Looking for positives in the Yankees' infield

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Don't look so glum when looking at the Yankees depth chart. There's a chance this unit could actually be decent!

Unless a major trade occurs, it looks like the players the Yankees currently have are the ones they'll be bringing to Spring Training. And boy, that outfield and starting pitching sure looks impressive. Certainly set at catcher as well. The bullpen is more intriguing than established, but there's definitely potential there. Then we come to the elephant in the room. Four positions on the infield and a solid question mark next to every single one of them. With as much money as the Yankees have spent this offseason, having an infield as shaky as this seems like building a fancy luxury liner with the most amazing amenities without reinforcing the hull. However, if you squint hard enough, there are some positives to be found right behind the mound. Let's go around the horn.

We'll kick it off with first base, where this news is not very conducive to fostering optimism. But honestly, I think most of us were pretty realistic with the kind of player Teixeira would be coming off the wrist injury he has been dealing with. He very possibly will never be the same player again, but that's okay. He's still one of the best defensive first basemen in the game and even as a diminished hitter he should be able to produce more than the ghost of Lyle Overbay. Mark's health will always be a concern this year, but as long as he's not sitting on the shelf, there's reason for optimism.

The porcelain man, Brian Roberts, looks to be the starter at second base. A guy who hasn't played more than 80 games since the season the Yankees were last champs seems like an odd person to nominate as a starter anywhere, but here we are. After posting a 90 wRC+ last year, it seems like Roberts might have just enough pop left in his bat to be a passable second baseman. And in regards to his perilous health, he is reportedly over his concussion symptoms which have plagued over the past few years. The ceiling is not terribly high here, but it's not like the Yankees brought in a total bum.

At short, getting Derek Jeter is always a good thing, because watching Jeter play should warm the heart of even the most dried out husk of a Yankees fan. Sure, his range will be that of a car on square tires, but he still projects as a better than average hitter at short (96 wRC+ per Steamer). And with defensive whiz Brendan Ryan backing him up, the Yankees could mix and match the position into an interesting offensive-defensive rotation depending upon the pitcher that day or the in-game situation.

It looks like Kelly Johnson will be the third baseman by default, unless Dean Anna or another AAAA type can have a really impressive Spring Training. Johnson is probably the safest bet of all the infielders to be at least a league average player with his clean bill of health and relative youth (32). His career 104 wRC+ is nothing to astound at third, but his versatility in the field will be key with the uncertainty at the other positions.

I think 2013 left a terrible taste in everyone's mouths when it comes to being optimistic about older folks and/or injury risks. But one difficult year does not automatically portend another, and unlike most of the scrap heap additions from last year, there is talent here. Injuries will occur and things will go wrong, but with the rest of the talent on this team, I think the only thing the infield needs to strive to be is okay. Not terrible, not great, but productive enough as to not drag the outfield and pitching staff down into an abyss of mediocrity. And I think (while not confident enough to bet anything of value on it) this group is capable of doing that.

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