With New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira returning from injury, where will Greg Bird find himself in 2016?
By Jamie Martin
With Spring Training soon approaching many question marks still surround the 2016 New York Yankees.
Valuable additions have been made to the ball club but with major injuries always a possibility, it is difficult to predict how the Yankees will fare in the upcoming season.
One major factor is the health and possible performance of aging first baseman Mark Teixeira.
As Teixeira heads into the final year of his contract, and more than likely his last year with the Yankees, he will be penciled in as the everyday starter over Greg Bird.
So that begs the question: What will the Yankees do with Bird if Teixeira manages to stay healthy in 2016?
Bird, only 23 years old and widely acclaimed as one of the “untouchables” in the Yankees organization, burst onto the scene as a Rookie in the latter part of the 2015 season.
Not only were his performances significant, but Bird also soon became a fan favorite and made it fun for the Yankees twitter account during his stint with the big league club.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 7, 2015
However, fans could end up having to wait at least a season before seeing Bird perform as an everyday member of the Yankees. Brian Cashman still prefers Mark Teixeira as the starting first baseman and would like to have Bird spend the majority of 2016 in Triple A.
“That’s the optimal,” Cashman told Ken Davidoff late last year at Major League Baseball’s GM meetings. He went on to say:
“Not for Bird, but optimally period, that would be the best. Currently, Tex [Mark Teixeira] is the better player. … If Alex [Rodriguez] went down, we could swing Carlos [Beltran] over from right field to DH.”
Though many fans may disagree with Cashman’s assertions, there is still plenty of time until Opening Day in which many different situations could arise. Any one of the Yankees veterans could miss significant time in 2016 and Bird would be the obvious choice to replace Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, and even possibly Carlos Beltran.
With Teixeira sidelined in 2015, Bird took over at first base in August and was featured in 46 games. His numbers during this tenure were very impressive for a youngster filling the shoes of such a big name player.
In 157 plate appearances, his stats were as follows:
|AVG: .261||HR: 11||RBI: 31||OBP: .343|
Though it would be best for the Yankees to have their stars stay healthy for the duration of the season, Greg Bird is one of the best back up options around.
It is almost impossible to predict who will get injured and how much time they will miss, but with Teixeira out to finish his Yankee career in style it is difficult to see Bird playing over 60 games in 2016.
It is likely that Girardi and Cashman will have Bird in the minors to begin the season, but expect Bird to receive multiple call ups as the season wears on. He will be an important member of the organization no matter where he finds himself on Opening Day.
For now, hold off on the “Bird is the word” t-shirts Yankee fans.
The organization will have to clear out some veteran contracts before the fan craze can continue on an everyday basis.