A Mutual Turning Point

Pineda's new dance move. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Pineda’s new dance move. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi have a lot of important things in common. They both pitch for the Yankees, and do so with their right arms. And when they do so, they both tend to throw hard and have what most people would agree is “good stuff.” Both pitchers are capable of brilliant performances and blowing away hitters. Both pitchers are also prone to giving up too many hits, leaving something to be desired from their outings. Just as importantly, though, both Pineda and Eovaldi are on the same timetable for free agency.

As Mike detailed last month, Pineda and Eovaldi are due some big raises in arbitration (emphasis mine):

Pineda and Eovaldi are both entering their second arbitration year. Pineda earned $2.1M this season and has the biggest projected raise at $2.5M. Eovaldi is right behind him with a $2.4M projected raise. That is fairly standard for good but not great starters going through arbitration for the second time. Given the fact both Pineda and Eovaldi spent time on the DL with arm injuries in 2015, I’m guessing the Yankees will not explore a long-term extension with either this winter.

After this year, each pitcher will have just one more shot at hitting the big, bad free agent market. Their performances last year were certainly confidence-inspiring at points, but on aggregate, hardly enough to sway the team to try and extend them now. Granted, that’s not generally the Yankees’ MO, but they did break the proverbial mode for both Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano in years past. Given how expensive the pitching market has gotten recently, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Yankees try to extend Pineda or Eovaldi, but not before this turning point of a season.

Both pitchers have something big to prove this year. For Pineda, it’s health and consistency. Pineda spent time on the DL during his up-and-down season and needs to put it together this year and finally have that big season we’ve been waiting for since he was traded to the Yankees. Just about every pitcher the Yankees have as a rotation candidate–including Pineda himself–has some sort of question mark attached to him heading into 2016. Stability from Pineda, both in terms of health and performance, is of paramount importance to the Yankee present of 2016 and the future beyond it.

(Steven Ryan/Getty)
(Steven Ryan/Getty)

Eovaldi is in a similar boat with regards to consistency of performance, though perhaps his boat is more about repetition. After his disaster start against his former team in Miami, Eovaldi was solid, pitching to a 1.287 WHIP (fewer hits than IP! Huzzah!) and a 3.44 ERA. There were more positive signs than negative signs for Eovaldi in 2015, but like Pineda, the quality of those negatives may outweigh the quantity of the positives. Eovaldi still isn’t the most efficient pitcher in the league and the results don’t always match the stuff. He’ll need to harness his secondary pitches this year to even make the Yankees think about extending him beyond his free agent years.

The Yankees have generally done well by avoiding long-term extensions with their own pitchers, but few–if any–have been established like Pineda and Eovaldi are now, even with their question marks. Repeat performances by both pitchers in 2016 will probably mean the Yankees pass on extending them. However, if both pitchers can iron out some of their wrinkles, the Yankees will have to think about giving them the Cano/Gardner treatment and thinking beyond 2017.

Guest Post: Replacing a Legend: The Story of A Bust Prospect

The following is a guest post from Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam in the comments. He’s previously written guest posts on Tim McClelland, Frankie Crosetti, the No. 26, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, and Miller Huggins.


For the 2015 season, the New York Yankees had a tough task to deal with, replacing the legend Derek Jeter. Thankfully, Brian Cashman brought us the answer in Didi Gregorius. That being said, this is far from the only time the Yankees have had to replace a legend. David Robertson did an excellent job replacing Mariano Rivera in 2014 and of course, the late Yogi Berra did a legendary job replacing the legendary Bill Dickey as the Yankees primary catcher. People, however, won’t always handle the job of replacing players well at all. The Yankees attempted to replace Robinson Cano with Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson, and tried to replace them with Stephen Drew, none of which have worked out thus far. Now sure, Robinson Cano wasn’t a legend, but he was the stalwart of the second base position for the Yankees the last several years.

