By Jon Lane
Courtesy of Peter Abraham, the state of the 2009 Yankees, taken from the point of view of what awaits Mark Teixeira.
All this for $400 million. What you have looks like a big mess, but it’s not even spring yet! Let’s see how this latest Alex Rodriguez tale plays out. A-Rod had additional tests done on his injured hip today, Hal Steinbrenner told reporters, but the Yankees’ co-chairman wasn’t revealing any details.
“Everybody is concerned, of course,” Steinbrenner said after meeting with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi for about 15 minutes. “No decisions being made. Just being cautious. We’re going to take it slow.”
Which brings up the importance of Teixeira to this team. Buster Olney writes that Teixeira is the only sure thing the Yankees have going at the moment. Right now you cannot argue with this. A-Rod as the No. 4 hitter that’s the glue to a machine that when operating at 100 percent has Teixeira batting third and a healthy Hideki Matsui fifth. Now with A-Rod’s season possibly on the brink, Teixeira will have to waste no time in earning the $180 million he’ll be making over the next eight years – perhaps without the benefit of A-Rod’s protection in the lineup.
If history is any indication, however, Teixeira will not get untracked immediately. As Olney writes, “Any hiccup on his part will be devastating for the Yankees. A slow transition to New York, which has been typical for most of the big-name players acquired by the team in the past decade, might crush the Yankees’ playoff hopes. They need him to hit early and hit late; they need him to hit all season.”
Problem is, Teixeira has annually been a slow starter (see the chart six paragraphs down in Onley’s blog). But as Sweeny Murti indicates, A-Rod’s injury turns the heat up on Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. Even the most knowledgeable fans and astute sabermetricians won’t cut Teixeira any slack should he post some of the paltry numbers listed in Olney’s chart.
Johnny Damon LF
Brett Gardner CF
Nick Swisher 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Shelly Duncan RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Jose Molina C
Angel Berroa 2B
Ramiro Pena SS