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State of the organization: First base

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 04, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Mark Teixeira

Continuing our position-by-position look at the Yankees heading into spring training, we’ll move over to first base, where the Yankees have fully committed to a guy who used to be one of the best first basemen in baseball. Question is, how good is he going to be — and how healthy is he going to be — going forward?

TeixeiraTop of the depth chart: Mark Teixeira
Backup options: TBD
Also coming to camp: Russ Canzler (Kelly Johnson, Tyler Austin, Corban Joseph and Ramon Flores also have some 1B experience)
Deeper in the system: Greg Bird, Kyle Roller

Before the 2009 season, the Yankees committed to Mark Teixeira as their first baseman of the present and the future. Teixeira signed an eight-year deal and immediately finished second in MVP voting while helping the Yankees to a championship. But it’s been downhill since then. Teixeira’s OPS has dipped each year since his Yankees debut, and last year he missed nearly the entire season with a torn tendon sheath that required surgery. He’s still working his way back, hitting indoors and hoping his full strength returns and lets him drive inside fastballs. Other players have come back from similar injuries, but the wrist is a big deal for hitters, especially one who at this point badly needs to hit for power to remain an offensive weapon.

Lingering question: What can the Yankees expect from Teixeira?
It’s the obvious question because it’s the biggest question. Teixeira has said that his rehab is going according to schedule, but he’s also in the early stages of hitting, and he’s not planning to participate in the first few games of the exhibition schedule. At this point, it’s hard to expect Teixeira to suddenly become and MVP-type, all-around hitter — it’s been four years since he last batted better than .256 — but the Yankees need his switch-hitting power and his Gold Glove defense.

Mark TeixeiraWorth watching this spring: Anyone who’s getting time at first base
Other than Teixeira, the only true first baseman invited to big league camp is Russ Canzler, and even he is more of a four-corners utility guy than an everyday first baseman. The Yankees don’t have an obvious backup at the position, and even assuming Teixeira is 100 percent, the team will need someone to give him a day off every now and then. Is one of the veteran outfielders going to take some reps at first? Maybe Kelly Johnson or one of the other third base candidates? Maybe Brian McCann? Beyond who’s second on the big league depth chart, it’s worth monitoring who’s on track to get significant first base time in Triple-A. Who could slide into the everyday lineup if Teixeira’s not able to play for some reason?

Best-case scenario: Back to 2010
Expecting a return to Teixeira’s 2009 slash line seems overly optimistic. I suppose it’s possible, but it’s far more practical to focus on the 2010 season. That year, Teixeira hit .256/.365/.481 with 33 homers and 108 RBI. He got on base enough to lead the league in runs scored. Even 2011, when his OBP went down but his slugging percentage went up, wouldn’t be a bad year. Basically, the Yankees need Teixeira to be a slugger and a defender. His offensive approach seems poorly suited to beat the inevitable defensive shift, but if he can hit the ball in the seats, that won’t matter.

Worst-case scenario: No power and a low average
Here’s the problem with that wrist injury: if it’s sapped Teixeira’s power, then his greatest offensive asset is a pretty good eye and a patient approach at the plate. That might be nice for a utility infielder, but it’s not much for a first baseman. His defense should be just fine, and that’s an obvious plus, but if Teixeira is no longer able to drive the ball, then his lower batting average will be even more problematic. And frankly, the Yankees don’t have an obvious replacement waiting in the wings. They need Teixeira, or else they’ll likely need to go shopping.

Keep an eye on this year: Greg Bird
One of the emerging prospects in the Yankees minor league system, my old friend Patrick Teale at his excellent Pinstripes Plus website picked Bird as the top prospect in the entire system, one spot ahead of the usual choice, Gary Sanchez. Bird is a converted catcher who, at 20 years old hit .288/.428/.511 in Charleston last year. He has an advanced approach and great eye at the plate, and his power numbers jumped in the second half (of his 20 home runs, 15 came after the all-star break). If he spends one year at each minor league level, Bird will break into the big leagues exactly when Teixeira’s contract expires.

Associated Press photos

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34 Responses to “State of the organization: First base”

  1. Wave Your Hat February 4th, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Blake and Tom,

    Thanks. I’ve been meaning to tackle brisket but I thought I’d need a lot longer. Five hours is within my patience limits.

  2. PhiltheThrill February 4th, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Tex’s early decline has been one of the weirdest things and big contributors to the Yankees diminishing returns.

  3. tomingeorgia February 4th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    WYH,
    Briskets are easy to overcook. Blake reported on his first try, and that was the result. I like mine about 190, then let it rest a while. Get an instant meat thermometer! Beef is much harder to eyeball than pork.

