DotF: Gary Sanchez off to great start in Arizona Fall League

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Before we get to the first fall/winter ball update of the season, here are a bunch of minor league notes and links to pass along:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin, who did not pitch in official games at all this season due to ongoing elbow trouble, will make his first Arizona Fall League start on Monday, reports Josh Norris. Clarkin did pitch in Instructional League the last few weeks.
  • Baseball America posted a Scout’s Take piece on C Gary Sanchez. (It’s free. You don’t need a subscription.) The scout likes Sanchez as a potential middle of the order bat and also sees him as an average defender, which is nice improvement from where he was earlier in his career.
  • Based on the Twitter feeds of various players, the Yankees had Alfonso Soriano and Scott Rolen working with their minor leaguers during Instructional League. Rolen and farm system head Gary Denbo know each other from their days with the Blue Jays.
  • Know that giant Ferris wheel they’re building in Staten Island? It’s creating headaches for Short Season Staten Island, writes Everett Merrill. Construction has limited parking and led to traffic delays, and even knocked the team’s phone lines out for a few days. Attendance took a hit this year and the team is trying to come up with aggressive marketing strategies for next season.
  • And finally, with 1B Greg Bird and RHP Luis Severino graduating to MLB, OF Ben Gamel and SS Thairo Estrada jumped on’s top 30 Yankees prospects list, according to High-A Tampa. Here’s the full list.

Now let’s get to the fall ball action, starting with the Arizona Fall League.

AzFL Surprise (6-5 loss to Peoria) Tuesday’s season-opener

  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 PB — hit the first home run of the AzFL season … the linked scouting report above says the passed ball was a cross-up, remember most of these pitchers and catchers haven’t worked together before
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B — he’s here in place of 3B Eric Jagielo, who is still recovering from his knee surgery … it’s an infielder for infielder replacement, so Austin has to play first (or third I guess, but he hasn’t done that in a while)
  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI — the AzFL will be a good test for him since he’ll be facing a bunch of older pitchers

AzFL Surprise (5-4 win over Peoria in ten innings, walk-off style) Wednesday’s game

  • DH Gary Sanchez: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 K
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 35 pitches were strikes (66%) … first game action since late-June … he missed the end of the regular season due to a tendon issue in his hand

AzFL Surprise (3-0 win over Mesa) Thursday’s game

  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — started and batted cleanup in each of their first three games, so it appears he’s going to play a lot these next few weeks
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Tyler Wade: 0-2, 1 K
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%) … he hit 99 mph according to Josh Norris, who also posted video

AzFL Surprise (20-6 win over Mesa) Friday’s game … no Yankees prospects played

The various Caribbean Winter Leagues have either just started their seasons or will do so relatively soon. Here are the assignments so far.

Dominican Summer League: RHP Andury Acevedo, UTIL Jose Rosario

Mexican Pacific League: RHP Gio Gallegos, RHP Luis Niebla, RHP Cesar Vargas

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): No rosters yet

Venezuelan Winter League: C Francisco Arcia, IF Ali Castillo, RHP Luis Cedeno, OF Ben Gamel, C Juan Graterol, OF Ericson Leonora, RHP Jaron Long, RHP Mark Montgomery, OF Teodoro Martinez, RHP Diego Moreno, and IF Jose Pirela.

Keep in mind that just because a player is on a winter ball roster, it does not necessary mean he’ll play. It just means that team holds the player’s winter ball rights. Also, more players can still be — and inevitably will be — added to winter ball rosters in the coming days and weeks. Right now it sure looks like the VWL is the one to watch.

Friday Night Open Thread

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Blue Jays and Royals are playing Game One of the ALCS tonight (Estrada vs. Volquez) at 8pm ET on FOX. Go Royals? Go Royals. The Devils are playing tonight as well. So talk about those games or whatever else is on your mind right here. Just don’t be a jerk.

