So a couple of days ago, while doing the very strenuous and rare action of swinging a baseball bat, Mark Teixeira hurt his wrist and will now miss 8-10 weeks. This is the second devastating injury the Yankees have suffered this spring. Will it be the death blow on an already bleak looking season for the Bombers? Only time, and what Brian Cashman does between now and Opening Day, will tell. Of course, he just broke his ankle jumping out of a plane, so what can he really do?
I mean seriously. I’m pretty sure this is God’s way of punishing the front office for their complete lack of aggressiveness on the free agency market. That $189MM plan is looking pretty great now, right Hal? The Yankees now have to piece together three pretty crucial positions (left field, first base and catcher) from their own inner scrap heap. If one of these positions were to be filled with scraps, I think the team could possibly tread water and be OK. Granderson’s injury gave the Yanks two needs, which was kind of a tall order for April. With Tex out now too, that leaves Robinson Canó as really the only sure-fire power hitter in this lineup.
I know that Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner have plenty of pop left in their bats, but I’m pretty much counting on them to miss time due to injury this season, so let’s just hope that happens after Granderson and Teixeira come back. All of a sudden, the Yankees are looking at possibly having three below average bats in the lineup (not to mention two 39-year olds and the two rickety guys we mentioned above) all in the lineup every single day. Every day! Anywho, let’s take a look at the first base “options” the Yankees have left… get your barf bags ready, everyone.
1. Kevin Youkilis
This is easily the best, and yet kind of the worst, option for the Yankees. It’s the best because Youkilis has had a lot of first base experience during his career, playing it for the Red Sox before they acquired Adrian González and some for the White Sox last year. The guy can play first base, and I think his bat won’t kill the team. Also, I feel like a player with such a well-known history of injuries should be moving as little as possible on the field. First base is the least strenuous position to play on the diamond. Well, at least a lot less strenuous than third.
The problem with moving Youkilis to first base is that they have to have somebody they’re comfortable with putting in third base every day while Youk mans first base. The Yankees have made it clear that Eduardo Núñez should only be playing shortstop for the big league club (or just DH and be off the field all together). The guy throws like a young Chuck Knoblauch, know what I’m saying? Some intriguing options for third could be young guys like Corban Joseph or David Adams, but barring a trade, we’ll probably see someone crappy like Jayson Nix man the hot-corner. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what Nix did last year, but he’s not an every day player.
2. Dan Johnson
I know what you’re thinking. The guy from Miami Vice?? Cool! Sorry folks, that’s Don Johnson. The Yankees didn’t even invite him to camp this year. I’d take him over Tubbs, that’s for sure. Anyway, all joking aside, there’s no reason Dan Johnson should be playing first base every day for anyone, let alone the New York Yankees. There’s a reason he’s been nicknamed “The Great Pumpkin.” Basically, he shows up once a year to do something incredible. In 2011, he hit a game-tying home run for the Rays in the bottom of the ninth inning of the game they eventually walked off in and made the post season. In 2012, he showed up in September again to hit 3 home runs in a game for the White Sox. See the pattern emerging?
Does this sound like a man who should be playing every day? The last time he played every day was in 2007. He hit .236/.349/.418. The scouting report on him says pretty much what you would expect. Lots of power, great eye, but not enough contact, terrible against lefties and not the rangiest defender in the world. Plainly speaking, he’d be a mess. But the Yankees certainly would be smart to call him up in september.
3. Juan Rivera
If you didn’t read my profile on Juan Rivera, I talked about him as one of the options to fill in during Curtis Granderson‘s injury. He’s not a great option either, but at least he has a lot of recent experience at first. That’s mostly because he’s not healthy or fast enough to be in the outfield anymore, so if He’s gonna make the team, it might as well be at first base. To sum up what I wrote about him last week, he’s 34 but plays like he’s 45. He can’t really run, his bat has seemingly lost the effectiveness it had in the mid-2000s and he’s been kind of prone to injury of late. Yes. He’s a real Yankee. This probably one of the last chances he’ll get to prove that he can be a significant contributor to a major league team. He’s been swinging the bat well this spring, but that doesn’t mean too much to me.
Is There Any Hope?
I’m usually pretty optimistic when it comes to this stuff, but it’s getting a little hard to maintain a rosy outlook on the situation when player after player comes up lame and we’re told they’re going to miss two months of the season. That being said, I still think this team has the pitching necessary to compete in this division. As things go right now, I think the Teixeira injury places them behind both the Rays and the Blue Jays as far as the standings go, but it’s not the end of the world either.
What I do hope is that the Yankees decide to give one of these open spots (catcher, outfield, first base) to some younger players. For example, if someone’s going to hit .230 in left field, I’d like it to be Ronnier Mustelier. If someone’s going to hit .217 at third base, why not let Corban Joseph be that guy? The Yankees have a rare opportunity to see what some of their AAA guys can do at the big league level. Usually, almost all of the spots in the lineup are spoken for by veterans, and so are the bench spots. I’d rather see a 75 win team with some young blood than an 83 win team full of old, broken down players.
Featured image courtesy of: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
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