Yankees Lose A-Rod And It Probably Won’t Matter

The AL East has been hit hard by injuries this season, with about a dozen above-average to star-caliber players needing lengthy stints on the disabled list. The Yankees have been without Michael Pineda all year and without Brett Gardner and Mariano Rivera for most of the season, and now they’re going to be without Alex Rodriguez until sometime in September. Felix Hernandez clipped him with a 3-1 changeup last week, breaking a bone in his left hand.

The Yankees have a healthy lead in the division — eight games in the loss column — and will platoon Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix at the hot corner for the time being. The 34-year-old Chavez is very quietly having a solid season off the bench, posting a 101 wRC+ overall with a 121 mark against righties. Nix, 29, has a 95 wRC+ overall and a 112 wRC+ against lefties. The concern is that all the extra playing time will expose Chavez to injury and just expose Nix in general given his career 72 wRC+. For the time being, they’ll do.

Given their place in the standings, the value of adding marginal wins via trade is essentially nil. Chase Headley‘s name is on the block and he would obviously be an excellent fill-in and actually improve the team without Rodriguez (what would happen after A-Rod comes back is anyone’s guess), but lesser players like Ty Wigginton or the since-traded Marco Scutaro just add depth. They’d be replacing no-hit/all-glove infielder Ramiro Pena as the 24th or 25th man on the roster. Adding that extra half-a-win (maybe) doesn’t hold much value to the Yankees.

Long-ish term, the team’s concern should be A-Rod’s ability to rebound after the injury. Hand and wrist injuries tend to linger and if you don’t have the strength to hold the bat properly, you can’t produce at the plate. Since it’s his bottom hand, that strength is even more important. Rodriguez is no longer the historically great version of himself, but he’s sixth among qualified third baseman with 15 homers and seventh with a 122 wRC+. That’s a pretty valuable player, and the Yankees could instead be heading into the postseason with a question mark at third base.

A-Rod’s injury opens the door ever so slightly for the other four teams in the AL East, but that eight-game cushion is one giant obstacle. It’s one thing to leap over one team, it’s another to duke it out with four others. The Yankees will lose a win or two the rest of way without Rodriguez barring a significant trade before tomorrow’s deadline, but they still have plenty of firepower to maintain their division lead. This isn’t exactly equivalent to the Rays losing Evan Longoria. The Yankees’ concern should be A-Rod’s recovery and health heading into the end of the regular season and potentially the playoffs, where they need everyone at full strength.




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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

21 Responses to “Yankees Lose A-Rod And It Probably Won’t Matter”

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  1. Jim Lahey says:

    Hah.. broken hand from a changeup…

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  2. everdiso says:

    what’s funny about a player breaking his hand?

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  3. Chris says:

    That Laynce and Jayson Nix will each have over 1000 PAs total in their careers by the end of the year boggle my miynd.

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  4. Baltar says:

    I can’t believe that a writer on a sabermetric-oriented site believes that only the loss column matters and not the win column. They are exactly equal in importance.
    Make any argument you want for losses counting more, reverse the terms, and it has equal (in)validity.

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    • steve says:

      That is only true if there is an equal probability between a win/loss for that team. Since they’re in the race for the playoffs there is a slight bias towards them winning games, thus the loss column matters more.

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  5. Cole says:

    I’m long past complaining about East Coast focus, but it really is amazingly laughable how much buzz there is around a team that is eight (or whatever) games in first possibly making a trade to replace an average player. Jesus, who cares? They’ve won the damn division already, they’re losing nothing, and making a trade would be the most boring baseball event all year.

    Similarly (and now I’m just on a bit of a rant), it’s also hilarious how many articles I’ve seen about clubhouse issues and drama… on a last place team that is hovering around .500 (Red Sox).

    Of course, when these two teams meet, the games count triple and nothing else matters.

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    • The Ghost of Joe Dugan says:

      “I’m long past complaining about East Coast focus, but…”

      I guess you’re not.

      Yes, it’s stunning that the two most popular teams in baseball get a lot of articles written about them considering their fan bases combined probably account for more than the bottom 10 MLB teams combined. The Yankees are unbelievably the most popular team in Florida, a state with two MLB franchises. The Red Sox are 4th behind the two FL teams. It’s a supply and demand issue.

      Besides, if a writer writes a story on the 2012 Astros and nobody reads it. Does Cole feel better?

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    • William says:

      Along with Dugans comment, A-rod is not an average player, even in decline.

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      “im long past complaining about east coast focus, but let me rant for 3 paragraphs about the east coast focus.”

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    • Cole says:

      You guys are right, my post did not come across well. I’ll be the first to point out that the Yankees and Red Sox are the two most popular teams and therefore should be focused on more. I’m just saying that it’s funny to see the focus on them when both of them, purely from a baseball perspective, are not that interesting because one is clearly going to win its division, and the other (while interesting in some ways) is below .500.

      Believe me, I did not “feel bad” and I was barely complaining.

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  6. Preston says:

    Chavez is perfectly capable of filling in, but his back and neck are in terrible shape and he probably shouldn’t/can’t play every game against RHP. The other half of this platoon is scary, Nix is getting the starts now and Nunez is rehabbing. Both are probably good enough with the bat, but Nix doesn’t have good range, or arm strength, and while Nunez is really athletic and has a strong arm he’s extremely erratic. A Righty who can play third and at least be a non-zero bat against RHP should definitely be on the shopping list today.

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  7. Frank Costanza says:

    It’ll matter come playoff time if A-Rod isn’t healthy and the Yankees are stuck with Nix and Chavez.

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    • Stuck in a slump says:

      I completely agree with Frank here, if the Yankees are serious about going back to the WS, they’re going to need to get a solid 3B to replace A-Rod. They’ll make the playoffs regardless, they may even make the ALCS, but can anyone really trust Chavez to stay healthy for that long, even in a platoon? And do you really trust Nix’s defense?

      If the Yankees are serious, they’ll trade for Headley and flip him or Nunez in the off season.

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  8. RudolfSchmidt says:

    Totally agree Mike. The addition of a Headley would cost too much for a team that is likely the division winner anyway. Plus those marginal guys aren’t worth the trouble.

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  9. Doug B says:

    what are the odds on A-Rod breaking the all-time HR record now?

    I’d guess his chances project to less than 25% now.

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