Poll: The Second Base Situation

Drew. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Drew. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon, the best available second baseman came off the board when the Athletics shipped Ben Zobrist to the Royals for two pitching prospects. The Yankees reportedly had interest in Zobrist, it just didn’t come together. For shame. Zobrist was a perfect fit for the Yankees and I was really hoping they’d land him before Friday’s trade deadline.

So now the Yankees will move forward and either stick with their current second base situation or acquire … someone. The second base market is really thin now. Martin Prado is the best available option and it’s not clear whether he is even available. The Marlins could simply hold onto him for next year. Brandon Phillips is the other big name out there. Let’s run down the club’s second base options with Zobrist now off the board.

Option No. 1: Stick with Drew

The Yankees have given Stephen Drew plenty of leash so far this season — he picked up plate appearances 300 and 301 last night — and he’s rewarded them with a .187/.261/.377 (73 wRC+) batting line. The 13 homers and 9.0% walk rate are nice, but there is basically no level of defense or power that makes making an out more than 73% of the time is acceptable. A total of 160 hitters are qualified for the batting title right now. Drew’s on-base percentage would be the 92nd best batting average. Yeah, it’s bad.

Now, to be fair, Drew has been better of late. He’s hitting .226/.308/.478 (115 wRC+) in 131 plate appearances since the calendar flipped to June, with a lot of that built on his three two-homer games in June. They count! Drew just hasn’t done a whole lot aside from those games. The bat hasn’t really come around to the point where you’d safely expect him to put up league average numbers going forward, but Drew has never not been reliable in the field, even while making the transition over to second. He’s as sure-handed as they come, and with no second base options likely to put up big offensive numbers, going with the best defender is a viable strategy.

Option No. 2: Go with Refnsyder

For a total of four games, the Yankees gave top second base prospect Rob Refsnyder a shot at the job. He was called up earlier this month, played the last two games before the All-Star break and the first two games after the break, and went 2-for-12 (.167) with a homer. His defense at second was … passable. Rough around the edges is a good way to describe it. Refsnyder didn’t look too natural there. The routine seemed difficult.

Of course, Refsnyder’s calling card is not his defense, it’s his bat. He’s hitting .285/.378/.404 (131 wRC+) in 393 plate appearances at Triple-A this year and .292/.383/.428 (133 wRC+) in 726 plate appearances at the level dating back to last year, so Refsnyder’s put up good numbers at the highest level of the minors. There are reasons to believe he’d be an upgrade over Drew at the plate. As an added bonus, Refsnyder is right-handed and would balance out the lefty heavy bottom of the lineup. The Yankees seem hesitant to give Refsnyder an extended opportunity — that’s not too surprising, they prioritize defense and he doesn’t offer it — but could do so after the trade deadline.

Prado. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Prado. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Option No. 3: Trade for Prado

Like I said, the Marlins aren’t even committed to shopping Prado yet. Joel Sherman heard Miami will now “at least contemplate” trading Prado, which I guess is better than saying he’s off limits. He’s hitting .280/.321/.375 (92 wRC+) with 14 doubles and four homers this season, continuing a gradual decline that has seen him go from a 117 wRC+ in 2012 to 104 in 2013 to 103 in 2014 to 92 in 2015. Prado is versatile, which is nice even though we’re talking about him slotting in as the regular second baseman. Also, it’s worth noting Prado has not played second base regularly since 2010. He’s just filled in a handful of times each year. Check out our Scouting The Market post for more info on the ex-Yankee, who is also under contract next year.

Option No. 4: Trade for Phillips

At this point the rebuilding Reds would probably give Phillips away to rid themselves of the $32M they owe him through 2017. He’s hitting .273/.310/.355 (83 wRC+) so far this year, and, at age 34, his power is all but gone. His ISO has slid from .157 in 2011 to .148 in 2012 to .135 in 2013 to .103 in 2014 to .081 in 2015. That is both not a good trend and perfectly normal for a guy this age. Phillips is on the downside of his career. It’s clear as day. Peak dollars for non-peak production. But, Phillips is very available, and at this point he might be an upgrade over what the Yankees have in-house. Here’s our Scouting The Market post.

* * *

Unless a trade candidate comes out of nowhere — Dee Gordon? he just returned from his dislocated thumb — these are the four main options the Yankees have at second best now that Zobrist is off the board. I’m not sure there’s a right answer. I’m not even sure there’s much of a difference between the three when you considered expected production and acquisition costs, stuff like that. Time for a poll.

