Jul
29

The incremental upgrade that isn’t a trade

By
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The non-waiver trade deadline is roughly 48 hours away, and based on the way he’s been talking the last few days, it seems likely Brian Cashman will swing another trade or two in an attempt to improve the team. Another starting pitcher feels inevitable, and they’ve been connected to a bunch of right-handed hitting outfielders as well. Those two upgrades are the bare minimum to make a run in the second half, in my opinion.

The Chase Headley trade solidified the infield, at least in the sense that they replaced a collection of bad players at the hot corner with one potentially good one. Headley’s first week in pinstripes has gone very well — 9-for-27 (.333) with two doubles, a homer, and a walk-off single — and hopefully that continues through the end of the season now that he’s out of Petco Park and doesn’t have to be The Man in the lineup. The upgrade on defense has already been noticeable as well.

The Yankees are locked into Derek Jeter at shortstop and Mark Teixeira at first base for a few reasons, and so far they’ve lived with Brian Roberts at second. In fact, I wouldn’t even say they’ve “lived” with him, they seem legitimately happy to have him out there. Roberts has somehow managed to stay healthy and he always puts together a long and quality at-bat, which is not nothing. Given how hacktastic this lineup has become, seeing someone who doesn’t go down on two or three pitches each time out is refreshing.

The problem is that Roberts’ long at-bats have not led to enough production. He is hitting a weak .237/.300/.360 (81 wRC+) in 348 plate appearances this year, including an even weaker .226/.281/.352 (72 wRC+) in 171 plate appearances since June 1st. Roberts was steady in the field earlier this season but has been much worse defensively of late, making three errors in ten games since the All-Star break and bobbling just about everything that isn’t hit right at him. He’s a liability both at the plate and in the field right now.

Remarkably, Roberts have remained pretty healthy this season. He missed a few games with a minor back issue in April but that’s it. His 91 games played are his most since 2009, his last full, healthy season. Given his age and his lengthy injury history, it could be that he is simply wearing down in the second half of the season. That would explain the lack of hitting and reliable fielding. It’s tough to expect a 36-year-old who has averaged 48 games and 202 plate appearances per year over the last four years to be an everyday player across a full season.

Soon after the Headley trade, Brian Cashman told reporters that while he is looking to make big upgrades to the roster at the trade deadline, he is making smaller, incremental upgrades whenever possible. “We have to try to improve, reinforce and upgrade, certainly,” said the GM to Andrew Marchand last week. “We certainly we would love to have some significant upgrades but when you lose four out of five starters, it is hard to re-materialize the same type of abilities with the guys you lost. It is whether you incrementally upgrade.”

(Scranton Times-Tribune)

(Scranton Times-Tribune)

Unlike the rotation and right field, the Yankees may be able to make an incremental upgrade at second base without having to make a trade. Second base prospect Rob Refsnyder — who you have all heard about by now — is stashed in Triple-A, hitting .296/.400/.500 (151 wRC+) with seven homers in 44 games and 190 plate appearances with the RailRiders after dominating with Double-A Trenton early in the season. He has cooled down of late but still has a solid .250/.327/.427 (108 wRC+) batting line this month. When a young player hits like that, you have to take notice, especially when he plays a position of need, both short and long-term.

Despite his Triple-A success, Cashman made it clear he doesn’t believe Refsnyder would be enough of an upgrade to justify calling him up and dropping Roberts. “I don’t think he would be significantly upgrading at second base right now … If you did see [Refsnyder], he would be probably more likely an outfielder for us. It’s a super big jump to the big league level,” said Cashman during a radio interview last week. He also pointed out the 40-man roster issue — Refsnyder won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible for another year and they don’t want to clog up the 40-man roster, though that seems like a lame excuse more than anything. I don’t think a 40-man spot would stand in the way of helping the MLB club.

Now, here’s the thing: I’m not completely sold on the idea of Refsnyder being an upgrade over Roberts either. The defensive question marks at second are real, and Refsnyder struggled immediately after being promoted to both Double-A and Triple-A this year. That’s not unusual, Brett Gardner had the same problem while he was climbing up the minor league leader, but it is something to consider. The whole “how could he be any worse/what’s the harm?” argument is totally silly because Refsnyder could absolutely be worse than Roberts, just like David Adams was worse than Kevin Youkilis and Austin Romine was worse than Chris Stewart. It could always be worse.

At this point though, I think Roberts has forced the team’s hand and given them every reason to try someone new at second base. He isn’t hitting and he hasn’t been reliable in the field. When a player’s only redeeming quality is the ability to foul off pitches and have long at-bats, it’s time to try someone new. Roberts is about to start making some decent bucks through bonuses — he has already banked $350,000 in incentives and is two plate appearances away from another $250,0000 — so there is a financial incentive to make a change as well. The Yankees would pay Refsnyder through the end of the season less than the bonus they’d owe Roberts if he gets those next two plate appearances.

I would like to think being pulled for a pinch-hitter last night was the team’s way of preventing Roberts from triggering that next bonus under the guise of improving their chances to win, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case. The Yankees love their veterans and seem to think Roberts has some very real value to the team, but I don’t see it. Not at this point. He isn’t hitting and he isn’t fielding. When all the GM talks about are incremental upgrades and you’ve got a this sort of second base situation at the MLB and Triple-A levels, I don’t know how they don’t make a move. Refsnyder might not produce when he gets called up. It’s a very real possibility. But we know Roberts isn’t producing. That part isn’t up for debate. If they’re not going to make a change now, when will they?

Categories : Players
  • Cameron

    What Cash is saying is that the chance of a Solarte-like start as likely as Refsnyder having a Tavares-like start with STL. At this point, you can’t risk a guy starting out hitting under .200. I think he’ll be there in 2015 though.

