Question #166: Should the Yankees make A-Rod have the surgery now?
Let me start by saying this: I’m not a doctor. In fact, I’m very much not a doctor, so everything I write on here is based on the copious reporting (which includes quotes from people who are, in fact, doctors) that’s been done on Alex Rodriguez and his right hip issues.
Here’s what I know to be the situation: A-Rod has several problems with his hip that will, at some point, almost certainly require surgery to fix. These aren’t problems that just go away. And, depending on the severity of the surgery, A-Rod will need somewhere between six weeks and four months to recover. Based on what Brian Cashman has said, it’s likely to be closer to the longer end of that range.
At this point, the Yankees have opted to have A-Rod rest and rehab his hip, in the hope that he will be able to make it through this season and then have the procedure next winter. Their other choice, obviously, is to do the procedure now and thus put A-Rod on the sideline for the majority of this season.
Thus, the question: Are the Yankees making the right choice by having A-Rod try to play? Or should he just have the surgery now and get it over with?
My take is that this is a mistake by the Yankees. I understand their logic for doing it – something I touch on in my column on the situation today – but I think it’s misguided. There are too many things that could go wrong and, for me, not enough of a chance that things will break just the way the Yankees need for it to go right.
If A-Rod has the surgery now, the Yankees have a month to figure out a replacement. Whether it’s a free agent (Mark Grudzialanek?) or a trade (Chone Figgins? Brandon Inge?) or a – gasp! – position switch (dare I say it: Derek Jeter???), the Yankees dictate what happens instead of waiting to be dictated to. Plus, there’s also the chance A-Rod recovers quickly and can make it back in time to choke it up in Sept/Oct, just like usual.
The way the Yanks are doing it now, they’re waiting on pins and needles. They’re hoping a guy who will now be taking it easy during spring training will last 162 games and manage not to tweak his hip while he’s hitting, running, fielding, throwing and sliding. And then if he does, and needs the surgery sooner, the Yanks will have even less time to react.
I understand the pressure is on big time this year. On everyone from the top on down. But I think this is a mistake. The Yankees are stuck with A-Rod for a long, long time. They can’t control that. The best thing they could do is control as much of this situation as they possibly can.
Then why have I been calling you Dr. Borden and trying to get an appointment the last few months?
Got to agree with you there, doc. If the natural process—rest and rehab—is going to take six weeks or so, and then the possibility still exists that surgery and a four-month ordeal will still be necessary, then you do the surgery now.
Obviously we don’t have all the information we need to make that decision, such as: What are the chances the rest-and-rehab will actually work? And will A-Rod be 100 percent if it does? And what are the chances of it recurring?
I just know that if I have a $275 million asset for the next nine years, I’m willing to sacrifice four months for it to be as close to 100 percent as possible for the remaining eight-plus seasons. If the Yankees are worried about not having their cleanup hitter because they are opening a new stadium, or worried that they HAVE TO make the playoffs after last season’s disaster, and neglecting A-Rod’s future to a degree just to calm those worries, then that’s a mistake.
They should be able to get by without a Hall of Famer or perennial all-star at one position for a little while. Most teams manage to do that, right? Cody Ransom? Why not? They lived without Jeter for a while last year, and without A-Rod for a while.
But, no, I don’t see Jeter moving anywhere in the near future, surely not third base.