Anticipating A-Rod’s Return

Remembering The El Duque Era
A few roster decisions on the horizon
(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

The Yankees have been without their starting third baseman and cleanup hitter for close to six weeks now, but are close to getting Alex Rodriguez back now that he’s playing the field for Triple-A Scranton in rehab games. He went 1-for-3 with a hard hit single and played six innings in the field last night (video here), his first game action at third since having knee surgery last month. Assuming all goes well, he’ll return to the Yankees at some point during the upcoming four-game series in Minnesota.

Eduardo Nunez and Eric Chavez (with a little Brandon Laird mixed in) have filled in admirably during A-Rod‘s absence, but Yankees’ third baseman are hitting just .260/.308/.333 since he got hurt. The team’s overall offensive output has gone up, from 5.22 runs per game before the injury to 5.85 after, but that has more to with the small sample size and playing some really bad teams more than anything. Even though he hasn’t played in a month, Alex is still second among all big league third baseman with 4.0 fWAR, a tenth of a win behind Kevin Youkilis, who just passed him over the weekend. The Yankees have gone 23-11 without A-Rod, but there’s no doubt they’re a better team with him in the lineup.

Once he comes back, the lineup will basically go back to normal. A-Rod will (rightfully) hit cleanup and Brett Gardner will get bumped back to the bottom of the order. It’s obvious the Yankees aren’t going to move Derek Jeter down in the lineup, even just against righties, so moving Gardner down is the next best thing to do. You can’t give Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano fewer at-bats by moving them down even one lineup spot just accommodate Gardner, it’s not worth it. We’ll be back to the regular top five, meaning Jeter, Grandy, Tex, A-Rod, and Cano. Everyone else falls into place right after that.

Thankfully, Alex’s return also means the end of the 13-man pitching staff, and I assume Hector Noesi will (finally) get send back to Triple-A for regular work. The guy has thrown 3.2 IP in the last 20 days. It’s a waste, he needs to get back to the minors and actually do some pitching. I guess the alternative would be what, cutting Luis Ayala? I see no reason to do that. Freddy Garcia‘s cut finger buys them some time with the six-man rotation decision, and Joe Girardi will just have to live with a six-man bullpen for 10-12 days until September call-ups. It won’t be the end of the world.

I also think that once A-Rod comes back, he’s going to see a lot more games at DH than we’re used to, at least at first. There’s no reason to push him in the field so soon after surgery, so two or three days a week at DH rather than one might be the norm through the end of the season, especially with September right around the corner. That’ll give Nunez and Chavez some semi-regular playing time, which is always good, especially in the kid’s case. I don’t know how A-Rod will hit when he comes back, but I suspect it won’t be poorly. Perhaps a healthy knee will improve his power output, which wasn’t really a problem to begin with. Either way, the Yankees are currently in first place and are a few days away from making a substantial addition to the roster, and that’s exciting.

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Remembering The El Duque Era
A few roster decisions on the horizon
  • Gonzo

    I told a friend of mine to see if he can get him in a fantasy league. I think he’s going to be on fire.

    Is the trade deadline passed in fantasy leagues? I don’t play.

    • NJ_Andy

      It depends on the league; everyone does it their own way.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    I can’t wait for him to come back, easily my favorite position player. I’m going to see him play tonight as well in swb. On top of that I think it should be a great pitching match up, manny vs matt moore, hope a-rod can take him deep.

  • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

    Remember how excited everyone was when the Yankees added A-Rod in 2004? (I don’t, but I don’t count).

    Now we get to relive that excitement every time he gets injured for the next six seasons woohoo!

    • jon

      and despite missing that time hes still one of the best 3b this year

    • Jorge

      It’s going to suck when Jerome S. is at the end of his contract and just posting the same stuff over and over because he can’t remember what he posted before. We’ll still manage. Of course, we learned from the other post how old he is, so must of us will be dead by then. :)

  • ida nextace MannyB

    I think Joey G will DH too often for him to get injured.

    • jsbrendog

      que?

    • steve (different one)

      I hope not, Girardi could barely hit 10 years ago

      • ida nextace MannyB

        Bah I meant Joe would put arod in DH spot too often next season and on for him to get injured sorry

  • vin

    I think it’s great that not even A-Rod could bump Jesus from the cleanup spot last night. MONTERO IS A CLEANUP HITTAH!

    • Monteroisdinero

      He had to protect ARod. Why don’t they have both of them fly to Minny?

