McDonald: Bird’s Development Complicates Yankee Off-Season

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

These days for the Yankees, Bird seems to be the word.

As in Greg Bird.

Much like Michael Conforto in Queens, Bird is viewed as the future of the Yankee lineup. His left-handed power swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium and with some plate discipline and bat control could develop into a higher average hitter, while putting up the good power numbers.

The young first baseman has made an impression over the past three weeks. His average at .250 sure could be better, but those four homers and 14 RBIs have certainly made an impression.

“I had confidence in him all along,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve liked what we have seen from him. He swung the bat really well. Whether it’s against right-handers or lefthanders, we will continue to play him.”

There’s no doubt the Yankees are high on Bird, who is one of the new “Young Turks” the organization is touting and long term he seems to be the first baseman of the future.

However, it’s the near term that the Yankees need to worry about, as Bird plays the same position for Mark Teixeira, who is due to make a little above $23 million next season.

At 35, Teixeira proved he can still be a productive player. His 31 homers and 79 RBI carried the Yankees the first four months of the year, although he showed some signs of slowing through the Dog Days of August and a right shin bone bruise sent him to the disabled list.

So right now for the foreseeable future, Bird is the man. Next year, though, is a different story. The salary makes Teixeira untradeable and moving him to DH is out of the question, because that’s Alex Rodriguez’s territory.

And Bird has only played first or DH over his minor league career, so you can see the problem. The outfield is pretty much full, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran inked for 2016. You are not going to play him in the middle infield and Chase Headley is signed through ’18.

That leaves catcher, where he played three games in rookie-ball and on the mound. Maybe he can get righties out?

Moving young players around isn’t the best thing to do anyway. You are asking a guy to learn a new league and a new position at the same time. Not ideal. The Mets have tried it a number of times and usually it’s been a disaster.

With one year left on his deal, a Teixeira trade may be an option, especially if the Yankees get another contract in return or eat some money, but the market for oft-injured first baseman may be kind of thin. The best option would be move him at the deadline next year with Bird taking over full time.

Of course with Teixeira’s track record, he could be hurt a large portion of next year as well.

You can see the problem. The Yankees have some nice young pieces coming up. They are the future, and need playing time to develop.

Bird is just the first example.

And that’s the word.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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