  • rbibaseball

    Can we just trade for Aaron Hill already

    • Kosmo

      I tend to agree. Hill would give NY a RHB with some pop. He´s been hitting well of late. He has 49 RBI(more than any current Yankee) many in clutch situations. Hill has a hefty 2 year contract remaining but that could work in NYs favor. He could always be flipped if Refsnyder is ready to begin the 2015 season plus now it gives Refsnyder more incubation time while he learns to play 2B.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He’s hitting just poorly as Roberts and is 4x more expensive.

      • Kosmo

        Well over twice as many RBI, Hill can actually hit a little with 2 outs,RISP something Roberts is incapable of.

        Yes he´s expensive but NY can make due with his contract and he could be an insurance policy next year since NY doesn´t have a proven commodity to play 2B. If Refsnyder plays 2B in 2015 NY can trade Hill to fill a need elsewhere.

        I would think a few teams have Hill in their sights.

        • pat

          Hill has been worse in both categories that you mentioned.

          2014 Aaron Hill hitting w/ 2 outs: .230/.293/.319 .611 OPS
          2014 Brian Roberts hitting w/2 outs: .230/.306.400 .706 OPS

          2014 Aaron Hill hitting w/RISP: .269/.308/.366 .674OPS
          2014 Brian Roberts hitting w RISP: .242/.360/.355 .715 OPS

          • Kosmo

            Hill 2 outs RISP is hitting .286

      • rbibaseball

        Zips has Hill at 0.7 WAR the rest of the way, and Roberts at 0.1 WAR. He’s worth taking a shot on. As for the next 2 years it would be a problem.

    • No 2013 again

      So you want one of the 2 second basemen who are actually worse than Roberts this year? Great idea!

      • Kosmo

        show me where Hill is a worse offensive 2B ? What because Hill has walked fewer times ?

        • Need Pitching & Hitting & Defense

          He’s barely been better. And he’s signed for 2 more years at too much money.
          If he just had 1-year left, he might be semi-worthwhile in an attempt at a very tiny upgrade.

          To lock yourself into 2 more-years of an aging, subpar player for that tiny upgrade is just foolish.

    • stuart a

      no thank you. he is bad and under contract next year.

      NO.

      • BigDavey88

        No parades thrown for Hill!

    • Old Man Time

      Have you “let’s trade for Hill” guys ever heard of stats? Look ‘em up.

      • Kosmo

        I have and Hill is a better all around 2B than Roberts.

        • Old Man Time

          Hill .255/.290/.388 Approximately $30M remaining
          Roberts .237/.300/.360 less than $1M remaining

          Hill: -0.7 bwar
          Roberts 1.3 bwar

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            He meant ‘with his own eyes.’

          • rbibaseball

            Ok, I see that we are in the lets look at what he’s done boat rather than see what he will do boat. Roberts hasn’t played a full season in years and is simply going to wear down. Think Vernon Wells with Roberts.

            While Hill has been bad this year, there is probably a chance he rebounds a bit and will give the team more power than Roberts will down the stretch.

            In other words we are two weeks away from seeing Roberts becoming a black hole in the lineup.

            • Deathstroke Heathcott

              I’m not paying $30 million for, “might rebound to be better than Roberts.”

            • Old Man Time

              Those stats are the what’s he doing this season fucking boat.

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Mike, can you review the “bonus details” of Roberts’ contract for this year?

  • ac1

    Refsnyder isn’t the only option, though I agree Cashman excuse was LAME. Pirela is also in AAA, has played 2B and is also hitting at the AAA level. Again I say, what is the point of having them if you aren’t going to promote them when it is clear to everyone a change is needed at 2B AND RF!?!?!?!

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Pirela comes with the same issues Refsnyder would come with, and is that much less a prospect to boot.

      I don’t get this “what’s the point in having them” line of thinking. There are a million and one reasons you have someone in your MiLB system besides promoting them tomorrow.

  • Frank

    Locked in with Texeira at first? LOL. You can’t be serious. The guy is falling apart and they have no backup. And you’re focused on Roberts?

    • Chip

      We’re both talking about the same guy who is the best power hitter in this lineup right?

      • Frank

        What does that have to do with the fact he can’t stay on the field?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          For the millionth time, having a guy whose sole purpose is to play 40 games a year to spell Mark Teixeira, in an era of four-man benches and 12-man bullpens, is an incredibly stupid use of a roster spot.

          At the very least, tell me you’d rather have a more versatile backup who can play a more passable first, if needed, than Johnson and the McCann/Cervelli experiment. That’s an argument with some legs to it.

          McCann’s been bad. No one went into this thinking that arrangement was made for defensive purposes.

          • Frank

            The backup, or lack thereof, is a seperate issue. Mike is saying Tex is a lock at first; I say that’s laughable. It’s just compounded by the fact the Yanks never got a decent backup and decided to wing it by playing Johnson and McCann there. And the fact Tex is the best power hitter on the team means squat if he’s not able to stay on the field.

            • Old Man Time

              Nothing like digging in your heels when you’re wrong, huh?

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Half of what you replied to me with has absolutely nothing to do with what I said, and ignores the actual valid point I made in favor of your righteous angry lather.

              Also,

              I THOUGHT YOU WERE ONLY WATCHING TWO MORE GAMES THIS YEEEEEEEEAR?!?!?!?! HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH THEN?!?!

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          Injured Mark Teixeira is still either the 2nd or 3rd best hitter on this team.

          Barring a complete Chase Headley or Carlos Beltran turn around.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Holy shit.. this guy with the backup 1B thing again.

  • Rob S.

    I agree. Roberts doesn’t hit enough to put up with his lousy defense. They’d probably be better with Brendan Ryan playing second every day. I really thought Roberts would be a solid player if he could just stay healthy but it hasn’t worked out that way.

    • Argenys

      I thought he would be solid too.

      Refsnyder, would be an upgrade offensively, probably. But if his defense is still that bad, then he would hurt our team more than help it. Let him keep practicing in the minors in preparation for next year.

