The qualifying offer will be set at $18M this offseason, which doesn’t mean much to the Yankees

(Stephen Brashear/Getty)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty)

According to Buster Olney, teams have been informed the qualifying offer will be worth approximately $18M this offseason, possibly $18.1M. In that range. The qualifying offer is a one-year deal set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. Make a free agent the qualifying offer, and you get a draft pick when he leaves. Simple as that.

For the Yankees this year, the qualifying offer is essentially meaningless. Not one of their impending free agents is a qualifying offer candidate. Here’s the list:

CC Sabathia
Matt Holliday
Todd Frazier (not eligible for the qualifying offer because he was traded at midseason)
Michael Pineda

That’s it. Pineda blew out his elbow earlier this month and needed Tommy John surgery, and since he’s going to spend just about all of next season rehabbing, there’s no reason to make him the qualifying offer. Right now Pineda is looking at a little one or two-year “rehab and prove yourself” contract a la Nathan Eovaldi last year. He’d accept the qualifying offer in a heartbeat. I’m not sure the Yankees would have made Pineda the qualifying offer even before his elbow game out.

The Yankees could very well have interest in retaining Sabathia beyond this season, though not at an $18M salary. Bartolo Colon signed a one-year deal worth $12.5M last winter. That’s probably Sabathia’s price range. Not $18M. Holliday is on a one-year deal worth $13M this year. Make him the qualifying offer and he’d take it. Frazier and any other rental the Yankees bring aboard isn’t eligible for the qualifying offer. All pretty simple, right? Right.

That all said, the Yankees do have one qualifying offer candidate this year: Masahiro Tanaka. If he opts out after the season, the Yankees could and should make him the qualifying offer. Tanaka would be walking away from three years and $67M by opting out. He’s not going to accept a one-year deal worth $18M. And you know what? Even if he did take the qualifying offer for some weird reason, good! I’d take him back on a one-year deal in a heartbeat.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the free agent compensation rules pretty dramatically. All first round picks are protected now, and what you give up to sign a qualified free agent and what you receive when you lose a qualified free agent are tied to your team’s payroll. Here’s the bucket the Yankees fall into this coming winter:

  • Sign a qualified free agent: Forfeit second and fifth highest draft picks, plus $1M in international bonus money.
  • Lose a qualified free agent: Receive a compensation draft pick after the fourth round.

It’s pretty straightforward for the Yankees because they’re going to pay luxury tax this year. Things are much more complicated for teams that do not pay luxury tax. That’s where the Yankees hope to be next season, under the luxury tax threshold. So, if Tanaka does opt-out and reject the qualifying offer, the Yankees would get a dinky draft pick after the fourth round. Not much, but better than nothing.

Game 99: Stay Hot

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees have won four of their last five games and they’re starting to snap out of their month long funk. Hooray for that. You know what’s crazy too? As terrible as the Yankees played during those few weeks, they’re still only one game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. They’re actually a game up in the loss column. The division is right there for the taking.

Anyway, the Yankees will have their best starting pitcher on the mound this afternoon as they look to wrap up a quick little two-game sweep against the rebuilding Reds. The Rays are coming to town for a pretty important four-game series this weekend. It would be cool to pick up another win and create some more distance in the standings. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Clint Frazier
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

Just a perfect day for baseball in New York. The sun is out, there are only a few puffy clouds in the sky, and the temperatures are in the mid-70s. Couldn’t ask for a better day. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Yankees beat Reds 4-2 in series opener behind Gregorius and Montgomery

Home sweet home. The Yankees returned home to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since before the All-Star break, and they celebrated with a 4-2 win over the Reds. They’ve now won four of their last five games. I’m glad things are finally starting to turn around. Love this team, you guys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three Outs, One Run
One inning into the game, it looked like the Yankees were in for a long night. Reds rookie Luis Castillo was throwing fire — his fastball averaged 96.8 mph and topped out at 99.6 mph in this game — and locating just well enough to keep the Yankees off balance. He does not look like a fun at-bat. Then, eight pitches into the second inning, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs. Things turned around pretty quickly.

