One-Third Point Status Report: Surprises and Disappointments

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The 2014 season is now one-third of the way complete. Well, technically it’s one-third plus one game complete for the Yankees. They played their 54th game of the season on Saturday, and through that game they were on pace to go 87-75 with a -30 run differential. There is still a pretty big disconnect between the win-loss record and run differential this time of year. The relationship usually doesn’t start to stabilize until the All-Star break or so, according to Russell Carleton.

Anyway, as is the case every year, the Yankees have had some players or parts of their game be a pleasant surprise this season. There have also been some disappointments as well. That’s just baseball. Things don’t always go according to plan, both for better and worse. So, with all that in mind, let’s review the Yankees’ biggest surprises and disappointments at the one-third (plus one game) point of the 2014 season.

Surprise: Yangervis Solarte
I can’t imagine anyone doesn’t consider Solarte a massive surprise this year. Even if you totally bought into his excellent Spring Training, I still don’t think you could have reasonably expected a .294/.363/.458 (127 wRC+) batting line through the first third of the season. How could you? This is best case scenario stuff. Solarte is not a total fluke either — he has a not outrageous .305 BABIP and is a high contact switch-hitter hitter with a solid approach (23/20 K/BB). That’s a good recipe for success. The infield was pretty unsettled coming into the season, but Solarte has emerged as a legitimate everyday player and a much-needed above-average bat to lengthen the lineup.

Disappointment: Hiroki Kuroda
Maybe Kuroda’s shaky start to the season shouldn’t be much of a surprise given his age (39) and the way he closed out last season (terribly). His 4.57 ERA is by far a career-high — he’s also allowed seven unearned runs because of the lol defense — yet his peripheral stats are right in line with recent years. Check it out:

K% BB% GB% HR/FB Whiff% Zone% BABIP
2014 17.3% 3.9% 47.2% 12.3% 9.8% 42.9% 0.311
2013 18.2% 5.2% 46.6% 10.3% 9.9% 38.8% 0.282
2012 18.7% 5.7% 52.3% 13.0% 9.6% 38.7% 0.281

There’s nothing really crazy going on there. The biggest difference between Kuroda this year and Kuroda the last two years might be that he is throwing too many pitches in the strike zone, which would explain the jump in BABIP. More balls in the zone means more strikes to hit. (The shaky infield defense would explain that too.) Anecdotally, Kuroda has really struggled with his slider and to a lesser extent his splitter. When he misses, he’s missed out over the plate and the ball gets hit hard. When he’s going well, Kuroda lives on the edges and manages contact, meaning lots of weak pop-ups and grounders. Now he’s missing his spots and those pop-ups are line drives. I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a mechanical thing or something else entirely. Whatever it is, it’s made Kuroda part of the problem for the first third of the season.

Surprise: Masahiro Tanaka
Man, how great has Tanaka been? He has taken over as the undisputed staff ace and has legitimately been one of the very best starters in all of baseball. I mean, the Yankees didn’t invest $175M in him because they thought he would be a solid mid-rotation workhorse, they expected him to be an ace. But this good, this soon? An adjustment period to life in the big leagues (and a new country) would have been totally normal.

Instead, Tanaka has been elite (2.06 ERA and 2.52 FIP), with excellent strikeout (10.07 K/9 and 28.7 K%), walk (1.37 BB/9 and 3.9 BB%), and ground ball (48.0%) rates. After allowing seven homers in his first six starts, he’s allowed zero long balls in his last five starts. Tanaka’s splitter has been as advertised (49.2% whiff rate!), ditto his toughness and poise. Dude is a stone cold killer on the mound. I expected Tanaka to be very good this year, but not this good.

Disappointment: Brian McCann
Yeah, he’s been much better over the last three weeks or so, but the Yankees absolutely did not expect a .229/.292/.380 (84 wRC+) batting line out of McCann when they agreed to give him $85M over five years. The homers have been there (seven so far), the other base hits (career-low .233 BABIP) and walks (6.7%, worst in seven years) have not. I’ve thought McCann was pressing more than anything — he is hitting .269/.363/.434 with an 11/9 K/BB in 21 games dating back to the start of the Brewers series, for what it’s worth — and it really isn’t ridiculous to think a guy who changed leagues and had to learn a new pitching staff needed a few weeks to adjust. McCann is trending in the right direction, but he was a negative in the first third of the season, there’s no doubt about it.

Surprise: Dominant Setup Crew
I had no concerns about David Robertson taking over the ninth inning, and yesterday’s total meltdown notwithstanding, he’s been pretty awesome as the closer. Getting the ball from the starters to Robertson looked like it might be something of a challenge when Spring Training opened, but, as has been the case the last few seasons under Joe Girardi‘s watch, setup men have stepped forward.



Dellin Betances has been unreal, with a 1.38 ERA (0.86 FIP) and a 46.7% strikeout rate in 32.2 innings. I love that Girardi has been using him as a multi-inning setup man (I just wish it wasn’t every other day, fatigue in the second half could be a problem) and effectively turning it into a six or sometimes even five-inning game. Adam Warren has not been quite as dominant as Betances, but a 1.71 ERA (2.34 FIP) with a 23.8% strikeout rate in 31.2 innings plays just fine. Shawn Kelley had 3.52 ERA (2.35 FIP) and a 25.0% strikeout rate in 15.1 innings before hurting his back as well.

Given the lack of offense and generally short outings from the non-Tanaka starters, the setup crew has been super important this season and they have been dynamite. Getting Kelley back will allow Girardi to spread the workload around a little more, which should make them even more effective.

Disappointment: Injuries, Again
The Yankees, once again, dealt with several injuries to key players. Some of them, like Michael Pineda going down with a shoulder issue and Mark Teixeira dealing with nagging wrist soreness, should not be surprising at all. They’re coming off surgery and complications come with the territory. Others, like Ivan Nova blowing out his elbow or Carlos Beltran developing (or, really, aggravating an existing) bone spur in his elbow, kinda popped up out of nowhere.

