Tonight, Stacey and I are joined by Rob Abruzzese of Bronx Baseball Daily, and as you can imagine we spend an awful lot of time talking about Alex Rodriguez and his looming hip surgery. What it says about his postseason performance in hindsight, what it means for the Yankees in 2013 and beyond, and how they should go about replacing him in the lineup. We also spend some time talking about the affect this will have on the Yankees’ payroll plans, and the state of the A.L. East at large.
Derek Jeter was on Michael Kay’s ESPN Radio show this afternoon, and he made it clear that his expectation is to be ready for Opening Day. “I’ll be in the walking boot for another few weeks, and then I’ll be good to go,” Jeter said of his efforts to rehab a broken ankle. “It’s been a long process. What’s it been, six or seven weeks, where I haven’t been able to move too much? But it’s healing probably just as expected. We still got a long way to go before the season starts, but I’ll be ready.” Joe Girardi had previously said that Jeter might not be fully prepared to play when Opening Day rolls around, but that was likely as much about not being too bold too quickly as anything else.
Jeter also addressed recent “reports” that he’s put on a few pounds this fall. “I thought it was pretty funny,” he said. “I guess there’s a lot of things you can do with a picture. The funny thing is, a day or two before before that people were telling me I looked like a lost a lot of weight. And two days later I’m on the front page of the New York Post.” Quite to the contrary, in fact, The Captain doesn’t feel that far off of his regular offseason schedule. “When you think about it, you take a few weeks off when the season’s over, so quite honestly, I’m not behind schedule on anything right now.”
Right now, we don’t really have a firm grip on what Jeter’s timetable will be exactly, largely because it’s so early in the process. We do know that he’ll be limited at the beginning of Spring Training, but hopefully he’ll be ready for Opening Day. The important thing at this point is resting as his doctors order, so as to avoid any setbacks or worsening of the injury.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have claimed catcher Eli Whiteside off of waivers after the Yankees DFA’d him to make room for Andy Pettitte‘s new contract. That’s not necessarily a huge deal, as the light hitting 33 year old is hardly the sort of player you lose sleep over losing to a waiver claim, but it does mean that the Yankees are down one potential option for replacing Russell Martin. Conversely, the Blue Jays already had three catchers in their organization in J.P. Arencibia, the recently acquired John Buck, and top prospect Travis d’Arnaud. That would lead me to believe they plan on trading Arencibia or Buck, though it would be tough to see them moving either to a divisional rival just as they seem to be poised to contend for the division crown.
There’s an interesting story in the Los Angeles Times today about the rising cost of sports programming in cable/satellite television package. The upshot: about half of your cable bill now comes from the cost of sports programming, which includes both your local regional sports networks, as well as ESPN, MLB Network, etc. This, predictably, has non-sports fans and a la carte television pricing up in arms, which is about as hilariously awful as you would expect it to be if you have a rough idea of how the economics of cable work.
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With the likelihood of Alex Rodriguez missing quite a bit of playing time following hip surgery on the horizon, the outlook for the rest of the offseason figures to change pretty sharply for the Yankees. We already knew that the team wanted to add another infielder, potentially to fill a “super-sub” role on the left side of the infield, but with the starting third base position now open, at least on an interim basis, that need has certainly calcified for Brian Cashman and company.
One name that has repeatedly come up on this front is shortstop Stephen Drew. Reports have been out there for weeks that the Yankees were interested in acquiring Drew to backup A-Rod and Derek Jeter, and Jim Bowden tweeted as much just yesterday, reporting that the Yankees were concerned with the lack of range of their aging infielders. I’ve been pretty skeptical of this possibility, if only because the fact that someone is bound to be interested in using Drew as a starter made it tough for me to see him signing up for a bench role, but now that he could be a starting third baseman for at least the first two or three months could make a big difference in negotiations. I don’t know how deep into their checkbooks the Yankees’ desire for Drew, or any other journeyman infielder for that matter, runs, but if they’re willing to pony up the top dollar offer, they probably shouldn’t have much trouble finding a viable stopgap on a one year contract.
While there’s no shortage of big news out of Yankeeland today, the rest of baseball is getting the offseason into high gear as well, and one team who figures to be an active player at the Winter Meetings is our old friend in Boston. The Red Sox have a lot of budget room to play with after unloading the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford back in August, and they’ve started to spend some of that money today by signing Mike Napoli to a three year, $39 million contract. Napoli had been connected to the Yankees somewhat, and as a nominal catcher would have made some sense, but those rumors basically went nowhere, and he’s seemed destined to sign with Boston for weeks now. I would imagine he’ll split his time between first base and catching this coming season, and his right-handed bat would seem to be a great fit for his new home park.
