Yankees can’t wait any longer to attempt to fix second base situation

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Even after struggling offensively these last seven or ten days, the Yankees still rank second in baseball with an average of 4.62 runs per game. Only the absurd Blue Jays (5.48!) have been better. Yes, the Yankees hit better at home than on the road, but for the most part the offense has been very good this season. It’s nice knowing a two or three-run deficit is no longer insurmountable, isn’t it?

The Yankees have fielded such a strong offense despite having a total black hole at second base. The team’s second basemen are hitting a combined .182/.246/.339 (57 wRC+) in 313 plate appearances, the third worst second base production in the game, better than only the Royals (51 wRC+) and White Sox (24 wRC+). ChiSox second basemen are hitting .189/.234/.227 this year. Good gravy. Imagine watching that everyday? Geez.

Anyway, most of New York’s second base damage comes courtesy of Stephen Drew, and I don’t mean damage in a good way. He’s hitting .178/.251/.364 (67 wRC+) overall, far below league average despite eleven home runs, the second most at the position behind Brian Dozier (16). Other fill-ins like Jose Pirela and Gregorio Petit haven’t contributed much either. Second base has been a black hole all season.

The Yankees have waited very patiently for Drew to turn things around and it hasn’t happened. There aren’t even signs of it maybe, possibly happening in the coming weeks either. Exit velocity? Drew is averaging 85.9 mph off the bat, ranking 288th out of the 321 players with at least 100 at-bats. His exit velocity is not even trending upward either:Stephen Drew exit velocity

Drew is hitting .170/.243/.329 (55 wRC+) since resurfacing last year and that’s in 565 plate appearances. That’s spread across two seasons obviously but the excuses have all been exhausted. He had a full Spring Training this year, there haven’t been any injuries, nothing. It’s a full season worth of terrible, unplayable, just about any other player would lose his job production.

As it stands right now, second base is the only flexible position on the Yankees. They’re locked into players at every other position either developmentally (Didi Gregorius) or contractually (everyone else), at least once Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran return. The outfield is a bit of a mess until then. Still, there is no long-term obligation to Drew or anyone else at second base, and the season is now halfway complete. We’re firmly in “time to make a change” territory.

The Yankees only have one in-house second base alternative in Rob Refsnyder, who hasn’t exactly forced the issue with his play in Triple-A. He hasn’t been bad (.281/.378/.386 and 127 wRC+), he just hasn’t been great for a bat first prospect, and you’d like to see a non-elite prospect force the issue before a promotion. Then again, the Yankees have not been shy about trying out young players this year, specifically in the outfield and in the bullpen. Refsnyder could be next.

I feel like a trade is inevitable. The Yankees are atop a very tight yet winnable division, and you know Hal Steinbrenner & Co. are terrified of the prospect of a third straight postseason-less year and all that lost playoff revenue. I would be surprised if they don’t make a trade at the deadline. The second base market isn’t very good though. There’s the perfect for everyone Ben Zobrist and then a bunch of retreads like Brandon Phillips and Dustin Ackley. Hopefully the market spits out some more names in the three and half weeks before the deadline.

Either way, the Yankees have reached a breaking point at second base. They’re already carrying one soft spot at the bottom of the order in Gregorius and can’t afford to carry another despite the lineup’s strong offensive production overall. The AL East race is too close to let this go on any longer. Drew has given the Yankees no reason to think he will start hitting, and if the team doesn’t think Refsnyder is the answer, then they have to start aggressively looking for help outside the organization.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 6th, 2015

Record Last Week: 3-3 (16 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 44-38 (379 RS, 361 RA, 43-39 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Athletics (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Red Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Ellsbury plays seven innings in rehab game; Sanchez goes deep in third straight game

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-0 win over Buffalo) makeup of the June 27th rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 3-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — seven multi-hit games, four one-hit games, and six no-hit games in his last 17 games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-4, 2 K — first Triple-A hit was a single
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 R
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 7/7 GB/FB — 39 of 53 pitches were strikes (74%) … efficient!
  • LHP James Pazos: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 4/0 GB/FB — 26 of 42 pitches were strikes (62%) … 23/1 K/BB in 21 innings

[Read more…]

No Yankees voted in as starters for 2015 All-Star Game

(Mike Skobe/Getty)
(Mike Skobe/Getty)

As expected, no Yankees were voting into the starting lineup for the 2015 AL All-Star Team, it was announced tonight. No Yankees were close to the top spots at their positions in the various fan voting updates in recent weeks. The starters were announced during a live television broadcast on Sunday night.

This will be the first All-Star Game without a Yankee in the starting lineup since 1999, believe it or not. The starters for both the AL and NL can be seen right here. Here are the final voting results for the NL and here are the final voting results for the AL:

AL All-Star Game votingJacoby Ellsbury, who hasn’t played in weeks, was the closest Yankee to a starting spot, and he was a mere 7.6M votes behind Alex Gordon for the final outfield spot. Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez were well short of the top spots at catcher and DH, respectively. Mark Teixeira wasn’t even in the top five at first base.

The rest of the All-Star Game rosters will be announced Monday night. Dellin Betances is the only Yankee who seems like a lock for the game, though McCann, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Brett Gardner certainly have strong cases as well. We’ll find out tomorrow.

The 2015 All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 14th in Cincinnati.

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the last few hours of the holiday weekend. The All-Star Game starters will be announced tonight (7:30pm ET on ESPN) though based on the various voting updates, don’t expect to see any Yankees named tonight. The rest of the rosters will be announced tomorrow. The Giants and Nationals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Vogelsong vs. Zimmermann) and the Women’s World Cup Final is on as well (USA vs. Japan at 7pm ET on FOX). Talk about whatever here. Have at it.