The injuries have stretched the Yankees thin and exposed their lack of offensive depth — they had four guys (Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts, Ichiro Suzuki) in the lineup yesterday who have spent the majority of their careers as leadoff hitters, and that doesn’t include long-time number two hitter Derek Jeter either — as well as forced them to play guys out of position. I mean, 21 games at first base for Kelly Johnson? Really? Injuries are part of the game and no one is going to feel bad for the Yankees. But these are real problems they have to overcome. Again.

Surprise: The AL East Sucks
Overall, the Yankees have been pretty mediocre this season. Let’s call a spade a spade here. At the same time, the AL East as a whole has been mediocre as well. The Blue Jays have been the best team in the division by a decent margin with a 34-24 record and a +34 run differential. The other four teams are 107-116 with a -65 run differential combined. The Rays are especially terrible. They’re a half-game worse than the Astros (!) at 23-34 with a -38 run differential. Can you believe that?

The Yankees are only 3.5 games back of Toronto, which is nothing with two-thirds of the season to go. They still have five head-to-head series to play. There does not appear to be that one great team that will run away with the division, which means New York’s general mediocrity will not sink them over the summer. This division could be decided by which team gets the most impact from a call-up or makes the best (not necessarily the biggest or the most) moves at the trade deadline.

* * *

Some aspects of the Yankees are not surprising and have played out exactly as expected. The bad infield defense and general lack of power, for example. Gardner again being totally awesome and one of the most unheralded players in the league is another one. The Yankees are a flawed team and there is no argument to be made against that. They are also a flawed team in an eminently winnable division full of flawed teams. The first third of the season revealed some very real cracks in the dam. The second third is for fixing those cracks and putting the club in the best position to make a run at a postseason berth, AL East title or otherwise.

Categories : Players


  1. JoeyA says:

    IMO, the most frustrating aspect of Yankees isnt necessarily their performance, which is a bit worse than we expected, but i think anyone with a brain knew the issues this team owuld have (lack of power, INF D and production)

    No, instead its the fact that, regardless of this year’s performance, they dont seem to be willing to change how they operate.

    What i mean by this is:

    If they conitnue to play below mediocre ball and find themselves falling out of contention, they should think about stocking some pieces for the farm, which would mean capitalizing on their roster and making some trades.

    Calling up guys like O’Brien and Pirela should be options for this team. Cutting ties with Alfonso Soriano and Brian Roberts should be options as well.

    Instead, we continue to believe these older guys will turn things around while our younger guys play well in the minors.

    I don’t understand why taking a chance on an older player who hasnt been himself for years is a better bet than playing a younger kid whose cost controlled and could play up and possibly be a piece in a trade.

    The entire 40 man roster construction is a joke at this point and it’s partly due to this inability to partly rely on younger players and clog up 409 man spots with old retreads that can only do 1 or 2 things.

    • Tanuki Tanaka says:

      Because calling up a catcher who can’t make contact or field and a shortstop who didn’t really have a full season at AAA yet will save our season.

      And the “old retreads”? Still better than a bunch of youngsters who can do 0 things at this point. We’re not a team that rebuilds much, so we can’t just give spots to youngsters for the sake of giving spots to youngsters.

      • Tanuki Tanaka says:

        Just to clarify I’m not saying you’re wrong per se but I just feel that if we sink, the FO will never admit it after spending crapload of money last season, and will continue to hope veterans can turn it around until they’re pretty much mathematically eliminated. They will not even attempt to rebuild unless we’re somehow out of contention by early August.

      • JoeyA says:

        Your points are all valid and im not saying these guys will save our season. My point isnt even limited to just this season and i guess thats my larger point in general. The point of playing young guys isnt just to win, it’s also to build their value and possibly set up some trades, which is impossible the way the roster is run. They arent sure things but the bottom line is you have to take a chance on some of the kids at some point.

        Is there a single reason Roberts is playing at 2B and Pirela isnt, considering the seasons theyre bothy having.

        IF Pirela sucks, we’re in the same position we’re in now, but if he’s good, or shows something for an extended period, he can be a piece we use to build or can be a part of a trade package for something.

        But they still choose to rely on Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, & Ichiro, instead of guys like Pirela, O’Brien or Almonte.

        No younger guy, outside of the Mike Trouts and Tavares’ of the world, are sure bets. You have to take a chance at some point.

        Put another way, look at Yangervis Solarte. He is the one guy who, unless another escpaes me, was given an opportunity basically on a whim. We got rid of a “proven” MLer in Nunez and let Solarte play.

        Now, nobody could have predicted his performance, but bottom line is you never know unless you give it a try.

        I’ll tell you some guys that we knew EXACTLY what we were going to get out of:


        Now, you can’t replace them all with younger guys and hope for the best, but that is 4/9′s of a lineup that we were basically hoping would return to form, all of which have 0 legitimate talented backups to plug in if things didnt work out.

        Again, I’m far from the guy who says “give the kids a chance” just for the sake of saying it based on hindsight, but you need to start giving some opportunities to young guys, otherwise whats the point of developing anyone. You simply cant just use the “sure bet” prospoects, because, for a team that constantly contends, those cant-miss prospects are few and far between, and even some of them dont even work out (Montero)

        • ALZ says:

          Soriano has played absolutely awful for a dh. You can do a lot worse than Roberts at a middle infield position though. Look at what the Royals paid for Infante over the winter, and his wRC+ is exactly the same as Roberts’.

    • Preston says:

      “If they conitnue to play below mediocre ball and find themselves falling out of contention”

      People have been calling for this for two years. But it hasn’t happened yet. Despite the doomsday scenario that was last season the Yankees were in contention all the way. They will be again this season. Pirela is a very underwhelming prospect and has a reputation as a terrible defender. He likely would be much worse than Roberts. And the Yankees probably would never view him as a long term solution, so there’s really no reason to go that route until injury forces it. O’Brien has all of 22 games at AA, and despite the awe inspiring power he has a very underwhelming .278 OBP. Add in the fact that he doesn’t have a position and it would be absolutely idiotic to bring him up. McCann and Murphy are both superior defenders and likely better offensive players as well. And unless he posts a similar .350+ ISO at the MLB level his OBP skills aren’t going to cut it as a 1b/dh or even a corner OF spot. The kid has things he needs to work on at AA before he’s ready for AAA, let alone the bigs.

