The problem is in the rotation? Or in the bullpen? Nope. The New York Yankees should now be concerned about their presence at first base.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the New York Yankees were actually the epitome of a fully operational Death Star. That Death Star hurdled through space, tearing through opponents with superstars at every single position.
For the longest time for this dynasty, the New York Yankees had their primary offensive production coming from first base. Don Mattingly held down the fort for extensive years, winning an AL MVP award, nine Gold Gloves and serving as captain during a crucial time in Yankees history.
How about Tino Martinez, the sweet swinger and fan favorite, who proved to be a steady presence at first through four World Series titles. Follow that up with Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira, who both spent multiple seasons impressing fans with their power.
But since Teixeira’s time ended in the Bronx, the Yankees haven’t had a consistent first baseman and they enter 2019 with that same void in their lineup. They are relying on Greg Bird and Luke Voit, both who could turn out to be one-hit wonders.
That simply will not do for the Bronx Bombers.
While Teix ended his career after the 2016 season and it’s only been two full seasons without a steady first baseman and it’s taken a toll on the team as a whole. The Yankees tried out Chris Carter, Greg Bird, Ji-Man Choi, Bryan Mitchell (remember that?), Tyler Austin and Luke Voit. All to fill one slot that was consistent for the past several decades.
Now they’re entering this season banking on a healthy Greg Bird and a second-half version of Luke Voit, one that they barely got a chance to get a good look at.
Bird’s injury history is scary, to say the least. First, there was the surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder that kept him out of the 2016 season. Then there was the unfortunate misdiagnosed ankle injury that resulted in more surgery for the smooth-swinging lefty. Yet another ankle surgery occurred in March of 2018, keeping him out for the majority of the season.
Luke Voit came to the Yankees in a trade deadline move from the St. Louis Cardinals and almost immediately got an opportunity to make it in the big leagues with Bird’s struggles and an open roster spot.
While Voit impressed in his short time in the starting slot in 2018, it’s such a small sample size to work with. Voit played in just 39 games and hit 14 home runs in that short time frame.
Impressive? Absolutely. However, you have to remember that Greg Bird did well in his first stint back at the end of the 2015 season. Bird played in only 46 games and hit 11 home runs.
But it was all downhill from there for Greg Bird, with fans berating him for stating that he was simply “happy to be here,” when asked about his struggles. Bird’s fall from the nest happened quickly and he has yet to prove himself to be consistent and worthy of playing first in the Bronx.
Voit is in the same boat. He could just as easily fall off the wagon, much like Bird. We’ve only seen brief success from Luke Voit and while he shows signs of incredible potential at the position in the Bronx, we thought the same of Greg Bird back in 2015. Instead, look at him now.
The first base position is an absolute mess. With Didi Gregorius out for an undisclosed amount of time, the Yankees need to pick up that slack in the power department, just like they’ve done in years past. Bird is just too inconsistent and Voit is an absolute wild card. We all know the Yankees don’t want that again.
There were options on the market to bolster the first base position, to bring in a reliable veteran who can anchor the infield for a 2019 World Series run. Instead, they’re holding stubborn on the fact that the Bird/Voit duo will bring them to the Fall Classic once again.
There’s always a chance that one or both of them could surprise fans and become a steady presence at first base. There’s also a chance that this experiment will crash and burn, exploding in the faces of the Yankees front office.
There’s no way of knowing for sure but from the looks of it, this decision to rely on Bird and Voit will likely backfire.
Maybe come July the Yankees will come to their senses and start scouring the market for veteran first basemen to bring aboard for the homestretch. At that point, however, wouldn’t it have been better to search for these reinforcements before the season even started?
Now starting at first base for the New York Yankees … Greg Bird and Luke Voit.
Is that the sound of fans chanting at the World Series parade? Or could it be the sound of the AL East laughing at the Yankees for not taking extra measures to solidify their infield?
Only time will tell for this Yankees team.