Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 1/28/13
Is there trouble on River Ave? Or is there celebration? Although Alex Rodriguez hopes to return from hip surgery sometime after the All-Star break at Citi Field, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman claims that the veteran third baseman could miss the entire season. Cashman dropped this bomb in an interview with WFAN in New York on Friday. Rodriguez, who is now 37, underwent surgery on his left hip on Jan. 16. He was initially expected to miss about six months. On Friday, Cashman revealed that he is actually prepared for the possibility that the third baseman might not suit up at all this summer. Cashman says that he remains optimistic. Nonetheless, when asked if there was a chance of Rodriguez missing the entire season, he told WFAN, “Yeah…I think because [of] the serious nature of the surgery and the condition that he’s trying to recover from, you know, there is that chance.” Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 homers and 57 RBIs during the regular season last year. However, he drew attention when he struggled mightily during the postseason. The three-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner was 3-for-25 in postseason play. He was only able to muster a devastating .120 batting average. That included a 0-for-18 stretch with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter, including Raul Ibanez, on multiple occasions before eventually being replaced in the starting lineup. Are the Yankees looking for a way out of this dysfunctional marriage with Alex Rodriguez? Could their patience with an ailing star have worn thin? Especially after pretty girls in the front row were garnering more of Rodriguez’ attention than the game? Earlier this offseason, the Yankees signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million contract to step in for Rodriguez while he recovers from the injury. Youkilis hit .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in 122 combined games with the Red Sox and White Sox last season. Although not a permanent fix, it’s interesting to note that if Rodriguez misses out on the year, the Yankees can recoup some of its losses through the team’s insurance. The insurance kicks in only after the player has missed at least four months of the season. It’s minimal unless the misses the entire season. The Yankees would hit the biggest macabre jackpot if Dr. Bryan Kelly, who performed the surgery to repair the labrum and an impingement in the left hip, had the wrong prognosis. If the ability of Alex Rodriguez to resume his career as long as he does the rehabilitation turns out to be wrong, the Yankees win…big time. From the Yankees’ standpoint, that would effectively get them out from under the remaining five years, $114 million on his contract. The insurance would kick in for 85% of that. Rodriguez would become a voluntarily retired player with a paid-up contract that comes off the Yankee books (and subsequently would lessen their luxury-tax burden). It would be the same sort of welcome windfall the Baltimore Orioles reaped in 2000. Two years into a five-year, $65 million contract, Albert Belle was forced to retire from the game at 34 with a degenerative hip condition. Belle disappeared from baseball. Nobody missed him. Are the Yankees hoping for lightening to strike twice?
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