Girardi status: unamused. (Presswire)

Girardi status: unamused. (Presswire)

After that game last night, I’m ready for this series to be over. That was a win that felt like a loss. Let’s squeeze out another win tonight and enjoy the off-day tomorrow. Sound like a plan? Let’s hope the Yankees can make it nice and easy for once. Here is the Rangers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C Frankie Cervelli
  8. RF Zoilo Almonte
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

It’s really hot and humid in the Dallas area. Yucky weather. There is rain in the forecast but not until much later tonight, so they won’t have any trouble getting the game in. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (317)
  • Update: Yankees invite Rusney Castillo for private workout next week
    By

    Wednesday: The Yankees invited Castillo to their Tampa complex for a private workout next week, reports George King. Andrew Marchand says they should not be considered the favorite to sign him, for what it’s worth.

    Monday, 1:43pm: The Yankees are one of three teams that have scheduled a private workout with Castillo, according to Ben Badler. Balder says Castillo is likely to sign within two weeks.

    1:00pm: Via Ken Davidoff: The Yankees sent a contingent of four to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo’s showcase in Miami over the weekend. Those four: international scouting director Donny Rowland, international cross-checkers Gordon Blakeley and Dennis Woody, and pro scout Jay Darnell. Their level of interest in unknown. Twenty-eight of 30 teams were in attendance.

    Castillo, 27, was said to have an impressive workout with the caveat that it was only a workout, not game action. Walter Villa has an excellent breakdown of the day. Castillo worked out in the outfield and at shortstop, but Villa says the consensus is that he won’t stick at short and his arm isn’t right field caliber. He showed good speed and surprising pop from the right side. “I like him, he’s a Major League player,” said one scout while another estimated he would sign for $25-35M. I have no idea whether he is worth that money or a good fit for the Yankees.
    · (124) ·

(Rob Carr/Getty)

(Rob Carr/Getty)

Mark Teixeira returned to the starting lineup and hit a homerun last night after being sidelined for eight days with a mild lower lat strain. That was good to see. Here is another round of injury updates, courtesy of Bryan Hoch, Chad Jennings, and George King.

  • Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw a 45-pitch simulated game yesterday and it went “really good.” He’ll begin an official minor league rehab assignment on Sunday. “He will make a start somewhere. Four innings and 60-65 pitches will be his next move. Not exactly sure where it’s going to be — they were talking about that today — but it will be a regular game,” said Joe Girardi.
  • Brian Roberts is worn down and will get the next few days off. The 36-year-old has played 91 games this year, his most since 2009. He averaged 48 games played from 2010-13. Being worn down at this point of the season isn’t much of a surprise. “He’s been beat up pretty good this year physically,” said Girardi. “He’s dealing with soreness that players have. Legs get beat up, you hit balls off your feet, shins. It’s all part of it.”
  • Kelly Johnson (groin) will play in a minor league rehab game or two and is expected to come off the disabled list when eligible next Thursday. Girardi said he may give Johnson more time at second base down the stretch. “It’s something I could think about. If we feel there is a need to put him there we will put him there,” said the skipper.
Categories : Injuries
Comments (357)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

(Jim Rogash/Getty)

I usually do these thoughts posts first thing in the morning and following an off-day, but I figure with the trade deadline looming tomorrow, I might as well run it now. Tomorrow figures to be pretty busy even if the Yankees do not make a move. There will still be lots of rumors. Here are some scattered thoughts heading into the series finale with the Rangers as well as the trade deadline.

1. I fully expect the Yankees to make a move before the deadline tomorrow and I think they’re going to end up making multiple moves, actually. One for a pitcher, one for a bat, maybe another really minor deal for additional pitching depth. As for who they’re going to wind up with … I have no idea whatsoever. John Danks and Josh Willingham are as good a guess as anyone, but the Yankees tend to keep things very close to the vest and most of their moves come out of nowhere. It would really surprise me if a) they did nothing between now and the deadline, and b) if they traded away any top prospects. The last time they traded away top prospects was when, the Curtis Granderson deal? Brian Cashman & Co. are all about buying low, expecting players to rebound, and giving up mid-range prospects. The only way a top prospect goes is if a stud like David Price comes to New York. I don’t see that happening within the next day and a half.

