"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

First Base: Tex In The City

This week, Bronx Banter will be collaborating with our new hosts here at the SNY.tv Blog Network to take a look at the Yankees, position by position. We start today at first base.

2008 Yankee First Basemen

Player Starts Stats OPS+*
Jason Giambi 112 .243/.359/.485 106
Wilson Betemit 21 .229/.270/.386 60
Shelley Duncan 12 .196/.288/.326 52
5 Others 17
4 Others 0
12 players 162 .246/.349/.460 98

*adjusted for position

Organizational Depth Chart

Player Age* 2008 Stats
Nick Swisher 28 .244/.354/.451 MLB career
Cody Ransom 33 .251/.348/.432 MLB career
Juan Miranda 26 .287/.384/.449 in AAA
Shelley Duncan 29 .239/.365/.483 in AAA
Eric Duncan 24 .233/.295/.366 in AAA
Chris Malec 26 .291/.407/.412 in AA
Cody Ehlers 27 .200/.287/.341 in AA
Kevin Smith 25 .290/.337/.407 in A+
Brandon Laird 21 .273/.334/.498 in A

*on May 1, 2009

Having bought out Jason Giambi’s $22 million option for $5 million, thus ending Giambi’s seven years with the team, the Yankees had a gaping hole at first base until last week’s acquisition of Nick Swisher, which I covered in full here. Swisher is coming off his worst major league season, but there’s plenty of reason to expect a return to form in 2009. Still, Swisher’s career rates of .244/.354/.451 are actually a bit shy of the .272/.353/.464 line of the average major league first baseman in 2008, and almost an exact match for the production the Yankees got out of the position last year. Swisher’s real value lies in his ability to hit like a typical first baseman while providing flexibility by bouncing between first and the outfield corners and spotting in center field when needed. As a full-time first baseman, he’s a stop-gap, but there’s no gap for the Yankees to plug. The best opportunity they’ll have to field a superior first baseman exists in this year’s free agent market.

Looking down the depth chart, the Yankees don’t have anything resembling a first-base prospect unless you count catcher Jesus Montero, who is the best hitting prospect in the system. The Venezuelan Montero, who made his full-season debut this year at age 18, could prove to be a poor fit for his current position, and is thus likely to shift to first base as he progresses through the system. Still, he has yet to play a single game at first base as a pro and would be just as good a fit at designated hitter. At low-A Charleston this year, Montero hit .293/.333/.440 as a catcher and .356/.417/.548 as a DH in a similar number of plate appearances. What’s more, the Yankees would be well advised to make every attempt to keep Montero behind the plate given the tremendous competitive advantage that a productive offensive catcher can provide.

Given all of that, there’s no good reason for the Yankees not to make every attempt to sign Mark Teixeira to a huge contract. Teixeira was third among major league first basemen in VORP last year, behind only a pair of monster seasons by Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman. Pujols is the best player in baseball, an institution in St. Louis, and signed through 2011 (if you count the club option that is all but guaranteed to be picked up). He’s also the same age as Teixeira. Berkman will be 33 on Opening Day, and is also signed through 2011 (again counting a club option for the final year). Over the past four seasons, Teixeira has averaged 55.05 VORP per season. Last year the only other first baseman to surpass that mark was Kevin Youkilis, who is 11 months older than Teixeira.

Though the Yankees are flush with pitching prospects, outside of Montero, they don’t have any coming mashers in their system. Teixeira was fifth among all hitters in baseball in VORP last year. He’s also a superb defender, and won’t turn 29 until April. Prior to this past season, PECOTA projected that Teixeira would hit .284/.384/.502 in his age-34 season in 2014. Teixeira then beat his PECOTA projection for 2008. A seven year contract that would take Teixeira through age 35 would not be a bad investment.

Consider that when the Yankees signed Jason Giambi, who is now 37, to a seven-year contract, Giambi was two years older than Teixeira is now, nearly immobile in the field, and a steroid abuser. Various injuries cost Giambi half of the 2004 and 2007 seasons, but he still averaged 128 games and 30 home runs per year over the length of his contract, and hit .260/.404/.521 as a Yankee. Giambi’s 209 home runs are tenth on the Yankees’ all-time list. Among Yankees with a minimum 1,500 plate appearances, Giambi ranks fourth in home runs per 100 PA (ahead of Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Lou Gehrig), fourth in Isolated Power (ahead of Mantle, DiMaggio, Maris, and Jackson), fifth in on-base percentage, total average, and secondary average, seventh in slugging percentage, OPS, and runs created per game, and ninth in offensive winning percentage.

The notion of Giambi’s contract as an albatross was both misguided and heavily based on the fact that Giambi was a liability in the field. Teixeira is a Gold Glove defender. If the Yankees accurately apply the lessons learned from the Giambi deal to their pursuit of Teixeira, they will only try harder to make Teixeira Giambi’s successor as Yankee first baseman.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Hot Stove

Tags:  First Base  Jason Giambi  Mark Teixeira

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:39 am

The Yankees had 12 people play first base?

That sounds bad. Is that bad?

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:47 am

Well, four of them were late-inning subs, likely forced into the position by pinch-hitting/pinch-running moves elsewhere (Jose Molina, Chad Moeller, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady). Also not listed by name above were Jorge Posada (three starts because he couldn't catch) and Juan Miranda (three starts as a September call-up). So really they had six guys on the major league depth chart at various points during the regular season: Giambi, Betemit, Duncan (per above), also Morgan Ensberg, Richie Sexson, and Ransom.

Is that bad? Well, in Teixeira's last full season with Texas, he started at first base in all but three of the Rangers games.