In 1969, the New York Yankees were facing another less than enviable situation. How the hell do you replace Mickey Mantle, the Yankees’ legendary center fielder? On October 7, 1968, the 36-year old Mantle announced that he wanted to be part of the 1969 pennant race and work with the extremely young team (Tommy Tresh being second-eldest at age 29!). Rumors had been evident in the idea of Mantle wanting to retire at the end of the 1968 season, but Mantle said he felt great and was planning to attend Spring Training in 1969. He even showed concern about the upcoming expansion draft, stating that he will retire as a Yankee when he is hitting only .240 and making $100,000 and with no one else.

However, on March 1, 1969, Mantle announced in Fort Lauderdale that he would retire after talking with Ralph Houk and that for the team it would be best if Mantle stepped away. He also cited that the chain of restaurants he was creating (Mickey Mantle’s Country Cookin’ Restaurants) as well as clothing stores. Mantle admitted that the previous autumn he would play another year if he felt good in Spring Training, but decided as the months went by that it was time to hang up the spikes. Mike Burke, then President of the Yankees, announced on the spot that the Yankees would retire his No. 7 as a result. But with the retirement, a new question was to be asked, who is going to replace him?

The Story of a Man from Wisconsin

Jerry Kenney was born on June 30, 1945 in the city of St. Louis,  Missouri. A three-sport player, Kenney made his prime in basketball in the city of Beloit, Wisconsin, an exurb of Chicago, Illinois. Kenney was named one of the prime eight in the Big Eight Conference’s all-star team for 1962. Sports writers of Racine, Madison, Kenosha and Janes, Wisconsin all represented the Beloit Purple Knights on the crew. Later that March, Kenney had managed to get honorable mentions for his basketball performance at the state level. The next year, the 6ft 0in senior from Beloit High School was chosen on the first team for the state of Wisconsin in 1963. That year, Kenney managed to finish as a top scorer at the 1963 State Basketball Tournament at the fieldhouse for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. In 1963, the Beloit Purple Knights went undefeated in basketball and later on, when Kenney was presented a gift for their performance in 1969, his coach mentioned that he was a baseball and basketball star.

In May 1964, the New York Yankees signed the former high school standout to a contract to play baseball for the Yankees in the brand new Florida Rookie Baseball League, which a year later became the Gulf Coast League. He was signed to the Sarasota team, which was under control of the Yankees. By the beginning of 1967, Kenney was in the International League (AAA) for Columbus. He was the all-Star shortstop in 1966, hitting .292 and kept climbing the ladder in the Yankees organization. Houk believed that Kenney was ready for the big leagues in January, mentioning that the infield could possibly be Mantle at 1B, Horace Clarke at 2B, a mix of Bobby Murcer, Kenney or Ruben Amaro, Sr. at SS and a platoon of Charley Smith & Mike Ferraro at 3B. By February 18, 1967, Kenney re-signed with the Yankees for a major league contract along with Lou Clinton. However, on March 22, Kenney was re-assigned to AAA unlike what Houk had said in January. Kenney would not make his MLB debut until September 5. Wearing No. 14, Kenney appeared in 20 games, batting at a .310/.412/.397 clip with 1 home run and OPS+ of 146 in a small sample size of 74 plate appearances.

The next year, however, Kenney along with Murcer were both drafted into the service for the United States Military and missed the 1968 season. The Yankees tried to replace Kenney and Murcer for a year with a couple of newcomers in the form of third baseman Bob Cox (the Bobby Cox) and shortstop Gene Michael. The GM of the Yankees, Lee MacPhail, tried to acquire Luis Aparicio from the Baltimore Orioles, but ended up settling on having Michael play shortstop. Murcer and Kenney were discharged from the Navy and the Army in December 1968.

So, Who is Replacing Mantle?

