Landing Big Tex a big win for Yanks

In the 2004-2005 offseason, the top free agent on the market was Carlos Beltran, the switch-hitting, slugging center fielder. It happened that the Yankees had a need in center field, as Bernie Williams, 35, had just completed his second subpar season in a row, and his defense had long since passed the point of no return. Beltran reportedly had a great deal of interest in playing for the Yankees, but for reasons that were unclear then and remain unclear, the Yankees passed. That meant not only leaving Williams in center for another year, but it also meant that when Williams finally had to be wedged out of center field, they had to go to the best available player, which meant Johnny Damon. Damon has had two good years in three for the Yankees, but he is not the player that Beltran is, is far older, and soon proved that he was no longer a center fielder.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Yankees’ decision to pass on Beltran so as to use their monetary advantages that winter primarily on pitching help–which came in the dubious forms of Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, plus the aged but still viable (and cranky) Randy Johnson–has played a key part in their failure to win a title in the years since. Had the Yankees passed on Mark Teixeira, a player who perfectly suited (as was suggested here in this space on Monday) three of their needs simultaneously, age,offense, and defense, they would have repeated the same error.

They did not. All credit to Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family, to the former for playing it cool and then making his move, to the latter for opening their wallets and spending big–and to all three for not just spending, Wright- and Pavano-style, but for spending it on the right player, maybe the “rightest” player that they’ve acquired since Alex Rodriguez. If only they don’t try to move Teixeira to another position so a defensively inferior player can play first. Nah, that would never happen.

There is one point in the above worth repeating: all the dollars that accrue to sport’s wealthiest organization mean nothing if they are not spent wisely. Too often, the Yankees have settled for something other than the choicest cuts of meat. This time, it’s filet mignon all the way.

The Yankees are not perfect. The defense is still poor. The outfield defense could be very shaky depending on the alignment the Yankees pursue. They could choose to let a meaningless spring training battle decide center field instead of letting the evidence of a full major league season inform their choices. They could give Xavier Nady more playing time in right field than Nick Swisher. Derek Jeter is losing range even as we speak. Jorge Posada may or may not be able to throw–

–And that reminds me to revisit another point, as a major metropolitan newspaper published a column castigating the Yankees for closing off first base to Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Jorge Posada. Here we go:

This year, major league first basemen hit .272 /.353/.464.
Two years ago, they hit .276/.357/.463.
Three years ago, they hit .285/.363/.488.
Over the last five years, they hit .275/.355/.468.
Over the last ten years, they hit .276/.359/.472.

No doubt you’re starting to get the picture. Now, this is the average. If a team is getting these rates from its first baseman, it’s breaking even in comparison with the league. You could have Albert Pujols and do a lot better. You could have Doug Mientkiewicz and do a lot worse. Heck, your manager could give Miguel Cairo the odd start at first base. Some of these first baseman, like Albert Pujols and New Yankee Teixeira, not only hit but can field the position. While the standards are set where they are, there is no plausible reason that the Yankees should pass on a 29-year-old MVP-level player so they can reserve first base for aging former stars who will struggle to meet even the average level of production for the position and will almost certainly not be defensive assets. That is a formula for losing. And, oh yeah, the contracts of both Damon and Matsui are up at the end of the season. Unless the Yankees are as misguided a year from now as they were intelligent in signing Teixeira, what to do with those players at age 36 and up will be some other club’s problem.

Thus endeth the lecture. For now, suffice it to say that the Yankees have given their fans a great early Christmas present. More importantly, they’ve done the right thing competitively. Before the Red Sox became the favorites in the bidding, Teixeira was a move the Yankees should have made. Once the Red Sox became involved, it was a move they had to make, lest their rivals to the North unveil their own version of Murderer’s Row. As I said above, it was the right-est move the Yankees have made in years.

And with that, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday, whatever holiday is your holiday of choice. Enjoy it, and when you sit down to dinner with your family, don’t forget to scratch out Teixeira-ified batting orders into the mashed potatoes.


