The Great Teixeira Race

Hank speaks: Girardi safe; Cashman not as much
Olbermann: More Red Sox stuff buried under new Yankee Stadium

As the Yankees and the Mets both deal with underperforming first basemen at the ends of lengthy and expensive contracts, Dan Graziano takes a look at the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes and concludes that the Yanks and Mets will emerge as the two most likely bidders for Teixeira’s service. Throughout the piece, Graziano bemoans the old sluggers on the New York teams and calls Teixeira — 29 at the start of next season — a “a breath of fresh air for either New York team.”

But the problem is that Teixeira will be a breath of fresh air only until he too starts getting old. I don’t think Teixeira will sign for anything less than seven years, and while I’m not opposed to the idea, his contract will eventually be as problematic as Jason Giambi‘s and Carlos Delgado’s are right now. While “in with the young, out with the old” is a sound philosophy, the young grow old quickly.

Hank speaks: Girardi safe; Cashman not as much
Olbermann: More Red Sox stuff buried under new Yankee Stadium
  • r.w.g.

    I think the Yankees will be in it, but I really do not believe they will be going into the stratosphere with their bid unless the Steinbrenners decide they absolutely have to have him.

    I think it is a lot more likely that Tex ends up in Baltimore. Angelos has shown he will break the bank. They have money coming off the books soon, several good young hitters in the majors and minors (Markakis, Jones, Rowell, Wieters). Tex is from Maryland. Unless Baltimore gets completely blown out of the water with their offer – and I don’t think they will – I don’t see him landing anywhere else.

  • Double-J

    I’d rather have Sabathia. But I’d like both, too. I’m just wavering because from the other folks posts on here, many are not high on Teixiera, so I’m wondering what other options would be available for a 1B other than him (outside the farm system of course).

    • r.w.g.

      I don’t think you’ll find anybody at 1B, this year anyway, that is as complete a hitter as Teixeira.

      I’m actually a big Tex fan.. I just really don’t want to hand out anything longer than 4 or 5 years to ANY player. Give larger than average buyout clauses, overpay for the years if you have to.. but these incredibly lengthy contracts just kill teams.

      I can think of worse things than having Tex and Arod in the lineup for the next 7 years. But I’m not even sold on Rodriguez’s ability to lead us to a dynasty for the duration of his contract, so yeah I have some reservations about Tex being the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’.

  • Pete

    Replacing Mussina and Giambi with Tex and Sabathia wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world – hopefully the contracts won’t get out of control…

  • A.D.

    The one thing about Tex aging compared to Giambi & Delgado is that he can field, Delgado & Giambi have always been considered lesser defensive 1B.

    That said I’d rather see a lesser free agent/better contract (i.e. shorter) such as Dunn, Hinske, or Casey (who I thought they should have signed this year) as a short term solution that won’t block a potential Posada move Jeter move, or trade play for a top tier 1b prostpect, if it pans out

    • Ben K.

      The problem with Jeter is that he’s not really a viable offensive first baseman. There’s no saying what his defense would be like, and his offense wouldn’t match the production the Yanks need at first, especially when you consider that they would then have to fill the short stop hole as well.

      • r.w.g.

        I really don’t like the “offense for your position” argument. It’s totally bunk. Yeah traditionally there are spots where less-athletic, big hitting guys play.

        But it all depends on your line up. Most teams do not have Robinson Cano at 2B, and A-Rod is significantly better than the average 3B. I’m not saying you’re completely wrong for thinking this way, but it’s very limiting to just say “I need a total masher at 1B”.

        No, you don’t. You need productive players where they can help the team. What’s the difference between 10-15 homers and 25-30 if the end result is 90-100 rbi?

        • Ben K.

          RBIs are not at all a product of someone’s mashing ability as much as they are a product of the ability of the people in front of you to get on base. If you were to stick 35-year-old (and older) Jeter at first and another short stop at short, the Yankees offense would not be very good even with A-Rod and Cano in the lineup.

          • r.w.g.

