Feb
17

Teixeira’s rebound a key for rebuilt lineup

By
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

The Yankees spent an awful lot of money this winter to improve an offense that was their worst in two decades last year. They committed nearly $300M to a new leadoff man and two middle of the order bats, not to mention some complementary pieces for the bottom third of the lineup. A full season of Alfonso Soriano should help as well. They were pricey moves but also very necessary moves.

“I think we have a collection of very good hitters this year,” said Joe Girardi to Mark Feinsand last week. “I think our lineup is much deeper than it was last year from top to bottom. There’s more balance with some of the switch-hitters … I think there’s much more balance in our lineup. But as far as having that one guy that maybe you center the lineup around, I would say no.”

That last part about “having that one guy” to build a lineup around refers to the departed Robinson Cano. Girardi could fill out his lineup any number of ways this year but the team does lack an offensive centerpiece. That’s okay though. They lost one superstar but did upgrade at several other positions, so the overall result should be an improved lineup. They were never going to be able to replace Cano anyway. He’s the best second baseman in the game and that means he is irreplaceable by definition.

“Yeah, I think the great thing is, look at our lineup. We’re back to being the Yankees again,” said Mark Teixeira to Bryan Hoch yesterday. “Last year, we weren’t the Yankees. We had so many injuries and we had so many guys that should have been in there to be lots of anchors. That’s back. There’s not one guy that has to carry this team, but absolutely I expect to hit in the middle of the order, hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs. That’s going to take pressure off everybody and help us win games.”

Teixeira, who will turn 34 shortly after Opening Day, is currently working his way back from right wrist surgery and will help further improve the offense. Lyle Overbay did an admirable job filling at first base last season but he’s no Teixeira and the Yankees will be better off at the position this year. No, we don’t know what to expect from Teixeira given the nature of his injury, but it shouldn’t be tough to improve upon the .229/.292/.397 (78 OPS+) the team got from the position last summer.

(Star-Ledger)

(Star-Ledger)

Now, even though the Yankees added some free agents and are getting some players back from injury, their lineup still isn’t as deep as it was as recently as two years ago. Kelly Johnson is a solid player but nothing more while Brian Roberts hasn’t been even an average hitter in three seasons. Derek Jeter is pushing 40 and coming off major leg injuries, so he is even more of an unknown than Teixeira. The bottom third of the lineup will be better than last season but still not very good.

Teixeira’s rebound is important simply to lengthen the lineup and give the team six above-average hitters rather than five. He’ll also be counted on to add some power to a team that still doesn’t have all that much and create matchup headaches by being a switch-hitter. Soriano, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann are expected to anchor the middle of the order, but adding even 2012 Teixeira level production (24 HR and 115 OPS+) could be the difference between a league average attack and an above-average one.

“I’d be lying if there wasn’t [lingering doubt about the wrist],” added Teixeira. “I said it this winter, everyone can go out after major surgery and go, ‘I’m fine, I’m going to be good as ever,’ but you don’t really know that until you go out there. For me, it’s just kind of two steps: make sure I’m healthy and that means taking full swings at a 95 mph fastball in a Spring Training game. And we have six weeks to figure that out. If that’s the case and I’m healthy and I can do that for a week straight, then it’s all about production.”

This will be Teixeira’s sixth year in pinstripes and he has gradually declined from offensive centerpiece to complementary player. He was still a really good hitter in his last healthy season — I think Teixeira’s decline is generally overstated, and I’m guilty of that — just not the hitter he was during his first year in New York. His importance to the lineup and the Yankees in general is easy to overlook, but he was missed last summer and that will again be the case if he and his surgically repaired wrist doesn’t rebound well this summer.

Categories : Offense

51 Comments»

  1. lou says:

    1.Ells
    2. Jeter
    3.McCann
    4.Soriano
    5.Beltran
    6.Tex

    If I could put Tex 7th I would.

    • ALZ says:

      I wouldn’t if healthy, he is way better than Soriano. He is overpaid, but still is productive.

      • nycsportzfan says:

        Way better then Sori? No way! The Tex from Texas and his 1st yr with NY maybe, but not now. Sori brings added dimension of having some speed, runs the bases better, is more versatile, and has always played well for the Yanks. I bet Sori has a 260ish 30hr 100rbi 15sb season for the Yanks this yr. I agree with Lou on this one, Sori bats 4th.

