Until the end of the 2017 season, Alex Rodriguez is the property of the New York Yankees. The team has invested nearly $300 million in him with the expectation that he will be among the best in baseball. In return, his bosses control his health, his training regime and most of his life.
A few weeks ago, when A-Rod Story II — the steroid scandal — broke, Brian Cashman seemed to indicate his understanding of this relationship. “We’ve invested in him as an asset,” the Yanks’ GM said at the time. “And because of that, this is an asset that is going through a crisis. So we’ll do everything we can to protect that asset and support that asset and try to salvage that asset.”
On Thursday, Ross at New Stadium Insider played off that quote and noted that the team has failed to protect one of its top assets. The news though got even more damning as the day unfolded.
Jack Curry and Tyler Kepner turned up some very alarming statements from the Yankee brass concerning the timing of A-Rod’s injury and the team’s knowledge about it.
Cashman said the Yankees discovered an irregularity in Rodriguez’s hip last May when he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam for a right quadriceps injury. By June or July, the hitting coach Kevin Long said he could notice subtle changes in Rodriguez’s hitting, notably in his right foot — the back one in his stance.
The foot was not pivoting fully, Long said, and as a result, Rodriguez could not completely turn his waist and clear his hips. This caused his bat to drag and prevented him from driving through the ball and generating maximum power.
“Speed-wise, to catch up to 95, 96 mile-an-hour pitches, you’ve basically got to get your hips through,” Long said. “It affects bat speed, power, balance. From a technical standpoint, it affects quite a few things. But he’s so gifted and so talented that he made due with what he had.”
Cashman goes on to defend the move not to give A-Rod an MRI last spring. Cashman claims that if you sent the entire team for MRIs, most of them would come back with problems due to wear and tear. That A-Rod felt no pain — but did adjust his approach at the plate — meant that the Yanks would not force their $300-million man into the MRI tube. “You don’t treat the M.R.I., you treat the patient,” Cashman said. “There was no pain and he was never having a problem with it. You talk with him about it, make him aware of it and off you go.”
For now, the Yankees will have A-Rod play, but medical experts all agree that he will need surgery eventually. The Yanks are risking permanent, long-term damage to his hip socket by electing the rehab path. I guess they know what they’re doing.
Those among us who do not like Cashman are right to express outrage and incredulity at this latest revelation. The Yankees showed here an unwillingness to treat potential injuries with any sort of aggression or urgency. By letting A-Rod dictate the terms of his visits to the doctors, the Yankees are risking their investment and the team’s on-field success.
With this injury and the behind-the-scenes glimpse Kepner and Curry provided, the Yankees should use this experience as one from which they must learn. Injuries do not heal themselves, and Major League Baseball players never like to sit out. Someone has to protect the investment, and Brian Cashman and the Yankee coaches dropped the ball.
While A-Rod dominated the day, the Yanks received a spark of good news amidst the injury chatter. Mariano Rivera, coming off a minor shoulder surgery, threw his first bullpen of the spring today and felt good just like we knew that he would. Rivera took a mound session at about 85-90 percent today and plans to get a few more of those in before facing batters on March 17. · (25) ·
Today has been quite the day, hasn’t it? It started off benign, but then we learned early in the day that A-Rod would require surgery to remove a cyst from his hip. This would cause him to miss 10 weeks, meaning the beginning of the season. However, that report was pretty much false on all fronts.
Yes, A-Rod does need surgery. However, it looks like he’ll put it off in favor of rest and rehab. There’s no real timetable for when he’ll be in action, but it sounds like he’s ready to play through the pain. The surgery option, as we later found out, would shelve A-Rod for four months, not 10 weeks. So while the ESPN Deportes report set the tone for the day, it was pretty much false. A-Rod is not getting surgery which will keep him out 10 weeks.
Plenty of commenters want to see him elect for the surgery so the team can have him back in the second half. Unfortunately, none among us, at least that I know of, is a doctor, so it’s not a call we’re qualified to make. Team doctors, as well as the hip specialist, have the records in hand, and decisions were made based on that. Maybe the tear is to a degree that he could make it through a whole season before needing surgery.
At this point, there’s no telling what will happen. Surgery would be a big blow to the team, but it would be a bigger blow if he gets off to a slow start and finds the pain unbearable come May. That could keep him out the rest of the season. At least if he has the surgery now the Yanks can look to a replacement like Mark Grudzielanek. But again, I don’t have any background in medicine, so I have no idea what the right call is here.
If you’re looking for something to do, you can listen to the RAB Radio Show. Almost immediately after we posted it, the news of no surgery came across the wires, so it kind of got buried. I’ll probably be sleeping not long after this thread goes up. Gotta rest up. Headed to see Watchmen in iMax at 4 in the morning. I expect to be utterly disappointed, as the comic blew me away. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to see it, though.