  • Jacoby Eddardsbury

    I’d call him up this afternoon and DFA Roberts. Refsnyder can’t really be any worse. When Kelly comes off the DL I’d play him at 2nd more than Roberts but Kelly is another guy hitting .200. The Ichiro/Roberts/Kelly Johnson experiments have failed miserably. Cashman thought we could get by with these 3 guys in the lineup and he was flat out wrong. Time to play the kids and see what they can do.

    • Kevin S

      Exactly–and where is our backup 1st baseman?

    • ac1

      In Cashman’s defense, I dont think his plan was for Ichiro to be playing everyday when the season started, but yes he did plan on Roberts and Johnson being the everyday 2B and 3B. Honestly Johnson seemed like a solid pick up at the time, to be a bench/utility player. Unfortunately, baseball players are apparently made of glass.

      On the Tex front, he basically told us yesterday not to expect him to play everyday for the rest of his contract. He said he is older and doesn’t heal like he used to. YOU ARE 34!!!! Not 70. Give me a break.

      • emac2

        Cash did not expect Roberts and Johnson to be full time starters this year. I would bet he hoped for about 300 AB each.

        • Jacoby Eddardsbury

          So who else did he think was going to play those positions, Dean Anna? Solarte? He had no plan. He knew A-Rod was suspended. Teixera always gets hurt and he had no backup. Apparently Kelly Johnson was supposed to start everyday at 3rd, split time at 2nd and backup 1st and RF.

          • emac2

            Solarte, Anna, Ryan and a mid season pickup or two.

            I think you mistake a lack of a star plus a backup at each position as a lack of a plan. They solidified the outfield, catcher and pitching. The infield solution was a lot of middling players with versatility.

            The issue with this team is pitching injuries that have prevented the intended trades for offense when injuries defined the teams ultimate needs.

            I liked the approach. I preferred to spend the money where we spent it. I didn’t see infield options that made sense.

            My issue is that this approach requires you cycle through options until someone sticks. You don’t wait for proven massive improvement to justify dumping someone like Roberts for the next man up.

            • hogsmog

              There’s no way you can say Cash went into the season counting on Solarte to be a starter; he barely squeaked on to the 25th roster spot, and even that was a big surprise. Nobody would have batted an eye if he was sent down before the end of April; he was a complete question mark. Ryan’s back was screwed up in spring training, so counting on him was out of the question, too.

              • emac2

                My whole point is that none of them were supposed to be full time starters.

      • Chip

        Said the guy sitting in front of his computer

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Could be standing. Could be doing burpees. How do we know?

      • Kevin S

        True–Johnson did play better/TB. Tex must be tone deaf. Not exactly words you should be uttering when you make $22 mil/yr. Personally, I’m tired of him and Sabathia. These are our guys going forward.

      • Scott

        How old are you? I’m 40, I’m in the military and part of being in the military is to stay in shape. I work out 4 times a week, so I can say with all confidence I am in better shape than at least half of the men in America.

        However, when I turned 30, my recovery time after difficult physical training sessions and long runs increased exponentially. And I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you it seemed to be on the day I turned 30. I can still run almost as good as I did 15 years ago, but now I need 2 days to recover instead of being out there the same day. When I do get injured (sprained ankle, strained hammy) it has taken me 6-8 weeks to get back into it. When I was running in college I had a grade 1 hamstring strain and still competed the next day.
        I’m obviously not a pro athlete playing at the level these guys are, so when Tex says he needs time off from time to time, you have to believe him. His body knows best, and time stops for no man, unless he is on PEDs.

        • ac1

          I am 32 and I also run 5 times a week. I agree that you feel more pain once you hit 30, but I also think there are things you should be playing through. The guy is making 23M/year and has missed a lot of time, some of which I believe was unnecessary.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Perhaps.

            I also think the injuries he’s been out with this year are ones you shouldn’t be trying to play through.

        • greg c

          Yeah, but how’s your diet?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          40 year-old RABers unite!

          • trr

            Move over young fellows and let this 58 y/o butt in; I’ve been athletic all my life; ran marathons (at 6’5″ /220 lbs!) lifted, biked, and played amateur softball for ’bout 35 of the last 40 years…Recovery time most definitley does increase by quite a bit as we age; I will personally attest to that. However, we are not professional athletes who have to stay healthy through the end of the season and maybe into the (hopefully) post-season. Some people here seem to think Tex is either soft or jaking it. Myself, I don’t think that at all, but let’s face it: you never really know what’s going on inside someone else…Bottom line, we need Tex as healthy as he can be the rest of the way to even have a shot at winning this thing.

    • viridiana

      Weak argument that Refsnyder could be worse than Roberts. Yeah, and Betances could have been worse than Chris LeRoux. And Warren could have been worse than Billings. And Shane Green could have been another Sergio Mitre. The point is when a kid hits like Refsnyder has, dominating at two levels after dominating in the College World Series and increasingly impressing scouts, you have to make room for him — especially when you have a weak lame-duck incumbent.
      The Yankees are old and boring. Start working in the kids now. The longer they wait to start, the harder this transition will be.

  • Donny

    Swing a trade for Asdrubal and Masterson, stick Cabrera at 2nd. His defense isn’t great at short but it can certainly be limited if he moved to 2nd. Both of guys could probably be had for a non top 5 prospect.

    • Bret The Hitman

      I’m definitely in favor of these incremental, low-cost upgrades until the bigger fish like Cliff Lee and Matt Kemp pass through the waiver wire.

      • hogsmog

        Is Kemp really an upgrade over anybody?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I’m not convinced Masterson is an improvement over Chris Capuano , at this point.

    • Bret The Hitman

      It’s amazing that Asdrubal Cabrera has never OPS’d over .800 yet made the All-Star team 2x. He’s really a doubles hitter but for a middle infielder he’s capable of producing at a clip that gives the Yankees a small positional advantage over other teams.