            RBIs are pretty important. I think we’ve had this conversation before. In my view, you’re either the guy who drove in a run or you aren’t. The guy in front of you is supposed to get on base.. he’s a batter. Better hitters drive in more guys than lesser hitters. Jason Giambi or Jeff Francouer? Maybe I’m over-simplifying that, but I think it’s a pretty good example (elite OBP vs elite RBI). Doesn’t seem to be much difference in the way of strikeouts. One guy just gets more hits.

            You’re right about just replacing Jeter with anybody. But it also neglects the OF.. what if Melky gets better? What if he doesn’t? What if the prospects pan out? If they don’t? If they trade for or sign someone like a Holliday, Dunn, Burrell?

            You could even do this another way.. if they sign Teixeira, is it as big a deal if Melky doesn’t hit 20 HR a year if he keeps throwing the way he has?

            This is a lot more of a theoretical argument, because if you want the truth.. I just want Jeter to finish his contract up at SS and then let him walk. But I’m not also foolish enough to buy that he isn’t qualified offensively to man 1B.

        • Art Vandelay

          This is incorrect on so many levels. Positional context is everything.

          • r.w.g.

            No it really isn’t.

            This is hypothetical. But walk through this exercise with me. Say the Yanks had signed Beltran and Guerrero. Say our outfield right now was Matsui/Melky, Beltran, and Guerrero.

            You’re telling me it would be a big deal that the 1B was Doug Mientkiewicz (hope that was at least close)?

            I’m not saying you can just stick anybody at 1B at any old time you want. But I just find a hard time believing having an offensive player like Jeter at first would be a disaster. It would be a disaster if he was a poor defensive 1B.. like the bullshit I’ve been watching on YES this year.

            If all of our OF hit like Melky and Damon and we replaced Jeter at SS with Alberto Gonzalez, then you guys might have a point. But if they signed Adam Dunn and Rafael Furcal, I think you both would be proven wrong pretty quickly.

            • Art Vandelay

              Trust me, I see where you’re going. But position context is actually the crucial factor when evaluating a player’s worth, and it happens to be one of the cornerstones of sabremetrics, Perhaps you don’t buy into that movement, but a lot of people do. In short, what you’re doing is looking only at the players on the team, rather than comparing them to the rest of the league at each position. Good hitting at difficult fielding positions is scarce, whereas good hitting at easier positions (e.g. 1B) is much easier to find. So to answer your question, sure, you can have a crappy hitter at 1B like Doug M. and try to offset his lack of offense at other positions. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a crappy hitter when compared to other MLB first baseman. You’re analyzing a player’s worth in a vaccum if you don’t compare him to the other players that are out there at that position.

              • r.w.g.

                Yeah I see what you’re saying a lot better now. And you’re right, I am kind of looking at through a NYY-vaccum.

                But at the same time, we can’t just go out and get any player whenever we want.

                The whole Jeter at 1B thing is more a way of trying to find some way to keep him in pinstripes. I don’t run the team.. but I really don’t want him at SS too much longer. He’s not KILLING us there, but he’s not helping us out in the field. His offseason work looks like it helped him some, but there’s only so much he can do at 33 or 34 years old. He can’t move to 2B and 3B. So it’s LF or 1B. And I guess I just feel he’d probably be a better infielder.

                Like I said in another post.. I’d rather they just let DJ walk. In the 2000s, we’ve had like one or two seasons where we’ve had a really good defensive team, other than that.. very poor range and noodle arms.

                This is a bit off topic.. but I’d rather just see an OF stacked with power, speed, and arms, a dominant top 3 in the rotation, a shut down closer, and then fill the infield as best you can. Sad thing is.. if some common sense had been used this could be reality right now.

      • Pete

        I get the feeling Jeter’s going to be a real hardass about switching his position – like, EVER. Same with Posada.

        • A.D.

          I’m not sure that Posada might be difficult, Jeter would prob do CF but 1b he might not be, but think of this line-up for next year (obv hypothectical):

          Damon LF
          Lillebridge SS (via trade or sign Furcal)
          Jeter 1B
          A-Rod 3B
          Matsui DH
          Posada C
          Cano 2B
          Melky RF
          Gardner CF

          Yes Jeter won’t give you the power of a normal 1B but he’ll give you the avg and better speed on the abse paths. Lillebrige or furcal give a nice slap hitter with easy 30+ SB speed, Gardner can give you another 30+ SB on the bottom, Damon could still be good for 20.

