“Hey Mr Carter, tell me where have you been?”
Chris Carter’s reply might be that he has been on the field playing regularly, but striking out at an obnoxious pace and making some costly errors in the field. He hit a big home run on Friday night, but it was sandwiched around three strikeouts. The first baseman has an OBP of .300 with 60 strikeouts on the season.
Meanwhile, the news is no longer promising for Greg Bird, who has been out of big league action since May 2nd with a bruised ankle, and now appears to be out even longer after fouling a pitch off of his right knee. That injury may have been the cause of his struggles during his Triple-A assignment, in which he was 3-for-21 without a home run.
Brian Cashman said last week that the Yankees would stick with what they had in terms of first base options while waiting for Bird to finally return. Those options right now seem to be Carter and Rob Refsnyder, who is also anything but a strong defensive presence. We are told he is in the lineup for his bat, but his 5-for-28 stat line tells a different story.
The Yankees might have been able to weather the storm for an abbreviated period of time with Carter and Refsnyder at first base, but with Bird’s setback, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Carter has already cost the Yanks a game with his shoddy defense, and his occasional big fly doesn’t make up for his other struggles. Refsnyder hasn’t worked out either, and after having big league experience for the past three years, it’s looking like what you see is what you get with him. The Yanks need more production at the corner infield spots if they are to overcome this new wave of injuries and stay atop the AL East.
Back in April, when a banged-up Bird was struggling mightily at the plate, the burden on the lineup was lessened thanks to Chase Headley playing out of his mind and carrying the corner infield production for at least a month. Now that Headley has crashed back down to earth, they need something more. Aaron Judge can’t bail the Yanks out with bombs every game (well, maybe he can).
So where do the Yankees go? In fairness to Cashman, there aren’t a ton of options. Joe Girardi has tried Matt Holliday at first base at times, which is something that can be explored a bit more. I wouldn’t go too crazy with Holliday in the field since he is having a solid season at the plate and his injury concerns have often stemmed from incidents on defense, but it’s an option.
Another internal option would be Tyler Austin, who was activated from the DL on June 5th after breaking his foot in spring training. Austin primarily played first base last year while Bird was recovering from a torn labrum, and I would imagine he’d be a defensive upgrade who may be able to hit for better average than Carter while sacrificing some power.
In terms of outside options, Pedro Alvarez is in the Orioles’ organization and could be a lightning-in-a-bottle situation if he were to get another shot in the big leagues. He has been trying to make it back but has a few road blocks in terms of the current Orioles’ roster. At this point, different just might be better, because what’s being run out there lately isn’t working.
It’s been a tough west coast swing for the Yanks as they reach a much-needed day off tomorrow. Maybe they should take that day to figure out how to approach the future, starting at first base.