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 Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.