    • Old Man Time

      Get Masterson so we can complete the starting DL rotation?

  • Bret The Hitman

    Mentioned in the previous thread, Asdrubal Cabrera. He’s an upgrade at 2B and can play SS or 3B. He’s a righty who is versatile on defense. He’s a rental as well, on a team looking to sell.

    • Donny

      ^Beat ya to it

    • AWC

      He is a switch hitter.

    • Kosmo

      when was the last time Cabrera played 2B ? flip a switch and he is then a capable defensive player ?

      • Mister D

        Eh. The turn might be a bit shaky but I lean closer to “hasn’t” than “can’t” when you’re walking down the spectrum. You have to be atleast a decent defensive player overall to be a bad major league SS. (Either of the standard issues, range or arm, are mitigated by a move across 2B.)

  • Kevin S

    Like the idea–worth a try–Roberts looks done. Yanks need to try anything to upgrade. Unfortunately, several moves made in The offseason that the Yanks supposedly “won” have failed badly and made desperation moves necessary. Really, replacing Cano w/Roberts was pretty lame.

  • emac2

    I agree with cutting Roberts now.

    I hope we aren’t making trades to save money in a few years via service time.

    Ref took a week to adjust to AAA. Gardy took a half season to adjust to each level.

  • CashmanNinja

    I realize Roberts is decent when it comes to lengthening at bats, but he’s really not bringing much to the table. His bad defense goes way beyond errors. He’s had tons of plays where he’ll get a ball, but bobble it/be unable to get a grip on it, and miss out on a double play. He’s poor with turning double plays and simply isn’t very good. If you take away that one game where he had tons of extra base hits then his numbers look even worse. He has a WAR of 0.1 … just … wow. That’s why I think that Refsnyder could come in and at the very least produce at the same clip both offensively and defensively. And if he happens to stumble then let Kelly Johnson play the majority of 2nd when he gets back (since it is probably his best position), or use Pirela. Keeping Roberts is hurting the team more than helpling.

    • ac1

      Again I say, if they want to wait on RR until 2015, bring up Pirela. RR is the future, so who cares if Pirela comes up and struggles (they arent concerned with him long term anyway). Worth a shot, but to say RR isnt ENOUGH of an upgrade? So do nothing instead? Sounds like Congress..

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The fans who come to realize you just replaced your mediocre veteran .240 hitting second baseman with a rookie hitting .160 in August, while your team is within reach of a playoff spot, would care quite a bit if Pirela struggled.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      You make a really good point. If the Yanks DFA Roberts and Refsnyder can’t do the job, second is one of the few positions for which the Yanks have organizational depth. They can try some combination of KJ, Wheeler, Ryan, Pirela and Sizemore and hope to hit on something. It is unlikely any of the non-Refsnyder guys would be good, but it is likely that someone/some combo could at least match Roberts (and all but Pirela are likely better defensively).

  • Frank

    Cashman has said repeatedly Refsnyder isn’t coming up this season. While I personally would like to see it happen, I believe Cashman holds to his guns on this one. Unless Roberts perhaps is lost for the season due to injury. Next season, different story.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Oh, I think he comes up in September. You’ll see him this year.

      • Chip

        He won’t if Cashman doesn’t want to give him a 40 man spot

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I don’t think a spot for him will be that hard to find, especially since he’s getting one in a month’s time or so anyway.

          • KeithK

            The way I read it, they don’t want to put RR on the 40 man until after the Rule 5 draft since he doesn’t have to be protected this year. That means keep they keep him off the roster until sometime next year when he earns a call up. If that happens in March then great.

  • Vern Sneaker

    For me the issue is whether we might hurt Refsnyder’s development towards 2015 by bringing him up now. I’ve found it difficult to get a good sense of whether he’s anywhere near ready defensively, and if he’s not he may well be better off continuing to learn and improve at AAA. I just can’t say I have the information to know which is better. It’s also a bit concerning that he’s cooled down offensively in July. In other words, unless he’s going to be a clear upgrade — such as the Headley move — that will help us slide into the playoffs (how likely is that in any event?), maybe it’s best to let him do August at Scranton.

  • Aenys

    Yeesh, cutting or benching a guy two at bats before he triggers a bonus incentive, mainly to avoid him getting that incentive?

    That is a recipe for making future contract deals way harder for a team — not to mention demoralizing current players who saw their teammate get screwed over.

    Those incentives were in there to basically reduce some risk of Roberts getting injured. Say what you will about his production, but the guy has stayed healthy and is doing about as much as (maybe more) than anybody expected. To cut a healthy Roberts one or two at bats before hitting his next target would undermine the spirit of what they agreed to — and if I were another player or agent signing with the Yanks I’d take notice.

    Plus it’s just kind of a sleazy thing to do. I know baseball is a business, but businesses that fire people to keep them from hitting their bonus targets are not well run businesses. That’s not how you get people to want to produce for you.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t think anyone here thinks that’s what actually happened.

      • Aenys

        Right, but that kind of seems to be what Mike was suggesting we do:

        “Roberts is about to start making some decent bucks through bonuses — he has already banked $350,000 in incentives and is two plate appearances away from another $250,0000 — so there is a financial incentive to make a change as well. The Yankees would pay Refsnyder through the end of the season less than the bonus they’d owe Roberts if he gets those next two plate appearances.”

    • emac2

      yeah. We might not get as many hometown discounts from free agents and would probably lose all of the union cooperation with players renegotiating.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Begrudgingly, I’m willing to punt on 2B this season for the sake of improving Ref’s chances of being a long term piece starting next year. If the however-many plate appearances at AAA he’ll get for the rest of the season help him to be a more mature and proficient hitter, and the reps at 2B in AAA make him a solid defender, I’ll live with Brian Roberts in 2014.