  4. pete2 February 4th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    ” Wave Your Hat February 4th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    If PECOTA was in trisha’s prediction contest it would have 82 wins all to itself…”

    I wonder what they had predicted for the Red Sox last year.

    I will give it a week, but if no Drew I am downgrading my prediction to 89 since I had assumed he was a no brainer for the Yankees. Its like building a house for 1 million but going with linoleum floors instead of hardwood floors to save 75K.

  5. blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Wave,
    Tom is right….brisket is a little more delicate than pork. The does one I did I did a 14 lb whole packer and I overcooked it bad because I fell asleep after about 15 hours of cooking.

    I did a 3 lb flat today and it took about 5 hours at 250…..I wrapped it in foil after 3 hours in the smoke and it was money……took it off at 200 and let it rest for 1.5 hours. I just sliced it and it was butter…..great smoke ring

  6. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Pete2 – the first article I found says PECOTA projected a record of 86-76 for the Sox in ’13 (tied with the Rays for 2nd place one game behind the Jays)

    http://www.overthemonster.com/.....cond-place

  7. blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I just posted a post op only twitter actually as I was slicing

  8. Your Name Here February 4th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Seems people laughed at PECOTA about the Sox last season:

    http://www.baseballnation.com/.....13-preview

  9. Wave Your Hat February 4th, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Blake and Tom,

    Thanks for the tips. I’m going to wait until the snow is off the ground. That might take a while!

  10. Wave Your Hat February 4th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Remember that PECOTA tends to suppress high win totals because it regresses to the mean pretty aggressively.

  11. Your Name Here February 4th, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    The Yanks performed unworldly in 2013 in 1 run games. With Robertson in the 8th and Mo in the 9th. Their record was much like the 2012 Orioles…. who came back to earth in 1 run games in 2013.

    Will the Yanks fair the same without Robertson in the 8th or Mo in the 9th?

    The Yanks’ Pythagorean record shows it should have been 78-84.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rpi/_/sort/expWinPct

  12. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I mis-spoke… the article I found said the Sox and Rays would finish one game ahead of the Jays. The article Your Name Here posted doesn’t match what I found exactly but they are both fairly close

  13. trisha - true pinstriped blue February 4th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    So I’m wondering. Does Richard Sherman’s admission about reading Peyton Manning’s hand signals taint the Seahawks victory at all, and does it elevate Manning’s status again?

    It certainly made me feel better about the Broncos and their ability. I know you can’t call that cheating because they didn’t use illegal methods the way the vaunted Patriots did. But it still makes it feel less impressive a win to me.

    Anyone?

  14. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    At the end of the day, the game is played on the field. PECOTA is cool to look at and gives you an idea of what may be in store… If it were perfect, there would be no reason to watch :)

  15. blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Stealing signs isn’t frowned upon really in football like it is baseball…..It does make the whole thing make more sense though and kinda tell how and why it seemed like there was 15 Seattle defenders out there……there weren’t…..they his knew what was coming

  16. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Trisha – Speaking for myself only, the admission doesn’t taint the Seahawks victory. I can understand if you don’t agree.

  17. Against All Odds February 4th, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    trisha – true pinstriped blue February 4th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    —————–

    It’s football all teams pick up on hand signals, movements, calls, eye gestures, foot stomps, hand eaves, etc

  18. Against All Odds February 4th, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:28 pm
    Stealing signs isn’t frowned upon really in football like it is baseball

    ——————-

    It’s only frowned upon when ppl get caught doing it.

  19. mick February 4th, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    So the Yanks emphasis is on defense.
    Baker was a non factor all along.
    Drew would seem to make sense.
    Only for the right deal which will remain to be too high.

  20. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Stealing signs isn’t frowned upon really in football like it is baseball

    ———————

    Even stealing signs in baseball is sort of a double standard… Its not okay to use technology (cameras. etc) to steal signs (which I understand). Its not ok for a runner to steal signs and tip a batter from second base. Yet, most every dugout has a guy or guys looking to decipher a teams signals to gain an edge

  21. AAA February 4th, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    So I’m wondering. Does Richard Sherman’s admission about reading Peyton Manning’s hand signals taint the Seahawks victory at all, and does it elevate Manning’s status again?

    ==============================================

    Tainted Seahawks win? No chance. They were far simply a much better team. They could have let the Broncos play armed with knives and they still lose by 2 TD’s.

