Yankees priority number one: Fill the glaring hole at first base
The Yankees have done what they can to plug holes in the dike when injuries have arisen, and for the most part, their efforts have been worthy of a pat on the back of an organization capitalizing on the depth of their team. But, there is one glaring hole in that progression that has yet to be solved, and it’s killing the team.
Somewhat mysteriously, the Yankees and in particular their General Manager, Brian Cashman, have been unable to plug the hole at first base that first occurred in April when Greg Bird went down with, what has turned into a second mysterious element for the team, an ankle injury that has sidelined him since then.
The problem is labeled mysterious because for all that Brian Cashman has delivered to the organization over the last year or so, landing a “real” major league first baseman is something he should have been able to do without getting out of bed in the morning.
Unlike a catcher or shortstop, positions that require a high level of talent to fill specific and unique abilities, first base is not considered a biggie when putting together a team. Find someone who can catch the ball (number one), and who can hit .270-.280 with 25-30 home runs, and drive in 100-110 runs a season and, voila, you have yourself a major league first baseman.
Mark Teixeria filled the role perfectly for the Yankees until his retirement last season.
I tried to find the numbers that give the stats for Yankees first basemen this season, but I couldn’t locate any. I also wanted to know how many players the team has used at that position, including their most recent call-up, Ji-Man Choi, who arrives at Yankee Stadium tonight as the replacement for Chris Carter, who was inexplicably DFA’d for the second time in a week.
But as Bob Dylan once wrote, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”, and so I know, it’s a big number that includes, among others Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Carter, Bird, Choi, and maybe Wally Pipp, but I’m not sure.
And I’m sorry, but there’s no chance in hell that Joe Girardi wants to arrive at the Stadium for the next few days writing Choi’s name in the lineup. He’ll do it because what choice does he have?
So, you have to wonder what Cashman thinks if he takes a look at ESPN’s batting stats for first basemen, and he doesn’t see any Yankees even appearing on the chart that reaches all the way down to #24.
How’s the weather in Queens?
Okay, enough, You get the point. We need a freakin’ first baseman, and we need him yesterday because this merry-go-round has taken its final turn.
And here’s where everything switches back to Cashman as he surveys, what has to be, only trade alternatives at this point to give the team what they need. Save for the last man standing at Triple-A; Mike Ford is the only remaining internal option for the Yankees.
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And that’s where his work gets cut out for him as, somehow, Cashman needs to pry Lucas Duda away from the Mets. For obvious reasons, the teams have not been aggressive when it comes to sealing a deal, but the time may be right for both teams to engage in serious talks.
For the Yankees, Duda represents a replica of Teixeria. While not flawless at first base defensively like Teixeria, he can hold his own and quickly match what the Yankees are used to regarding production from the position.
On the reverse side, Duda also mirrors Teixeria with the tendency to come down with a myriad of this and those ailments that force him, over the long haul of a season, to miss a considerable amount of time on the field. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, the season-ending numbers are there.
I’m not even going there
If someone like Duda is, indeed the target of Cashman, the Mets will need to admit that, in spite of their recent “surge”, if you can call it that, they are a team that can hold on to the dream of another march like last year’s unlikely finish in a Wild Card, or they can accede to reality and plan (quietly) for next season.
Duda has value, and the Mets have needs. For one, they need to release the dream that David Wright will ever play for them again, therefore bringing to the top the need for a third baseman who is not named Jose Reyes. Step in Miguel Andujar.
And from there, Cashman will need to wheel and deal on another prospect that the Mets will settle on to fortify one of their other needs.
But, that’s Brian’s job when it comes to personnel, and I’m not even going there except to suggest that he needs to make it happen.
Bernie and the Mets
The task presented to Cashman will be Herculean in the sense that he’s dealing with a General Manager, Sandy Alderson, who is still enslaved to the Wilpon Brothers who own the team dating back to their ill-fated relationship to Bernie Madoff and the greed money they squandered so many many years ago.
Nevertheless, if Cashman has the ability to pry away the likes of Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and the like, this should be a walk in the park to land Duda.
How are Yankees’ top 10 prospects performing so far?
The New York Yankees' farm system is teeming with talent and, like the big-league club, trudging through its share of injuries.
If Cashman can bring in an alternate to Duda, I’m down with it. What I’m not happy with, though, is this endless parade of wannabees at first base, including the current one, while the team’s offense continues to sputter minus a contribution from what normally is a slam dunk position on nearly all teams.
Sorry, Brian, you don’t get a pass on this one. Do something.