      • JoeyA says:

        It’s not just about contending, it’s about being honest about your team. Even though they “contended” most of last year, everyone knew it was a shit team. there were areas that needed upgrade and Cashman addressed maybe half of them.

        adequate 1B backup
        relying on CC to return to form

        All areas that were a problem last year, are still a problem this year, and i see no solution coming from anywhere aside from a trade.

        That has nothing to do with contending or not contending, that is simply being honest about your roster and recognizing the areas that need to be upgraded.

        Now many say “what do you want them to do”

        I don’t know. I’m not a GM. But guys like Daniels and Dombrowski find ways to shake up a roster that are partly made of “immovable” contracts like Prince Fielder. They find ways to upgrade their teams, who go for it every tear and don’t have these “rebuilding” phases we are so scared of.

        • Preston says:

          Okay, you’re fairly delusional. You bring up Daniels and Dombrowski as the examples. Dombrowski has had made the playoffs 4 times in 12 years as GM, he’s had more below .500 seasons. The Rangers are worse than the Yankees right now, because Daniels made terrible moves this off-season (funny you mention trading Fielder as a plus for Dombrowski and then mention Daniels as a good GM). Yes the Rangers put together a pretty good run the last 5 years, but it followed a run of pretty terrible baseball and they look like a clear third place team in their division right now. Is the Yankees current roster flawed, sure. But they still look pretty solid compared to the other teams in the division and once you get to the post-season anything can happen.

          • Kosmo says:

            I disagree at worst the Rangers are on par with NY. Their SP has been racked with injuries and they lost Fielder for the season. I would take an INF of Beltre, Andrus, Odor and Moreland over anything NY is trotting out here on a daily basis. Choo, Rios and Martin are certainly equal to if not better than the production NY is currently getting from their starting OF.

            • Preston says:

              “Their SP has been racked with injuries” and ours hasn’t? That happens in baseball. Yes I’d rather have Odor than Roberts, but Odor has been seriously rushed, I don’t think he’s a guarantee to produce this season. And at least for 2014 I like Jeter and Teixeira better than Andrus and Moreland. And while I doubt it will happen all season Solarte is currently outplaying Beltre. Not to mention I like us better at C, the OF, SP and bullpen.

      • Kosmo says:

        “Pirela is a very underwhelming prospect and has a reputation as a terrible defender. He likely would be much worse than Roberts.“

        Roberts has the worst fielding percentage among starting 2B in the AL. No range and a noodle arm.
        Pirela is doing well enough defensively to warrant a look . He can´t be any worse a hitter than Roberts. Pirela´s been killing it at Scranton. In my book it´s worth a shot.

        • Preston says:

          If you don’t think Pirela can hit worse than Roberts and his 86 wRC+ (which is fine for a 2b) then you didn’t watch Yankee baseball last season…

          • Kosmo says:

            last season ? Wha ?

          • Preston says:

            To illustrate the point Roberts currently has a 8.9% BB rate, a 14.4% K rate and a .118 ISO, Pirela has a 5% BB rate, a 13.4% K rate and a .112 ISO. The difference is that Roberts is doing this at the MLB level, Pirela is doing it as a 24 yo old at AAA. Put Roberts down at AAA and I’m sure he could match Pirela’s .335 BABIP too.

            • Kosmo says:

              you´re trying to elevate a washed up 36 yr old 2B who can´t field and is a .240 hitter and downplaying a 24 yr old who is mashing at AAA and is decent enough defender to get reps in the bigs. I´m sure a 24 yr old hitting .316 the last time I looked can hit .240 and defend if given a chance.

              • Preston says:

                Well if you think that BA at AAA is a highly predictive stat, then you would think that. But Roberts walk rate is substantially better, his contact rate is similar and his ISO is slightly higher while playing at a higher level of competition.

              • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

                Sounds strangely similar to what’s been said about guys like David Adams and Corben Joseph the past couple of years. Just saying.

                • Preston says:

                  And Adams and Joseph both had a broader range of skills than Pirela, Pirela is completely reliant on BA.

        • mitch says:

          I have no idea if Pirela would be an upgrade over Roberts. I doubt it, but it’s possible. Either way, we’re talking about someone who should be the 8 or 9 hitter on this team.

          The problem is that Beltran, Soriano, and McCann have played poorly and Tex has been hurt. That’s the middle of your lineup. Whatever marginal upgrade Pirela could potentially provide pales in comparison to the production of the 4-7 spots.

          • Preston says:

            If Ellsbury and McCann can start playing up to their talent level Tex can stay moderately healthy and at least one of Soriano or Beltran can get going, this team will be fine.

            • mitch says:

              exactly. A 90 wRC+ from Roberts won’t sink this team. A 90 wRC+ from the middle of the order will. If those guys can do what we expected them to do, they’ll be fine.

              • Kosmo says:

                you forgot to mention Jeter and Roberts are killing NY in the field. Off the top they have to be the worst fielding SS/2B combo in baseball. Neither have any range.

                • mitch says:

                  Roberts hasn’t been great, but Pirela would still be a downgrade defensively. Jeter has been brutal, but it’s not even worth discussing because he’s obviously not going anywhere. They could trade for Andrelton Simmons and they’d probably stick him at 3rd and keep Jeter at short

            • Derek Jeter says:

              “Tex can stay moderately healthy” – This is never going to happen..

  2. Tanuki Tanaka says:

    Surprise: We somehow didn’t get Nix, Nunez or Stewart back yet
    Disappointment: Losing to Phil Hughes
    (Mild) Surprise: Jeter’s WAR (On pace for 1.5 fWAR and 1.8 bWAR)
    Disappointment: CC
    Surprise: How much we shift around

    • I'm One says:

      And to add to the Jeter surprise, he’s hitting .316 in his past 14 games. Still no power, and his range still sucks, but at least he seems to be getting his average up towards career norms. Every little bit of offense is needed.

  3. Tyrone Sharpton says:

    Is the AL Easttruly terrible, or are the teams just beating up on each other?

    • Tanuki Tanaka says:

      Boston and Tampa lost 17 games against AL East, but the rest are okay in the regard. All east teams are bad against ALC but mixed against ALW. Interleague ALE all over .500

      Also all but Toronto has a losing record at home.