The decision was made in Spring Training to move Joe Pepitone from center field to 1st base to replace Mantle. As a result, the decision was made by Ralph Houk to have Kenney transition into an outfielder. The 24-year old shortstop was basically making the same transition Mantle had made in 1951. Kenney admitted publicly though that he was not as good as Mantle and that the Yankees knew that. In his minor league career, Kenney had only hit 7 home runs and admitted that he’s a “Punch and Judy Hitter,” meaning he knows he cannot hit home runs, but surprises himself when he does. However, the Yankees saw great value in his ability to reach base, hitting never lower than a .290 batting average in the minors and his speed. The Yankees, who put Murcer at third base were running Tom Tresh at shortstop, who had a rough 1968 as well as Pepitone at 1B, were betting on Murcer and Kenney reproducing at least what they had in the minors.

At the same time, the departing third base coach, Frankie Crosetti, was offered to have his No. 2 retired in his honor for his 37 years of service to the New York Yankees. He ultimately decided against it and asked the Yankees to give the number to the next up and coming player and Kenney was chosen for that regard.

However, there seemed to be a disaster forming coming into the 1969 season. Manager Ralph Houk, having lost Mantle’s bat, also lost the amount of power that was going on in the lineup. The door also opened that the lineup had only one legitimate home run hitter in Joe Pepitone. Houk told the press that without Mantle, it could be a psychological asset for the team. However, Houk was reliant on Kenney, Tresh and Murcer to be the important part of a small ball lineup. The only sure things were really in the pitching with Mel Stottlemyre and Lindy McDaniel. The 1969 season for Kenney was very average, however, and in 130 games, Kenney had only two home runs and 34 RBI. His OBP of .328 and .311 was definitely below the short sample size in 1967 and not like his Minor League numbers. To make things even worse, he managed only an 83 OPS+, which is definitely not the production that a starting player should have. Showing the weaknesses in the 1969 team, he still managed a rate of 3 wins above replacement, which is the only positive of the 1969 season for Kenney when it comes to SABERmetrics. Defensively, despite some promise at the beginning of the season in CF, it was blatant that Kenney was not going to repeat the track of Mantle and become a star in center field. He only played 31 games in the outfield (all center field), and while he committed no errors, he never stayed out there. Kenney managed to play 83 games at 3B and 10 games at SS that season, managing 7 errors when playing at 3B. Contrary to the plans at the beginning of the season, they put Mantle for the most part in the outfield.

A Hitter or Not?

The poor 1969 season didn’t bode well at the beginning of 1970, when the Yankees offered him a total of $18,000 for a salary for 1970, a raise from $12,000 in 1969. However, Kenney wanted more from the front office, asking for $30,000. He ended up signing for an undisclosed amount in early March. Let’s put it this way, if 1969 was bad, 1970 was even worse. Now permanently an infielder, Kenney played 140 games, managing 4 of his 7 major league home runs in that season: April 26 (off Blue Moon Odom of the Oakland As), June 12 (off Aurelio Monteagudo of the Kansas City Royals), July 1 (off Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers) and July 26 (off future Yankee Catfish Hunter!). The homer off Catfish would be Kenney’s final MLB home run, and the 25 year old Kenney managed a whopping .193 batting average! Repeat, .193! Stephen Drew, eat your heart out. The final slash line for the 1970 season was .193/.284/.282, propelled by 52 walks to 44 strikeouts and 7 triples of his 78 hits. To make things even worse, he had an OPS+ of a mere 61. SABERmetrics rips this season to shreds: -17 Rbat! -17! Even his lackluster 1969 season was only good for -9. If you thought it could get any possibly worse, let’s look at his defense: 17 ERRORS AT THIRD BASE in 135 games. We rip Chase Headley’s head off for his errors in the 2015 season and lackluster offense, but holy hell, this takes the cake.

