Scouting The Trade Market: Milwaukee Brewers

Lohse. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
Lohse. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The 2015 season is still very young, but one team has already fallen completely out of the race. The Brewers are 9-19 on the season and are already 11.5 games back in the NL Central, and over the weekend they fired manager Ron Roenicke. The club is also reportedly “ready to listen” to trade offers, according to Buster Olney. The Brew Crew quickly pulled the trigger on a managerial change and now they’re ready to start reshaping the roster.

Milwaukee’s two best players — catcher Jonathan Lucroy and center fielder Carlos Gomez — do not make sense for the Yankees, realistically. Brian McCann is locked in at catcher and, like it or not, Carlos Beltran isn’t going anywhere. Both Lucroy and Gomez would be upgrades for the Yankees, but this is the real world, and those moves seem unlikely to be made. Same with Adam Lind. The Yankees aren’t going to give up a prospect and take on about $6.5M in salary to replace Garrett Jones. Ryan Braun? No way. His five-year, $105M extension starts next year.

Those are far from the only guys on the Brewers roster, of course, and despite their terrible start they do have some useful players to market in trades. Some may even be able to help the Yankees. Here are four who jump to mind and could be available for different reasons and different prices.

RHP Matt Garza

Garza. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
Garza. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

We’ve done the Garza song and dance multiple times over the years. When he was available in trades, when he was free agent … it seems like every year we’re talking about him as a potential target. The 31-year-old is off to a slow start this year, pitching to a 4.58 ERA (5.41 FIP) in six starts and 35.1 innings. He’s been really homer prone (1.53 HR/9), but I’m guessing that’ll return to normal before long because his 20.0 HR/FB% is way out of line with his career average (9.8%) despite a healthy 48.2% ground ball rate.

Reasons To Pursue: Just last year Garza had a 3.64 ERA (3.54 FIP) and he’s consistently been league average or better throughout his career. He knows the AL East from his time with the Rays — to be fair, he last pitched for Tampa in 2010 and the division has changed a lot since then — and wouldn’t only be a rental. Garza is owed $12.5M this year, next year, and the year after. That’s market value for a league average-ish arm.

Reasons To Back Away: Garza’s strikeout rate is in the middle of a four-year decline — 23.5% to 22.6% to 20.6% to 18.5% to 15.2% from 2011-15 — at a time when strikeouts around baseball are at an all-time high. His walk rate has also climbed from 6.4% in 2013 to 7.4% in 2014 to 10.1% in 2015. Those are bad trends! Garza’s velocity has held fairly steady over the years (averaging 92.4 mph in 2015) but the swing-and-miss rate on both his heater and slider are trending downward:

Matt Garza whiffs

Also not good! Garza’s had some kind of arm problem every year since 2012 — stress fracture in elbow in 2012, shoulder strain in 2013, shoulder tightness in 2014 — and there are statistical trends that indicate he is in the decline phase of his career, which is not what you want in a dude signed through 2017. It might not be long before Garza’s name value exceeds his on-field value, if it hasn’t already.

RHP Kyle Lohse

I’m always wary of guys who go to the Cardinals and revive their careers. They tend to not sustain their performance after leaving St. Louis (Jeff Suppan immediately jumps to mind), but Lohse is the exception. The 36-year-old had a 3.45 ERA (4.02 FIP) in his first two years with the Brewers but has been dreadful in his third, with a 7.01 ERA (6.03 FIP) in 34.2 innings this year.

Reasons To Pursue: Lohse hasn’t lost any stuff this year. His sinker, slider, curveball, and changeup are all moving like they have the last few years according to PitchFX — same general velocity, break etc. — and both his strikeout (15.4%) and walk (5.4%) rates are in line with what he’s been doing since the Cardinals fixed him. In fact, both his soft contact and hard contact rates this season are the best of his three years in Milwaukee:

Kyle Lohse contact

Disclaimer: We don’t know a whole lot about these new quality of contact stats — when do they stabilize? how well do they correlate to ERA? how predictive are they? etc. — so don’t take those numbers to heart just yet. Either way, what Lohse is doing this year isn’t much different than what he’s done in the past, when he was an effective workhorse who limited walks and pitched well despite not missing many bats. There might be some Brandon McCarthy-esque bounceback potential here. Also, Lohse is owed $11M this season and that’s it. He’s a pure rental. No long-term risk.