          This lineup is leaner in the power, but faster, more agile, but it would put up runs & good defense. Else Jeter at the 2 hole and Tex in the 3 wouldn’t be bad either

    • r.w.g.

      I totally forgot about Casey. He would be great.. and you’re right, they really should have signed him this year. In fact.. it looks pretty bad that we let a 12 year vet with a .302 career average sign for peanuts to be a backup on our chief rival because our Front Office said “No we’re cool with Wilson Betemit and Shelley Duncan”.

  • TurnTwo

    I think the Yankees need to make a hard play for Teixeira. Forget about 7 years from now, and think about what having Tex and ARod in the middle of the lineup could mean for the next 4 or 5 years.

    not only that, but it saves the team the grief of not knowing who the everyday 1B will be, and that 1B will by default be a defensive liability.

    i will say that no matter what, Cashman, or whoever is the GM, needs to address 1B long term following Giambi’s buyout after the season… and if they dont make a play for Tex, that is fine as long as they arent afraid to move some prospects for someone who can be a long term solution at 1B.

    • Chris

      And in 4-5 years when Tex is getting old and sucking, everyone will be whining about his huge contract and what an albatross it is.

      • TurnTwo

        and why is it assumed that he’ll grow old and suck in 4 or 5 years?

        • Ben K.

          Because that’s what all players outside of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens do. He might not suck, per se, but by the end of his deal, he won’t be worth whatever he’s getting paid.

          • TurnTwo

            but money is just a number.

            the value of the contract is in terms of what he is able to provide the team. if he is still able to provide above average defense at the position, and drive in runs in the middle of the order, who cares what he makes if he continues to help the yankees win games.

            i still dont get the fixation correlating players salaries to performance. does the player help win games? if yes, then no matter what he’s paid, he’s worth it.

          • TurnTwo

            and in 4 or 5 years, he’ll be 32 or 33. how is that old?

            i can understand avoiding a longer term deal if he was already 31-32 years old, but you’d have a switch-hitting, gold glove 1B thru the prime of his career, and release him when he’s 35.

  • JRVJ

    The problem that I have with Ben’s argument is that forgets that the economics of the Yankees are about to get EVEN NICER, so the Yankee can afford to take on Sabathia and Teixeira.

    Let’s consider: the Yankees have up to $78 MM coming off the books this year (though that would assume that all of Giambi, Pavano, Mussina, Farnsworth, Hawkins, Pettite and Abreu leave. Right now, I’d say Pettitte stays, and Mussina and Abreu are maybes depending on other factors).

    The Yanks have $31MM coming off the books after 2009 ($13MM for ‘Zila, $13MM for Damon and Giambi’s $5MM buyout from 2008). I could see the Yankees keeping ‘Zilla (due to his production and his marketing potential Japan), but not Damon.

    The Yankees have a lot of young, cheap pitching coming up the system (we know about the big 3), a lot of which will have broken into the bigs by 2009. The Yanks also have some interesting OF prospects (particularly A-Jax, but also Gardner and Tabata) which could contribute at some point in 2009.

    On the financial side of the ledger, new Yankee Stadium will bring new revenue streams and allow the Yanks to decrease their revenue sharing commitments….

    • TurnTwo

      i dont see them retaining Matsui or Damon.

      I know Pettitte has expressed that he wants to pitch at least one more year to play in the new stadium, but if he finished out the year pitching the way he has the past month, there really is no reason to sign him back.

      Abreu is very interesting. There isnt another RF on the market worthy of signing, but he’s been a little inconsistent to sign long term. I could see them offering Abreu an extention, though, before resigning Matsui and Damon.

      but yeah, finances are the last thing to worry about when considering Tex and CC contracts.

    • A.D.

      So the Giambi buy-out isn’t calculated in current payroll, thus its 26 mil (actually 23 I believe Damon only makes 10) coming off the books, but that aside the things people forget about the 70-80 this year and 26 the next year is people need to get paid such as Wang, he’s easy going to be 12-15 a year, and they should go ahead and lock him up, then you have to look to paying Joba, so figure 15-20 million goes to near term retention.

