What Went Wrong: Mark Teixeira

King: Yankees scouting Korean right-hander Seung-Hwan Oh
Ebro: Yankees scouting Cuban right-hander Ordisamer Despaigne

The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with former ironman who has been anything but recently.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira following the 2008 season, part of the appeal was his durability. A quad strain cost him a month in 2007, but otherwise he appeared in at least 145 games in five of his first six seasons. That includes 157 games during his walk year in 2008 and the full 162 games in both 2005 and 2006. He was an ironman.

That held true during Teixeira’s first three years in pinstripes as well, when he played in at least 156 games each season and 470 of 486 possible games from 2009-2011. That changed last season, when a nagging cough and a calf injury limited him to a career-low 123 games. With an offseason of rest and treatment, Teixeira figured to be as good as new come 2013.

When Spring Training opened, everything was fine. Teixeira was healthy and he played in five Grapefruit League games before heading to Arizona to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. During batting practice on March 5th, Teixeira felt some discomfort in what was first reported to be his right forearm but was ultimately his right wrist. He was shut down immediately and pulled from the tournament.

Teixeira went for tests the very next day and they confirmed a strain in the wrist, and injury that would sideline him for 8-10 weeks. He was going to be out of the already depleted Yankees lineup until at least mid-May. It was later revealed to be a tendon sheath problem, the same injury that derailed Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa for extended periods of time in recent years.

Brian Cashman acknowledged there was only a 70% chance Teixeira would be able to avoid surgery, but things were going well during his rehab. His checkups went as expected and there were no problems reported during his minor league rehab assignment, so he returned to the team on May 31st, just a little later than expected.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Teixeira had an almost immediate impact after returning to the lineup. He hit a grand slam in his fourth game back, a three-run homer in his fifth game back, and then a solo homer in his seventh game back. The power-starved Yankees suddenly had one of their top power hitters in the lineup and it wasn’t a moment too soon.

A rough eight-game slide — 3-for-31 (.097) with nine strikeouts — following the three homers in four games binge, and while that was sucked, the worst came on June 15th, when Teixeira left the game with discomfort in his wrist. Initial tests showed only inflammation but about a week later surgery was recommended. Soon after that, Teixeira went under the knife. His season was over.

In between wrist injuries, Teixeira hit .151/.270/.340 (58 wRC+) with those three homers in 63 plate appearances spread across 15 games. That’s it. On the bright side, the World Baseball Classic paid for Teixeira’s salary during the first DL trip, which saved the team something like $8M. Unfortunately, almost all of that money went to Vernon Wells. Because he was activated off the DL before having surgery, the Yankees were the only hook for his salary during the season DL trip. They did recoup some through insurance, reportedly.

Teixeira’s performance has slipped these last few years, but the Yankees were almost always able to count on him to play every single day. That has changed these last two years, especially now given the uncertainty of a wrist injury. They can sap power for several months even after being medically cleared and returning to the field. For the first time in his career, Teixeira will come to Spring Training as a question mark next season, on top of already being a declining player. That’s not a good combination but it’s all too familiar for the Yankees.

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King: Yankees scouting Korean right-hander Seung-Hwan Oh
Ebro: Yankees scouting Cuban right-hander Ordisamer Despaigne
  • http://secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    On the bright side, though, Jose Bautista slugged just a shade under .500 coming off of the same surgery. I’d happily take that from Tex next season.

    • mitch

      Yeah i’d take that too considering that’s better than how he was hitting before he got injured.

    • RetroRob

      A new bet?

      • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

        So in.

  • Giuseppe

    Mike could have saved himself a lot of work if he would have named this collection What Went Right.

    • I’m One

      Let’s see … Mo, D-Rob, Kuroda, Kelley, Claiborne, Logan, Cano, Loverbay, Nix, Soriano, Pettitte, … you could probably add a couple of others in there and maybe some of these are a little more like “as expected”, but I don’t think he would have saved a lot of work.

      • Caballo Sin Nombre

        Loverbay? Hard to call a zero-WAR first baseman something that “went right.” Even including Nix is setting a pretty low bar.

