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Friday, April 18, 2014

Mitchell: Now Playing First Base for the Yankees

With nary an Ex-Ray Barker on the horizon.

This all raises the question of why nobody on the Yankees in spring training looked around and saw an injury prone first baseman, three veteran outfielders vying for time in right and DH—center field and left field are occupied by Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, two of the Yankees best players—and thought to give one of the veterans a first baseman’s glove. First base is generally considered the least demanding defensive position to play, but it is not easy to play any position competently at the big league level. Nonetheless, Suzuki, Beltran and Soriano, although older and slower than they were a few years ago, are all still relatively athletic and have proven themselves to be decent defenders in the past. With a little work it is likely that any of those three could have learned a decent enough first base.

On many teams the failure to take this step would have been less significant because after Teixeira went down with an injury, the team would have called up a decent hitting first baseman from the minors. The Yankees, however, have one of the weakest farm systems in baseball so were unable to do this. The combined lack of a decent minor league system and unwillingness to make a somewhat obvious move in spring training, put the Yankees in a potentially tough situation less than two weeks into the season. Fortunately, solid starting pitching, particularly from Masahiro Tanaka, one of the Yankees most expensive off-season acquisitions, and Michael Pineda who appears to be healthy and ready to be a good big league pitcher again, and good offense from people like Ellsbury, Beltran and 26 year old heretofore minor league journeyman Yangervis Solarte, have helped get the Yankees off to a good start.

While the Yankees have an unusual situation as they, for reasons not altogether clear, seem to be stockpiling veteran outfielders who could potentially play first base, the absence of outfield to first base conversions is reasonably widespread. This used to be relatively common. Hall of Famer outfielders such as Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle and Henry Aaron spent significant time at first base at the end of their careers, as did players like Cesar Cedeno, Frank Howard and Dwight Evans, all very good players but not quite Hall of Famers. This has been much less common in the last 20-30 years. This is partially due to the designated hitter rule which has provided a place other than first base to put an aging slugger in need of a rest, but that does not explain the unwillingness of teams to innovate, or more accurately go back to an old and smart way of doing things.

Repoz Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:22 AM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4688386)
The way that this makes sense is that if defensive skills at first base are emphasized moreso than in the past. Perhaps twenty years ago any idiot could play 1B, but I don't think this is the case anymore. Look around baseball - there are not a lot of lumbering, one-dimensional sluggos at first anymore. With the increasing infield shifts, a first-sacker's job is a lot more intense than it used to be. He has to make throws, he has to move around the infield, and he has to be able to get back to the bag and present a good target to another infielder on a ground ball.

I'm not saying that defense at first has gone from the cognitive equivalent of trash collection to the cognitive equivalent of particle physics. But I think it's a more demanding position than it used to be. And I've seen managers in MLB just flat-out refuse to put a hitter with poor defensive skills at that spot for longer than an inning or two.
   2. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4688390)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently? I'm sure there have been but it definitely seems like the easiest position to pick up within like 3 innings. Scott Sizemore, playing in his first game ever there, looked like Tino Martinez out there, especially on the triple play.
   3. The Good Face Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:07 AM (#4688391)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?


Mike Piazza?
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4688393)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?


Billy Butler. Mike Jacobs.
   5. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4688394)
Mark Teixeira is scheduled to come off the DL this weekend. I don't think it made sense for the Yankees to do anything other than make do until he came back.
   6. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4688397)
So I have a new standard for my HoF vote. If you can't play first base competently, you don't deserve to be a Hall-of-Famer.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4688404)
Perhaps twenty years ago any idiot could play 1B, but I don't think this is the case anymore. Look around baseball - there are not a lot of lumbering, one-dimensional sluggos at first anymore. With the increasing infield shifts, a first-sacker's job is a lot more intense than it used to be. He has to make throws, he has to move around the infield, and he has to be able to get back to the bag and present a good target to another infielder on a ground ball.


I don't think it's harder to play I just think players in general are more athletic than they used to be so they are superior to most of their predecessors. Frankly, with bunting so heavily de-emphasized in the game that makes life a lot easier for a first baseman. You also note shifting but really the first baseman's job gets considerably easier with a shift, he has much less area to cover and he is typically closer to first base than he otherwise would be (not a lot, but still).
   8. McCoy Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4688409)
Look around baseball - there are not a lot of lumbering, one-dimensional sluggos at first anymore.

There aren't a lot of lumbering, one-dimensional sluggos anywhere period.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4688410)
I'm sure there have been but it definitely seems like the easiest position to pick up within like 3 innings.


"Tell him, Wash."