  1. damanitv

    these are excellent points….
    and i’ve mention them to friends since Beltran was not signed in 2004-05…and i was saying it again as i thought the Yankees were not going to signed Teixeira…
    but it seems that they have finally seen the light…
    so i am pleasantly surprised…
    on another note…
    although i will readily agree that trading for Arod was very smart…
    i do believe overwhelmingly that giving him 10 years and three hundred and five million dollars was way more than he should have recieved…
    there is no way any team not even the Yankees should give a 32 year old 10 years and since he turned 33 during his first contract year and will be 41 at the end of his contract…
    his skills are guaranteed to decline…
    i don’t think the publicity of Arod breaking the homerun record an the journey of along the way in surpassing Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron and ultimately Barry Bonds is worth that much money especially if his skills are deminishing considerably as he gets closer and closer to the record…
    and what if he breaks the homerun record but fails in the clutch and the yankees don’t win a World Sries during his time with the club…
    this will make his tenure with the Yankees a definate bust and may prove to be one of the worse signing in their history…
    the Yankee Fanatic

  2. paulp15

    I was so going to write you the other day asking if anyone in the Yankee management would listen to you! After Beltran, I had no confidence in them doing this deal, but Merry Christmas to me, they did it!


    Earlier this offseason I told anyone who would listen, “Let’s get Sabbathia, Swisher, and Teixeira and then be done with it.” I felt that they could fill in the rest of the rotation (I would not have chosen Burnette but so be it) and let the other positions be decided by performance. I maintained this opinion all the way until I heard the announcement and was gratified to be found correct! They can take or leave Petitte (I am tempted to leave him) and fill in the fifth spot with one of the able youngsters or a non-roster invitee.
    So I agree, Mr. G, this is their best signing in a long time. It helps in so many ways and is a GREAT use of the team’s resources. JP Riccardi said (on a local radio station) that all teams would spend they way the Yankees do, if they had that money.
    I am so glad they have been listening to me this fall.

  4. zrosey

    This rocks!!!!!! I am so happy!!!

    Question –> Will the Yankees introduce him (like they did w/ CC Sabathai & AJ Burnett)??? If they do, when is the most likely time it will be???

  5. dachshund4

    What difference daes it make if the Yankees are hated and booed wherever they go for signing Teixeria. They are hated and booed wherever they go anyway. They are also cheered whever they go also by a growing fan base all over the country. And they home team has sellouts for the Yankees & Boston when in town.(except for Tampa which doesn’t count as a fan base). In KC you can’t tell if the Yankees or Royals are the home team when the Yankees are in town. The Yankees had needs to fill and they did with the best player available. We should be able to win several more Championships to add to the 26 we have. Go Yankees. Brian Cashman did a magnificent job and should be rewarded.


    This is a great signing on so many levels. It solidifies the defense as well as the offense. Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right is tailor made for Mark. The team has severely weakened the Angels by taking away the lineup protection for Guerrero. Not to mention the gut punch to the hated Bosox. Also, from what I’m hearing, Texiera WANTED to come to the Yankees. That means a lot.

  7. scofid

    This was a huge signing for the Yankees. I agree with the sentiments above. Despite the additions of CC and A.J., there were changes that needed to be made for the offense and defense. Banking on a comeback season by Nick Swisher was a lot to ask. I think he’ll be fine, but we needed someone who could simultaneously offset the production of Abreu and Giambi, while SIGNIFICANTLY improving the infield defense. Plus, there is the small issue of giving A-Rod some protection in the lineup. I think Cashman still needs to make some minor moves (Matsui for prospects?) and I’d like to see more than Jose Molina and Kevin Cash in reserve for Jorge Posada. I would love for Andy Pettitte to return, but I can’t say that I’d be disappointed with Phil Hughes in the #5 slot. I think we’ll see a very improved #65 in 2009. Go ahead and ship Ian Kennedy to Siberia for all I care. We don’t need his attitude, regardless of how talented he may be. I know it would be incredibly gluttonous and totally ridiculous from a salary standpoint, but how great would it be to add Manny in addition to Tex? That’s a lineup that would be absolutely frightful! But from a more sane perspective, I am comfortable with Nady in right so long as we can resolve the center field question. It’s going to be very exciting times at 161st and River in 2009! Go Yankees!

  8. JimDavey

    Many sincere thanks to Brian Cashman and all the Yankee brass who made Mark Teixiera the newest Yankee!
    Can spring training ever arrive soon enough? I only wish now that I can somehow score tix to the exhibition games against the Cubs.
    It is always good to be a Yankee fan, this Christmas it is even better!

