May 27, 2013

Corner Infielders Conundrum: Who stays, Who goes?

Adams and Overbay vs. Youkilis and Teixeira. The great debate.

Two months ago if I told you these four corner infielders would be battling for two spots, I would have been laughed at. Now, it's a serious situation the Yankees soon must resolve. Both Youkilis and Teixeira are expected back around the first week of June. AKA, next week.

The typical Yankees reaction? It's a good problem to have. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman are right, it is a good problem. Depth is important, especially when it comes to interleague play; however, what are they going to do about it when it comes down to filling up the lineup card each day?

First, let's hear from Twitter:
There's no question salaries will be on the minds of Girardi and Cashman when making this decision. Then again, it isn't impossible for the Yankees to go with their guts instead of their wallet. We've seen it before.
This will likely be what happens as soon as both hobbled vets return. But hopefully it doesn't stay this way for long, and hopefully the Yankees take my advice about Overbay. See my cases for both debates below.

David Adams vs. Kevin Youkilis

Adams, the Yankees' 2008 3rd round draft pick, got a hit in his made his major league debut on his 26th birthday a couple weeks ago, and he looked like a natural. He has at least one hit in all but one of his 10 major league games, all starts at third base in the absence of Youkilis (and, bigger picture, Alex Rodriguez).

Adams backs up his steady bat with a solid glove and a so-so arm, which explains why he played most of his injury-packed minor league career at second base. Unfortunately for Adams, second is sured up by Robinson Cano, who's carrying the offense, and isn't leaving that position anytime soon.

Youkilis, who has been MIA with a bad back since April 27, got off to a blazing start with the Yankees, hitting safely in his first nine games for a .424 batting average. Then, he took what seemed to be a big step back to reality, slumping to .266. 

My Solution: Do what the Red Sox did to Youkilis last year when Will Middlebrooks emerged, and pray Adams doesn't incur a season-ending injury like Middlebrooks did. Trade Youk, eat most of his contract, hope for something decent in return. Instead of pressuring Adams to compete with Youk, the Yankees would instill confidence in the young infielder. Youk provided depth at first as well, but so does the next guy in the debate.

Lyle Overbay vs. Mark Teixeira

With Teixeira rehabbing his right wrist since spring training, Overbay assumed first base duties. He's been this year's Raul Ibanez, with clutch hit after clutch hit. "Lyle Overbay and Evan Gattis are now tied for the MLB lead in go-ahead HR in the 7th inning or later with 3," ESPN tweeted a couple days ago.

Teixeira, who is just 33, had a down year in 2012... for his standards. That's 24 home runs and 84 RBIs in 123 games. His batting average has been down the last three seasons (.252), but he's still reaching base (.347, a much higher clip than Overbay).

My Solution: Overbay is a good, but not great, defender, and struggles at the plate vs. lefties. Teixeira is an excellent first baseman and a slugging switch hitter. Sorry, Overbay, but you'll need to grab some pine so a superior player can take over the corner he's manned so well since 2009. However, be ready on the bench in case Teixeira's wrist acts up again. The Yankees may also need your bat in the late innings against righties, perhaps pinch-hitting for Jayson Nix or Austin Romine.

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