During the off-season, when Robinson Cano walked for the cash in Seattle, I was worried about first base when the other holes popped up at second and third base. The Yankees weakly filled the other holes with injury-prone Brian Roberts and utility-man Kelly Johnson while spending millions elsewhere on the roster.
Shortstop has been a concern as an aging Derek Jeter attempts to make his comeback from a serious ankle injury.
Catcher was truly the only infield position of strength with newcomer Brian McCann backed superbly by Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy.
But first base was and still is my primary concern. The Yankees did nothing to bring a solid backup to the team as a hedge against Mark Teixeira’s health. So, when Teixeira went to the DL this week due to a muscle strain in his leg, the Yankees had no legitimate first baseman on the roster. As it stands, Kelly Johnson has become the team’s first baseman. When Johnson signed, Cano was still a possible return so Johnson was viewed as the team’s super-sub. Then, Cano left and Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the season, and Johnson found himself as the starting third baseman. Now Teixeira’s gone, and Johnson stands at first. It is great that he’s so versatile, but the Yankees are so vulnerable with its current infield.
Yangervis Solarte has been a godsend but realistically I do not expect the guy to continue to play all season like he has in its first few games. He is an aging minor leaguer who had never gotten a major league shot and there’s reasons for why that happened. Yes, late bloomers can happen, but I am too much of a realist to believe that the Yankees have struck gold with the minor league free agent. I like him in a bench role, but now he’s the apparent starting third baseman along with another career minor leaguer, Dean Anna.
Mark Teixeira has always concerned me with his notorious slow starts and now he has other issues for us to worry about. I really thought that the Yankees needed to bring in a strong first baseman to help cover for Teixeira. This is where someone like Nick Swisher is really missed. An outfielder who can easily step in to play first.
When I heard that the Mets were dangling Ike Davis, I thought he’d be the perfect guy for the Yanks to pursue despite his underwhelming performance and injuries with the Mets. Son of a former Yankee (former Goose Gossage setup man, Ron Davis), I thought that Davis might benefit from a change in scenery. In a supporting role for Tex, Davis would be in a good spot to resurrect his career. The cost to acquire Davis would be less than acquiring a more frontline first baseman, but of course, on the day Teixeira was placed on the DL, Davis hit a grand slam to win a game for the Mets. It should be noted that on the same day, the Yanks did not score any runs in a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Right now, I think that Ichiro Suzuki’s presence on the roster is hurting the team. For the Yankees to call-up Scranton/Wilkes Barre first baseman Russ Canzler, the Yankees would have to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. The Yankees need more help for the infield than they do with the outfield. Alfonso Soriano provide good relief as the fourth outfielder/DH, and the ever-versatile Johnson can play there as well.
The Yankees need to go out and get Plan B for first base, and perhaps move Ichiro along the way.
How come there are no players available through Groupon?…
It’s a new year but the new fiscally-responsible Yankees are still in late-2012’s penny-pinching mode and all remains quiet at River and 161st.
The latest move is the waiver pickup of utility man Russ Canzler who can play the corners and some outfield. By all accounts, he is less talented than the guy he replaced on the 40-man roster (outfielder Chris Dickerson) but a better fit overall. I only hope the Yankees are able to flip Dickerson, who was DFA’d, for a decent prospect. There’s no doubt the Yankees need good depth behind third baseman Kevin Youkilis who has not exactly been the pillar of health in recent years.
At this point, I would be really surprised to see the Yankees make any bold moves. It appears they are willing to go to spring training to see what shakes out. A few years ago, when Mark Teixeira left the Los Angeles Angels via free agency, the Angels’ farm system produced Kendrys Morales as a very capable replacement. When Morales went down to a season-ending injury a year or so later, Mark Trumbo stepped up. Of course, the Yankees do not have that type of depth in the farm system, particularly at first base, but there’s always the possibility that someone somewhere unexpectedly takes it to the next level.
Clearly, the Yankees would benefit greatly by having a few more cost-controlled young players on the roster. But as far as major league ready prospects go, the Yankees need another year or two as the best talent is still in the lower levels. I guess that means we’ll see more Russ Canzler type moves as GM Brian Cashman tries to capture lightning in a bottle.
If the Yankees underperform in 2013, are manager Joe Girardi and/or Cashman at risk for losing their jobs? Or does the team’s current reduced spending posture mean ownership will be more tolerant of losses? It remains to be seen but this is clearly putting Girardi and Cashman in the proverbial hot seats.
Scott Hairston, if your choices are the Mets or the Yankees, what are you waiting for? Your brother looked great in pinstripes and you can too! With Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki as the starters, you are assured of receiving numerous quality at-bat’s in the Bronx and you are wanted by the team. I might be biased but who wouldn’t want to put on the same jersey as Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and so many other legends?…
Maybe we should just flip a coin to see who makes the play-offs…
I am glad to see the NHL has finally resolved its differences with the players and have agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement. However, it will be tough, admittedly, to be energized about a 48- or 50-game season. If your favorite team struggles at the start of the season, it could possibly cost them play-off contention. An entire season would have looked radically different than the upcoming shortened season. Every year, new stars and heroes emerge and I wonder about the guys who could have been that star but now may never get the opportunity. I guess pure talent perseveres, but still, there were far too many sacrifices made for the lockout.
Play-off loss, but a very successful season…
I was not optimistic about the Minnesota Vikings’ chances against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, particularly given the game was being held at Lambeau Field. I did not realize that Christian Ponder’s elbow injury threatened his ability to play so Sunday’s announcement that he had been ruled inactive came as a shock. The designated starter, Joe Webb, had not started a NFL game in two years. Say what you will about quality practices and reps, but there’s nothing better than playing the games. So, I did not expect Webb to provide a championship performance. He didn’t, and the 24-10 loss was pretty much as expected.
Nevertheless, what a terrific season by the Vikings! At the beginning of the year, the talk was the team would be drafting high in April 2013, perhaps as high as second or third. Yet, the team won 10 games and made the play-offs over the Chicago Bears. Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards was an incredible accomplishment. I remember being envious of the Bears when Walter Payton was playing as it was clear he was head and shoulders above everyone else. But the Vikings have that guy in Peterson. It was a special season to build upon and hopefully it will propel the Vikings to legitimate contender status in 2013.
Happy New Year to All!