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Best case, worst case: First base

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 23, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The premise is pretty simple. Now that we’ve looked at the Yankees organization, position-by-position, what’s the organization’s best-case and worst-case scenario at each spot? We’ll start at first base, where the upside is significant and could make a huge difference in the way this lineup is viewed going forward.

Best-case scenario
Party like it’s 2009
It wasn’t all that long ago that Mark Teixeira was an all-star, a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glover and second in the MVP race. Oh, and he was also a World Series champion. Back in 2009, Teixeira’s first year with the Yankees, he was still one of the best all-around hitters in baseball. In addition to his defense, 30-plus home run power and good plate discipline – all of which have remained more or less in place the past three years — Teixeira also hit for a high average and had an OPS above .900 from each side of plate. About to turn 33 years old, Teixeira has not yet aged beyond that sort of offensive potential. His best-case scenario is about as good as it gets. The Yankees haven’t seen it in three years, but it’s still lingering out there as legitimate wishful thinking.

There’s also something to be said here for new addition Russ Canzler proving he can play a powerful, platoon role at the big laegue level. But, although Canzler can play first base, the Yankees best-case scenario certainly doesn’t include him getting more than five or six games at the position. If anything, it involves Teixeira staying healthy enough that Canzler’s only at-bats come at DH and occasionally in the outfield corners.

In the minor leagues, the Yankees would like to see power-hitting first basemen Luke Murton and Kyle Roller continue to hit homers as they advance, but the real prize seems to be Greg Bird, the Yankees 2011 fifth-round pick who’s been moved permanently from catcher to first base. A big year in Charleston could put Bird on the radar as a potential Teixeira replacement in four years.

Worst-case scenario
A sign of things to come
At this point, Teixeira’s production seems fairly steady. Some health problems might have dragged down his numbers a little bit last season, but it ultimately feels safe to expect roughly .250/.330/.480 with 30-35 home runs. If what we’ve seen the past three years is a going to continue, at least there’s still some power and reason to think that — even in a horrible year — he could still hit 25 homers and slug .450 or so. The strength is there … unless last year’s health problems were the beginning of an Alex Rodriguez-type free fall. If we’re talking worst-case scenario, it surely has something to do with a doctor.

Teixeira eventually got his cough figured out last season, and his calf injury has had three-plus months to heal, but he got off to a horrible start last season — hitting just .229/.281/.386 into late May — and he blamed it, at least partially, on bad health. Teixeira actually slugged .518 the rest of the way, but nagging health and injury problems have taken a temporary toll in the past, and an unhealthy Teixeira might leave the Yankees longing for the version who could at least hit a home run every once in a while.

If Teixeira has to miss significant time, the Yankees best first base alternatives might be Canzler (a guy with fewer than 100 big league at-bats), Kevin Youkilis (the guy who’s supposed to be filling in at third) or Murton (a guy who hasn’t played above Double-A and whose batting average has declined year-by-year). Bird is an interesting but remarkably unproven young player, and the first basemen around him in the system — Matt Snyder and Saxon Butler — we just drafted last year and fall into the same boat: Could just as easily fall off the map as climb onto the radar. If a larger sample size against professional pitchers exposes holes in those young prospect’s games, the Yankees won’t really have a standout first baseman to look toward as a short-term or long-term replacement. If the Yankees have to turn to Tyler Austin to help at first, several things will have gone wrong.

Associated Press photos

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65 Responses to “Best case, worst case: First base”

  1. Rich in NJ January 23rd, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I vote for Option 1.

  2. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 5:59 pm
    Tom, please send me a warm cookie. Did I miss a link to your business?

    J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 5:59 pm
    No, but I have some fresh baked Mrs. Tom’s chocolate chip cookies, still cooling. Would they do?
    ///

    Yes, I will accept these, tom . Thanks.
    ——
    Come and get’em. The link I posted: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hot.....orgia.html

  3. champ809 January 23rd, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    JAP

    He like alot of these kids when they come stateside have to make major adjustments. Adjusting to playing nightgames is never discussed much but it’s a major adjustment for many of them. I plan to get over early this season to Staten Island to see somee games and I hope the injury is behind him and he can play in a comfort zone and show his skillset. ultimately i think he and DePaula spend the bulk of the year tearing up Charleston.

  4. austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Tom,

    That is a beautiful place. Now, to the map of Georgia. Much success or, I’m sure, continued success.

  5. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Rey Nunez too is hopefully on the adjustment trial. I’d love to see him have a good year in Tampa, and be in the first base prospect discussion. Still needs to cut down on the K’s and be more selective/shorten up, but the kid has unbelievable power, and can actually play first pretty well, from what I have observed. This is an important year for him.

