The A-Rod Injury & Third Base

A-Rod injured in loss to Mariners
Yankees to recall Ramiro Pena
(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

At this point of the season, with a seven-game lead and 65 left to play, the Yankees are just looking to maintain their cushion and stay healthy. The latter is sometimes out of their hands though, and last night they lost Alex Rodriguez for an unknown length of time when a pitch broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. It’s a non-displaced fracture and although that’s better than a displaced fracture, but it will still require a DL stint. Most estimates put his timetable in the 6-8 week range but we won’t know fore sure until he gets back to New York and sees the doctors on Thursday.

One way or the other, the Yankees just lost their starting third baseman and an important middle of the order bat for a not insignificant period of time. A-Rod is no longer the historically great hitter he once was, but his .356 wOBA and 121 wRC+ will be very tough to replace. The Yankees also have zero right-handed power in their lineup now — it’s basically Andruw Jones on the days he starts and that’s it. Switch-hitters Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher do soften the blow, thankfully. The team has not yet announced the corresponding roster move, but they have some options to plug the third base hole.

Eric Chavez
The Yankees have gotten some fantastic production out of Chavez this year (108 wRC+) and he remains a standout defender at the hot corner, but they would risk injury by running him out there on a full-time basis. It’s not a matter of if he would get hurt, just a question of when. Joe Girardi has done a fine of job of limiting his playing time in a way that both helped the team and kept Chavez off the DL. Doing that with Alex on the shelf will be much more difficult.

Jayson Nix
Nix has been fine as the utility infielder but he is a right-handed bat who does almost all of his damage against left-handers (99 wRC+). He and Chavez make sense as a platoon tandem in the short-term but the Yankees run the risk of exposing Chavez to injury and exposing Nix to opposing pitchers by using it permanently.

Eduardo Nunez & Ramiro Pena
Nunez is still working his way back from a thumb injury in the minors, so he’s probably not an option just yet. The Yankees love him and almost certainly would have used him as A-Rod’s replacement had a) he been healthy, and b) his defense not been so bad in April and May that he had to be sent to Triple-A. We’re all familiar with Pena, the switch-hitting slap hitter with a .249/.302/.316 batting line in Triple-A this season. He can play all over the infield and is excellent with the glove, but he can’t hit. You don’t want him out there on a full-time basis at all. Both Nunez and Pena are on the 40-man roster.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Brandon Laird & Corban Joseph
It’s been two years since Laird broke out with an MVP-winning season in Double-A, but Triple-A has been a much more difficult challenge. He’s hit .253/.294/.406 in just over 1,000 plate appearances at the level but has been hot of late, hitting .313/.367/.613 in July. Laird is a right-handed hacker with some power and he can actually play the position well, so he seems like a potential call-up candidate. CoJo has been mashing at Triple-A since making his debut a few weeks ago — .281/.379/.503 with nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (34) in 220 plate appearances — and has 43 games of third base experience to his credit (for his career, not this year), so he has to be considered as well. As a left-handed bat, he would get most of the playing time in a platoon. His ability to play second base would be nice as well. These two are both on the 40-man roster.

Outside Help
Go figure, Ryan Roberts was both designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks and traded to the Rays just a few hours before A-Rod got hurt. He would have been a solid temporary replacement had the timing been right. The Yankees could still explore the third base market with the trade deadline a little less than a week away, but I have to think they’ll wait for an official timetable from the doctors before diving into anything. Chase Headley is the big name now that Hanley Ramirez is off the market, but I have a hard time thinking they’ll do something of that magnitude. Headley wouldn’t just impact 2012, he’d impact 2013 and 2014 as well. A free agent-to-be like Marco Scutaro, Stephen Drew, Ty Wigginton, or Placido Polanco may make more sense.

* * *

Regardless of who the Yankees call-up to fill A-Rod’s spot — I expect it to be Nunez, but that’s nothing more than a guess — we’re probably going to see quite a bit of Chavez (and a little bit of Nix) at third for the next week or so. Chavez is an obvious fill-in but Girardi and the Yankees have to be very careful with him, they must ensure that he’s well-rested unless they want to lose two third baseman to the DL. I don’t have much faith in Laird or really any of the minor league guys at the moment, so swinging a trade before the deadline would be preferable. Either way, the Yankees will not be able to replace Alex and everything he provides, even this aging and declining version.

