Yanks in need of a shake-up (that isn’t coming)

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I can’t remember the last time the Yankees played this poorly for an extended period of time like they are right now. It wasn’t 2008, so you have to go back to the early-1990s and I don’t want to think back that far. Yes we’ve been spoiled and yes, the Yankees have been terrible for the last three weeks or so. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in five of their last seven and 11 of their last 21 games. Impossible to win like that.

Back in the day, George Steinbrenner probably would have fired someone by now. Or at least I think he would have, that’s what everyone else is telling me. I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate his heyday. Anyway, the Yankees need some kind of shake-up right now, but I don’t mean firing Joe Girardi or a coach or anything like that. More like … drop Tony Womack and Jaret Wright and recall Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang. That type of thing. You know, inject a little youth into a team that seems to be sleepwalking for 27 outs a night.

Unfortunately, the Yankees can’t make a move like that. The current roster is completely inflexible, with big contracts all of the place and nowhere to move these guys. I mean, I suppose they could bench Russell Martin and insert Frankie Cervelli into the lineup, but that’s not exactly what I have in mind when I talk about a shake-up. Brandon Laird isn’t doing to replace Alex Rodriguez, Colin Curtis isn’t going to replace Nick Swisher, there’s nothing to do. The Yankees made their bed with these guys and now they have to sleep in it.

Pretty much the only move the club can realistically make right now is dumping Freddy Garcia, but no one cares about the 12th man on the staff. Adding a new long reliever isn’t exactly the kind the move that will light a fire under the team. That’s not a shake-up, that’s a pretty typical roster move. Other than getting Brett Gardner back at some point in the next two weeks (hopefully), there’s no change coming and that’s a problem. The guys already in the clubhouse are responsible for turning things around and that’s not easy to do.

The Yankees fell into last place last night and are lucky no one is running away with the AL East. They’re still only five back in the loss column with 120 games to play, many of them intra-division games. We’ve seen them go on huge second half runs before and after 42 games, we have to hope they have another one in them. Different doesn’t always mean better, but a roster shake-up of some kind is something we’d probably see when things got this bad. There just aren’t any moves that can be made, so instead we get Mark Teixeira batting seventh. That’s the only shake-up they can make because the roster is so inflexible.

Last Place: Yanks go out like wimps in loss to KC

So what exactly do the Yankees do well right now? The answer is nothing other than lose and not bother to capitalize in run-scoring situations. They have that down to a science.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Pitching

Hiroki Kuroda wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t great. Three runs in 5.1 IP — two on a Mike Moustakas homer that would have sailed foul in a normal-sized stadium — shouldn’t result in an automatic loss but that’s life for a pitcher on the Yankees these days. Kuroda allowed seven hits and three walks (one intentional), giving up the first run(s) of the game for the eighth time in his nine starts. For once it would be nice if they didn’t have to play catch-up with their supposed number two starter on the mound. Hiroki’s performance continued a recent trend of starts that rate anywhere from “awful” to “meh.”

Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada pitched well enough in their short relief appearances (not gonna ding Rapada for walking a right-handed batter) but Freddy Garcia got hammered, specifically by Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy launched a two-run homer and Garcia went on to allow five hits and a walk in 2.1 IP, striking out no one. He’s quite useless, even for the 12th man on the staff.

That's the face you make when you have a .305 OBP. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Hitting

Another night, another 13 (thir-friggin’-teen!) at-bats without a hit with runners in scoring position. That includes another bases loaded, no outs situation that yielded zero runs — Robinson Cano struck out looking, Alex Rodriguez struck out swinging, and Raul Ibanez flew out to deep left-center. That’s the second time they’ve failed to convert a bases loaded, no outs situation into even one run in what, the last four games? They did it Friday as well, right? Gross.

Aside from A-Rod, who singled and doubled, the two through six hitters went a combined 0-for-13 with three walks and seven strikeouts. Curtis Granderson drew two of the walks, Cano the other. Russell Martin chipped in a pair of hits, then Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez had one each to recap the offense. The Yankees have some serious offensive problems at the moment and they can’t wait around for things to fix themselves much longer. These games count.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Leftovers

We have two candidates for stupid play of the nigth. First, why was A-Rod tagging up with one out in the sixth? He was on second and made it into third safely, but Alex Gordon’s throw beat him to the bag and most of the time he’d have been out. I understand they’re struggling to score runs, but forcing things and making stupid mistakes won’t bring the bats back to life.

Secondly, what in the world was that play by Teixeira in the sixth? The Royals had a man on third and one out, but he got caught between looking the runner back to third and stepping on first after fielding a chopper. He ended up making a poor throw across the diamond and everyone was safe. Again, let’s get back to smart baseball please. Look the runner back and step on the base for the sure out.

