It was reported today that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery on his hip miss roughly 10 weeks. Obviously, this is a major blow for the Yankees. Anytime you lose a player of A-Rod's caliber, it hurts.
But these are the Yankees we're talking about. The franchise with the highest payroll in baseball and a roster stacked with all-stars and big money players. They should be able to weather the storm without A-Rod for a few months...right?
Well, maybe. A-Rod is such a huge part of the Yankees offense and quite frankly, it's impossible to replace him. Cody Ransom will probably get the first crack at holding down third base in A-Rod's absence, but Ransom has never proven himself on the big league stage before...let alone in the bright lights of New York.
So how do the Yankees attempt to replace some of A-Rod's production? Simple. They need to have Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano perform at their optimal levels until A-Rod returns. Posada and Matsui dealt with serious injuries in 2008 while Cano and Jeter had down years offensively. If those guys can pick up the slack, then the Yankees offense will still remain very potent and dangerous.
(Note: Yankee fans should be thrilled that the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira...if there is a saving grace for Yankees fans, its that Teixeira will be able to put up gaudy stats...even without A-Rod. Without Tex, this lineup would lack firepower.)
Also keep in mind how much the Yankees starting pitching has improved since 2008. The Yankees added two of the best starting pitchers on the market (Burnett and Sabathia) and will have a healthy and motivated Joba Chamberlain in the rotation. Unlike previous seasons, the Yankees rotation could actually carry this club for a good stretch of time if the offense cannot get it's act together. The starting rotation has the potential to be dominant...and the Yankees will need all five guys at their best.
It's vital that the Yankees get off to a good start in 2009. The AL East is probably the best division in baseball right now and the Yankees simply cannot afford to fall 8-10 games behind either one of these teams. If they do struggle, the Yankees probably will miss out on the playoffs.
I think it's very possible for the Yankees to not miss a beat without A-Rod. Hell, they might even do better without him considering how much of a distraction he has become! Their roster is simply far to talented and balanced for them to fall off the face of the baseball universe...even without their star third baseman.
The goal for the Yankees now has to be: stay close to the Red Sox and Rays until A-Rod comes back.
East Notes: Bourn, Hellickson, Prado, Locke
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