October 21, 2009
As we've seen the past eight seasons, the Yankees' large payroll has been no guarantee of postseason success.
But as we're seeing this fall, it can also provide a nice safety net if one of their highly-paid players falters.
Lost amid the avalanche of dominating performances from Alex Rodriguez(notes), CC Sabathia(notes) and Derek Jeter(notes) is the fact that Mark Teixeira(notes) — who signed an $180 million contract in the offseason — has mostly been producing bupkes at the plate.
Through seven postseason games, Tex is hitting .133 (4-for-30) with just two hits apiece in the series against the Twins and Angels. The Yanks' No. 3 hitter has struck out seven times in the ALCS and he hasn't had an extra-base hit since ALDS Game 2, when he hit his walkoff in extra innings (which produced his only RBI of the playoffs).
That big game-winner, combined with the huge efforts of his teammates, has purchased Teixeira a little bit of leeway in The Bronx. Still, we're starting to see some NY media types start to grumble and wonder when Teixeira is going to start to hit.
If it weren't for his solid defensive play and the Yanks' 6-1 record in the playoffs, he could be wearing a much bigger target.
"There's a lot of ways that you can win a ballgame. It just doesn't always have to be with your bat. Tex has saved us defensively during this series a number of times. We expect him — he's another guy that the law of averages is he's going to start getting some base hits ... I know in my heart that it's going to happen."
Girardi's right. The small sample size isn't indicative of Teixeira's overall talent and he could burst out of the slump with a 3-for-4 night any game now.
And if that happens, the Yankees' lineup will either be completely unstoppable or able to afford another of their stars taking a series-long slumber. Such checks and balances are too expensive for most teams, but it's a luxury the Yanks are currently enjoying.