Reasons To Back Away: Lohse has been amazingly, incredibly, outrageously homer prone in 2015. Like nine homers in 34.1 innings home prone. That’s a 2.34 HR/9 (!). Lohse is sitting on a 20.0 HR/FB% rate despite a career 9.8% rate like Garza — kinda freaky they have identical 2015 and career HR/FB% rates, no? — but unlike Garza, Lohse’s ground ball rate has dropped big time this year. He’s at 35.4% grounders in 2015 after sitting north of 40% the last four or five years.

While a 2.34 HR/9 is really extreme and unlikely to stay that high all year, my concern is Lohse is an older guy who didn’t have a ton of margin for error to start with. He was never a big strikeout or ground ball pitcher, he succeeded with weak contact, but suddenly if his location is off or his pitches don’t have the life they once did, a spike in homer rate is understandable. Again, maybe not that extreme, but enough to take him from above-average NL innings eater to below-average AL five-and-fly guy.

Peralta. (Ezra Shaw/Getty)
Peralta. (Ezra Shaw/Getty)

RHP Wily Peralta

Unlike Garza and Lohse, Peralta is young (25), cheap ($525,500 in 2015), and under team control long-term (through 2018). He’s a potential building block for the Brewers’ rebuild, so his availability isn’t guaranteed. Peralta has a 3.92 ERA (4.58 FIP) in 39 innings this year, his third in Milwaukee’s rotation. He had a 3.53 ERA (4.11 FIP) in 198.2 innings last year and a 4.37 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 183.1 innings the year before that.

Reasons To Pursue: Peralta has some Nathan Eovaldi in him. He had the third highest average fastball velocity among qualified starters last season at 95.6 mph (Eovaldi was fourth at 95.5 mph) yet his strikeout rate (14.6% in 2015 and 17.2% career) is mediocre. Peralta has also improved his walk rate every year he’s been in the show like Eovaldi, going from 9.7% in his 2012 cup of coffee to 9.1% in 2013 to 7.3% in 2014 to 4.9% in 2015. And again, like Eovaldi, Peralta’s slider and changeup show promise but are works in progress. The Yankees love guys who throw hard and throw strikes — Eovaldi and Michael Pineda were targeted in trades for that reason! — and Peralta fits the bill.

Reasons To Back Away: There’s not many aside from the whole “you have to teach him how to get the most out of his stuff” thing, which is significant and something the Yankees are already attempting to do with Eovaldi. Do they want two guys like that in the rotation? Peralta’s ground ball rate has consistently sat around 50% throughout career, which is better than what Eovaldi’s done (mostly around 45%), so maybe the learning curve will be less painful. That said, Peralta has lost 1.5 mph off his four-seamer and 2.0 mph off his two-seamer compared to last April and May. He’s still throwing mid-90s fairly regularly, but that has to be a concern for a guy whose biggest asset is his arm strength.

Segura. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
Segura. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

SS Jean Segura

The Brewers have some shortstop depth (Luis Sardinas, specifically) and could look to move Segura for a hefty package right before he gets expensive in arbitration. Young middle infield help is really hard to find. Lots of teams would love to have someone like Segura in the organization. The 25-year-old has hit .282/.321/.369 (92 wRC+) with six steals this year around a concussion suffered when he took a pitch to the helmet.

Reasons To Pursue: Like I said, young middle infielders are hard to find, and the Yankees are looking for long-term solutions at both second base and shortstop. (They hope Didi Gregorius can be the answer at short but the jury is still out on that one.) Segura has one really good season under his belt, hitting .294/.329/.423 (105 wRC+) with 44 steals in 57 attempts (77%) back in 2013. He’s flashed the ability to hit at the MLB level.