  4. JV says:

    2014 New York Yankees = Disappointment so far. Even when they win it just isn’t enjoyable. there are no guys on this team you love to watch play the game like there used to be.

    • Slap-Ass says:

      I know. I miss A-Rod.

    • Michahiro Pinaka says:

      If you don’t enjoy watching Tanaka or Betances play the game, that’s your problem, not the Yankees’.

      • JV says:

        Yes, there are 2 pitchers who are fun to watch. and thank you for completely missing my point. What I said was There are no guys that are fun to watch LIKE THERE USED TO BE.

        • Michahiro Pinaka says:

          No, I got your point. Apparently you missed mine.

          • JV says:

            No, I got your point. 2 out of the 25 guys have been exciting to watch for a 3rd of the season so you are absolutely right and I am absolutely wrong. nice point, almost as creative as your name…

            • Michahiro Pinaka says:

              When you can’t back up your crazy, attack a screen name.

              • JV says:

                My point isn’t crazy and I’d hardly call that “an attack” on your screen name. but you seem to be the commenting expert today so we’ll just run with it.

    • Wolfgang's Fault says:

      Silly me! I was laboring under the mistaken idea I actually liked watching some of these guys play.

      • JV says:

        And because we are 2 different people we are allowed to view the same thing differently…

        • Wolfgang's Fault says:

          Come on, JV, times change and generations come and go. I grew up w/Mantle, Ford, Berra, McDougald, Maris, Skowron, Kubek, Richardson, Howard, etc. Nothing lasts forever & ballplayers and rosters are at the top of the list. Sometimes my favorite players aren’t the guys who came up w/a team, but the guy who we traded for or guy who came out of no where & surprised. Lou Piniella and Sparky Lyle are two of my favorite 1970′s era Yankees and both came over in trades for then popular Yankee players (Lindy McDaniel and Danny Cater, respectively) who likewise didn’t start their careers as Yankees. Hey, the Bombers traded then fan favorite (& original Yankee & Thurman’s best friend on the team) Bobby Murcer for SF Giant Bobby Bonds, and one year later, turned around and dealt Bonds to the Angels for another soon to be fan favorite Mickey Rivers and extremely important starting pitcher Ed Figueroa.

          That’s life and that’s baseball. I haven’t exactly been enthralled w/a lot of NY Yankees since the mid 1960′s but I roll with it because they’re the NY freaking Yankees and growing up in the time I did, I couldn’t not be a Yankee fan, and all this despite the fact I thought Boss George was mostly an embarrassment. The 2014 NY Yankees are a patched together club, & it’s obvious there will be a huge turnover in personnel by 2015 & beyond. You’re watching the end of the Jeter era, which is sad if you dwell on it, but also the beginning of the next NY Yankee era which is not yet presently defined but rather exciting to contemplate. In the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of this season, bad as well as good, & digging watching all sorts of players w/all types of different histories and story lines struggling to make/keep their careers (going) while endeavoring to keep the good ship NY Yankees afloat. I don’t know if that helps, but hey, in the big picture scheme of things, it couldn’t hoyt.

  5. Slap-Ass says:

    CC is definitely missing somewhere in this article, whether it’s the injury part or disappointment part.

    • I'm One says:

      Or both.

    • JV says:

      After what we saw last year I think this year has been right about on par for CC.

      • Darren says:

        I think most people had CC penciled in as an ok innings eater at worst, not as a total bust.

        • lightSABR says:

          Yeah. Chalk me up as disappointed by CC. I wasn’t expecting ace, but I was expecting at least a serviceable back-of-the-rotation guy.

          • JV says:

            Don’t get me wrong, totally disappointed in CC’s performance. Still one of my favorites, love the big guys on the mound.

        • JV says:

          What we’ve seen is closer to what I think we all expected than a return to what he used to be.

        • Wolfgang's Fault says:

          It’s semantics, but being hurt doesn’t quality as a total bust, at least to me. The guy gets healthy again, not altogether impossible, he could give them a huge lift. It is what it is, & only time will tell.

  6. fred robbins says:

    I think there are guys to enjoy on this team. Betances is fun to watch and Tanaka is a stone cold killer on the mound. I love the look in his eyes and his whole posture out there. He really just dares a team to beat him and he has the stuff to back it up.

    Otherwise, I have to agree with Joey up at the top. It would sure be nice to see some of the youngsters who are doing well. If I never saw Soriano strike out again it would be ok with me or watching Roberts try to throw to first base on the fly or turn a double play… that’s the kind of stuff that hurts.

    • Wolfgang's Fault says:

      Actually, under routine circumstances, Roberts would be an easy guy to root for as he’s overcome a lot just to get back to this point professionally, he’s still a very good baseball player, and, no small point to me at least, he’s just a really decent/quality guy . Problem is he’s not the all-star 2nd basemen he was in his prime with the Orioles, he probably won’t ever come close to being that guy again, except perhaps in flashes, he’s a top of the order guy in a lineup w/too many of those guys in it already so he’s hitting down in the order where you’d rather have someone w/some extra base power lurking, & with the emergence of Solarte and the belief 2b is Solarte’s best position, you can begin to understand the disenchantment of some Yankee fans w/Roberts place in the lineup.

      Suddenly the franchise is awash in guys who can play 2b. Kelly Johnson’s best position is probably 2b and he does provide some pop as well there. Along w/Solarte & Johnson, you’ve got Pirela, Wheeler, and Refsnyder hitting well at Scranton & Trenton, respectively, & lest we forget, Dean Anna’s best position is 2b as well. Had all of Beltran, McCann, & Texeira been healthy and/or played well so far, I think the murmurs concerning Roberts would be muted. W/their absence &/or lack of production plus the problems w/the starting pitching, Roberts becomes an easy guy to point to for frustrated fans looking to improve the club.

      IMO, Roberts is still a quality player, will still get better as the season wears on if he’s still in the lineup, and I was happy Cashman or whomever decided to risk signing him this winter when it appeared they were thin at 2b following Cano signing w/Seattle. That said, they’ve got some serious roster issues on the big club, and I mean the entire roster, and unless and until they resolve some of these bigger issues, something hard to do while Jeter’s on his farewell tour, it will matter little who they’ve got playing 2b. The real problem is with the roster makeup more than it’s with a player like Brian Roberts, but unfortunately, when things go sour, it’s guys like Roberts are usually the ones who end up paying for it first.