      • r.w.g.

        We don’t need to worry about paying Joba right now. We don’t even know if he’s going to be a starter or reliever.

        Give him a very nice raise, but renew his contract. We have a lot of time before he’s eligible for free agency.

  • Jon W.

    Like most people, I’d prefer that the Yankees not have to go out and give big money contracts to other teams’ free agents. But assuming Miranda or Eric Duncan does not have a monster second half, who are the Yankees going to get to play first next year, if not Tex? It reminds me of how the Yankees overpaid for Arod, Mo and Posada this winter. I’m sure they didn’t want to give them the contracts they did, but given the lack of replacements in the minors, they felt they had to. I could see something similar happening this winter.

    • TurnTwo

      agreed. it may be a little expensive to pay $18 million for 7 years to sign Tex, but you could certainly do worse than have a perennial all star and gold glove 1B for the next 5-7 years.

    • JRVJ

      Jon W., for the sake of the argument, let’s say the Yankees dispense with Giambi, Farns, Pavano, Hawkins and Abreu (A-Jax takes over RF) next year, but keep Pettitte and Mussina for (say) $7MM.

      That means the Yanks cleared $55MM.

      Say they spend $20MM to get Sabathia, and maybe an extra $5MM to get a B-Level 1B.

      Would you be happy if they kept the extra $30MM but didn’t make the playoffs?

      Please bear in mind that (a) the Yankees will have lots of new revenue coming in due to new Yankee Stadium (b) they will decrease their revenue sharing commitments (c) Their luxury tax effectively goes down if they stay in the same place salary wise, since the floor goes up every year…..

      I am just as happy as the next guy if the Yankees can home-grow their own players (or trade for them), but I’m pretty sure the Yankees will not reduce ticket prices if they spend less AND it makes no difference in my life if the Steimbrenners make an extra $30MM a year…..

      • A.D.

        They don’t have to pay luxery tax for awhile since they paid for their new stadium

        • TurnTwo

          i thought i heard that, but wasnt sure if it was true or not.

      • Jon W.

        JRVJ, I agree with your premise, that with the money slated to come off the books this offseason, the Yanks could probably afford both Sabathia and Tex. I think your projection of A-Jax as the RF next year is more than a little optimistic, but that’s another argument…

        My point is that with Cashman on board, the Yanks have sought to become a younger team with more payroll flexibility. Does that mean they won’t sign those guys, or that I’m against it? No. All I’m saying is that I’m pretty sure Cash and Hal at the very least, would prefer not to sign big money free agents, and they won’t if they feel they have viable internal options. But with the weaknesses at first and in the rotation, I could easily see the Yanks doing exactly what they did this offseason: overpay for guys who fill a big need.

        • JRVJ

          Obviously it’d be better to have great, cheap internal options at every position.

          But since that’s unrealistic, the Yanks should very much leverage their competitive advantage ($$$, especially with so much money coming off the books).

          As to your point about Abreu, you may very well be right that A-Jax is not ready to replace Abreu in 2009. I’ve written here a couple of times about how it almost certainly makes sense to offer Abreu arbitration for 2009, be it that he takes it (solid player for one 1 year) or he declines it (the Yankees get a 1st round pick, which will make up for the 1st and 2nd round they’d lose from signing Sabathia and Teixeira).

  • john

    i dont care what kind of monster contract they give to tex

    switch hitting, power bat, first basemen with gold-glove defense.

    we’re blind if we don’t get this guy.

  • Art Vandelay

    Agree with the sentiment that I’d rather see the Yanks overpay Teixera than some of the chumps they’ve been giving money to lately. Seven years seems like too many years, but Boras is known for setting astronomical baselines. If they can narrow it down to six years, that would be more doable. Also, Ben, I would think that there’s a definite possibility that Tex’s contract will become less of an albatross than Giambi’s when you consider the effect of steroids on Giambi (both it’s contribution to his prior performance and its deletrious effect on his health).