Credit to Kenney, his 1971 season was definitely a turnaround after the disastrous 1970, at least offensively. In 120 games, Kenney ran up his slash line to .262/.368/.311. Credit to him because he reduced his strikeouts even further and raised his walk rate, something he was always good at doing. For the first time in a legit sample size, Kenney managed a 100 OPS+ (exactly 100; he had a 146 in 1967 in a small sample size). However, his defense was not an improvement whatsoever. Still a primary third baseman, Kenney managed 15 errors and a .953 fielding percentage at third base. (You’d think Houk and company would have pulled him by this point!) However, an interesting note courtesy of Retrosheets: On July 18, 1971, Kenney started the bottom of the 6th  with a single, followed by a Bobby Murcer walk and Roy White being hit by a pitch from Tom Bradley of the Chicago White Sox. The unusual part, 2 innings later: Kenney led off the inning with a single, Murcer drew yet another walk and reliever Terry Forster nailed Roy White. You know things went well in a game when déjà vu becomes involved.

The End

Well, 1971, while a much better season offensively, proved to be another flash in the pan. In 1972, Kenney (who was paid $32,000) only appeared in 50 games. The Yankees had seen enough of Kenney at 3rd base finally, playing only 1 game at the position that year and 45 at shortstop. His hitting did not improve whatsoever. In fact, it went backwards again. Kenney only managed a .210/.304/.227 slash line and a 62 OPS+. His walks and strikeouts evened out and there was just no ability to hit whatsoever in that short sample size. Playing shortstop for his time on the season, Kenney managed only 6 errors, but that still was basically 6 errors too many, because his career with the Yankees was basically toast.

On November 27, 1972, the Yankees closed the door on Kenney in Honolulu, Hawaii when Lee MacPhail turned Kenney, along with catcher John Ellis and outfielders Charlie Spikes & Rusty Torres to the Cleveland Indians for their star third baseman, Graig Nettles. (The Yankees also received catcher Jerry Moses in the deal.) This was the last deal that was made under the CBS ownership, as on January 3, 1973, it was announced at a press conference that a ship-builder named George M. Steinbrenner, car manufacturer John DeLorean and a group of investors would buy the New York Yankees from CBS. That said, the 1973 Cleveland Indians marked the end for the 28-year old Kenney, who only appeared in five games for the team. While he made a nice short impression: batting .250 in those 5 games, Kenney was released by the Indians on May 4. After sitting out for a while, Kenney was re-signed by the Yankees on July 30, but never returned to the big league club to play for Houk. His career was over.

When he played for the Yankees, he played in 460 games, hitting a meager .237/.326/.299 for being one of the big name players who was supposed to help the Yankees get through the post-Mantle era. However, it was not to be, as he managed only an 81 OPS+ in his tenure with the Yankees. Kenney was a backdoor prospect who the Yankees liked when they signed him in 1964 out of Wisconsin, but never lived up to the true potential he had as an on-base player who could be an offensive improvement for a power-drained team. His defense was never strong at 3rd base despite being an infielder and by 1972, all the lust was gone. I hate to say this, but I think the best thing he did was get us Graig Nettles, who would go on to have a storied Yankee career as their third baseman.

DotF: Sanchez continues to rake in AzFL; Mitchell makes two starts in Puerto Rico

Both C Gary Sanchez and LHP Chaz Hebert will participate in the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game. Here are the East and West rosters. The AzFL Fall Stars Game will be played at 8pm ET tonight. You can watch live on both MLB.com and MLB Network. Here’s the weekly winter ball update.