That’s really it, I have nothing else to add. Monday’s loss was the Yankees’ third straight, sixth in seven games, eighth in ten games, and 14th in 24 games. Coupled with the Red Sox’s win over the Orioles, the Yankees are now in last place in the AL East. They deserve every bit of it as well.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Game two of this three-game series will be played Tuesday night, though yet again the forecast looks ugly. If they do play, it’ll be Phil Hughes and Luke Hochevar on the bump.

Mitchell rocked during Triple-A beanball war

Lots of notes, mostly injury related and from Josh Norris

  • LHP Nik Turley (blister), OF Melky Mesa (sore arm), and IF Walt Ibarra (finger) have all been placed on the DL. RHP Craig Heyer hit the DL with an arm injury last week, but it’s nothing serious and he will return this season.
  • OF Zoilo Almonte (hamstring) and IF Jose Pirela (mystery injury) are working out in Extended Spring Training and should return to Double-A Trenton soon enough. LHP Josh Romanski (blister) has yet to start throwing off a mound, so he’s still a few weeks away.
  • LHP Vidal Nuno (High-A to Double-A) and LHP Evan DeLuca (ExST to High-A) have been promoted to help cover for this wave of pitching injuries.
  • In case you missed it earlier, both Eduardo Nunez (thumb) and Manny Banuelos (sore elbow) were placed on the DL this afternoon.

Remember when RHP Armando Galarraga was working out with the Yankees in Tampa earlier this month? Don’t worry about then signing him, he’s hooked on with the Astros. The club has enough veteran filler in Triple-A as it is.

Triple-A Empire State (9-6 win over Columbus)
CF Kevin Russo: 2-5, 1 R, 1 BB
2B Matt Antonelli: 1-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 BB
1B Steve Pearce: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — three homers in his last ten games
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP — the HBP was apparently intentional and the pitcher got ejected for it
RF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-5, 2 K
3B Brandon Laird: 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
C Frankie Cervelli: 1-5, 2 RBI, 1 K
LF Cole Garner: 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — his second and third homers of the season
SS Ramiro Pena: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K
RHP D.J. Mitchell: 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 3 HB, 8/6 GB/FB — 47 of 78 pitches were strikes (60.3%) … certainly did his part in the beanball war
LHP Justin Thomas: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 15 of 25 pitches were strikes
RHP Chase Whitley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GB/FB — only seven of 16 pitches were strikes (43.8%)
RHP Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 WP — eight of 16 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Update: Nunez & Banuelos placed on Triple-A disabled list

6:56pm: Via Mike Vander Woude, it’s a sore left elbow for Banuelos. Yuck.

6:00pm: Via Chad Jennings and Donnie Collins, infielder Eduardo Nunez and left-hander Manny Banuelos have both been placed on the 7-day DL in Triple-A. Nunez hurt his thumb a few days ago but it’s unclear what’s up with Banuelos. Perhaps the lat issue that shelved him a few weeks ago popped back up. Both guys could technically return this weekend, but we’ll see.

Game 42: Time for Change

(REUTERS/Mike Stone)

The Yankees have been struggling offensively for about three weeks now and apparently the time has finally come for change. Joe Girardi dropped Mark Teixeira — who’s had the last three days off to deal with his lingering cough — to seventh in tonight’s lineup, the first time he’s started a game there since his rookie season. We’ve been waiting for Tex to bat lower in the order for a while now given his continued poor performance, but the Yankees waited as long as they could for him to improve. Something had to give. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
DH Alex Rodriguez
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Eric Chavez
Russell Martin

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

The weather in New York is pretty crummy, but the forecast has gotten better as the day progressed and it looks like they’ll get a full nine innings in tonight. The game is scheduled to start at 7pm and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Robertson will need longer than 15 days on DL

Via Dan Barbarisi, right-hander David Robertson will spend more than 15 days on the DL according to Joe Girardi. A left oblique strain put Robertson on the shelf a week ago and he’s eligible to be activated this weekend. Just yesterday we heard that he still had some pain and was a few days off from picking up a ball. Obliques are tricky, so count on the Yankees approaching this conservatively.

Scouting Tyler Austin

Outfielder Tyler Austin came into the season as my 15th ranked prospect in the organization and he currently owns a .451 wOBA in 40 games with Low-A Charleston. He’s also tied for fifth in homers (13) in all of minor league baseball. Mike Newman of FanGraphs recently got a chance to see Austin in person and called it “the best offensive display of any player [I’ve] seen in person at the minor league level.”

The 20-year-old former 13th round pick is not without his warts, however. Austin’s power all-fields power and ability to murder fastballs is very real, but Newman notes there is some concern about his swing — which is the same no matter where the pitch is located (high, low, belt-high, etc.) — and his strikeout rate, which sits at 23.1%. That’s not outrageous, but a little higher than you’d like to see at this point of his career. Newman still heaps a ton of praise on Austin, calling him a future above average regular. Make sure you check it out, it’s a quality read.