"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 3/7/09

Today’s news is powered by a trip in the wayback machine, offering bloopers from the station that used to carry the Yanks …

  • PeteAbe reports that while Brian Cashman has stated the Yanks have not made a decision on whether A-Rod will have surgery, however:

Alex is staying in Colorado for “the foreseeable future.”

Said Cashman: “The stiffness is the beginning of the process. Eventually there is going to be pain. … You have to be realistic. We could be on the verge of having an incident. … What’s best for him is what’s best for us.”

  • The Times lays out the possible surgery/recovery timetables:

Later, Cashman acknowledged that Rodriguez could make the injury worse by playing without surgery. “Oh, that’s absolutely a possibility,” Cashman said. “The worse the tear, the more complicated the surgery.”

If Rodriguez chooses to play, it is likely that he would have regular magnetic resonance imaging tests to see if the condition is worsening.

If Rodriguez has surgery to treat only the torn labrum, he could return in four to six weeks. But if there is an underlying bone problem in the hip joint that needs to be repaired, the likely rehabilitation period would be four months.

  • The specialist who saw Rodriguez earlier this weeks thinks Alex “could” play through it:

In a Thursday conference call with the Yankees and other parties, Dr. Marc Philippon, the specialist, described for others how the surgery would work. But there also was an indication, during the call, that there is a “75 to 80 percent chance” Rodriguez could get through the 2009 season playing through the discomfort.

  • Ian O’Connor thinks an A-Rodless Yankee team might not be so bad, in a way:

Why? Because an extended A-Rod absence would swing open a door of delicious opportunity, that’s why.

The Yankees could go back to being the Yankees. They could go back to being the team that won four championships in five years with reliable pitching and a harmonious band of position players that didn’t need a slugger whose favorite teammates are Me, Myself and I.

“It was all about the team for us,” Tino Martinez said. “There were no real stars. You had Bernie [Williams] and [Derek] Jeter, but not superstars. We just figured out ways to get a lead and win games. “Position by position, this year’s team has much more physical talent than we did. It’s a way better team than our championship teams. But we knew how to come together, and that’s the trick.”

[My take: But you still have to put runs on the board at some point …]

  • MLB’s on-line store has now banned you from personalizing an A-Rod jersey with the name “A-Fraud”.

[My take: MLB …. turning down the chance to make a buck?  Amazing!]

  • Buster Olney writes that the absence of Rodriguez will ramp up the pressure on the historically slow-starting Teixeira:

Teixeira already was being paid for production, but now, any hiccup on his part will be devastating for the Yankees. A slow transition to New York, which has been typical for most of the big-name players acquired by the team in the past decade, might crush the Yankees’ playoff hopes. They need him to hit early and hit late; they need him to hit all season.

After Teixeira didn’t hit for much power at the outset of 2008, the first baseman referenced his history as a slow starter and said he knew that inevitably, he would step up — a comment that drew the attention of one of his former employers. “That’s not going to cut it [in 2009], after he signs with the Yankees or the Red Sox,” the official said. “If you get a contract for 20-plus million dollars, nobody is going to want to hear about a slow start. They’re just going to expect you to produce.”

  • BP.com’s Joe Sheehan looks at the possible subs for the ailing Rodriguez:

Of the players in camp, Eric Duncan and Cody Ransom have third base on their resumes, but neither can carry the position. Kevin Goldstein is particularly unimpressed by the prospect: “In 64 games at third base last year, Duncan had more errors (11) than double plays (eight), and hit just .233/.295/.366.” Ransom has an acceptable .251/.348/.432 line in scattered MLB playing time; in his minor league career, he’s played in 222 games at third base with a .959 fielding percentage and a 27/22 DP/E ratio. That’s not encouraging.

  • BP.com’s Will Carroll runs down the Yankees’ treatment options:

The key here is that surgery is not a given. The aspiration may give enough relief that he can play through the season with only occasional setbacks and more aggressive monitoring. It could be that it gets better and a strengthening program adds to the stability, allowing him to only miss a few weeks. The danger is that the conservative measures might fail, which would push his return date back further than it would have been had they gone straight to surgery. We have to remember that the gamble of taking conservative measures comes with a high payoff. Let’s say for the sake of this example that Rodriguez will miss no time if the aspiration works, four weeks if he just needs the strengthening program, and twelve if he ends up having surgery. It’s not as if this is a 1-2-3 game; the Yankees will know quickly that the aspiration is working if there is a reduction in his symptoms. He’ll begin the strengthening program immediately; if he’s falling behind, or if there is no reduction in his symptoms, they’ll shift gears.

