May
29

Teixeira’s lingering wrist soreness increases need for a real backup first baseman

By
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

When the Yankees signed Brian McCann over the winter, I’m pretty sure they knew he would have to move to first base eventually. He turned 30 just as Spring Training started and he’s been an everyday catcher for a long, long time. McCann caught almost 9,000 innings with the Braves in the regular season alone. Eventually he’ll have to move out from behind the plate. That’s just the way it goes.

Now, that said, I don’t think the Yankees expected to start McCann at first base 52 games into his five-year contract. He had never played first base before this season, but Joe Girardi used him there for four innings (spread across three games) earlier this year in blowout games. Nothing crazy. Jorge Posada did that a bunch of times too. But starting a game at first, like he did last night? That was not the plan coming into the season.

“I was a little hesitant to do it,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings before last night’s game. “I saw him over there those couple of times and I’m a little more open to it, just because of some of the injuries. You know, there are a lot of things you don’t plan on doing during the course of the season that kind of go awry when some things happen. I never planned on playing Vernon Wells at third base last year. Never in my wildest dreams, but it happened. That’s where you have to be sometimes a little creative.”

First, shout-out to Girardi for reminding me Wells played third base last year. I completely forgot about that (even though I GIF’d it). He played second base at one point too. So did Mark Reynolds. Now let’s wipe that from our memories forever.

Anyway, the Yankees have essentially been forced to play McCann at first base on occasion because they never bothered to pick up a real backup first baseman over the winter. The backup first baseman was Kelly Johnson by default — “We felt that Kelly’d be able to handle it, and I still think that Kelly can handle it,” added Girardi — and he had 18 career innings at the position coming into the season. McCann, Johnson, Frankie Cervelli, and Scott Sizemore all started games at first this year. Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran have played there as well. Seven different players already.

Mark Teixeira will visit the doctor to have his surgically repaired right wrist examined at some point today. He missed the Cardinals series due to lingering soreness and inflammation, something that will apparently be the norm going forward. It’s going to act up from time to time — “[The doctor] was surprised I haven’t had more flare ups,” said Teixeira to Jennings — and they’ll have to manage it somehow. More days off, more time at DH, more treatment, whatever it takes. They don’t have much of a choice.

Because Teixeira’s wrist will continue to be an issue, the Yankees will have to keep forcing round pegs into the square hole at first base. McCann was fine last night but he wasn’t tested with any particularly tough plays. Johnson has been a mess over there recently — is it just me, or did he look much more comfortable over there while Teixeira was on the DL in April? what happened? — and that’s to be expected given his inexperience. Same goes with McCann, Ryan, Sizemore, and whoever else they throw over there.

The Yankees had the ideal backup first baseman in Nick Swisher a few years ago. A productive player who could play another position everyday and step right in at first base if need be. It was awesome. That’s much more preferable to a pure backup first baseman like, say, Lyle Overbay. Players who can play another position and slide over to first seamlessly are hard to find though. Kendrys Morales is still unsigned but he barely qualifies as a first baseman at this point of his career (59 games at first since destroying his ankle in 2010). Maybe Mitch Moreland becomes available if the Rangers continue to fall out of it. Who do you drop from the roster to make room for this player though? It’s tricky.

Looking back — and really, we don’t even need hindsight to say this — it was pretty silly to come into the season with no really backup plan at first base after Teixeira missed all of last season with a wrist injury, especially since he was told it would flare up during the season. Yeah, they did bring in Russ Canzler on a minor league contract, but that’s it. Keeping Mark Reynolds as a part-time corner infielder/DH would have been awesome, but it’s pretty clear he signed with the Brewers because they gave him a greater opportunity for playing time. Hopefully Teixeira’s soreness this week nudges the Yankees towards finding a suitable backup and soon.

Categories : Bench
  • BX Joe

    Would it be possible to get Swisher back? If so, what would it take?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

      Getting him off the disabled list.