    I think Ravel will be much more comfortable this year, and the ankle that much stronger. He had no clue how to make contact in the couple of games I saw him hit in. But he had a lot to deal with.

  6. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    champ,

    Yes it’s an adjustment. The game I saw, Ravel looked like he was playing his first game of the season (it was actually the first home game, they’d been in the road IIRC). I don’t put much stock in that, but I noted with interest the limp. I hope that’s gone this year.

    Custodio (who is highly regarded) was just awful in that game. Rosario was at 2B and Duran at 3B. A kid named Butler was the DH, and with one swing you could see he has a smooth bat the ball jumps off (he hit a HR over the CF wall, too). That boy is going to hit, but I don’t know where he is, currently. Effortless power, that one.

    I’ll be checking in on the SI Yankees as often as I can this year, although I think the Thunder, who are about 20 minutes from my home, will keep me plenty entertained with Heathcott, Flores et al :D. Can’t wait.

  7. austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Tom,

    Hmmm. Making a connection. Big, beautiful house and lost a confederate gold. Your secret is safe.
    No one but a handful read what we write.

  8. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Tom, sharp looking place you’ve got there. Clean, too.

    I’m one of these people who brings eucalyptus oil with me to sprinkle on my pillows when I’m staying out of home. Your place is pristine.

  9. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    yankeefem – Rey Nunez did not distinguish himself in Brooklyn in the “Hughes” game. That was Mason’s playground: he was spectacular in all facets that day. Gumbs-Culver were slick like veterans, too.

  10. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Pruf, I think the limp is here to stay, but whether it affects Ravel’s speed is the main issue. Jorge was fast before he broke his leg. Here’s hoping Ravel hasn’t permanently lost a step.

    Saxon hit well, but he’s a bit older. I know they like the bat, and he was impressive, but I’d like to see how he progresses as he moves up in class.

    It helps that more of these games including SI are being televised, but it’s not the same as being at the parks. I really hope we get DePaula in Charleston games at Lakewood in May.

  11. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Encinas had a rough day in SI too, especially with his curveball. He’s made some strides since then and is a bright spot.

  12. theREALkevin January 23rd, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Liked Saxon Butler while watching him play for Samford a few times. I was surprised he lasted as long as he did in the draft. His bat has some real potential.

  13. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Pruf, Nunez is a big swinger, but when he makes contact… Bam! Let’s see how selective he’s become when he is back in NY metro. His K’s were in the high 20 %’s…

  14. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    YF, that’s right – Saxon Butler. That swing! Lefty, too.

  15. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    theREALkevin January 23rd, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Liked Saxon Butler while watching him play for Samford a few times. I was surprised he lasted as long as he did in the draft. His bat has some real potential.
    ///

    RealKevin,

    I’ll say! I didn’t have a lineup card that day. I just saw one swing and was like, who is this guy?? Just a beautiful, effortless swing – not like the big hacks Cody Johnson takes – and the ball just kept going and going… he’s a keeper. Wonder where he ends up this year.

  16. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    RealKev, by the way, he looks kind of boxy. Does he have a glove at all?

  17. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Kev, he was very impressive at SI, but he was facing 19 year olds. Still you can see he is a really good hitter. And wasn’t fooled by breaking stuff. Not sure what he looked like in his brief stint in the Sally, but he’s numbers dropped off big time.

    Pruf, yep that was an early game. Supposedly he has come a long way. I’d love to see him pitch again and see Gallegos pitch. Sorry that I again will miss Bryan Mitchell b/c he will be at Tampa. Aside from tyanks sending me updates/info, they coverage of that team is pretty lacking both media and video-wise.

  18. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    sorry about typos.

  19. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 6:23 pm
    Tom,

    Hmmm. Making a connection. Big, beautiful house and lost a confederate gold. Your secret is safe.
    No one but a handful read what we write.

    J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:24 pm
    Tom, sharp looking place you’ve got there. Clean, too.

    I’m one of these people who brings eucalyptus oil with me to sprinkle on my pillows when I’m staying out of home. Your place is pristine.
    ———-
    Austin, the basement is only half dug out. Maybe it’s there! I’ll rent you a shovel, then we’ll go on the share.

    JAP, You want eucalyptus oil? I’ve got it, but bring your own, just in case mine is an inferior brand. Throw in an extra 50 cents to buy detergent to get it out of the pillow case for the rest of the folks who visit.

