Question #167: Are the Yankees in big trouble with A-Rod out?
Many of you know that I occasionally like to consider wagering propositions and enjoy the odd game of cards. So, I would LOVE to know what kind of odds you could have gotten a month ago on the starting third baseman in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium being CODY RANSOM. Anyone who had that one is living in a much, much nicer house than me, that’s for sure.
On a more serious note, the decision for A-Rod to have his hip surgery today has created several new realities for the Yanks starting with the idea that they’ll now have a career minor-leaguer playing third base for the foreseeable future. It also includes the development that Mark Teixeira suddenly becomes the featured (and, in many ways, singular) super-power bat in the lineup. Instead of A-Rod hitting behind him, suddenly he’s got Hideki Matsui (probably) backing him. That’s a big change.
The Yankees have had long layoffs for stars in the past; Derek Jeter missed six weeks with a busted shoulder in 2003 and the Yankees went to the World Series that year. Already, Jeter has talked about how the Yankees are far from a one-man show and will be fine without A-Rod. But will they?
Here’s my question: How does the loss of A-Rod – which is expected to last say, until early late-April/early-May) change your expectations for the Yanks? Will they start slow but come on after he gets back? Struggle early and rebound? Or just skate on through without a hiccup?
Give me your thoughts and I’ll be back later with my own predictions.
If you take A-Rod out of the lineup for three or four weeks during the season, I think the Yankees could and would survive it. But to have him out at the start, well, I was just figuring that he might go ballistic early in the season and put the team on his back for a while. Now he won’t.
But these Yankees, even with their all-star, bank-bailout-sized payroll, have question marks everywhere. Except in the rotation. I still question A.J. Burnett and whether he can possibly be worth the riches the Yankees bestowed upon him, but even if he’s just OK, the rotation is solid. And if they pitch the way they should pitch, the Yankees ought to be able to survive the loss of any position player for a while — even those performance-enhanced hitters.
That said, the A-Rod hole becomes wider and deeper if Jorge Posada or Hideki Matsui have a setback, or if the Yankees have a center field platoon hitting .235, or if Robinson Cano has another nose-dive season. I don’t think Cano will repeat last year, but all or any of the other things can happen, and if that means that Jose Molina, Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom are all in the lineup at the same time, then the pitchers will have to be even better than advertised.