  • Just so this isn’t TOO A-Rodian a post, here’s BP.com’s Jay Jaffe, from an online chat Friday:

Nick Stone (New York, NY): How do you see the Matsui/Nady/Swisher logjam working out? Seems like Matsui will be riding a lot of pine, what with Posada DH-ing more.

Jay Jaffe: I think Matsui is the odd man out unless he’s beating the snot out of the ball and running like the wind given what we’re hearing about Hip Hip Jorge’s shoulder. Nady may worm his way into some time covering third; Joe Sheehan noted today that he did play the position in college, so maybe that could make up for his lack of pro experience (three games). In the end I think Swisher will get slighlty more playing time than Nady by dint of being a switch-hitter and occasional center field candidate, but it will be basically even.

  • BP.com offers up some known (and less well-known) replacements for Rodriguez.
  • The Times detailed Mariano Rivera’s side trip to the D.R. for some “ambassador” duties.

I’ll leave you with a little droll humor, from the Jay Jaffe chat, featuring yours truly:

dianagramr (NYC): Any chance Carl Pavano is reading about A-Rod’s hip labrum and thinking “dang …. that’s one I hadn’t thought of”

Jay Jaffe: ROFL

Til Monday …

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 The Mick536   ~  Mar 7, 2009 9:40 am

Would like to hear from A-Rod himself, believe it or not.

How much pain are you in? Times had picture of hip and explained its usefullness to a ball player. This article omitted the pain felt sleeping, walking, dressing, sitting, etc.

How often do you think about it? People with hip pain protect themselves, selecting legs to lead with, adjusting positions when entering and exiting cars, using arms to sit and rise from chairs, getting help putting on shoes,socks, etc. I cannot even imagine sliding, yet alone running. Do you think about it as the pitcher goes into his windup?

What do you take to relieve the pain? You can only take so many Advils! The meds have a long term affect on stomachs, yet alone who knows what else. And if you take something stronger, how does it affect the ability to hit or react to a hit ball?

Why did you wait so long to do something about it? He must have a health plan, yes? Or did your cousin have to approve the visit?

2 randym77   ~  Mar 7, 2009 10:18 am

I gather there is no pain now. Just stiffness.

There will be pain eventually, if he doesn't get it fixed.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 7, 2009 10:32 am

Injured A-Rod really makes you long for the good ol days of the regular A-Rod circus.

4 Dimelo   ~  Mar 7, 2009 10:38 am

I don't long for any ARod circus, I won't miss it and I look forward to seeing the Yanks figure out how to win w/o one of their big sticks.

I like adversity, I like seeing how my team performs when faced with adversity. The season is not lost, the Yanks might not score as many runs as they'd like (initially), but didn't we get all this new pitching? Let's see what they can do, can they keep teams from scoring 4 or less runs/game? I look at the loss of ARod for as way to see what our players are made of.

I look forward to it all, embrace the chaos.

5 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Mar 7, 2009 10:40 am

randy has it, best it appears: no pain at any point, just some stiffness, which can have a lot of causes. There WAS an mri in spring, it didn't show a cyst.

Diane's reply to O'Conner's stupid comment is right on, but doesn't even go far enough: it is so tiring to see people still going on about 'he's not a nice enough guy' or 'he has a big ego' and ignoring the man's job (for the Yankees, for their fans) which is to show up, play ball, produce. He's done all three his whole career.

Dr Philippon's comments are probably what put the team and Alex in a tricky spot: if it is 75-80% he can play through this, rather than be down 4 months+, that sounds worth the shot, followed by surgery in November. But if the surgery is only for the labrum and not bone, a 4-6 week recovery pretty much compels immediate surgery, and he's back in May. I wonder why there is no way to use mri/ct scan to determine if there is that 'underlying' bone issue that would make it 4 months.

One variable: Rodriguez is known as one of those work hard, then work harder, then do your workout types. Torre used to try to get him to back off, but clearly his routine involved major workouts, extra BP, etc. If he has to ease off, will that hurt his mental sense of being ready, or might it even help, as he's compelled to dial it down?