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A-Rod injured in loss to Mariners
Yankees to recall Ramiro Pena
  • JohnC

    Wigginton or Scutaro would be a great addition. SHouldn’t cost much either.

    • Aaron

      I agree… I am leaning more towards Scutaro… he single handledly carried the Sox last year…

  • joshfortunatus

    Huge bummer. With so many people on him about staying on the field over the past few years, he actually does this year and this happens.

  • Brooklyn Ed

    How about David Adams as well? Would Cashman consider having him skip Triple A?

  • KB

    Where’s Branyon these days- hurt?

  • Jersey Joe

    I think Kevin Russo is being forgotten through all of this. He has a .302/.365 line, and though a .365 SLG is not really desirable, I think he could provide some good defense. He’s gotten a lot of AAA (361 games) and he’s likely seasoned enough to do well against lefties.

    • chicadeek

      He looked good when he played some before

  • Diony

    You don’t have faith in CoJo and his 1,114 OPS in July?

  • viridiana

    Nix is really a scary thought. Will be exposed rapidly if given the time at third.
    Really a shame that Mustelier is out– he would be the ideal platoon with Chavez.
    But Yanks have another option aside from Laird. Keven Russo has been playing a lot at third. He is hitting .300 and actually mashing against lefties with an OPS over .800. Doesn’t offer much power, obviously. But just thought he deserves consideration. Likely to make better contact than Laird, I’d think. Joseph – no idea if he can really hack it at third, and of course he’s lefty, like Chavez.

  • Dan

    How much longer is Mustelier expected to be out? Could he be an option?

  • Preston

    To bad HanRam already got traded, Nathan Evoldi was not a lot to give up for a player of his talent. He could have played 3B and maybe moved to the OF next year.

    • Ted Nelson

      It was a salary dump as much as anything. Eovaldi was a top prospect entering the season, but Hanley is really underperforming his contract. Doubt the Yankees want to pay him $16 million in 2014. That would likely mean no Granderson or no Cano. I certainly think Hanley has the talent to turn it around, but with the shape he keeps himself in I don’t see a ton of reason for optimism in his work ethic.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    I have a irrational visceral dislike of Laird, and a rational dislike of Pena. Nunez it is if he wasn’t injured and if not for his propensity to launch balls everywhere but their intended target. My wish is for seeing what CoJo has, though that seems unlikely.

    I have a bad feeling about Chavez. It seems like we’ve been driving the empty light on with that guy. It’s just a matter of time.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Go with Nunez and Chavez can be a late inning defensive replacement. I don’t care for Laird from what I’ve seen. Yanks have done well in past when Alex was out and Nunez played every day.

    Also with Grandy having 27 HR’s and 54 rbi’s is there any lineup tweak that can increase his chances of hitting a HR with men on base?

  • Marcy

    So, do we wait and see if they play Laird @ 3rd today to get him ready? Or do they just pull him so he doesn’t get hurt and that’s how we know.
    I’d be shocked if Cashman traded for anyone unless it was a waiver-wire type deal unless they just fall into something.
    Any chance they get Steve Pearce back? I think the O’s DFA’d him.

    • Bunt Gardner

      How does Pearce help with 3rd base?

  • viridiana

    More on Russo:

    Hitting .385 vs. lefties. OPS is actually .938. Limited ABs. But has stuck out just 8 times in 96 ABs vs. lefties.

  • NYCSPORTZFAN

    I think Brandon Laird makes most sense in the short term.. Ur talking about a platoon with Chavez, and one thing that Laird has done all yr is hit lefties.. Hes hit lefties at a 296BA clip.. ALso, he has alot of “POP” in that bat, and we certainly need some “POP” from the right side of the plate.. A guy who can hit the ball outta the ball park.. THe only true Righty masher we have is Andruw Jones now.. Lairds abiilty to hit lefties, and POP, and current streak in July, would be deciding factors for me.. I’d go with Brandon Laird..

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I believe Russo and Laird offer the best solutions to Arod’s replacement. No one mentioned is going to hit at Arod’s level. So my next consideration is defense. Russo and Laird gives us the best shot at defense. Both will hit enough to stay in the lineup. Watching Laird last year he made good contact. He’s a year older maybe we catch the lightning in the bottle, not power wise but average wise so to speak.

    Nunez to me is more comfortable at SS and 2nd base. The games seems to speed up for him when playing outside of the middle spots. I guess will find out soon enough. But the trade market will cost something and really doesn’t have to if the pitching holds up and the offense does not have to press.