    Obviously he’ll never be Cano, but having a cost-controlled 2B with an above average bat is a pretty uncommon thing as it stands. The dream is he ends up as our #2 hitter for the future.

  • tom

    Try to make a trade for Alexei Ramirez. Play him at 2B this half and at SS next 2 years. White Sox won’t trade him because of a lack of depth at SS but is it possible that White Sox can try Castillo at SS in the similar fashion Ramirez had?

    Bryan Mitchell and Abiatal Avelino for him should be the trick, no?

    Losing Aveline may hurt but Yankees have Jorge Mateo and Tyler Wade. All of them could be ready for 2017, give or take. Yankees could afford to lose one so Mateo and Wade could play at SS exclusively throughout the minor system. If White Sox actually like either Mateo or Wade instead then it is fine with me.

    Bonus on Ramirez is he has experience at 2nd spot so he would bat between Gardner and Ellsbury next 2 years. Hardy and Drew are unlikely to hit in the top of the order but Yankees would have to use rookie Refsnyder for that spot as 2b.

  • willie the village idiot

    oh dear,

    Roberts seems to be the [hidden] face of the Yankees

  • Chip

    Isn’t the AAA season over in about a month anyhow? I mean, how much is he going to learn in AAA at second base that he can’t learn in the majors at second base?

    If the 40 man thing is a problem, just call up Campos and put him on the 60 day DL or cut Bruce Billings again. Do a cut and resign of Claiborne, trade away Romine, ect. It’s not like there isn’t some flexibility here

    I’m totally to the point of give the kid a shot to come up and play a bit and see what you have. If he spends the rest of this season with a 80 wRC+ and playing decent defense then you’re happy. Hopefully he can get his adjustment period done this season and come in hitting next season.

    • emac2

      The development excuse for Ref is total bull. He’s IN AAA and playing well. He was a college star. I would love to hear what people think these development risks are.

      • Chip

        Well I can somewhat understand it if he’s actually a butcher at second but it’s not like Roberts is a stand out defender at this point. Scouts seem impressed with his defense lately so its probably time to try it and let the major league coaches help him continue to improve

  • Darren

    The Yankees may be do a lot of shady things, but I can’t imagine them DFAing Roberts now to avoid paying him a measly $250k. If anything, they’d purposefully make sure he GOT the incentive before letting him go to avoid any appearance that they’re the kind of bullshit organization like the Mets who would pull that kind of crap.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I agree.

    • TWTR

      They have that money in Hal’s ashtray.

      No, I don’t think it’s money.

      But it’s time to pull the plug.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I’m not going to wave the pom-poms for Brian Roberts or anything, but I certainly understand the logic of not making the Refsnyder move. I think his having an immediate impact is far from certain, plus I don’t see how you keep both Refnsyder and Roberts on the roster unless Refsnyder is also part of your RF solution. Great if he gets off to a good start. Not great if he’s hitting .149 his first month in the majors, which is just as likely to occur. Those who think that it can’t be worse? Yes, it can.

    I hug my kids in April. I hug my vets in August.

    I believe we’ll see Refnsyder in September, and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched that we’d see him before. If he’s your white knight, you’re in dreamland.

    • emac2

      You don’t play Ref because you fear he might hit .150 instead of the sure 225 you get from Roberts?

      Since neither is worthy I would at least go with the player who might do well. At this point Roberts is not only old but also tired.

      Cutting Roberts now, pre bonus, also lets him get a job elsewhere and make more than the bonus so there’s something.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      In theory, I completely agree with you.

      In this one case, though, I think there is less risk. As I wrote above, if they DFA Roberts and bring up Refsnyder, and Refsnyder is overmatched offensively and/or defensively, they have options. A KJ/Wheeler or KJ/Sizemore platoon would limely be able to match Roberts (better defense, for sure). Ryan can’t hit, but he would at least field the position.

      My point is, yes, Refsnyder could be worse, but the next guy in line is not Alberto Gonzalez or Luis Cruz.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        True. I’m not sure I want to dip into that Plan C in August/September, though.

  • Kyle

    Could his batting slump in July be due to the Yankees switching him back and forth between 2nd and RF..?

    • TWTR

      I have wondered the same thing.

      • Kyle

        Seriously just let the kid learn the position for rest of the season.

    • Chip

      I think that’s reaching. Also, considering what he’s going through as a slump when he’s still hitting above league average might be a stretch

    • Ed

      Even with the slump, he’s got a 151 wRC+ at AAA. Cano’s best season was a 149 wRC+ in 2012.

      I think the explanation of the slump is simply that he was on a hot streak and playing better than you can realistically expect him to. Before the slump, he was hitting at roughly a Mike Trout level. He’s not a good enough player to maintain that level of hitting.

  • Mouse Rat

    The problem with calling up Refsnyder is, if he does terrible, you can’t mess around with him. You need to be patient and let him work his way out of any potential slumps (like you should do with all young players). They probably don’t have the patience to do this at this point of the season in the middle of the division/wild card race.

    I’d rather they just wait until next year to call him up. They can afford him patience in April that they can’t now.

    • TWTR

      He would be replacing Roberts, who has been given a ton of patience. At least Refsnyder has a chance to be good.

    • Chip

      Well, you could always send him back to AAA if he sucks for a couple of weeks and just play Johnson at his natural position. Could also just call up Pirela but that’s another 40 man move

  • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Give him his 250K after the next game then say bye bye. He stands to make close to another million if he plays out the season and gets 550 at bats…. (on top of his base 2M). Waste of money.

  • Joe C

    I can see what you’re saying about the defense. But ya know what? From an offensive point of view i don’t that he can do any worse who is stinking up the joint.

    • Chip

      He could absolutely be worse. He could come up and hit like .120/.140/.220 or something which would very much be worse

      • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

        I agree. But the replacement options in the organization (KJ, Wheeler, Ryan, Sizemore, maybe even Pirela) would likely be equal to Roberts.

