Up Comes A-Rod

Apparently, the Yankees didn’t like the idea of Mark Grudzielanek at third any more than the rest of you – Brian Cashman now says they’ll have Alex Rodriguez try rest and rehab in lieu of surgery. In other words, he’s going to attempt to play through a torn labrum in his hip.

This is the same injury that Mike Lowell played through last season. That’s a mix of good news and bad news for Yankee fans. The injury clearly effected Lowell, as he was limited to just 113 games played and was removed from the playoff roster in October. Lowell had been a durable guy up to that point, but the injury was just too much to play through on an everyday basis. So, even if Rodriguez can avoid surgery, it’s quite likely that he’ll spend quite a bit of time on the bench this summer.

However, Lowell also offers some reason for hope – he actually played pretty well when he was on the field. He posted a .344 wOBA and a +13.6 UZR/150, making himself a +3.1 win player while missing 1/3 of the season. While I’m sure it was painful to play through, he still was able to perform at something approximating his normal abilities. It didn’t take away his skills, just his frequency of deploying them.

Of course, Lowell is a sample of one, but Chase Utley played through a less serious but similar condition and performed so well that no one knew he was hurt until he had surgery in the off-season. Considering how well those two were able to perform with versions of this problem, it’s easy to see why the Yankees have decided to skip the surgery for now.

However, as we talked about this afternoon, they have no real third base depth to speak of, and they simply can’t count on Rodriguez being able to play everyday. They’re going to have to bring in a better option to spell Rodriguez on a semi-regular basis.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

14 Responses to “Up Comes A-Rod”

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  1. bikozu says:

    Well there goes my hope of the Mariners trading Tui for Swisher…

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  2. J.J. Hardy says:

    They can have Bill Hall. We’ll take whatever.

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  3. Walter Jones says:

    As an optimistic White Sox fan, I just wanted to add: I BET THEY WISH THEY HAD WILSON BETEMIT BACK, RIGHT? Right?


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  4. Sal Paradise says:

    At least they had the foresight to pick up Angel Berroa!

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  5. Jack Moore says:

    This seems like a mistake to me. You can’t assume he’ll be able to play more than 120 games (an optimistic assumption) and that’s still 18 games less than he played last year, and 30 games less than he plays in a normal year. If he misses the first month of the season, that means he misses about 20 games. It seems like the move is at best a lateral move for the Yankees and at worst could cost them their season.

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  6. CJ says:

    Two points to make
    Both Utley and Lowell had cysts on the hip they drive off of, A-Rods is on the opposite one. It might not hurt him as much as there two cases.
    Also, this isn’t a new thing, he played with for much of last year and played pretty well. There is no pain, only discomfort. He has even looked impressive in ST so far. While I do think this is an issue, its being blown out or proportion.

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  7. MPC says:


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    • Bill B. says:

      Larry, you only told me one lie. You said there will be another Larry Bird. Larry, there will never, ever be another Larry Bird.

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  8. Matt B. says:

    Must be all those site injections!

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  9. Joel says:

    Trade for Figgins? Do the yankees still have any good prospects that arent untouchable?

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    • Rob in CT says:

      I have to think that the teams who have 3B options available are rubbing their hands together with glee. I know I would be! I’d be looking to take advantage of the situation. You want my mediocre veteran 3B with a meh contract? Take the whole contract and gimme Phil Hughes. Maybe more.

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  10. Steve says:

    Obviously, the Yankees wouldn’t trade him because they need his offense the next couple years, but just as a thought exercise, how much of his salary would the Yankees have to pay another team to get them to take him right now?

    He has $238 million left on his deal, plus potentially $30 million in incentives for different milestone home runs ($5 million for each milestone). I think you’d have to assume a team would rake in at least some marketing money for each home run, though probably not nearly as much as they would have before the steroid revelation or as much as they’d by worth in NYC. It’s probably not a lock that he makes it to each milestone, though, either. So say you value his contract at $250 million at the next 9 years. How much would the Yankees have to pay just to get someone else to take him for bucket of baseballs?

    First, you know one of his most productive remaining seasons this year. Maybe, at best, he ends up being a +4 win guy this year? If you are confident that he wouldn’t have any long term effects, you might be able to project a bounce back next year and the year after, followed by declining value for the next 6 years. Still, A-Rod is one of the most talented players in the game, a guy who definitely works hard, and who you wouldn’t think would completely fall apart overnight. You’d have to think it’s possible he could be worth 36 or so wins over next nine years. It’s probably impossible to estimate what a win will be worth over the next nine years; I mean, the government, financial markets, Warren Buffet – no one seems to know how and when the worm might turn for the economy. It seems like the most we can estimate is that in next few years there will probably be some deflation in win values, followed by an increase in the early teens. If you assume these two countervailing forces even out and for the life of the contract, maybe a win is worth about 5.3 million or so for the life of the contract. That gives him about a $190 million of value over the next 9 years. I know the general rule people apply around here for signing a player long-term is .9 to the total value to compensate for the risk of injury, etc. associated with a long-term contract. However, given the length of A-Rod’s contract and the fact that we know he has a somewhat serious injury problem right now, you’d have to think a team would be even more risk averse than normal. Maybe a .8 factor? $190 million X .8 = 152 million, almost $100 million less than my estimate of the remaining value of A-Rod’s contract. Is that unreasonable, to think that to take him off his their hands, the Yankees would have to pay another team about $100 million?

    I don’t even know how one could go about including a “A-Rod can be a distraction, do we really want that in our clubhouse/newspaper reports every day?” factor or a “there aren’t very many teams that could afford even a reduced, $150 million, 9 year contract on their books right now” factor in the calculus. Some that might very well be mitigated by the “A-Rod does put butts in the seats” factor, though. Figuring that out, though, is probably well beyond me.

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