Three singles built that second inning rally. Matt Holliday went to right-center field, Didi Gregorius went to right field, and Chase Headley went the other way to left field. Single single single. It came together quick. That brought Todd Frazier, who had half of Toms River in the stands, to the plate. Frazier has struggled as a Yankee so far. He looks like he’s pressing. It happens. He’ll be fine. Eventually. I think.

Anyway, when you’re struggling, bases loaded with no outs is an opportunity to do some damage and start feeling pretty good about yourself. Frazier got ahead in the count 3-1, put a good swing on the ball, and drove a run in. With a 6-3-5-6 triple play. For reals. Look at this thing:

Where was Didi going? He had to think that little soft line drive was going to be caught on the fly, right? Had to. Once it was clear the ball was not caught, Gregorius should have just kept going to third. Forget about the rundown. The run had scored already. Eh, whatever. Frazier, by the way, has now driven in two runs with the Yankees. One with a double play and one with a triple play. Not very efficient, Todd.

Montgomery’s Gem
The month of July had not been too kind to Jordan Montgomery prior to Tuesday night. In his first four starts this month the rookie left-hander allowed 14 runs on 30 baserunners in 19.2 innings. Yikes. On Tuesday, Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and faced the minimum through five. It wasn’t until Scott Schebler led off that sixth inning with a double into the gap that Cincinnati broke into the hit column.

Montgomery finished the night having allowed one run — Schebler scored after advancing to third on a long fly ball and came home on a ground ball — on two hits and one walk in 6.2 innings. He struck out six. I’m a little surprised to see the one walk. Montgomery was behind in the count a bunch and went to a three-ball count on seven of the 22 batters faced, so roughly one out of every three. A better team would have done a little more damage. Overall though, real nice outing for Montgomery. Sign me up for this every fifth day the rest of the season.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Four Relievers For Seven Outs
Between Frazier’s run-scoring triple play (lol) and Schelber’s trip around the bases in the sixth, the Yankees added two insurance runs. Aaron Judge singled to right to open the fourth, advanced to second on a ground, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on a Gregorius sac fly. Then, in the fifth, Tyler Wade reached on a fielder’s choice and scored all the way from first on Austin Romine‘s double into the right field corner. Boy can Wade fly.

All that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead going into the seventh inning, and had the Yankees not traded for Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson last week, I’m guessing Joe Girardi would have stuck with Montgomery a little longer. Instead, he yanked Montgomery following an Adam Duvall two-out single with his pitch count sitting at 85. That’s the luxury of having a deep bullpen. You don’t need to push your rookie starter through the lineup a third time in a close game.

Kahnle closed out that seventh inning with a fly ball, and rather than stick with him in the eighth, Girardi went to eighth inning guy Dellin Betances. I don’t really love burning Kahnle to get one out on four pitches, but whatever. Betances made things interesting with two walks and a booming double to right by Billy Hamilton (?!?), and had to be bailed out by Adam Warren, who struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the inning with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second. Good thing Zack Cozart is dealing with a quad injury, otherwise he would have scored from first on Hamilton’s double.

So, rather than use Kahnle in the eighth, the Yankees wound up using three relievers to get four outs spanning the seventh and eighth inning. Inefficient! Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth with a 4-2 lead — Gregorius gave the Yankees a much appreciated insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth — and needed only eight pitches to retire the side. Fly ball, ground out, fly ball. Outs are outs, but Chapman has now struck out only four of the last 29 batters he’s faced, or 13.8%. Eh.

Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)
Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)

Leftovers
How locked in is Gregorius right now? Sir Didi went 2-for-3 with a homer and a sac fly in this game, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) with four homers during his seven-game hitting streak. With Holliday and Gary Sanchez both struggling at the moment, it might not be a bad idea to bump Didi up to the cleanup spot for a few games. Either way, go Didi. He’s been awesome. He missed a month and is still third among all shortstops with 15 homers. Only Carlos Correa (20) and Corey Seager (16) have more.