        • Chip

          Seriously, you could probably just play Ryan there every day and get the same value

  • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Refsnyder can get some credits at The Derek Jeter Institute of Baseball Knowledge before that place shuts down…

    • Chip

      How are people supposed to learn to play baseball when they can’t even fit in the building? This place has to be at least…..three times bigger than this!

  • CMed21

    I don’t know why Roberts is still starting, what has Roberts done that warrants him starting everyday. He’s terrible offensively and even worse defensively. If they can get Cabrera from the Indians then they should start him at 2nd and have Roberts on the bench if they want to keep him so much. Don’t know why Ryan is on the team if he’s only gonna be there to play 3 times a month.

    – Cabrera to the Yankees for something like Mason Williams or Peter O’Brien type player
    – Trade Ryan somewhere (If someone traded for Barney then someone will take Ryan)
    – Keep Roberts on bench

    If they want someone to give Jeter a day off from SS shift Cabrera there and play Roberts at 2B.

    Acquire Willingham for pennies, no reason to get a platoon for Ichiro when he sucks against righties (sucks in general, but better against lefties).

    • Chip

      I really wonder if they keep saying no on Ref just to see what happens on the deadline and then call him up tomorrow if they don’t get anybody

      • CMed21

        I always take what Cashman says with a grain of salt. He said this season that they weren’t interested in trading for Headley and a couple weeks later they acquired him. Cashman always likes to do deals out of nowhere, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple of days.

        • Darren

          Bubba Crosby is still pissed.

    • Bret The Hitman

      I like the idea of Asdrubal Cabrera at 2B over Roberts and as an emergency backup at SS. I would definitely trade Ryan + Mason Williams for him.

      As for RF, instead of Willingham, I’d rather wait for the waiver deadline, see if Kemp is still healthy and performing and try to acquire him when he passes through waivers.

      • Chip

        Way too light for Cabrera IMO. Both those guys have zero value, I think you have to give up at least a prospect like they did with DePaula to get him

        • Bret The Hitman

          Very well then, Jose Ramirez.

          • Bret The Hitman

            Headley – Jeter – A. Cabrera – Tex – McCann is a playoff caliber INF imo, and I feel much better about it then the one we went with at the start of the season.

            • TWTR

              It clearly once was, but now, it’s a little uncertain given the current state of each player’s career.

          • Chip

            There ya go, that’s probably along the lines of what it takes. The only issue is if the Indians still fancy themselves as a playoff team

  • Paisa

    At the very least they could just play Ryan everyday and feel secure that they have a 2b who, ya know, can actually catch the ball.

    Also, the terrible defense isn’t something that is confined to the post asb games. Anyone who saw roberts trying to turn double plays early on had tohave known his glove would be a problem all year.

    • Mister D

      The problem is you’d be putting an upper tier defensive SS across from Jeter on an everyday basis. Its much easier to consider Ryan a backup IF than start him and admit you’re running out a sub-optimal defensive lineup every day.

      • Paisa

        If Ryan were being utilized as an upper tier defensive backup then Ok. But the team this year has committed itself to running Jeter out there until he can no longer stand and because of that Ryan has made basically no impact. Make him the everyday 2b and take whatever upgrade comes out of that – however marginal that is.

      • Paisa

        It also seems to me that Ryan’s glove does not live up to his defensive numbers. So I’m not so sure he is in fact an upper tier defensive ss. Still better than what Rusty Roberts had given us though.

        • Chip

          Hard to stay sharp at the plate and in the field when you only get into a live game once every two weeks and end up playing first base half the time

          • Paisa

            Fair point. It’s tough to accurately evaluate defense anyway, especially from a TV screen, and I don’t want to rip Ryan by any means (although he is a no good irish bastard).

            The point is that even if he has lost a step on d, he is better than Roberts, and this team is in a position where they need to jump on any possible upgrade they can get their hands on.

            • Chip

              There are only two things I can’t stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch.

  • RetroRob

    If they believe in Refsnyder long term, they should have him where he can play every day at second base, working with a consistent set of coaches. If they don’t think he’s ready for the Majors, leave him in AAA. He’s not saving this Yankee team, and it’s not all that obvious he’d be an incremental upgrade.

    I’d rather they’d bring up Pirela for now.

  • Kosmo

    face it if in fact NY is uncomfortable with either Pirela/Refsnyder playing 2B then the REALISTIC external options boil down to one or two players.
    Trading for SS and converting them to 2b way past mid-season with their consent is far fetched to say the least. What´s the point ? Just play Refsnyder if that is the case.

    • RetroRob

      I’m not quite sure they’re uncomfortable with Pirela. He hasn’t really been considered a prospect on the level of Refsnyder. Considering his age, 24, his overall number of years in the minors, and he’s repeating AAA (and he also repeated AA), he has had tons of experience, unlike Ref. That’s why I’d like to see Pirela called up while Refsnyder continues to work on his overall game.

      Before Ref arrives, let’s see what Pirela’s got.

      • Kosmo

        Pirela is not repeating AAA. Getting 23 ABS in 2013 is not exactly repeating a level.
        Frankly I don´t care if it´s Pirela or Refsnyder. Pirela does have reps at LF/RF/2B/1B this year so he does show some versatility.

        • RetroRob

          Must have been thinking about his time at AAA. Either way, he’s pretty seasoned so it would be good to see him up. They do seem to be giving him reps at a lot of positions, which may be a sign they want to bring him up at some point.

          • RetroRob

            AA

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    …can Brendan Ryan play 2B?

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Yes.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Unfortunately, he can’t hit at all.

  • The Ref

    Refsnyder’s Rough Riders! Mount up.

    • Yankee$

      You want him to liberate more Cuban baseball players?