  7. JV says:

    I think the infield defense can be put in as both a surprise and disappointment because we expected it to be bad but not this bad. You can almost watch the infielders mouthing “please don’t hit it to me…” while the pitcher winds up.

  8. JoeyA says:

    Funny thing is, this list is very telling and is an indictment of the roster as it was contructed:

    CC, Teixeira, Jeter, Roberts are all omitted from the list, not because they havent been disappointments but because


    We entered the season with these question marks, they ended up being exactly what we expected, and now everyone goes “well what else could we have done, we don’t get high draft picks because we contend” Same ol’ BS excuse for this front office.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      All anyone hears from you is the Peanuts “Wah wah wahh wah wah”

      Because you never add anything except the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over.

      • JoeyA says:

        1. I barely comment on this site, so to say that’s all you hear from me is that is flawed at best

        2. I’m sorry if I hold Cashman, Mr. Autonomy since 2005, to a higher standard than being able to construct a decent BP each year.

        HIS development track record has produced very little in terms of everyday impact players. We have no upper level SP talent, absolutely ZERO positional talent aside from Sanchez, who has his defensive warts and he has done very little on the trade market to help the team.

        I’m not claiming he’s the worst GM in baseball or anything along those lines, but if you argue he’s done even a decent job, i don’t know what else to tell you.

        This organization has a terrible track record, under Cashman, of developing talent and just as bad a track record of maximizing the usage of talent that they DO have.

    • Taco's Eskimo Brother says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you on this, especially in regards as the reason why the lack of talent in the system. There are annually contending clubs (Cardinals, Giants, Sox) that do not have these same issues that require them to spend massive amounts of dollars to be mediocre.

      I’m not much a fan of the reactionary “fire everyone, clean house” response, but I really think it’s time for a new direction with this club. It’s what? 9 years now since Cashman had control and we’ve regressed if anything as an organization.

      They’re so stuck in old methods and even when they try something “outside of the box” like extreme defensive shifting it seems they just shift to say they’re shifting, not actually for a true purpose. Almost like your grandpa bumping Will Smith saying “see I’m hip, I’m down”

      The problem may be at the scout level or at the minor league development level, but when it comes down to it Cashman is the person responsible for the those employees and for not having a system of measurement and accountability in place. One of the downsides of management is that responsibility for your subordinates is on you, and I don’t see any responsibility being taken.

      Hate to go there, but #Cashmanfailed

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        You don’t hate to go there, or you wouldn’t go there.

      • Get Phelps Up says:

        The annually contending Red Sox who have a distinct possibility of missing the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 years?

        And the annually contending Giants who have two playoff appearances since the 2004 season?

        • Taco's Eskimo Brother says:

          Yes, both teams who don’t get there all the time, but when they do, go deep into the playoffs and honestly look like they’re set for the next few years talent wise.

          Even when we lost to the Tigers two years ago in the ALCS were any of you confident in those games? I really felt like it was just us lucky to be there with the way the team was playing outside of Jeter and Raul hitting two of the best timed jacks I can ever remember.

          I guess my biggest issue is that nothing has changed, even though you can point to not signing Cano as a change in philosphy, they still signed Ellsbury until his age 38 season and extended CC so we have the current version for a couple more years at $50 million.

          They just always seem to take half measures, and if we’ve learned anything from Breaking Bad, it’s “no half measures”.

          And Jim yes I do hate to go there, I’ve been defending the decisions management made for so long, but now it just feels like it’s excuses. The Yankees have ridiculous resources, probably 2nd next to only the current Dodgers ownership and they really can’t put them to good use. That is a fault on Cashman and the team he assembled around him.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      Why did you lump Teixeira in with those guys? He has been excellent.

      • lightSABR says:

        I know, and he’s not the only one. Teix haters shut up – yeah, he’s still recovering from the injury, but his production so far has been outstanding.

        • lightSABR says:

          Oops – didn’t phrase that well. By “He’s not the only one,” I mean, “this guy isn’t the only one stupidly hating on Teix.”

      • JoeyA says:

        My lumping in of Tex is less due to his production and more to do with the fact that, going into this year, he was a major health liability and shouldnt have been counted on the way the front office counted on him, ya know, with not even having a backup @ 1B. thats my point, not that he sucks.

  9. Yangeddard Solarte says:

    “I can’t imagine anyone doesn’t consider Solarte a massive surprise this year.”

    HELLO. I’ve been saying this kid was a real ballplayer all season. He hits for contact, he drives in runs and right now he’s our best hitter. Not bad for someone everyone wanted to get rid of after one little slump.

    I agree with your other assessments. I think McCann isn’t just the biggest disappointment of the season, but he’s on par with the Igawas and Pavanos for Cashman’s biggest mistake of all time.

    • lightSABR says:

      You just like to complain veterans and talk up scrappy youngsters regardless of their performance. You’re still pining after Nunez, for crying out loud.

      • BigDavey88 says:

        He’s a troll, and a good one. Why do only a few people see this? His shtick is to be reactionary after every single game and be 100% hypocritical – he lauds players when they perform and buries them when they suck only to change his tune in complete 180 degree fashion when the players performance turn around.

        It’s really some overdone meta comment on a lot of people that comment on this site.

        • lightSABR says:

          That makes your comment a meta-meta-comment about a lot of people who comment on this site. Which makes this comment a…

          But yes, you’re right. He’s a troll, and I usually ignore him. But somehow his current “I’m the wise one who saw Solarte coming” routine has annoyed me enough that I haven’t been able to help myself.

  10. emac2 says:

    It was funny looking at MLB stats yesterday and sorting unqualified pitchers by strikeouts per nine innings.

    5 of the top 10 were Yankees!

    Dellin was number 5 on the Yankees??? yeah, those were for you.

  11. I love how everyone wanted McCann now wants him shipped out after ~60 games. Great support guys. I think the surprise for McCann is the amount of overshifts in MLB in general. I’d love to know how much production McCann would have on normal shifting (and none at all for that matter.)