    I also assume Cashman (assuming he’s still around) will be more likely to pile money on Tex’s front lawn than Sabbathia, given his fear of FA pitching and emphasis on developing it from within. That said, if Hughes and Kennedy continue to struggle this season, the front office pressure to bring in a lefty ace will probably be too great.

  • CB

    Is a career .900 OPS first baseman worth $160 million?

    First base is such strange position because the average production is so high. Last year Tex had an OPS of around 1.000 and a VORP of only 53 and a WARP of only 6. Don’t get me wrong those are all very good numbers but they aren’t elite levels of production. Tex has never consistently approached the Pujols, Howard, Fielder class of offensive first basemen.

    And while he has a reputation as a great fielding first baseman by statistical measure he’s actually not nearly as good as his gold gloves suggest. Last year his zone rating was only around .750. He’s nowhere near as good a fielder as Pujols or Youklis.

    • r.w.g.

      Agreed. Tex is an above average player with a wide skill set, but he has only had one truly elite season. And he wants franchise money.

      Tough call.

      • Pete

        The simple solution is to draw a hard line in the sand (as with A-Rod) and stick to our guns. If he wants to come here badly enough, he will.

        Isn’t Tex a huge Mattingly fan? Maybe we could use that somehow. :)

        • TurnTwo

          prob would have been easier if he was still on the coaching staff, no?

          but yes, i think he wears 23 because he was a big Donnie baseball fan growing up.

          • Pete

            >> prob would have been easier if he was still on the coaching staff, no? >>

            I’m pretty sure the Rangers got Chris Drury because of Mattingly, and he’s got nothing to do with hockey! :)

        • r.w.g.

          Yeah that’s why he wears #23. But he’s also from Maryland, and I believe he’s actually from a suburb of Baltimore (but don’t quote me on that) and is actually a big Orioles fan and I think all things being pretty equal (money and chance to win and roster/management) he would prefer to go to the Chesapeake and bomb our pitchers for the next 8 years.

          They’ve got some serious hitters coming up in the Orioles situation and they really hauled back a lot more talent than I thought in the Bedard/Tejada trades. Jones, Markakis, Tex, Wieters, the last gasps of Melvin Mora.. that’s a team that sounds like it could hit a million home runs off Phil Hughes (sorry I couldn’t resist).

    • Art Vandelay

      I would note that I think zone rating is a particularly weak tool when evaluating first basemen since it doesn’t really value ability to scoop throws, field bunts and make good throws, field pop flies, etc. But I didn’t know his zone rating was that low.

      In any event, no doubt that Tex hasn’t put up Fielder or Howard power numbers, but he still is one of the best first basemen in the game and happens to be available, which is more than you can say for Fielder or Howard. He’s also been incredibly consistent, and would immediately be the second-best hitter on the team. There’s pretty much no way around that the FA market for high-caliber offensive talent is expensive.

      • CB

        Zone rating is actually a more generous way of looking at Texeira’s fielding.

        According to clay davenport’s runs allowed above average defensensive metric Teixeira was 6 runs WORSE than a league average firs baseman last year. Runs allowed above average does take into account scooping throws, etc. (though it does so indirectly as its not based on play by play data).

        BP’s runs allowed metric is far from perfect, but it’s eye opening for any legitimate metric to have a guy who is a perennial gold glove winner be rated as beow league average defensively. Especially when that position is first base.

  • Kulish

    The more I think about Tex and the contract the Yanks may give him, the less I like it. I think I’d rather sign Pat Burrell to a smaller contract.

    • TurnTwo

      and play him where? we already have 2 LFs that cant play LF anymore, and are signed thru 2009.

      • A.D.

        Well he was a Golden Spikes winner at 3b and came up as 1B, so move could be possible, but I’m not a Burrell fan and don’t want to see him in stripes

    • Badhay

      Pat Burrell? Are you serious? Talk about epitomy of CONTRACT YEAR.

      • r.w.g.

        Eh.. I wouldn’t write Burrell off with just saying “contract year”. He has had some really good years before.

        Throughout his career he has gotten his swing very long and just wouldn’t lay off sliders away. He’s not swinging at those pitches this year.