    • dean

      Montero usually hits 3rd for Scranton

      • Monteroisdinero

        I’m sure they just wanted to make sure ARod batted in the first inning to maximize his ab’s- as we should do with Cano…

  • LeftyLarry

    I’d keep Gardner at leadoff and Granderson would bat 3rd, the speed there and clutch hitting works.

    Yankees are clealry a better hitting team that way, it’s been proven, so if Tex, AROD and Cano needed to move back one spot each, in some order, that’s the way to go.

    Tex is performing like a classic #5 type hitter, not a #3.

    • Sarah

      I was thinking it makes some sense to consider moving Tex down. Which, of course, means moving Cano down (unless Tex moves to 6th).

      I just think it’s silly to wait until the 9 spot for Gardner to come up. Given how well the Gardner-Jeter combo works, why wait until the 3rd inning to put on the show? Give ARod more guys to bat in this way!

  • UncleArgyle

    Maybe someday I’ll figure out why a guy Batting .243 with a .343 On Base is locked into the 3 hole of the lineup.

    • Pat D

      Well, he’s hitting .249, just to nitpick.

      But I’m guessing it’s his .504 slugging that keeps him hitting that high in the order.

      • UncleArgyle

        Ah, that was a typo. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I’ve always thought that a teams number three hitter should be their best pure hitter. Not a player who doesn’t get a lot of hits, doesn’t get on base all that much, strikes out a lot, and is amazingly streaky (aka slump prone). But then again, what do I know. My lineup would have Tex batting 5th or 6th depending on the starting pitcher.

    • David, Jr.

      I would have Cano 3rd. With speed and base runners in front, causing lots of movement in the infield, you want a guy that makes lots of contact, and Tex is not that guy. I believe that Cano would hit .325 in the 3 hole. However, it won’t happen. It just isn’t the way that The Binder does things. Tex is his third hitter guy.

      • NJ_Andy

        “Texy,” I believe would be the proper name according to the Binder.

        That said, I’m less concerned about the BA of the no. 3 hitter than I am the OBP/SLG. Robbie’s still great, but as long they’re not making outs and driving in runs, I don’t care if it’s the result of a high contact % or just bashing the ball.

      • Pat D

        Except that there’s not a tremendous difference between their K rates.

      • Total Dominication

        214356789

    • steve (different one)

      When you have a bunch of great hitters, it barely matters a lick what order you put them in. There is no wrong answer. There is no way to screw up the yankee lineup as long as Martin is hitting near the bottom. Everything else is just tinkering around the margins.

      Every study tells us this, yet people on a stats based site still complain about the order. Why is this?

  • Pat D

    I would assume that, considering the bullpen usage the last two nights, Noesi would be the first guy out of the bullpen no matter what the situation.

    • Cuso

      my thoughts, too

  • NJ_Andy

    Gardner
    Jeter
    Granderson
    A-Rod
    Cano
    Tex
    Swisher
    DH
    Martin

    If only, eh?

    • UncleArgyle

      Works for me. Actually I’d like to see ARod DH more and have a Chavez/Nunez platoon at 3rd.

      • A.D.

        Gotta respect that Jones has been pretty good against lefties all season, and particularly crushing it the past month

      • NJ_Andy

        Just to avoid injury? A-Rod’s looked excellent in the field this year. I get that we want to preserve him for the length of the contract, but don’t we also want to get maximum value while we can out of Alex?

        • Guns of the Navarone

          “Just to avoid injury?”

          Ummm… Hell yes.

    • Urban

      The Yankees are in first, have the highest run differential in the game by far, and have the best offense based on runs per game. No need to demote Tex to give Gardner more ABs. The run differential would be non-existant and the media storm over the Tex demotion would be unwelcome for a team humming along right now.

      I also like Granderson power in the second slot.

  • mikeymikeeee

    Why can’t the lineup just be like this??

    Jeter
    Granderson
    Cano
    A-rod
    Tex
    Swisher
    Chavez – DH
    Martin
    Gardner

  • ida nextace MannyB

    I always believed that the #3 spot is for your best and most patient hitter. There could be arguments made for several Yankees to occupy the 3 hole I personally would love to see cano there but his obp is just too low when compared to even teix which is one reason why people argue teix should be 3rd the fact he’s a bit more patient. Along those same lines I’m kinda wondering how swish would do in the 3 seeing as hes top 10 in obp

  • mikeymikeeee

    Yea I see what you mean with the OBP, but I really think that extends our lineup very nicely with cano in the 3 spot.