Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Countdown: 6 days to spring training
By Wallace Matthews
We're in the home stretch now of our countdown to Feb. 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Andrew Marchand, Mark Simon and I will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Today, we take a look at the admittedly "overpaid" Mark Teixeira and what the future holds for him.
SIX REASONS MARK TEIXEIRA'S DEAL WILL NOT BE AS BAD AS ALEX RODRIGUEZ'S
Tex's deal is not worth as much as A-Rod's, and it's over sooner. Teixeira is owed a total of $90 million over the next four years, a straight $22.5 million per year, with no incentive clauses to pile on more free money. By contrast, A-Rod is owed $114 million for the next five seasons, including $28 million this year, when he will play half a season at most, and $25 million next year. Thereafter, his paycheck "plummets" to $21 million for 2015 and $20 million each for 2016 and 2017, plus there are those pesky performance bonuses, five of them at $6 million each, for reaching selected home run milestones. If A-Rod is still drawing a Yankee paycheck in 2016, odds are he will have reached at least one of them.
2. HE'S UNLIKELY TO EMBARRASS THE ORGANIZATION OR INFURIATE HIS TEAMMATES
The allegations of Vicente Padilla notwithstanding -- that Teixeira had problems with Latin teammates in Texas -- Teixeira seems to be well-liked by his teammates and his personal life is unlikely to wind up in the gossip columns. I can't imagine him flirting with women in the stands during a game, although anything is possible. There hasn't been any official talk about Teixeira and PEDs, so unless we hear otherwise, we'll assume he plays clean.
3. HE IS LIKELY TO RETAIN MORE OF HIS SKILLS AS HE AGES
In spite of his injury-riddled 2012 season, Teixeira has been remarkably durable throughout his career, playing all 162 twice in his career and playing at least 156 in each of his first three seasons as a Yankee. There is always the possibility that last season, when he played in just 123 games, will mark the beginning of his physical decline just as 2009 did for A-Rod, but it's too early to make that judgment. And quite frankly, never having been as good as A-Rod at his best, Teixeira simply has a lot less to lose. His preemptive strike in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week notwithstanding, Tex has been a 35 HR, 110 RBI guy his whole career. If he drops off to say, 28-95, it will still be more than the Yankees are likely to get from A-Rod the rest of the way.
4. HIS DEFENSE SEEMS TO BE AS GOOD AS EVER
And I say this in spite of his nightmare in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Tigers. While A-Rod's hip problems seem to have cost him some range at third base, Teixeira is still one of the best defensive first basemen in the game and saves his infielders a handful of throwing errors each season, an attribute that is often overlooked.
5. HE IS LIKELY TO HAVE TRADE VALUE DOWN THE ROAD
Sure, the Yankees will have to eat some of his money, as they would with A-Rod, but while it's unlikely anyone will want to add A-Rod's declining skills and lightning-rod presence to their clubhouse, the odds are someone will be able to use a switch-hitter with power who can play first base either as a DH/defensive replacement or as an everyday first baseman. Plus, he will be only 36 when his Yankees deal runs out.
6. HE "GETS IT"
Nice to hear a professional athlete own up to the fact that $20 million a season is an obscene amount of money for playing a game. Can't remember hearing A-Rod, or any other Yankee for that matter, cop to that truth.