Yankees can’t finish sweep, get blown out 8-1 by Rays

Man, a sweep would have been so nice, but it was not meant to be. The Yankees dropped the series finale to the Rays on Sunday afternoon, getting blown out 8-1 thanks to an ineffective Ivan Nova and some hilaribad defense. Two out of three in the series ain’t bad. Just kinda disappointing.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

No Command
This was definitely not Nova’s day and it was clear from the get go. Nova allowed two runs on three hits to the first four batters he faced — David DeJesus and James Loney singled around an Evan Longoria double — and he threw a first pitch strike to just three of the first ten Rays to bat. Loney’s single drove in two runs and Tampa scored their third run thanks to a Brett Gardner mistake — he misread a line drive and let it sail over his head for a triple. It should have been an error but was scored a triple.

Nova put men on base in the third and fourth innings but escaped unscathed. The fifth inning started with a double and continued with an error. Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt, Nova threw to third — Brian McCann told him to go to third — and the ball sailed wide of the bag and into foul territory, allowing the run to score. The throw to third was ill-advised in hindsight but I thought it was the right play. The catcher was running and it appears Chase Headley would have had plenty of time to apply the tag had the throw been on the money:

Ivan Nova error

The throw wasn’t on the money though, so Curt Casali scored the fourth run for the Rays. Nova got out of the inning without allowing any more damage. His afternoon ended with four runs (three earned) allowed on six hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out just one and threw only 45 of his 81 pitches for strikes (56%). Too few strikes. Too few first pitch strikes too — Nova went to a 1-0 count on 14 of 23 batters faced. Egads.

The road back from Tommy John surgery is rarely smooth and this was one of he bumps. Nova couldn’t locate consistently, was behind in the count all afternoon, and simply had to grind each at-bat. The misplay by Gardner and the error on the throw to third didn’t help either, though Ivan’s problems extended beyond that. Just one of those days. It happens, especially after elbow surgery. Shake it off, get ready to start again in later this week.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Blown Chances
You could see it coming a mile away. The Yankees had Erasmo Ramirez on the ropes in the first and second innings, never delivered the knockout blow, then Ramirez settled in. A double by Headley and walks by Mark Teixeira and McCann loaded the bases in the first before Garrett Jones grounded out. He swung at the first pitch after the back-to-back walks, which is always annoying, though the line of thinking is the pitcher wants to get one over and the most hittable pitch of the at-bat is the first. Didn’t work.

In the second, Didi Gregorius reached base on an error and Gardner drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Headley popped up in foul territory to end the threat. The Yankees had just one base-runner from the third through fifth innings and that was a hit-by-pitch. Ramirez started to tire in the sixth — Alex Rodriguez hit a solo homer and Teixeira hit a ball to the wall — but was able to strand a runner at second to end the inning. The solo homer cut the deficit from 4-0 to 4-1. Too little, too late.

Defense Optional
The Rays tacked on four runs in the eighth inning — after the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh only to have Headley bang into a double play, womp womp — because lol infield defense. Gregorius bobbled a slow chopper he tried to barehand (but didn’t need too because Longoria was running) and Jose Pirela managed to turn a double play ball into second and third with no outs. He booted the grounder, took his time retrieving the ball, then threw it into the dugout. Two errors on one play. That’s always a treat. A bloop drove in both runs. The Yankees were charged with three errors on the day (Nova, two on Pirela) but it could have easily been five because of the Gardner and Didi plays. The second base situation has become untenable. They need to fix this and fast.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Bryan Mitchell was charged with four totally undeserved runs (two earned) in two innings. He threw fire in his scoreless sixth and seventh innings, then allowed four runs on two soft ground balls, a bloop, and a hit batsman in the eighth thanks largely to the Didi and Pirela miscues. It didn’t help that Chris Capuano walked in a run and allowed a sac fly either. I’m digging Mitchell in short relief. He’s been impressive when the defense is Major League caliber behind him.

Oh by the way, the Yankees had just three hits on the day. A-Rod homered and both Headley and Jones doubled. They did drew five walks though, two by Gardner and one each by A-Rod, Teixeira, and McCann. Chris Young was also hit by a pitch but just barely. Same number of doubles plays as hits. Not good!

And finally, rumblin’ Nick Rumbelow tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out two. He’s been impressive in his very limited big league time like Mitchell. Those two plus not a starter Adam Warren‘s return to the bullpen have settled down the righty reliever revolving door.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights. Also check out the updated standings as well as our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the LPA graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees have an off-day Monday and will open a three-game set against the Athletics at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Nathan Eovaldi will be on the mound against … someone. Oakland’s starter is officially TBA right now. They’re hoping it will be Sonny Gray, who’s been battling an illness of late. It’s the last home series before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch one of those three games live.

Game 82: Finish the Sweep

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Another walk-off win? Probably not, but I’ll be happy with any kind of win this afternoon. The Yankees have taken care of business the first two games of this series against a division rival, though there’s still one more game to be played, one more win on the table. Today’s game will determine if this was a good series or a great series.

The bullpen has been worked hard the last few days, specifically Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson, who each pitched the last two days and three of the last four. Even with the off-day tomorrow, I’m guessing Joe Girardi will stay away from those two today. That means not a starter Adam Warren might pull double duty today — he might throw the eighth and ninth, with a little Chasen Shreve mixed in. We’ll see. Here is Tampa Bay’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a lovely day in New York. Warm but not too hot, some clouds but not too many. Nice day for a ballgame. Today’s series finale will begin at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Andrew Miller (forearm) will throw one inning or 25 pitches for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow. It’s possible he will be activated after that. Depends whether he feels sharp.