A-Rod remains center of attention

Alex Rodriguez remains the center of attention in Yankeeland. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Alex Rodriguez held court this week in Tampa, Fla. after reporting to Yankees Spring Training and said all the right things  a year after a day he’d like to forget.

“It becomes an addiction,” he said, in reference to winning, thankfully not steroids. “You want to just keep winning.”

Johnn Damon, replaced by the Yankees, signed with Detroit last week. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

A-Rod remains in the middle of everything the Yankees do, his arrival at camp helping deflect discussion of the Yanks’ weird pitching situation entering 2010. He spoke about the loss of key hitters Johnny Damon and DH Hideki Matsui and GM Brian Cashman’s plans this winter (essentially repeating Jeter’s line about remaining a Yankee).

I still think losing Damon will hurt and I personally really liked him.  I understand they want to reduce the payroll, but the money spent on guys like Marcus Thames and Nick Johnson, etc could have brought back Damon for what the Tigers paid.

Replacing Matsui won’t hurt as much — he was  a clutch, professional hitter, but he was ice cold at times and injured for long stretches in the past few years. He’ll come back to haunt the Yankees with “Anaheim” no doubt. Losing his bat makes A-Rod’s production a little more important and also takes a OBP machine like Matsui off the bases for him.

If only A-Rod could pitch; this past week, the Yankees reportedly brought aboard Chan Ho Park. $1.2 million for this dude. I was walking out of the MLB offices one day this week in front of a guy complaining the Yankees didn’t have many arms left in the bullpen — actually, it’s the opposite — they are overloaded with mediocre relief.

What does Park add to the mix? He was leaned upon heavily by the Phillies last October against the Yankees, and he did OK, but — do the Yankees want to be in that position this coming year? Putting the ball in Chan-Ho Park’s hand in a hot spot? These are the disposable kind of players the Yankees sign and stick with way too long before realizing it’s time to cut their losses (see: Brian Bruney, Scott Proctor, Phil Coke, Kyle Farnsworth).

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has tweaked the Bombers' roster for 2010, letting go of some key hitters. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Take a look at the Yankees depth chart for the bullpen. We’re at 11 relievers, including Park, who’s contract hasn’t been formally announced. I’m not going to rehash that lineup of mediocrity; coming into this offseason, I anticipated Cashman would target some solid, legit relievers. All he brought in was Boone Logan, a throw-in with Javy Vazquez.

Regarding A-Rod, saying he’ll have another big year isn’t really much of a prediction. If he’s healthy and relaxed, he’ll produce, Kate Hudson or not.

“I’ve never had more fun in my life playing baseball than I did last year,” he said.

You kind of wonder what 2010 brings — he’s not injured and arriving without expectations — now he’s a winner and he’s being looked at again to deliver. Still, his Day 1 of camp this spring was a much better day for all.

“Last year, obviously, was a very embarrassing day, and something that I wouldn’t want to go back and do,” Rodriguez said of his steroid admission after arriving to Tampa in 2009. “But looking back, I certainly thought it was a very important day.”

A-Rod enters 2010 healthy, happy and looking to repeat. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

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