not likely to be able to void

A-Rod's deal. Baseball's drug agreement between management and the

players' association

specifies the commissioner's office has all disciplinary authority

for violations.

A-Rod's poor health, however, may provide the path to savings for the team.

While Rodriguez rebounded from right hip surgery in March 2009 to help the Yankees to their first World Series title since

2000, Dr. Bryan Kelly said recovery from his operation on A-Rod's left hip this month will be more complex if for no other

reason than it receives more stress because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter.

Even before the latest kerfuffle, A-Rod seemed to have worn out his welcome.

Yankees management tired of spotting him on

the gossip pages with Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Torrie

Wilson. They

bristled when he was seen with a stripper in Toronto, at a

swingers' club in Dallas and at an illegal poker club in New York.

They made their displeasure public in 2010

when they said they never authorized Rodriguez to be treated by Dr.

Anthony Galea,

who said he prescribed anti-inflammatories to A-Rod following the

first hip operation. Indicted in part for illegal possession

of human growth hormone with intent to distribute, the Canadian

doctor pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of introducing

misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to

mislead a U.S. agency.

Then came last year's playoffs, when Rodriguez was benched in three of nine games and pinch hit for in three others. He flirted

with girls in the stands after he was removed from the AL championship series opener against Detroit.

Rodriguez's 647 home runs are 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds' career record but he has totaled just 34 the last two seasons

and his 38th birthday is in late July. He has averaged 119 games, 21 homers and 81 RBIs over the last three years.

Before and after most games, when media is

allowed to enter the Yankees' clubhouse, Rodriguez spends little time at

his locker

in the back left of the oval room, not too far from the entrance

to the inner sanctum that contains the players' lounge, steam

room, sauna, rubdown room, weight room, trainer's room and

swimming pool. He doesn't have one of the prestige locations flanking

the back entrance, held by Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, who took

over the spot when Jorge Posada retired.

He has never been accepted by Yankees' fans the same way they adored Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

And now, with his increasing tabloid notoriety and declining production, some of the team's executives have concluded he's

more a handicap than a help as the team strives for World Series title No. 28.