New York Yankees Most Affected by a Potentially Devastating a-Rod Absence
It’s nothing new that in New York, it’s World Series or bust every season for the Yankees. But this year, several Yankees will be under additional pressure due to the extended absence of All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod had hip surgery on January 16. While he was originally expected to be out until after the All-Star Game, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged in an interview with WFAN “there’s no guarantees in this stuff” and Rodriguez could be out for the season.
While Rodriguez has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, as recently as 2010 he added 30 home runs and 125 RBIs to the Yankees lineup.
When healthy, he is a big part of the Yankees offense. Missing an entire season would not bode well for New York’s title chances.
If the Yankees want to contend for World Series title No. 28, certain players will have to raise their game in A-Rod’s absence.
The third baseman Youkilis was signed by the Yankees on a one-year, $12 million dollar contract this offseason primarily to fill in during A-Rod’s absence.
You know New York was desperate to make up for some of the third baseman’s lost power if they were turning to a former noted member of the arch-rival Red Sox. But in a time of need, the Yankees had to act.
Splitting time between the Red Sox and White Sox last season, Youkilis had 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in an off-season. As the player who is directly replacing Rodriguez, Youk’s performance this year has a big impact on the Yankees.
As if Cano needed any more incentive to step up his game in a contract year, the looming possibility of no Rodriguez for all of 2013 should motivate the second baseman even further.
Cano is an elite player and a perennial MVP candidate, but if he gets it together he could challenge for a Triple Crown, as he hits for average and power. Last year he hit “just” .313 with 33 home runs and 94 RBIs, but he is capable of much more.
Now more than ever the Yankees need Cano to prove he is not just an All-Star but also potentially a franchise legend in the making. Raising his game in A-Rod’s absence could do just that.
The Yankees captain led the team in hits and batting average last season at the ripe old age of 38. It may be too much to ask him to do the same in 2013, but he may have to at least come close.
While Rodriguez and Jeter contributed to the Yankees offense in different ways, the latter’s ability to get on base can go a long way to catalyzing New York’s offense with A-Rod injured.
Additionally, while the Yankees clubhouse is filled with big egos. While Jeter is the undisputed leader of the Bronx Bombers, A-Rod was a vocal component of the team—sometimes to New York’s detriment.
It will be interesting to see how Jeter performs not just on the field but also off of it in A-Rod’s absence.
The Yankees first baseman makes up the core of the lineup along with Cano and outfielder Curtis Granderson. The slugger had a bit of a down year in 2012, only playing 123 games, hitting 24 home runs and 84 RBIs but batting a paltry .251.
Normally, Teixeira would need to bounce back from those numbers just because he is capable of so much more.
But in addition to continuing to excel on the field, the five-time Gold Glove winner should be looking to add to his hitting hardware (he has won three Silver Sluggers) in A-Rod’s absence.
Teixeira adds some serious pop to the lineup, which will help the depleted offense. He also needs to stay healthy—the Yankees cannot afford to lose more than one slugger to injury.
Yes, Hughes is a pitcher so he doesn’t need to step up his game to make up for lost production stemming from A-Rod’s absence.
But with hits to the Yankees offense in the offseason (outfielder Nick Swisher, catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Eric Chavez all left) in addition to A-Rod’s injury, now more than ever the Yankees rotation is going to be crucial to the team’s success.
CC Sabathia is a lock to contend for the Cy Young Award and Hiroki Kuroda proved last season he can pitch in the bright lights of New York. Therefore, it falls on Hughes’ shoulders to raise his game and add depth to the Yankees’ rotation.
Hughes has always shown promise but has never lived up to his potential as an ace. With A-Rod out of the lineup and the Yankees looking for solid starting pitching, now would be the time to do that.
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