Depending on your choice of defensive metric, Segura has either been above-average or below-average in the field. There’s no consensus. Scouting reports from his prospect days said he projected to be an okay defender for what it’s worth, and I tend to stick with the scouts in these situations. Segura is under team control through 2018, though his arbitration salaries figure to be on the high side because of his stolen base totals. Steals pay.

Reasons To Back Away: Segura’s big season in 2013 was really just a big first half. He hit .325/.363/.487 (133 wRC+) with a .349 BABIP in the first half that year, .241/.268/.315 (56 wRC+) with a .285 BABIP in the second half, and then hit .246/.289/.326 (67 wRC+) with a .275 BABIP in 2014. So since that big first half two years ago, Segura has hit .249/.288/.328 (67 wRC+) with a .282 BABIP in just shy of 900 plate appearances. That’s not very good.

Now, that said, middle infielders who have shown they can hit and defend at the big league level don’t hit the trade market often. Their teams hang on to them for dear life, which is why we’re instead talking about a flawed player like Segura. It cost Shane Greene to get Gregorius, who didn’t have anything close to Segura’s 2013 on his resume. The price for Segura should be even higher despite being under team control one fewer year. That’s the cost of middle infield help these days.

* * *

The Yankees have leaned towards rental players with their in-season trades the last few years. The two most notable exceptions are Alfonso Soriano and Martin Prado, and the Soriano deal only happened because his salary was heavily subsidized. Part of that is a function of the market — more rental players are available in trades each year than guys with multiple years of control — but I also think the Yankees try to stick to band-aids in-season, not clutter up the long-term picture.

Now, does that mean they would pass on Peralta or Segura if the price is right? Of course not. Young players are an obvious exception. Someone like Garza — a guy over 30 making good money with signs of decline in his game — might not be though. Lohse is a rental who shouldn’t require a big trade package — McCarthy cost Vidal Nuno, so does Lohse cost … Chasen Shreve? — and fits the Yankees’ trade target mold as a veteran buy low candidate with a track record of success and some reasons to think a rebound is coming.

Either way, the Yankees tend to be patient when it comes to going outside the organization for help in the middle of the season. My guess is they will wait a few weeks before calling the Brewers or any other team with the intention of having serious trade talks. That’s just their style these days. Whenever the Yankees are ready to deal, Milwaukee does have some pieces to offer, but none are truly great fits.

Offense can’t out-score Sabathia, Yankees fall 5-1 to Blue Jays in series finale

All good things must come to an end. The Yankees’ consecutive series win streak was snapped at five on Wednesday night, as the Blue Jays beat New York by the score of 5-1 in the series finale. CC Sabathia has started six games this year, and in those games the Yankees have scored three, three, one, two three, and one run. That won’t be enough for the big man these days.

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

Beat By The Bottom Of The Order
Imagine if, before Wednesday night’s game, I told you Sabathia would pitch into the seventh inning while holding the ultra-dangerous top of the Blue Jays’ lineup to this:

CC Sabathia Blue Jays Top

I think we’d all feel really great about that. Two singles and a walk in 14 plate appearances against that foursome? That’s basically the best realistic case scenario. You know those four are going to do damage somehow, so you just had to hope Sabathia would limit it, and limit those four he did.

Unfortunately, all that success against the dangerous top of Toronto’s lineup was paired with this:

CC Sabathia Blue Jays Bottom

Yikes! That’s eight hits — six singles, a double, and a homer — in 15 at-bats against the bottom five spots in the lineup. I want to feel good about Sabathia’s success against the top of the lineup, yet I can’t ignore that he gave up three hits to Chris freakin’ Colabello, who was literally in Triple-A when the series started.

The first two runs Sabathia allowed were kinda dopey. Kevin Pillar bunted for a hit to leadoff the second — I have to think more teams will try that against CC as the season goes on given his lack of mobility — Colabello pulled a ground ball double that hugged the third base foul line, and Ezequiel Carrera snuck a two-run single through the infield. None of those balls were hit all that hard. That’s baseball.