2. It blows my mind the Red Sox are (probably) going to trade Jon Lester rather than extend him. They made all those moves these last few years to emphasize financial and roster flexibility, and for what? Isn’t Lester exactly the kind of guy you keep forever and ever? This is different than the Yankees and Robinson Cano because the Red Sox don’t already have like four crippling long-term contracts on the books. You sign Lester long-term knowing you’re probably going to end up with the 2013 version from 2015-18 or so, not the 2014 version, but that’s fine. What’s the point if that flexibility if you’re not going to use it to keep a homegrown ace who helped you to two World Series titles and is still in his prime? The Red Sox are going to try to win next year, right? It’s much easier to win with Lester than without him. Yeah, sure, they could re-sign him after the season, but they’ve yet to make anything close to a market value-ish offer and if they haven’t done it yet, I’m not sure why you’d expect them to make one in free agency. Plus as soon as he gets traded away, the chances of re-signing him go down some amount.

3. If the Red Sox do trade Lester — it really does seem inevitable at this point, though I expected them to scratch him from today’s start anyway, he could always wind up starting Friday against the Yankees if no deal gets done — it would help the Yankees a lot. For starters, they wouldn’t have to face him anymore this season. The teams most rumored to be on him right now are NL clubs (Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals) and the Athletics, who the Yankees do not face again in the regular season. Of course, New York’s main competitors like the Orioles and Blue Jays won’t have to face him anymore either. Also, once Lester is traded, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer after the season, meaning the Yankees won’t have to surrender a first round pick when they inevitably sign him over the winter. Well, maybe it’s not inevitable they sign him, but it is inevitable they will be connected to him. AL East and postseason proven lefty ace? C’mon, that dude has pinstripes written all over him. Plus the Yankees seem to love their former Red Sox players. The fit is too perfect.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

4. The bullpen really seems to be getting worn out, especially Dellin Betances and Adam Warren. They’re currently on pace for 97 and 80 innings, respectively, and their effectiveness has waned in recent weeks. They haven’t been bad (last night notwithstanding), just not as good as they were earlier in the season. I know they were both starters in the past and the bulk innings total shouldn’t be a problem, but airing it out for one or two innings at a time in high-leverage situations is not at all the same as starting on a set five-day schedule with a comfortable routine. Shawn Kelley has been much better of late and he will lighten their workload just a little bit, plus I think Chase Whitley could become a factor as a one or two-inning bullpener, but the Yankees play nothing but close games these days. It’s tough to see how Betances and Warren will get some more rest in the coming weeks. Trading for relievers is always sketchy, but getting another end-game capable arm to help spread the workload around would both help this year and in the future by allowing Joe Girardi to take it easy on the young guys with an actual future with the team.

5. So I had to look it up after last night’s game: J.P. Arencibia is hitting .269/.269/.808 against the Yankees this year and .154/.209/.269 against everyone else. Seven of his 19 hits and half of his 42 total bases have come against New York. This is Delmon Young in the postseason kind of stuff. Arencibia has always hit the Yankees hard — 126 OPS+ vs. NYY compared to a career 77 OPS+, plus 12 of his 70 homers (17%) have come against the Yankees in 11.6% of his career plate appearances — and man it sucks because he’s such a bad hitter overall. The guy went from a 36 OPS+ to a 69 OPS+ just last night. Some guys just have it in for a certain team or a certain pitcher for whatever reason. It’s like Brett Gardner owning Yu Darvish. It just happens. Baseball is weird like that.

Categories : Musings
Comments (404)
Hole Camels. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Hole Camels. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this Thursday, and between now and then there will be a ton of rumors and speculation. Some actual moves too. The Yankees have already swung trades for Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, but Brian Cashman has said he is still seeking another starter and another bat. I don’t know if they’ll get another deal done, but I fully expect plenty of Yankees-related rumors.

On Monday and Tuesday we learned the Yankees are “in on everything” but they do not want to part with their top minor leaguers. Josh Willingham, John Danks, Jake Arrieta, Justin Ruggiano, and Chris Denorfia were among the names connected to the club. They are not targeting Justin Masterson, however. We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this post, so make sure you check back throughout the day. All of the timestamps below are ET.