What should the Yankees do at second base?

Fan Confidence Poll: July 27th, 2015

Record Last Week: 5-1 (32 RS, 25 RA)
Season Record: 55-42 (450 RS, 416 RA, 52-45 pythag. record) 6.5 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: @ Rangers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ White 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 Features tab in 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?

Fan Confidence Poll: July 20th, 2015

Record Last Week: 2-1 (9 RS, 8 RA)
Season Record: 50-41 (418 RS, 391 RA, 49-42 pythag. record) 4.0 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Orioles (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Twins (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 Features menu in 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?

Fan Confidence Poll: July 13th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2 (30 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 48-40 (409 RS, 383 RA, 47-41 pythag. record) 3.5 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: All-Star break (Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Mariners (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?

Poll: Luis Severino and the rest of 2015

Changeup! (Luis Severino)
Changeup! (Luis Severino)

Earlier this week, both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America ranked right-hander Luis Severino as one of the 50 best prospects in baseball. Higher than that, actually. BP had him 28th and BA had him 17th. That’s really good! Lots of people like Severino and what’s not to like? He’s still only 21 and he has a 2.59 ERA (2.62 FIP) in 83.1 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year.

The Yankees have moved Severino through the system very aggressively — he hasn’t thrown more than 85.1 innings at any level ever — and he’s answered the bell at every stop. No hiccups whatsoever. Severino threw 113 innings last season and is probably scheduled for 150-ish this year, so he’s only got 66.2 innings or so left to throw this summer. Given his success at Triple-A, the Yankees have plenty of options when deciding how best to use Severino’s remaining innings in the second half. Let’s run ’em down.

Option No. 1: Let Him Finish In Triple-A

This is the conservative approach. The Yankees have moved Severino up the ladder very aggressive and could opt to let him catch his breath at Triple-A, which would hardly stunt his development. Severino is six (six!) years younger than the average International League player, after all. He’s already thrown 45.1 innings for the RailRiders, so he’d finish the season with 100 or so innings at the level and get a chance to see other teams multiple times. That gives him a chance to see how hitters adjust to him, and learn how to adjust back.

Option No. 2: Call Him Up As A Starter

This is the aggressive approach. There might not be an obvious opening in the rotation now, but you know as well I that the Yankees are going to need another starter at some point this year. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone will pitch their way out of the rotation, something will happen and they’ll need another starter. It’s inevitable. Severino has succeeded at every level and the Yankees could continue to be aggressive by calling him up and giving him a rotation spot right smack in the middle of a postseason race. Throw him to the wolves, basically.

Option No. 3: Call Him Up As A Reliever

This is neither conservative nor aggressive. It just … is. Even if the Yankees are comfortable letting Severino throw 170 innings this year — unlikely, but let’s roll with it — that’s still probably not enough innings to get through the second half as a starter. At least not without some 2009 Joba Chamberlain-esque workload manipulation. Remember that, when they’d limit Joba to 35-50 pitches per start? What a mess. The Yankees could instead let Severino spend another few weeks in Triple-A, then, as he approaches his innings limit (whatever that number is), call him up and let him throw his last 20-30 innings of the season out the bullpen. Then Severino can go right back to starting next year.

Option No. 4: Trade Him!

Prospects aren’t just for filling out your own roster. They’re there to be traded as well. It only makes sense given the attrition rates, even with high-end prospects like Severino. Jon Shepherd’s research a few years ago showed that even top 20 pitching prospects like Severino bust 60% of the time, so of course there’s an argument to be made that the best way to get value from the young righty is by trading him for a proven big leaguer. And remember, Severino’s biggest drawback right now is his delivery, specifically how little he uses his lower half, something that will ostensibly lead to future arm injuries. Unless you do something stupid like trade them for a utility infielder or Victor Zambrano, I don’t think it’s ever indefensible to trade a top pitching prospect for big league help, especially in a playoff race. The bust rates are so high because pitchers break.

* * *

That about covers the team’s options with Severino. The Yankees could keep him right where he is the rest of the season, call him up to start or relieve, or trade him away. All four options are justifiable and I honestly don’t think there’s a right answer. So let’s break out the poll. This is asking what you think the Yankees should do with Severino the rest of the season, not what you expect them to do. Bit of a difference there.

What should the Yankees do with Severino this year?

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?

Fan Confidence Poll: June 29th, 2015

Record Last Week: 3-4 (37 RS, 39 RA)
Season Record: 41-35 (363 RS, 339 RA, 41-35 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Angels (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rays (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?