(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)
Question. What do you get when you combine a 40-year-old shortstop with already severely limited range coming back from a series of various leg injuries, a 36-year-old second baseman who's played in only 29.6% of all regular season games since 2010, a 26-year-old MiL lifer playing third base, and a backup catcher playing first base for the first time since high school? Why it's yesterday's starting infield, course!
Whether you watched it live or read about it later, you probably already know that yesterday afternoon's game was a disaster. Ivan Nova and his poor command are mostly to blame for that, but the infield deserves its fair share too. The argument could be easily made that nobody on that infield deserved to be a Major League starter as his position and yet there the 4 of them were. On this day, this was the best a team with a near $204 million Opening Day payroll could muster.
There was Derek Jeter, failing to get to a ball to his left in the 1st inning that was about as tailor made a double play ball as the batter could have possibly hit. 2 batters later, a 2-run home run was hit and the Yanks were down 3-0. There was Yangervis Solarte, failing to snag a line drive in the 2nd that a regular MLB third baseman probably makes the play on and allowing another run to score. There was Francisco Cervelli the batter before that, not really knowing how to attack a bunt hit towards the first base area. There was Brian Roberts on the same play, being too old and slow to get over to cover first for Cervelli when he fielded the bunt.
I don't want this to turn into a "the sky is falling!!" type of post, but it's hard to ignore something so glaring, something that was so obviously going to be a problem this season. Losing Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan to injuries was not something the Yankees anticipated, although maybe it should have been with Teix. They can't be faulted for what happened there. What they can be faulted for is once again not preparing for something like that even though they just had the same thing play out and kill their season last season. They could have signed Stephen Drew and they didn't. They could have made more of an effort to bring an actual first baseman in to back up Teix and they didn't. They could have made multiple trades to add another middle infielder in ST and they didn't. They choose to stand pat, play with who they had, and yesterday was the result.
In fairness to that group, each of them did get a hit yesterday. Solarte had 2 more doubles and his team-leading 7th RBI. He's been the best story of the young season, no doubt about that. He's also not a starting third baseman and he wasn't supposed to be used as one. He doesn't have enough experience or skill to cover for Jeter's range weaknesses, nor does Roberts on the other side of the bag. The simple fact is that this is an atrocious starting infield right now and what happened in yesterday's game will not be the last time. The Yanks need Teix and Ryan to get 100% healthy and get back on the field as soon as possible. Hell, they needed them back on the field yesterday.