Arizona Fall League

  • OF Tyler Austin: 13 G, 13-48 (.271), 7 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 1 K, 4 SB, 2 CS (.271/.352/.438) — nice showing in the AzFL after a poor summer
  • OF Dustin Fowler: 8 G, 10-34 (.294), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 5 SB — looking forward to seeing what he does next year … he has tools and was a two-sport guy in high school, so he’s still figuring out this baseball thing
  • C Gary Sanchez: 15 G, 21-64 (.328), 10 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K, 3 SB, 1 CS, 1 HBP (.328/.353/.688) — leads the league in homers (by two) and total bases (by eleven)
  • SS Tyler Wade: 12 G, 7-36 (.194), 4 R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.194/.286/.250) — curious to see how he handles Double-A pitching next year, that’ll be a big test for him
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 4 G, 4 GS, 6.1 IP 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR (4.26 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) — I wonder how quickly they’ll look to move him up the ladder next season since he turns 22 in March
  • LHP Ian Clarkin: 4 G, 4 GS, 16.1 IP, 22 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 10 BB, 10 K, 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 WP (6.06 ERA, 1.96 WHIP) — the results stink but I’m just glad he’s healthy
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 4 G, 0 GS, 9 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K (1.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) — he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible and I’m really curious to see what happens … he had a pretty nice year (2.45 ERA and 3.13 FIP in 143 innings at mostly High-A Tampa)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 6 G, 0 GS, 7.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 1 WP (8.22 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)

Dominican Summer League

  • IF Abi Avelino: 1 G, 0-1, 1 K
  • RHP Andury Acevedo: 2 G, 0 GS, 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP (5.40 ERA, 2.40 WHIP)
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 1 G, 0 GS, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (9.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) — remember when he was on the MLB roster for like two days this year but didn’t pitch? what a time to be alive
  • UTIL Jose Rosario and SS Jorge Mateo are on rosters but have not appeared in a game yet.

Mexican Pacific League

  • OF Rico Noel: 9 G, 4-38 (.105), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 11 K, 5 SB, 1 CS (.105/.190/.158) — Rico’s a runner, he ain’t a hitter
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 10 G, 0 GS, 7 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 2 HR, 1 WP (11.57 ERA, 2.29 WHIP)
  • RHP Luis Niebla: 5 G, 5 GS, 25.2 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 11 BB, 15 K, 1 HR, 2 HB, 1 WP (3.51 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
  • RHP Cesar Vargas: 12 G, 0 GS, 9.2 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, 3 HR, 1 HB (3.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

  • IF Cito Culver: 4 G, 2-12 (.167), 1 BB, 5 K (.167/.231/.167) — might be time to try him on the mound
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 2 G 2 GS, 8.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HB (3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) — glad he’s getting some more innings after spending a big chunk of the season in the bullpen
  • 2B Angelo Gumbs is listed on a roster but has not appeared in a game yet.

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Arcia: 17 G, 13-44 (.295), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K (.295/.392/.409) — I’m pretty sure he’s a minor league free agent this offseason, so he might not even be in the organization anymore
  • OF Ben Gamel: 18 G, 16-63 (.254), 8 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 8 BB, 14 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.254/.329/.460) — he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible and I think he’ll be added to the 40-man roster … the deadline to do so is two weeks from yesterday
  • OF Ericson Leonora: 14 G, 4-22 (.182), 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 K, 1 SB (.182/.217/.318)
  • OF Teodoro Martinez: 22 G, 21-82 (.256), 14 R, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 11 K, 2 SB, 2 HBP (.256/.307/.305)
  • UTIL Jose Pirela: 13 G, 21-48 (.438), 12 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 3 K (.438/.526/.646) — he’s been intentionally walked three times already!
  • RHP Luis Cedeno: 4 G, 0 GS, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 B, 1 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
  • RHP Jaron Long: 4 G, 4 GS, 23.2 IP, 20 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 1 HR (1.90 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 9 G, 0 GS, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 10 K, 1 HR (8.22 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) — he went unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft last year and I’m guessing the Yankees will bet that’ll happen again this winter
  • IF Thairo Estrada is listed on a roster but has not yet played in a game.

Yankees do not make any qualifying offers before Friday’s deadline


As expected, the Yankees did not tender any qualifying offers to free agents prior to today’s 5pm ET deadline. They haven’t officially announced anything yet, but yeah. Their only free agents this offseason are Chris Young, Stephen Drew, and Chris Capuano. None of worth even half a qualifying offer.