"Its incredibly hard!"
   10. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4688411)
F**king Yankees. It's so irritating that the whole team is hitting and Tanaka and Pineda have been great.
   11. A Fatty Cow That Need Two Seats Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4688413)
Ex-Yankee enshrined at Applebee’s

{Ray} Barker grew up a huge Yankees fan, but never expected that one day his baseball journey would take him to the Big Apple and one of baseball's - and sports' - elite franchises, the New York Yankees.

And even though his stint with the Yankees lasted just three years, from 1965 to 1967, he was able to finish his Major League Baseball career in pinstripes, a time Barker will never forget.

"It was fantastic," Barker said. "I was a Yankees fan growing up. I used to watch the Game of the Week on Saturdays and watch guys like Bobby Richardson, who was only a few years older than me. To get a chance to play for them was a great experience."

Barker's experience earned him a special honor on Sunday, but it had nothing to do with his play on the baseball diamond. Applebee's restaurant in Martinsburg honored Barker by placing a picture he signed on the "Hometown Heroes" wall featured throughout the venue. Ironically, his picture hangs on the baseball section of the wall in the midst of a group of Baltimore Orioles photos, a team he also played for during his career.

...

Barker spent time with the Orioles, for whom he made his big-league debut with on Sept. 13, 1960, and the Cleveland Indians, but was traded to the Yankees in 1965, where he posted his best career stats, including establishing a then-Yankees record for consecutive pinch-hit home runs (2).

"I would have had three, but we were playing against the Orioles and Frank Robinson stole one away from me," he said.

   12. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4688414)
Didn't the Yankees consider giving Soriano some time at 1B this spring?
   13. The Good Face Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4688415)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?


Billy Butler. Mike Jacobs.


Damn, also forgot about Adam Dunn.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4688421)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?


Dick Stuart.
   15. zonk Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4688424)
F**king Yankees. It's so irritating that the whole team is hitting and Tanaka and Pineda have been great.


Feasting on the inept Cubs makes anyone look well-fed...
   16. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4688428)
It's so irritating that the whole team is hitting and Tanaka and Pineda have been great.


Solarte is giving us Cano production at bargain-basement prices!

Also, Tanaka looks better than advertised.
   17. Publius Publicola Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4688431)
Willie Mays Aikens.
   18. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4688437)
I know it all balances it out, but it's also annoying that the Orioles have had to start the season with the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox. Couldn't we get one easy team thrown in there?
   19. Oscar.Gambles.Hair Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4688441)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?


Gary Sheffield was a disaster in that playoff series against the Tigers. He caught a throw with his groin.
   20. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4688449)
I know it all balances it out, but it's also annoying that the Orioles have had to start the season with the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox.


Well in fairness, the Rays have looked crappy and the Sox have been playing a little banged up, most notably, is Pedroia ok?
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4688450)
Who are the major league baseball players who have ever played first incompetently?

If Dr. Strangeglove ever tried spinning over in his grave, he'd trip over the formaldehyde bottle.
   22. BDC Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4688457)
the easiest position to pick up within like 3 innings

And yet there have been notable sluggers who were pretty bad outfielders, particularly as they aged, and were never tried at 1B, or tried there very briefly and returned to the OF. Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez are the best examples, but there are also Ralph Kiner, Del Ennis, Leon Wagner, George Bell, Albert Belle, Moises Alou … Matt Holliday has never played a game anywhere but LF, though I realize there might be a perception of him as an OK outfielder that the stats don't justify. Greg Luzinski was one of the most interesting cases, because he was a natural 1B and never played OF in the minors, but got moved permanently to the OF in Philly, where he was memorably terrible. There seems to be a certain profile of player that you just don't want in the infield on a regular basis.

Prince Fielder, behemoth that he is, and a bad fielder for sure, relishes playing the infield, and seems to grok what a first baseman does, even if he can't physically execute it at times. But would you want Manny Ramirez at first? I'm not sure he's a guy you want centrally involved in so many plays.
   23. The Good Face Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4688467)
Prince Fielder, behemoth that he is, and a bad fielder for sure, relishes playing the infield, and seems to grok what a first baseman does, even if he can't physically execute it at times.


Yeah, Fielder at least seems to have a reasonable understanding of how to play 1B. He's just too big, fat, and slow to really be much good at it.
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4688473)
Willie Mays Aikens.


Ha! How could I overlook Willie?

Bill James in the 1981 Abstract:

“If there is somebody worse than Aikens, he must be playing first with a machete.”


