May
13

The A-Rod and Jorge impact

By

When Alex Rodriguez went down with a quad injury that will keep him on the shelf for a few weeks this year, he hadn’t been off to the same start he enjoyed last year. Admittedly, that’s not a fair comparison. How often does any player hit 14 home runs in a month while single-handedly carrying a team?

But despite a slower start, he still had a vital role in the lineup. As the cleanup hitter, he was hitting .272./330/.506 with 4 HR and 10 RBI in 81 at-bats. Those are poor numbers by A-Rod‘s standards, but to suggest that the team doesn’t miss him is wishful thinking at best.

In his absence, the Yankees’ replacement third basemen have been downright awful. The three replacements — Wilson Betemit, Alberto Gonzalez and Morgan Ensberg — have now enjoyed 70 plate appearances as third basemen this year. Collectively, they are hitting .239 with a .271 OBP and a .269 slugging percentage. That is utterly woeful.

Things don’t look much better behind the dish either. As a catcher, Jorge Posada hit .321/.345/.429 this year in 29 plate appearances. The other three catchers have put together 114 plate appearances and are hitting .224/.263/.348.

While it’s easy to say that the Yankees were a .500 team without A-Rod and, hey, wouldn’t they still be a .500 team now, that ignores the reality offered by those who have tried to replace Jorge. The Yankees are missing a ton of offense right now, and it’s showing in the product on the field. The middle of their lineup is weak; Shelley Duncan had to hit cleanup against lefties, and even Derek Jeter found himself penciled into the four hole for one game. The bottom of their lineup — drawing well below league-average production from the C and 3B spots — has become a terrible liability. It’s a cascade issue.

The Yankees probably could have withstood an injury to either A-Rod or Jorge. They probably would be two games behind Boston had just one of them gone down. But with both out, this team’s offensive production slides off the table. Get well soon, guys.

Categories : Analysis, Offense

30 Comments»

  1. Travis G. says:

    agreed. no team could withstand the loss of their two best hitters (going by 07 stats). we’re lucky to be just 4 games out. we’ve had 1 consistent starter and 1 consistent reliever.

    really, really hoping Kennedy has a strong game on thursday. bringing him back after one game is a panic move, but also understandable with the available options.

  2. j says:

    Steve Lombardi begs to differ!

  3. Travis G. says:

    is it my diseased memory? i cant remember what happened to Traber. and who’s to be sent down when Igawa goes to the pen?

    • Mike A. says:

      Traber is in Triple-A. Igawa will go down for IPK on Thursday; they will basically take each other’s spot in their respective rotations.

  4. steve (different one) says:

    it’s compounded by the fact that they are 2 of the 3 best RIGHT HANDED hitters on the team (obvious Jorge is a switch hitter) and they have seen a bunch of lefty pitching since the injuries.

  5. bob says:

    Garcia is not MIA, by the way. He pitched yesterday and is due to pitch again Saturday, after which he will be assigned to a minor league team, most likely Tampa. He has been very effective on the mound to date.

  6. Ron says:

    What your analysis ignores is that the Yankees are much deeper than most clubs, and should be able to absorb injuries better than most. Also, although they have started to come around recently, if Cano and Giambi hadn’t totally sucked, the Yanks might only 2 games back. So yeah, obviously the Yankees, or any team for that matter, miss the production of Alex & Jorge. But if the other players played up to their potential, it wouldn’t be as bad as it has been.

    • Ben K. says:

      Pinto’s Day-By-Day Database is down right now so I can’t pull up completely accurate figures. However, A-Rod went on the DL on April 30, and we can use May as a benchmark.

      In May, Robinson Cano is hitting .310/.355/.586 and Jason Giambi has an OPS this month of .996. They aren’t the problem since A-Rod’s been on the DL. Sure, they had not gotten off to such horrible starts, the Yanks would probably be two games out. But they’re no longer the problem.