    • Ed

      Swisher’s currently hurt and hitting worse than Jeter is. You really don’t want him right now.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Makes a ton of sense if Beltran is more hurt than we are led to believe. He would be the ideal 4OF/BU1B/2DH/mop up RP (remember that day?) if we didn’t have a shit ton of outfielders already.

      That said, I am not sure they think they are out of it yet. And I think Swisher has 2.5 years left on that contract? Is that right? Too lazy to go digging for the info on Cots.

      They DO, however, have another bench option/DH/BU1B with some nostalgic appeal on their roster who happens to be a great clubhouse guy and is on a cheaper contract…

    • Mike HC

      It would probably take them eating a whole lot of that contract and getting like a B prospect in return. For the Yanks. But Cleveland isn’t going to give up so soon like that on Swish.

  • Adam

    Here’s what I don’t understand: if Tex himself admitted that feeling soreness from time to time is simply going to be the norm, according to his doctor, then isn’t this mainly about his willingness to play through discomfort than anything else? He seems really overdramatic with this entire injury between this, him saying in ST that his wrist will never be 100% again and then complaining about “dead legs” only a month into the season, it’s just, like, enough already. If his doctor says it’s normal, then man up and get your ass back in the lineup.

    • hogsmog

      This is… really dumb. If he ‘plays through the pain’, he’s not going to perform, and risk re-injury.

      That’s like saying if it’s normal for your car to overheat in hot weather, you should just man up, drive it on those days anyway, and deal with the consequences.

      • Adam

        Who says he’s risking reinjuring himself? Everything I’ve read has been that this entire recovery process has gone normal and any pain he’s feeling is basically scar tissue from surgery and the fact that he didn’t hit basically all of last year. I haven’t seen anything from Tex, his doctor or the Yankees that says anything he’s experienced up to this point in his recovery process has been abnormal. If I’m wrong, I apologize.

    • I’m One

      That’s easy to say when we’re not feeling what he’s feeling. You may be correct, or this could really be a situation where the discomfort is enough that he is truely unable to play. We can’t tell from where we sit.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I could not disagree more with this.

      • I’m One

        OK, so based on your & hogsmog’s responses, I was far to easy on him. Maybe I should have said “WTF are you thinking?!?!? That’s the worst thing I’ve read on here all day!” :-)

    • Mike HC

      His honesty was kind of refreshing at first in the off season, but the fact it is a constant thing now with Tex, I have to agree that he needs to a learn a lesson from Jeter when dealing with the media and injuries.

      As for playing through it, nobody said he can’t do more damage if he plays through flare ups. Common sense seems to say he should be careful with his wrist if he starts barking.

    • Ed

      It’s not just “feeling soreness.” It takes over a year to recover 100% from the surgery. If he pushes too hard, he’ll re-injure the wrist. When the doctor says it’s normal, he means the issues are expected, not that the wrist is fine and Tex should play thru it.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I can’t think of many worse uses of a roster spot than someone whose sole purpose it would be to caddy Tex. We can argue about the players chosen for the role, but I think having a UTL, or another player, who can handle first in case of injury is the prudent way to go. Frankly, what I’d like for the solution to be is what we saw last night and for McCann to handle the position, if needed, giving Murphy some added at-bats.

    I’d be on board with Morales come draft time. Sure.

    • RetroRob

      I agree, although my issue all along has been the quality of the backup. McCann is a good catcher and I suspect with enough reps he could be a solid 1B’man, not including he’s not particularly tall.

      I’ve noted a few times that defense at 1B has a tendency to minimized too much. Yes, just about any MLB player can stand at first and catch throws. It’s all the rest, from the 1B’man knowing where to position himself, to instinctively knowing which base to throw to, to having the arm strength and accuracy and knowledge to cut the runner down at the plate, or to know when not to do that but to take the automatic out, or to throw to second to start the double play, to scooping tough throws out of the dirt, to being able to come off the bag to catch throws off line, while still positioning properly to make the swipe tag for the out, or knowing how far to track a ball in the hole, or to let the 2B’man play it, etc.