Bill James in the 1982 Abstract:

“I must report now that Aikens was 100% improved defensively in 1981; he was all the way up to dreadful.”
   25. BDC Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4688485)
And along the lines of #22, I would be confident in saying that Josh Hamilton will never play a game at first base. And quite apart from being signed longterm in tandem with Albert Pujols – Hamilton just does not seem to me somebody that you want handling the ball or thinking about tactics a lot, even though he was an exciting and athletic CF in his younger days.
   26. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4688497)
Tanaka looks better than advertised.


This is absolutely true. I expected Kuroda production, but he's been Darvishish. Does give up some home runs when he leaves the fastball up, though.

F**king Yankees. It's so irritating that the whole team is hitting and Tanaka and Pineda have been great.


It's April. Everyone expected that they'd have a good offense and good rotation when healthy -- but the staying healthy part is not expected to continue.
   27. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4688498)
Feasting on the inept Cubs makes anyone look well-fed...
They feasted on David Price last night, and won 3 of 4 from the Red Sox last weekend, so it's not all the schedule.
   28. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4688500)
This is absolutely true. I expected Kuroda production, but he's been Darvishish. Does give up some home runs when he leaves the fastball up, though.


By the way, I realize now that this was racist. So, I apologize for that.
   29. BDC Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4688504)
I realize now that this was racist

You may be tongue-in-cheek saying that, but if not, give yourself a break :) There is a limited supply of star pitchers who suddenly break into MLB mid-career, and they are overwhelmingly Japanese, so there's considerable non-racialist grounds for comparing them to one another.
   30. tshipman Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4688509)
Beltran's played 1B before. I mean, it's not that hard.
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4688511)
Neither one of them did much of it, but by some accounts Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio were pretty lousy at first base. Mantle seemed competent enough, but reportedly hated it.
   32. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4688513)
Beltran's played 1B before. I mean, it's not that hard.


Yeah, it's not that hard, but when has Beltran played 1B before? In high school? Before the other night, he'd never done it as a professional. So at best, it was twenty years ago.
   33. tshipman Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4688518)
Yeah, it's not that hard, but when has Beltran played 1B before? In high school? Before the other night, he'd never done it as a professional. So at best, it was twenty years ago.


Huh. I could've sworn he did it with the Giants, but BBREF says no.

Wow, I feel like I am taking crazy pills. I would have sworn he had 100+ innings at 1b.
   34. Steve Treder Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4688526)
"I would have had three, but we were playing against the Orioles and Frank Robinson stole one away from me," he said.

Which is particularly remarkable given that Robinson was playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1965.
   35. Steve Treder Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4688538)
Neither one of them did much of it, but by some accounts Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio were pretty lousy at first base. Mantle seemed competent enough, but reportedly hated it.

DiMaggio played just one game at first base in his career. He sullenly pouted about it the entire day, and Stengel decided to never go there again.

Mays was agile and active at first base, but error-prone. He played there in 84 games.
   36. JE (Jason) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4688540)
But would you want Manny Ramirez at first?

Bathroom breaks in Boston would take twice as long.
   37. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4688551)
Erstad, FWIW, said many years ago that if you haven't played 1st base before that it is much harder than playing the outfield when he made the switch. Maybe it's because of my left-handedness and slowness that relegated me to playing first base, but there is far more involved in playing 1st than what most people realize.
   38. depletion Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4688554)
Dave Kingman.
   39. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4688558)
I think first base is tricky because it is almost all learned response. A fast player can become a competent outfielder because his speed will help him outrun mistakes. At first base, like third base, it's all about the reactions.

I remember Dwight Evans moving to first base at the end of his career. The two things that flummoxed him were grounders in the hole, he would often stray too far, and throws to the pitcher covering. Every now and then he would throw one overhand and the poor pitcher would be ducking for cover. I recall Dewey admitting that it was tough to remind himself to do the underhand feed because it was an unnatural motion for him.
   40. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4688583)
I think first base is tricky because it is almost all learned response. A fast player can become a competent outfielder because his speed will help him outrun mistakes. At first base, like third base, it's all about the reactions.


When I was in my mid-20s, I coached a 15-18 year old team (Colt + Palomino combined for you Pony folks). One day we had a forfeit and we played a scrimmage. As we were short players, I grabbed my 1B glove in my bag (cause I sure as hell wasn't playing in the outfield) and played 1st for a couple of innings.

At that point in time, I probably hadn't played 1st on a competitive level for about 7 or 8 years. I was rusty as get out on groundballs (I ole'd one pretty good), but it shocked the heck out of me how much I did by instinct. I even shocked myself when we had a runner on 3rd and popped off the bag to run the ball into the pitcher. I just did because it was something I had done for most of my life (at the point in time) and it was just part of the position. I remember thinking "wow, I haven't done that in years and I didn't even have to think about it". It just happened. Even if my coordination had failed me, I still knew how to do everything the right way.
   41. Sunday silence Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4688587)

"I would have had three, but we were playing against the Orioles and Frank Robinson stole one away from me," he said.

