Archive for Alex Rodriguez
During a conference call with reporters, Dr. Bryan Kelly announced that Alex Rodriguez will have surgery to repair his left hip next Wednesday. He expects A-Rod to be out until the All-Star break, but he also admitted they won’t know the extent of the cartilage damage until they actually cut him open. That could push his return date back even further.
I highly recommend Joel Sherman’s article about the procedure, in which Kelly spoke at length about the condition of A-Rod’s hip and its potential impact on his performance, as well as expectations going forward. He also explained why the injury was not diagnosed sooner. There’s an awful lot of information in there about a situation we outsiders don’t really know much about, so make sure you check it out to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on.
Saturday: Brian Cashman told Anthony Rieber that A-Rod has not had a setback and is still on the original “prehab” schedule. “We have a tentative date, but I’m not going to reveal it,” said the GM. Sounds like a non-story that turned into a story because it’s A-Rod.
The Yankees announced A-Rod’s left hip injury — a torn labrum, bone impingement, and a cyst — early last month, noting he would need to go through 4-6 weeks of “prehab” before the procedure. It has already been four weeks and next Monday will mark five weeks, so the middle of the month would be 6-7 weeks out from the announcement. Once he has the surgery, A-Rod is expected to miss 4-6 months. Give his age and the nature of the injury, I’m assuming he’ll be out for the high-end of that range if not longer.
All 30 managers meet with the media for 30-ish minutes during the Winter Meetings, and Joe Girardi held his Q&A session late this afternoon. It’s pretty typical of Yankees people to speak a lot of words but not actually say much, and this was no different. I don’t have the audio to share because the quality is awful, but here’s a recap…
- Girardi confirmed what Brian Cashman said yesterday, that A-Rod didn’t say anything about his hip until being pinch-hit for in Game Three of the ALCS. “His hips weren’t firing right. It wasn’t pain but he felt it was not the explosiveness … I was somewhat worried because he’d been through it on his right hip and you’d think he’d know what the feeling was like. It wasn’t firing the way he thought.”
- A-Rod went for an MRI on his right hip after the game, and when it came back clean Girardi kept playing him. He did acknowledge Alex “did look different than he did before he got hurt.” The team doesn’t know exactly when the injury happened.
- On losing A-Rod for the first half of next year: “It’s big. You go into an offseason and you feel you have to address certain areas and all of a sudden you get a little bit of a surprise. It’s a pretty big hole to fill, and it may not necessarily be (filled) with one person.”
- “I’m not sure,” said the skipper when asked about any tension in his relationship with A-Rod. “It probably answers a lot of questions — he wasn’t the Alex we saw before the injury. Now we have a reason, possibly why.”
Via Ken Rosenthal & Wally Matthews: The Yankees are insured for at least 70% and possibly even 100% of Alex Rodriguez‘s contract should his latest hip injury be so severe that he’s unable to play going forward. There are conditions that would have to be met (so many days on the DL, etc.) before the insurance payouts are triggered.
A-Rod, 37, is still owed $114M over the next five years. I doubt this new injury is that debilitating — Brian Cashman said doctors informed him Alex would have zero restrictions following the procedure and rehab — but I guess it’s good to know the team is covered in case it is. A-Rod would still get paid and his salary would still count against the luxury tax, so the only way the insurance money would be reinvested in the team would be if the Yankees increase payroll back over the luxury tax threshold in 2015.
It was the right hip in 2009, and now it’s the left. Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery for a torn labrum, a bone impingement, and the correction of a cyst in his left hip the Yankees have confirmed. Dr. Bryan Kelly from the Hospital for Special Surgery will perform the repair procedure in January. Alex will undergo a 4-6 week “pre-hab” regiment before having the operation. The team announced the recovery time as 4-6 months, meaning he will miss the start of next season.
During a press conference with reporters, Brian Cashman confirmed A-Rod first complained about his right hip after being pinch-hit for in Game Three of the ALDS. He went for tests which confirmed the right hip was fine. It wasn’t until his annual check-up with Dr. Marc Phillippon in Colorado that the injury to his left hip was picked up. The club got three opinions (Phillippon, Kelly, and team doctor Chris Ahmad) and has been informed that Alex will have no restrictions following surgery and rehab.