3 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:49 am

Ugh, so far the rumors of the Yankees FA pursuits has me depressed. They should be going for Tex, then CC, then Lowe and stay as far away from AJ Burnett as humanly possible. Instead, they have already made an offer to CC that is well over what should have been made at this stage, are reportedly gearing up to make offers to Lowe AND Burnett and so far staying very low key on Tex. I have to hope this is all Cashman playing things close to the vest (a la Damon in 2004) but this feels much more like signing Pavano, Wright and RJ and then saying we can't afford Beltran.

If Texeira goes to the Red Sox, and we get the albatross that is Burnett this team will be lucky to finish in third place methinks.

4 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:50 am

[2] Cliff, I couldn't agree with you more. Tex sets up the franchise well for years to come. Why does the Yankee FO not see this? Its glaringly obvious.

5 ms october   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:53 am

bwahahahah matt.

i think having some stability at 1b is really important.

just to sort of build on your discussion about tex's glove cliff - giambi was pretty good and scopping the crappy throws from derek that were bad hops. but he had almost no ability to get the sometimes half assed throws from cano and even alex had some crappy throws this year that a more athletic/mobile 1bman would have gotten.
since this is the infield the yanks have for a few years (at least the ss,3b side) - i think having a 1bman that makes this bunch look better not worse should really be part of the calulation.

6 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:00 pm

tommyl,I can't help but wonder (wishcast?) that all the talk in the media about the Yanks "wanting all the pitching" is just a front, that Tex is the real goal and this is the Yanks' way of trying to leverage Boras a bit. And that Cash is trying to play it close, as you say. I hope.

If they don't get Tex, the offensive core for 2010 is Cano, Swisher, A-Rod and . . . I don't know. The only under-32 even remotely close to their prime as a hitter free agents next winter are Jason Bay (who the Sox may well lock up) and Matt Holliday. Given the choice between Tex, Bay, and Holliday, I think I'd pick Tex.

I note that Carl Crawford will also be a free agent, but a LF with a career .330 OBP is not a core offensive player. And that raises the question - might Cano (career OBP of .335, though at 2B) not be a core type of hitter? I'm worried there and so I'd much rather have Tex on board than not.

7 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:04 pm

ms october, Wang's presence on the staff also screams out for better IF defense. He hasn't shown it as much in the majors, but Hughes was a groundball machine in the minors. Finally, though I expect he'll get plenty of outs via K, Joba's GB% this year was 52. Tex's glove could really help the pitchers, for sure.

8 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:09 pm

tommy, would it make me "negative" to call for the head of whomever offers AJ a contract?

9 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:12 pm

[8] Matt, I wouldn't call you negative. Its simply a stupid move, its Jaret Wright redo, an oft-injured pitcher with "stuff" coming off his one "good" year (that wasn't actually all that good when he wasn't pitching against the Yankees). How you can argue that Burnett is better than just bringing back Pettitte, or giving any of the kids/Aceves a real shot is beyond me.

10 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:17 pm

I have no idea. Its almost as if the front office just forgot that the 2004 winter happened. Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano were *both* men that "finally put their injury troubles behind them and finally turned the corner!"

I'm still holding out hope that Mussina comes riding in on the white horse.

I'd also argue that AJs season wasn't all that good even with the Yankee games thrown in. Barely above league average.

11 Diane Firstman   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:18 pm

I'm sure Jeter would appreciate a 1B that doesn't get him nearly killed every time they try and turn a 3-6-3 DP.

12 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:19 pm

But he throws soooooo hard! You'd think they'd have learned that lesson with Kyle Farnsworth. Burnett is what he is, you aren't going to suddenly change him at this stage in his career. What's more, having actually thrown all those innings last year, he's ripe for some shoulder/elbow trouble out of the gate. The only plus to signing him is that he'd have to shave his stupid goatee.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:24 pm

Diane, I think both Jeter and A-Rod would also appreciate a first baseman that can save their wild throws. :)

tommy, I think the corner turning has as much to do with it as the hard throwing. Same thing with Farnsworth. The Yankee decision makers love them some corner turners.

Of course, every time they sign someone that FINALLY TURNED THE CORNER it turns out that that person in fact, is the same guy he always was.

14 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:36 pm


If you mean "sets up the organization for years to come" with a roster and positional cement block, then sure go for Teixeira.

I simply don't understand the fascination with him. He hits, yes. He fields, yes. But two unanswered questions remain among all the Teixeira fanboys:

1) When has a 6 or 8 year contract for a past-peak first baseman ever paid off? Giambi didn't. Helton didn't. I have little doubt that Teixeira would be a fine option for four years. But any more than that is folly especially at the prices being discussed. He's a strong fielder and a strong hitter. But any falloff with age and he rapidly becomes vastly overpriced.

2) What do the Yanks do with Posada in 2009 if he can't throw? What do the Yanks do with Jeter in 2010 when his range becomes even more limited? What do the Yanks do with A-Rod in 2011-2016 as his range becomes more limited?

Just because the Yanks screwed the pooch with Beltran doesn't mean they should try to correct their error with a bigger one. And a 6 or 8 or [gasp] 10 year deal for a 1B is a huge mistake, especially at the AAV likely involved.

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:45 pm

1) Giambi did.
2) Jeter won't hit enough to play first base. Posada can DH. Matsui can be traded. I'm not concerned about Rodriguez.

16 ms october   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:54 pm

also, tex is a better athlete than giambi, so should age better than he did.
and presuming tex did not use peds, there is less of a concern that he would have post-ped use decline or health related issues.

i do think arod might move to 1b (or just dh) at the end of his contract - but i am thinking that move is not for another 6 or 7 years when, if signed for 6 or 7 years, tex's contract is up.

