Teixeira worth the money now, and later

I couldn’t let Friday end with that face at the top of the screen. It’s like a cellulite eclipse. Let’s tear through a few items before breaking for the weekend. Someone write in and remind me to take a break from editing the Baseball Prospectus annual (Pre-order now! I don’t get anything if you do! Not a dime! But you should.) to spend an hour on the treadmill. They’re going to let me go back in the Dot-com Bunker on the next show, Jan. 8, 2009. This time I might sneak onto the main set when no one is looking, just to see what it feels like to sit in one of those comfy chairs the New York Times guys get. I can dream, and yet the positive to not being in the plush chairs is that they don’t issue rations when you’re in the Bunker, so weight loss is pretty much inevitable. I skipped lunch yesterday, and after about two hours in my cell I was getting pretty low. It’s hard to answer questions about CC Sabathia when you’re thinking, “I wonder if Bob Lorenz would be good with barbecue sauce?” Did you see how they cut to me before my second segment? Next time, instead of working at my computer, you might see me opening up a pizza delivery box.

No, no, no. No pizza. Treadmill, Steve. Treadmill.

In yesterday’s Hot Stove show thread there was something of a debate on the subject of Mark Teixeira vs. Manny Ramirez. To me, the most interesting thing about said debate is not the players involved but the apparently universal sense that the Yankees need to bolster the offense. The sense that they need to improve the defense as well is not universal, or no one would be arguing for Manny. The correct answer, though, is “both,” especially if the Yankees want to fully exploit the Scrooge McDuck money they just put into arms. Think of it this way: Teixeira, as a Gold Glove defender at first base and a top hitter, is all positive. He’s not only adding runs above average on offense, he’s taking them away from the bad guys when in the field. Say Teixeira is worth 50 runs over the average player with the bat, and 10 runs above average with the glove, so you could say that his total contribution to the winning effort is 60 runs.

With Ramirez, the math is different. As Rob Neyer wrote this week, under normal conditions he’s such an egregiously indifferent outfielder that most metrics see him as being worth about 20 runs below average. Those runs have to be held against his offensive totals, such that if Ramirez is worth about 60 runs over the average player with the bat, after fielding is considered, he’s really only a 40-run advantage — or less than Teixeira. Another way of looking at it is to say that Teixeira adds about five wins over the average player with his bat, then gives his team another with the glove. Ramirez gives his team six wins with the bat, but also contributes two losses with the leather.

We haven’t even talked about the elephant in the room with Manny, which is, “If he’s paid, will he give a damn?” but we don’t have to, because there’s another consideration, which is that if he’s signed to a three-year deal, his team is buying his age-37, 38 and 39 season. Hall-of-Fame hitter or not, this is a dangerous thing to do. Ramirez’s fielding is already a problem. If he loses a half a step, he’s not just going to be damaging in the field, he’s going to be a visible joke. Sure, he could DH, but the age is still an issue — at some point age is going to set in, and while we don’t know if it will happen during those three years, there’s a good chance that it will. In contrast, the team that buys eight years of Teixeira will get him from age 29 through 36. His contract will end where Ramirez’s begins. That consideration alone should swing the discussion toward Teixeira.

What we still don’t know is the Yankees’ position on all of this. They’ve signed two starters, supposedly don’t want to go crazy with their budget, and yet are rumored to be looking at still one more free-agent pitcher. This last point would almost certainly be overkill. Few teams go five deep in quality starters in their rotation, and the Yankees have sufficient alternatives in, at the very least, Phil Hughes, winter ball-reborn Ian Kennedy, and Alfredo Aceves, that if one falters they can move to Plan B without too much trouble. Foregoing Andy Pettitte at No. 5 would probably be worth half a Teixeira. Establishing Hughes, Kennedy, or Aceves in the rotation would mean a couple of seasons of pre-arbitration, pre-free-agent salaries at that roster position, along with the possibility of buying that now-established player out of their arbitration/free-agent years, such that their costs are controlled for years. This beats going back to the free-agent market for next year’s A.J. Burnett. Plus, you get to save the offense and the defense. To put it another way, send $22.5 million a year on Teixeira now, save $10 million on Pettitte this year, save $17 million on Burnett II next year, and the year after that, and for however long the team controls the young pitcher it puts into the fifth spot in 2009. At that point, Teixeira starts to look darned cheap — $12.5 million for him, plus the $10 million you would have wasted on an old pitcher anyway.