A-Rod, 37, had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in 2009. Dr. Phillippon performed a hybrid procedure that basically patched the tear with a second, more complete procedure scheduled for the 2009-2010 offseason. The second operation was never performed because the first took so well. Alex missed only two months and one day following that procedure. The surgery required for the new injury is not the same and will require a more extensive work due to the bone impingement.
“My sole interest is improving the club,” said Cashman when asked about finding a replacement or stopgap third baseman. “Right now, time is a problem. We’re going to be missing him for some time. It’s our job to find a way to withstand this. He will be back. We have to plan accordingly … If it’s not practical, we won’t do it.”
The Yankees were already seeking infield help this offseason, but their efforts figure to increase quite a bit now with A-Rod slated to miss a big chunk of the season — Cashman confirmed they’re planning for Alex to miss the full six months. The third base free agent market is very weak and outside of surrendering a top prospect-laden package for Chase Headley, the trade market doesn’t offer many high-end alternatives either. Cashman reiterated he does not view Eduardo Nunez as a third base solution.
Without A-Rod, the Yankees are extremely short on right-handed power. Derek Jeter, who is recovering from a surgery of his own, hits left-handers well enough but will never be confused for a power hitter. The only pop from the right side right now is switch-hitter Mark Teixeira. Given all the quality southpaws in the AL East, finding some right-handed platoon bats (a right-handed hitter who can hit both righties and lefties is obviously preferable) is a necessity for New York this summer.
Via Jon Heyman: No teams have contacted the Yankees to inquire about trading for Alex Rodriguez yet. This is not surprising for two reasons: one, the season just ended and clubs probably don’t have their entire offseason plan formulated at this point. Two, A-Rod isn’t exactly a hot trade commodity. Brian Cashman recently said that he isn’t planning to trade his third baseman but that doesn’t mean he won’t listen to offers. He would be foolish not to. I just wouldn’t expect a flood of ‘em.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to spend some time reviewing the entire 2012 season, which featured another division title and unfortunately another disappointing playoff exit.
There is nothing in baseball quite like the optimism of Spring Training. Everyone has a clean slate, every young player is poised to break out, and every old and declining player is poised for a rebound. Alex Rodriguez has been that old and declining player poised for a rebound for three years running now, as the usual stories of him being fully healthy and in great shape and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda ran rampant when camp opened in February.
Fast forward to October, and it was the same old story for A-Rod. His performance continued to slide and he missed considerable time with injury. He sparked some minor controversy along the way and like just about all of teammates, he didn’t hit in the postseason. Because he’s A-Rod, he drew most of the ire and his benching made national headlines. Talks of a possible offseason trade — with the Yankees eating most of the $114M left on his contract — soon surfaced. In other words, it was a typically messy year for the club and their third baseman.
You know what the weirdest thing is? It’s that A-Rod was actually productive this season. No, not by the lofty standards he established earlier in his Hall of Fame career, but compared to his peers. Alex hit .272/.353/.430 overall, a 114 wRC+ that ranked eighth among all third baseman who qualified for the batting title. When Felix Hernandez broke a bone in his hand with an errant pitch on July 24th, A-Rod owned a .276/.358/.449 batting line. Is that the monster hitter he was in his prime? No, of course not. But it was certainly above average and damn good production for a 36-year-old.
That broken bone was essentially the end of his season as an effective hitter. Alex didn’t return to the team until September 3rd and even then he only had a handful of minor league rehab games to his credit. He went 12-for-43 (.279) with three homers in his first eleven games back but quickly faded, going just 17-for-68 (.250) with one extra-base hit (a double) in the team’s final 17 games. His postseason featured a 3-for-25 showing, including an 0-for-18 mark with a dozen strikeouts against right-handers. Joe Girardi lifted him for pinch-hitters and flat out benched him at times as well. To their credit, both Girardi and A-Rod said all the right things and didn’t allow the situation to spiral out of control.
All told, Alex set new single-season career-worsts in strikeout rate (21.9%), extra-base hits (36), ISO (.158), SLG (.430), OPS+ (112). wOBA (.342), wRC+ (114), fWAR( 2.2), and bWAR (2.0). That doesn’t count his partial seasons in 1994 (17 games) and 1995 (48 games), just to be clear. He had stretches of 16 straight games without an extra-base hit (longest of his career), 17 straight games without a homer (third longest), 11 straight games without an RBI (second longest), and 13 straight games without a walk (second longest).