17 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:54 pm

The effect of a 1B on infield defense is being vastly over stated in this thread. The biggest contributor to infield defense is the SS. And the Yanks have one of, if not, the worst there. The defense could be ridiculously improved by replacing Jeter with Furcal. Of course they won't, but that's the solution if you're worried about infield defense.


1) By missing two seasons? And with a lead glove?

2) re: Jeter - see above. His bat may not carry the position, but he wouldn't be killing the team at SS.

Who wants Matsui with two knee surgeries in one year and at 13 million? Who says Damon, with his arm, should be playing the OF? He's a big problem with the OF defense too.

If Posada DHs, for the next three years, what happens when Teixiera's defense begins to lag over a long contract? Same deal with A-Rod. You might not be worried about him today. But it's 2011 through 2016 that I'm thinking about.

And that's the rub. Teixeira today - great! What's Teixeira worth, and where does he play, in three or four years? As Helton, and even Donnie Baseball, have shown, injuries for 1Bs add up very quickly.

18 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 12:59 pm


Like Helton (former college QB)?

A-Rod is now an average 3B. In two or three seasons, he'll be below average. That's maybe halfway through a Teixieira deal.

19 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:24 pm

I'm afraid the reality is, if the Yanks want to be close to the favorite to win in 2009 and 2010, they are forced to pick up at least 1, if not 2, stud FAs this year. Long contracts to CC and/or Tex could end up being a bad move... but such is the nature of our situation. And frankly, it's better then improving through trades, where we might have to give away talent that could help in the future.

If you estimate a players career of productive years at 12, then you need to develop 2 MLB players every year, to keep up with a 25 man roster. Between 1997 and 2008, when we needed to produce 22 or so players, who have we had? Soriano, Nick the Stick, Wang, Cano, Joba... some of our current kids in the BP, a few other Lesser names? And most of those are in the last year or so.

Bottom line is the team is between a rock and a hard place. As Cashman has said, we are paying for more then a decade of not putting enough into player development, While signing CC and Tex smacks of the 'old school' ways, ie: buying a PS, I see little alternative.

If we get NOBODY, there may be some reasonable deals at the trade deadline. But this means counting on the good health and the majority of our guys having good years, in order to be NEAR competative.

While BumRush has a valid point of keeping 1st base open for our future elderly, I don't think that's a good philosophy for a winning team. It's like signing a player so the Sox don't. Somewhat valid, but not really the way to proceed. And frankly, I'd rather eat Jorge's salary then put him at 1st base. His value is as a Catcher, and some as a DH. As a 1Bman, he will put up LESSER numbers then Giambi, and be a worse fielder.

So, since our farm is rich in pitching and we have scant position players coming over the next 3 years, Tex, to me, makes the most sense.

Again, I think it's obvious we are in a very difficult position. Certainly, our big money alone, is not going to do the trick. We are behind the Sox and the Rays, in terms of having young impact players and a pitching staff.

Frankly, I'm not sure why Cashman came back.
I have great faith in Brian, but we are really in a tough spot.

20 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:25 pm

@18 and 14,

We simply need to put to bed any Jeter-to-1B scenarios. Jeter's bat will not carry him at that position, or at DH. So, it is SS or nothing (well, unless he shifts to 2B). Jeter's contract is up in a couple of years, no? If his glove continues to decline, they should cut him loose. If he can't hit as well as last year or (or a little less), they should cut him loose. If he can more or less maintain his current defensive ability (that is, sub-par) and his current offensive ability (that is, one of the best hitting SS in the AL despite having an off year), he should continue to play at SS.

But under no circumstances should any personnel decision be made--no player should be signed or, worse, not signed because 1B is being left open for Jeter.

Likewise, planning for A-Rod's future in three years is silly. By the time A-Rod is no longer able to play 3B (in your estimation), they will be freed from Posada contract and he can make the transition to DH. Again, not signing Tex in order to save 1B for A-Rod is silly.

There are good reasons not to sign Tex to a monster seven year deal, but the one's you cite are simply not any of them.

21 horace_clarke_era   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:27 pm

I think Cliff, as usual, is right ... about Giambi. It is simply a mistake to think he was a bad Yankee. On the other hand it IS pretty easy to overvalue D at 1st base. It is an asset, it matters, but not nearly as much as at catcher, ss, CF. Teixeira's skillset including good D is an added attraction but would any of you PASS on him if he was the bat he is but awkward around the bag? Bum Rush, there's no logic, though, to imagining his D sliding at age 31-32 ... that's silly. He's YOUNG. Through a 7 year deal, he's still perfectly okay in the field. Though, as I said, it isn't a major factor at 1st base.

My issue is simple: with an unlimited, gamebusting budget ... sign 'em all! Let the peasants complain! But if we are to believe Cashnotmoney's claim he's headed for 185 million as a team salary, CC at $23 a year and Teix at $20 a year kill that, best I can read the current numbers. Moose and/or Pettitte would cost $10-13 each plus incentives, even if we do NOT chase a free agent pitcher (and yes, powers that be, keep AJ Burnett away; much as I think Lowe is a jerk, he's a better 3 year signing).

In other words, it may not be a bluff to say that if we sign Sabathia we can't afford Teixeira. Want them both? You betcha. Which one? CC.

22 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:32 pm


Holy Cow, Old Yanks Fan and I agree, at least by and large:

1) Posada only makes sense at catcher. The team will likely never make their money on that deal, but that is a sunk cost. They should catch the f*ck out of Posada over the next three years, allowing of course for rest days at DH. Then cut him loose.

2) Yes, signing FAs smacks of the bad old days, but not all FA signings are bad, especially for a team with the Yankees' resources. And actually, waiting and overpaying for CC is better than trading a bunch of youngsters AND overpaying for Johan, since it preserves more of the organization's few young players.