Reports: Kevin Reese, Tim Naehring, Jay Darnell among candidates to replace Billy Eppler

Generic photo is generic. (Presswire)
Generic photo is generic. (Presswire)

Soon after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason last week, assistant GM Billy Eppler headed back home to Southern California to take over as Angels GM, leaving a void in the front office. Eppler has been Cashman’s right hand man for a few years now. For a while it appeared he was being groomed to one take over as GM.

After Eppler took the job from the Angels, Cashman said he prefers to replace him from within, though an outside hire is always possible. “I will look outside, too. But you always want to promote from within if you can. I believe in our system and depth of our personnel,” he said to Joel Sherman.

According to George King and Nick Cafardo, among the internal candidates to replace Eppler are player personnel head Kevin Reese (the former outfielder!) and trusted scouts Tim Naehring and Jay Darnell. Naehring reportedly had a big hand in acquiring Didi Gregorius while Darnell was the scout who recommended Yangervis Solarte.

Cafardo says Naehring has turned down promotions in the past because he is based in Cincinnati and wants to remain close to his family. There was some talk Naehring and Darnell would join Eppler in Anaheim, but Cashman shot that down. “That’s not true. They’re under contract,” the GM said.

The Yankees still have two assistant GMs even with Eppler gone: Jean Afterman and Michael Fishman. Afterman is the contract and legal guru from what I understand. Fishman heads the team’s statistical analysis department. Jon Heyman says special advisor Jim Hendry now has a “big voice in the organization,” though apparently he isn’t a candidate to take over as assistant GM.

I don’t know anything about Reese, Naehring, and Darnell as far as their front office skills, but they’re reportedly candidates to replace Eppler, so they must be highly regarded within the organization. I have to think replacing Eppler is something the Yankees want to do soon, before the offseason really gets underway.

The Best Fourth Outfielder in Baseball [2015 Season Review]


Over the last few seasons the Yankees have cycled through many fourth outfielders, some good (Andruw Jones) and some not so good (Brennan Boesch, etc.). Others like Zoilo Almonte and Ben Francisco came and went as well. Good bench players are hard to find and it’s pretty common to have a different fourth outfielder every season.

This year the Yankees had one of the best fourth outfielders in baseball in Chris Young, who they first scooped up off the scrap heap late last year. He made some adjustments with then hitting coach Kevin Long, had a strong September last season, and agreed to return in a reserve role. The move worked out well for everyone.

The Quick Return

The Mets released Young last year after he hit .205/.283/.346 (81 wRC+) in 88 games. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal, gave him a few games in Triple-A, then called him up in September. Young put up a .282/.354/.521 (147 wRC+) batting line in 23 games and even hit a walk-off homer. Pretty great for a guy the Yankees signed off the scrap heap at midseason, no?

The Yankees were impressed enough with Young — and vice versa! — that they quickly re-signed him last offseason. He signed a one-year deal worth $2.5M with a bunch of incentives on November 9th. It was the team’s first transaction of the winter and one of the very first offseason moves in all of baseball. Neither side wanted to wait around, I guess. The Yankees had their fourth outfielder and Young had a home for the season.

Destroyer of Lefties

With two left-handed hitting starting outfielders plus another who is a switch-hitter that is better against righties, Young’s role as a platoon bat was pretty obvious. It wasn’t going to be a straight platoon with another player, but instead something of a rotation, with Young starting against lefties while any one of the other three guys sat. His ability to play all three outfield spots gave Joe Girardi some flexibility.

But, first and foremost, Young had to hit lefties, and boy, he crushed southpaws this season. The 32-year-old put up a .327/.397/.575 (162 wRC+) batting line with seven home runs in 175 plate appearances against left-handers this summer. He was better against southpaws in the first half than the second half, sure, but that overall production? Hard to complain about that.

Young hit five home runs in April, and the most notable was this game-tying solo shot against Drew Smyly and the Rays, which came when the Yankees were in a middle of a run-scoring funk:

More than anything, Young seemed to have a knack for breaking games open and driving in insurance runs. Four of his first eight homers came with the Yankees already ahead, though he also had one go-ahead homer and two game-tying homers.