Sabathia allowed the third run on an infield single, a balk, and a solid single to left-center by Colabello in the fourth. The fourth run came on a sixth inning solo homer by Russell Martin, who wore his former team out all series. Martin went 7-for-9 with two doubles and two homers in the three games. Four runs on nine hits and two walks in 6.1 innings and no reason to think any improvement is coming from Sabathia. He has a 5.45 ERA on the year and a 4.94 ERA in his last 295 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013.

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

Blown Chances
The Yankees had a few chances against Mark Buehrle, who hadn’t beaten New York in more than a decade. They scored their only run in the very first inning on a Mark Teixeira ground out. Chris Young singled and Alex Rodriguez doubled earlier in the inning to set it up. The Yankees have scored 26 first inning runs this year, the third most in baseball behind the Braves and Tigers (both 27).

The third inning brought a Jose Pirela leadoff hustle double, but a pop-up and two ground outs stranded him. Teixeira’s leadoff single in the fourth was followed by two fly outs and a ground out. The Yankees put two on with one out in the fifth and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but Teixeira banged into an inning-ending ground out on the first pitch. One base-runner was stranded in the sixth (Carlos Beltran single), seventh (Stephen Drew walk), eighth (Teixeira walked), and ninth (Drew walk). Not a great night for the offense.

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

The full Pirela experience was on display in his first game of the year. He doubled and singled against a lefty, grounded into a double play against a righty, got caught wandering too far off second on a ground ball back to the pitcher, and looked like he was running in quicksand when he was unable to get to Carrera’s two-run single to keep it on the infield and maybe stop the second run from scoring. The Yankees next face a lefty on Saturday (Wei-Yin Chen).

The Blue Jays tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Chasen Shreve served up a triple to light hitting lefty Ryan Goins. Esmil Rogers soaked up four outs between Sabathia and Shreve. I guess the good news is the key members of the bullpen all got the night off. Didn’t even have to think about warming up. They needed a night like that.

Drew (two walks) and Pirela (single, double) reached base four times from the bottom two spots of the lineup. The other seven lineup spots reached six times. A-Rod (double, walk) and Teixeira (single, walk) both reached two times each. The Brian McCann (0-for-4) and Beltran (1-for-3) tandem is killing them. Beltran hasn’t hit all season and McCann is down to .238/.298/.393 (90 wRC+) on the year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages for you to check out. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are headed home for their only series at Yankee Stadium from April 30th through May 22nd. Lots and lots of road games this month. Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Tillman will open the four-game Yankees-Orioles series on Thursday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other three games live.

DotF: Lindgren, Rumbelow both pitch for second straight day in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Gwinnett) faced old buddy RHP Chien-Ming Wang

  • LF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — up to .337/.393/.436 on the season
  • DH Ramon Flores: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB — 16-for-41 (.390) during his ten-game hitting streak
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 7/4 GB/FB — 68 of 96 pitches were strikes (71%) … the Yankees are in the middle of playing 17 games in 17 days, so I wonder if get called up to make a spot start at some point just to give everyone else a rest
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — nine pitches, eight strikes … 27/4 GB/FB in 12.1 innings this year … he pitched yesterday as well and this is the first time Lindgren pitched on back-to-back days as a pro … doesn’t mean he is close to being called up, but it’s not nothing either
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten of 17 pitches were strikes (59%) … back-to-back days for him too, but he did it last year, so it’s not new
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 18 of 25 pitches were strikes (72%)

[Read more…]

TiqIQ: Yankees Staying Hot On Road, Will Return To Yankee Stadium Tomorrow Against Baltimore

Not everyone expected the New York Yankees to storm into the 2015 MLB season with active bats and a stranglehold on first place in the AL East, but here they are. Alex Rodriguez has continued to be a nice surprise, as the polarizing superstar has knocked in an impressive six homers and 16 RBI. It hasn’t been all A-Rod, though, as the Yanks have ridden the bats of Jacob Ellsbury (batting .358), Mark Teixeira (10 HRs and 22 RBI) and Brett Gardner (batting .309) en route to 17 wins to start the year.

