Archive for Alex Rodriguez
During a conference call this afternoon, Brian Cashman provided a bunch of updates on the various injured Yankees. Here’s a recap:
- Derek Jeter (ankle) took his hacks in batting practice and also off a tee and soft toss. The Cap’n fielded ground balls with a little side-to-side movement for the first time (ever! zing!) as part of his rehab as well.
- Alex Rodriguez (hip) will face live pitchers on Tuesday for the first time as part of his rehab. Going from simulated games to minor league rehab games to the big leagues is probably a four-week process for a guy who didn’t have a Spring Training, so yeah, All-Star break if everything goes well.
- Mark Teixeira (wrist) will not be available for at least seven days, and Cashman said he is “leaning personally” towards placing him on the DL. Let’s hope they do that, playing short-handed and potentially bringing him back too soon would suck.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) will make his next minor league rehab start with High-A Tampa on Thursday. He’s scheduled to throw 80 pitches. Cashman said Pineda has been sitting 92 and touching 94-95 during his rehab so far.
- Curtis Granderson (hand) will have the pin removed on Thursday. No word on how long it will be before he can resume baseball activities, but getting the pin taken out is a start.
- Frankie Cervelli (hand) is still a week or so away from swinging a bat. He has been playing catch and working on receiving drills behind the plate.
- Eduardo Nunez (ribcage) took some ground balls and did some light hitting off a tee and soft toss. It’s possible he could return before the All-Star break, but Cashman didn’t seem confident.
With a little luck, it shouldn’t be too much longer until some of the prominent Yankee regulars start returning from their respective DL stints. Although Cashman’s cast of fill-ins have generally done a fine job keeping the team in contention, the team will surely benefit from the return of its traditional starters. Let’s take a look.
Once upon a time, Alex was one of the best players on the planet. Unfortunately, this really hasn’t been the case for the past several years. In addition to an increasing number of injuries and subsequent trips to the DL, he’s appears to have lost bat speed and continues to produce more dramatic batting splits as time goes on.
In 2012, A-Rod batted .272/.353/.430 (.342 wOBA, 114 wRC+) with 18 home runs. Frankly, given his age and health, who really knows whether he can produce at even this level moving forward. For what it’s worth, ZiPS projected Alex at .253/.335/.412 in 2013 (.327 wOBA). If I had to guess, he’ll probably hit about 8-10 home runs once he returns, assuming his activation date still falls around the All-Star break.
Is he the guy who’s going to turn the team’s offense around and ensure the 28th championship and live up to his mega contract? No. He is not, nor should that be the expectation at this point. I think we have to look at A-Rod in terms of incremental benefit. Basically, is he better than league average, and at the very least, does he represent an upgrade over what the team currently has?
Given that the Yankees have received fairly lousy production from their third basemen so far, I’d say there is a distinct possibility that the answer is “Yes!” to the latter question. According to B-Ref, league average would be approximately .255/.320/.408, so that benchmark may be attainable too.
Defensively, I imagine he’ll be stiff as a board out there, but what else is new as far as Yankee infielders are concerned? Joe Girardi will likely give him some time at DH as well, along with a few off days or partial off days to keep him fresh. Color me naive, but I’m actually looking forward to seeing A-Rod back on the field if for no other reason than Kevin Youkilis looks completely cooked (and now injured).
Of course, A-Rod’s difficulties with Biogenesis could certainly complicate the matter depending how that plays out.
Are we all feeling super confident about the Yankees ageless Captain? Of course not. Derek is pushing 39 (!) years old at this point, and is coming off of a pretty substantial ankle injury. Personally speaking, I think Derek is the biggest wild card here. Unlike Alex, who has been steadily declining the past few seasons, Jeter’s been more sporadic with his performance. After having arguably the worst season of his career in 2011 (and really a very mediocre year by his standards in 2010), he bounced back and was effective in 2012. ZiPS has Jeter batting .277/.344/.369 (.311 wOBA) when he returns which would represent a drop off from last year. Still, I think he too would have to fall into the better-than-the-alternatives category and given how tight the A.L. East is, every bit counts.
My guess is he’ll spend a fair amount of time DH, which still leaves plenty of room on the roster for the likes of Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez (if he ever returns). Honestly though, this would probably be an ideal scenario as it would allow the team to deploy a more capable defensive alternative to Jeter while still retaining whatever’s left of his bat.
While I typically don’t put much stock into the intangibles, I tend to change my stance a bit when it comes to Derek Jeter. Every time I doubt him, he proves me wrong. Great players don’t always follow the trend line neatly. Eventually Father Time will catch up and he’ll stink. Whether that’s this season remains to be seen, but until I see it, he’ll have the benefit of the doubt. Having his name back in the lineup card will be a welcome addition.
The Grandy-man can! He will be back, and he will be fine. That’s my official stance. His two freak injuries this season were unfortunate and frankly, I’m still a little worried that the power may be sapped a bit after having his forearm/hand broken. Still, he’s still relatively young and seemed to be just starting to contribute positively during his brief return. If I were a betting man, I’d mark him down for 10-15 home runs once he returns. His 2012 campaign, which resulted in a .232/.319/.492 (116 wRC+) line, seems like a reasonable starting point though I certainly wouldn’t mind a little bit more contact and a little less feebleness against lefties, but such is life.