Through the first half of the season Young hit .354/.411/.646 against lefties and was a must-have in the lineup any time the Yankees faced a southpaw. His second half wasn’t as good (.296/.381/.493) but it was still pretty damn awesome. Young spoiled us early. When he didn’t hit as well late, it made it seem like he fell off a cliff. That wasn’t really the case, at least not against lefties.

The Yankees brought Young back because they believed he could be a force against left-handed pitchers and that’s exactly what he was. He hit them hard all year and especially so in the first half. By platoon bat standards, Young was as good as anyone in the game.

Destroyed by Righties

On the other side of the coin, Young didn’t do much of anything against right-handed pitchers this season. He actually faced more righties (181 plate appearances) than lefties (175), and put up a .182/.246/.339 (58 wRC+) line against northpaws. Yikes. Young did hit seven homers against righties, the same number he hit against lefties, but two were against the extremely homer prone Alexi Ogando (1.65 HR/9!) and two were against position players (Josh Wilson, Jonny Gomes).

That said, some of the homers Young hit against righties were pretty important. This game-winner against Will Harris of the Astros stands out the most:

Young actually improved against righties in the second half of the season, but that’s relatively speaking. He had a .180/.228/.328 batting line against righties in the first half and .189/.302/.378 against them in the second half. Of course, that’s because Girardi stopped playing him against righties. Young had 138 plate appearances against same-side pitchers in the first half and only 43 in the second half.

One thing that really stood out about Young this season was his streakiness. You can see it in his day-by-day wOBA graph below. There are some crazy peaks and valleys:

Chris Young wOBAPart of that had to do with getting a little too much playing time while Jacoby Ellsbury was on the DL. Young played against righties more than he should have those few weeks — even with Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams getting opportunities — and that exposed him a bit. But still, the streakiness was there. Young would crush the ball for a few weeks then totally disappear.

Late Inning Defense

Believe it or not, Young played in 140 games this season. He only started 77 though. The other 63 came off the bench as either a pinch-hitter (12 times), pinch-runner (three times), or defensive replacement (48 times) for Carlos Beltran. I thought Young’s defense was good from a “catch the ball” perspective, but boy, he can’t throw at all. That was a problem at times with runners taking the extra base. Young played all three outfield spots — he played center in midseason, but at some point Girardi decided he was better off with Young in a corner and Brett Gardner in center — and was fine. Not great, not awful, but fine.

Sometimes with bench players there’s a give and take. You trade bad defense for offense and vice versa. That wasn’t the case with Young this season. He hammered lefties, occasionally took a righty deep, and made all the catches he was supposed to make. All things considered, Young was one of the best fourth outfielders in baseball in 2015, if not the best. He finished with a .252/.320/.453 (109 wRC+) batting line and 14 homers in only 356 plate appearances, and he ranked 71st among all outfielders with 1.1 bWAR and 80th with 1.2 fWAR. Remember there are 90 starting outfield spots in MLB. Pretty great for a fourth outfielder.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Thanks to those 356 plate appearances, Young earned an extra $1.375M in incentives this year, so the Yankees paid him $3.875M to be arguably the best extra outfielder in baseball. That works. Young will be a free agent again this winter, and while a reunion is certainly possible, he could try to turn his strong season into a two-year contract. He’s already said it’s “too soon” to know whether he’ll be back. Even with their need for a righty hitting fourth outfielder, I would be surprised if the Yankees gave Young multiple years. This marriage might not last beyond 2015.