Which is particularly remarkable given that Robinson was playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1965.


He's misremebering something, he did indeed PH consecutive HRs on 6/20 and 6/22 However he struck out on 6/28 vs the senators. He got to PH on 6/30 where he was BB. THen on 7/1 is probably the play in question. In another PH appearance he singled to RF vs the Orioles. Sam Bowens played RF for the Orioles on that day.

It's not clear from the story if he's claiming almost 3 consecutive, or just 3, period. The 7/1 game may have stood out because the Yanks down 4-1 in the ninth with two down and no one on staged a rally. Boyer got a hit and Repoz a 2 run HR to make it 4-3. Barker came in with a chance to keep the game alive and got a single; perhaps he just missed tying the game. But Richardson K'd and game was over.
   42. dr. scott Posted: April 18, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4688652)
"I would have had three, but we were playing against the Orioles and Frank Robinson stole one away from me," he said.

Which is particularly remarkable given that Robinson was playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1965.


I first read that at Brooks Robinson, which would have been even more impressive. I knew he was a good fielder, but robbing a home run from third base would be quite the accomplishment.
   43. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: April 18, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4688659)
Boog Powell was the O's regular leftfielder for a couple of seasons, so I imagine that Brooksie probably did rob a few inside-the-park HRs.
   44. Danny Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:23 PM (#4688677)
And yet there have been notable sluggers who were pretty bad outfielders, particularly as they aged, and were never tried at 1B, or tried there very briefly and returned to the OF.

Jack Cust must have been truly awful at 1B given that no one ever played him there after 1998.
   45. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4688683)
Scott Sizemore, playing in his first game ever there, looked like Tino Martinez out there, especially on the triple play.


In one inning, he dropped an easy bounce throw on one play and lost contact with the base on another. He clearly looked unfamiliar with the position to me.


Does give up some home runs when he leaves the fastball up, though.

The HRs I recall were off a hanging change and hanging slider.
   46. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4688718)
I do promise you that Scott Sizemore never looked like Martinez at first.. that's bull crap..
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4688762)
F**king Yankees. It's so irritating that the whole team is hitting and Tanaka and Pineda have been great.


April. The smart bets going forward are:

Yangervis Solarte hits worse;
Kelly Johnson hits worse;
Ichiro hits worse;
Brian McCann hits better.

I think the rest of the lineup is in range of what they could reasonably end up hitting: Ellsbury, Gardner, Soriano, Beltran, Jeter. Of course, Ellsbury and Beltran will probably come down a bit from their current performance since their current OPS+s would represent career highs, but it wouldn't be shocking to see one or both of them hit like this. (Funny that for as old as Beltran is perceived, Soriano is older.)

I would be shocked if Roberts is both healthy and good -- he hasn't been both in half a decade.

I'll be surprised if Teixeira is both healthy and good; it's been a while for both of those things also and Teixeira was in decline before the wrist injury as his batting average had already collapsed, and now he's 34 with an injury resume that has become very problematic.

As for the pitching, I'll be surprised if Pineda's shoulder holds up.

Tanaka is an interesting case. Forget the ERA, which is excellent. 2 walks and 28 strikeouts in 22 innings is a major positive sign. It seems to me that pitchers don't strike out a lot of batters by fluke, and BB/K rates stabilize very quickly. The only questions left unanswered are -- no, they're not the silly questions about whether he can "pitch in New York" -- whether he can keep the ball in the park and, to a lesser extent, whether he can keep his hits-allowed rate under control. Those metrics take longer to settle. And the pitchers with K/BB rates this good who allow a ton of hits tend to be old power pitchers at the end of the line, like Pedro or Halladay or Smoltz or Oswalt. Or... perhaps CC.

