You’ll remember, I’m sure, that rookie first baseman Greg Bird played a big role in the Yankees’ push for the playoffs this year. So you might be a little surprised to learn about the Yankees’ short-term plans for Bird, via Ken Davidoff in the Post:
For those Yankees fans wondering what will become of Greg Bird next season, Brian Cashman doesn’t know. No mortal does. But the Yankees’ general manager knows what he would like to see happen with the young first baseman: a full campaign with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"That’s the optimal," Cashman said Tuesday, at Major League Baseball’s GM meetings. "Not for Bird, but optimally period, that would be the best. Currently, Tex [Mark Teixeira] is the better player… If Alex [Rodriguez] went down, we could swing Carlos [Beltran] over from right field to DH."
Article continues below ...
Is Teixeira really the better player? Projections show them with roughly the same hitting ability in 2016, but of course projections will only get you so far. Toss in Teixeira’s likely advantage with the glove, and I suppose that’s right: Teixeira might well be the better player, game for game.
But in two senses, it doesn’t really matter who’s better. It doesn’t matter, because Teixeira gets $23 million next season. So when he’s healthy enough to play, he’s going to play. Whether he’s 10 percent better than Bird, the same as Bird, or 10 percent worse.
It also doesn’t matter because Teixeira probably won’t be healthy all season. In the last four seasons, he’s averaged 93 games and 389 plate appearances. Those numbers are heavily influenced by 2013, when Teixeira played only 15 games. Still, it will be an upset if he plays in more than 120 next season. So Bird will almost certainly get another shot.
Meanwhile, any time Bird does spend in the minors is time when he’s not accruing major-league service time. Which saves money for the Yankees, down the road.
On balance, the Yankees would probably be better off without Teixeira and his contract (as we pointed out when he signed it). But they’ve got him, and it’s nice to have a Plan B as good as Greg B.