Thursday, March 9, 2017


(Feb. 20, 2017 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)
After the Yankees unexpectedly signed Chris Carter last month it left many wondering if there was a setback with Greg Bird. Were the Yankees going to give us bad news at some point and if not.....where was Carter going to play? This signing was hard for some fans and players alike to adjust to the idea. It meant someone was likely going to lose a job. It left us all wondering, who just became one of THE EXPENDABLES? Now the Yankees have a new problem....

If Chris Carter was just an insurance policy on Greg Bird the Yankees may have overpaid. So far, Bird shows no signs of a remaining shoulder injury. Bird had a rough game on Monday going 0-3 but before that game he was 6-for-13 with three home runs and five RBI's. I usually don't put much weight on Spring Training games because they really don't mean a lot but in this case it does. Bird is SAYING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS and insists he is not competing for a job with Carter but he certainly is playing like he is.

If the Yankees were considering sending Bird down to Triple-A to start the season and delay his free agency he is making it very hard for them to do so. When Carter was signed my gut reaction was the Yankees were going to send him down because he only needs to miss 65 games for the Yankees to delay his free agency. Starting Bird in Triple-A gives him more recovery time after a major injury and the Yankees have the perfect excuse.....except Bird is looking like 2015 instead of a player who is rusty after missing a year. 

So, what about Carter? If the Yankees planned on platooning between the two of them that idea may not seem as strategic as before. Joe Girardi's binder may have penciled Carter to start at first against a left handed pitcher and given Bird the day off but right now, Bird is hitting lefties better and he has proven he can put the ball in play anywhere on the field. Carter on the other hand is hitting just .200 in spring and has a career .224 average against lefties.

Photo: New York Daily News
If Bird keeps producing against lefties Carter may see less playing time and that will make it even harder for Girardi to find ways to get him in the lineup. “We signed Chris Carter to help fill that role,’’ Girardi said. “As I told Chris, his role is going to depend a lot on Greg Bird in a sense and how well he’s swinging against left-handers. We’ll have to see. He’s a really good player, Greg Bird. Chris Carter had a really good year. Things have a way of ironing themselves out.’’ He's right about that last part, but finding a way to fit in a power hitting veteran and a hot hitter is not going to be a fast or easy solution when the Yankees also have Matt Holliday to consider.

Despite Bird's limited big league experience he will be a big part of the lineup so plate appearances are going to be crucial. The Yankees need their veterans like Holliday and Carter in the heart of the order but Bird could also be one of those guys which means Girardi will have to reevaluate the lineup to get some separation from other lefties like Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. No matter how Girardi fills out his scorecard the Yankees will have a deeper lineup with both Carter and Bird in it.

It's early but the Yankees have a lot to figure out. Can the Yankees give both of these guys their playing time....or does Carter turn into an expensive bench warmer? It's hard to imagine. You can't bench a league leading 41 home run hitter, right?

--Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ

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