Sending Greg Bird to AAA may not be a bad idea.
The New York Yankees have had a struggling first baseman in Greg Bird, who is fresh off injury. Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves showed it prominently. With the bases loaded and one out against Jesse Biddle, Bird was overpowered in three straight pitches and struck out. Fans of the New York Yankees were frustrated as the Yankees struggled with runners in scoring position. However, the behavior of the fans is another story, as they are useless to listen to anyway. This is about Greg Bird.
Greg Bird missed the early part of the season with an injury to his ankle that required surgery. He was out for 6-8 weeks. In his place was a platoon of Tyler Austin and Neil Walker. Tyler Austin is great for power, but he can only hit lefties and Marco Estrada. Every other at-bat, mostly against righties, he looked insanely overpowered. Austin’s power is to opposite field, which is great, if you are facing a lefty. Neil Walker has not played enough in order to show any consistency with his bat. (That also has drawn a lot of fan ire.) Some of it is not his fault. When the better player has the majority of the playing time, someone’s riding the bench.
Right now, Greg Bird is hitting .198 / .308 / .426, which is a strange line. His OBP is decent, but his average is awful. He is just below average at 97 OPS+. He is a career .220 / .314 / .464 batting line hitter, which comes to 106 OPS+ (just above average). However, these numbers inflate due to the 2015 season, in which he hit .261 / .343 / .529 (135 OPS+). How much the 2016 shoulder surgery changed Bird is up in the air, but he will not admit something’s different.
Greg Bird has three minor league options remaining and has not hit five years of service time, meaning he cannot decline a trip to the minors. However, is sending him to AAA really the answer? The Yankees have Tyler Austin on the disabled list in AAA due to his back. Neil Walker and Brandon Drury have not played first base by trade and are not the defensive wizards that Bird is. Are Yankees fans ready to watching Drury and Walker boot groundballs that Bird can catch with ease?
Realistically, the Yankees are not getting Joey Votto on a trade from the Cincinnati Reds. This is a fan dream that needs to die. Joey Votto costs a lot of money, has a no-trade clause and will have his No. 19 retired in the city, much to Marty Brennaman’s displeasure. There are cheaper options, but are Yankees fans ready to give up on Greg Bird when the lineup is desperate for left-handed power?
The Yankees need to stay the course and let Greg Bird get the lag out of his bat. He has shown to be an insane batter when hot, and there is no reason to discount that from happening again.