Things are all bright and shiny these days in The Bronx. Being in first place by 2.5 games will certainly make everything seem that much better and there are even more reasons to stay optimistic aside from just the current standings. In addition to their fine play, it seems that the Yankees may be fortunate enough to have Mark Teixeira back as a reasonable facsimile of his former All-Star self. His triumphant home run on Sunday night was the topper to what has been a solid return from the disabled list for the veteran first baseman. I admit that I had assumed the worst about Teixeira's prospects for the future due to his wrist issues but he looks as thought he may still have plenty to offer.
Teixeira's defensive usefulness was never really in question, so at the bare minimum his return pushing Kelly Johnson and a motley crew of others off of first base does wonders for the Yankees cohesiveness as a defensive unit. His offensive output was the obvious question and strange comments about retiring rather than going to the opposite field did not fill me with confidence. But in an extremely small sample size, I've seen good signs. The best is his traditionally keen batting eye is still present in the form of a 18.2% walk rate. The average is low (.229) and the slugging percentage is below his career norms (.429 versus .525) , but a first baseman that gets on base constantly and plays good defense would be good enough for me. His ZiPS projection has him slated for a 123 wRC+, which seems downright achievable now as opposed to when he was on the DL and things were not looking so great.
And perhaps the average and power will come, as it's been noted ad nauseum that Teixeira is a traditionally slow starter. But actually being useful offensively in April like on Sunday is a definite step up from what we've become accustomed to from Teixeira. Hopefully that wrist won't betray him, but it's always going to be the cloud that looms over him even when he is playing well. But we'll worry about that when/if it happens. For now, the Yankees can feel somewhat comfortable with their first base situation for the first time in a long time.
The Yankees infield is laughably bad without a good version of Mark Teixeira, but upgraded all the way to "kind of crummy" if he hits to a moderate degree. It's an important development for both this season and the immediate future that Teixeira seems to have plenty some left in the gas tank. Now if Derek Jeter could a hit little more on his own, the infield really might not be a disaster. I don't possess such delusions of possibility for Brian Roberts.