Aside from Granderson’s personal contributions, he’ll also offer the gift of outfield reconfiguration. All of a sudden, there won’t be black holes sitting in both corner outfield positions. Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells can go back to situational hitting (and dare I say, even show some improvement). Between Grandy, Jeter and A-Rod, you’d have to think Travis Hafner would benefit from some additional rest as well. If this is the last year we get to see Curtis in pinstripes, hopefully he’ll make the remainder of it a good one.
Via Ken Belson & David Waldstein: The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan inquired about the availability of Alex Rodriguez through an intermediary over the winter. The Yankees never bothered to follow up because they knew A-Rod needed hip surgery at the time, plus there’s pretty much no chance he would have agreed to the move anyway.
The Hawks are owned by a prominent technology company, which uses the team as an innovative promotional tool despite taking a loss. They lead the league in attendance and won the pennant as recently as 2011. Rodriguez, 37, is currently working his way back from that hip surgery and is expected back around the All-Star break if there are no setbacks. It is so very unlikely he would have agreed to a move to Japan at this point, and besides, New York’s third basemen are hitting .262/.306/.365 (84 OPS+) this year. There’s a spot for him in the lineup.
Four questions in this draft-free mailbag. If you’re interested in the draft though, check out today’s open thread. Otherwise, think up some questions for next week’s mailbag and send them to use with the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Kenny asks: What are your thoughts on re-signing Phil Hughes next year to close? Granted, he’d have to want to close and it would take a few other things like Michael Pineda coming back strong, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps continuing to progress, but he could dominate there.
Barring injury or a complete performance collapse, there’s no chance Hughes will re-sign with the Yankees as a closer. Zero. None. Not unless they pay him like a starter. Some team(s) will offer him a nice contract and a rotation spot, and that’s where he’ll go. He has no reason to come back as a reliever.
I do think Hughes would be awesome in the bullpen though, and in fact we already know he would be. We’ve seen him do it in 2009 and remember, he was dynamite out of the bullpen late in 2011 and during the postseason. If for some unexpected reason the Yankees don’t need a starter next year, sure, bring him back a reliever. He wouldn’t be open to it, however. The money is in the rotation.
Nick asks: Why not have an eleven-man pitching staff? They have several guys in the pen who can throw multiple innings, and a long man in Adam Warren so I think they can handle it. The 12th guy on the staff seems to go weeks between games (at least for the last few years). The extra bench player could allow them to do more of a platoon with several of their veterans, who are old and have platoon splits.
The easy answer is that a seven-man bullpen is commonplace these days and teams always hesitate to go against the grain. It’s been a while since the Yankees used a six-man bullpen and I don’t see them going back anytime soon. Having the extra arm is always nice, really.
That said, I do think teams could get away with it as long as they have three or four relievers capable of throwing two innings at a time. It also means having no lefty specialist. The Yankees have more platoons than they know what to do with — seriously, pretty much the only positions they aren’t platooning in some way this year are catcher, first base, second base, and center field — so having that extra position player would be nice.
Considering how important the pitching staff is for this team, carrying the extra pitcher (Joba Chamberlain? Shawn Kelley? Preston Claiborne?) over the extra position player (Brennan Boesch?) isn’t the end of the world. I do think a six-man bullpen is more doable that most realize, however.
Biggie asks: If an Alex Rodriguez suspension comes is he suspended without pay? If so, does his entire salary count against the salary cap or is it adjusted? We are almost 60 games in and suspensions sound two weeks away. Add an appeal and this can possibly carry over into next year. What would that mean to the 2014 $189 budget if anything. Thanks!
Well, the suspensions are nowhere close to two weeks away. The appeals alone will probably take months, especially if they do indeed go after 20 or so players. If A-Rod gets suspended, it won’t happen anytime soon. This labor war party is just getting started.
Anyway, yes the salary Alex forfeits during a suspension would not count against the luxury tax. Ken Davidoff was nice enough to spell it all out today, so I strong suggest reading that. We’re talking upwards of $15M in savings if he does get the 100-game ban MLB is seeking, so it’s a big chunk of change. That can fill a lot of roster holes.
Ariel asks: With our replacement shortstops playing abysmally, do you think the Yankees regret giving up on Ramiro Pena? Do you think he would be playing as well as he has with the Yanks?
You can file this under questions I never thought would be asked. New York has gotten a .216/.286/.289 (67 OPS+) from their shortstops this year while Rakin’ Ramiro has hit .318/.372/.506 (143 wRC+) in 95 plate appearances as utility infielder with the Braves. What the hell is that about?
Now, obviously Pena won’t maintain that pace. It’ll be a minor miracle if he does. A 50.0% ground ball rate and 16.7% HR/FB rate in that ballpark just don’t make sense considering the type of hitter he is, plus the .353 BABIP is a bit above what you’d expect even if he was a true-talent .320 BABIP guy. Pena could always pick it defensively, so that wasn’t the issue.
