Mark Teixeira’s contract another expensive miscue for Yankees

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When it was signed following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third biggest in MLB history and largest to go to someone not named Alex Rodriguez. Now it rivals Rodriguez’s as one of the worst in baseball.

With the news Wednesday that Teixeira would undergo wrist surgery, the 33-year-old first baseman ends his fifth season with the Yankees having played in just 15 games and hitting .151. The Yankees are still on the hook for another three years and $67.5 million after paying him $22.5 million this season.

If it were just the wrist injury, there’d be better reason for hope that Teixeira could come back and be a quality regular, if not an All-Star, next year. But he already seemed to be in obvious decline before 2013. Here are his OPSs and OPS+s since 2007.

2007: .963 – 149 – Rangers/Braves
2008: .962 – 152 – Braves/Angels
2009: .948 – 141 – Yankees
2010: .846 – 124 – Yankees
2011: .835 – 121 – Yankees
2012: .807 – 116 – Yankees

The Yankees would surely take it if Teixeira could come back and be a 120 OPS+ first baseman in the last three years of his deal. He wouldn’t be worth nearly $22.5 million per year in that scenario, but that’d still make him an above average regular at first base.

It’s probably overly optimistic, though. While Jose Bautista has come back and produced since returning from a similar tendon sheath surgery, he hasn’t been nearly what he was in the two years before he got hurt. He was also a couple of years younger than Teixeira will be. Mark DeRosa’s wrist problems ended his career as a regular. Nomar Garciaparra came back and had his moments, but he was never the same quality of player after Al Reyes hit him in the wrist.

So, the Yankees should be very worried. That they’ll be overpaying Teixeira and Rodriguez going forward is a given. Maybe CC Sabathia, too. But as long as those guys are reasonably productive, then the Yankees should continue to contend. If those players become liabilities on the field as well as in the budget, that’s the recipe for disaster.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.