Stay safe and warm this snowy weekend. The Pinstriped Bible rides again on Monday or with breaking news, whichever comes first. 


  1. copoll

    It scares me that what seems so obvious to fans seems to be lost completely on the Yankee brass. In Teixeira, they (would presumably) get a player who in his worst year would be Tino Martinez, a solid citizen, a really good glove and a SWITCH HITTING bat with power. Yes, the starting rotation needed shoring up, but answer me this, Steve (since you understand the numbers and have them at your fingertips, apparently): Last year, how many games did the Yankees lose when their starting pitchers gave up five runs or more? And then: How many games last year did the Yankees lose when they scored five runs or LESS? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on an everyday player who is really good on BOTH sides of the ball? Quick: what’s Brian Cashman’s cell phone number? I need to give the man a call.

  2. tabas.adam@gmail.com

    Why haven’t people been talking about Manny entering the next phase of his career–as a permanent DH?? It seems to me that not only was this guy born to hit, but if he became solely a professional hitter from this point forward, he could probably even improve his offensive stats, and probably become the best DH in MLB history–even putting people like old Yankee-Killer Edgar Martinez to shame……..And if Manny was to become a permanent DH, he’s probably worth another 5 year deal because you know he will produce a minimum of 120 RBI, .300 avg, and 30 HR per year if all he had to worry about was hitting….any thoughts?

  3. rondeuce40

    I don’t think that there’s any right or wrong way to do this if the Yankees are resigned to the fact that they are trying to reduce payroll. Adding Teixeira shores up 1st base for sometime but for 2009, it may leave the rotation short in terms of depth. If they decide not sign Pettite and leave the rotation spot to Hughes/KennedyAceves then you run the risk of those being the replacements of Joba and Burnett in the event of an injury. If the the DL stint if brief, they could live with it but if it’s lengthy, those guys could get exposed like they did last year. Hughes and Kennedy need a full season in the minors which is why it makes sense to have Pettite round out the rotation. It’s still a while til spring training, there’s no telling what players could become available in a trade that would improve this team defensively and offensively. All this becomes a moot point if the Yankees just spend the money and get both Tex and Pettite. Payroll would be same as last year with less dead weight.

  4. kkbaseball

    The issue with getting Manny to be a primary DH is that you already have Matsui and Johnny Damon clogging up the DH most days (unless you’re entertaining some concept of Damon in center). Matsui already gives you a .300 average with 25HR from that position, and he’s good for around 90 runs and 90 RBI, so the drop off isn’t huge. The only way I can see him being useful is if he’s willing to shift into RF.

    Now, let us consider the drop off between Texeira and another 1B on the Yankees (say, Swisher). That’s a pretty big drop.

    While you CAN sign both, I don’t think Manny is worth the headaches. The way he quit on his team last year suggests to me that unless he’s on a 1 year contract, he’s not worth it.

  5. jlevy1112@gmail.com

    Why are the Yankees so reluctant to make an offer to Texeira and try to sign him? This is a huge mistake. What’s more important to them, keeping the payroll down or winning another world series? I hope its the later and if that’s the case money shouldn’t be an issue. First base has been a weak position for the Yankees ever since Giambi decided to decline a year after they signed him. Texeira would give the Yankees an extremely strong corner infield. Steve, I have to agree with you about the need for more defense, defense and pitching are the key to winning games, it just makes it a complete package that he’s a great hitter too.
    I happen to like the idea of resigning Pettite. I think its good to be loyal to a lifelong Yankee. He has plenty of experience and could be a positive influence on the young pitchers like Joba and Hughes. Pettite is almost guaranteed to pitch 200 innings and gives the team a good chance to win most games he pitches. Having him allows the team to slot Joba into the #5 rotation spot and minimize the pressure put on him, allowing him to develop into the future #1 starter he could be. They shouldn’t rush the young pitchers into the majors, we saw how that worked last year.

  6. eagle75@optonline.net

    I can not express this alot Mark Texiera is overrated he not even that good. He will hit 250 in first half of year. Go sign Manny for hells sake damet you guys suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. richinnj

    “Say Teixeira is worth 50 runs over the average player with the bat, and 10 runs above average with the glove, so you could say that his total contribution to the winning effort is 60 runs.”


