The Yankees are old. You know this and I know this. We all made the same jokes, as recently as last week when the Yankees were in the process of re-signing Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera – two seriously old dudes. Now Alex Rodriguez might not be as old as those forty-something pitchers but, in baseball years, he is old.

It seems Rodriguez’s wonky hip is still troubling him and requires surgery in January. This latest procedure is sure to cost him the start of his 2013 season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A-Rod’s hip first started causing him problems ahead of the 2009 season, when the Yankees third baseman had surgery on a torn labrum in his hip (totally a real thing!) and a cyst removed. Rodriguez only managed 124 games played in that season but did lead the Yankees to a World Series title, posting a .526 wOBA in the Yankees most recent postseason triumph.

Playing for the Yankees is a lot like being the sixth man on a basketball team. They care about who finishes the game, not starts it. The Yankees don’t play a 162 game season, they aim for 180 as the playoffs are just an assumed part of the deal. Hospital stays and exxxxtreme pain certainly help explain away three singles and two walks in 27 playoff plate appearances in 2012.

Since posting usual A-Rod numbers in 2009, a variety of ailments have limited Rodriguez in addition to sapping his power, quickening his decline in an unsettling way. His yearly wOBA since 2009: .401, .365, .362, .342. Troubling. The Yankees knew they weren’t getting a full season out of Rodriguez before this latest batch of bad news but it does make their off-season shopping plans that much more specific.

Some wonder if this might be the beginning of the end for Alex Rodriguez. His contract status notwithstanding, Rodriguez is a 37-year old ballplayer with a whole lot of zeros on his odometer. It is easy to forget that A-Rod has played either short or third in the big leagues since he was 18 years old. Another 500 plate appearances gets him into the top 25 all time with more than 11500 for his career. He is on the downward side of his career but can still provide the Yankees with value, should his hip get right with this latest procedure. The aggressive Bill James projections have A-Rod posting a .270/.364/.467 line in 2013, not vintage Top Three Players of All Time but still useful, especially considering he gets paid no matter what.

With Jeter still wearing a boot from his broken ankle and both players set to earn $46 Million in 2013, the Yankees are in a tough spot, relative to being the Yankees. Some fans expect the Yanks to rush out and acquire Chase Headley but, with what? Another veteran stopgap is the most likely fill-in as the Mighty Yankees attempt to keep their aged core together for one last run at glory. So just like every other year, in other words.