If the New York Yankees thought they could win games without power when Curtis Granderson went down, they’d better be prepared to walk the walk now.
The baseball gods have seen the Bronx Bombers’ proclamation, and have raised the stakes with a Mark Teixeira wrist strain that will take the first baseman out for 8-10 weeks.
Yes sir, it’s a full-on challenge now.
Teixeira hurt himself earlier this week after taking batting practice off a tee, and according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the initial MRI done by the team revealed a much more positive result, suggesting that the team’s fourth hitter would only be out for a couple of weeks.
A second opinion revealed the news that it would be much longer.
So, where does this leave the Yankees? Well, the team has lost both its fourth hitter and fifth hitter in the projected lineup, as well as the 70-plus home run power that they have between them. They won’t be out a full season (as least for now) obviously, but it’s a undoubtedly another massive blow for a team that has relied on power over the years.
After all, it’s one thing for Granderson to say that the Yankees “still have pieces that can move in to allow [the team] to win ballgames without having to hit as many home runs”, but it’s going to be quite another when they have to consider Dan Johnson at first base … full time.
That’s the option that they’ll have to resort to, because it’s now down to Kevin Youkilis to take either the first or third base position, and it’s a game of pick-your-poison when it comes to the backups.
There’a Johnson, a 33-year old career backup with a .237/.338/.412 with a bit of pop in his bat, who Yankees fans might remember for his AL wildcard-clinching Game 162 homer when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Of course, that was also his first hit since April 27 that season, so it’s not like it’s to be expected regularly or anything.
That said, the option at third based is even worse, with Jayson Nix and his .655 career OPS providing support, along with Eduardo Nunez, who’d seen some time as a backup utility man with good speed over the last two years, but never truly doing well enough to stick when given the chance (as he was in 2011).
No matter which way you cut it, or how you put together the lineup, no permutations involving any of the replacements are even close to being good options to the guys they’ve lost.
As much as the New York will try to patch the holes and hold the fort over the first couple of months, they’re going to end up playing games with a type of lineup that they haven’t been accustomed to seeing — one that will be offensive challenged, power or otherwise.
Add in the fact that Teixeira has been known for slow starts (career 239/.344/.423 triple slash in April), and this injury may have lingering effects even when he’s back.
Yes, the Yankees can still score, of course. Whether they’ll score enough to win ball games in April and May, however, is another story.