Considering who the Yankees have used at short and what they’ve gotten out of the position this year, I definitely think they want him back. Of course this kind of production was completely unforeseen, and I don’t think he’ll maintain this at all. He might hit better than he did in the Bronx, but Pena didn’t suddenly become Troy Tulowitzki.
Via the NY Daily News: Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch tried to extort money from Alex Rodriguez before agreeing to cooperate with MLB’s investigation into the South Florida performance-enhancing drug pipeline. A-Rod refused the apparent six-figure request.
In return for cooperating with the investigation, MLB will drop their lawsuit against Bosch, cover any legal bills and civil liability, and provide him with bodyguards. Trying to extort Alex before rolling over for the league doesn’t exactly help Bosch’s credibility here. This is some shady business.
That part is not new; we’ve known MLB wants to hand out suspensions the whole time. The new information is that Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and will sign an affidavit saying he provided performance-enhancing drugs to various big leaguers. Obviously, all hell is about to break loose between MLB and the union.
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point recently the Baseball Hall of Fame partnered with the Scout of the Year Foundation to create a free and searchable online database of old scouting reports. The data is very incomplete — it doesn’t include every player and it only goes back so far — and the database itself can be slow and a bit of a pain, but those are minor nuisances compared to the wealth of information available.
Thanks to the database, we can look back at what professional talent evaluators — people who do this for a living — had to say about our favorite players once upon a time. For example, here are some bits and pieces of reports from various teams about a young high school senior from Michigan named Derek Jeter back in 1992:
You can click every image in those post for a larger view, and I highly recommend you do just that.
Within those report snippets, future first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter is described as having:
- a good face
- a hi butt
- an impact both offensively and defensively
- makeup 2b a star
- some hot dog in him
Once upon a time, Jeter was a showoff. Wrap your head around that. All of the reports agreed he was a future star though, and in the end that is what was most important.
After the jump — lots of images and I don’t want to cripple anyone’s computer — are some opinions on Alex Rodriguez back from 1993, when he was a high school senior:
Got a trio of injury updates to pass along…
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) will throw 50 pitches in an Extended Spring Training game tomorrow. Brian Cashman has said they want to stretch him out to 65 pitches before sending him out on an official rehab assignment. Seems like the earliest possible return is late-June. [Jack Curry]
- Travis Hafner (shoulder) will take batting practice before tonight’s game. If that goes well, he will be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter. The Yankees will face left-hander Mark Buehrle on Friday, so I guess the earliest Pronk will return to the lineup is Saturday. [Meredith Marakovits]
- Joba Chamberlain (oblique) is not yet ready to come off the DL. He’ll make at least one more minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees swapped Brett Marshall for Dellin Betances today, just to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. [Bryan Hoch]
Update: Chad Jennings has lots more injury news, so let’s recap…
- Derek Jeter (ankle) was checked out recently and although he’s healing well, he’s still not ready to do any sort of baseball activities. He could shed his walking boot soon, however.
- Ivan Nova (triceps) will pitch in a minor league game on Monday. He felt some discomfort in his back last week, near his left shoulder, so he’s been setback a bit.
- Alex Rodriguez (hip) hit off a tee and soft toss the other day. It’s slow and stud with him, a minor league rehab assignment is still a long ways off.
- Kevin Youkilis (back) has also been hitting off a tee and soft toss, and he’s expected to take batting practice soon. Seems like David Adams‘ audition at third base will last for at least a few weeks.
The Yankees are on their way to Colorado and will start a three-game series against the Rockies tomorrow night. The guys on the DL — you know, basically half the team — made their way to Tampa to continue rehabbing instead. Here are some updates, courtesy of the AP and Anthony McCarron.
- Alex Rodriguez (hip) played catch and hit off a tee. It’s his first baseball activity since having surgery in January. “(It felt) like being eight years old again when I first grabbed a bat,” he said. “Pretty exciting … really looking forward to getting back.”
- Mark Teixeira (wrist) hit in the batting cage and took some ground balls at first base. He’s expected to start taking batting practice in the field in a few days.
- Curtis Granderson (forearm) played in another Extended Spring Training game today. He’s been doing that since last Wednesday, so almost a full week now. I can’t imagine an official minor league rehab assignment is too far away.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder), Frankie Cervelli (hand), Kevin Youkilis (back), and Ivan Nova (triceps) were all at the complex as well. Derek Jeter (ankle) was not there for whatever reason. He’s still in a walking boot and can’t do much anyway.
Alex Rodriguez and his surgically repaired left hip have been cleared to begin baseball activities, Brian Cashman confirmed. He has been able to run at full speed and will head to Tampa to continue rehabbing on Monday.
A-Rod, 37, has surgery in early-January and started light running last month. Cashman stuck to the original timetable when asked about a return date, meaning they’re still not expecting him back until after the All-Star break. I’m of the “whatever they get out of him this year is gravy” mindset, they can’t count on him for anything in 2013, but it is good to hear he’s progressing.