The Importance of Mark Teixeira

10/1-10/3 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox
Missing: A-Rod's Power
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Barring something unexpected, Mark Teixeira will return to the lineup in tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox. He’s come through all of his rehab workouts without a problem, so the Grade I left calf strain that has sidelined him for (essentially) the last 31 team games seems to be a thing of the past. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t around for basically all of September, but better late than never I suppose.

As Joe outlined last week, Teixeira’s replacements haven’t exactly torn the cover off the ball during his absence. He might just be a .250/.340/.480-ish type hitter at this point of his career, but that’s still solidly above-average, especially in the power department. No, it’s not the Teixeira of 2009 or the offensive monster from 2004-2008, but it’s a productive hitter that can help the lineup, especially against left-handed pitchers.

The problem is that we have no idea what the expect from him at this point. Teixeira got his five plate appearances against the Orioles in his one game back earlier this month, but that’s it. He had a handful of Instructional League at-bats against minor league pitchers, but otherwise he’ll be stepping back into the box to face big league caliber pitching for the first time in more than a month. That comes with the injury territory though, any player who misses a significant amount of time has to deal with the same thing. The timing just stinks.

As much as the added bat will help, getting the defense back to normal is important as well. Nick Swisher has gotten the vast majority of the first base reps during Teixeira’s absence, which means lots of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones in the outfield. Now Swisher can play right, Ichiro Suzuki can move back to left, Ibanez can DH, and Jones can stay glued to the bench. First base defense isn’t the most important thing in the world, but Teixeira sure is good at it. His return and the trickle down effect helps the club’s overall run prevention.

The Yankees are set to play the three most important games of the season this week, games that will decide if they can jump right to the ALDS or have to a play a wildcard play-in game. The former is much, much preferable. They’re finally at full strength, at least in the sense that all the big names who can come back this year have come back. Getting Teixeira back strengthens the team defense if nothing else, though it won’t take much for him to improve the offensive attack as well. With their regular first baseman back in tow, the Yankees are as healthy as they’re going to get for the rest of the year.

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10/1-10/3 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox
Missing: A-Rod's Power
  • stuart a

    he is better then who they were using by far and his defense is first class.
    hit him down in the order until he gets things going..

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Again, I agree with you. There’s no harm batting him sixth or seventh these three games and seeing where he’s at. The most important thing is that he’s back, extending the lineup, and strengthening the defense.

      In other words, throw me a parade.

  • djyank

    playoff lineup=

    jeter
    ichiro
    cano
    arod
    swish
    teix
    grandy
    ibanez/jones/chavez/nuney
    martin

    ?

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I believe Girardi will switch Swish & Tex (and maybe even Alex & Robbie).

    • dalelama

      Three post season choke artists hitting 4,5,& 6 doesn’t look promising.

      • Get Phelps Up

        You never miss a beat.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          You purple-assed sycophant.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      Rather have Ichiro batting in from of Jeter…I know Captain DoublePlay gives some folks heartache batting second, but Ichiro may have the legs to beat that out, and if DJ gets damn near all of one, I can see Ichiro scoring from first (definitely from second).

      Maybe I’m just desperate thinking we won’t get jack **** from the rest of the lineup.

    • OldYanksFan

      I’d go:

      ichiro
      jeter
      arod
      cano
      teix
      grandy
      swish
      ibanez/jones/chavez/nuney
      martin

      You want our power guys (Teix and Grandy) closer to our OBP guys.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    He definitely elongates the lineup in such a way that you can bat your worst hitter 8 or 9. He lives by his reputation (Teix) so I would not bat him lower than the 5 spot. This way he can protect Cano and Cano can protect Arod.

  • Dela G

    i wish he’d just sit on a changeup instead of swinging at all of them

  • Rich in NJ

    The negative impact of Teix’s absence (and his and A-Rod’s respective decline) underscores how important it is to prioritize adding a big bat this offseason. The problem is they probably aren’t willing to spend what it would take to get one.

    • Short Porch

      How about Pineda and Granderson for austin Jackson, Jesus montero and Ian Kennedy for started depth?

      They should have hung onto the kids.

      • Rich in NJ

        OUCH!

      • jjyank

        Sure easy to say that now. Plus, isn’t Pineda still a kid?

        • Rich in NJ

          I think it was easy to see after last season that if they wanted to trade Montero, it should have been for a bat.

          Granderson was a harder call.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting

            “I think it was easy to see after last season that if they wanted to trade Montero, it should have been for a bat.”

            Why? The offense overall has been better than the pitching overall both last season and this season. They needed both. They prioritized pitching.

            • Rich in NJ

              Because A-Rod and Tex have been declining and it was conceivable that Granderson was coming off of a career season (142 OPS+). It was not foreseeable that a 38 year old Jeter would be as good as he has been.

              So if the offense did decline, they had no other ML ready bat of note in the mLs once they traded Montero.

              Also, Pineda was still developing and the Yankees haven’t been good at developing starters. Pitchers under 26 are more vulnerable to injury, and he had had an injury earlier in his career.

