(Long Island, NY) One of the reasons to justify their lavish offseason spending spree was the expiration of long-term contracts such as the one Jason Giambi had. The Yankees inked two of the top pitchers on the free agent market in CC Sabathia and AJ. Burnett and had an affordable replacement at first base when they traded for Nick Swisher of the Chicago White Sox.
One of the last destinations for Mark Teixeira was the Bronx but that is exactly where he ended up after the Bombers went back to the well and signed him to an eight-year, $180-million deal.
While neither is exactly tearing the cover off the ball, Swisher is hitting 50 points higher than Teixeira. The former Angel is known to get off to slow starts but his numbers are down even for him. By going 2 for 4 in Wednesday’s 8-2 win at Toronto, Teixeira finally got over the dreaded Mendoza Line and is now hitting .202. His power numbers have been slightly better, with 19 RBI and 7 home runs, second on the team to Swisher by one.
“I expect that every single day we’re going to win and I’m going to get a couple of hits,” Teixeira said to reporters after the victory. “If you let a losing streak as a team get to you, it becomes a bad losing streak. If you let a couple of bad games or a bad month get to you, you’re going to have a terrible season. So every day when I come to the ballpark, I expect to win and I expect to succeed.”
Throughout his career, the nine-year veteran had had more ups than downs. Other than his rookie campaign, Teixeira has driven in more than 100 runs and hit as least 30 long balls every year. Even in 2003, he hit 26 home runs and had 84 RBI He has also earned two Gold Glove (2005, 2006) and Silver Slugger (2004, 2005) awards.
The 29-year-old is too good a player to continue to hit as weak as he has. In all likelihood Teixeira will come around and hit somewhere close to his lifetime average of .287/36/121. But until that occurs, the questions will remain if Swisher, a relative bargain at $5.3 million this year, could have kept the seat warm sufficiently with all the offensive firepower around him.
When general manager Brian Cashman was assembling this team during the winter, no one could foresee that Alex Rodriguez would miss time recovering from hip surgery and Xavier Nady would be lost for the season. The Yankees were thought to have enough bats to go to war with Swisher as their starting first baseman but once the Red Sox became heavily involved in the negotiations with the free agent Teixeira, there was no way they were going to let him go to their divisional rival.
The other possible suitors for Teixeira over the winter were two perennial losers, albeit close to his hometown, in Baltimore and Washington. The Orioles made a seven-year, $140 million offer which was topped by Boston’s $170 million. The Yankees, as usual, came in and upped the money to blow everyone else out of the water.
At Teixeira’s introductory press conference, he said that money was not the reason why he chose the Yankees, but rather that he went along with his wife’s wishes.
If he doesn’t begin hitting the way he can and start earning some of that extra $10 million, the fans at the new Yankee Stadium are going to make him wish he made up his own mind.