3) That said, if I had to grin and bear it, accepting one over-the-top contract, it would be for Tex rather than CC.

23 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:39 pm


re: Jeter - The point is they improve dramatically by moving him off SS and replacing him with a competent fielder. If the only place to put him is 1B then so be it.

Who would have guessed that Helton or Donnie B would begin their declines when they did? For Donnie it was at 29. For Helton it was at 32. The point is when a player is already at the least valuable position, there's not much further they can really fall.

re: A-Rod - As he loses range, the solution isn't to put him at DH. The defensive spectrum would first beg a move to 1B. A player that can hit and field is more valuable than one that can only hit.

As I've said here before the best solution is CC AND Manny. The latter played an average LF in the NL parks last year. He would be passable in RF at Yankee Stadium. You get a better bat than Teixeira with half the commitment.

24 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:41 pm


And if Posada can't throw to 2B? Catching the fuck out of him doesn't solve shit in a division where the Rays and Sox would run wild on him.

25 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:42 pm

This bum rush towards signing free agent pitchers shows a lack of examining their own organization among the Yankees braintrust. We lost last year! We have lost the last few years in the playoffs! What wins in the playoffs? Pitching! Let's sign a bunch of pitchers! Honestly, that's what this offseason analysis (and Hank's comments) have seemed like so far.

What all of this fails to recognize is that the one area where the Yankees farm system is strong is pitching. We have tremendous depth at both the relief and starting slots. We have two major league (or nearly major league ready prospects) in Joba and Hughes. We have several who are just a bit further down in IPK, Aceves, etc. and several more a bit farther off. If you want to sign CC because he's a true ace, that's fine, I for one truly worry about him breaking down. If he had the start of the season he did last year in NY people would have been calling for Cashman's and Girardi's heads. Now you want to sign Lowe as well, well ok, that's a short term contract, but then you want to sign Burnett for 4-6 years?! So then we can what? trade Hughes, Aceves, Betances? Because all those guys are going to be blocked for years. Meanwhile, AJ will get hurt sometime in May or June and be sporting a 5 ERA. This team has one, count'em ONE top level position prospect in Austin Jackson. The next set is several years away at best. Tex is young (he's 28 right now), he's a superstar level hitter and a gold glove fielder. He's been remarkably durable and his makeup is excellent. What am I seeing that other people on here are not?

26 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:46 pm

[22] Mattingly is a bad case to cite. His decline was the result of a debilitating back injury, yes that's hard to predict, but Tex's track record and projections are all excellent. Signing anyone is a gamble, but if the choice is gambling on Tex or an overweight pitcher who's thrown roughly a trillion innings and a guy who has averaged 138 IP over his 10 year career who would you bet on?

27 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:46 pm


Easy. If he can't catch then his value to the team is essentially nil. He will not hit enough to warrant starting at DH or 1B. He should be cut and the team eats his contract, which is a sunk cost.


The team would *not* improve dramatically, because they would not be able to replace his offensive production at SS. Your plan would likely weaken two positions in the name of improving one, when the likelihood of improvement is very slim. Not a good plan.

28 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 1:58 pm

@ 25

I agreed with everything you said right up to the end. It's not who Teixeira is today. It's who he will be halfway through a 6 or 8 or [gasp] ten year contract. Injuries are never certain, but someone point to a 1B that aged well past 32 or 33 years old.


Furcal is a step up on Jeter both offensively and defensively. JJ Hardy too if he becomes available. And Jeter at 1B with a realistic .800 OPS would be almost average - like Swisher.

Posada at a realistic .850 OPS is an above average 1B. Without the wear and tear of catching, he could be better than that.

29 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:03 pm

[14], hold on: your logic for not signing Tex to a long contract is because you consider the TWO you cited (Giambi and Helton) to have turned out poorly? C'mon, that's an easy one to dispute on small sample size alone!

But otherwise I agree with Cliff et al - Giambi's contract was no failure, and Helton had the same back issues that Mattingly had. The issue with Helton's contract is that the Rockies - a team who's payroll over the last 9 years has averaged just under $60M/year, a self-described small-market team - were, years in advance, committing almost a third (28% to be more precise) of their future (likely to still be meager) payroll to one player every year, until that player was 38.

Unless the Yanks drastically decrease payroll in the coming years (not bloody likely), or they sign Tex to a contract that pays him $50M/year annually, there's no way he becomes the millstone that Helton has in Colorado.

30 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:05 pm

[28] Didn't Furcal have a fluke year and spend most of it hurt last year? That's who you want to gamble on? A guy coming off back surgery? Tex at 34,35 is a ways away. At that point he's either still performing, or he takes on a secondary role. Are you arguing we should sign Lowe, CC and Burnett instead of Tex? or just not sign Tex no matter what? I'm confused. My main point is that signing Burnett (and to a lesser extent Lowe) in lieu of Tex does not help this team at all now, and hurts them in the near to distant future. It hurts them even more if the Red Sox sign Texeira, because then they can slide Youklis over to 3B or workout some complicated platoon with Lowell, Tex, Youk and Ortiz between 1B/3B/DH making what was already a very good lineup a lot scarier.

31 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:08 pm


Posada is a realistic .850 OPS guy if he is not catching? Maybe, but at age 37, I think those .850 days (which he has reached 5 times in his career) are more and more remote, whether he is catching or not. But even at .850, he would be a good but not great 1B. And replacing his bat at C would be...

Hmmm...Rafael Furcal, of the career 96 OPS+, is a step up for Jeter offensively? That one hurts the credibility.