It's early, but to me CC's stat line -- coming off of last year and the decreased velocity problem -- looks frighteningly like an old power pitcher at the end of the line: he can still control the strike zone but he can't prevent home runs and hits. Look up the stat lines of the pitchers I mentioned above -- Pedro, Smoltz, Halladay, Oswalt -- and it becomes very clear that they were still able to control the strike zone at the end but were no longer able to prevent hits and home runs. Possibly because they were over-compensating by trying to pound the zone despite having lesser stuff. CC is at 1.7 BB/9 and 9.3 K/9 -- basically around his career bests for those categories -- but on the other side is allowing 2.1 HR/9 and 9.7 hits/9 -- basically around his career worsts for those categories, and we know pitchers can't survive while allowing more than 1.5 HR/9. But it's early yet, so maybe the hits and HR numbers will rebound.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4688789)
Yes, obviously 1B is sufficiently tough to play that you can't just pick up a 1B glove and be OK out there. No doubt it is difficult for somebody who has played nothing but OF (or C) to have to start dealing with ground balls. Then, yes, there are movements/actions/decisions that are fairly unique to 1B and it will take a while to learn all of those. (e.g. GB to your right, do you go for it or hope the 2B gets it? Other IFs don't have to make that decision.)

But I would bet that if you looked at the pool of competent 2B/SS/3B playing 1B for the first time and you'll find they're perfectly competent. If you look at the pool of competent C/OF who have played there a reasonable bit, you'll find them being perfectly competent going forward.

Which seems the point of the excerpt -- it's not surprising the Yanks haven't just thrown Soriano out there these last couple of weeks but there's not any particularly good reason that they didn't give one of these guys some 1B time in the spring. I suspect Ichiro or Beltran would pick it up without much difficulty (think Vic Davalillo, Erstad, Edmonds, Oliver, Monday -- seems a number of CF pick up 1B at some point).

The standard is not high. I saw an aged McGriff pretty regularly with the Cubs and I don't know that I've (regularly) seen a 1B with slower reaction, less mobility and he sucked at stretching for throws too. bWAR puts him at only -7 over those 200 games. So that Prince can be -10 or Dunn -274 is just mind-boggling to me after McGriff.
   49. joeysdadjoe Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4688794)
I do promise you that Scott Sizemore never looked like Martinez at first.. that's bull crap..

He was wearing 24
   50. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4688802)
most notably, is Pedroia ok?


I think so. He had a nice double to left the other night, turning on a fastball. He got a cortisone shot earlier in the week, he should be fine.
   51. DKDC Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4688804)
The only Tanaka start I saw was the one against the Orioles, but I didn't think he was nearly as impressive as his headline stats suggested (10 Ks in 7 IP). Most of the hits and many of the outs were absolutely smoked, like I was concerned for Tanaka's safety smoked. He got a lot of swings and misses on a diving breaking ball in the dirt, but they were right on his fastball.

Of course, I hate the Yankees so I'm massively biased and probably looking for the worst, so take it for what it's worth.
   52. Rob_Wood Posted: April 18, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4688831)

Joe DiMaggio's short stint at first base was mentioned above. Besides the terror of being humiliated at first base, DiMaggio was aghast that some pissant was showing him how to play first base (was it lefty Joe Collins?). When Stengel realized that Joe was not very good at first base and would not accept any instruction, the experiment was quickly quashed.
   53. The District Attorney Posted: April 18, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4688872)
The Yankees have had more OFs than they can use and an injury-prone 1B for forever. Brennan Boesch could have actually done them some good last year if they could have used him at 1B. Same with Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield in the Jason Giambi era... and as #19 alludes to, they actually had to play Sheffield there with no advance warning. They just don't want to ask guys to learn 1B for some reason, I dunno. (It's of course not exactly the most egregious example of teams being overly reluctant to "rock the boat" in any way.)
   54. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 19, 2014 at 12:20 AM (#4689006)
Ichiro played 3rd in Japan. Just sayin.
   55. Dan Posted: April 19, 2014 at 01:57 AM (#4689020)
The weird part was that the Yankees saw this coming into ST, and they talked about having Soriano learn 1B and play there in ST games. But then after like one day working out at the position they scrapped the idea. If Soriano just looked hopeless, I don't know why they didn't swap the idea to Beltran, but there was no more talk of anyone learning first base after that. Even Kelly Johnson only got like 2 or 3 games over there and they were expecting him to be Teixeira's primary backup (and he has minimal career time there, all last year with the Rays).
   56. donlock Posted: April 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4689070)
The Orioles and catcher Javy Lopez really tried to get him to play 1b . He was so bad that he never got there in anything other than a few innings in spring training and one game in 2005. On the other hand, Ramon Hernandez used to play a few games a year in first as a break for the Os and played it quite a bit in Cincinnati.
   57. Bug Selig Posted: April 19, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4689375)
When Stengel realized that Joe was not very good at first base and would not accept any instruction, the experiment was quickly quashed.


The Most Self-Centered Living Player (TM).
   58. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 20, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4689883)
Ichiro played 3rd in Japan. Just sayin.


I know some of the stats sites say that, but I've never seen confirmation of it.

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