Monday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today, so check out this Tyler Kepner article on Mark Teixeira and his now healthy wrist. “I’ve had knee surgery, I’ve had ankle surgery, you have little things here and there, shoulders and low back. You can play through all that. The wrist is the hardest thing, by far, I’ve ever had to go through,” he said. Also check out this Jorge Ortiz article on ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, who is having the worst season of his career amid some off-the-field issues. Cano’s grandfather passed away recently and he’s been dealing with a stomach parasite since last August. Teixeira’s wrist and Cano’s stomach issue sound like excuse-making, that’s just the way it is, but sometimes those physical issues are a perfectly valid excuse.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The All-Star Game reserves will be announced tonight (7pm ET on ESPN) after the starters were announced last night. My official prediction guess: Teixeira and Dellin Betances get in, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann get snubbed, and Alex Rodriguez is on the Final Vote ballot. (Teixeira gets in because Miguel Cabrera’s injury opens a spot for a first baseman.) ESPN will show the Cubs and Cardinals after the All-Star show and the Mets are playing later tonight. Talk about any of that stuff right here.

Aaron Judge and Luis Severino make BP’s midseason top 50 prospects list

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today, the crew at Baseball Prospectus published their updated list of the top 50 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d). Dodgers SS Corey Seager has taken over as the top prospect in baseball following all the recent promotions, and he is followed by Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito and Dodgers LHP Julio Urias in the top three.

The Yankees have two players in the top 50. Two in the top 30, really. OF Aaron Judge ranks 13th while RHP Luis Severino ranks 28th. The write-up notes Judge has “shown an advanced feel for hitting, and despite his long limbs he gets through the zone quickly, spraying line drives all over the field” while adding he’s “also a quality defender.”

As for Severino, the write-up says there is “no denying that Severino has the stuff to pitch in a major-league rotation, so it comes down to whether you believe he has the frame and mechanics to stick long-term … He’s a big-league difference maker even if he’s not a starter, with stuff that will work in the back end of a bullpen.”

In a separate piece (subs. req’d), SS Jorge Mateo was listed among a dozen players who just missed the top 50. “Mateo was mentioned a number of times in our discussions and for good reason given what he’s doing in the South Atlantic League as an 20-year-old this season,” said the write-up. Mateo still leads baseball with 53 steals, nine more than anyone else.

Both Judge and Severino made pretty big jumps up the list — they ranked 49th and 51st in BP’s top 101 list coming into the season, respectively. Mateo was not on any top 100 lists before the season but seemed like a prime candidate to make the jump this year.

Yankees to activate Jacoby Ellsbury off DL on Wednesday

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The Yankees will activate Jacoby Ellsbury off the 15-day DL on Wednesday, Brian Cashman confirmed to George King. Ellsbury has been out since May 19th due to a right knee injury. I’m guessing Gregorio Petit will be sent to Triple-A to clear a roster spot.

Ellsbury was scheduled to play in a minor league rehab with High-A Tampa today, but Cashman said he’s been scratched because it rained and the field is soaked. Ellsbury played in a simulated game instead and will do the same Tuesday before rejoining the team. He’s 2-for-13 (.154) in four official rehab games so far.

Even after Ellsbury returns, the Yankees will still have Carlos Beltran (oblique), Slade Heathcott (quad), and Mason Williams (shoulder) on the DL. Ramon Flores figures to stick around until Beltran returns, but we’ll see. Either way, it’ll be nice to see the Ellsbury/Brett Gardner duo raise hell atop the lineup again.

Yankees can’t wait any longer to attempt to fix second base situation

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Even after struggling offensively these last seven or ten days, the Yankees still rank second in baseball with an average of 4.62 runs per game. Only the absurd Blue Jays (5.48!) have been better. Yes, the Yankees hit better at home than on the road, but for the most part the offense has been very good this season. It’s nice knowing a two or three-run deficit is no longer insurmountable, isn’t it?

The Yankees have fielded such a strong offense despite having a total black hole at second base. The team’s second basemen are hitting a combined .182/.246/.339 (57 wRC+) in 313 plate appearances, the third worst second base production in the game, better than only the Royals (51 wRC+) and White Sox (24 wRC+). ChiSox second basemen are hitting .189/.234/.227 this year. Good gravy. Imagine watching that everyday? Geez.

Anyway, most of New York’s second base damage comes courtesy of Stephen Drew, and I don’t mean damage in a good way. He’s hitting .178/.251/.364 (67 wRC+) overall, far below league average despite eleven home runs, the second most at the position behind Brian Dozier (16). Other fill-ins like Jose Pirela and Gregorio Petit haven’t contributed much either. Second base has been a black hole all season.

The Yankees have waited very patiently for Drew to turn things around and it hasn’t happened. There aren’t even signs of it maybe, possibly happening in the coming weeks either. Exit velocity? Drew is averaging 85.9 mph off the bat, ranking 288th out of the 321 players with at least 100 at-bats. His exit velocity is not even trending upward either:Stephen Drew exit velocity

Drew is hitting .170/.243/.329 (55 wRC+) since resurfacing last year and that’s in 565 plate appearances. That’s spread across two seasons obviously but the excuses have all been exhausted. He had a full Spring Training this year, there haven’t been any injuries, nothing. It’s a full season worth of terrible, unplayable, just about any other player would lose his job production.