Every starter had a hit except Clint Frazier and Wade. Frazier ripped a line drive right at the left fielder and Wade did reach on a fielder’s choice and score the team’s second run. His speed came in handy. Brett Gardner, Judge, and the lesser Frazier each had a single and a walk. Too bad Gregorius hit that home run in the eighth after Betances did his best to try to improve the team’s record in one-run games, eh?

And finally, the Yankees hit into a triple play for the first time since September 2011, when Russell Martin banged into a 5-4-3 triple play against the Rays. I was at that game. True story. This was also the first triple play to score a run since the Mariners managed to do it in 2006, and only the seventh since 1930. Here’s the list. Oh, and it was the first triple play turned by the Reds since 1995.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Reds wrap up this quick little two-game series Wednesday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day. Luis Severino and Homer Bailey are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game, or any of the other seven games remaining on the homestand.

DotF: Ford and Andujar go deep in Scranton’s win

Here are the day’s notes, headlined by several new and updated prospect lists:

  • MLB.com released their updated top 100 prospects list. Six Yankees made the cut: SS Gleyber Torres (No. 3), OF Clint Frazier (No. 27), RHP Chance Adams (No. 63), OF Dustin Fowler (No. 79), OF Estevan Florial (No. 91), and LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 94). Jim Callis added 3B Miguel Andujar and SS Jorge Mateo didn’t miss the cut by much.
  • MLB.com also released their updated top 30 Yankees prospects list while Baseball America (subs. req’d) released their updated top ten Yankees prospects list. As always, all the MLB.com scouting reports are free, so check that out.
  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked his top five farm systems and has the Yankees fifth despite all the graduations and high-profile injuries this year. “There are a lot of positives here, and the team continues to find value with later-round picks who don’t necessarily blow you away on traditional scouting variables,” said the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Norfolk in ten innings)

  • CF Jake Cave: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K — hitting streak is up to eleven games
  • DH Mike Ford: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the tenth … ties his career high with 12 homers in 92 games … he hit 12 homers in 130 games last year
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-5, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 59 of 96 pitches were strikes (61%), plus he picked a runner off second
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K — 23 of 36 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 33 pitches were strikes (64%) … 27/7 K/BB in 22 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery
  • RHP Jonathon Holder:1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 15 of 30 pitches were strikes … he went full Betances

[Read more…]

Game 98: Back Home, Finally

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time in 16 days, the Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium. The All-Star break and a long eleven-game, ten-day road trip through three time zones kept them away from home for a while. Good to have baseball back in the Bronx. I’ve missed it. The Yankees will be here for the next nine days.

The Reds are in town for a quick little two-game interleague series, and while I know any team can beat any other team on any given night in this league, this feels like the kind of series the Yankees really should dominate. The Reds have lost 28 of their 40 last games and like 75% of the roster could be traded at any moment. Drop the hammer. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Clint Frazier
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 2B Tyler Wade
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cool and cloudy in New York this evening, though there’s no rain in the forecast, and that’s all that matters. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Aaron Hicks (oblique) will hit in the cage for the first time tomorrow. There is no firm date for him to begin a minor league rehab assignment … Tyler Austin (hamstring) has started running and will start swinging a bat soon.

Rotation Update: Caleb Smith will remain in the rotation, Joe Girardi said. His next start is scheduled for Saturday against the Rays. The Yankees are said to be looking for another starter in advance of the trade deadline, though even if they swing a deal, Smith may still need to make that start because whoever they get might not be lined up.

The beginning of the end of the Jacoby Ellsbury era

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three and a half years later, I still don’t understand what compelled the Yankees to sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract worth $153M. A top Scott Boras client signing the week before the Winter Meetings is never a good sign. The offer was too good to be true for Ellsbury to sign that early. My guess is the Yankees overrated three things: Ellsbury’s ability to repeat his monster 2011 season, his durability (many of his injuries with the Red Sox were fluky), and the value of succeeding in a tough market like Boston.