  • 4:59pm: In addition to Benoit, the Yankees have also checked in on Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies and James Russell of the Cubs. Both are lefties but I don’t think that says they’re unhappy with Matt Thornton. [Stark]
  • 4:33pm: The Yankees continue to be connected to Marlon Byrd, but they are wary of his $8M price tag for next season. Like I said before, they will need a right fielder next year, Byrd on what amounts to a one-year deal at $8M wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Jayson Stark]
  • 4:31pm: In case you were thinking about a reunion, former Yankees corner infielder Eric Chavez announced his retirement today. He was pretty awesome.
  • 2:16pm: Although the Yankees and White Sox continue to discuss Danks, they are still far apart in talks. I’m sure both the money and prospects are an obstacle. [Heyman]
  • 2:07pm: Justin Masterson has been traded to the Cardinals. The Yankees did not have interest in him, but it presumably takes St. Louis out of the running for Jon Lester and David Price, muddling the pitching market. [Peter Gammons]
  • 1:57pm: As they look to bolster their bullpen, the Yankees are eyeing Joaquin Benoit. They had some interest in him over the winter. There is “nothing going on” right now as far as talks go, however. [Heyman & Martino]
  • 12:49pm: The Yankees are still involved in talks with the Padres about Ian Kennedy, but those talks are said to be “medium,” whatever that means. San Diego cleared a lot of money with the Huston Street and Chase Headley trades and have said they don’t have any problem with holding onto Kennedy into next season. [Chad Jennings]
  • 12:06pm: The Yankees prefer rentals to players under contract next year and beyond. Rentals are cool, but the team does have holes to address next year (like right field). Trading for someone signed for next season wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Andrew Marchand]
  • 10:28am: In addition to rotation help, the Yankees are looking to bolster their bullpen as well. Adam Warren and Dellin Betances look like they have been running on fumes of late. [Nick Cafardo]
  • 10:06am: The Yankees are picking through the second tier of starting pitchers and they have discussed left-hander Brett Anderson. The Rockies intend to keep him and either exercise his club option for 2015 or sign him to a longer term contract, however. [Buster Olney & Ken Rosenthal]
  • 9:30am: The Phillies requested a package of multiple top prospects from the Yankees and several other teams in exchange for Cole Hamels. The assumption around baseball is that Philadelphia isn’t serious about moving their lefty ace. The Yankees are more likely to add another mid-rotation arm than an ace-caliber pitcher at this point. [Jon Heyman & Andy Martino]
  • The Yankees continue to have interest in Willingham. With Carlos Beltran continuing his throwing program and potentially returning to the outfield as soon as next week, the DH spot would be open for Willingham, who hasn’t played right field in five years. [Heyman]
  • Both the Rays and Rangers had special assignment scouts watching Double-A Trenton last night. Special assignment scouts are sent to see specific players. They aren’t there for general coverage. [Keith Law]

Also, I understand we have a new flood of commenters coming over from LoHud for whatever reason. Please look over the Commenting Guidelines if you’re new and especially note that we ask you to keep comments on topic. Also use the “reply” button to keep conversations organized. We’re not asking much. Thanks in advance.

Comments (432)

* lol nope

The good news: the Yankees scored a lot of runs and beat the Rangers 12-11 on Tuesday night. The bad news: my cardiologist doesn’t have any open appointments until next week. That was not the easiest win of the season. Let’s put it that way.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

All With Two Outs, Again
For the third time this season and fourth time in his career, Brett Gardner opened the game with a leadoff homerun. That gave him three homers in the span of five plate appearances. I don’t get it but I love it. Brett now has 13 homers on the season and is close to doubling his previous career high of eight, set just last season. Gardner being the team’s best overall hitter and second best power hitter is both awesome and terrible at the same time.

The Yankees nursed that 1-0 lead until the third inning, when they ran into the same problem they had in the fifth inning of Monday’s game: they couldn’t get the third out. Brandon McCarthy got Shin-Soo Choo to fly out and Elvis Andrus to ground out for two quick outs, but Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre followed with singles to put men on the corners. Jim Adduci singled to score Rios and J.P. Arencibia doubled into the left field corner to score Beltre and Adduci. In the span of 17 pitches, the Rangers went from being down 1-0 with the bases empty and two outs to leading 3-1 with a runner on second and two outs. That third out, man. The Bombers are having some trouble getting it this week.

McCarthy managed to hang around a few more innings and surrendered four runs — Arencibia hit a wall-scraper solo homer in the fifth to give Texas a 4-1 lead — on nine hits and a walk in six innings of work. Fifteen of the 28 batters he faced hit the ball in the air, which is a more than usual. Only eight of his 15 non-strikeout outs were recorded on the ground. Not the best night for McCarthy, who was in bend but don’t break mode.