The Yankees like to use the DH spot to rest their older regulars — Girardi calls them half-days off — and Alex certainly saw plenty of time there. He led the team with 38 starts at DH, 13 more than anyone else. His previous career high was a dozen DH starts in 2010, and believe it or not he only had 50 career starts at DH coming into 2012. A-Rod’s defense at the hot corner actually wasn’t bad at all this year, but the Yankees did go to great lengths to keep him (and his bat) physically fresh and didn’t get much of a reward for their effort.
The contract is what it is at this point. There’s no going back in time to change it and there’s not much sense in holding it against Alex. The Yankees made their bed with the contract and are going to end up paying the vast majority of it either way, whether they keep him or trade him. The best case scenario for A-Rod these days is that he continues to be an above-average hitting third baseman whenever he actually is on the field, which these days is something like 100-125 games. Expecting more at this point is foolish. Hope that A-Rod can rebound and become an offensive force has morphed into hope that he can merely avoid falling off the cliff further the next few years.
The Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Tigers almost a week ago, but it wasn’t until today that Joe Girardi conducted every manager’s annual end-of-season press conference. He said the team has yet to look back and evaluate the 2012 campaign just because everyone takes a few days off to be with their families and kinda get away from baseball immediately after the season ends. They’ll obviously evaluate the club top to bottom in the coming weeks. Here are the important notes from the press conference…
On Alex Rodriguez…
- “These were things that we evaluated a lot before we made our decisions,” said Girardi when asked about benching A-Rod in the postseason. “I don’t go back and second guess myself.”
- Girardi has not yet spoken to Alex (or any other player for that matter) about their relationship, but said “that will take place … it just hasn’t yet.” He isn’t worried about things being strained but acknowledged that actions have consequences and he will deal with them if need be.
- Girardi said he believes A-Rod was healthy in the postseason and was just struggling, particularly against righties.
- “Can Alex be a very good player again? Absolutely, I don’t have any question in my mind,” said the skipper. He praised A-Rod’s baseball smarts and said he expects him to be his everyday third baseman next season.
- Chad Jennings has Girardi’s full quotes about A-Rod if you aren’t sick of hearing about it yet.
On the playoffs…
- “Yes it was somewhat puzzling,” said Girardi on the offense’s struggles. He attributed Robinson Cano‘s disappearing act to being pitched well and just falling into a poorly-timed slump. He did acknowledge that Robbie was frustrated, which likely compounded the problem.
- Girardi said he doesn’t think the team’s unfavorable postseason schedule contributed to their lack of hitting, ditto all the tough games they had to play down the stretch in September. He basically said he doesn’t believe his team was worn out after a month of playoff-type games.
- “I hope not,” said Girardi when asked if he may have he lost the trust of some players by sitting them in the postseason. “I was making moves trying to win ballgames … I’ve been honest with our players and I will continue to do that, and I will do my best for this organization to win every game.”
- Girardi attributed the dull Yankee Stadium atmosphere in the postseason to a lack of scoring on the team’s part, nothing more. “I think our fans are very passionate about the Yankees (because) we see it even on the road.”
- “(It has) not taken place,” said Girardi when asked if CC Sabathia has gone to visit Dr. James Andrews about his elbow. He is encouraged by his ace left-hander’s performance in September and the ALDS and he expects to have him in Spring Training. “We’re always concerned that it’s maybe something more than you think it is … I don’t like people going to see doctors (but) sometimes people have to be evaluated to make sure everything is okay.”
- “We expect him to be back and playing for us next year on Opening Day,” said Girardi about Derek Jeter and his fractured ankle. He added that there are always concerns following a surgery, including Jeter pushing his rehab too hard and having some kind of setback.
- Mariano Rivera did throw sooner than expected this year but Girardi never did ask him if he will definitely return next season. “I don’t think you push a rehab like he pushed it unless you have some interest in coming back,” he said.
- There were no undisclosed or “hidden” injuries this year, so to speak. Russell Martin‘s hands are banged up but that is typical catcher stuff and isn’t a long-term concern.
