December 06, 2012

What's next for Yankees, #A-Rod? Last place? (Updated)

Yahoo's Jeff Passan says that the type of hip surgery that's staring Alex Rodriguez in the eyeballs is one for which it takes several months to get comfortable. He translates: Expect A-Rod to spend most of his time at DH next year, not 3B, whenever he gets back to the team.

Passan next says this is about more than just A-Rod:
Failed prospecting sends the Yankees right back to the free-agent market, the most inefficient place in baseball, and their over-reliance on it shows. Nine players on the Yankees' roster have eight-figure contracts, and among them – A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Jeter, Cano, Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera – they will make $159 million. Their average age is ... 35.6 years old. That is the mean age of the Yankees' core: a retired player. 
He then points out the rest of the issues — the BoSox signing Mike Napoli (though they need more help than that by far), the Orioles hoping to build on next year, Tampa looking to deal James Shields or others and rebuild on the fly, and all of Toronto's trades, the men in pinstripes could spend a lot of time next year looking upward in the standings.

I had already penciled in Toronto as my preseason favorite in the AL East. This only adds to it. In part due to Joe Maddon, I'll put the Rays second. In a somewhat tight cluster below that, I'll list Baltimore at third, Boston at fourth, and yes, the Yankees in last. Don't forget Sabathia has not always been the healthiest of critters the last few years. Kuroda and Pettitte? One or the other, I'll venture, spends significant 2013 time on the DL. And, what if the Yanks can't/don't resign Ichiro? (I'll put the Angels and Giants as two likely landing spots; he'd be a nice replacement for Torii Hunter, for example.)

Specifically to A-Rod, I'll put him at .265 BA and .410 slugging in no more than 325 ABs.

Oh, and it won't get better. Passan, with some on-background expert comment, says it's likely what you and I have said: it's the roids. In turn, that makes the relatively injury-free later years of Barry Bonds all the more remarkable, or all the more "something." Actually, per its reported injury-healing help, it makes me wonder how much HGH was in the "clear" or the "cream." That, in turn, would explain why his head got so damned big.

Back to A-Rod again. Who will replace him? Eduardo Nunez? But, what if Jeter isn't ready to start the season? Not to mention the power dropoff. That said, the Bronx non-Bombers will pay through the nose for a corner infielder in trade. And the free agent market at the hot corner is thin indeed. (Eric Chavez is now off the boards, gone to the D-Backs on a one-year deal.)

So, I'm not overdoing it. I think last place is quite possible.

And, are the Yankees really on the hook for 5 years and $114 million? Not if A-Rod is declared "physically unable to perform." Ken Rosenthal explains how this could work out.

In light of that, and email conversations with friends, I could see A-Rod playing two more years. That gives the Yankees time to get serious in a longer-term search for 3B help either internally, externally via trade, or externally via free agency. It gives them two years of overpaid but moderately above average for 3B play. (Of course, he'll be an average DH.)

 But, will doctors "pull the trigger" in two years? 

Update, Dec. 6: OK, I forgot about Kevin Youkilis as a free agent. Seriously, though? The Yankees are desperate indeed with this offer.

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