  • nycsportzfan

    I heard the Stros are willing to deal Kuechel. Thats surprising to me. I thought they were trying to build with him being a part of that build. There are only a couple guys out there i’ve heard about, that i’d def be interested in trading for, that I think would help in the future as well as this yr, and if Kuechel is in fact out there to be had, he’d be one of em. Along with Tyson Ross.

    • Chip

      Kuechel is this year’s Bud Norris

  • JoeyA

    Maybe it’s revisionist history, but why couldnt NYY entertain trading Cano last year once is was abundantly clear he wasnt going to sign during the season?

    since mostly everyone agrees it’s always about years and $$ for acquiring FA’s, would trading him have truly hurt our ability to re-sign him, especially when the Yankees were probably a necessary evil for him to get the best possible deal.

    I doubt if we traded him, he would have took the line of “well now I won’t re-sign with them”.

    • Paisa

      Well there was this pennant race thing going on at the time.

    • RetroRob

      It was abundantly clear he wasn’t going to sign during the season, any season, for several years. He signed a “team friendly” deal and he intended to go the free agent route. He was the Yankees best player and they were in the hunt for a post-season spot. They weren’t trading, anymore than they’re trading D-Rob this year.

  • Yankee$

    I can’t imagine that $250,000 Roberts payment enters the thought process with the Yankees. For them, that’s chump change. Might even argue keeping Ref in AAA and delaying service time arbitration eligibility or that the 40 man roster spot used on a Rule 5 player in the off season, could be worth more than $250,000.

    Does a player need to be on 40 man for a September call up?

    • Chip

      Yes he does so its unlikely we see him until next season if Cashman’s public words can be trusted

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Yessir. They do. Otherwise, the riff-raff would run the show and Cito Culver would bum rush the field. I WUZ SUPPOSED TO REPLAAACE YOU DERRRRREEEEEEEK.

      • Yankee$

        Curses, foiled again,

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

        I’m picturing Culver as Sid Justice attacking Jeter’s Hulk Hogan.

  • Dan G

    I need to get me a job that pays me 100’s of thousands of dollars for the ability to show up.

    Kidding aside, I think it’s almost guarenteed that we don’t see Refsnyder for more than a September cup of coffee. He’s already been bumped up multiple levels in a single year and if he’s a slow starter, the last thing you want to do is put pressure on him by saying “hey kid, go be less bad than Brian Roberts”.

    And as Mike points out, Gardner was known as a slow starter too and only hit .228 in 42 games in 2008 (i.e., NOT less bad than Roberts).

    The 40 man shouldn’t be an excuse but it certainly doesn’t help when you’re trying to stash an extra pitcher every time Tex needs 8 non-DL days off.

    Let Refsnyder come to Spring Training next year and win the job. That way he can blend in with the crowd and won’t be unfairly booed for not being the savior of the shipwreck that is 2014.

  • A Byd

    I said this back when Solarte was still with the team and hitting. Solarte should be the starting second baseman for Yankees, not the Padres. He was the upgrade we all agree is now needed.
    ICRINGE everytime Roberts has to make a play. Even when he was considered “acceptable” defnsively he was way below MLB standards… too many plays he cannot make to address here. He was hitting so it was easy to overlook his inadequate fielding. Now is the time to replace him. The team as constructed cannot mask liabilities (defensive or offensive).

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      That nice upgrade at third didn’t impress you much, eh?

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      The one guy that wants Solarte back.

    • Old Man Time

      I cringe every time I see a commenter complaining that Solarte was traded.

  • Deep Thoughts

    I don’t get why there can be no middle ground with Roberts and Ichiro between “everyday starter” and “DFA the mofo!”

    These guys are old.. Neither one should probably be playing so many games. I would absolutely try spelling them–on a platoon split basis, matchup history, arbitrarily, whatever–to get them some rest, and to see if it helps them stay rested, alert, and productive. Roberts’ remaining salary even with every incentive is peanuts to this organization.

    AAA is not a penalty box or waiting room for major leaguers that Cashman wants to mess with. It’s a developmental league. Refsnyder and Pirela are there for a reason (at least one).

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      On point, once again.

  • Balt Yank

    Why not Pirela at 2B/ He’s hitting 300, age 24, and plays second at triple A. Let Rob Ref hit more below; a 250 line at triple a means ‘needs improvement.’

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Who’s hitting .250? Refsnyder’s at .296.

      • RetroRob

        After his hot start he’s been hitting about .250 over the last month. That’s probably what he’s referring to.

        Let Ref have a few cycles around the league and learn to adapt to the pitchers who are adapting to him. Or, more appropriately, let’s see if he can adapt. I’m sure he will.

  • JGYank

    Roberts really just doesn’t have any upside. Long ABs are nice, and he doesn’t strike out too much but that’s really it. Refsnyder may or may not be an upgrade. Wouldn’t bother me if they called him up, or left him in AAA. Would like to see what he could do and he could develop in the majors but he really hasn’t had much time in AAA either. But I’m definitely ready to move on from Roberts and try something else.

  • Tar

    Good post Mike but I disagree that Romine was “worse than Stewart”. They were equally bad. But the young player with upside sat on the bench, while the veteran with a pulse got most of the AB’s. Defensively it was probably a wash as well.

    Cashman’s roster construction this year is and was just plain dumb. Going forward, and when needed I think they should play Cervelli at 1b and McCann behind the plate.

  • Christ is King

    Am I the only one who doesn’t really care to see them trade for John Danks? The only 2 guys I care for on the White Sox ML roster is Chris Sale (who Im sure is not moving) and Jose Abreu (likewise), maybe Jose Quintana…

    • Yankee$

      I think you are in the overwhelming majority to not want to see a trade for Danks.

      • Paisa

        I don’t think they’re stupid enough to do anything crazy like taking on 100% of the remaining $$ owed to him or giving up something of value from the system. If the price is reasonable and Eppler and his crew think he can be an upgrade over Whitley, then why not get him?

