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Time to talk A-Rod

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[UPDATE: Per Peter Abraham, the Yankees have officially announced that A-Rod will play in Baltimore Friday.]

Let's talk A-Rod. With Alex Rodriguez' return to the New York Yankees lineup possible Friday (more like probable, I think) we can't really avoid it.

Remember when A-Rod first disclosed the hip injury and Ian O'Connor and others wrote that the Yankees would be better off without him?

Umm ... yeah, sure. At the time, I called the idea the Yanks wouldn't miss A-Rod 'wishful thinking.'

At 13-14, with injuries ravaging their lineup, bullpen and starting rotation, with the aborted Cody Ransom Era at third base having been a disaster, with Joe Girardi listening to 'We Want Torre' chants from the unhappy fans bothering to show up at Yankee Stadium, I think I'm safe to say I was right.

Here's what I said.

Is this 'we won't miss A-Rod' sentiment the same kind of wishful thinking New York Giants' fans used last season when they brushed off the loss of Plaxico Burress after his self-inflicted gunshot? I know I was guilty of that, and the Giants missed the star wideout big-time as the season unfolded. I think there is no denying the Yankees will miss A-Rod, even if we know he is an idiot and wish the team had let him walk before the 2008 season.

Cody Ransom is a 33-year-old guy with less than 200 major-league at-bats, which means nobody has ever thought he was very good. Even if they bring in an experienced guy like Mark Teahan via trade, that will cost them a prospect or two they would really rather hang onto.

Other than the fact that we might get a break from the A-Rod soap opera for a while, there is nothing else good for the Yankees about his being out of the lineup.

I'm not patting myself on the back. It's just reality that a player this talented will be missed, especially when there is no real replacement for him on the roster. I love Ramiro Pena, but he's not A-Rod.

Fact is, the Yankees need a jolt of energy. More than that, they need a big bat in the middle of their lineup. Maybe it's not fair to ask considering he is coming off hip surgery, but this Yankee team needs the 2005 A-Rod (48 home runs, 130 RBI) or the 2007 A-Rod (54 HR, 156 RBI).

No offense to Hideki Matsui or Nick Swisher, but the struggling Mark Teixeira is about to begin seeing better pitches to hit.

Beleaguered Manager Joe Girardi understands what he has been missing.

Here is Vic Ziegel of the New York Daily News.

A-Rod, Girardi points out, will do wonders for his lineup card. He rattles off the names - "Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, A-Rod, Matsui, Cano, Swisher, Cabrera" and sooner or later, Posada. He didn't call it the best collection of names in the league but you get his point.

The important cog in that semi-Murderers' Row is A-Rod. They've gone 13-14 without his bat or glove. The third basemen who replaced him haven't done the job. Haven't come close. It's not at all fair to compare them.

A-Rod, remember, doesn't just produce the wrong kind of headlines. He is one of the greatest players in the game. The numbers don't need repeating.

I know A-Rod is a jerk. I know it is always a soap opera with the guy. I know I sure as hell am not looking forward to dealing with the A-Rod circus for the next 81/2 years.

I also know there is no way the Yanks are going to the playoffs this year without his bat.