Missing a healthy Mark Teixeira

Late-night standings update
9/27-9/30 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays
(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

The Yankees needed the 2009 version of Mark Teixeira in 2012, but instead got something more closely resembling his rookie campaign. After two years of disappointing performances, Teixeira has turned in his weakest one yet. It doesn’t matter which stat you choose; they all look lousy compared to the expectations he set from 2004 through 2009. His 2012 campaign looks even worse now that he’s spent almost all of the last month on the shelf.

At the same time, the Yankees are desperately missing Teixeira’s bat in the middle of the lineup. That is, they’re missing what the healthy Mark Teixeira produced in 2012. While his overall numbers don’t reflect it, he was, for a stretch, a productive member of the lineup. Given the failings of other middle of the order hitters this month — Robinson Cano was hitting just .250/.353/.398 and A-Rod .256/.305/.384 going into yesterday’s game — they could use some more power behind Derek Jeter and Ichiro.

The Cough

Early in the season Mark Teixeira came down with some kind of cold, and without regular rest it lingered. It might seem like a small thing, a mere cough, but think about it from a hitter’s perspective. You’re at the plate with a guy hurling a ball at you, and you have this burning in the back of your throat. It takes an insane amount of concentration to hit a baseball as it is. Now imagine having that concentration distracted because you have a cough coming up. It’s no simple task, and Teixeira certainly suffered for it.

Instead of the slow starts to which we’ve become accustomed, Teixeira slogged through the first month and a half of the season. He hit just .228/.283/.386, and his numbers were greatly propped up by his one great performance, 3 for 6 with 2 HR in Boston. In mid-May Girardi gave him a weekend off, and it seemed to do the trick. Since then he has hit .270/.361/.526 — not quite 2009 Teixeira, but certainly quality numbers given his depressed numbers in 2010 and 2011.

Things actually looked a bit better for a while, but then another injury struck.

The Wrist

On July 30th Teixeira left the game against the Orioles after hurting his wrist. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and not just because the Yankees had just lost Alex Rodriguez a few days prior. Teixeira had been on an absolute tear since that weekend on the bench. In 256 PA he was hitting .277/.371/.568. Considering the overall league offensive decline, these numbers lined up pretty well with his 2009 production.

Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power, and that’s exactly what happened to Teixeira. After returning on August 3rd he hit .250/.330/.408 in 88 PA. Worse, he re-injured the wrist in a game on August 16. He returned just four days later, but went 5 for 22 with a lone double before the calf injury.

The Replacements

Since the calf injury Yankees first basemen have hit .225/.343/.393, a downgrade from even Teixeira’s full-season line of .255/.336/.478, never mind a healthy Teixeira. Yet even those numbers are a bit high; they don’t consider the game that Teixeira himself played first base, in which he went 1 for 4 with a walk and a double. Absent that game Yankees first basemen are hitting .223/.340/.388.

There’s a trickle-down effect, too. Nick Swisher has taken many of those at-bats at first base. While he hasn’t had a banner September, hitting .212/.316/.388 prior to yesterday, his absence is noted in right field. Since the Teixeira injury right fielders are hitting just .204/.282/.312, and while some of that is certainly Swisher’s doing, clearly there are others bringing down the numbers in right.

The Postseason

The hope is that the Yankees can get Teixeira back in time for the postseason. We had heard that he might be ready for this weekend’s series in Toronto, but given his progress it doesn’t seem likely. He has been progressing in the last week or so, though he did take a planned day off from running yesterday. He still hasn’t gone full speed, and says he is still experiencing tightness and soreness in his calf. As Joe Girardi said this week, “The concern is that you rush him and then he has that one play and then you know he’s probably gone for the season. You have to make sure.” It sounds like a longwinded way of saying that Teixeira is back against Boston at the earliest.

Getting Teixeira back for the postseason could be huge, especially if his time on the shelf has given his wrist ample time to heal. Yankees fans might not be excited about the prospect of Teixeira in the postseason; he’s hit just .170/.276/.302 in 123 postseason PA for the Yanks. Yet we’ve seen other Yankees postseason heroes falter in the postseason. Tino Martinez hit .183/.294/.290 in his first 109 PA as a Yankee in the postseason before hitting .280/.351/.430 from the World Series, 1998, through the World Series, 2001.