      This all adds up to lost outs. Not just errors, but lost outs that lead to runs, even though no player is charged with an error.

      So I don’t want a defensive wiz on the team just to backup at first. I just want someone who can play first and make the standard plays when Tex is out. It’s the Nick Swisher solution. Not as many of those players around. McCann could be that guy, but it takes a lot reps to become good at it.

      As was said in Moneyball:

      Scott Hatteberg: [Responding to being asked to play first base for the Oakland A's] I’ve only ever played catcher.

      Billy Beane: It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.

      Ron Washington: It’s incredibly hard.

  • Ed

    I kind of like the current situation. Let McCann get some time at first and use it as a way to get Murphy into the lineup more. I know it’s a small sample, but so far Murphy looks like he belongs in a major league lineup.

    Going forward, I think Tex will need a day or two off each week. McCann can play first those days. I think you can work it out so that McCann & Tex each play most games, but get regular rest, leaving regular time for Murphy.

    • Mike HC

      Definitely. If/when Tex goes/stays down, McCann should be at first and Murphy should be catching. Call up Romine as a back up if necessary.

      • The Great Gonzo

        But it wouldn’t be a necessity to have the BUC with both of them on the roster, would it?

        If, lets say, Murph gets hurt during a game when McCann is at 1B, you can move McCann to catch the remainder of the game and put Johnson/Ryan on 1B to finish the game. Make the call the next day for DL/call ups, etc…

        Just spitballing

        • Mike HC

          Definitely. That is what I meant to imply by “if necessary” but it was the wrong word choice. I should have said “for convenience.”

          • The Great Gonzo

            I got cha. All that said though, Id rather have the extra BP arm than Cervelli.

  • Mike HC

    The Yanks off season strategy seemed to be get the best players available who were more or less ready to sign when the offer was made. Roster balance was put on the back burner. Not to say that was a bad strategy, because as we saw with Drew and Morales, we could have waited to fill needs and ended up with nobody! These agents are probably a bitch to deal with as well and aiming for perfect off seasons would probably put you in a worse position overall than taking what you can get, when you can get it.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Swisher has been just awful in Cleveland. Best decision they ever made was letting him go. McCann looked ok at 1st yesterday and JRM deserves more AB’s. I say let that experiment play out and see where it goes. Ryan can come in late as a defensive replacement if needed.

    • Mikhel

      And here I was thinking that the best decision the Yankees ever made was to acquire Babe Ruth, or sign Lou Gehrig, or Mantle, or maybe draft Derek Jeter, or designating Mariano Rivera as the closer. Silly me.

  • clubic

    Let’s get Jesus back for a bag of nothing!

  • Baseball Trade Connoisseur

    Aaron Hill and Eric Chavez from the Dbacks would make a lot of sense.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Chavez would make a ton of sense, yeah. I can go either way with Hill, I am not positive he is markedly better than the Solarte/Roberts/Johnson Sampler platter we have right now (I say without doing any actual research)…

      • The Great Gonzo

        After a little research, I am confirming my Aaron Hill assessment. A 32 YO 2B on an off year (by his career norm) still owed 24M after this season? If Arizona ate a ton of that contract I might be inclined to make the move, but I would do so hesitantly.

        2Bs turn into pumpkins somewhere in that age range, and thats a lot of money to take on. Shit, at least Dan Uggla can has the raw power to run into a fastball and make send it a mile. for $10M less…

  • Roy Munson

    “The Yankees had the ideal backup first baseman in Nick Swisher a few years ago. A productive player who could play another position everyday and step right in at first base if need be. It was awesome. That’s much more preferable to a pure backup first baseman like, say, Lyle Overbay”.

    So god damn true it hurts

  • http://stevearts.com Steve H

    Overbay I get – but REALLY shortsighted not to have resigned M Reynolds. That righty power bat off the bench alone was worth whatever $ he wanted. I know he K’s a lot but still, a guy who can play not only 1st, but 3rd – c’mon why did they let him go to Mil?

    On another note, I see Miami signed Randy Wolf today too. I watched him for a few years out here in LA and we could have used him too.