  20. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    @ajcbraves: Confirmed that #Braves have indeed made offer to Dbacks for Justin Upton. I think Teheran plus 2-3 other prospects, but not sure

  21. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Pruf, I am guessing Saxon starts with the RDogs.

  22. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    YF: Giovanny Gallegos – great name for a pitcher! I read PP on him; sounds good.

  23. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I am all for JUps playing with his bro if we can’t get him.

  24. austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Tom, you have anew profit center. Digging out the basement searching for gold for a reasonable fee.

  25. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    JAP, You want eucalyptus oil? I’ve got it, but bring your own, just in case mine is an inferior brand. Throw in an extra 50 cents to buy detergent to get it out of the pillow case for the rest of the folks who visit.
    ///

    Tom, my oil is 100 percent essential. Does not stain fabric; it evaporates. Some folks put Eucalyptus oil in their wash, deliberately y’know :D. It is antimicrobial, and smells very fresh. If you mix it with essential oil of lavender, it is especially refreshing. Just don’t overdo it if you have cats: it disturbs their nervous systems.

  26. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Tom/Mac-

    You guys ever heard of metal detectors.

    Find it 1st then dig.

    ;)

  27. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Oh, and don’t throw it on floors unless you dilute it…it WILL stain those! Although eucalyptus oil is good for wood, but tiled floors it will stain.

  28. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    JAP,
    Euphonious names: Yolanda Vega! Now say Chico Carresquel and Minnie Minoso with her diction.

  29. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I am all for JUps playing with his bro if we can’t get him.
    ///

    Kind of like Jordan Staal getting traded to play with his brother :) :mad:

  30. charlestonchew January 23rd, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    We really should try and work out a deal for Jason Kubel. His price is dropping, he’s a solid contributor (not far off from Swisher, really) and he only costs 8mil a year. It would mean less playing time for Gardner/Ichiro, but it doesn’t have to be that much less, given that Kubel could sub for any of the outfielders and DH often.

  31. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    The odds of both Uptons winding up on the same team at their ages ?

    Like winning lotto. Must be meant to be.

    :)

  32. Rich in NJ January 23rd, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    “I am all for JUps playing with his bro if we can’t get him.”

    Not me, in the sense that if he somehow stays in AZ for a year, they have a far better chance of getting him next year, perhaps for multiple reasons.

  33. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    blake January 23rd, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    @ajcbraves: Confirmed that #Braves have indeed made offer to Dbacks for Justin Upton. I think Teheran plus 2-3 other prospects, but not sure
    //

    That’s the least threatening place (for us) for him to go, other than San Diego

  34. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Rich,

    Sounds like they have badmouthed this guy so much, they almost have to move him now.

  35. Rich in NJ January 23rd, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Pruf

    I have to find reasons to remain optimistic about the future of this team (meaning the Yankees), even as the people that run it are making one dumb, short-sighted move after another.

  36. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    austin,
    If you don’t find the gold, then I’ll give you directions to this place,, and you can take my shovel with you, no extra charge. Still on the share, though!
    http://www.digforcrystals.com/news.html

  37. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Tom-

    Send him to Dalonaga.

    He’ll find gold there.

  38. austinmac January 23rd, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Either one sounds like a good retirement plan to me.

  39. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    It’s lucky Man-Ban isn’t back to being his nasty self or he would have been sent to the Snakes.

    Saved by TJS.

    :)

  40. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    No to Kubel.

  41. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Rich, at least our farm is loaded. I can stand a little rain if we reap the rewards in a few years. Maybe we have learned something (fingers crossed). I can hope.

  42. champ809 January 23rd, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Just like last year that Charleston squad is going to be LOADED!!! Gallegos, DePaula, Rutcjyk and maybe Hensley in the rotation along with Corey Black at least at the start… Bird @ 1B, Ravel in CF with Duran, Custodio and Refsnyder on the infield and Butler DH’ing….at some point Jake cave may make it up to Charleston this year as well.

    the Trenton team should be the Jewel of the system this year with Slade, Mason and Tyler in the OF at some point this season. Sanchez @ C and Jose Ramirez, Bryan Mitchell, Matt tracy, Nick Turley and maybe Jairo Jeredia or Shane Greene. In the bullpen you’ll get Montgomery, Pinder, Rony Bautista and Burawa and maybe Nick Goody later in the season.

    My hope is that they stack the Scranton team with the real prospects and not the org filler guys.

    Zoilo Almonte in LF, Abe Almonte in CF and Melky Mesa in RF ( if he doesn’t make the big squad)….Adams @ 3B, Corben Joseph @ 2B and Pirela as the utility inf with maybe Roller @ 1B with a few vets sprinkled in and Dellin, Marshall, Warren anchor the rotation…

  43. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Mr. MTU,
    First gold mine in Georgia is about five miles from here, on, would you believe it Gold Mine Road. I’m told there’s still some gold in that creek.