While New York’s hot start is encouraging for a long and winding season, they’ll need more of that offense if they want it to continue. That’s especially the case this week, when the Yanks go up against an equally potent offense in the division rival Baltimore Orioles. Something will have to break, as both ball clubs have shown a tendency to bring power to their offenses, but also haven’t done a great job keeping their opponents locked down on the defensive end.

That’s all the better for the sake of value when it comes to New York Yankees tickets, as fans can probably bank on at least a couple high-scoring clashes when this four-game series gets going on Thursday, May 7. While this series could provide a major swing in the division standings for the Orioles, it could also allow the Yankees to further distance themselves from their main competition in the AL East. New York would also prefer to start building a bigger lead over Baltimore, the reigning division champs.

Yankees fans can probably see the value already, but if they look in the right place, the price of Yankees tickets can be even sweeter. Secondary market prices currently start at $110 for the 100-level seats on Thursday, with a get-in price of $22, but if fans acquire their tickets via, they can save some cash this week, with 100-level seats starting from $58. Saturday might award fans the best value for Yankees-Orioles tickets, as tickets via are just $79 for 100-level seats, as opposed to $106 elsewhere.

Regardless, it should be an entertaining meeting between two very good ball clubs, and if the Yankees can continue their hitting surge, they have a nice chance of winning this series. Seeing any signs of life from their pitching rotation probably wouldn’t hurt, either, although it’s tough to buy New York shutting down an Orioles offense that boasts the seemingly  unstoppable Adam Jones (batting .396 with 5 HRs and 21 RBI), as well as stellar power from Chris Davis (6 HRs and 18 RBI). The rotation hasn’t been bad, though, so it is possible, and if they can minimize the Baltimore bats, taking three out of four is definitely more than possible.

Game 28: Chance To Win Another Series

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

The Yankees and Blue Jays have split the first two games of this series at Rogers Centre — the Yankees aren’t fans of the new turf, by the way — so tonight’s rubber game will determine the series winner. New York has won each of their last five series and they haven’t won six straight since the middle of the 2011 season, when they won seven straight. Would be nice to get over that hump, no?

Tonight’s pitching matchup would have been great about five years ago: CC Sabathia vs. Mark Buehrle. Now they’re both in the latter phases of their careers trying to figure out how to pitch with reduced stuff. (Yes, even Buehrle’s trying to learn how to pitch with lost velocity even though he had little to begin win.) The Yankees have historically owned Buehrle but I don’t really think that means much. This Yankees team is different than last year’s and the all the other ones before it. Here is Toronto’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. 2B Jose Pirela
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s been a real nice day in Toronto, with a clear sky and temperatures in the 70s. I’m guessing the roof will be open tonight. First pitch for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:07pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Brett Gardner is out with a stiff neck, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. He hurt himself on a head-first slide last night. Seems like it’s only a day-to-day thing, thankfully.

Roster Move: As you can tell from the lineup, Pirela (concussion) has been activated off the DL. Gregorio Petit was placed on the 15-day DL with a right hand contusion in a corresponding move, the Yankees announced. Petit took a pitch to the hand last night and the various reporters say it was pretty swollen today. Timing worked out well.

2015 Draft: Tyler Jay

Tyler Jay | LHP

Jay, 21, went undrafted out of an Illinois high school in 2012 and landed at the University of Illinois, where he’s been working in relief since the first day he stepped on campus. He has a 0.73 ERA with 54 strikeouts and four walks in 49.1 innings this spring after pitching to a 2.32 ERA with a 67/23 K/BB in 62 innings his freshman and sophomore years. Jay dominated with Team USA last summer, striking out 21 batters in 16.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA.

