The Yankees used 12 players at first base and still they couldn’t find anyone who was satisfactory.
Jason Giambi (145 games) played at first base during 113 of the 162 games in 2008. There were times during the season when his offense was invisible. During April, he batted .148 with 0 home runs. It was hard to see why the Yankees were persisting with him giving the infamy of some of his actions in previous years. In May, he looked like a different guy. He hit with .353 albeit still with only 3 home runs. His power had kicked in by June. He reached 9 home runs by the end of that month. That power stayed but his ability to hit for average declined as the season went on. He made 9 errors during the season and his ability in all areas has withered with age. His 32 home runs shine but his .247 was simply not good enough. The Yankees have declined their option on his contract and they shouldn’t get into negotiations to bring him back. Time for a new face at first base.
Wilson Betemit (87 games) played at first base during 35 of the 162 games in 2008. I would have released Betemit at the end of 2007 and I had no bright hopes for his contribution this year. His early season injury and eyesight problems didn’t seem likely to help but somehow or other, he came back stronger. I expected his contribution such as it would be to be in the middle infield positions off the bench but most of his games whether as a starter or more commonly as a substitute came at 1b. He had a positive contribution to make which leaves me asking to see him as the key member of the bench in 2009. He batted .265 with 6 home runs and only a handful of errors in the field. No mean achievement given that he was put into a number of different fielding situations and that he had no regular role. Bring him back as a back-up.
Cody Ransom (33 games) played first base during 19 games of the 2008 season. Ransom didn’t arrive in the Bronx until August. He had a little major league experience but not much. His first two at-bats were home runs. He played all the infield positions but struggled at the middle infield position. He needs a good spring training but I could see him as the back-up first baseman with Betemit taking on the bench role for the other infield positions. A chance of being in the Bronx on opening day.
Richie Sexson (22 games) played first base during 18 games of the 2008 season. Sexson was meant to have been brought in to add power – he hit one home run. His signing was a big mistake – no other team took him up when he was released by the Yankees in mid-August and it is hard to imagine that his career isn’t over. Already gone.
Shelley Duncan (23 games) played first base during 16 games of the 2008 season. Duncan was the late blooming, bright young hope. That hope disappeared quickly and he wasn’t even called up in September. I have higher hopes of being in the Bronx in April than he has.
Jorge Posada (51 games) 7 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to the catchers.
Morgan Ensberg (28 games) 7 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to third base.
Juan Miranda (5 games) played first base during 5 games of the 2008 season. Miranda didn’t look that convincing when he arrived in the Bronx but he has gone on to hit extremely well in the Fall League since the season finished. At the moment, he has an outside possibility of being the opening day first baseman, if a big name signing doesn’t materialise at this position. Alternatively, he’ll end up back in Scranton as a prospect for 2010. Wait and see.
Xavier Nady (59 games) 3 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to the outfielders.
Chad Moeller (41 games) 2 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to the catchers.
Johnny Damon (143 games) 1 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to the outfielders.
Jose Molina (100 games) 1 at 1st base. I’ll say more about him when we get to the catchers.
Summing up, there is a slim possibility that Juan Miranda could be first choice at first base. There is a slim possibility that if his problems continue Jorge Posada could play more games at first base than anyone else but it won’t be that way on opening day and the chances beyond that are wafer thin. Cody Ransom and Wilson Betemit look possibles to be coming off the bench. Frankly, we need to sign a free agent to fill the first base gap.