  12. Baked McBride says:

    I could sum up the surprises in one phrase – 2014 Yankees Suck
    Strangely enough, I could also sum up the disappointments in one phrase – 2014 Yankees Suck

  13. Joe C says:

    I’m going to be honest, this team needs to stop swinging for the fence. They need to stop trying to hit balls out of the park. If they do then they’ll start to score a lot more runs even without the power. I saw the rally on Saturday and I thought that Damon was trying to swing for the fences and he got lucky. It looked to me like he was trying to swing for the fences and he ended up blooping a pitch into left center.

    • Michahiro Pinaka says:

      Damon? Ok, now all your recent rants about trying to score without relying on homeruns makes. You’re stuck in 2006-2009.

      • Michahiro Pinaka says:

        *makes sense.

      • FIPster Doofus says:

        There’s some Quantum Leap shit going on with this dude, for sure.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        You’re doing God’s work.

        I’d help, but I’m annoyed at the overwhelming negativity in the RAB comments lately.

        And busy enjoying rooting for the Terps in baseball for the first time in my life.

      • Joe C says:

        I’m serious there is no coralation betweeen hitting the long ball and scoring runs. There just isn’t. Case in point the 2011 Yankees sscored 858 runs and hit about 222 homeruns. The 2012 Yankees hit 245 homeruns but only scored 804 and they need to score something like 20 run in the last series against the Red Sox to do it. They actually went from score 5.4 runs a game to scoring 4.98 runs a game in spite of the fact that thye hit more long balls.

        Why because they struck out more and they became more or less a horrible situational hitting team. They just did. How many times they failed to advance a runner home from third with less than 2 outs. How many times they actually were caught looking at a called third strike with the bases loaded. That actually happened a lot. And guess what? They’re still doing it. They’re still doing it. If you don’t want to believe it that is fine but that doesn’t change the reality.

        Listen, I’ve litteraly seen a LOT of baseball over the last 40 years and I think I should know what I’m talking about. I’m not ‘ranting’ as you put it. NOr am I ‘delusional’ as you put it. In fact, I find your use of the word rant offensive. I really do. I am merely stating the fact as I have observed them. Nothing more nothingless.

        From what I have seen, this team is capable of scoring a lot of runs without hitting the long ball. WE saw that in St. Louis and we saw that in Chicago. When this team is patient and has a good approach to hitting takes the ball the other way and tries to hit line drives then it can really score a tone of runs. HOwever, when it swings for the fences, and tries to pull everything. Guess what happens? They go into the toilet. It’s been that way for a while. It’s been that way for years.

        To be honest, I have been wanting to see them return to the form that won them three straight titles in the 90′s. Did those teams hit homeruns? Yes but the long ball was not the centerpiece of their offense. They were actually a team that was comprised of line drive hitters who never went out of their way to to hit a lot of homeruns.

        This team on the other hand doesn’t have a lot of homerun hitters on it. But it sure seems as though they have a lot of hitters who are trying to hit homeruns. That approach just doesn’t work. I’m sorry it does. As aany slugger from Willie Mays to Henry Arron to Barry Bonds what happenes when a team tries to hit the ball out of the park. He’ll tell you that they actually don’t end up hitting homeruns. They actually end up hitting week pop ups, ground balls and will be prone to striking out.

        I’m just doing what Howard Cossell did. Now to be honest that style of reporting rubs a lot of people the wrong way because they don’t want to see truth. But that doesn’t make what I say any less true.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          I’m serious there is no coralation betweeen hitting the long ball and scoring runs. There just isn’t.


        • This is great analysis. Reminds me of the ancient baseball proverb, “why look at thousands of seasons worth of data when you can look at one?”

        • JGYank says:

          “Only 804 runs” (2nd in MLB that year, btw)

          2011 Yanks scored 867 runs, not 858.

          Ignores the fact that offense is down league wide and strikeouts are up recently.

          Didn’t look up a single stat to back up argument for the advancing runners and situational hitting.


        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          AL leader in r/g: Oakland (2nd best in HR, league worst in productive out %, 3rd worst in getting runner in from 3rd with less than 2 outs).
          The five highest scoring teams in the AL now all rank in the top 7 in HR’s.

          Home runs certainly aren’t everything, but they certainly aid in big run totals, a lot more so than getting runners in from third.

          Yes you can occasionally put up big run totals without power. You just can’t consistently do it unless maybe you have a team of elite non-power hitters. The Yankees don’t currently have an elite any kind of hitter.

          Oh, and seeing a lot of baseball doesn’t mean you know anything. Jon Sterling has seen a lot of baseball. He’s about as obtuse as it comes.

  14. Mike says:

    If you take out the Blue Jays, we would be #1 in the division. We are a few pieces away from being a great team.

  15. Grit for Brains says:

    Five back of the A’s for the best record in the league and the team hasn’t even come close to hitting its stride yet…I’ll take it

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      It’s gonna be hard to hit any kind of stride with an awful middle infield, a rotation in shambles and the likes of McCann, Beltran and Soriano grossly underperforming.

  16. WFAN Caller says:

    David Robertson, Adam Warren, JRM, Yan Solo, Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, David Phelps…I mean, as much as this organization “sucks” and does a “horrible” job developing players, I’m very happy with the the pieces contributing this season.

    What I think people fail to realize is that dynasties like the Yankees run in the late 90′s/early 2000′s are an anomaly. They are like catching f*cking lightning in a bottle. If they were common then fans wouldn’t pine for them. Be happy the team hasn’t fallen out of contention. Be happy that the team has managed to successfully translate minor league talent into big league production.

    • qwerty says:

      Both Tanaka and Solarte came out of the yankee farm system, so how bad could they possibly be at developing talent? All the naysayers are eating crow right now!

      • WFAN Caller says:

        I assume you’re being sarcastic and sure I probably should not have included Solarte, but at the very least the Yankees were able to target a low cost/low risk MLFA and have it work out.

  17. LeftyLarry says:

    Gardner to me has a lot of untapped potential.

    Have we ever brought in a base running Coach like they used to bring in the old days like a Maury Wills or Lou Brock or even a Rickey Henderson to help Bret learn how to run bases?

