New York Yankees: What to Expect from Alex Rodriguez after Surgery in 2013?

Doug RushSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2013

New York Yankees: What to Expect from Alex Rodriguez after Surgery in 2013?

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    It's almost the end of January, and Alex Rodriguez is still a member of the New York Yankees.

    After uttering that sentence, that sound you just heard is probably a very loud groan because people were hoping he would be gone around October.

    Fans were hoping for A-Rod's exit after he hit .125 in the ALDS against the Orioles and .111 in the ALCS against the Tigers.

    Actually, fans were hoping for his departure after hearing that he was flirting with fans after being taken out of Game 1 of the ALCS, an act many deemed to be unprofessional, especially during a playoff game. 

    Yet, here we are almost three months later, and he's still on the team.

    But then the 37-year-old's offseason got even more interesting, as he just completed surgery on his hip and will need six months of recovery time.

    That means Yankee fans won't see A-Rod until mid-July, at least.

    What can fans expect to see from him once he returns from the surgery?

Can He Still Play 3rd Base?

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    Back in 2009, Alex Rodriguez had hip surgery and didn't debut until early May.

    A-Rod was 33 years old then, but still playing in the prime stages of his career and was able to recover enough to get back on the field.

    Now, we're talking about another surgery on the opposite hip and six months recovery for a now 37-year-old.

    Not to mention, he's already had knee surgery back in 2011 and a broken thumb in 2012; injuries that caused A-Rod to miss time in the regular season.

    By the time he comes back from the surgery and rehab, he'll be turning 38 years old.

    I just don't know if putting A-Rod back in the field is the best option with all of those recent injuries to go along with two separate hip surgeries and major rehab.

    The team signed Kevin Youkilis to be the third basemen and I think the team needs to keep Youk there once A-Rod gets back.

    I'm sure A-Rod will say the right things and say he can still play in the field, but it's not the best idea to play him if everyone else is producing.

Is He Still a Cleanup Hitter?

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    In season's past, anytime Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup, he would normally be slotted into the No. 4 spot.

    That's where he has been since coming to the Yankees before the 2004 season, but I don't think he will be able to when he comes back from the surgery in 2013.

    Back when he was the cleanup hitter, A-Rod was the guy hitting .300 with 40-plus home runs and 140 RBI.

    Even during the 2009 and 2010 seasons when he was somewhat healthy, Rodriguez hit around 30 home runs and 120 RBI.

    But over the last two years, A-Rod has been anything but that type of hitter. He's looked like an average hitter at best.

    And now that he's coming back from a major surgery, I can't see how Joe Girardi can slot him into the fourth spot of the lineup and just expect him to be the same old A-Rod.

    I think when he returns, either the fifth or sixth spot might be best for him in the lineup.

Is He Still a Home Run Hitter?

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    Can you remember the last home run Alex Rodriguez hit while with the Yankees?

    You probably can't, and I even had to look back to see.

    It was back on September 14 against the Tampa Bay Rays off of Joel Peralta in a 6-4 loss at Yankee Stadium.

    You will see A-Rod have a lot of games and strings of at-bats where he goes homer-less.

    As a 37-year-old who has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, I don't think you can rely on him as a home run threat anymore.

    Watch previous games of him; his bat speed has slowed down tremendously and is swinging and missing on pitches that he would normally crush.

    This is where hitting coach Kevin Long comes into play.

    What Long needs to do with A-Rod is focus him on being more of a hit for contact him. 

    Forget about swinging for the fences at this point, because chances are, the ball may end up in the catcher's glove.

    A-Rod needs to start putting the ball into play and finding open holes in the field. That way, he'll be a more productive player for the Yankees instead of swinging at strike three all the time.

$28 Million in 2013

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    Alex Rodriguez is expected back in the middle of July.

    So if you figure it out, he might be able to play in 70-80 games for the Yankees.

    And yet, the Yankees will owe A-Rod $28 million next season.

    Think about that for a second, the Yankees will be forking over $28 million to a guy who will play about a third of the season.

    That 10-year, $275 million contract that the Yankees and Hank Steinbrenner gave A-Rod back at the end of the 2007 is starting to really backfire in their faces.

    Sure, at the time of the contract, A-Rod was coming off his third MVP season, and he was still one of the best players in the sport.

    But 10 years and paying him until he's 42? Looking back, the Yankees really should have shortened this deal, because another five years of this might be a flat-out joke.

Can Brian Cashman Trade Him?

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    Alex Rodriguez's contract is considered one of the worst in baseball, if not, maybe the worst right now.

    And I'm sure Yankees GM Brian Cashman has thought about how he can get rid of that contract that is weighing down the payroll.

    Now, we all saw the Dodgers take on Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford's contracts from the Red Sox while absorbing around $250 million, plus taking on Hanley Ramirez's deal from the Marlins.

    But what team in their right mind would consider taking on the rest of the five years and $114 million that is due to A-Rod?

    Some felt that the Yankees could have traded A-Rod to the Miami Marlins after the 2012 season, but that was before the Marlins completed their third ever fire sale and gutted their entire roster, so I don't think A-Rod will be playing for his hometown.

    And because the Dodgers now have Ramirez, I don't even think the Dodgers would do the Yankees a favor and take A-Rod's contract off their hands.

    So if the thought of trading A-Rod in the future has crossed your mind, you might want to forget it, because honestly, what brain addled general manager is going to take an injury-riddled 37-going on-38-year-old who likely will be relegated to DH duties?

    In the simplest of terms, the Yankees are stuck with A-Rod and that albatross of a contract.

So, What Do We Expect from Alex Rodriguez in 2013?

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    When I think about what to expect from the former Yankees superstar in 2013, honestly, it's not a whole lot.

    He may get 10 home runs and 30-40 RBI while hitting .270 during the 70-80 games he's healthy and back for the Yankees. And that's being generous.

    He's not going to be the same home run-swinging, larger-than-life superstar that struck fear into the hearts of pitchers.

    That image is gone.

    At best, we are looking at a player who is past his prime and dealing with the after effects of post-steroids.

    The Yankees should have seen this coming back in 2009 after he was outed and admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs.

    The question now becomes, can A-Rod transition himself into his new role on the team, which is a complimentary role player?

    If he wants to salvage anything of what's left of his career, he'll have to and not let his ego get in the way.

    Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.