It is a well known fact that Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira’s numbers have been declining for the past several years. This season he’s in the midst of one of his worst offensive stretches of his career. Part of the problem is that not only did he start the season 15 lbs lighter than his normal weight, but he’s been ill since opening day.
He really hasn’t had an opportunity to completely rid himself of the bronchial issues he’s had to deal with, and it’s not just the persistent coughing. At times he’s experienced shortness of breath as well. We’re not saying this is the reason for his declining numbers; presently Teixeira has the next to last slugging percentage of any of the Yankees regular players, but what is not logical is why the Yankees haven’t done anything to help get him well.
How can you compare dropping Tex to seventh in the batting order from having him take a week off, checking into a hospital, getting pumped up with intravenous antibiotics, and rest? If he is struggling offensively, wouldn’t you want to know that he was struggling while fully healthy? To put it another way, if you were to invest $50,000 in a car, wouldn’t you want to have it maintained regularly in order for it to perform at it’s best? Well, the Yankees made an eight year $178 million investment in a 29 year old. He’s just midway through his contract. Why not see that he is as medically as sound as possible before having him take the field? It’s almost Memorial Day and Teixeira is still sick. Doesn’t any of the Yankees brass want to protect their investment?
Teixeira’s illness aside, his batting average has been in a steady free-fall ever since he was traded to the Yankees from Atlanta. He played for the Braves and Angels in ’08, finishing the season with a .308 BA. Then in the next four seasons, all with the Yankees, his hitting started to take a dive; .292 in ’09, .256 in’10, .248 in ’11 and .226 so far this season. At the same time his slugging percentages have steadily dropped; .632, .565, .481, .494, .381. Fortunately for the Yankees, Teixeira’s defense continues to be his biggest asset, one the Yankees would sorely miss if he were to miss any extended time.
With four years and $90 million left on his contract following this season, Tex is going to need to make some adjustments in his swing. He can’t continue to uppercut with every swing. Clearly his bat swing has slowed some and as he is still basically a pull hitter, he might need to shorten up on his swing and try going to the opposite field, a la Derek Jeter. No easy task after hitting one way for ten years then trying to change, but that’s what hitting coaches are there for. Teixeira, unfortunately, has not been one to listen to hitting coaches but it would be advisable if he wants to remain a viable and productive part of the Yankees lineup.
First however, he needs to get his health back. And that’s where the Yankees brass need to be more vigilant because if they aren’t, and Teixeira’s condition worsens, it won’t bode well for a team already struggling for wins.