(Tom Pennington/Getty)

(Tom Pennington/Getty)

Crooked Number
Man, it has been a long, long time since we last got to see the Yankees put up an inning like the sixth inning of this game. One of those “everything goes right, everything falls in, all the runs score” innings. It’s been too long. I had forgotten what they were like.

The seven-run assault started with a Gardner double into the corner because of course. He’s in the middle of it whenever they score these days. Derek Jeter reached on an infield single off starter Nick Martinez’s glove, and eventually Mark Teixeira walked to load the bases with one out. They had to score, right? Right. Carlos Beltran ripped a single to right to plate two and bring the Yankees to within 4-3.

Brian McCann‘s sac fly to center tied the game and I thought that would be the end of the rally, but no, they kept plugging along. Chase Headley walked, Zoilo Almonte poked a run-scoring ground ball single back up the middle, and Brendan Ryan ripped a two-run double into the left-center field gap to put his team ahead 7-4. This wasn’t a well-placed bloop double inside the line or something, it was a rocket.

The Yankees scored their seventh and final run of the inning when Rios and Leonys Martin miscommunicated on Gardner’s fly ball and basically ran into each other. The ball hit off Rios’ glove, hit off Martin’s head, and dunked in for a run-scoring three-base error. Here’s a GIF. Jeter struck out to strand Gardner at third, but by then seven runs had scored on five hits, two walks, an error, and a sac fly. Man did I miss big innings.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

NEVER EASY
The Yankees extended their lead to 10-4 thanks to two walks (Jacoby Ellsbury and Teixeira), two singles (Beltran and Headley), and a run-scoring fielder’s choice (Almonte) in the seventh inning, giving them their first huge lead in far too long. Six-run lead with nine outs to go against the worst team in baseball? Smooth sailing from there, right? I wish.

The usually dynamite bullpen had their first total disaster inning in a while in the bottom half of the seventh, as Adam Warren and Dellin Betances combined to allow four runs before the second out was recorded. Warren loaded the bases on two walks (Andrus and Adduci), a single (Rios), and a fielder’s choice (Beltre, out made at home). Betances came in to clean up the mess and instead served up a grand slam to J.P. friggin Arencibia. J.P. Arencibia. The dude who came into the game with a .196 OBP and a 36 OPS+. He went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a solo homer, the grand slam, and seven runs driven in on the night. Argh.

Anyway, Betances put two more runners on base after the grand slam but escaped the inning with no more damage. Teixeira tacked on some much-appreciated — and ultimately needed — insurance runs with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to give the Yankees a 12-8 lead, Chase Whitley coughed up a run to make a 12-9 lead in the ninth (Andrus single, stolen base, two ground outs), and the bottom of the order went quietly in the top of the ninth. Of course the bottom half of the ninth couldn’t be a nice and easy 1-2-3 inning. Of course not.

David Robertson, who was warming for the four or five-out save in the eighth, started the ninth innocently enough, with a strikeout of Arencibia. Take that, JPA. Martin followed with a one-out ground ball single back up the middle. Then Robertson walked Robinson Chirinos. Rougned Odor grounded out to first for the second out, but Choo drew a walk to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate. Andrus singled to score two runs and make it a 12-11 game.. The Robertson walked Rios to re-load the bases. Then he went to a full count to Beltre. Then Beltre ripped a line drive to left that … the total awesome and dreamy and handsome Gardner ran down for the 27th out. Never in doubt. /barfs

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Leftovers
Four Yankees relievers — their top three relievers among them — allowed seven runs on six hits and six walks in three innings of work. Whitley was their most effective bullpen arm on the night. I guess they picked a good game to melt down like this? The offense gave them a lot of breathing room and they used every last little bit of it.

Gardner seems to be starting one of his sicko hot streaks, going 4-for-5 with a single, the homer, two doubles, and the makeshift three-base error triple one night after taking Yu Darvish deep twice. He is 7-for-10 with two doubles and three homers in the last two games, raising his season batting line to .283/.357/.455 (125 wRC+). Brett is prettay, prettay good.