- Both hitting coach Kevin Long (elbow) and third base coach Rob Thomson (hip) will have surgery this offseason, if you care.
On free agents and the team moving forward, etc…
- “There’s a lot of hunger and fire in him,” said Girardi about Andy Pettitte, but he doesn’t know if the veteran southpaw will return next year. He expects him to discuss things with his family before making a decision.
- He mentioned briefly that like Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda is among the players who will make a decision about his future and playing beyond this year.
- Girardi said he was unsure about Ichiro Suzuki coming back next year but he knows the veteran outfielder enjoyed his time in New York. He also praised Ichiro for making adjustments like playing left field and batting towards the bottom of the order.
- “I think this kid has something to offer us,” said the manager about Eduardo Nunez while also acknowledging that his role for next year is undetermined because other parts of the club are unsettled. “There is talent there, there is speed, there is excitement, he has a lot to offer.”
- “There’s a lot of players we have to decide what we’re going to do with, but I believe when Spring Training starts next year, we’ll be a championship club,” said Girardi, acknowledging that the team has a lot of players with open contract situations.
- He also spoke about the Yankees getting power from non-traditional power sources (specifically catcher, second base, and center field) and their ability of the offense to absorb the loss of a homerun hitter (i.e. Nick Swisher) if that happens this winter.
- Girardi acknowledged that the team has a busy offseason coming but doesn’t expect the chaos to be a problem. “Sometimes quiet is a bad thing,” he joked.
On the status of him and his coaches…
- “No. The pressure you see I put on myself,” said Girardi when asked about the pressure of entering a contract year. He doesn’t expect the team to talk about a new deal until his current one expires and he doesn’t anticipate asking for an extension before then either.
- Girardi expects the entire coaching staff to return next year but again pointed out that the team has not yet discussed everything.
- Girardi praised his role players for stepping up into more prominent roles than expected this year, mentioning Raul Ibanez, David Phelps, and Cody Eppley by name.
- When asked about Cano’s general lack of hustle down the line to first base, Girardi said he “will address with every player to play hard.”
Over the next few weeks we’re going to spend some time reviewing the entire 2012 season, which featured another division title and unfortunately another disappointing playoff exit.
There is still baseball being played but the Yankees are not involved in any of it. They were bounced from the postseason in an embarrassing four-game sweep by the Tigers in the ALCS last week, a very one-sided series that featured little offense by New York. They scored six runs in the four games and never once held a lead, which is unthinkable for an offense that led the AL in homers (245), ISO (.188), OBP (.337), SLG (.453), OPS (.790), wOBA (.342), and wRC+ (113). Everything that could have gone wrong offensively did.
All told, the Yankees hit just .188/.254/.303 in their nine postseason games, the lowest batting average in history by a team who played at least seven playoff games. It wasn’t just the ALCS either, they had a hard time scoring in the ALDS even though they won the series. The so-called Bombers scored just 22 runs in the nine games, and nine of those runs came in two innings — five in the ninth inning of ALDS Game One and four in the ninth inning of ALCS Game One. After scoring those four runs off Jose Valverde in Game One last Saturday, the Yankees scored just two runs on ten hits in the final 30.1 innings of their season.
Offensive ineptitude of this caliber requires a total team effort. Ichiro Suzuki was a singles machine in the postseason and Derek Jeter did is part before going down with a fractured ankle in ALCS Game One, plus Raul Ibanez hit enough jaw-droppingly clutch homers to avoid any criticism. The rest of the lineup? Not so much.
Of all the offensive failure, Cano’s miserable postseason was by far the most surprising. He was once again the team’s best hitter during the year and he finished the regular season on an insane hot streak (24-for-39, .615), but he was invisible in the playoffs. Cano doubled in two runs in that big ninth inning off Jim Johnson in ALDS Game One and he doubled in a run in the first inning of ALDS Game Two, and that was pretty much it. He fell into a hideous 0-for-29 slide that featured weak grounder after weak grounder, and it wasn’t until the ninth inning of ALCS Game Three that he got off the schneid with a line drive single to left.
