Friday’s Baseball Prospectus chat was one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve done in recent memory, the happy coincidence of a fun time of year, a good batch of questions, and a lack of the technical gremlins which have created a distraction in every one of my chats in recent memory. A few anwers covering a couple of last week’s bigger stories:

Manny Ramirez (Los Angeles): I am going to opt out of my contract after ’09 right?

JJ: Offhand, I don’t think there have been any big-dollar players who haven’t opted out when given the chance, but it’s hard to know where the economy will be a year from now. Manny might have a big year, and even be a model citizen, but I think the appetite for his services will continue to be suppressed. I would hardly be surprised if we see a repeat scenario of this winter, but I do think the Dodgers could more easily walk away if that happens.

rw448 (vt): Is Arod’s torn hip labrum a byproduct of steroid use? Thanks Jay.

JJ: It’s an ugly but inevitable question that’s been asked. From what I read via an article in the NY Daily News, there’s no avascular necrosis in the hip, which would be typical of a link to steroids. Here’s the take-home quote:

“Such questions arose because cysts in muscle are a common side-effect of intramuscular steroid injections, as is avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone) from use of the drugs themselves.

“‘Because A-Rod kept changing his story about his steroid use,’ said Dr. Lewis Maharam, the medical director of the New York Road Runners Club, ‘it made us skeptical about his hip issue, thinking it could be steroid-related. It is not. Avascular necrosis of the femoral head is linked to steroids and sometimes described by the lay public as a cyst. This is not what he has.'”

Scott (St. Louis, MO): Having just seen the update to the depth charts reflecting A-Rod’s potential output this year, I have two questions: 1) do you think that 95 wins may be an overzealous projection if A-Rod doesn’t play until June? and, the million dollar question 2) how should A-Rod be treated in a fantasy draft: is he still a top four round guy if he’s only giving you 360-400 PA?

JJ: The situation is too fluid to really gauge what the overall impact will be on the Yankees, though I do think this could be analogous to the Posada injury last year — the straw that broke the camel’s back, keeping a 90+ win team sidelined in October. As for A-Rod’s fantasy value, I took a swing at bracketing some expectations for Fantasy Baseball Index, a newsstand publication whom I write for in the winter (covering pitchers) and spring (covering all camp happenings, job battles and projection adjustments). We did dollar value projections based on four different scenarios, which you can see here and I’ll continue to keep an eye on the news as it develops.

On the latter topic, I contributed a few suggestions for this Joe Sheehan piece on possible replacements for Rodriguez:

Looking outside the organization is a better option, but the Yankees are limited by the uncertainty over how long Rodriguez will be out. A team already stuffed to the gills with corner players can’t easily bring in a third baseman in trade, someone like Garret Atkins or Adrian Beltre, and be left with no place to play him come June. On the discard pile you have Esteban German, who was designated for assignment by the Royals last week. Jay Jaffe scanned a list of players who were out of options and found Dallas McPherson and Jeff Baker, both of whom could be a short-term patch. The recently outrighted Andy Marte might be available, though it’s unclear if he can hold a major league job.

Jaffe also pointed out that the Dodgers’ Mark Loretta has become expendable in the wake of the Orlando Hudson signing. He brings a glove, some OBP, and the ability to be a useful bench player once Rodriguez returns. The Dodgers have some issues in the back end of their rotation and bullpen, and the Yankees’ depth in those spots could make a trade work. Loretta, as a free agent signed during this past winter, would have to approve any deal.

More on the topic of A-Rod in the next post.

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