Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Cat Has Nine Lives - A Bird Is Not A Cat

I wrote during Spring Training about the need to resist hope about Greg Bird finally becoming the player Brian Cashman has kept saying he was going to be. Greg Bird had a great spring for the New York Yankees. There was a lot of talk from manager, Aaron Boone, and Cashman about Bird making a significant contribution to the Yankees. After yet another dismal start to Bird's season and his .555 OPS along with his failure to scoop up throws at first base, we now learn that Bird has a left plantar fascia tear and is out indefinitely. I have not been this shocked at either development since the days of Nick Johnson.

And really, that is a solid knock on Nick Johnson. Yes, Johnson had injury after injury and his career was never what it should have been. Johnson's one full season for the Nationals showed what a healthy Johnson could have been like. So, yes, Nick Johnson was a constant disappointment. But at least he produced at times when he was available. Except for Greg Bird's first 178 Plate Appearances for the Yankees in 2015, Greg Bird's production has been a black hole with scorched earth.

Sometimes I feel badly about writing such a piece. Greg Bird seems like a nice guy. He seems earnest and nice and it is not his fault that his legs have been a mine field since that 2015 season. And I am quite sure he was trying his hardest to perform better on the field than he has. Unfortunately, baseball is a business and it is about what you have produced lately and what you can be expected to produce in the future. And four years of history has shown us that he has about as much chance of being a "significant contributor" at some point for the Yankees as Jacoby Ellsbury.

It is time for the Yankees to cut the cord on Greg Bird just like they did with Nick Johnson years ago. The injury is unfortunate. The body of work, though, does not lie. And his spring did not fool any of  the smart folks who put together evaluations and projections. A .710 OPS was the highest projection he received. That is not anywhere close to what you want from a first baseman, especially a first baseman that is not very good at defending that position.

Bird's injury piles on to the Yankees' physical misfortunes thus far. But his injury is the least significant. That says something right there. Ben Heller on the DL hurts more right now than Greg Bird.

So what should the Yankees do when Greg Bird returns? That might not be a question that can even be answered right now. This particular injury is a terrible injury that could possibly end his season. He is listed on the injury report as, "No timetable for recovery."

If I were running the Yankees, I would totally and unequivocally dismiss Greg Bird from any future plans. If he comes back this year, he should either stay in the minors or be traded. Or he could be released. In some ways, Greg Bird has held first base hostage for the Yankees since Mark Teixeira's retirement and that should end immediately.

For the Yankees, it is an addiction that should be quit cold turkey. They have held onto, hoped and wrung hands that Greg Bird would take his sweet swing and become a star with the Yankees. It is not going to happen. Enough is enough and it is time to move on. I am still not convinced that Luke Voit is the answer. We will see how his season goes. Come on down, Mike Ford, whatcha got?

Personally, this Greg Bird addiction led against looking at a guy like Mike Moustakas, who has been killing the ball for the Brewers. For basically chump change, Moustakas could have stepped in at third when Miguel Andujar went down or he could have played first. Maybe Moustakas was not the answer. But something creative has to be done about the future of first base for the Yankees. Heck, Giancarlo Stanton would be a big target over there. I still think Stanton is a better player when he is not the designated hitter.

Nice guy or no, earnest or not, a Bird is not a cat. There is not nine lives and Greg Bird's Yankee lives are burned up. It is time to move on or at least let him try to move on someplace else.

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