Scouting Report
Jay is miscast as a reliever because he has the deep repertoire and command not only to be a starter, but a potential impact starter. He sits in the mid-90s with a ton of life on his fastball as a reliever, so even if he drops into the low-90s working as a starter, Jay still has above-average velocity for a lefty with plenty of action on the pitch. He throws both a curveball and a slider — the curve is the better pitch right now because he can consistently throw it for strikes or bury it in the dirt for swings and misses, but the slider has flashed put-away potential through the years as well — and also has a changeup, though its development has lagged because he doesn’t need it in relief. Jay, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 lbs., locates everything well thanks to an easy delivery he repeats pitch after pitch.

Keith Law (subs. req’d),, and Baseball America rank Jay as the 16th, 19th, and 29th best prospect in this year’s draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. Jay’s college coach likely cost him several thousand dollars (maybe millions) by choosing to use him as a reliever — Jay actually started the Illini’s third game this year, pitched well (5 IP, 0 R, 6 K), then was immediately moved back to the bullpen — because Jay is believed to have top five pick ability as a starter. Scouts haven’t been able to see him pitch regularly in that role though. I assume whichever team drafts Jay will give him the opportunity to start because the potential for command of four average or better pitches exists, and if the rotation doesn’t work out, he can always go back to the bullpen and resume being a shutdown reliever. The Yankees pick 16th and 30th this year and Jay’s combination of polish and upside seems right up their alley.

Hot starts by A-Rod and Chris Young have left little playing time for Garrett Jones

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

The Yankees had been after Garrett Jones for quite a while before landing him this offseason in the Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi trade. They first tried to get him in the A.J. Burnett trade a few years ago, at least as far as we know. Given his left-handed pull power and the ability to play first base as well as right field, Jones sure seemed like a good fit for the roster this year. The Yankees needed protection at those two positions as well as DH.

Instead of being that part-time first baseman, part-time right fielder, part-time DH against righties this year, the 33-year-old Jones has been limited to 34 unproductive plate appearances in the team’s first 27 games. He’s started just seven of the 27 games — two in right, two at first, and three at DH. Jones is currently in an 0-for-15 slump and has hit .152/.176/.242 (9 wRC+) with no homers so far this year. His defense hasn’t been anything special but that was always the case.

The lack of playing time is only partly due to the ugly batting line. Both Alex Rodriguez and Chris Young are off to very good starts and are stealing at-bats from Jones, so to speak. No one expected A-Rod to be this productive this soon. We all figured Jones would get a fair amount of DH at-bats coming into the season. And whenever someone in the outfield has needed a day off, Young has stepped in because he’s tearing the cover off the ball, even against righties.

The leaves Jones almost as a man without a role. He’s not seeing much time in the outfield, isn’t seeing much time at DH, and Mark Teixeira‘s combination of good health and lots of dingers has kept Jones from playing first base as well. There’s just no way to squeeze him into the lineup right now, and his lack of production is only going to make it easier for Joe Girardi to avoid using him going forward. Jones is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Jones averaged 527 plate appearances per season from 2010-14 and never came to the plate fewer than 440 times. He’s on pace for 204 plate appearances this year, so his playing time has been more than cut in half, and it’s hard to be a bench player after playing everyday your entire career. This is a chicken or the egg thing — is Jones not producing because he isn’t playing, or is he not playing because he isn’t producing? It’s probably some of both. He’s the position player version of David Carpenter, basically.

I’m not saying Jones should play more. I just don’t think he’s turned into a true talent 9 wRC+ (!) hitter in an offseason and my guess is the lack of regular playing time is at least partially to blame. It’s hard to stay sharp when you play this infrequently. Extra batting practice and time in the cage only does so much. Live pitching is a different animal. A-Rod and Young (and Teixeira) have been too good to take out of the lineup and the Yankees should milk those hot starts for all they’re worth.

Jones is stuck in an unfortunate spot right now, and, aside from an injury, I’m not sure there is any way to get him the playing time he maybe needs to be a productive part-time player. I don’t think the Yankees should replace him, at least not yet, and even if they were going to replace him, who’s a better option? It’s not like the next guy is going to play much. Calling up Slade Heathcott or Ramon Flores to play once a week is a waste. For the time being the Yankees should ride it out with Jones and hope he figures out a way to be a productive yet seldom-used bench player.