        He came back down to earth a little bit.. right to the .280s, which is in line with the 2 other great seasons he’s had.

        Look at his career numbers.. when he can keep his mechanics together for a full season, he avoids tremendous slumps and knocks in 120. When he doesn’t he hits .250-30-90. He’s only had one truly terrible year, and since the second half of last year, he’s been LOCKED in.

        Now I’m not advocating signing Pat ‘the Bat’.. he’s strictly a LF/DH guy and other than RH power, I’m not sure how much he would specifically help us. But this isn’t a contract year thing for Burrell.. the guy is 30 or 31 and he’s figuring some stuff out and getting better. It’s the tail end of his prime and he’s doing exactly what he’s done in his previous best seasons. He’s not coming out of nowhere.

        • Mike A.

          Burrell’s better than he get’s credit for. He can hit, just can’t play D.

  • Mike A.

    While I fully acknowledge that Teixeira is a very good, if not great player, I’m scared a bit. I can see him being a bust – not an Andruw Jones-type bust – but a “he’ll only hit .280-22-80 instead of .300-35-120” kind of bust. Plus I hate the idea of long term contracts, the albatross potential is scary.

    I’d give CC 6 years before I gave Teixiera 6 years. Just my two cents.

    • A.D.

      I agree, it would be better to overpay Tex for a 4 year deal then the big 7

    • Mike R.

      I also agree. The final years of a pitchers contract are usually much less painful than hitters. There are exception but 36-37 year old pitchers seem to be more valuable than 36-37 year old position players. (My opinion, not fact.)

      My question is if a doomsday scenario occurs and the Yankees end up with the 15th pick in the 2009 draft. Does that change your FA signing philosophy? It would pain me greatly to give up such a prime pick.

      • Mike A.

        The first 15 picks of the first round are protected from FA compensation rules. If the Yanks end up having the 15th overall pick next year, they wouldn’t lose that pick for signing Teixeira or CC, they’d lose their second rounder instead.

        • Mike R.

          That was a typo on my part. I meant the 16th pick.

  • Jon W.

    A month ago I would have much preferred to give Teixeira a big contract over Sabathia. But the more I think about it as well, the more I like C.C. A durable ace to take pressure off Wang is exactly what the Yanks need. Especially since the Big 3 are no given at this point.

    I also think Burrell wouldn’t be a bad option. They could probably get him for a lot less money than Teixeira, and he’s right-handed, which is a plus. They’d have to either move him to RF or DH him (he makes Hideki Matsui look like Ken Griffey), but all in all, it wouldn’t be a bad move.

  • Bo

    Sabathia and Texeira would be great additions in theory but lets see how this yr plays out first. Whos to say those two even want to play in NY?

    • TurnTwo

      agreed. this is based on the premise that they basically take the money from whoever is offering them the most, which the yankees can afford to do.

  • Nate

    Personally I wouldn’t mind Adam Dunn, if we could get him on a deal of 4 years or less. I don’t know how likely that is, though. Anyway, he would cost a lot less than Teixera, and his career OPS is just two points lower. Despite being worse defensively than Tex, he does provide some flexibility, considering he can play corner outfield as well as first base. While Tex will cost over $20 million, Dunn may sign for $15-16 million. Again though, I wouldn’t give him more than four years. Same goes for Pat Burrell.

    As far as CC, I see him as a long-term solution to a short-term problem. Within a few years (or less) the Yankees will have a ton of young, ML ready starters in Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba, Horne, McCutchen and maybe Marquez. Wang is already established, so if four of those other six turn out to be as good as predicted, the rotation is set. I wouldn’t hate a CC signing, but if he gets a 7 year deal that contract is going to end up being a real bitch in towards the end.

    Also, what about K-Rod? He’ll get paid a lot, but he’s still real young. He could be the eighth inning guy for two years, and then close once Mo’s contract is up and, presumably, he retires. Just throwin it out there.

    • Whitey14

      K-Rod has a legit shot at 500 saves…he’s not signing to be a set-up man…I don’t see it happening. I think he stays in Anaheim on a 5 year deal for $70 million.

      Just pulled that out of my butt, so only quote me if I turn out to be right ;-)