  2. Tanuki Tanaka (Formerly Bob Buttons) says:

    Even IF our infield manages to be league average or even slightly above average, it is always much easier if a team had a first baseman that can actually hit.

    I did a quick look through last year’s playoff teams and every single one of them had their 1B with around 110 OPS+ or better, which is about 2012-level Teixeira, which might be a tad difficult to see.

    But all of this I’ve said is just a small part of a larger picture that I’m definitely too lazy to analyze.

    • vicki says:

      shame on any team that doesn’t have a first baseman that can actually hit. most guys who get parked there these days are glorified dh’s anyway.

    • ALZ says:

      It’s not that it is a requirement. It is that a 1B is a very easy place to find a good offensive player. Is why having Overbay there was so awful.

  3. Paddys Pub says:

    I don’t think his decline is overstated at all. If anything I think it’s gone under the radar until very recently. He’s kind of gotten a pass; that’s only my opinion of course.

    People are finally starting to realize what a bust he is. And that’s EXACTLY what he is in comparison to his contract – a bust. I can hope for something above league average production this season but I’m in “believe it when I see it” mode and rightfully so with a rapidly declining player recovering from major wrist surgery. One of my least favorite players in quite some time.

    • Farewell Mo says:

      When they signed him in 2009, he was coming off a monster 7.8 bWAR season with LAA/Atlanta. If you were expecting close to that every season, sure you’ve been disappointed but with seasons of 5.3, 4.2, 3.1 and 3.9 bWAR up until last years injury, I don’t think it’s fair to call him a “bust.”

      At a salary of around $22.5 million per year, the Yankees got a pretty good return on their investment for at least the first 4 years of the contract not to mention almost all of last year’s salary was paid by insurance from the WBC.

    • Tom K says:

      Teix has not been a bust and the final chapter on his Yankees career hasn’t even been written yet.

  4. Farewell Mo says:

    but adding even 2012 Teixeira level production (24 HR and 115 OPS+) could be the difference between a league average attack and an above-average one.

    I think it’s wishful thinking to expect him to pick up right where he left off. His OPS+ has declined every single year since 2007 and he’s now 2 years older and entering his declining years at age 34, coming off a major wrist injury and missed pretty much the entire 2013 season. Expecting more than an OPS+ of around 100 with above average 1st base defense and hopefully around 150 healthy games played is a bit unreasonable IMO.

    • Havok9120 says:

      It should be noted he spent that whole season with nagging leg injuries and the first half of the season with that cough…which turned out to be caused be degenerating vocal nerves or somesuch.

      I’m with you in saying that it is probably the best case scenario, but there is reason to think he could do it even coming off the surgery.

  5. Dick M says:

    Just an awful left handed hitter. It really has to be a meatball for him to square it up from the left side. Mechanics are off-the-chart bad.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      He had a 105 OPS+ as a LHB in 2012.

      • LitFig says:

        You really need to stop using facts to make your argument. That gets you nowhere.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          Isn’t Dick M the “Delusional Cashman Apologists” guy? You both get added to that club in 3…2…

          • Dick M says:

            OK, they’re in!! DCAs unite.

            Gotta admit I hate most of the new age stats. If OPS+ says he’s a decent left handed hitter than count me out.

            Forget the stats for a sec. Do you guys actually like what you see as far as his approach goes? His lack of balance?

            • vicki says:

              it sucks when he hits into the shift. but when he doesn’t he still takes his walks from the left side.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

              Who needs advanced stats when you’ve got an acronym all set for anyone who doesn’t see things your way!

              I can’t quote any of the newer stats off the top of my head either, but I respect them.

              • vicki says:

                good rule of thumb: never be on the redneck side of progress.

              • OldYanksFan says:

                Is OPS+ really a ‘new’ stat?
                OPS is just OBP and SLG added together, and the ‘+’ just adjusts/balances them to the league average.
                It’s a pretty easy stat to understand… isn’t it?

                /kidstodayswhatthefucksthematterwiththem

            • hogsmog says:

              It says he has a slightly above combined OBP and slugging when compared to the rest of the MLB. That is a fact, he just has an above-average OPS; advance stats didn’t ‘manufacture’ that.

              Whether or not you think combined on-base plus slugging is a good measure of hitting skill is up to you, and something you can rightfully agree with or not. But if you do think they are good measures of hitting, then I don’t think it really makes sense not to agree with OPS+.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Heh.