    Additionally, his approach is often terrible at the plate and his swing changes under this batting Coach not helped him.Long and Giradi were both singles hitter and see Gardner like themselves yet Gardner is a more talented a hitter than either of them.
    He has huge Mickey Mantle style forearms and if he strode into the ball more and drove it, he could be a doubles machine with more HR”s without hurting his batting average if he swung and didn’t take two strikes over and over.
    He could turn on these fastballs, not watch them pass him and then strike out swinging at breaking balls in the dirt.

    • Wolfgang's Fault says:

      Hopefully, some MLB club feels as you do & is willing to put their money where your mouth is & make us a quality deal for Gardy. W/ Ellsbury’s signing, Gardner’s place on the team is no longer justified, particularly when they have so many other needs. I’m open to a quality starting pitcher or pitching prospect(s), young quality shortstop, young power right-hand hitting outfielder. What’ve you got?

      • Both are producing quite well, I wouldn’t move Gardner.

        • qwerty says:

          Gardner is producing at a level past his career norms. He will come down eventually. Why wait that long and sell low?

          • Because prospects bust out easy, look at AA vs. our AAA ones.

          • FIPster Doofus says:

            Why sell at all? Gardner’s a terrific player signed to a nice deal. Just because he’s like Ellsbury, that doesn’t mean get rid of him. That’s stupid.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            Tanaka’s going to get worse eventually too. Better move him quick.

            • Wolfgang's Fault says:

              They need pitching, Mike. They don’t need two small ball outfielders when they’re more like them in their system and they have other more pressing needs. That’s what making trades is all about. You deal from your strength to acquire a player or players that address your weaknesses. Once the Yankees committed to & signed Elsbury, particularly due to the makeup (& flaws) of the rest of the roster, Gardner became expendable.

              • Preston says:

                That’s actually not how the majority of baseball trades work and it’s even more rare in season. Most trades, are we trade young cheap unproven commodities, who have all 6 years of team control waiting for one or two seasons of a more certain player.

            • Preston says:

              Especially if we could get some future superstars in A ball, heck we could probably get a SS, C, SP and RP. Those guys would certainly turn into the next core four.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

            Only slightly.

    • mitch says:

      He’s on pace to steal 40 bases at a 90%+ success rate. He’s also been their best hitter after Solarte and Tex. Aren’t there enough things to complain about?

    • qwerty says:

      Fans have praised his approach for years because he “sees” a lot of pitches. What good is it if you end up with a ton of strike outs, a .270 BA and a .350 OBP?

      • FIPster Doofus says:

        Get on base 35 percent of the time, steal a ton of bases and play great defense. Nope, no need for that.

        • WFAN Caller says:

          He also averaged a ~4 WAR in his last two healthy seasons (2011/2013). Gardner is a valuable player.

          Anyone who doesn’t see value in players who see a lot of pitches is obviously out of touch with the value advanced metrics or Joe Morgan disguised as a cynical commenter on a Yankees blog.

          • Wolfgang's Fault says:

            The issue isn’t whether Gardner is valuable to the Yankees. It’s whether they Yankees are a better team w/both him and Ellsbury in the lineup as opposed to what the team becomes w/whatever they acquire in a deal for Gardner. For example, as a hypothetical, if the Yankees dealt Gardner for a young quality starting pitcher (& maybe another useful pitcher/player) and then also hypothetically put someone like Almonte/Adonis Garcia/Zelous Wheeler/Flores (before the ankle injury)/etc., in left field (remember, just a hypothetical as the identity of the replacement left fielder is just a placeholder for the purposes of this discussion) and that player, Almonte or someone else gave you commensurate production and reasonable defense in the outfield, the club is improved considerably. Should any of the stopgaps I mention above do well in left field, you’ve either found a long-term solution to left-field or they too can be dealt for other needs once one of the other higher profile outfielders in the system shows they’re ready. That’s how you rebuild a ball club. You deal from your strength to bolster or eradicate a weakness & you get the most out of all the pieces in your system, using them to your advantage while you rebuild. I don’t want to deal Gardner because he’s not a good player or that I don’t like him. I want to deal Gardner because it’s the most logical way to acquire talent that makes them a better overall team. Hey, maybe a guy like Sizemore could be plugged into a an infield/outfield platoon spot and he/they give you enough production to cover the loss of Gardner’s offensive contributions and the newly acquired player(s) give you other things that make them better. Gardner’s the logical player they should deal, the the better he’s playing now, the better the player(s) they can acquire in a trade.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

              Gardner is certainly expendable, especially with Elsbury, but I seriously doubt they get equivalent seasonal value in a trade.
              And it’s not like he’s completely expendable, Beltran likely to be more and more of a DH going forward, so they’re going to need 1 OF anyways, trading Gardner just creates another hole.

            • WFAN Caller says:

              The Yankees are better with Gardner and Ellsbury in the lineup. Who are they getting in return that would offset the loss of one of their more productive players?

            • WFAN Caller says:

              Also, the Yankees don’t “rebuild.” They never have and they never will. Everyone needs to start accepting the team for what they are and not what they think they should be, AKA some mix of a small market Moneyball club with a juiced up payroll and the magical ability to deal Brett Gardner for Sonny Gray.

      • JGYank says:

        Did you actually use his AVG and OBP as an argument against his approach? Wow.

  18. Robert says:

    Plenty of room on the 40 man roster for moves.
    Am I wrong in assuming none of the following will not return or make it to the Bronx.Pitchers Campos,Mitchell and Greene Position players Anna,Sizemore, Flores or Healthcott.

    • Rule V draft. Campos is on TJS and 60-day DL nominee.

    • Wolfgang's Fault says:

      Yes, you’re wrong. Even Sizemore has a shot to still make the big club. He’ll certainly be back in the bigs somewhere regardless. All the others could be called/recalled depending on the circumstances and their development. Would never rule out Campos, Mitchell or Green at this early stage, and Heathcott is still a viable upside prospect.

  19. lightSABR says:

    Teix belongs on the surprise side of this column. Sure, he’s been hurt some, but he’s hitting better than he has since 2009. And it doesn’t look like luck, either – his BABIP is in line with his last few years, and his LD% has improved slightly. His HR/FB is probably unsustainable (24%, which I expect to fall down around 20% by the end of the season), but other than that, Teix looks good.