32 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:12 pm


Even better, one of the players cited is Helton, who went bad at age 32--or what would be about four years into a long-term contract with Teixeira. And even then, Helton's OPS+ since he went bad has been 117, 133, and 100. So, if Helton is the worst case scenario comparison, Teix would still be smacking the ball pretty well as late as 5 years into his deal.

If that's the risk, I'll take it.

33 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:14 pm

[28], I'm sorry, but your argument is a red herring. The natural curve for hitters is to peak at 27 or 28, and then begin to decline around 32, no matter what their position is. Fortunately, the Yanks wouldn't be getting Tex at 32 or 33, but rather at 29. They have a need right now, and Tex fills it right now.

BTW, you worry about Tex getting hurt halfway through a 6 or 8 year deal, but you're not worried about Manny (and his knees) at age 40? (Given that the only way to sign Manny, Boras and Manny have made clear, is to give him at least a 4-year deal.) Or even next year, with playing a position he last regularly played 8 years ago?

34 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:18 pm


How do you make links to prior posts? The ol' [33] brackets no longer work, do they?

35 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:28 pm

@ 29

Even for the Yankees, Helton would have been a bad contract. And everyone saying Giambi wasn't a bad contract - explain his two "lost" years and complete absence of a glove.

Here are Teixiera's top ten comparables through age 28:
1. Carlos Delgado (935)
2. Kent Hrbek (925)
3. Fred McGriff (913)
4. Jim Thome (911)
5. Will Clark (910)
6. Jeff Bagwell (909)
7. Willie McCovey (906) *
8. Richie Sexson (904)
9. Shawn Green (901)
10. Paul Konerko (899)

Of those, how many were still All-Stars productive at age 35 (six year deal)? at 37 (eight year deal)?

By my count: 5 at 35; and 2 at 37.

So that's a 50% chance of him earning his salary at the end of the shortest possible contract. And a 20% chance (and one of those was McCovey who was a converted OF) of the same at the middle contract possibility. I don't even want to think about the ten year contract.

The fact is: 1Bs just aren't a good bet to age well.


Tex at 34 still could have two or three years left at a very pricey salary. He's just as likely to go the way of Kent Hrbek (done at 32) as Carlos Delgado.

No to Lowe and Burnett. Sign CC and Manny and one of Pettitte or Moose.

36 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:34 pm


Seriously, you want to pay Teixeira 20 million/year to OPS+ 117 or 100 at 1B? Swisher could do that.


Hmmmm, halfway through a six-year deal puts Teixiera at 32. And yet, at that point they could have him signed for three or four or five more years.

Manny at three years (I see no team offering him more than that. The Dodgers haven't. And who else would want him?). So yeah, a three-year contract over a six-year contract, especially since Manny is still a better hitter than Teixeira has ever been.

37 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:47 pm

[35], why would Helton's contract have been bad for the Yanks? I don't care for OPS+, but it will do for this purpose:

Age 29 to age 34:
165 (for $10.6M)
165 (for $11.6M)
144 (for $12.6M)
117 (for $16.6M)
133 (for $16.6M)
100 (for $16.6M)

and with outstanding defense. That's outstanding production, especially for the price.

As for Giambi, he didn't miss two years - he missed half of two years (2004 and 2007). He played 80 games in '04 and 83 games in '07, so that means he missed about a season in total. The rest of the time - and that includes '04 and '07 when he did play - he averaged a 137 OPS+. Please explain how that is bad.

BTW, since you believe that Tex has, at best, a 50-50 chance to earn his salary at the end of a 6-year contract, and ergo, the Yanks should not sign him - how did you feel about Jeter's contract way back when? After all, when it ends in 2010, Jeter will be 36 years old. How many shortstops, at age 36, were still productive all-stars?

If you want the guy, you pay for his decline. Is it ideal? No. But the alternative is less appealing.

38 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:55 pm

[37] And another oft-cited "mistake" was Damon, who while his fielding has dropped off a bit, has hit every bit as well as we could have hoped for his contract. Giambi was not a mistake, and yeah his defense stunk, but that's not from decline, his defense has always stunk.

39 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 2:57 pm


Two seasons where he wasn't earning his keep? That's as true of Helton as it is of Giambi. On a 7 year contract, that amounts to an AAV of 28 million assuming a 7 year 140 million deal. By the way, Helton only played 83 games this year.

Helton's defense his now, at best, average. So an average bat plus an average glove is worth 17 million a year right now?

And absolutely, Jeter's contract was a mistake. But that's the point of history - learning from it. If they had signed him for one or two less years, it would have been a perfect time to renegotiate his AAV. That contract was from the same period as Giambi's. And both are why, I think, Cashman has no intention of signing Teixeira to a six-year deal or longer.

It's one thing to sign a legit ace to a six-year deal (Sabathia) and even then you only do it if you have to. It's quite another for a 1B.

40 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:01 pm


Oh, and the alternative for the Yanks isn't that unappealing - it's an average 1B in Swisher or maybe Miranda.


Except for the fact that he can't throw out a runner advancing first to third from LF. He was signed to be a CF. Right now, he's best used as a DH. That was a four year deal that should have been three years. But there also the Yanks had little choice given the foolishness of passing up on Beltran the year before.

41 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:01 pm

[39] You're right, signing a pitcher to a long term deal is a lot riskier since their injury chances are much higher than position players. Name all the long term contracts that have worked out well for pitchers. Off the top of my head, I can think of one: Mike Mussina, and that took a complete reinvention of his pitching.

42 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:07 pm

[40] Wait, no you are making no sense at all. Damon always had bad arm, that has nothing to do with his decline. He's been pushed out of center, but that's more because Matsui can't play LF anymore and Melky looked like a budding star. His range is still there, he was a plus LF last year. And you cite the mistake of NOT signing Beltran, how is Tex different? Both were young, in their prime impact players at positions where the Yankees had gaping holes. Why was passing on Beltran a mistake and passing on Tex the correct decision?

