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A-Rod’s Knee and the Continued Decline

A-Rod’s Knee and the Continued Decline

A-Rod’s Knee and the Continued Decline

Forget the value of Alex Rodriguez versus his contract. We talk about that all the time and it’s clear A-Rod will never live up to the superstar dollars he was signed to after 2007. The bigger concern should be his health going forward, as the NY Post reported today that Rodriguez recently followed a recommendation from Kobe Bryant and traveled to Germany for an experimental therapy called Orthokine on his bothersome right knee.

Orthokine involves taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge, a machine used in laboratories to spin objects around a fixed axis. The serum is then injected into the affected area. There is little scientific proof of his effectiveness, but athletes that have done it believe its reduced inflammation.

Since 2009, A-Rod has been battling various injuries. He has yet to play 150+ games since the MVP season of 2007, and over the last three years has averaged 120 games played and produced 25 HRs, 96 RBI, a .270 batting average, and.870 OPS. Still outstanding numbers, but you can’t help but notice the 99 games played in 2011.

Eventually the constant dings are going to impact his on-the-field performance. His 2011 OPS+ of 116 is significantly below his career average of 144. Last year was the least amount of games played since he became a starter in 1996. If you believe he will continue to decline at the same rate as the last three years, you are looking at a slightly above league average hitter in 2012.

What if A-Rod misses significant time this year? Worse yet, what if he is ineffective? The Yankees recently turned down Carlos Beltran‘s offer to play for a reasonable 2 year/$26 million dollar contract. They still have a great core of Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano. Surrounding players like Nick Swisher and Derek Jeter also played much better in the second-half of last season. Let’s not forget top prospect Jesus Montero.

Still, if one or two hitters decline or struggle, the Yankees offense starts to take on a different look. Rodriguez isn’t the same hitter he was in 2005, but the Yankees lineup loses length without him. With a struggling Jeter or Swisher (not an unlikely scenario) you start to feel a lot better about pitching to them.

Regardless of what you think about the pitching staff, it’s going to be important for this club to be among the top scoring teams in the American League in order to make the playoffs. Young starters can feel comfortable contributing 6 innings of 3-run ball when they have an offense that will score 5 to 6 runs a game. Start to put pressure on those young arms and you change the entire dynamic. You also have pitchers like Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes who need a margin of error.

Maybe this treatment works and Rodriguez has a bounce back season.  Even so, you can’t deny the fact that he is going for the treatment is bad news. This is no longer about Alex Rodriguez’s contract versus value; it’s about how his health and the rapidly declining skills are a bigger Yankees problem than they anticipated earlier in the offseason.

Of course, Rodriguez has always been an outstanding athlete. What he’s accomplished with injuries to his hip and knees is remarkable. You could say a lot of negative about A-Rod the person, but you can’t deny the effort and time he puts into his craft. Remember how  we all wrote off Carlos Beltran a year ago and he produced one of the better seasons of his career? Maybe not vintage Beltran, but certainly a very good player. Perhaps that is what is in store for A-Rod in 2012- at least for the Yankees sake.

By Mike Silva
Wednesday, 28 Dec 2011

 

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