Jeter went 2-for-5 and Beltran went 2-for-4, making them the only other players with multiple hits. Teixeira hit the homer and drew three walks while Headley singled and had two walks, his first two in pinstripes. The Yankees went 6-for-15 (.400) with runners in scoring position and had more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) for the tenth time this year, tied for the third most in baseball with the Blue Jays and Athletics. Only the Pirates (14) and Rays (11) have more.

The Yankees scored double-digit runs for only the third time this season and the first time in 83 (!) games. They last did it on April 24th at Fenway Park, in a 14-5 win over the Red Sox. The seven runs in the sixth inning were their most in an inning this season. They had scored five runs in an inning three times, most recently on June 24th.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some more stats and ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles, Blue Jays, and Mariners all won, so the Yankees are 4.5 games back of the top spot in the AL East and two games back of the second wildcard spot, tied with Seattle. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 15.3%.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
These two teams wrap up this three-game series on Wednesday night, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Colby Lewis. Gonna need you to go nine, Hiroki.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (150)

That video above is highlights of tonight’s Double-A Trenton’s game. No footage of RHP Luis Severino, unfortunately. Here are some notes:

  • According to his mother’s Twitter feed (yup), RHP Ty Hensley has been promoted to Short Season Staten Island. We heard he was moving up yesterday, just not to where. There’s about six weeks left in the season, so hopefully Hensley gets another 6-8 starts in and gets his innings total up around 50 (he’s at 19 now).
  • Carson Cistulli put together a statistical breakdown of last year’s first round picks. OF Aaron Judge has been the second best hitter (behind Cubs 3B Kris Bryant) and LHP Ian Clarkin has been the second best pitcher (behind Orioles RHP Hunter Harvey) so far. 3B Eric Jagielo is ninth among hitters.
  • Yankees farmhands will once again play for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League after the season, according to Spencer Fordin. High-A Tampa hitting coach and ex-organizational catcher P.J. Pilittere will be the team’s hitting coach. The rosters aren’t out yet and make sure you check out this Friday’s mailbag for my thoughts on who could go.

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Gwinnett)

  • 2B Jose Pirela: 3-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — 11-for-32 (.344) with four doubles and a homer in his last eight games
  • DH Austin Romine: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — stole home!
  • C John Ryan Murphy: 0-3, 1 RBI
  • LHP Nik Turley: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HB, 6/6 GB/FB — 62 of 93 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 20 of 28 pitches were strikes (71%)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (117)
Jul
29

Game 106: Tex Returns

By in Game Threads. · Comments (464) ·
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

For the first time in eight days, Mark Teixeira is in the starting lineup. He had to sit with a mild lower lat strain that robbed the team of its best power hitter and, just as importantly, a real live first baseman. Brian McCann gave it a helluva try over there these last few days, but geez. The man isn’t a first baseman. He only played one on television.

Anyway, the Yankees have lost three straight games and that’s pretty annoying. They came out of the gate so well in the second half and it really would have been nice to see that success last for more than, I dunno, a week. This team seems incapable of getting any kind of roll that lasts more than like, two series. Here is the Rangers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup, which actually looks dangerous for the first time in about two years:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Zoilo Almonte
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Brandon McCarthy

It’s nice and hot down deep in the heart of Texas. It rained for much of the day but there is none in the forecast tonight. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 8pm ET and you can watch only on FOX Sports 1. Not YES, not My9, not ESPN or MLB Network. It’s only FOX Sports 1. Here is the channel locator. Enjoy the game.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (464)
  • Surprise! Tanaka sells more tickets than any other starter in MLB
    By

    From the obvious news department: ticket sales receive the highest bump in games started by Masahiro Tanaka than any other pitcher in baseball, according to Brian Costa. Data released by StubHub says sales on the secondary market increase 73% when Tanaka is on the mound. Justin Verlander (69%) is second and Jeff Samardzija (68%) is third. The drop-off to the fourth place pitcher is pretty big — Chris Sale is at 29%.

    When the Yankees signed Tanaka over the winter, it was obvious his appeal extended beyond his on-field impact. The Yankees know firsthand how marketable and profitable international players can be, especially Japanese players after having megastars like Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki spent time in the Bronx. Just how much extra cash they make due to these players is unknown but I’m sure it’s substantial. That 73% bump in ticket sales is just a piece of the revenue-generating Tanaka pie.
    · (9) ·

(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
Comments (179)
Page 1 of 1,99112345...102030...Last »