43 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:08 pm


Agreed. But for all of talk of Sabathia's "overuse" the guy takes the ball every fourth (or third) day. And he has for the last eight years. You worry about any pitcher. But given his performance and health, so far, he's a close to a solid signing as any that has hit the free agent market since Maddux in 1993.

44 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:12 pm

[43] Except for that whole first two months of last year where he pitched like Ian Kennedy.

45 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:15 pm


I think Damon's arm has gotten worse with the shoulder trouble. He was signed to play CF. They got one year out of him there. Melky's attendance was just as much a fact of Damon being unable to play the position. That's why they stuck with Melky so long there last year.

Beltran was and is a CF with power. If he loses a step or two plus some bat speed he's still an above average LF. And that hasn't happened yet. If an All-Star 1B loses a step or two with a slowing bat, he's an average player with a top of the game AAV.

46 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:17 pm

[41] The initial long term contract was 01-06, which I think was almost unquestionably a success. He reinvented himself at the end of the second contract.

47 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:21 pm

Great players tend to get long term contracts when they first hit free agency. And sometimes in the midst of those deals they get injured or have off seasons. And over time, players usually decline. But in many of those years, they have great seasons and help their team win lots of games. I'll take it.

Two more points -

a) The Giambi contract was not a failure, he played well and the Yankees did nothing but win with him until 2008 and he had a pretty decent 2008.

b) The Yankees play in the American League. They don't have to worry as much about keeping 1B open to rotate old players thru - SINCE THEY HAVE A DH POSITION TO FILL. Last time I checked, that position is open 2010 or sooner.

48 tommyl   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:31 pm

[47] What's more, we all assume that every player can transition to play 1B, especially infielders. I believe Wilson Betemit showed us that that may not be the case. Jeter in 2010 playing 1B would be well below average at that position. As for A-Rod, he's one year removed from a historically great season and had a near MVP season last year (honestly, just improve his clutch numbers and there's an argument to be made) so I'm not too worried about him. If Posada can't catch anymore, this team is in a boatload of trouble, not because Posada will have to DH/1B, but because we'll have some rotation of Molina/Cervelli/Scrap Metal at the position for the entire year.

49 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:38 pm

I thought Betemit played first base just about as well as he played any other position...

50 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 3:39 pm


Defensively, A-Rod is average right now. There's a high probability that he'll lose a step or two in the next two or three years. By that point, the next logical move is for him to shift to 1B. It would be a waste of his value to make him (@ 47) a DH.

Jeter OPsing .800 would be average at 1B. That may be iffy, but he continues to significantly hurt the team in trying to field his current position.

51 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 17, 2008 4:09 pm

@ 50 You are saying in 2-3 years ARod will be a defensive liability at 3B. You are further saying that under the scenario where is no longer capable of playing 3B in 2-3 years, he should move to 1B and that moving him to DH would be a waste of his value.

Assuming that you are guessing correctly (which I highly doubt), you propose the Yankees should proceed with a plan for 2009-2011 where they have an inferior 1B, thus lessening their chances of winning games, appearing in the postseason and winning the Series, to maximize the "value" of a deteriorated Alex Rodriguez in 2012?

How about we sign Tex, win now, and IF Arod can't play 3rd anymore in 2012, we move one of those awesome hitters to DH and find a new 3B?

52 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 4:14 pm


Yeah, signing a six- or eight-year contract without worrying about all of those years makes a ton of sense.

Further, you're assuming Teixeira will be an "awesome" hitter in three years. Since he's never been that, I don't see how that's possible.

53 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 17, 2008 4:21 pm

How is it acceptable to you to field an inferior team in the present on the offhand chance that you might not be fielding the most cost effecient team in 4 years?

You're stuck on some future vision of the Yankee roster that is incredibly unlikely to unfold. Preserving that vision is causing you to neglect improving the team in a very reasonable way.

Tex makes sense now and for all of the foresseable future. In the distant future, if he no longer makes sense, they can deal with it then. But I refuse to endorse a plan that sacrifices near term success for long term roster flexibility. I have yet to attend a parade for most flexible roster.

54 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 4:25 pm


You're just flat wrong. Jeter does not significantly hurt the team because his bat--still very potent for his position--compensates for his poor fielding. Moving Jeter to first would mean (in theory) better defense at 1B (which you admitted was not very important), while placing a relatively weak bat at a slugging position. At 1B there is basically no way Jeter's glove would compensate for his bat.

Then again, you previously argued that Furcal was an offensive improvement over Jeter.


We do not *know* that Teixera would devline as precipitously as Helton. But let's assume that he did. If he slugged like hell for the first three or four years of his contract, yes, I would accept $20 million/year for an average 1B after that. After all, we don't even know what $20 million will be worth in MLB in three or five years. This all assumes a six year contract.

I agree with you that a ten year contract would be silly.

55 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 4:27 pm

[54] That's sort of the key here. We don't know what 20 million will be worth in five years. Five years ago, would anyone predict that closers would be getting 15 plus?

56 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:35 pm

Wow, there really are a lot of Teixeira fanboys here.


It's not just about *cost* efficiency. It's more about *roster* efficiency. Having an underperforming 1B limits the flexibility of carrying other players. We've seen that very clearly for the last three to four years with Giambi. And this year's team offense would be similar with Manny in RF and Swisher at 1B than Nady in RF and Teixeira at 1B. The former offers the same team now and more flexibility in 2012. That's a win-win and not the either-or you're suggesting.


