Mar
13

Replacing Teixeira with a three-headed platoon

By
(Charles Wenzelberg)

(Charles Wenzelberg)

Barring some kind of unexpected trade, the Yankees are not going to be able to replace Mark Teixeira‘s production while he is out with his wrist injury. Say what you want about his declining performance — you’re kidding yourself if you think he’ll be easy to replace because of his typically slow starts — he was far better than anyone reasonably available as an alternative. The Yankees will simply have to weather the storm and hope they don’t fall too far out of the AL East race while their first baseman (and center fielder) are on the shelf in April.

Given the in-house options, it seems like the best way to replace Teixeira is with a three-headed platoon. Kevin Youkilis is the common player here thanks to his ability to play either corner infield spot. Against righties, the Yankees could run with Youkilis at third and Dan Johnson at first. Against lefties, they could go with Youkilis at first and say, Ronnie Mustelier at third. Here are the numbers (from 2011-2012) for a real quick comparison:

  • Johnson vs. RHP: .291/.409/.549 in 678 PA
  • Youkilis vs. RHP: .227/.332/.395 in 719 PA
  • Mustelier vs. LHP: .305/.357/.506 in 183 PA
  • Youkilis vs. LHP: .294/.407/.528 in 307 PA

Johnson’s and Mustelier’s stats come from Minor League Central because they simply haven’t played much (or, in Ronnie’s case, at all) in the big leagues. That’s going to be a problem pretty much no matter who the Yankees choose to replace Teixeira — they won’t have much of a big league track record. Obviously Youkilis is a concern against right-handers, but we knew that at the time of his signing. Maybe his work with Kevin Long will improve that production, but I’m not counting on it.

Like it or not, Johnson’s and Mustelier’s performances will take a step back from those numbers with regular playing time in the show. If they could manage league average performances against pitchers of the opposite hand while Teixeira is on the shelf, I’d be thrilled. The Yankees would be getting approximately a league average performance from the two corners against righties and much better than that against lefties (thanks to Youkili)s. This is just offensively, remember. There’s no way to replace Tex’s defense.

Now that I think about it, it would probably be easier just to keep Youkilis at third the whole time and stick the defensively challenged Mustelier at first, but the Yankees like to make things unnecessarily complicated and this way they wouldn’t have to worry about teaching him a new position. If they want to keep Youkilis at third, they could use Juan Rivera at first against lefties. He has seen more time at first in camp lately and actually played more games there (54) than in the outfield last year (46). Jayson Nix is another right-handed option, but he’s a third baseman and more of a last resort than anything. Nice fill-in player but not someone worthy of a regular lineup spot, even against lefties.

The season starts in two weeks and two days, and right now I have absolutely no idea what the Yankees will do until Teixeira returns to the lineup. I’m guessing they don’t have a firm plan in place either, but are probably leaning one way or the other. That kinda scares me. First base is one of the most important (arguably the most important) position in terms of expected offensive production, and right now the Yankees are holding auditions for an injury fill-in(s). It seems like an easy spot to fill, but no obvious solution stands out right now.

Categories : Polls

36 Comments»

  1. RobA says:

    Seems everybody only talks about his bat. Tex is also an elite defender, and thats going to be a big downgrade too, albeit in one of the least important defensive positions.

    • trr says:

      Least important until Nunez’ errant throws start shipping past…

    • MannyGeee says:

      Is it in fact that we are missing the obvious answer? Get Nunie one of those big webby gloves and park him at 1B, and tell him he gets cut on the spot if he tries to flick the ball to 2nd for a double play.

      #onlyhalfjoking

  2. Eddard says:

    Everyone is so worried about Teixera missing April. Yeah, I’m sure Hafner or whoever fills in won’t be able to equal Teixera’s regular 3 hits in April. We’ll be just fine. What about the home runs? The SF Giants were dead last in HRs last season. They won the world series. Detroit Tigers were 10th in the AL in HRs. They won the AL pennant. There are other ways to win ballgames. Superior pitching, which we have, speed, contact hitting, manufacturing runs, all things that should improve without so many boom or bust hitters.

  3. John C says:

    Tigers have released OF Brennan Boesch. Worth looking into. HIs lefty swing in YS would be tempting. Had a nad year last year, but hit 283 in 2011. Has some power and not a bad outfielder

  4. Pat D says:

    I’m all in favor of giving Cerberus a chance to replace Teixiera.

  5. MB923 says:

    Blue Jays just released 1B/DH David Cooper

  6. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I’m game for either of Mike’s scenarios. Sure.

    Folks always forget Tex’s glove. It’s not convenient when you start the “HEZ FINISHED” argument, then look for something to back it up.

  7. trr says:

    IMHO, a better OF option than most mentioned here…LH batter though

  8. james says:

    He’s out 8-10 weeks which should be around June 1. If i’m not mistaken, Mark’s bat doesn’t wake up until the middle of June anyway so no big loss here.

  9. Steve says:

    What will be missed here is his glove. Based on recent years, it will only take a .190 hitter to replace his production in April.

  10. Barry says:

    Maybe it’s unjust bias but I really would rather not see Johnson on the team.

  11. Tom Logie says:

    Mustellier is too short to be effective at 1B. He strikes me as a classic utility player who can play 3B for now or corner OF. In some ways Mustellier reminds me of Hector Lopez, who was good with the bat and questionable with the glove. I think Mustellier will be better defensively but perhaps not so good a hitter. If he can match Jerry Hairston, Jr. that would be fine. The Yanks hope to have A-Rod back for 3B later on. I have seen too little of Johnson other than his famous HRs to have an opinion, but he might be an option against some RHP and certainly in a desperation situation that calls for power in Yankee Stadium. Suppose Stewart is the tying run and the last out. Would you prefer Johnson against a RHP closer? Probably.

  12. Manny says:

    Put Cashman at 3B – Hank & Hal can save even more $ .. oh wait he broke his leg or something .. fits right with the rest of the DL Yanks.

    My expecation was for a 85 win season.. keeps dropping by week now it’s down to 81 games.

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