      • Paddys pub says:

        Doesn’t that mean he’s only five percent better than a league average 1B? I guess it’s not “awful” but it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement either. I would say his point still stands.

        • vicki says:

          NB: from the left side. he more than compensates from the right.

        • Havok9120 says:

          I’m stunned that you think so, though 5% better than average from his weaker side ain’t nothing.

          Tho I’m not sure how your particular argument holds up when he was 16% better than average overall in his last full season and 24% better overall in his last healthy one.

        • OldYanksFan says:

          I don’t think OPS+ is positionally adjusted. So the is 5% better than the league average hitter. 105 is probably below the average 1Bman.

  6. The new paradigm for star player contracts is to overpay. The first few years the team gets a good return on their investment and the last few years the team gets a fair player at a star salary. Would you want Cano the last three years of his contract at 20+ million a year? Or Pujols?

  7. Dan G says:

    Tex said it himself, he fell in love with the short porch and now he’s become a low average power hitter instead of the all-around MVP contender prior to signing. His power numbers have stayed great but it’s his ability to get on base (or on the field at all last year) that really fell off a cliff.

    Up through 2009, he was a .290 career hitter with a .378 OBP

    Then 2010-2012 he plummetted to .252 average and .347 OBP.

    Of course just having him in the lineup makes the pitcher think of the “threat” on deck and improves the line up in a way that Lyle Overbay can’t.

    Plus he just seems like a overall pleasant guy so it’s hard not to root for him.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Plus .252/.347 are numbers Mr. Overbay hasn’t sniffed in a long time. An above average offensive player is still above average even if he ain’t what he used to be. We learned that with the improvement Alex gave us last season.

    • vicki says:

      the siren song of the right-field porch has led many a hitter to crash on the rocks. can you blame them? it’s right there.

    • Dick M says:

      A relatively fair assessment Dan G.

      He was very good and now he’s very average. And he’s actually below average from the left side. If you look at his stats batting left handed over the last 3 years his hits and his K’s are just about dead even.

      Then there’s that 27-138 or .195 avg in the post season for us with 3 HRs.

      • Havok9120 says:

        You can keep saying he’s below average from the left side, but the statistics will keep saying you’re wrong. And if by “very average” overall you mean 15-30% better than average then I guess you’re right.

  8. vicki says:

    dan giese [f]Likes River Ave. Blues.

    this delights me.

  9. Paco Dooley says:

    The crazy thing about the NYY this year is that I could see them winning anything from 75 to 95 games (or even more extreme). If the infield is a disaster (Tex never recovers, Jeter is toast, Roberts injured etc) and the starters are mediocre, they could lose a lot of games. But if all things go just right – CC is back to being decent, Pineda returns, Tex, Jeter and Roberts return to being effective etc, then they could be a dominant team. The low end may be more likely than the high end, but it’s nice to know that that high end outcome is a possibility (even if it is very unlikely).

    • nyyankfan_7 says:

      You can say the same thing for pretty much every team in MLB outside of the Marlins & Astros.

      Had Red Sox went 72 – 90 last year would it have surprised anybody? Not me. Had Victorino, Carp, Bucholz and every other moron with a beard not had career years along with Lackey & Lester rebouding they very easily could have been in last place of the AL east but instead everything went right and they were one of the best teams in baseball. It’s why you can’t declare a winner in February….even though everyone here as already declared the Yankees awful because they don’t have Stephen Drew.

      • Dirty Water says:

        The term or phrase career year is thrown around way too much. Almost no one on the Red Sox had career years if you actually look at the stats. Did a lot of them post better years than the prior year? Sure.

        • Tanakapalooza Floozy says:

          Fair but every single player had an above average year, or at least it seemed that way. Expressed else ways: just about nothing went (very) wrong for them last year.

    • Tanakapalooza Floozy says:

      95 or more is simply impossible. Book mark this at your own peril.

  10. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    The fans are freaking out too much.

    Has he declined? Yes.

    Is he a “complementary player”? No way.

    A .250/.340/.495 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs isn’t the best bat to have in the middle of your order, but a #5 hitter? Way way way far above the doom and gloom.

  11. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    I always thought “Ubaldo” sounded like some sort of exotic bird anyway.

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