The Red Sox have a lot of work to do in picking up the pieces of that organization after their last place debacle in 2012, but this is a really good starting point, and it sounds like Nick Swisher may be their next big target.
One of the first pieces of real news that emerges from the Winter Meetings is the results of the Hall of Fame Veterans’ Committee voting, and this year there’s good news for Yankee fans who care about such things, as former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert has been voted in as part of the committee’s per-integration ballot. Ruppert, who owned the Yankees from 1915-39, probably played as big a role as anyone in building the early Yankee dynasties, and is probably best known for making the trade to bring Babe Ruth to the Yankees and building the original Yankee Stadium. If anything, it’s really a mystery why Ruppert wasn’t inducted long ago, especially considering some of the owners who have made the cut (*cough* Tom Yawkey *cough*), but at least he’s in now, I guess. Congratulations to him and to his family on the honor.
We expect big news to emerge from the Winter Meetings, but unfortunately the first big development for the Yankees is the impending hip surgery of Alex Rodriguez. George King had the initial report that A-Rod was getting his surgically repaired hip looked at, and his Post colleague Joel Sherman followed that up by breaking that Alex would, in fact, be having surgery to fix the injury. It’s not yet clear what this will mean in terms of Alex getting on the field and being productive next season, but it seems like a given that he’ll miss at least some time, and when you factor his age and existing level of regression into the equation, you have to wonder if the days of being able to count on A-Rod being anything but an average player for the Yankees are just about behind us for good.
We do, however, have some additional details about the surgery and the injury itself. On the former, Mark Feinsand reports that the surgery will be performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly, and not Marc Phillippon, who did A-Rod’s initial procedure back in 2008. I suppose that’s some pretty interesting news, but maybe A-Rod just wants to see if the luck of the Irish can rub off on him (sorry, couldn’t help it)? Secondly, Ken Rosenthal tweeted some information that has set the interwebs ablaze: A-Rod re-injured the hip before the playoffs began, and was playing through severe pain in October. Rosenthal even passes along that the pain was so severe A-Rod spent the night in the ER after one ALDS game (my guess is Game 4, and that it played a role in why Alex wasn’t even in the starting lineup for Game 5). There’s a lot of different questions that could be raised about that, given how much of a beating A-Rod was taking during the playoffs, but I’m not really eager to write at length about any of them until we get some sort of explanation, or at least more details, from the team. If you’re really interested though, you can follow me on Twitter. I’m sure a good chunk of the day will be devoted to tweeting about A-Rod.
Correction: Reports now indicate that it’s A-Rod’s left hip that is injured, not the right hip that he previously had surgery on. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, honestly.
Update: Well this didn’t take long: multiple reporters are now tweeting the recovery time for A-Rod is expected to be in the 4-6 months range. Mark Feinsand specifically says that a source told him the Yankees don’t expect to have A-Rod back until June or July, which would leave Alex missing roughly the first half of the season.
It seems like the hits just keep coming with Alex Rodriguez these days, but alas they’re not the kind you want him to be getting on the field. The latest development with the Yankees’ third baseman? His surgically repaired hip may be bothering him. That information comes via George King in the New York Post, who reports that A-Rod will be visiting Marc Phillippon, the surgeon who repaired his torn labrum after the 2008 season. A-Rod has apparently been feeling tightness in the hip, and King’s source labels it “a big issue.”
For his part, Brian Cashman acknowledged that A-Rod’s hip will always be an issue for him, but wouldn’t comment any further than that. ”He is always going to have hip issues to deal with. That’s just part of his winter program,’’ Cashman said of his highest paid player. But while routine maintenance, for lack of a better term, might be a normal part of A-Rod’s conditioning from now on, surgery would likely threaten A-Rod’s ability to start the 2013 season which, combined with Derek Jeter‘s fractured ankle, could leave the Yankees looking for an insurance policy in the infield. We know, for example, that they;ve shown an interest in Stephen Drew and Jeff Keppinger, both of whom would seem o be in line for offers to start somewhere, and perhaps this puts the Yankees’ potential interest in a new light.
Update: Joel Sherman tweets that he “exclusively” hears that A-Rod was playing on a re-torn hip at some point last season, and that surgery is “likely” for Alex.