  20. mick taylor says:

    yanks need to take the peds edwin encarcion is on to aid this feeble offense . encarcion went from a guy who after he was cut by the blue jays 3 years ago no other team wanted to re-signing with the jays after a mediocre poer lacking career up to that time. he then becomes robinson cano’s work out buddy and blossoms into baseball’s most feared slugger, hitting 16 home runs in may. this is one short of ped user bond’s record and ties the great mickey mantle and steroid head mark mcguire as the only other players in baseball history to hit at least 16 home runs. encarcion ain’t mick, but he is a ped user like mcguire

    • qwerty says:

      It’s a shame how PED users have ruined one aspect of baseball. No one even cares about the home run record anymore. You hit 20 home runs after 2 months and it barely gets a mention.

  21. qwerty says:

    the yankees wanted home runs from the catching position and McCann is giving them exactly that. Saying they didn’t expect him to hit .230 is kind of turning a blind eye to what his stats have been trending at for the last few years and the last 2 years especially. If they expected more than what he gave the braves in 2012 and 2013 then Cashman and the FO are pretty gullible.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      Repeatedly making the same terrible point doesn’t make it less terrible.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      2012, looking at the rest of his career, appears to be an outlier, probably largely due to his injury that year (shoulder, iirc).

      I think the Yankees would happily sign on for exactly what he gave the Braves in 2013 (except over a full season)

      wRC+ by season:
      2009: 119
      2010: 123
      2011: 122
      2012: 87
      2013: 122

      Doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to expect about a 120 wRC+ hitter for the next couple of years or so, if healthy.

  22. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    Getting this team to a really competitive place is going to obviously require some work. On the surface, needs (in no order) strike me as:

    1) Either a real 2B or a real 3B. Solarte takes one of those spots, just because he’s forced the team’s hand. Even if his downward trend continues, the dude deserves a roster spot.

    Jeter is going to play SS because Jeter. Let’s all just deal with it. A lot of people are mentioning Jose Pirela lately and while he’s hitting pretty good, his fielding is substandard. For what it’s worth, the fangraphs Oliver projections had him as a 2 WAR player more or less over the next 5 years.

    Considering Brian Roberts being substandard with the bat and the glove, I would be ok with giving Pirela a try. He could be worse but he could be better, but he’s not forcing their hand.

    Otherwise we have to explore the trade market. Is this the real Chase Headley we’re seeing? What kind of INF could Mr. Murphy net us?

    2) A starting pitcher. Aside from #TANAK, this team is in trouble on the mound. Chase Whitley is a long reliever until his endurance catches up, CC is going full slow-motion car wreck, Kuroda is just “off” right now, Pineda (as Mike has stated repeatedly) unable to be relied on for anything, and Dave Phelps and Vidal Nuno would really be better off in the pen. Guys like Shane Greene waiting for the next injury don’t inspire much confidence.

    Unlike with the infield, there are no legitimate options to experiment with here from the farm. As mentioned above, Greene is still finding himself at AAA. Based on his AA numbers, he could end up as a decent mid-rotation guy. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Trading for the Shark or Hammel would be the all-in move. The Cubs will be asking above the reasonable price for either. You know it, I know it. Watching Dickey, Garza and Dempster have been traded for, we all know the price is gonna be up there. I hate giving in to that sort of deal because neither of those two guys strike me as legitimately worth what we will pay. They might even end up as clunkers. I don’t know who needs a catcher and who has pitching to deal, but the Yankees are working from a disadvantage in that they want to win, while the Cubs (for now) are content with mediocrity. They’ll wait for someone to overpay them because they’re fine sucking until whenever.

    To me, this team needs to aim for the middle chunk of the rotation. A #2, 3 or 4 starter.

    3) Another middle reliever or 2. The Matt Daleys, the Preston Claibornes etc. The back end of Warren, Dealin’ Dellin, Robertson (and soon Kelley) have been beyond expectations. Dynamite. And every team naturally lets the cannon fodder take the 6th or 7th, but with the state of this rotation, adding another good (screw it I’m greedy, great) arm to the bullpen would help mitigate some of the damage. I remember everyone drooling over the 6 inning game potential of Robertson, Mo and Rafael Soriano. We need it more now than we did back then.

    It’s hard to prioritize these, as you have to account for what you have in the farm (both to replenish your own roster and to trade) and what the market is going to make available. Is Pirela a legitimate option? Will Mark Montgomery figure his sh*t out? Is Jose Ramirez coming? What can we get for Murphy? Will there be a good infielder or #2, 3 or 4 starter available to trade for at an acceptable cost? Do the Phillies really just not want us to succeed?

    From my view, pitching is #1. The current state and ongoing question marks behind Tanaka mean we need some decent injection of quality innings. After that, it’s the infield. We need a legitimate player that can hit and field his position (2B or 3B) decently. Could that just mean replacing Roberts with Johnson? Could be. Finally, another reliever. This may be the most easily fillable need through the farm. You have to hope one of Jose Ramirez or Mark Montgomery can get themselves up to contribute.

    These are just some thoughts moving forward.

  23. Thanks, Mr. Williams. I think your comments are very accurate. So much of the conversation here gets very personal and nasty. We need to clean up our own acts. We want to talk baseball, not politics.

  24. Derek Jeter says:

    So far this team is, if not the worst, one of the shittest Yankee teams in the last 18 years. Their defense is miserable, their offense is junk, plus all the injuries.. They are just hard to watch. The jeter/roberts combination is an error every game in the field. If they dont error, they just miss a ball 2 steps to the right because of their lack of range or cant turn a double play because roberts has no arm. The teams best players have been: Solarte, Gardner, Tanaka, Betances, and JRM… this is a joke

  25. nycsportzfan says:

    The AL EAST is getting better. Toronto is proving to be no fluke and the O’s signing of Nelson Cruz looks great right now and he really fills out there lineup and there pitching rotation isn’t bad. Boston has won 7 in a row and the Yanks are in the postseason as of now. The only bad team is Tampa Bay. And not to mention, alot of it is beating up on eachother as certainly isn’t a news shock.

  26. Mike says:

    Our best players are a testament to our farm system.

    • qwerty says:

      I don’t want to hear anyone complain the yankees don’t know how to develop pitching after what Tanaka has shown us!

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