    • chicadeek

      Like what you are suggesting

  • JohnC

    Laird seems like another Cody Ransom. WOuld rather see Nunez or Russo than Laird. Cojo is left handed. They need a righty to platoon with Chavez

    • Ted Nelson

      That platoon would involve Chavez playing 2/3 of the time, so I don’t know they want a strict platoon where they play Chavez that much. If they think CoJo is the best option, I don’t think his handedness is a deal breaker.

      • jjyank

        Yeah, that’s the problem with the platoon option. Running Chavez out on the heavy side of the platoon is asking for an injury.

  • MUIDATS EEKNAY

    How about trading every one of our top pitching prospects to the Tigers for Miguel Cabrera? The Yanks likely won’t need any of those guys in the majors in the next few seasons, and the Tigers need pitching besides Verlander.

    I’m only half joking.

    • AndrewYF

      Okay, but that still doesn’t fill the need for a 3B-man.

  • NYCSPORTZFAN

    Also, Omar Infante just was dealt, mike.. So, of course we lose Alex right after Ryan Roberts and Omar Infante are off the market..lol

    Again, i think Laird could be a solid short term, platoon type, but if we are to make a deal, a guy like Ty Wiggington makes sense.. Again, ur talking about Right Handed “POP” which is essential..

  • MannyGeee

    Marco Scutaro feels like the right move here to me. he’s got some glove, occasionally (using the term VERY loosly) can run into one, and should just about cost only money and a fringe prospect.

    and I would not be opposed to seeing him play well against Boston, those games are always fun

    • jjyank

      If the Yankees do swing a trade, this is one of the few I would be okay with.

    • Ted Nelson

      As a capable starting SS, I have to wonder if the price will be low enough. Would be a good fit in that he replaces Nix when ARod is back, but I have to think some contender with a bad SS might be interested.

    • Gonzo

      He’s hitting a .563 OPS away from Coors. He might be cooked at age 36. I’m sure scouting would reveal a more detailed explanation, but at first glance…

    • BrooklynRats

      Wiggy is going to cost close to nothing as a rental. Bats right handed and can take days at 1B and OF.

  • DM

    I’d try a Laird/Chavez platoon in the short-term. The whole point of breaking down Nunez in the minors was to get him back to being a SS — but then you call up to play 3rd again? Laird makes the most sense to me — esp if the prognosis is good for a shorter A-Rod recovery time. I wouldn’t make a panic trade.

  • Purenyyankee

    Nova BETTER send a message very early today and drill somebody in the ribs.

    • MannyGeee

      last night’s post game thread called….

    • jjyank

      No. The Yankees need to win, not put runners on base on purpose.

      • CP

        It’s that Mariners. Does it really matter if they get an extra runner on?

        • jjyank

          Yes.

    • pat

      Arod got hit with an errant slider during a 3-1 game. People are so fucking stupid.

    • chicadeek

      AGREE!!!!!!!!!

    • chicadeek

      AGREED!!!!!!

  • blake

    gotta at least find out the price on Headley who is controlled through 2014 and could play some 3B and outfield corners moving forward. Good player who could get better outside of Petco.

  • Granderslam

    @Buster_ESPN: With A-Rod down, there are a lot of reasons why NYY pursuit of Chase Headley could make sense. Could be part of 1B/3B/DH mix going forward

    • Ted Nelson

      And the RF next year. If the price is right, could be a good move. The right price is probably still quite high, of course.

      • Joe R

        Has there been a basis reported of what Pads are looking for for Headley? Or we’re just going off the obvious that they’ll want a good haul?

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    Shin Soo Choo.

    • blake

      don’t think they’ll trade him now and he can’t play 3B….although hes really good at the position he does play

  • Reggie C.

    I’m sure the Padres would love to gouge the farm, so Headley is the longest shot in a trade. The way Corban Joseph has played in AAA there might be a significant internal org curiosity to see Joseph make the jump. Laird however has accrued the majority of the 3B playing time and has seen ML pitching so he’s got the inside track. At least Laird appears to be swinging a hot bat.

    Maybe the White Sox wouldn’t mind trading Youk for a decent prospect? Just kidding…

    • MannyGeee

      Youk’s goatee takes offense. meanwhile, how awesome would that be?

    • pat

      Youk for Betances!