So this is your open thread for the night, where you can discuss whatever. Beat each other up if that’s your prerogative; I don’t care.
On a day filled with some bad and not-as-bad news about Alex Rodriguez, the Yanks and their fans could have used a good game. Instead, they got a nine-inning bullpen effort after Joba Chamberlain couldn’t get out of the first inning.
Of course, it’s Spring Training, and results do not matter. Apparently, the Yanks’ youngster had some mechanical troubles today but felt fine. Early on in March, pitchers are apt to be out of sync. That said, the line — 0 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K — is ugly, and Jonathan Albaladejo didn’t help by allowing all of his inherited runners to score.
In the end, though, Albaladejo, Kei Igawa, Brian Bruney, Christian Garcia and J.B. Cox acquitted themselves well. The group went 9 innings and allowed just one earned run and five hits. Albaladejo went two innings and gave up a run on three hits and two walks. Bruney, the only sure-thing Major Leaguer in the bunch, struck out two in one inning of work.
On the other side of the ball, the punchless Yanks’ offense managed just four hits and no runs. The highlight — if you can call it that of the day was Nick Swisher‘s drawing two walks. Thrilling.
The Yanks, still winless in March, will face the Braves tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. The game is not to be televised, but CC Sabathia will be making his pinstriped debut.
PeteAbe has the word: A-Rod has a torn labrum and a cyst in his hip, but will not undergo surgery, as was reported this morning. They’ve drained the cyst, and hope that rest will heal the tear. Anyone think the Yankees brass had anything to do with the decision to not have surgery?
Update by Ben (4:02 p.m.): PeteAbe has a little bit more info up right now. According to Brian Cashman, surgery would knock A-Rod out for four months. By pursuing the rest-and-rehab path, the Yanks are simply hoping A-Rod — like Chase Utley and Mike Lowell before him — can play through the pain. They have nothing to lose by delaying surgery. We could, however, argue that if surgery is inevitable, A-Rod’s return in July after four months off could energize the team. I think the Yanks just have too much riding on 2009 to risk it right now though. The team could change its mind before March is out. · (153) ·
Oh noes! A-Rod is hurt. This dominates the podcast talk. We discuss what this means for the team, how they can handle the batting order, and who will replace A-Rod in the field. The case for Mark Grudzielanek just got a lot stronger.
We do talk about some positives, though, including Phil Hughes‘s impressive outing from Tuesday. His fastball was spot on; Kevin Cash wasn’t even moving the glove. It took him a couple of attempts to finally get bite on the curve, but as we found out he’s throwing it more like a power curve this year. Last year he was going for more of a spike curve. And then there’s the change, which Hughes now throws like a splitter, which is what Edwar does. He had little command of that pitch, but it’s new. If that comes along, Hughes officially has a nasty arsenal.
Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.
While we’re still awaiting official confirmation on the rumors surrounding A-Rod’s injury, silence — and not a denial — out of the Yankee camp is not a very good sign.
Meanwhile, the Yankees may have to fill a very good big hole in their lineup for the first six weeks of the season. Mike and Joe are going to have their thoughts on this problem in the RAB Radio Show in a few hours, but we can start talking about it now. I’m sure Manny Ramirez, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra are cursing themselves for signing contracts within the last few days.
The Yankees have a few internal options they could pursue, and none of them are very promising. They could move Derek Jeter to third base and have Angel Berroa play short. They could stick Berroa at third and hope he can deal. Of course, Angel Berroa is 31 with a career OPS+ of 77 and an offensive line of .260/.305/.378. He has never played third base and generally isn’t very good.
The Yankees could look at the high-jumpin’ Cody Ransom. His teammates believe Ransom is a superior athlete, but that counts for approximately nothing. Ransom is 33 with 183 big league at-bats under his belt. Maybe the Yanks could catch lightening in a bottle.
Finally, we arrive at Mark Teixeira. In 2003, Teixeira, then a rookie, played 15 games at third base. The Yanks could shift him to third for a few weeks and hope he can still field the position. They could then use Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady in some sort of RF/1B platoon. That would be, by far, the best offensive solution to a defensive problem, but I doubt the Yanks are going to start messing around with their new $180 million first baseman from Day 1. (Interestingly, Nady has three MLB games at third base under his belt. They all came in 2005 when he was with San Diego, and I have no idea how he did. I’m guessing that’s not really a viable option either.)
The wild card here is Eric Duncan. The Yanks could just toss Eric Duncan into the frying pan. They already managed to rush him through the system so much so that he’s barely considered a prospect anymore, and they have nothing to lose with him. Both Duncan and Berroa are off the 40-man though, and the Yanks would have to find a corresponding move to get either of them to the Bronx.