    Nothing about that game elevates Manning’s status. The Seahawks took away the things he likes to do (read: throws to receivers cutting across the middle, screen passes) and were in his face all game. He had little in the way of answers.

    That said, the game shouldn’t really diminish his status either. He’s an all time great. Getting thrashed by a superior team doesn’t change that.

  22. Blojaldo February 4th, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    How is it possible that Manning and all the Denver players, coaches on the sideline and specialists in the box did not catch on to the sign stealing? Shouldn’t it have been obvious, especially to those in the box upstairs, that Seattle knew what was coming?

  23. blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    PhiltheThrill says:
    February 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    Tex’s early decline has been one of the weirdest things and big contributors to the Yankees diminishing returns.

    The injuries haven’t helped but IMO his swig. Was never going to age well

  24. blake February 4th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Looks like 8/135 for Freeman. Great deal for the braves if he stays healthy. He’s 23 years old so the braves are basically getting his 20s with this deal……sounds better than paying 153 million for ellsbuys 30s

  25. yankinvegas February 4th, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I have never quite understood all the love for Stephen Drew. I think Jeter will be fine for 2014 and then we can get someone a lot better than Drew.
    Ever since Jeter broke his ankle, the karma has been so negative surrounding the Yankees. The writers, who all hate us, love to bring up all the possible downsides, while totally ignoring the at least as possible upsides.
    I am optimistic about Tex and Jete.
    Tex – .265, 30 and 105
    Jete – .305 with 180 + hits and decent D
    I mean, I’m a fan. Why should I be Debbie Downer BEFORE the season even starts?

  26. Blojaldo February 4th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Tex was in a consistent decline at the plate for four years (2009-2012) prior to his injury:

    2009 – Average .292/OBP .383/SLG .565/OPS .948

    2010 – Average .256/OBP .365/SLG .481/OPS .846

    2011 – Average .248/OBP .341/SLG .494/OPS .835

    2012 – Average .251/OBP .332/SLG .475/OPS .807

  27. pete2 February 4th, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    ” chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    “Even stealing signs in baseball is sort of a double standard… Its not okay to use technology (cameras. etc) to steal signs (which I understand). Its not ok for a runner to steal signs and tip a batter from second base. Yet, most every dugout has a guy or guys looking to decipher a teams signals to gain an edge”

    How well can the ban of high-tech be enforced?. I can imagine some teams being able to listen in on every conversation in the visitors clubhouse or dugout to discern their approach to hitters or pitchers with little risk of being caught.

    How about players wearing vibrating devices that are set off wirelessly from a remote location to let them know location or pitch. Heck, some of that can be done on the road as well. Of course, teams might want to reserve that for players they know won’t be moving on to another team, or perhaps some players can arrange for that on their own.

  28. blake February 4th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    “I have never quite understood all the love for Stephen Drew. I think Jeter will be fine for 2014 and then we can get someone a lot better than Drew.”

    Who?

  29. chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Pete2 – no way (that i know of) it can be enforced. Just saying the use of technology is considered a no-no… that said, its probably happening more than we know

  30. Against All Odds February 4th, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    That said, the game shouldn’t really diminish his status either. He’s an all time great. Getting thrashed by a superior team doesn’t change that.

    ——————-

    It hurts him to some degree though. Not saying he goes from top 5 all time to top 30 but that was a beating he took on Sunday.

  31. MTU February 4th, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Chicken alert ————>

  32. pete2 February 4th, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    chicken_stanley February 4th, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    “Pete2 – the first article I found says PECOTA projected a record of 86-76 for the Sox in ’13 (tied with the Rays for 2nd place one game behind the Jays)

    http://www.overthemonster.com/…..cond-place”

    Thanks for the link. There were a couple of different online projections for them I guess, but they exceeded all of them by more than 10 games. Large error bands on these. I was wonder what the BP handbook had them for but am too lazy to check since I don’t want to climb the stairs.

    Zips projections for individual players have the Red Sox losing about 15 WAR due to regression or downgrades so I guess they only win 82 games this year. LOL.
    I would be surprised if they won more than 92 games this year though, they were too lucky last year and they are weaker at C, SS and CF.

    My objective prediction for the Yankee is more like 85 +/- 10. Bold prediction there, 75-95 My fanboy projection is on the high side of the + and has them beating the Red Sox by a game for the division.

  33. RhapsodyInBlue February 4th, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    No Trisha it does not taint the victory the Seahawks were the best team of 2014.

  34. Wave Your Hat February 4th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I don’t think a veteran like Manning gets his hand signals stolen. I think Sherman was just having some fun.

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