Whatever it was, the Yankees signed Ellsbury to that contract, and three and a half years later, they wish they hadn’t. He is no better than the fourth best outfielder on the current 25-man roster, and once Aaron Hicks returns from his oblique strain, Ellsbury will be the fifth best outfielder on the roster. Ellsbury has sat in each of the last three games and six of the last ten games. Clint Frazier has been too good early in his MLB career to take out of the lineup, and Brett Gardner has been better than Ellsbury overall this season.

“I realize the way I started the first two months of the year, played very well, then I had a concussion, hurt my neck and the last three weeks my production hasn’t been the same since I ran into the wall,” said Ellsbury to Randy Miller over the weekend. “But it’s only three weeks, so for the first two months I played very well and I’m looking forward to getting back to what I was the first two months.”

As Ellsbury said, he missed a month with a concussion earlier this season and he hasn’t hit since returning. He’s gone 11-for-62 (.177) with a double and a triple since coming back. He got hurt and he stopped hitting, and it’s not the first time this has happened. Ellsbury got off to a tremendous start in 2015, tweaked his knee, missed six weeks, and didn’t hit the rest of the year. He did the same thing several times with the Red Sox. This is the reality of Jacoby Ellsbury:

  • 2015: 83 OPS+
  • 2016: 87 OPS+
  • 2017: 80 OPS+

That is three years and nearly 1,400 plate appearances of .258/.324/.361 (84 OPS+) from a player on a $153M contract. Ellsbury derives a lot of value from his defense, there’s no doubt about that, but the Yankees did not give him that massive contract simply to run down balls in center field. Mason Williams could do that for the league minimum. The brought in Ellsbury for two-way excellence.

The contract tells us the Yankees believed Ellsbury would be an impact player and he’s been anything but. We’ve seen flashes of it, but that’s it. Flashes. And this is on the Yankees. They misevaluated him and they put the contract in front of him. Ellsbury did what anyone in that situation would do. He took the massive payday. Ellsbury is eating up precious luxury tax payroll space and tying up a roster spot because the Yankees screwed up, plain and simple.

The recent benchings suggest the Yankees are beginning to acknowledge that screw up, and won’t let it continue to hurt them. The contract is a sunk cost. The Yankees are paying it no matter what. That doesn’t mean they have to play him though. Ellsbury is not in the lineup because he doesn’t belong in the lineup. The Yankees have better players available. Does Joe Girardi want to sit Ellsbury? No. Of course not. It’s an uncomfortable situation. But he’s done it before. Ellsbury sat in the winner-take-all Wild Card Game in 2015, remember.

“I am going with the hot hand … Clint is playing well and I will keep using him,” said Girardi to George King over the weekend. “It’s tough to tell a player who has had a really good career that you are going with someone who is younger and has the hot hand. That is never an easy conversation, but it is part of the game. The big thing is that we aren’t saying it’s permanent, but when (Ellsbury) gets his chances, it’s important he plays well.”

Given Ellsbury’s recent benchings and the fact the Yankees have two oh so awesome young outfielders in Frazier and Aaron Judge, it’s only natural to think this is beginning of the end of Ellsbury’s tenure in pinstripes. It’s not impossible to come back from this, but it doesn’t happen often with players Ellsbury’s age. Step one is getting benched. Step two is getting pushed out the door. How will that happen? There are four possibilities, realistically:

  1. Release Ellsbury and eat the $80M or so left on his contract. Not happening. Maybe if there were one year left on his contract, but three? Nope.
  2. Trade Ellsbury in a bad contract for bad contract swap that gives the Yankees a player who better fits their roster, like a starting pitcher.
  3. Eat a bunch of money and trade Ellsbury for fringe prospects. A straight salary dump. Save whatever money you can and go from there.
  4. Attach Ellsbury to a top prospect as a way to get another team to take on a big chunk of his contract in a trade. I don’t see this happening.