      The Yanks are deep as long as their starters don’t go down, just like any other club. Wilson Betemit is a great player to have on the bench; Jose Molina is a fantastic backup catcher. But when they start having to play everyday, your team is in trouble.

      • steve (different one) says:

        But when they start having to play everyday, your team is in trouble.

        exactly.

        i don’t understand the criticism of bench players who are playing everyday.

        of course they are going to underwhelm over long stretches. if they were starting caliber players, they’d be starting somewhere.

        Molina and Betemit are both excellent backups. but they aren’t the Hall of Fame caliber talent they are filling in for.

    • Count Zero says:

      Huh?

      Let’s simplify:

      A-Rod 2007 WARP3 = 13.7
      Jorge 2007 WARP3 = 9.9

      So basically, take both of those guys out of your lineup and put in RL players and you win 23 less games or thereabouts.

      Even if you take into account that those were phenomenal years for them, A-Rod’s career average WARP3 is just a hair under 10 and Posada’s is over 5. In other words, a 95 win team becomes an 80 win team without them.

      So, unless your team is so deep that your backup 3B and C both have WARP3s over 4, you’re going to be a sub .500 team without those two guys. Last time I checked, Molina (who is an excellent backup C) is posting a 1.3. We won’t even discuss the 3B situation, but a backup 3B who had a 7+ WARP3 wouldn’t be a backup for very long.

      Very few teams in history could afford to lose an A-Rod and a Posada and expect to play > .500 ball over any significant stretch of time. You just have to hope you get lucky and catch lightning in a bottle.

  7. chris says:

    the real loss is AROD. not to bash jorge, but i think they can win without him as Molina is a lot closer to him than betemit is to AROD, but this is what happens when you have guys who can only DH or play a poor first base. the team has no flexibility because of a poorly built roster. it is intnces such as these that magnify how valuable a guy like chone figgins can be.

    they thought betemit was the guy, but apparently he is not.

    and this wouldnt even be talked about if all their high priced stars were playing half-way to their potential. there are a lot of second half players on this team – most notably abreu and cano. let’s hope they catch fire quicker this year because a comeback like last year will be tough as the orioles and rays are no longer pushovers and it looks like out west there may be three teams in contention for the divsion/wildcard.

    this year will be a lot tougher than last year

  8. Micky7 Old Ranger says:

    Two of our best players are gone (A-Rod/Jorge), two of the better hitters on the team are not hitting (Jason/Cano). That is almost HALF THE TEAM not producing. One would think we just might have a little problem winning. The pitching has been ok, lately…except for Kei. Raz has stepped up, now we need IPK to do the same. It isn’t one persons fault, it is the TEAMS fault. Pitchers; pitch better, hitters; start hitting (clutch), the defense; pick it up, and things would be very nice…thank you very much. 27/08.

  9. Jeff says:

    The offense could obviously use Jorge and A-Rod but a lot of the losses came at the hands of Hughes and Kennedy. Wang has been great but the days when we got off to the hot starts were the days when we had better arms.

  10. They need a spark plug on top of the lineup I’m all for moving Melky to #1 hole and Damon to #3 even when Arod comes back, just dont think Johnny is a numb3r #1 anymore? I also would think about moving Jeter to #5 or #6 whom you place @2 …..? right now I’d say Abreu nd ask him to take more walks!!!! What this team doesn’;t do enough but the Great “90’s” teams did!!!!!

    I know Abreu isn’t the ideal numb3r #2 …but this lineup needs a shake up and even “Jeter” isn’t untouchable @ this point!

    And I would start taking offers for Cano, I dont care how great he will be he?
    His mental lapnesses and ineptitude sometimes makes him a player no matter his potential I dont care to have!

    We’ve WON before with the likes of Mariano Duncan and stop gaps @ 2nd before!

    Melky CF-S
    Abreu RF-L
    Damon LF-L
    Matsui DH-L
    Jeter SS-R
    Giambi-1B-L
    Ensberg 3B-R
    Molina C -R
    Gonzales 2B-R

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