Tino hit well enough for the Mariners in the 1995 playoffs, .273/.360/.364 against New York and Cleveland. Teixeira actually hit better in his lone pre-Yankees postseason series, going 7 for 15 with four walks against Boston in the 2008 ALDS. This isn’t to say that Teixeira will turn around his postseason performance in the same way Tino did. But it is to say that Teixeira’s failures as a Yankee in the postseason don’t necessarily doom him to the same fate in the future.

If you only look at Teixeira’s 2012 season, you’ll only get part of the story. You’ll see his overall poor numbers and how they’ve hurt the team relative to expectations. You’ll see a third straight year of declining numbers, certainly a cause for concern for the final four years of his contract. But you won’t see how the season unfolded. The stat sheet doesn’t document his struggles early in the year, his resurgence when healthy, and his post-injury production. It’s not an excuse for his performances; rather, it’s a clarification of them. The Yanks could sure use that healthy mid-May to late-July Teixeira in the lineup in the postseason. It could make a huge difference in the offensive production.

Late-night standings update
9/27-9/30 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays
  • Better off Eddard

    The trickle down effect is what is killing us. Even if Teixera can only jog and swing with one arm he’s still an improvement over Andruw. We need him in the playoffs vs lefties like Sale, Holland, CJ Wilson. Then Swish can play RF and Ichiro can play LF, no Ibanez in the field and no Andruw Jones period!

    • Go Back To Syrio Forel

      Andruw has nothing to do with Tex.

      • Better off Eddard

        I just explained the trickle down effect. Teix not being at 1st forces Swish to play there, Ichiro in RF and Ibanez/Jones in LF. Joe finally used Dickerson in LF yesterday but up until yesterday hadn’t used him very much. If Teix is at 1st, Swish is in RF, Ichiro in LF and Ibanez/Chavy/Nunez at DH.

        • Go Back To Syrio Forel

          Andruw played against lefties when Tex was healthy. After Tex went down, he still played against lefties. Whether Tex is at 1st or isn’t, if Girardi is confident in Andruw, he’ll be in the lineup against lefties. Andruw’s playing time against lefties is strictly about Andruw’s performance, not whether Tex plays or not.

          • Kosmo

            Andruw played vs. LHP to the tune of a .200 average this season. He´s hit .146 since the all-star break. I´m not sure how confident Girardi is in Andruw at this time. PHing is maybe where he might help.

            • Go Back To Syrio Forel

              Yes, agreed. But Tex’s injury has nothing to do with it. If they’re confident in Andruw, he’ll play against lefties, if they’re not, he won’t. That’s it.

              • Need Pitching & Hitting

                It changes the choice.
                Instead of the option of playing 3 of Ichiro, McGehee, Nix, Nunez, and Jones vs. LHP, the choice would be two of those 5 options, making it slightly less likely that Jones would be the choice, especially since Ichiro is now being used on a non-platoon basis. If nothing else, it would probably limit Andruw to DH instead of OF.

  • Kosmo

    I guess Tex back for the Boston series is better than no Tex at all come postseason. Even if he´s activated just before postseason is alright to me.

  • gc

    Tino was so bad his first post-season in New York, he was benched in the World Series for Cecil Fielder. The first BIG hit he got, if I recall, was the grand slam against San Diego two years later. Off a lefty no less. At least Teix has had SOME good moments so far in the post-season. The walk-off against the Twins of course, the bases clearing double against Anaheim (a game blown by the bullpen in the end), and he had another good series against the Twins in 2010. I just hope he can be effective coming back from this particular injury, which can be tricky.

    • Kosmo

      Mark Langston thought he´d struck Tino out one pitch before the grand slam. I´ll never forget that moment and the disappointing look on Langston´s face.

      • gc

        That’s right. I forgot about that. And Dave Stewart was STEAMING on the bench, jawing at the ump. Haha.

      • not that mike

        because tino should have been struck out

  • jjyank

    Good point about Tex’s wrist, Mike. I hadn’t really thought the possibility of him being on the shelf for the calf potentially helping any lingering wrist problems. Here’s to hoping.

    • Luisergi

      It’s Joe Paw! :)

      • jjyank

        Oh damn. Sorry Joe. I should have scrolled up.

        • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

          Not your fault.

          Joe Pawl and Kabak sightings are rarer than Yeti sightings these days.