The Yankees would trade Ellsbury today if it were at all possible. It’s not though. Any team looking for an outfielder would presumably turn to a cheap rental like, say, Jay Bruce. The plan to trade Ellsbury figures to begin in earnest in the offseason, when the Yankees will have more time to negotiate and perhaps more financial flexibility. The problem then is that there will lots of other outfielders available as a free agents. Outfielders like Ellsbury aren’t hard to find. What can you do? The Yankees put themselves in this situation and they’ll deal with the consequences.

As poorly as the last month or so has gone for the Yankees overall, they are very clearly a team on the rise with a lot of exciting young talent. Think about it, how long have we waited for the farm system to produce one difference-maker like Judge? Since Robinson Cano, basically. Now the Yankees have Judge and Frazier and Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino. And there’s more coming! There’s still a lot of work to be done for the Yankees to make the jump from fringe contender to World Series threat, but man, they are set up really well right now.

Ellsbury is not part of the long-term solution. I mean, I suppose he could make that one mechanical change that turns his entire game around a la Curtis Granderson in 2010, but the chances of that happening are so small. We haven’t seen nearly enough of the good Ellsbury over the years, and now that he’s approaching his mid-30s, it is increasingly unlikely we will see the good Ellsbury for a meaningful length of time. The Yankees have too many quality young players to keep Ellsbury in the lineup, and his recent benchings are an indication are preparing to move on.

Thoughts six days before the 2017 trade deadline

The best photo. (Presswire)
The best photo. (Presswire)

The Yankees are finally back home after the All-Star break and that long road trip. Tonight they’ll open a nine-game homestand with the first of two against the Reds. Four of those nine games are against the Rays. That’s a pretty darn big series by late-July standards. The Yankees and Rays are neck-and-neck in the standings. Anyway, I have some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. The trade deadline is six days away now and rotation help is, pretty darn clearly, the top priority for the Yankees. I expect them to bring in a starter. Maybe only a low cost rental, but someone. Beyond a starter, I hope the Yankees also go out and add another bat at first base. Matt Holliday hasn’t hit at all since coming back from his illness, and at his age, there’s always a chance this is the beginning of the end. Another first baseman would also allow the Yankees to scale back on Todd Frazier and Chase Headley as their performance warrants. Headley’s been hitting well of late, but what if he slips into another deep slump? Also, a new first baseman would mean more lineup depth and less reliance on Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, two kids in their first long 162-game MLB season. Adding another first baseman, particularly a left-handed hitter, makes way too much sense to me. I prefer Yonder Alonso but Lucas Duda would work too. And because basically no other contender needs a first baseman or designated hitter, the Yankees are in position to sit back and let the market come to them before the deadline. They can make an lowball offer, and whoever accepts it first, gets it. The alternative for the A’s and Mets is losing their rental first baseman for nothing as free agent after the season. Neither Alonso nor Duda is a qualifying offer candidate. Not with how slowly the first base market moved last offseason. They’d both jump all over the qualifying offer. That works to the Yankees’ advantage. Adding a first baseman strikes me as one of those things that, if the Yankees don’t get it done before the deadline, we’ll be wishing they did.

2. Speaking of Headley and Frazier, right now I think the Yankees have their defensive assignments backwards. Headley should be at third and Frazier should be at first. Frazier is a better third baseman than Headley, at least statistically, but not by much. Not enough to negate the big defensive downgrade at first. We’ve already seen Headley’s inexperience at first base cost the Yankees a run. Friday night he ranged too far to his right to field a ground ball he should have let the second baseman handle, then missed the bag when he had to rush back. Frazier has much more experience at first base and is less likely to screw something up. Headley’s throwing has been fine for weeks now, and his range is sneaky good at third, particularly to his right. I say go with two players at positions they’re familiar with rather than one guy at a position he’s familiar with and another who is crashing coursing at a new position. Headley’s inexperience at first base has already cost the Yankees one run. They don’t want it to happen again. Let the guy with plenty of first base experience play first base.