As it stands right now, second base is the only flexible position on the Yankees. They’re locked into players at every other position either developmentally (Didi Gregorius) or contractually (everyone else), at least once Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran return. The outfield is a bit of a mess until then. Still, there is no long-term obligation to Drew or anyone else at second base, and the season is now halfway complete. We’re firmly in “time to make a change” territory.

The Yankees only have one in-house second base alternative in Rob Refsnyder, who hasn’t exactly forced the issue with his play in Triple-A. He hasn’t been bad (.281/.378/.386 and 127 wRC+), he just hasn’t been great for a bat first prospect, and you’d like to see a non-elite prospect force the issue before a promotion. Then again, the Yankees have not been shy about trying out young players this year, specifically in the outfield and in the bullpen. Refsnyder could be next.

I feel like a trade is inevitable. The Yankees are atop a very tight yet winnable division, and you know Hal Steinbrenner & Co. are terrified of the prospect of a third straight postseason-less year and all that lost playoff revenue. I would be surprised if they don’t make a trade at the deadline. The second base market isn’t very good though. There’s the perfect for everyone Ben Zobrist and then a bunch of retreads like Brandon Phillips and Dustin Ackley. Hopefully the market spits out some more names in the three and half weeks before the deadline.

Either way, the Yankees have reached a breaking point at second base. They’re already carrying one soft spot at the bottom of the order in Gregorius and can’t afford to carry another despite the lineup’s strong offensive production overall. The AL East race is too close to let this go on any longer. Drew has given the Yankees no reason to think he will start hitting, and if the team doesn’t think Refsnyder is the answer, then they have to start aggressively looking for help outside the organization.

Yankeemetrics: Walk-off edition, finally (July 3-5)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Best. Win. Of. The. Season
It’s games like Friday night’s 7-5 win over the Rays that make you love this baseball team. Facing a Cy Young candidate? No problem. Down by three runs with five outs to go? Big deal. Down by two runs in extra innings? No sweat.

Brian McCann put the finishing touches on arguably the best and most dramatic win of the season, sending a deep fly ball into the right-field seats in the bottom of the 12th inning to turn a 5-4 deficit into an improbable win — their first walk-off in 2015. The last time the Yankees went this deep into the season before their first walk-off win was 1996, when it came in their 103rd game on July 28.

McCann is just the third Yankee in the last 25 years to hit a walk-off homer in extra innings with the team trailing: A-Rod’s two-run blast to beat the Braves on June 28, 2006, and Jason Giambi’s epic 14th-inning game-ending grand slam against the Twins on May 17, 2002 are the others.

McCann would not have been the hero without Mark Teixeira’s game-tying three-run shot in the eighth inning off Kevin Jepsen. It was his 10th game-tying or go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later as a Yankee, the most of anyone on the team since he first put on pinstripes in 2009.

The home run was also the 20th of the season for Teixeira, and the 12th time in 13 major-league campaigns that he’s reached that mark. Only eight other players in MLB history have hit at least 20 homers in 12 (or more) of their first 13 career seasons: Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

A win is a win, no matter how you get it
So, the Yankees had zero walk-off wins in the first 79 games — and then two in the next two games. Cue the cliches … Or not.

The Yankees can thank Brad Boxberger for Saturday’s win — he fielded Ramon Flores’ bunt and bounced a throw to first base that got away and allowed Jose Pirela to score the decisive run. It was the first time the Yankees won via a game-ending error by the pitcher since Sept. 28, 1975 against the Orioles, when Rick Dempsey scampered home after a botched pickoff attempt at third base from reliever Dyar Miller.

The last time the Yankees walked off in back-to-back games was Sept. 21-22, 2012 against the Athletics. In the first game, a catcher (Russell Martin) hit a game-ending extra-inning home run for the win; in the second game, a young utility guy (Eduardo Nunez) reached base on a error to score the winning run.

Sound familiar? Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up, folks.

The Yankees were in position to complete this bizarre string of coincidences only because Dellin Betances served up a game-tying homer to Steven Souza Jr. in the top of the ninth inning. It was the first longball Betances had surrendered since August 13 last season, snapping a 54-game streak without allowing a home run which was the fourth-longest by any Yankee pitcher in the last 100 seasons.

A loss is a loss, right?
The Yankees squandered a chance for their seventh sweep of the season when they were blown out by the Rays on Sunday, 8-1. The same Rays team that entered the afternoon riding a seven-game losing streak during which it was averaging 2.6 runs per game.

The Yankees offense was so bad that they had as many hits as double plays grounded into. Believe it or not, this is actually the second time this season they’ve had an equal number of hits as DPs or worse (had more double plays than hits against Angels last week). Before this season, no Yankee team had done it in a game since 2006.

James Loney finished the series 4-for-13 and now has a .402 batting average in 27 games at the new Yankee Stadium. That’s the highest batting average by any player with at least 100 at-bats at either version of Yankee Stadium.

Okay, that’s enough about this game.

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?

DotF: Ellsbury plays seven innings in rehab game; Sanchez goes deep in third straight game

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-0 win over Buffalo) makeup of the June 27th rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 3-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — seven multi-hit games, four one-hit games, and six no-hit games in his last 17 games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-4, 2 K — first Triple-A hit was a single
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 R
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 7/7 GB/FB — 39 of 53 pitches were strikes (74%) … efficient!
  • LHP James Pazos: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 4/0 GB/FB — 26 of 42 pitches were strikes (62%) … 23/1 K/BB in 21 innings

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