On-Base Perception

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Yankees have options to replace Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira looks on during batting practice against

Mark Teixeira looks on during batting practice against the Detroit Tigers before Game 4 of the ALCS. (Oct. 17, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Mark Teixeira normally doesn't hit in April.

But that hasn't been a matter of health before.

A partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist has knocked Teixeira out at least until May. The Yankees, already dealing with the loss of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, must now also scramble to replace their first baseman and cleanup hitter.

But before the cries to trade for players like free-agent-to-be Justin Morneau become too loud, it's worth noting the Yankees have several internal options.

Working in the Yankees' favor is Teixeira's awful April numbers. April is the cruelest month for Teixeira, a .279 lifetime hitter who has a career .238 average during the first month of the season. That ineffectiveness extends to his patience and power too, with Teixeira posting a .766 on-base plus slugging percentage in April. He doesn't hit below .261 or post an OPS below .881 in any other month of the regular season.

In four seasons in the Bronx, Teixeira has never hit over .256 in April and only once posted an OPS over .738. In those four Aprils combined, Teixeira has only 14 home runs and 47 RBIs.

Those aren't scrub numbers, but it certainly makes it easier than replacing Teixeira at his best.

To fill the void at first, the Yankees could turn to non-roster invitee Dan Johnson, who has a career .750 OPS. Johnson hasn't played in more than 40 games since 2007, but teams keep taking a shot on him because of his lefty power stroke, an ideal trait for Yankee Stadium. In 44 career at-bats at Yankee Stadium (old and new), Johnson has 11 hits – five of which are homers.

Teixeira's injury could also be a temporary answer to the nagging question of what to do with Eduardo Nunez. The infielder has a potent bat but has been a liability at his natural position of shortstop, especially when it comes to making throws. Nunez wouldn't do much throwing at first, but it would be a shotgun marriage. In 880 minor and major league games, Nunez has played five different positions – but never first. Are the 11 remaining spring training games enough to teach an already shaky fielder a new position?

Kevin Youkilis, acquired to play third base in A-Rod's absence, has plenty of experience at first, starting 548 games there. Moving Youkilis across the diamond would allow the Yankees to slot Nunez at third base, a position he's comfortable at (48 major league starts). But Nunez has also made nine errors there and has a career -29.6 UZR/150. UZR/150 is an advanced stat that measures a player's ability to get to balls hit in his zone. Of the 80 players to record at least 400 innings at third base from 2010-2012, Nunez has the worst UZR/150.

Non-roster invitee Jayson Nix ranked 46th on that list (-1.8 UZR/150). Representing the “defense first” option, he played 29 games at third for the Yankees in 2012 (17 starts) and showed some power, hitting four home runs and 13 doubles.

Any of those solutions should be fine.

At least until the calendar flips to May.

Tags: Mark Teixeira , Yankees , Kevin Youkilis , Eduardo Nunez , Dan Johnson , Jayson Nix

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