3. Is it possible changes to the baseball are to blame for Masahiro Tanaka‘s struggles? I don’t necessarily mean the ball being juiced and flying out of the park. Research by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchell Lichtman showed the balls being used this year are not the same as the balls being used in the past based on several criteria. One of them is the height of the seams. The seams are not raised as much. Not to get super nerdy, but the seams are what make a pitch move. There’s a friction between the seams and the air molecules. Change the size and shape of the seams and you’re going to change the way the ball moves. Could the smaller seams explain why so many more of Tanaka’s splitters and sliders have hung up this year? I suppose it’s possible. It seems unlikely though. The difference in the seams isn’t that big. I was just reading something about the balls being juiced the other day and that popped in my head. Tanaka relies on his non-fastballs so much that anything that could change the flight of the ball could have a big impact on his performance.

So glad he's back. (Presswire)
So glad he’s back. (Presswire)

4. I think my favorite thing about the new-look bullpen — aside from the general awesomeness and added depth — is that it is basically Joe Girardi proof. Girardi assigns his relievers specific innings and rarely deviates from that plan, for better or worse. There have been too many instances over the years in which someone other than the team’s best reliever (i.e. Dellin Betances) was on the mound in a crucial situation because it wasn’t that reliever’s inning. How many seventh inning leads or tie games slipped away earlier this year because it was Tyler Clippard‘s inning? Too many. Now, that’s not a problem. Betances, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman are all more than qualified for high-leverage work. As long as it’s late in the game and the score is reasonably close, one of those guys will be on the mound, and that’s great. They’ll still have their assigned innings, whatever they are, and it won’t really matter because they’re all really good. The bullpen is assigned innings proof.

5. There’s been lots of talk these last few weeks about the Yankees’ record in one-run games. They’re 9-19 in one-run games so far this year, the second worst one-run game winning percentage in baseball. Only the rebuilding Phillies have been worse. While one-run losses are pretty damn annoying, one-run games are largely coin flip games that aren’t a particularly good measure of a team’s true talent level. Bill James has written a ton about that over the years. One-run games are often decided by one mistake pitch, or a second baseman making too slow a turn to complete a double play, or an umpire’s tight strike zone. Things like that. The unspoken narrative seems to be that teams that win a lot one-run games have better execution and are tougher. Would it have been better if Clint Frazier hit a two-run double instead of a three-run walk-off homer against the Brewers, giving the Yankees a one-run win? Or how about Chapman not stranding the runner at third Sunday? Let that man score and the team’s record in one-run games improves! No, of course that’s not better. A team’s record in games decided by three or more runs better reflects their talent, and this year the Yankees are 46-22 in games decided by at least three runs. All those 19 one-run losses tell you is that the Yankees have been one swing away in more than 40% of their losses this year. When they win, they tend to win with several runs to spare. And when they lose, it’s often a winnable game that is within reach.

6. It was a really minor trade that most likely won’t amount to much of anything, though I did find it kinda interesting the Yankees targeted a first baseman in the Rob Refsnyder deal. The Yankees got caught with their pants down a bit at first base this year. They’ve got Headley starting there now. A few weeks ago Austin Romine — Austin Romine! — started three straight games at the position. Ji-Man Choi was the starter for a little while. They had to go out and trade for a guy like Garrett Cooper. The Yankees don’t want all this to happen again. Greg Bird and Tyler Austin have had a tough time staying healthy the last few seasons, plus first base is a weak spot throughout the organization, so the Yankees are adding some depth there. Remember, Cooper and Austin could very well lose their 40-man roster spots as part of the roster crunch this winter, which means they could be out of the organization come next Spring Training. That’s not an issue with Ryan McBroom, the guy the Yankees got for Refsnyder. He’s the kinda player you want to already have in your organization so you don’t have to scramble after an injury like the Yankees have so many times this season.