|Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple||| Print |||Send|
Written by Robert Democh (Contact & Archive) on April 06, 2009
Sweet Apple Pie
Gary Sheffield: Sheffield inked a three-year, $38 million dollar pact with New York in December 2003.¬† A notorious big league nomad, the Yanks would be Sheffield‚Äės sixth team.¬† The 35-year-old arrived as one of the game‚Äôs most fearsome sluggers, generating tremendous power utilizing what most scouts regarded as the quickest wrists in the game.¬† Sheffield held up his end of the bargain, earning selection to the AL All-Star team in 2004 and 2005 while averaging 35 homers and 122 RBI.¬† It‚Äôs no coincidence that the Yankees captured AL East crowns both years.¬† Sheffield crashed in 2006, hampered by a variety of nagging injuries, most notably a torn ligament in his wrist that eventually required surgery.¬† Held to 151 at bats, he hit just six home runs and was traded to Detroit after the season.¬† To his credit, Sheffield continued playing hurt when others would have begged off and thrived despite acutely feeling the pressure to produce upon arriving in New York.¬† His biggest crime (besides purported steroid use) was rushing back from surgery in 2006 without proper rehabilitation in an effort to get his bat back in the lineup.¬† Regardless of what you think about his often ill-advised remarks about former teammates and managers, Sheffield was a gamer in New York.¬†¬†
Alex Rodriguez: Ignoring the steroid furor and his injured hip, Rodriguez has fashioned some impressive numbers since being traded to the Yanks prior to the 2004 season.¬† In a five season span, he has never socked fewer than 35 homers or manufactured fewer than 100 RBI.¬† That superior level of accomplishment netted him the AL MVP award in 2005 and 2007.¬† In December 2007, Rodriguez became the highest paid player in baseball, inking a 10-year, $275 million agreement with the Yankees.¬† His first season under the new agreement was by-the-numbers for him, as he mashed 35 homers with 103 RBI, a .302 average and 104 runs scored.¬†¬† He‚Äôll turn 33 in July, so Father Time will definitely have something to say about his future output.¬† Playing in a stacked lineup, he should have several more seasons of sterling accomplishments awaiting him.¬† If anyone can handle the pressure swirling around him while remaining a commanding on-field presence, it‚Äôs A-Rod.¬†¬†
Jason Giambi: Giambi‚Äôs seven-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees ended abruptly when New York declined to exercise their $22 million option for 2009 and opted instead to buy him out for $5 million.¬† Giambi had some memorable moments with the Yankees, just not enough to justify $17 million annually.¬† Of his seven seasons in the Bronx, two were exceptional, three were good and two were stinkers.¬† His first two were his finest and arguably what everyone had in mind upon signing him.¬† Giambi averaged 41 homers, 114 RBI and over 100 walks those two years.¬† He bested 30 homers in 2005, 2006 and 2008, although he failed to tally 100 RBI in two of those seasons and his batting average drifted steadily downward.¬† He was pitiful in 2004 and 2007, averaging just 13 homers and 39 RBI while combating injuries.¬† It doesn‚Äôt take a finance degree to realize two exemplary seasons out of seven does not equate to a sound return on investment.¬† We‚Äôre being charitable by not belaboring his tacit acknowledgement that he used ‚Äôroids.
Roger Clemens: After being traded by the Blue Jays to the Yankees in 1999, Clemens spent five glorious seasons as the toast of New York, compiling 77 victories and capturing three AL Cy Young Awards.¬† He signed a one-year, $10.3 million free agent contract with New York in 2003, winning 17 games before returning to his native Houston for three seasons with the Astros.¬† In 2007, Clemens fatefully returned to New York, lured by a Yankee team so desperate for pitching that they acquiesced to his exorbitant demands.¬† The lavish pro-rated one-year deal worth $28,000,022 -- or roughly $4.5 million per month -- defied common sense or business logic.¬† The Yankees received a mere pittance by way of return.¬† Clemens battled a sore elbow, hurled just 99 innings and etched six wins before retiring under a cloud of alleged steroid use.¬†
Mark Teixeira: Teixeira's Yankee contract will pay him $22.5 million annually over eight seasons and includes a $5 million signing bonus as well as a no-trade clause.¬† How will having that huge price tag emblazoned across his back effect Teixeira?¬† During a recent interview with the New York Post, he was asked how he‚Äôd cope with the pressure of playing in New York.¬† ‚ÄúI think you just need to be comfortable with yourself, comfortable talking with the media and talking with the fans,‚ÄĚ Teixeira replied. ‚ÄúI love big crowds. I love playing in front of 50,000 screaming fans.‚ÄĚ
His wish will undoubtedly be granted, but how will he respond to the inevitable boos and cat calls that form unwritten parts of the Yankees job description?¬† In his favor, he was a career .305 hitter in the old Yankee Stadium.¬† He‚Äôs not excitable by nature, being by all accounts a devoted family man with an uncompromising work ethic.¬† He will benefit from having much of the pressure of appearing in Yankee pinstripes deflected onto A-Rod with his steroid and injury woes, as well as Sabathia and Burnett.¬† Without the intense scrutiny of the New York media focused exclusively upon him, Teixeira should quickly adapt to his new surroundings.¬† It is imperative that he get off to a decent start to quell the boo birds.¬† Unfortunately, his history of frigid beginnings is well documented.¬† In nearly a season‚Äôs worth (486) of career April at bats, Teixeira has thudded instead of thumped, accumulating 19 homers, 64 RBI and a .259 average.¬† A-Rod‚Äôs absence until early May certainly won‚Äôt help.¬† Recall that Tex has played for three different teams the past 18 months and remained a high achiever regardless of venue.¬† If he can successfully weather any initial jitters, he has attributes to leverage.¬† Teixeira is just entering his prime with a proven skill set, demonstrated emotional stability and a clubhouse-friendly demeanor.¬† He‚Äôll need it but should defy the odds and become a high profile free agent who actually savors long term success as a Yankee.
Where do you think Mark Teixeira will be classified in a few years?