6 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 7, 2009 10:51 am

I think the team has a nicely established recent history of collpasing when they have their backs to the wall. All of a sudden no one can hit Kenny Rogers or Paul Byrd.

7 randym77   ~  Mar 7, 2009 11:03 am

[5] I think the reason he's so great is because he works so hard. There's been some fascinating research on this. (Summed up in the book Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.) There's an article about it here.

Many great athletes are legendary for the brutal discipline of their practice routines. In basketball, Michael Jordan practiced intensely beyond the already punishing team practices. (Had Jordan possessed some mammoth natural gift specifically for basketball, it seems unlikely he'd have been cut from his high school team.)

In football, all-time-great receiver Jerry Rice - passed up by 15 teams because they considered him too slow - practiced so hard that other players would get sick trying to keep up.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing is the "10-year rule." Researchers found that it takes 10 years of a special kind of practice called "deliberate practice" to become world-class. That might explain the "peak" around age 28 baseball players are supposed to experience. For many, that would be about 10 years after they started getting really serious about baseball.

8 OldYanksFan   ~  Mar 7, 2009 11:06 am

[5] absolutely 100% correct. If he has not had pain, even with the cyst, that bodes well that maybe there is no issue with the bone. We could probably squeak by for 6 weeks without a major aquistion/trade.

Every day they put this off, is one more day ARod misses. Cut the bastard now and hope he's back by June. Jeter will just have to take up the slack.

9 OldYanksFan   ~  Mar 7, 2009 11:06 am

[6] Are you a Yankees fan???

10 zack   ~  Mar 7, 2009 11:26 am

[4] Oh sure, look forward to it all you want. And then, much like last year, within about a week that eagerness for "adversity" will quickly change to extreme aggravation at their inability to score runs.

That O'Connor article is just the worst, and is completely indicative of the back-asswards thinking that has plagued many fans and the media (do they even think though?) since 2001. No, there is no need or way to "return" to the "good old days" of just finding a way to win. It doesn't work that way. Period. This whole "we didn't have a superstar" crap is also baloney.

The Yankees without A-Rod in the lineup, will be, literally, about as worse as a team can be if it subtracts one player. He's that good.

11 monkeypants   ~  Mar 7, 2009 11:31 am

The more I hear, the more I believe that he should just have surgery as soon as possible. This has all the makings of a Posada- or Sheffield-style "play through the pain" disaster. You know, where the player is hurt, sits out some, comes back and plays like shit, sits out some, comes back, then finally has surgery.

12 randym77   ~  Mar 7, 2009 12:06 pm

Yeah, I think A-Rod needs to have the surgery ASAP. Even though he might miss the whole season. Why risk an "incident," as Cashman terms it? Why risk worsening the injury and possibly causing long-term damage?

I am watching the WBC on ESPN2. Sir Sidney pitching like an ace against the A-Rod-less Dominican Republic. What an upset it would be if they won.

13 Dimelo   ~  Mar 7, 2009 1:02 pm

[10] Well, I've seen ARod in the lineup quite a bit the last 5 years and I still haven't seen the Yankees winning playoff series and world championships.

You are basically validating the 24 + 1 label that's been associated with him, ARod is part of a 25 man team, if he's that special and such a difference maker then why has he been hiding that greatness from us? I'm not here to bring up the clutch vs. not clutch argument, I'm just saying that this team needs to figure it out. From the FO to the players, if they are a good team then they'll be fine w/o ARod for 10 - 15 weeks.

If they can't pick up some of the slack that's not present because of ARod's absence then they were never that good. If they lose 3 key pitchers and another bat, then that's clearly devastating because there comes a point where it is too hard to recover from so many injuries to so many different players.

But losing one, no matter how good, is not a sign that the team will fail to score runs or will be any less competitive. Will Jeter step up? Will Cano play better? Will Posada recover fine? Will CC and AJ pitch-up to their contracts?

ARod is not the Yankees, I feel that the doom-and-gloom attitude because of ARod's injury is quite flawed. ARod is part of a 25 man team, I want to see how the team performs, not how the team folds because ARod isn't there. It happens in all walks of life, a key member of your team at work gets sick, a family tragedy, quits, etc, and people have to step-up. This is no different, IMHO.