              So even if they were myopically focused on adding a pitcher despite the warning signs about their offense, he was a particularly risky target.

              • Need Pitching & Hitting

                They could definitely use another big bat.
                But the playoff rotation last year featured Freddy Garcia as the #3 starter. They needed starting pitching as well, and imo, starting pitching was a bigger need. With the aging, declining hitters, they are going to need an offensive infusion if they want to continue to field a top notch offensive team, but the same can be said for the pitching. The #1 is 32 and has been shelved by injuries twice this year. The #2 and #3 starters are a combined 57 years old and neither is signed for next year. The #4 had a decent year, but still hasn’t been able to maintain a strong performance as a starter over a full season.

                I agree they should have reasonably expected some decline in offense this year, and should definitely expect more decline going forward, but if they maintained last years rotation, I would have expected an even greater decline in the rotation.

                I also agree Pineda was a big risk. They gambled on a high risk/ultra high reward pitcher and so far have lost that gamble, unfortunately.

                • DT

                  It’s questionable to say they have lost the gamble. Montero isn’t hitting well. a .257/.295/.384 stat line with us would probably send him back to the minors. In terms of fWAR he has produced -.3, (John Jaso is being favored over him) and add on the fact that Noesi has produced -.8 fWAR. The deal has yet to blossom into anything for either teams.

                  • Need Pitching & Hitting

                    Lost the gamble in terms of taking the risk of using their best trade chip in hopes of a young pitcher staying healthy and developing into a top starter. He still has a chance, but the injury makes that happening much more of a long shot.

              • Srian B.

                Corban Joseph and Ronnier Mustelier are MLB ready bats.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  How can I put this: No.

          • DT

            Actually I’d say pitching as more important last season. We basically had one Solid pitcher after CC after 2011. Nova had potential, Hughes was a mystery, Our farm pitching depth is lackluster and No way were we going to get Freddy and Colon to preform their miracles again. Our rotation had left a lot to be desired. Pineda would have been both a short term and long term answer. This was a kid who pitched like an Ace for his rookie season.

          • jjyank

            If Pineda hadn’t gotten hurt and at least got close to what he did last year, I doubt we’re having this conversation.

            • Rich in NJ

              Given the decline of the offense, I think we would.

              But it’s no surprise that pitchers are more fragile than hitters, particularly those under 26.

              • DT

                Our offense had a wRC+ of 114 last year, this year they at 112. But there is an overall drop in offense this year throughout the league, a wRC+ of 114 was second last year, they are second this year with 112. Montero and his well below average hitting for a catcher/1B/DH certainly would help bring this team’s offense up. And even if he was traded for bat, that would heavily depend on the market and no guarantee it would have worked out.

                Tack on to the fact that young stud pitchers aren’t appearing on the market anymore. And Pineda was the closest thing there was to a cheap ace potential pitcher. Injuries happen, but when they got him he was healthy. And the fact is that the team is poor at developing pitching is all the more reason they should have gotten a pitcher from an outside source. Pineda is far along his development than any other of our young pitchers.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                We’d be having the conversation. It wouldn’t necessarily be centered around Jesus Montero, though.

              • jjyank

                Really? Our rotation was certainly in need of an upgrade last year. They need a bat too, I think they needed pitching more.

            • dalelama

              If the queen had balls she would be king.

        • http://yanksgoyard.com/ Joe F

          Pineda is still in his lower 20’s. We’re fine if he can do decent next year. But we need to add another arm.

          And a good right handed bat.

      • UpstateYanks

        Yea grandersons 40 HR and 100RBIs are killing us right now…

        • Rich in NJ

          His OPS is .792. His AVG is .226. I would gladly take less HR and more hits.

        • TFish

          Granderson has become the new Adam Dunn. Not necessarily a bad thing, however, can be easy to pitch to at times.

          • WhittakerWalt

            Adam Dunn has good OBP, though.

            • TFish

              .315 vs .333? They both walk a lot

              • WhittakerWalt

                Dunn’s had eight seasons of OBP over .380.
                Granderson’s career high is .365.

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                  who cares–Dunn can’t cover CF at Yankee Stadium…

      • OldYanksFan

        IPK has a 101 ERA+ this year, in the NL West.
        That translates into about a 90 ERA+ in the AL East.

        For comparison, AJ Burnett had a 109 ERA+ this year in Pittsburg.
        You want AJ back too?
        Don’t be fooled. It ain’t easy to Pitch for the Yankees.

  • rek4gehrig

    Swish’ll miss first base

  • not that mike

    maybe now KLong will have time to work with Granderson

    • DT

      Grandy needs a tune up, but it’s probably going to come in the offseason.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Honestly he just needs to change his approach with two strikes. Every pitcher in the bigs knows to throw him total junk out of the zone with two strikes, and Grandy will flail at it.

      • DT

        A bigger problem is that he’s missing on pitches in the zone more. He needs to retune his swing.

  • Reggie C.

    The case of Teixiera’s decline is the main reason against ever dishing out NTCs again to players other than STARTING PITCHING.