Brian Cashman can’t be serious, can he?
The Yankees general manager, fresh off signing a five-year, $25 million contract extension, is seemingly prepared to start 2018 with not one, not two, but three glaring major question marks in the infield.
Let’s start with Greg Bird, who is being handed the starting first baseman’s job. Deservedly so right? Not exactly.
Bird has played a grand total of 94 games over three seasons. He appeared in 46 games in 2015 and missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury. Then after fouling a ball of his foot in spring training prior to last season, was ineffective for the first month before shutting it down and not returning until the last week of August, where he showed flashes of brilliance down the stretch and in the playoffs.
The Yankees have been in this exact situation before with Bird. Just last season Cashman and company began the season with Bird as the starting first baseman and not much insurance. And when Bird was out of the lineup, they went through a casting couch of replacements that included the likes of Matt Holliday, Tyler Austin, Chase Headley, Chris Carter (my personal favorite), Garrett Cooper and the great Ji-man Choi.
The instability at first base nearly cost the Yankees a shot at the playoffs, and it wasn’t until Cashman lured Todd Fraizer away from the White Sox, that Headley did an admirable job holding down the fort at first until Bird was fit to return.
Well it’s a good thing Cashman learned his lesson because with spring training slated to begin in less than two weeks, the only insurance the team has for Bird is Austin, with Holliday out of the sport, Headley traded to the Padres and Frazier inking a deal with that team in Queens.
Sounds like a plan to me.
Not only has Cashman hedged his bets at first base, he’s done the same at second base AND third base.
Cashman is betting the world that Gleyber Torres, who just very well might be the best prospect in the sport will simply take over as the starting second baseman, no questions asked.
Torres began last season at AA Trenton, appeared in 23 games at the AAA level before undergoing a minor operation on his non-throwing elbow, something called Tommy John surgery. Ever hear of it?
It gets better. Cashman is also prepared to go with Miguel Andujar, who Joe Girardi was too scared to play in the field last season as his starting third baseman.
Who could forget Andujar’s standout debut in late June when he went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs in a win over the White Sox. He didn’t get another at-bat in a Major League game until Sep. 16, and after his debut on June 29th, had three at-bats the rest of the season.
If that doesn’t sound like a plan at third base, I don’t know what does.
The Yankees are set to begin 2018 with World Series aspirations, but aside from Didi Gregorious at shortstop, the rest of the infield has played in a combined 97 Major League games (94 of those from Bird).
While the potential is there for a special season in the Bronx, the foundation the team is built on may not be as supportive as Cashman and new head man Aaron Boone think.
Only time will tell.