And, to be quite honest, ARod needs a mental break.....there's been a lot going on the last 4 - 6 weeks with him, he needs sometime alone with his cousin and daughters.

14 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Mar 7, 2009 1:32 pm

Dimelo, it is just wrong to pretend or argue that losing MVP stats doesn't hurt a team's run production. Is it possible others pick up the slack? Of course. Also possible they press too hard, try to stay in the lineup when hurting, feel the pressure, slip themselves. There's no real way to call which way this goes for individuals. Doom-and-gloom flows from losing a #3 or cleanup hitting star. Just as doom-and-gloom followed upon Wang's injury last year. Mussina's miracle year helped cover that, but add Moose's year to a typical Wang year and we might have been in the playoffs again. Jeepers, man, starting players matter. Really good ones matter more. Can a team recover? Sure. Boston coped with Ortiz being down and then subpar, but that involved sensational years from Pedoia and Youkilis and I doubt there's a player or fan of the BoSox who wouldn't have preferred their DH star in the lineup.

Best I can tell, the attitude here from most is that the Yankees are a better team with Alex Rodriguez playing than they are with him not. Are you quarreling with that? I suspect not. If you are essentially saying 'the season isn't over, even if he misses half of it' I'll agree, of course. The stats we were shown yesterday in win shares suggest an MVP type player is worth about 6-8 games over a whole year. Let's call it four games for half a year, and remember that other teams will get injuries, too and I am with you in saying this remains a competitive club (I do suspect a new 3rd baseman if he's out till July). But let's not act as if this isn't significant, just because some people here don't like the man. (I'm still irritated by the lame O'Conner comment Diane cited.)

Last note: on the medical best-action ... we just don't know enough yet. Read the doctor's quote Diane offers. Balance 75-80% chance he can play all year against alternatives. If 4-6 weeks recovery after minor surgery then I am certain they'll do it. If 4 months + because bone is involved, there's a tougher call to make, especially as the 4 months is no guaranteed minimum time frame.

15 randym77   ~  Mar 7, 2009 1:43 pm

He might be able to play...but how well? Long said it was affecting his swing last summer already, sapping his power, and everyone agrees that it's only going to get worse.

16 Dimelo   ~  Mar 7, 2009 2:04 pm

[14] I just don't think the loss is that bad, when you lose multiple parts - pitching and hitting - then the effect on the team is much greater. Injuries are part of any good GM's risk analysis plan, it doesn't matter who the injury is to, but when it is multiple injuries then it becomes much harder to get by.

Losing Wang didn't hurt as much as losing Joba, the Yanks were able to slide Joba into Wang's spot and Joba was a great contributor, but then losing Joba made things much worse.

Any player that slides into ARod's spot is never going to inject the Yanks offense with the same power ARod will, but he can definitely mitigate the risk by doing the right things within the confines of the team. If that player bunts a guy over, plays good defense, gets key singles, doubles, etc, then the Yanks can get by with a player like that. If that player hits .220, plays awful defense then he's going to obviously hurt the Yanks, but if he can be good enough then that eases the loss of ARod. You just have to player a different brand of baseball.

All I'm saying is that one player shouldn't make or break this team, I get the impression that others feel it does make or break the team. I say, let's see how bad it is.

If ARod misses the first 62 games and the Yanks play .484 ball (30 - 32), but when ARod comes back they play 52 - 48 with ARod. The wild card team has 92 wins, so that would mean the Yanks miss the playoffs by 10 games, ARod already gave you a 4 game swing on the win column, are we to assume that ARod's presence would have been a 10 game difference maker through the first 62 games of his absence? Or are we to assume the other players just didn't play that well -henceforth the Yankees were not that good? I look it as the latter, the Yanks can still win and achieve success despite ARod's absence. Now, if the Yanks lose more players then that becomes a much harder thing to overcome.

17 Bella Sakura   ~  Mar 7, 2009 2:37 pm

[13] ARod is part of a 25 man team

Folks are very selective about this though. This is never the case in the post-season.

18 Raf   ~  Mar 7, 2009 2:44 pm

Mussina’s miracle year helped cover that, but add Moose’s year to a typical Wang year and we might have been in the playoffs again.

If the Yanks were able to play well against the lousy teams in the league, they may have made it to the playoffs

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