Mark Teixeira went hitless yesterday for the seventh time in eight games this season, going 0-for-4 to drop him to 3-for-31 (.097) on the year and earn him some boos once Yankees fans were sick of harassing Javier Vazquez.
Slow starts are actually nothing new for Teixeira and in fact April struggles have been a career-long story for the 30-year-old first baseman. For instance, last season Teixeira hit .200 with a .738 OPS in April and then batted .304 with 36 homers, 112 RBIs, and a .976 OPS in 137 games from May 1 on.
Here are yearly OPS numbers for April and post-April in Teixeira’s career:
YEAR APRIL MAY 1+
2003 .631 .836
2004 .984* .926
2005 .807 .981
2006 .886 .886
2007 .686 1.025
2008 .797 1.000
2009 .738 .976
CAREER .761 .944
For his eight-season, 1,068-game career Teixeira has a .761 OPS in April compared to a .944 OPS in all the other months, which is pretty amazing for a sample size of nearly 5,000 plate appearances. In five different seasons (2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) his OPS in April was at least 170 points lower than his OPS after April, yet the only time his OPS in April was actually better than post-April was 2004, when injuries limited him to just eight April games.
Certainly figuring out why he gets off to such slow starts would be worthwhile for Teixeira and the Yankees, but short of that his being 3-for-31 after eight games shouldn’t really worry anyone. He does this more or less every season and yet for his career has still managed to hit .289 with a .377 on-base percentage and .541 slugging percentage to rank 13th among all active players with a .919 OPS.
Maybe he’s just giving everyone else a head start.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.
A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.
Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”
I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.
The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.
If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.