What is your evidence for this statement:

"Jeter does not significantly hurt the team because his bat–still very potent for his position–compensates for his poor fielding."


Well, based on VORP, 2/3rds of his "value" from over 660 ABs is given by 160 ABs from Furcal (VORP of 34.1 for Jeter in 668 ABs vs. VORP of 25.7 for Furcal in 167 ABs). In other words, Jeter had about as much value as Jhonny Peralta.

Based on VORP, there were seven better SS's last year. For the money they're spending, they can do much better. And "very potent" is a misnomer when you're looking at a guy that slugged .400. If they could, I'd say to bench Jeter. And if 2009 is the same at 2008, they should in 2010.

For reference, Jeter had a -18 FRAA. I have a very hard time seeing how he's still a net positive at the position.

That's exactly the problem with a long-term contract. When you owe a guy 40 million over two years (or 60 over 3) you can't go out and get someone better.

Lastly, $20 million was still over priced for Giambi (signed his contract seven years ago) and Jeter (also 7 years ago). That is, inflation in baseball hasn't been so ridiculous to make those contracts "deals" in any stretch of the imagination.

As I've said many times now, I'd be fine with Tex for four years. But any more than that is a big mistake especially when there's a better hitter out there who also fills a need and who could be had for three years. The Dodgers aren't signing him for 4 years at 20 AAV.

57 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:38 pm


Only on the Yankees (and the best of all time with four rings) is a closer worth 15 million per.

58 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:40 pm


Replacement Level Yankee ran the numbers on Jeter for last year, and he was a net positive--probably the most valuable SS in the AL.

Using Furcal's freaky 160 PAs before injury last season as a comparison, as opposed to the entire rest of his career (which is significantly worse than Jeter's) is lousy methodology.

I grow weary of this.

59 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:44 pm

But Rafael Furcal has never shown any kind of ability to hit like he did in those 160 at bats this year. Isn't it far more likely that Furcal is the mediocre to bad hitter he was from 2000 to 2007?

60 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:45 pm


And for fun, here is the table summarizing what RLYW ran, showing Jeter the most valuable SS in the AL as of mid-September:


61 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 5:47 pm

K-Rod certainly thinks hes getting 15 million.

62 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 6:01 pm

Its also odd to mock Jeter's 408 SLG in 08 while promoting Furcal and his lifetime .412

63 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 17, 2008 7:14 pm

[28] As many have pointed out, without being rude, you are plain wrong. Our own parasite invested, steroid withdrawn Giambi put up OPS+s of 161, 148 and 128 at ages 34, 35 and 37. He just just one example. If you had Pujlos, would you trade him at 32 years old before he could decline? Also, bats can decline with age, but fielding at 1B holds up pretty good. Tino could still catch a ball long after he couldn't hit much anymore. Any Donnie, one of the top fielders at 1B in history, was still great in the field up to his last game. What happed to Donnie was his back killed his gap and opposite field power. 20 x-tra base hits turned into outs once he lost his power,

We have to admit 4 years of Posada was a waste... but it's only money. If he can't throw, we DH him. Matsui is gone after this year and unless we go out of of way to GET a DH, Po can DH 120 games and catch 30 selected games. We all love Po, but we have have him as a DH as long as he can post a .850ish OPS.

When all the worry about moving Jeter and ARod. The vast majority of SS's and 3B's throughout history, remained at their positions until they retired. They are simply not as productive in their last years.

Cliff and Alex... I wih you would post POLLS on this site. We could see where people stand on issues, and better yet, check back in future years to see how 'good' we were.

My Poll;
If we only signed ONE(non-Yankee) FA who would it be? I say Tex. My guess is the Banter is 50/50, Tex/CC (assuming we sign Andy or Moose).
If we signed TWO (non-Yankee) FAs who would it be? I say Tex and CC. My guess is the Banter is 90/10, Tex and CC.
Should we sign AJ? I say NO. My guess is 80+% of the Banter agrees.
Should we sign MORE then TWO FAs this year? I say NO. I'll guess 70+% of the Banter agrees.

64 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 17, 2008 7:38 pm

BumRush, you said: "Based on VORP, there were seven better SS’s last year. ". This means Jeter was in the top 25%, even in the WORST year of his career. That is still well above average.

Tex has a carrer OPS+ of 134, and 150 in his last 2 years. That ain't Bond/ARod/Pujlos territory, but it's still pretty damn good... and that's added to an above average glove.

While your logic has valid points, if we apply it, we will NEVER get an impact FA. Impact FAs are in demand, there is always one team willing to overpay, and BY DEFINITION, they are overpriced in their prime and WAY overpriced in their decline. This is just the nature of the beast. The last GOOD deal on an impact FA might have been Manny or Vlad.... and those were some time ago.

Why do you think Cashman has stayed away in the last 3 years and is focusing on the farm? FAs are an inefficent way to build a team. But a winning team needs one or more, and as I said in [19], because of the Yankees situation, we have little choice IF WE WANT TO WIN now.

So what is your suggestion??? Please tell us your alternative. Say No to Tex, CC, AJ, and all the other overpriced/long contract guys? Manny for 4/$90? Are you willing to accept this team if they finish 3rd for the next 2 years?

65 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 7:41 pm


There's no chance in hell that Jeter's glove is above average. It's not even close really, so that ranking is pure farce.


Furcal can still go to his left and right. SS is the most valuable position on the field and we have a guy at -18 FRAA.


Ah, yes, except you're plain wrong. Let's see how many times we can go back and forth with that statement. Giambi was more properly a DH and one who had two terrible seasons at 20 million per.

Hopefully the choice in 2012 is A-Rod AND Pujols for 1B/DH .