Long story short, the QO is a one-year contract worth $15.8M that entitles the player’s former team to draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. The deadline to accept or reject the QO is next Friday. No player has ever accepted the QO and I don’t think anyone will accept this year either.

Here’s the list of QO for this offseason. (Warning: Auto-play video.) There are several surprises so far (Marco Estrada! Ian Kennedy! Colby Rasmus!), so we might actually see a player accept this year. Except we’ve been saying that four years in a row now. Either way, no extra 2016 draft picks for the Yankees.

Mark Teixeira has “no problems at all” with broken shin, won’t begin running until January

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

It has now been nearly 12 weeks with Mark Teixeira fouled a pitch off his right shin, suffering what was first diagnosed as a bone bruise and later diagnosed as a small fracture. It has been eight weeks since the Yankees confirmed Teixeira was done for the season. The team said the fracture came with a three-month recovery timetable.

At a charity event earlier this week, Teixeira told reporters his shin is healing well and he has resumed full workouts. He is not scheduled to begin running until January, but is doing basically everything else right now.

“I feel great. No problems at all,” said Teixeira to Brian Lewis. “I’m working out full-speed. I don’t start running until January, anyway, but we don’t expect that’s going to be an issue at all. I’m doing full workouts, so nothing really changed.”

Teixeira, 35, was pretty awesome before getting hurt this season. He hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) with 31 home runs in 111 games while playing the hell out of first base. I felt Teixeira was the team MVP before getting hurt. He was a huge middle of the lineup force.

Injuries are nothing new for Teixeira, who played in only 372 of 648 possible games from 2012-15. Wrist surgery in 2013 was the most significant injury, though he also dealt with calf and hamstring problems. This shin injury is pretty fluky. I mean, what can you do about a foul pitch like that?

Teixeira is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract and hopefully he’ll have himself a big walk year. He’s not stupid, Teixeira knows Greg Bird is in line to take his job, so hopefully he gives the Yankees a lot to think about next summer. First he needs to get healthy and it sounds like things are going well with the shin.

Second Baseman of the Future? [2015 Season Review]

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

For the first time in a long time, the Yankees leaned on their farm system for help this past season. Whenever a need arose, they dipped down into the minors, called someone up, and hoped for the best. It worked too. Several young players impressed in their limited time while others got a taste of the show, if nothing else.

Second baseman Rob Refsnyder was one of those players who got a taste of the big leagues this year, though not as much of a taste as many of us expected. The Yankees didn’t get a whole lot from second base this year, yet when Stephen Drew struggled for long stretches of time, the team never did make a change. It wasn’t until late in the season that Refsnyder really got a chance to help.

The Errors of Spring

The Yankees always say jobs are up for grabs in Spring Training, and while Drew wasn’t a significant road block at second base, it was unlikely Refsnyder would unseat him for the job in camp. Refsnyder appeared in 26 Grapefruit League games, the most of any player in camp, and he hit .364/.462/.568 with six doubles and nearly as many walks (eight) as strikeouts (ten). He mashed.

The problem: he did not catch the baseball, at all. There were questions about Refsnyder’s defense coming into the season, but geez, he committed six errors in 92 innings at second base in Spring Training. There were many different kinds of errors too. Throwing errors, ground ball errors, double play pivot errors, you name it. Errors are a bad way to evaluate defense, but the error total matched the eye test in camp. Refsnyder was bad in the field. Bad bad bad. He was going to have to play flawless defense to have any chance to make the team and it didn’t happen.

Return to Triple-A

Refsnyder returned to Triple-A Scranton to start the regular season and the errors continued. Three in his first four games, seven in his first 14 games, and eleven in his first 37 games. Gosh. “I want to be aggressive and on my terms,” he said later this summer, explaining the errors happened because he was too passive.