  9. gstack

    is good dat the yankees got Mark,CC,and Burnet…..but the yankees need Manny dey need him bcuz he has postseason and world series experience……And Jeter Needs To Step up to the plate…He’s The captain of The Yankees…When Dey Do bad he Needs To bring Dem back Up….Jeter needs To Show us Why he is Captan


    Thank you Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family for making this a Very Merry Christmas and a dream come true for many, many die hard Yankee fans. Teixeira was someone we all know that this club desperately needed. Our wishes were made reality. Plus CC and AJ…, the only thing left to make our dreams come true would be our favorite, Andy Pettite. Come on Andy, what’s stopping you. You certainly don’t need the money….We all love and want you. You want us. What’s the problem? More money? Ok, I say you get your 10 milllion with incentives. Brian, how about it. Our boy has pride, and you know it. You want him, we want him, and he wants to be here. HELLO…. We love you Andy. Come on home…. Thank you Yankees for the best Chrismas presents ever……

    The Daz..

  11. yank2win27

    I agree with the idea of signing Pettite. Pettite and Cashman need to get together and come to an agreement. If Cash does not want to go above 10 million, then add incentives to the ten million.

  12. yank2win27

    Tex was a great additiion. Signing two great pitchers and leaving 1B suspect would have been a problem. Getting Tex for 1 million less than Giambi was great. Still need to sign Pettite.

  13. varnhagen

    Mark Teixeira is definitely an excellent first basebman. However, I would have rather the yankees give manny 2 years than the yankees sign Teixeira.

    This is because:

    1. The Yankees consist of a team that is pure of second half hitters. They always get off to a bad start, and last year they dug a hole too big for themselves. Mark Teixeira is strictly a second half hitter. So with the absences of Giambi and Abreu, who are both strictly second half hitters, there is no great improvement. The Yankees will be a much better team, but no where near what they had to pay.

    2. There are very few players, besides Alex Rodriguez, who can be in their prime over the span of 8 years. Knowing this, the Yankees are voluntarily paying a guy 22.5 mil a year, for eight years. Who knows how many of those years will be of the caliber of last year.

    3. Teixeira has never been on a team with such pressure. There is a good chance of him pulling an A-rod. Anaheim doesn’t count.

    4. The yankees are now obligated to start the season with an outfield that is old and has worn out it’s welcome. Manny is old, but he has zest that is greater than melky, cano, and jeter combined.

    5. there is a 100% chance that Manny would produce in the playoffs. He has more postseason home runs than Bernie Williams.

    6. Manny can carry a team, even when he is slumping. Teixeira will always need a bat behind him that doesn’t have huge slumps. He has “Mad” Vlad in Anaheim, a career .323 hitter. He had chipper jones in atlanta, who batted .362 last year. In Texas, he played on a team that led the AL in home runs many times. A-rod is better than all of those examples, but who knows what kind of difficulties he could have this season. He is streaky. An when the New York Media tries to bring down A-rod as usual, it will be up to Teixeira to carry the team. That is a little rough, considering it is his first season in New York.

    The Yankees will win. I am predicting a 95-100 win season for them this season. But I do not trust the big three that the Yankees signed to carry them throughout the playoffs. If the Yankees signed Manny , he would have regular seasons that are slightly under Teixeira’s, but int he playoffs, he would double his production. teixeira may have hit well in the playoffs, but when A-rod panics in the playoffs, there wont be “Mad” Vlad to protect him.

    I feel as though I am betraying the yankees by making these comments. They are now a great team, by signing Sofatsia and Burnett. They should be good enough to win the division without a problem. It is the assets that the yankees just



    Now I like Damon, but can we trade him who’s contract is up after the 09 season anyways, plus Swisher who is okay, plus Kennedy who I dont like, and Gardner who I think is something, and maybe a B level prospect for Ichiro if something like that is done plus a successful trade Cameron for Melky and Igawa the Yanks will have a great outfield that is better defensively and better offensively plus after 09 we’re looking for Austin as the future but for 09 you will have an outfield that looks like Nady in Right, Cameron in Center, and Ichiro in Left

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