Since it’s been another miserable weather day–low 30s, freezing rain, icy roads–I decided to hunker down this afternoon and make a batch of chili for dinner. After the prep work and in the middle of bringing it the initial boil, I heard my phone on the nearby fridge indicating an incoming text message. That’s Mike, I figured, since only Mike texts me. Asking what was up with Tex, since he got an e-mail from reader Nick, I immediately jumped online to ESPN.com to check things out. Sure enough, under the “BREAKING NEWS” headline, the Yanks have signed Teixeira to an eight-year deal worth $180 million, according to “two sources involved in negotiations” who relayed the information to Buster Olney. Apparently the Yanks made an offer to Teixeira weeks ago, then withdrew it. Today, they have apparently landed him.
Let’s ponder this for a minute. By landing Teixeira for $22.5 million per season, the Yankees have just filled first base with the best possible option, an excellent two-way player and switch-hitter who keeps the Yanks’ lineup from being too lefty heavy, as it has been in recent years. They also just found their three-hole hitter, sandwiched between Jeter and A-Rod. They significantly improved the defense over Giambi’s perennially subpar glove. No less important, they significantly improved the offense that scored 179 fewer runs last year (789) than 2007 (968). Teixeira was a monster last year, hitting .308/.410/.552 with 33 HR and 121 RBI, and is great in the clutch–.308/.445 with RISP, .303/.419 with men on last year. Historically he’s very good in such situations–.324/.442 with RISP, and .298/.402 with men in throughout his six-year career. He’ll also make a great one-two punch in the heart of the lineup with A-Rod.
And the Yankees landed him. HIM.
That they did so at the expense of all other interested parties, including AL East rivals Boston and Baltimore as well as the LA Angels of Superfluous Acronyms, is equally crucial. It’s hard not to consider the Yanks the front-runner in the tough AL East now, despite the Rays’ ascendance and Boston’s strengths. This off-season, they have addressed the most pressing needs in the best ways possible from outside the organization, landing big-time players loaded with positive attributes to help offense, defense, and pitching. Though they’ve spent a lot of money, practically everything coming off the books from 2008 and probably more when they round out the rotation and bench, they’ve acquired three terrific players, two of whom are under 30, for long-term deals. Not to be overlooked, the Yankees now have no ostensible need for Ramirez since they not only signed an excellent offensive player in Teixeira, but one far better defensively at his position than Ramirez has ever been in the outfield.
This was the best possible scenario this off-season–the Yanks solidifying the rotation with power arms (including a stud lefty) and grabbing an excellent two-way first baseman, one who should remind Yankees fans of Tino. I blogged on Sunday about whether or not the Yankees were a, or the, front-runner for Teixeira after the Angels pulled out of the running. I also wondered if the Yankees’ refrain about signing Teixeira not being a realistic possibility might have been a smokescreen. Perhaps it wasn’t a ruse, that the Yanks were lurking for the right time and price. But something tells me the Yanks played it totally cool in this one and waited as long as they did to gauge the market, that if bidding went to or above, say, $25 million per season they might have opted out themselves but, if it didn’t, they’d make a hard play. Buster Olney referred to it as a “great game of chess” the Yanks played. We’ll learn more in the coming days about exactly how this unfolded, and whether or not the Yankees laid a heck of a smokescreen. Regardless, I’m so glad my gut was wrong about Teixeira going back to the Angels. Like so many others, I wanted Teixeira badly but figured the odds and finances were against it.
I envision the lineup as such, should the Yanks not deal or sign anyone else:
- Gardner/Melky/Swisher (unlikely for Swisher, at least in center)
We’ll be cheering for one loaded team next season, Yankees fans–one that might see Swisher as an outfielder or player off the bench, one perhaps without Matsui or Damon–two players in the last year of their contract and two I’ve always liked a lot–to clear up salary. Yet with this signing, it’s a Merry Christmas indeed. We’re not by any means George Bailey, but that link best expresses my sentiments about the Teixeira signing at this moment.