The pickings are slim right now. Despite a slow market, every free agent infielder has signed with the exception of one: Mark Grudzielanek. I’m sure his agent is on the phone with the Yanks right now.
Grudzielanek isn’t a very appealing candidate. He turns 39 in June and has a career line of .290/.332/.395 with a 90 OPS+. During his last two seasons in Kansas City, he has been the definition of league average. That is, however, a far cry above what Berroa or Cody Ransom are likely to provide for the Yanks.
I don’t really know what Grudzielanek’s salary would be either. O-Cab signed for $4 million with the A’s, and he’s their starting short stop for the entire season. Grudzielanek would be a two-month or six-week rental, but he has some leverage because the Yanks need a third baseman.
In a similar vein, the Yanks could explore Bobby Crosby too. The A’s incumbent short stop has been terrible at the dish since winning the 2004 Rookie of the Year, and while he is a short stop, he wants out of Oakland. Maybe a change of scenery and a position shift would kick start him for a year. The A’s, though, have no reason to simply give Crosby to the Yanks even in a salary dump deal.
So that’s that. The Yankees are facing the prospects of starting the season without their clean-up hitter and don’t have much of a back-up plan. With their overhauled rotation, the team is good enough to ride out the storm, but if this — a quad injury last year, a hip injury this year — is a sign of things to come for A-Rod, the Yanks have more than just the next ten weeks about which they should worry.
Disclaimer: Do not take this as gospel yet. The Yankees haven’t said anything, and the author of the report, Enrique Rojas, was wrong earlier this week, saying the Dodgers and Manny had an agreement in place before they actually did. The news this time is not good, so here’s to hoping he’s wrong again. According to A-Rod’s brother, the beleaguered third baseman will miss the first month of the season as he rehabilitates from surgery which removed a cyst from his hip (translated version here). We’ll update this as official information rolls in. · (311) ·
As part of his ongoing series of organizational reports, the Biz of Baseball’s Devon Temple profiled the Yanks yesterday. While the piece covers familiar ground — a fruitful offseason, the new stadium — Temple makes an interesting comparison between the Yankees and just about every other team in baseball. The Yanks’ value, according to Forbes, has tripled over the last decade to well over $1 billion, and when we compare the Yanks to the Marlins, “the Yankees are a brand and the Marlins are a team in the National League East.” Along with money come expectations, and soon we’ll see how the 2009 Yankees face those too. · (9) ·
Ben, Mike, and I have made it no secret that we want to see Nick Swisher win the starting right fielder job. It’s nothing against Xavier Nady. He’s still a good player and having him start in right wouldn’t be a horrible idea. That is, if Nick Swisher weren’t on the team. At Driveline Mechanics, devil_fingers takes a statistical look at the projections for the duo. He also adds in the Yankees’ other corner outfielders, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, the outfielder being replaced (Bobby Abreu), and Manny, just because he’s Manny.
The methodology uses the PECOTA, ZiPS, and CHONE projection systems to evaluate the players based on wOBA and the CHONE defensive projections. Clearly, this is not perfect. I’m no fan of projections myself, but since this is for fun I’ll play along. For a frame of reference, here are the basic slash stats for each player:
After calculating for wOBA, adjusting for position (though not wholly necessary because everyone in this group is a corner outfielder), and converting to runs added, Swisher comes out as the second best in the group. He’s at less than half Manny’s total, but at 16.5 runs he’s ahead of the other Yankees, plus Abreu, on the list. You can get the whole graph here. On the defensive front, Manny is also tops. And by tops I mean has the longest bar on the graph. Swisher and Damon are the only ones projected to prevent runs with their gloves, as they are at positive 5 and 6 runs, respectively.
Put it all together, and you have the final tally. The boost in each player’s ranking is due to a replacement level adjustment (it was the same for all players, so don’t worry). Not only is Swisher projected to provide far more value than his teammates, but when considering defense he’s projected to be nearly as valuable as Manny.
As I said before, this is just a projection system and not something to be taken as gospel. It would be great if Swisher actually hit to his CHONE projections, and given his career stats prior to last year it’s certainly possible. I also don’t think Nady will hit quite as poorly as his projection. Even if he improves upon it a little, say a .345 OBP, he still wouldn’t be as good as Swisher. Given the difference in their projected defensive production, it would be tough for Nady to catch up.
While this projection alone won’t win Swisher the job, hopefully he makes his case during Spring Training. I’ve always liked Swisher thanks to Moneyball and I was psyched when the Yanks acquired him. If he can return to form he’ll be what Brian Cashman would call an asset to the team.