  • Ro

    My guess at this point is that they rest him until next Tuesday, wrap that leg up real tight and DH him on Tuesday and Wednesday. If all goes well in Toronto these next few days, they can just keep Arod out of the line-up. We’re not seeing him tonight that’s for sure. I expect they DH Jeter for 2 of 4 in Toronto as well. The goal should be to get Tex some at bats, thats all. If he has to walk down to 1st with every at bat, I don’t care. Just get him some live action facing pitchers. I have no concerns about him in the field and getting a little practice fielding his position again. I’m not even opposed to having Tex start at 1st until game 1 (we hope) of the division series. Even a slightly rusty Tex at 1st is probably 80% than others throughout the league. This isn’t Nunez for example, where you have to get him up and running for a few games to practice throwing, etc. Sounds stupid, because all these games have been important, but tonight is really a big game to try and win. 92 seems like the magic number to clinch a post season berth – although the goal is the division. A win tonight (91) would go a long way to helping rest some other players this weekend and have them play when Tex is the DH next week. A win tonight would put them a full 2 games ahead. If Even is they go 2-2 in this series, Baltimore needs to win all three against the Sox to really make this a contest with their last series and considering they will be playing the Rays, the Yankees should be able to pull this off. My guess is Tampa walks all over them next week, as they have their own goals to meet, but I actually think they come up short too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both wild cards and a division winner come out of the West. Stupid Boston – who would have thought I’d be rooting for them this weekend.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    The next few years are not very promising considering the aging and with it the injury probability of these older players. Texeira hurt his hamstring last year and could not finish the playoffs. Arod has had injuries two straight years. Only Jeter plays all the time. The signs are all over. We must get younger or fade away not to be of importance for years to come. Next year Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa will be as good if not better than us and much younger. Boston may rebuild. This may be our last chance to shine for a while.

    • Ro

      Toronto is a bit of a mystery and for all the fans professing their love for AA on MLBTR, he really hasn’t made a lot of solid moves. He’s had a few chances and seems a little sheepish about executing. He could have easily acquired Gio, Pineda (who knows if the result would have been different in their Spring camp) and others. A lot of us have been bullish on their chances to compete, but the team isn’t a work of art by any means. Baltimore should be a little more competitive for the coming years, but I don’t think they win 90 next season. Maybe slightly regress. The talent is there, but they need a solid #1 and #2. It’s possible. Tampa is in a hard spot, where they are always essentially building/re building. Price will start costing a lot more and it maybe best for them to trade him soon, as well as Sheilds. Their offense isn’t that great and while they have a few prospects, they’ve been drafting lower in recent years, so it’s not like there is Harper on the way, at least the way it seems to me. Sure the Yanks are getting older, but it’s a problem that’s easily resolved. I’ve been promoting it on here for months, but the top priority for the Yanks this offseason, above ANY OTHER POSITION is finding a young, talented 3rd baseman. I love Anthony Rendon and frankly, the Yanks could make it work. The Nats have loved Gardner for a long time and still seek a true speedy CF that can lead off. Obviously Gardner won’t do it alone, but there are plenty of complimentary part to get something done. We’ll leave to BC to figure out what. We probably won’t see Chavez, Jones, Ibanez next season. The age issue is compounded because of these guys. Not Arod or Jeter or Tex. I could see a situation where Ichiro is resigned to a 1 yr $5m or $6m deal.

      • Ro

        …and if someone said to me, we can make a trade in the offseason for either Justin Upton or Anthony Rendon, I’d go with Rendon. Not so much because of cost, but because they need someone to be at that position that can play often. He’s a rookie, so they can have him play 100 or so games with Arod maybe playing 40-50 in the field and DHing the rest of the time. They could do this for a solid year or two and by then, Arod will only have a couple years left and will be the full time DH at that point and if Rendon is as good as I think he is, will be full time after a year or two. Love Chavez, but that ship is about to sail also. We can’t go into next season with Arod, Chavez, Nix, Nunez, McGee type of mindset. It should be Rendon and Arod is his back-up ala Chavez.

        • Kosmo

          Rendon is an interesting trade proposal. I was thinking Jedd Gyorko could also fit the bill. Headley might be staying put so Gyorko is like Rendon blocked by the incumbent 3B. Gyorko is less high profile than Rendon and is probably MLB ready. He can hit and seems an OK defensive 3B. Of course either Rendon or Gyorko would work for me.

