LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees' Shifting Infield Alignment A Potential View Of The Future

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yankees' Shifting Infield Alignment A Potential View Of The Future

Brian McCann at 1B, Francisco Cervelli behind the plate and Mark Teixeira sitting forlornly on the bench with an ailment of some kind. That was the defensive alignment for the New York Yankees on Tuesday night and it just might be the situation for the remainder of the season as manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that he doesn’t know when Teixeira will be back.

It’s also a possible harbinger of things to come if Teixeira can’t make it all the way back from his wrist injury next season, or even in a few years when his contract is up and he’s gone. Some might argue that he’s been gone for most of the second half of the season but, for as bad as he’s been offensively, he still retains his defensive prowess.

Couple Teixeira’s absence with the appearance of Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and, in a few years, Gary Sanchez, and McCann might have to move away from catcher sooner than he thought.

As much as Teixeira frustrates me with his inability to stay in the line-up, his refusal to adjust his swing to beat the shift and his strike-outs, I’m hoping that he comes back healthy enough to play 1B for most of the rest of his contract. It strengthens the defensive makeup of the entire lineup.

When McCann signed his $85MM contract, I actually thought it was a good deal. It is relatively short term, which means it bought some more time for the prospects to get some seasoning in the minor leagues, and he was billed as a decent enough athlete that he could move to 1B in the latter years of the deal to replace Teixeira.

Most of the value, however, I attributed to his catching abilities. If he can’t carry over his strong hitting of the past two weeks into next year and he moves to 1B on even a part time basis, that deal no longer looks so terrific to me, especially since he has been learning 1B on the job, having only played fifteen games there. As seen with Kelly Johnson earlier this year, that’s not necessarily the best way to do it.

I’m also not sold on Cervelli as a full-time catcher. He hasn’t played anywhere close to a full MLB season since 2010 and I think he gets exposed if he does. Murphy and Austin Romine are probably back-ups at best and Sanchez has some maturing to do.

As seen in Tuesday’s game, just one player out of position can lead to game losing errors. Given the run scoring difficulties, that’s just one more wrench in the works that the Yankees can ill afford. Teixeira needs to get healthy and McCann needs to stay at catcher. As unsettling as it sounds, those two are the best chance at stability in a Yankee infield that will see more than enough changes next season.

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