Before the 2009 season, Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees on a 8-year $180 million dollar contract. At the time Teixeira was one of baseball’s biggest sluggers and joined the middle of a stacked Yankees’ lineup. In 2009 he lived up to his monster deal by delivering a .292 batting average with 39 home runs and 122 RBI and helping the Bombers’ to a World Series victory. But since then, Tex has seen a steep decline and over the past four seasons he’s averaged just over 24 home runs and 78 RBI while batting only .249. He’s faced injury trouble over the past couple seasons and he’s already found himself on the disabled list this season. The Yankees spent a lot of money to revamp their lineup and Teixeira has already turned himself into a spectator. So now the question must be asked, “Is Mark Teixeira still a middle-of-the-order bat?”
Since Teixeira went down with a hamstring injury, manager Joe Girardi has sent out a lineup featuring Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup. So far it seems to have worked out nicely as Ellsbury has been on an absolute tear since last Friday in Toronto and Gardner and Jeter have each looked much better at the plate. While Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann are still trying to find their groove at the plate, Yankees’ fans know what to expect from them. With the 26-year-old “rookie sensation” Yangervis Solarte hitting like there’s no tomorrow, he could be looking at a bump up in the lineup. So when Teixeira returns from the DL he could be looking at his at-bats from farther down in the lineup.
Let’s face it, Mark Teixeira hasn’t been Mark Teixeira for a long time now. The Yankees are looking at this deal as a bigger clunker than buying a Microsoft Zune a few years back. His injuries are just the latest in a steady decline that doesn’t seem to be slowing up anytime soon. He still plays excellent defense and can contribute in other ways. But the days of relying on him for a high batting average and massive power numbers are over. Tex may now be more suited for the seventh spot in the lineup where he may be able to gain some motivation and utilize what power he has left in a less scrutinized spot. In a lineup like this, the left-handed Gardner would lead-off followed by the righty Jeter and the lefty Ellsbury. Carlos Beltran, a switch-hitter would bat cleanup and left-handed slugger Brian McCann would bat fifth, followed by the right-hander Alfonso Soriano. Switch hitting Teixeira would take over the seventh spot and left-handed Kelly Johnson and switch-hitting Brian Roberts would bat in the 8th and 9th spot. Switch-hitter Solarte would likely be used in a revolving door role in order to give him regular at-bats. That’s a lineup with no two batters batting from the same side after the other. That sounds pretty good and it’s really a nightmare for opposing managers when it comes time for the bullpen.
No matter where Girardi bats Tex, it’s obvious that his days as a middle-of-the-order power threat are over. His steady decline has caused the organization and fans alike to start to sour on him. It’s right there. Mark Teixeira is not what he used to be and as the Yankees begin to usher in a new era for the roster, it’s time to adjust how they use their declining players. Teixeira could still be a valuable player for the Yankees but not the way the team had hoped.