Robbie reached base four times in 41 postseason plate appearances, adding an intentional walk to those two ALDS doubles and ALCS single. His .098 OBP is the lowest in playoff history (min. 35 PA) while his .075 AVG is the fourth lowest. Cano has had an up-and-down playoff career but this kind of ineffectiveness was unthinkable. He was, by far, the biggest drain on the team’s offense. There’s no doubt about it.
Alex Rodriguez & Eric Chavez
I’m going to lump these two together because they shared third base duties during the postseason. A-Rod struggled after coming off the DL in September and it carried over into the postseason, as he went 1-for 12 with seven strikeouts in the first three games of the ALDS. Things got so bad that Joe Girardi famously lifted Alex for a pinch-hitter in ALDS Game Three, leading to two of those memorable Ibanez homers (first the game-tying shot, then the game-winner in extra innings).
A-Rod did not start the decisive Game Five of the ALDS and did not start the final two games of the ALCS. He started six of nine playoff games but did not finish three, instead being lifted for pinch-hitters against right-handed pitchers late and for good reason — Alex went 0-for-18 with a dozen strikeouts against same-side hitters in the postseason. All told, he had three singles and two walks against those 12 strikeouts in 27 playoff appearances.
The decision to lift A-Rod for pinch-hitters or outright bench him against righties was completely justifiable due to his performance, but Chavez didn’t exactly force the issue. He failed to reach base in 17 playoff plate appearances, striking out nine times. All told, the Yankees received an .086/.135/.086 batting line out of their third basemen in 37 postseason plate appearances. A-Rod drew the boos and got all the media attention, but he wasn’t even the worst performer at his own position.
Unfortunately poor postseasons became a routine during Swisher’s stint in New York, a stint that will almost surely end after four years this winter. He opened these playoffs with a very productive ALDS Game One, drawing two walks to go along with a single and a sacrifice fly. After that, he went 2-for-28 (.071) with a walk and nine strikeouts the rest of the way. One of those hits was a run-scoring double in ALCS Game Four, which had zero impact in the grand scheme of things. Swisher hit .167/.235/.233 in the team’s nine playoff games and will likely leave the Yankees with a .162/.252/.308 batting line in 148 postseason plate appearances with the club.
Granderson came into the year as a postseason monster, with a .267/.375/.535 overall playoff batting line and a .313/.459/.583 playoff line with the Yankees. He was instead a non-factor this year, going just 3-for-30 (.100) with one homer and three walks (one intentional) in the nine postseason games. Two of those hits came in consecutive at-bats in ALDS Game Five. Like Swisher, he was benched for one ALCS game in favor of Brett Gardner. Curtis struck out an insane 16 times in 33 playoff plate appearances, so basically half the time. It’s impossible to be productive when you don’t put the ball in play, and Granderson’s strikeout issues became extreme in October.
Unlike the other guys in the post, Martin at least had a signature moment this postseason. He hit the go-ahead homer off Johnson in the ninth inning of ALDS Game One, a hugely clutch shot that gets forgotten because the Yankees went on score another four runs in the inning to turn the game into a laugher. It was a big homer, don’t forget it. That said, Martin went just 5-for-31 (.161) with the homer, a double, and three walks in the postseason (.235 OBP). He reached base twice in the ALCS and three times in the team’s final six playoff games. Martin was up and down all season (mostly down), and outside of the homer he was contributed little to a postseason offense that needed substantially more from these six players.
The other day, nearly half of RAB readers said they believe the Yankees will manage to trade Alex Rodriguez this offseason. Where and for who is another matter entirely, but we can all agree that the club will have to eat some portion of the $114M left on his contract to facilitate a trade. How much of that do they need to eat for the deal to make sense? I have no idea, but Eno Sarris ran through the numbers at FanGraphs.
Using various projections and aging curves, Eno comes up with a number around $80M (in either cash paid out or bad contracts coming back). I think the projections used were a little optimistic, but we’ll roll with them. That $80M number assumes the Yankees will be able to replace A-Rod‘s production internally, with David Adams or Corban Joseph or Jayson Nix or whoever. That’s a big unknown here, the replacement. We also shouldn’t discount the intangibles — will moving A-Rod help or hurt the clubhouse culture? — as well as his marquee value. We have absolutely no way of addressing those last two points so don’t even try. On the field though, eating $80M of that $114M to send A-Rod elsewhere is the (theoretical) break-even point.