  • Paisa

    Former Yankee 2b Alfonso Soriano is available. Just sayin’…..

    • Yankee$

      Can he pitch?

      • Paisa

        No, but CM Wang is probably out there.

    • Christ is King

      I think he said he was going to take the rest of the year off… I think he’s recovering from trying to hit 9 run homeruns every AB this year only to strike out and possibly pulling muscles in his back

      • Paisa

        Is it really necessary to rip Soriano still? He’s not even here anymore and it’s not like he was some random scrub they plucked from the heap. He is a guy with a place in Yankee history and one unfathomably terrible first half shouldn’t allow us to forget that.

        • Old Man Time

          Agreed. Apparently some commenters think we’re the Red Sox or something.

  • fezz

    would love to see Cashman call San Fran and try pawning Roberts off on the Giants who really need someone to put at 2B so they can end the dreadful Uggla experiment.

    best-case scenario perhaps cashman can “steal” a 17 or 18 year old in rookie ball or extended spring; one with a 70 tool, whether it a pitcher that hits 97 but has no secondary pitch and control issues or a hitter with that plus-plus power but with holes in his swing. maybe someone with billy hamilton speed but without an obvious position. someone that the Giants won’t feel bad from the standpoint that it’ll be 2019 or 2020 before they’d be sniffing the bigs, so it’ll be out of sight / out of mind by that time.

    come to think of it, maybe “steal a rookie leaguer” should be the plan with any trade the big club makes. try plucking some raw coal and hope you can polish it into a diamond along the way.

    • Christ is King

      How I wish you are Sabean

    • Chip

      This is how I do all of my trading in MLB The Show so I’m convinced it’s totally going to work (caution: the previous statement might be sarcastic)

      • Christ is King

        So you’re one of those guys who trades Brian Roberts, Chase Whitley and Ichiro for Felix Hernandez, Tijuan Walker, James Paxton, Robbie Cano, Alex Jackson and DJ Peterson… then trade Adonis Garcia for Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler… then trade CC and all his salary for Kershaw, Corey Saeger and Joc Pederson?

        If this is you, then I dont feel so horrible.

        • Chip

          This year’s game isn’t nearly as bad as before about letting you do that (I don’t turn the force trades on) but there are still some doozies. I got out from A-Rod’s salary and terribleness and got something like Henry Owens in return. Pretty sure my lineup is Trout, Ellsbury, Stanton, Teix, Craig, McCann, Castro, Ackley, Sano with a rotation of Tanaka, Anibal Sanchez, Pineda, Marco Gonzalez, and CC and it’s only 2015. Pretty sure every single one of the new guys were from trades and my entire AAA rotation is A potential starters. So yeah, still pretty easy to game the system but at least they made me give up both Correa and Henry Owens plus another prospects to get Trout :)

          • Chip

            No matter what though the stupid Cubs won’t trade me Kris Bryant

  • http://TheGreedyPinstripes Daniel Burch

    Mike said:

    The whole “how could he be any worse/what’s the harm?” argument is totally silly because Refsnyder could absolutely be worse than Roberts, just like David Adams was worse than Kevin Youkilis and Austin Romine was worse than Chris Stewart. It could always be worse.

    I say:

    Roberts has a 0.1 WAR. It almost literally could not get worse. David Adams was never as regarded as Refsnyder is. Granted Romine was highly touted but still. It’s inventory time.

    • Chip

      It literally could be worse, Refsnyder could be unplayable defensively and not hit. Go look at what Oscar Taveras did this season for an example

  • Pat M.

    Hmmm, I was notified that the LoHud blog is back up and running, however the new format is linked to one’s Facebook account. I wonder how many will be fleeing and looking for a new forum

  • Wayne

    This article indirectly addresses what the harm is in making trades in 2014 to remain Pretend Contender for another World Series title.

    I’ve been a devoted Yankees’ fan for about 55 years, but I’m also a realist: this team, even with another pick up or two, has zero chance of beating the Angels, A’s, and Tigers in order to make it to the W.S. If you think we can beat all three of them, you’re not a super loyal Yankees fan, you’re delusional.

    It’s ludicrous, therefore, to trade any of our prospects simply to be Pretend Contenders in 2014. Prospects are like bullets, once you’ve fired them they’re gone forever and cannot help you in the future when you might really need them to put you over the top. Any prospects we trade away today to enhance our Pretender status in 2014 will not be available to help us on the field or in future trades when we are Actual Contenders, as opposed to Pretend Contenders.

    The other negative in continuing our Pretender status is that it’s held us back from calling up Refsnyder and giving him time to acclimate himself to MLB baseball so we can get him ready to hopefully be our regular 2B in 2015. But, instead of doing that, we’re continuing to waste our time playing a once-great player at 2B, instead of seeing what we might have in Refsnyder.

    Yes, Refsnyder might struggle big time at first acclimating himself to MLB, but would you rather have him do that in 2014, when we do not have a realistic chance of winning a WS title, or do you want him to go through those growing pains Next Year, when we’ll hopefully have a real chance of winning it all?

    Moreover, if we don’t at least get an idea this year whether Refsnyder can play at this level, then we’ll have to consider signing or trading for someone for 2B for next year, just in case he doesn’t pan out in 2015. So, it’s stupid on multiple levels for the Yankees to not call up Refsnyder now!

    As for Refsnyder’s defensive skills, everything I’ve heard this year indicates he’s improved greatly this year, and the Oliver 5-year projections for Refsnyder (for 2014-18) list him as being at least league average on defense. So, why are we wasting time playing an aging, offensive-and-defensive challenged 2B?

    Stop playing stupid Pretender games with the Yankees’ future and bring up Refsnyder now, and stop trading away prospects that might be needed on the field or in trades when we’re Real Contenders for a WS title.