Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Teixeira injury the death knell for Yankees?

It’s starting to feel like the New York Yankees season is over before it even starts.

I’m not normally a negative person, but I can’t help feeling that the spate of injuries to key Yankee players is a sign of things to come for the 2013 baseball season. First, Phil Hughes went down for a few weeks with a freak back injury, but at least things look promising for a relatively quick comeback for the youngster. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are not so lucky.

Granderson suffered a broken arm during his first at-bat in spring training, an injury that will likely keep him out until mid-May. Now Tex, who was excited to represent Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, is sidelined for at least two months with a strained right wrist. I praised the Yankees for being cautious with their injured players the other day and I’m sure we won’t see either Granderson or Tex before they are fully healed.

But what do the Yankees do in the meantime? In what is expected to be an ultracompetitive American League East, they cannot tread water for the first month of the season and hope reinforcements arrive sooner than expected. Their internal options to replace Granderson are mediocre at best, but their first base choices are much worse because their best option is moving Kevin Youkilis, who was hired to fill in for the already injured Alex Rodriguez at third, across the diamond.

Since this is the Yankees, commentators are already loudly calling for a trade. Mike Francesa was incredulous about the notion that the Yankees could stand pat and wait until the end of the month to see who other teams let go. He thinks they have to make a big move and suggested Justin Morneau, who actually wouldn’t be a bad idea given that he’s got only one year left on his contract and the Minnesota Twins are not expected to contend this year. But the Twins would sense desperation on the Yankees part and hold them up for the Yankees’ best prospects. The Yankees hierarchy would fiercely resist giving up any of their good young talent, but they may not have a choice this time.

Maybe these injuries are just a sign that this isn’t going to be the Yankees year. I’ve seen crazier things happen so I’m not going to give up on the idea that the Yankees will compete for a title. But I’m a little less excited about the 2013 baseball season than I was a week ago.  

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