Can Hot Eric Chavez Make the Yankees?
Call him a zombie, because Eric Chavez is rising from the dead. From 2000-2005 Chavez hit between .269 and .288, 26 and 34 home runs, and drove in anywhere from 77 to 114 runs. Along with Miguel Tejada, Chavez gave the Oakland A’s one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball. He also won six straight Gold Gloves from 2001-2006 and his biggest comparable by age from 26-28 was Scott Rolen.
In fact, Billy Beane and the A’s thought so highly of Chavez that when faced with stars Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Chavez becoming free agents, they elected to sign Chavez to the big deal. But after getting his 6-year $66 million contract in 2005, Chavez had his first down season in 2006 when he hit a disappointing .241. From 2007 until now, he’s been plagued by back and neck injuries that left him unable to play and considering retirement. In the last three years, Chavy played just 64 games and hit three home runs with 25 RBIs. He has been a total non-entity, non-factor, and a forgotten man to everyone except the person handling payroll for Oakland.
But now he may be back.
Since signing a minor league deal with the Yankees and getting an invitation to spring training, Chavez has been killing the ball. He went 3-for-3 on Monday to raise his spring average to .471 (8-17). He’s been playing first and third base and figures to make it onto the Yankees’ roster as a backup corner infielder and DH if he keeps it up. What’s surprising is the way he’s been pain-free and successful after so many problematic seasons.
Let’s hope he can keep it up though we know it’s unlikely given his injury history. I’ll also add that if Chavez does regain his form, hopefully he’ll return to Oakland after the season. He’s owes the A’s after getting paid the last three years without producing.