  44. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Rich in NJ January 23rd, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Pruf

    I have to find reasons to remain optimistic about the future of this team (meaning the Yankees), even as the people that run it are making one dumb, short-sighted move after another.
    ///

    We’ll have to pitch again to have any shot. The team is not particularly appealing. Trenton is much more exciting.

  45. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    J. Alfred Prufrock says:
    January 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm
    No to Kubel.

    I wouldn’t say no….depends on what he costs….he’s greatly upgrade the DH spot

  46. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I wonder if the Rays will swoop in and steal JUps at the last minute.

  47. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Mister Tom-

    With Gold sitting near 2K/oz. maybe you should find out ?

    ;)

  48. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    He can’t field. I hate that. Got to go. Time for hockey :D

  49. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I wonder if the Rays will swoop in and steal JUps at the last minute.
    ///

    This would not be a good thing: Myers, Longo, Jennings, Upton and their arms.

    Later

  50. tomingeorgia January 23rd, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Mister MYU,
    There are no gold pans down at Poss Hardware. Guess I’ll have to use a pie tin.

  51. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t know if the Rays match up that great….Towers has his SS now and they aren’t trading Myers…..plus Upton would be pretty expensive for them…..he makes 15 million in 2014 and 2015

  52. MTU January 23rd, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Tom-

    Get a waterproof Metal detector and some waders.

  53. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    He does get expensive, but Rays have the young arms Tower wants, and they have been very interested in JUps. Although I agree Braves seemingly match up better.

    Off to watch hockey.

  54. theREALkevin January 23rd, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Pruf,

    The couple games I watched he looked solid at 1st if memory serves. What I liked about his offense is not only does he have a really nice swing, but he hit well against some legit draft prospect pitchers in the NCAA regionals I was watching.

    Yankeefem,

    Yeah he did struggle a bit after his promotion. I’m hoping it’s just due to such a long year, his college season, then NCAA regionals, then his first assignment, then the promotion. I’m anxious to see how he does next season, would be nice to add another legit bat to the system.

  55. theREALkevin January 23rd, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Sorry for the delay in responding- got a phone call. Gotta run, have a good night guys.

  56. J. Alfred Prufrock January 23rd, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    RealKev,

    Thanks for the scouting report! I’m not surprised he could handle advanced pitching – he has an advanced approach and an ease with the bat. We’ll keep an eye on him.
    ///

    Hey jmills!

    It’s my boys against yours! Thanks for getting Engelland off the ice for us :D

    Later

  57. yankeefeminista January 23rd, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Hey Kev, we’ll see. Butler definitely has a sweet swing.

    Pruf, Sid would have 50 more points a season if he played with wingers with hands.

  58. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    @Ken_Rosenthal: At the moment, #Diamondbacks stand better chance of dealing with #Braves for Upton than #Orioles for Kubel. Unclear whether others involved.

  59. CompassRosy January 23rd, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Russell Wilson ?@DangeRussWilson
    “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

    ===

    Maybe Russell can dust off his baseball bat and come help the M’s during the NFL off season ;)

  60. Chip January 23rd, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    blake January 23rd, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    @Ken_Rosenthal: At the moment, #Diamondbacks stand better chance of dealing with #Braves for Upton than #Orioles for Kubel. Unclear whether others involved.
    —————

    I don’t know what Justin Upton did or what it is about him that the Dbacks don’t like in his projection – but it has to be bad if you would rather deal a young player like him with a very team friendly long term deal over Jason Kubel.

  61. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    “I don’t know what Justin Upton did or what it is about him that the Dbacks don’t like in his projection – but it has to be bad if you would rather deal a young player like him with a very team friendly long term deal over Jason Kubel.”

    1) they can get a lot more for Upton 2) Upton is starting to get expensive 3) Upton is unhappy from being in every trade rumor for 2 years 4) the Dbacks can be kinda crazy sometimes

  62. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    @ajcbraves: No sense getting ahead of ourselves here, but… Up, Up and a J-Hey does have a ring to it. #Braves waiting for Dbacks decision.

  63. Against All Odds January 23rd, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Sometimes organizations sour on players. Could be them thinking Upton is half a**ing it or them think he’s not living up to the lofty expectations and feel it’s time to move on.

  64. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Honestly I think the Dbacks are trying to cash in big on Upton before he gets expensive as they know he’s unhappy

  65. blake January 23rd, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Swoop Cashman.

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