    “Those runs have to be held against his offensive totals, such that if Ramirez is worth about 60 runs over the average player with the bat, after fielding is considered, he’s really only a 40-run advantage — or less than Teixeira.”

    Does that analysis factor in positional adjustments?

  8. rtp1515@hotmail.com

    Why don’t they just leave Teixiera alone and sign someone like Adam Dunn to play 1st base. Not too great an average but 40 home runs a year and 100 RBI’s for the last 4 years, Dunn is good enough protection for Arod without the drama of Manny, and without the expense of Teixiera.

  9. swiftyread

    Why Manny over Teixeira….are you kidding? Because it’s Manny in the Clutch and over the wall…as he’s done all his career – and always as an AL’er. He is one of the best pure hitters in the game. He has also taken every team he has played on to at least the post season play – sometimes even to the WSCs (where he has a MVP). Manny shines in big games and in any city – we are a big game city – its a perfect fit. Besides Manny is from NYC – where he moved to after leaving the DR.

    AND WE FANS would like to see him go wall over the monster in the bottom of the 9th & then we want to see him do his Superman Stance for his new and loyal following, “The Yankee Manni-acs.”

    I know the response already… “but Tex is younger”…yes, and Manny is older and therefor he’s done it better for longer. There are no guarantees that in 6 yrs Tex doesn’t stink, while we already know what Manny will do – its almost as if he does it on command.

    I’ve heard some say that the Yanks should get them both…that’s be nice. Naive, but nice. NY just traded for Swisher? Why did they do that, when if a Utility is all they wanted, then Miggy Cairo is available for a lot less w/o losing prospects – and is more dependable at the plate than Swisher??

    The Tea Leaves point to No Tex for this reason.

    Short term contracts are always preferable anyhow. Manny is a better hitter, but NY still has about 41 million left (after AJ, CC & SWish) from the 85 they cleared off the books.

    With 41 million – I TRADE CANO TO THE ASTROS FOR MIGUEL TEJADA (he’ll end up making 5 mill after cano’s pay clears, maybe less(10 mill is a lot right now). Then I sign Manny (23 mill). Then I try to get Giambi (12).

    The rest goes to Pettitte or Peavy – both lefties, though one is younger and averages 200inngs per yr.

    Maybe Snag Ponson for the pen, until a starter goes down.

    1 Damon (LF) 2) Jeter, 3) Matsui (DH) – thats a set plate … #4) AROD or 5.) Manny (RF) 6.) Giambi (1b) 7)Tejada (2nd), 8 POsada, 9) Nady (CF)

    Joba, CC, Wang, Peavy, AJ –

    Ponson and Hughes are middle relievers until theyre needed for injuries.

  10. lou89

    What are the chances of the Yankees making an offer to Teixeira at the last moment? are they really going to sit back and watch the Red Sox snatch him up when they don’t need him as much as the Yankees do? are they ready for a bidding war with another rival the Angels for Manny if the Red Sox sign Teixeira? or are the Yankees done since they paid over $252 to blossom the rotation (including Andy’s 10.5 one year offer)? The Yankees need a bat and the money is there time to spend it on a big bat.

  11. andrew.ahr@comcast.net

    I think that the best move would be to sign Teixeira. They need a 1st baseman and passing on thins guy is the same as when they passed on Beltran a few years ago. Cashman, learn from you past mistakes!

  12. JimDavey

    We need Teixeira. He will play every day. He’s on his way to the HOF if he stays healthy.
    How can anyone justify signing Manny to anything longer than a WEEKLY contract after the way he went into the tank last year. He disrespected the game of baseball and all of us fans, no matter the team.

  13. bluegreen

    In recent years parity may be the most exciting story out of Major League Baseball as teams that have developed talent in their own systems have risen to the top of their league and proven that you don’t have to buy a team to be a success and that Baseball knowledge reigns supreme. The Yankees seem to be saying forget all that hard work, we know an easier way. This isn’t outside their character but this years shopping list is proving to be over the top. Their expectation of success is unreasonable considering the division they’re in and the current play-off format. Not making the play-offs for the first time in 13 seasons doesn’t justify this kind of spending. The luxury tax isn’t working, it doesn’t deter anyone from over spending. The cap should be concrete. The luxury tax is Major League Baseball’s indulgences to over spending’s sin. Here’s to history repeating itself and the biggest spender not finishing first, which are two likely scenarios in 2009. I’m down with Baseball not business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s