        • I’m One

          It’s open to some interpretation, but Loverbay was a scrap-heap pickup right at the end of ST. He provided some value. Nix wasn’t expected to play everyday, but did for quite a while and provided solid D. He gave more than anticipated while playing far more than expected. But I understand your position as well; those 2 were a stretch.

          But I did forget to include Gardner in my list.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Maybe, but the team found a first baseman who lasted the entire season two days before Opening Day.

    • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

      He already went through most of those about a month ago.

  • lee

    if — and that’s certainly a big IF — Teixeira comes back healthy, i think he could be a big plus. he’s “slipped these last few years” only relative to 2009, when he had an outstanding year — discount that, and he’s been fairly consistent over the last five years (WAR of 3.7, 5.3 (2009), 4.2, 3.1, 3.9). BB Reference has him similar to the likes of Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, and our favorite David Ortiz — all of whom did pretty well in their mid-30’s. so who knows — we might get a couple more good years out of him.

    • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

      As long as Teix gets the same medical treatment as Papi I think he’ll be fine.

    • BigheadKay

      Beg to differ….Tex is far from the likes of Ortiz…who is a near .300 hitter year after year. Tex barely hits .240. Homers…sure. But he is becoming the JOHN DALY of Major League baseball. All drive…no short game.

      Somebody needs to tell him that the rest of the league laughs at him because they can literally defend less that HALF of the field because he can’t hit the ball the other way. And not one thing is done to make him learn to hit the other way.

      How many runs have been left on the bases with Tex at the plate and he grounds out to short RIGHT FIELD?!?!?! it’s ridiculous and it’s a JOKE. If I’m his manager?? He sits until he LEARNS to play team baseball. Homeruns be damned…the man should be driving in 150 runs a year to go with his 35 homers and .285 batting average (instead of his usual .240 average)

      • Philo Kvetch

        Very true and Kevin Long shares some blame. He trains them to aim for the right corner. He did the same with Granderson. He doubled his HRs with the Yankees while his average dipped to .235.

  • nyyplatoonsplits

    What went Wrong “Right field”

  • mike

    Not that Im the biggest Tex fan, but having him, cano and soriano will at least ensure they will have a ML quality middle of the order (3/4/5) which was sorely lacking last year and made scoring so hard.

    the lineup still has no depth and too many question marks, but getting Tex back is a freebee and an overlooked part of the problem last year – he sucked when he played, and Overbay was just-OK-enough to not look to Tex’s absence as a huge issue…but missing 30HR power and his RH bat was critical

    • I’m One

      Plenty of off-season time to address a bit of the lack of depth …. if they chose to do that, and it’s starting to look like they will.

    • Coolerking101

      Why all the love for Soriano? It’s like Ichiro 2012 all over again.

      Soriano .250/.280 for the Cubs in 2013 and .240/.290 in 2011. He’s going to be 38 years old next season. The chances he comes close to repeating last year’s performance are slim to none. Not to mention, he will be 38 years old next summer! Talk about a guy ready to fall off a cliff.

      • Coolerking101

        Ugh.. forgive this horrible post. Tried to cut and paste my comment and failed miserably.

      • jjyank

        What? The only think that Soriano and Ichiro have in common is that they were both deadline pick ups. From 2011-2013, Soriano has posted wRC+’s of 100, 116, and 112. Ichiro has put up a 79, 90, and 71. If you want to use WAR instead, Soriano has 1.1, 3.6, and 2.9. Ichiro has 0.1, 2.3, 1.1. Will Soriano be above average again in 2014? Maybe, maybe not. But there’s not a whole lot of evidence to show that he won’t be. Soriano gets a lot of love because the is a legit power threat from the right side, and that’s something the Yankees need.

        Also, I love how you ever so conveniently left out Soriano’s SLG on the triple slash line.

  • Preston

    While his average has been slipping he still brings power, walks and defense. Which is better than anything we got out of 1b this year.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’m not writing his obituary just yet.

  • Nathan

    After this season, I’ll gladly take Mark Teixeira over not having Mark Teixeira. Even a less than 100% Teixeira.