I simply can't believe that after what this team has gone through with Giambi the last four seasons:

1. Never knowing what to expect year-to-year. Because 1Bs age very quickly - see Teixeira's top comps.
2. Needing a LIDR for 1B. So the manager takes out a big hitter for a no-glove fielder only to have the game go to extra innings.
3. Having a guy who had to play 1B because the DH slot was already clogged with overpriced and rapidly declining veterans (Jeter, Posada, Damon, Matsui, soon A-Rod).

Folks want to repeat that experiment on another long and overpriced contract? Wow.

Let's see:

A) take the better hitter on a contract half as long (Manny)
B) take the worse hitter on a contract twice as long (Teixeira)

And folks are ch-ch-choosing (B)? Wow.

66 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 7:47 pm

p.s. Thank god Cashman has learned from his mistakes. I will never post here again if he signs Teixeira.

I have a strong feeling you're going to be blessed with my presence.


Except he's rapidly getting much worse. He couldn't field the position last year.

Actually Teixeira's glove is average.

I said CC, Manny (no one's giving him four years - it's between the Yanks and Dodgers. Who would sign him for four years? Not the Angels. Not the Red Sox. Who?), and Pettitte or Moose.

67 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 7:55 pm


One more point: Overpaying for a fourth year, when you have no other choices, is one thing (Matsui, Damon, Jorge). Overpaying for a fifth and sixth year is something else entirely.

Here's something I could get behind: Offer Teixeira 100 million over 4 years. No other team will give him more than 20 million AAV, so in a sense he gets paid for an extra year while going back on the market one year early. Make him choose to take a six-year 120 million deal (from the Angels or Orioles) or a four years at 100 million from the Yanks.

68 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 8:11 pm

The big reason I don't read defensive metrics. Two people can find two separate defensive stats that totally contradict each other to prove their point.

69 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 8:30 pm

@ 68

Watching the games, rather than the box scores, shows Jeter to be a significantly below average fielder. He's two steps behind balls that the average shortstop gets.

But when in doubt, look across the stats. Dewan, Pinto, and BP all show Jeter to clearly be the worst defensive SS in baseball. His defense will be even worse this year (look at the trendline). If his bat doesn't improve, he's a net negative.

70 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 17, 2008 8:42 pm

@17 - so 1b defense is being vastly overrated, but it's one of the bullets you're using to shoot Giambi. Cool.

71 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 17, 2008 8:48 pm

@69 he's already a net negative against average (11 Batting Runs Above Average - -18 Fielding Runs Above Average = -7 runs above average.

Compared to Replacement he's at a 5.3 WARP3.

72 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 17, 2008 9:07 pm


It is. But Giambi was only a 1B because they had a logjam at DH and going back for three years. Compare with the Red Sox. Ortiz is a below average 1B, but he doesn't have to play there because they have roster flexibility otherwise - a 1B in Youkilis that can play 3B or LF. If Lowell's mobility is hindered in 2009, then they'll have a similar jogajm especially since Ortiz's mobility is hindered too.

73 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:11 pm


I'm not sure I see the fundamental difference between Tex for 4@25 or 6@20. The worst case scenario is that he shits out for the last two years, at which point the team could bench him or even cut him. The cost would be 20 million, or an average less tan four million per year over the life of the contract. In fact, one could make a good case that the extra 20 million is a very good gamble on the chance that he remains productive at age 34 and 35.

Again, no one is saying sign the man for 10 years at 200 million or more, but you're sort of splitting hairs when you differentiate between 4/100 and 6/120.

74 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:16 pm


Correct me if I am wrong, but is not FRAA position-dependent, but BRAA not position-dependent. if so, you can't simply subtract one from the other.

75 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:41 pm

I know Tex already turned down a nice offer. Was it 6/$120? My guess is Cashman will make an offer to Tex, something like 5/$115.

76 RollingWave   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:34 am

[69] Pinto's PMR had Jeter at fairly close to average this year.


of guys that got significant playing time there (over 2000 plays) there were 13 SS that saved more runs than Jeter. and 8 worse.

So while he wasn't good, at least from PMR's standpoint he wasn't "clearly the worse" at all. he was about 3 runs worse. the worest was David Eckstien's unfathomable -30 runs

In any sense, I think your overlooking the problem of replacement levels. while there will most likely be years on any long contracts that the player under perform his bill, the alternatives may not be any better. and even if they are, it's almost impossible to find anywhere close to the production in the other years.

On the other hand. Jeter's contract is up in 2010, there is no real point in moving him RIGHT NOW. while I feel that moving him after his current contract certainly make sense.

As for player declines there are a lot of maybes and ifs there, BR similar player is nice enough , but it would be a pretty poor idea to bank on it for your future plans. I'd raise the example that if you think Mark Teixeira's comparables are bad, you might want to check out Nick Swisher's which would suggest that he would most likely be DFAed ... NEXT YEAR. and while Furcal have some nice comps (Biggio and Molitor ) he also have even more scary comps like Jay Bell, Jason Kendell , Woody English etc... and really, he's not Craig Biggio, Aside from this year's limited small sample size, he's highest full season OBP is .369 , Biggio had a 10 year stretch over where he was well over .370.

It takes account into # and birthdays, it doesn't take into account of your physical condition and any other factor that doesn't reflect on your stats (are you a drunk? are you on roids? one of Jason Marquis' most comparable pitcher is Corey Lidle, does that mean he'll ram a airplane into an apartment building?)

The problems with your assesment is going for a low risk approach, we're not really sure how much lower that risk is, but we are sure the potential upside is eons lower.

77 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:57 pm

monkey, I thought BRAA was position adjusted but I could be wrong. If so, I stand corrected.

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