The errors stopped — that doesn’t necessarily mean his defense improved, but the errors stopped — and Refsnyder was hitting, though not as well as he had in previous years. His batting line sat at .275/.366/.380 (121 wRC+) with 14 doubles, five homers, a 10.7% walk rate, and a 12.9% strikeout rate in 71 games through the end of June. This is a guy who hit .300/.389/.456 (137 wRC+) in 77 Triple-A games last year, remember.

The First Call-Up

On July 10th, the Yankees finally called up Refsnyder to help out at second base. Drew’s batting line was sitting at .181/.253/.370 (67 wRC+) at the time and boy, we were all ready for Refsnyder. No one seemed to care his Triple-A production had slipped.

The Yankees called Refsnyder up because they were facing two lefties that weekend, Eduardo Rodriguez and Wade Miley. Refsnyder started both games, went 0-for-3 against Rodriguez, then went 2-for-4 with a home run the next day. He actually homered against a righty, not Miley.

That was the weekend before the All-Star break. Refsnyder hung around for the break, then started at second base in the first two games of the second half. The first game was against a lefty (Mike Montgomery), the second was not (Hisashi Iwakuma). Refsnyder went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the two games. His defense looked … uncomfortable. Let’s leave it at that.

The Yankees sent Refsnyder back down to Triple-A after his four-game cameo. There was some talk of attitude problems that never really got confirmed — and will never get confirmed, the Yankees aren’t the type of organization to throw someone under the bus like that — but whatever the reasoning, Refsnyder was sent back down and Drew returned to second base.

September Call-Up

Refsnyder spent just about the entire second half with Triple-A Scranton. He hit only .229/.296/.379 (92 wRC+) in 36 games after returning to the minors, which didn’t exactly help his case for a return to the big leagues. (The Yankees did pass on trading him for Ben Zobrist, however.) The Yankees eventually called Refsnyder back up, but not until September 1st, when rosters expanded.

Like many of this year’s call-ups, Refsnyder didn’t play a whole lot, especially at first. He was called up on September 1st, got a garbage time at-bat against the Blue Jays on September 11th, played one inning of defense as part of a double switch against the Mets on September 19th, then pinch-hit against the Mets on September 20th. That was all his action in the first three weeks after being called up.

We didn’t know Drew was dealing with a concussion at the time. Dustin Ackley was playing well and had assumed the second base job, though the Yankees were scheduled to face a lot of lefties at the end of the season, so Joe Girardi gave Refsnyder an opportunity. The team faced seven lefty starters in their final eleven games of 2015. Refsnyder started all seven.

In those seven games, Refsnyder went 9-for-24 (.360) with two doubles, a home run, three walks, and three strikeouts. The home run was pretty significant too. It provided a big insurance run on the night the Yankees clinched their first postseason berth since 2012.

Refsnyder’s defense looked better in September than it did in the limited look in July — Girardi did say after the season the team was pleased with the defensive progress Refsnyder made after being sent down in July — though there was clearly still some room for improvement. The bat was too good to ignore though.

During his 16 games with the Yankees, Refnsyder authored a .302/.348/.512 (130 wRC+) batting line with two homers in 47 plate appearances. It’s not much, but Refsnyder is a guy who will have to hit his way into the lineup, and he did that in the second half. He hit .271/.359/.402 (123 wRC+) in 117 Triple-A games as well.

Refsnyder played so well down the stretch that he started the wildcard game against Dallas Keuchel and the Astros, though he went 0-for-3, like a few too many of his teammates. Still, the fact he was in the lineup in the wildcard game was pretty telling. Refsnyder won Girardi over pretty quickly.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Reports indicate the Yankees are “leaning toward” playing Refsnyder and Ackley at second base in 2016, but we’ll see. It’s tough to believe anything any team says this early in the offseason. If nothing else, Refsnyder showed the Yankees he’s a viable platoon bat who won’t absolutely kill them in the field. It wouldn’t shock me if Refsnyder was the starting second baseman next year. It also wouldn’t shock me if he was part of a platoon, if he started the year at Triple-A, or if he got traded. So there you go.