The Yankees want so much to see Greg Bird be the player they have envisioned him to be. Back from injuries and fully healthy, Bird continues to be underwhelming though, and the Yankees, as always, have a backup plan that’s ready to spring into action.
There is no way to spin the upside on the season Greg Bird is having as the first baseman for the New York Yankees since coming off the DL. Three home runs and five RBI, together with a woeful .205 batting average from a spot in the lineup where run production is expected, is not what manager, Aaron Boone, is looking for.
Granted, the 78 at-bats Bird has had is a modest sample, and the team is winning in spite of his performance to date, but the Yankees are a team aiming for a World Championship, and there is little, if any, room for sputtering spots in their lineup when they reach the level of competition they are going to see in the playoffs.
As always, Greg Bird paints a bright picture of his future as he did two days ago when he was asked to comment two days ago by the New York Post:
The question remains though, how long will the Yankees stay with Greg Bird? As always, the Yankees have a backup plan for replacing Bird if the need arises. And it’s not with Neil Walker, who much like Bird appears to be a darling of Brian Cashman and the Yankees.
Instead, Brandon Drury, still another favorite of Cashman, will begin playing first base twice a week for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Conor Foley of The Times-Tribune reports (WCBS Sports).
Drury, fans will recall, became stuck in Triple-A purgatory when Miguel Andujar stepped into the Yankees lineup taking hold of the third base job and not letting go. Since his return from a spell with dizziness and migraine headaches, Drury is whacking the ball with consistency, with a .338 batting average, a whopping .446 on-base percentage, and 25 RBI in only 42 games with the Scranton Railriders.
The power isn’t there (only three home runs), and probably never will be. But more than anything, that OBP demonstrates what Drury can mean to the Yankees lineup if, of course, he reproduces those numbers at the major league level.
With Bird, it’s not a question so much that he needs at-bats to get his timing back, as he’s in the Yankees lineup virtually every day. And even though he sounds like Paul O’Neill with his warrior-like words in the above quote, it may be that he is feeling the pressure to produce, and a couple of weeks to get that miracle swing back in the minors might be precisely what the doctor ordered.
Or, speaking of doctor’s, a stint on the 10-day DL would accomplish the same thing. Inevitably, given Greg Bird’s history, the Yankees can come up with something to park him there for the games leading up to the All-Star break. After which, the slate is wiped clean for a second half that is more “Birdlike.”
Or, as another solution, the Yankees can hold the line with Greg Bird and do nothing. With Andujar and Gleyber Torres providing production in the eight and nine spots, together with Didi Gregorius showing signs of awakening from his afternoon nap, how much is Bird hurting the team?
After all, the same criticisms can be made about Gary Sanchez, who carries a batting average below the Mendoza line, and still needs to be spot-started in the catching position. The saving grace for Sanchez though, and unlike Bird, Sanchez carries a big stick in the lineup, and much like Alex Rodriguez when his batting average slid at the end of his career, Sanchez still represents a “power pause” by the opposing pitcher whenever he strides to the plate.
The Yankees are winning and none of this is earth-shattering. But at some point (soon), the Yankees are going to need a decision of both Brandon Drury and Neil Walker. Both players are tradeable, but at least with Drury, the Yankees seem to prefer to not go that route.
To his credit, Drury is playing the role of the good soldier. But if he’s checking for the name of Greg Bird in the Yankee’s boxscore every day, even he may begin to wonder…