  • blake

    Headley could fill in for Alex at 3B this year and split time there and in RF next year….fixing a problem now and cheaply replacing Swish in 2013. The price in prospects is the obvious question though…..

  • jjyank

    I’d be okay with any minor league option really. Russo, CoJo, Laird, Nunez. Can always swap those guys out if one’s not working.

  • thaaaaaayankeeswin

    Ichiro
    Jete
    Grandy
    Cano
    Tex
    Swish
    Raul
    Chavy
    Martin

    Grandy, Cano, Tex as your 3,4,5 in any combination is still one of the best 3,4,5’s in the game.

  • Ethan

    Trade for Miguel Cabrera!

  • Granderslam

    Ramiro Pena is supposedly on his way to replace A-Rod; hopefully, just for time being.

    • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

      I just puked in my mouth.

    • DM

      If that’s true, I think he takes the util role — with Nix becoming the RH platoon partner with Chavez.

    • Granderslam

      I would love Headley, can be useful now and in future. But wasn’t SD asking for a ton? Plus we still need BP help (other than Joba).

      • CountryClub

        It feels like they’re short one guy that Girardi would trust vs lefites and righties. As long as Joba comes back close to what he was, I think he’ll be enough.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    If they think he can play 3B, then lets try and catch lighting in a bottle with CoJo.

  • CountryClub

    The Yanks will survive the injury during the regular season. I’m more worried about what Arod is going to look like when he comes back. Depending on how long he’s out, he might not get a lot of at bats before the playoffs. I’d hate to see him batting 3rd-5th during the post season if his swing off.

  • brian Stevens

    PLEASE CASHMAN FIND A DAMN CATCHER THIS MARTIN/STUART TANDEM HAS RUN ITS COURSE. shoot I rather have Jim leyritz catch right now

    • Jim Is Bored

      YEAH PUT LEYRITZ AT 3RD BASE BECAUSE THIS THREAD IS ABOUT wait what?

    • Bunt Gardner

      He used all caps. We have to take this seriously!

  • Phil Linz’ Harmonica

    What about Inge? good veteran presence, and shouldn’t cost much… rumor has it that Oakland is hot for Headley.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      Inge won’t cost much because he’s terrible at baseball and has been since 2007.

  • Granderslam

    Remember the White Sox were “aggressively” pursuing Betances? Trade match there, or not at all?

  • Nick

    Olney is reporting that the Yanks are kicking the tires on a Headley trade. What is the expected return? Can he play elsewhere in the field (like say RF? lol).

    • Granderslam

      Even if he can’t play RF, they could always attempt to acquire him now and then spin him off for a need (like RF) in the off season. He has a lot value if that were the case.

  • kevin

    atleast its not a leg injury. maybe he can take a week or 2 off can get his legs fresh. then we can have a spring training and april 2011 Arod for the playoffs

  • coolerking101

    Given the hitting skills he’s flashed, Nunez is the long term answer. Get the guy reps at 3B for the next week or two at AAA and see how he does. If he’s serviceable, he can fill the void for the rest of the year with Chavez, plus take over for Chavez next year.

    In the short term, Pena/Chavez will do just fine. Assuming Swisher is healthy and Martin can pick up the bat slightly, the Yanks can absorb Pena’s poor offense without skipping a beat.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Arod may miss six to eight weeks. As hand injuries are bothersome even after healed, I do hope he can come back for the playoffs but by then the minor league season will be over and it will be more difficult for him to rehab properly. That said, he is no longer that player that put fear in the opposing pitchers. Thus,we may be able to get by with platoons: Chavez/Laird/Nunez/Pena. If a right handed-hitting third sacker can be obtained it should make things a little more palatable.

  • PG55

    Braves had been looking to deal Martin Prado since spring training. 3B, LF, can play SS 2nd and even 1B They are still looking for pitching and a bat…

    • BK2ATL

      No they’re not. They’re trying to extend him. He’s the heir apparent at 3rd base once Chipper Jones retires.

    • Bunt Gardner

      Have you followed baseball since spring training? Prado is a highly valuable piece of the Braves playoff run.

  • PBfog

    Please stop using the term, “not insignificant”, and other similar phrases. Contrary to the bloggers opinion on this site, it is not witty, just annoying. Thank you

  • FreeAgentSignee

    First, get well Alex!
    Second, even if the we do not deal before the deadline, we can afterwards through waivers.

    • FreeAgentSignee

      even if we