  • Ro

    p.s. I was listing to a podcast on ESPN with Michael Kay and Tim Kurjian and I couldn’t understand one thing that they discussed pertaining to the Yankees. Something about they having the option to decide on two home games or one road game? What was that in reference too? If they clinch the wild card or even if they get the division?

    • bill

      If the Yanks/A’s/Angels tie for the wildcard the yankees have the best record head to head to head so they get to decide to either play 2 games at home (assuming they win the first) or letting the A’s and Angels play a game first then playing the winner at their park the next day. Very weird and confusing but would be fun (especially if the O’s were in the 3 way tie instead of the yankees)

      • Ro

        Ahh. Weird indeed. Thanks.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      You know what? I agree with you with most of what you are saying. When I say we need to get younger, like a politician, I present no plan. I know we will have Jeter, Arod, Mariano, maybe Pettitte for one or a couple more years. A way to get younger and cheaply is to bring up some of the top double A players and let them play while they learn. Add to that Dickerson and some of the other triple A guys and you have the beginning of a new young nucleus. I say send sanchez to double A next season, for example and if he excels, bring him up and let Pena teach him on site. You can bring up Banuelos at midseason next year also if he is doing well.

      • Ro

        Thanks. At least someone responded. And I do agree with your Snachez and Pena sentiment. I’ve felt this way for others as well, such as Betances. He should have been up here this season, maybe even last season, regardless of results in the minors. The stuff was there obviously because he would have never made it to the top 30-40 prospect list(s) for the last few years if it wasn’t based on “stuff”. Once again, I think the Yanks babied another pitcher too much and the damage might be done already. Amazing how the “throw them in the fire” ala Phelps, Nova and others has actually turned out well. The same goes for other teams also.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    How long will it take for him to get ‘back in the groove’ for the Postseason? This is why he has to be back for the Red Sox series. I wouldn’t risk him on the turf in Toronto.

    So, we are talking about 3 games, 12 at-bats?, for him to get his timing back at the plate?

    /crosses fingers

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkely Drew

    Would be nice if you can get back on the field, Mark. The Yankees really could use you about now.

  • GM

    Honestly speaking do we really need him. What does he really offer us at this point in his career. All I see is his glove. The guys has the worst swing I’ve ever seen and he has “trouble with the curve” which I may add is an understatement. Unless it’s a hanger he can’t touch it.

    It’s a shame we didn’t make that hypothetical trade with the Dodgers and unloaded him like the Sox got rid of AGON.

    • Syrio Forel/Better off Eddard/Occasional Troll

      He offers us an upgrade to Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez.

      • GM

        Albeit a small one. He’s all or nothing most times and more often than not it has been nothing. .255/.336/.478/.814 Dude has progressively gotten worse season after season and his post season #’s are worse .207/.315/.322/.637.

        The big upside to Chavez and Ibanez is you can let them walk at the end of the year. We are stuck with Mark.

        • gc

          If we’re so “stuck” with him, then PLAY him. You bring up the all or nothing thing and fail to recognize that his “all” is way better than anyone we currently have who would take his spot in the field or line-up.

    • MannyGeee

      yes, anyone would have been lucky to get on the receiving end of Magic Johnson Corps spending spree. Coulda unloaded Tex, A-Rod, AND Javy Vazquez on them!

      But seriously, Tex can ‘run into one’ (which is also an understatement) when healthy. also can get on base at a good clip, and helps break up the “platoon lineups” that we have been forced to endure this past month on account of being a switch hitter… and he has a plus glove.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Did you read the post? Because based on your comment, I’m guessing either a) you didn’t read the post, or b) you didn’t understand the post.

      • GM

        Oh i read the post. What I’m saying is we really don’t need him. If it’s that bad DL him. I’m good with that and I will hope for a speedy recovery and a new and improved Mark for next year.

        We really don’t need him for the post season a time of year where he always tanks.

        I’m just saying.

        At this point he’d just be hurting the team more. He hasn’t had the repetition you need to keep up at this late stage of the game. He already strikes enough and hits into the shift enough as it is. He only get more proficient at it now till the end of the season and that I base off of how he normally performs at this point in the season.

  • Meh

    While his numbers this year may not match his past numbers, I don’t think I would classify a 118 OPS+ and 3.7 bWAR in 120 games as “poor”

    • MannyGeee

      you obviously dont have any bridges to jump off of near you if you cant ignore those numbers and think about worse case scenario!

  • Joe F

    Good post.

    Also that picture summarizes Tex’s goofiness to a T.