    • The Great Gonzo

      After a little research, I am confirming my Aaron Hill assessment. A 32 YO 2B on an off year (by his career norm) still owed 24M after this season? If Arizona ate a ton of that contract I might be inclined to make the move, but I would do so hesitantly.

      2Bs turn into pumpkins somewhere in that age range, and thats a lot of money to take on. Shit, at least Dan Uggla can has the raw power to run into a fastball and make send it a mile. for $10M less…

      • The Great Gonzo

        GODDAMIT. Reply fail. Adding it where it belongs, dont mind me.

        • Mikhel

          welcome to the club

    • TWTR

      They offered him a minor league deal, just like the Brewers. He choose the Brewers, probably because he thought he would get more playing time They make a lot of mistakes, but this really wasn’t one of them.

    • The Great Gonzo

      But while I’m here… The answer is above:

      “Keeping Mark Reynolds as a part-time corner infielder/DH would have been awesome, but it’s pretty clear he signed with the Brewers because they gave him a greater opportunity for playing time.”

      So yeah… HE CHOSE Milwaukee, because he saw the opportunity to start on the Brewers. He didn’t think with Tex coming back and Johnson signing, that he would be more than a bench guy here (i’m guessing…)

      In hindsight, it sucks because I think he could have been above Roberts and Johnson on the 3B depth chart, and then when the inevitable Tex DL stint occurs he would have slotted right in at 1B. Such is life.

    • RetroRob

      It seems that the Yankees did want Reynolds, he just wanted to play elsewhere based on expected playing time.

  • John

    I don’t see the problem in giving McCann time at 1b more often. I absolutely love JRM behind the plate.

    Mike did reference the fact that they had envisioned McCann eventually moving to first base, but not this soon. It could possibly be a blessing in disguise, JRM needs more time behind the dish and I think we’d all agree McCann can’t be much worse than Kelly Johnson over there. Plus McCann is bound to explode with the bat, whereas Kelly Johnson is more/less what we’re gonna get.

  • Mister D

    Betances for Goldschmidt?

    • csonk

      That’s hysterical…….Betances, Sanchez, Banuelos, Nova, Gardner &…. we got squat to get THE BEST HITTER IN THE GAME TODAY!!!
      Arizona might give us one of Goldschmidt’s game worn jerseys for Delin Betances.

  • There’s the Door

    Swisher and Reynolds “awesome”?

  • csonk

    Maybe, just maybe (aside from his little hiccup of success to start the season (which is rare in & of itself) the Yankees might be wise to LOOK FOR A REAL 1B, period (forget back-ups). Texiera is a contract hog at this point. He’s a shell of what he ever used to be & admittedly has fallen prey to Giambi syndrome & just tries to yard-yank everything he sees from the left side. He’s destroyed himself as a truely productive hitter from the left side at least and he’s a soft, whiney, overpaid, Brian cASShman MISTAKE (though he wasn’t at the time of signing – can’t REALLY blame cASShman for that one). Store him alongside CC & eat em’. The beauty of the Yankees monetary advantages now lies in cASShman’s moronic dealings.

  • fred robbins

    I think the title of this column should read more like this

    Tex’s continued decline as a hitter, his defense sliding as well and his inability to stay on the field, increases the need for a real, full time 1st baseman.

    I like the ideas mentioned about putting McCann at 1st and keeping JRM in the lineup at the same time. It seems to give the Yankees are more balanced lineup.

    Did Cervelli play 1st on and off before getting hurt?

    I don’t know about storing him alongside CC and eating those contracts, because if they do that, they have about 4 or5 of those contracts to eat right about now.
    It will be fun come all star game time to see what’s going on.

    If Toronto comes back to reality and this Boston streak is not the beginning of their turn around, this division is equal.

  • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

    I’m coming around to the idea of nabbing Kendrys. We don’t need a guy to play 1B everyday, we just need a guy that CAN play 1B.

    Surely Kendrys can play there twice (thrice, if needed) a week, right?

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