Mailbag: Ellsbury, Trumbo, Harrison, Upton, Pineda, Gray

Huge mailbag this week. Nineteen questions. I think that might be a mailbag record. I tried to go rapid fire and keep the answers short, but I didn’t always succeed. Anyway, email us any questions at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ellsbury. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Ellsbury. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Justin asks: I’m on board with going all in on Heyward … But what would it take to move Ellsbury instead of Gardner? What teams would have any interest? I’m full aware this is not how the current Yankee brass operate.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned the last few years, it’s that no player is untradeable. We’ve seen plenty of bad contracts (Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, etc.) moved and I’m sure there are several teams out there that would like to have Jacoby Ellsbury at the right terms, though my guess is those terms are not $21M a year. The Cubs are the first team that jumped to mind. They need a leadoff hitter and center fielder — Dexter Fowler’s going to be a free agent — and there’s the whole Theo Epstein/Red Sox connection. The Mariners, Angels, Nationals, Tigers, Giants, Rangers, and maybe even the Cardinals could all have interest if the Yankees pay down some of Ellsbury’s contract.

Justin asks: Who is available as a potential backup SS? I would really love to see a upgrade over Ryan.

Here’s the list of free agents. Mike Aviles, Sean Rodriguez, and Cliff Pennington are the only guys who jump out to me as possible backup infielder upgrades. Keep in mind that signing, say, Asdrubal Cabrera to be the backup infielder is not at all realistic. Guys like that will get jobs as everyday players. Backup infielders tend to be very bad. Even in 2009 the Yankees backup infielders were Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena. Brendan Ryan is a perfectly cromulent backup infielder for a million bucks. It would be nice if Joe Girardi stopped treating him like a legitimate platoon option against left-handed pitchers though.

Jacob asks: Any interest in Mark Trumbo? Could be a nice bench bat who could fill in at first and fake outfield, or do we have to many of those? What would it take to nab him?

MLBTR projects Trumbo to make $9.1M through arbitration in 2016 and that is way too much for a bench bat. New GM Jerry Dipoto had Trumbo with the Angels and traded him away because he had too many first base/DH types, and that’s the case with the Mariners now as well. He can try to trade Trumbo but I think he might end up getting non-tendered. While the Yankees could use the righty power, I think they need more versatility from a bench player. (Trumbo’s no outfielder.) Greg Bird has a leg up on the backup first base job. I don’t see a match between the Yankees and Trumbo given the current roster.

Travis asks: Do you think a 1 for 1 swap of Gary Sanchez (NYY #5 prospect on for Lucas Sims (ATL #7 prospect on is appropriate for either team? I know ATL is smitten with Christian Bethancourt, but it has been said that they are looking for catching and I think Sanchez has more offensive upside and I think adding another good young arm to the system is always a good thing for the Yankees.

The Braves tried to acquire Sanchez at the trade deadline, so we know they like him. Sims is 21-year-old righty who hasn’t performed as a pro (4.26 ERA and 4.20 FIP from 2014-15) but has a big arm, running his fastball into the mid-to-90s with a promising breaking ball and changeup. He’s a project pitching prospect, basically. A guy with a great arm in need of refinement. In a vacuum, I think Sanchez for Sims is a fair trade based on value. I’d rather hang on to the power hitting catcher though. Those are hard to find. The minors are full of dudes with huge arms and not much else.

Harrison. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)
Harrison. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Chris asks: Any chance they could trade for Josh Harrison from Pittsburgh as a Ben Zobrist type player who can play multiple positions? I know they have made a few deals with Pittsburgh so maybe another one to get a much needed utility player. What would it cost them? Is he worth it?

Harrison, 28, broke out last year (137 wRC+), signed a big contract (four years, $27.3M), then was injured and ineffective this year (100 wRC+). He can play all over the field and play almost every position well, so that’s a plus, and he’s a right-handed hitter with no platoon split. I definitely think Harrison could be a fit as a Zobrist type. I’m not sure if the Pirates will trade him though. Jung-Ho Kang isn’t due back from his leg injury until May, and they’re going to cut ties with Neil Walker at some point, either this offseason or when he becomes a free agent next year. They’ll need Harrison for infield depth. I like the idea but I’m not sure if the Pirates will make Harrison available.

Jason asks: Justin Upton is 28 and is probably never going to become the type of player he has the potential to be. He’s a pretty good baseball player though. The Yankees have a crowded outfield especially if Aaron Judge is in the mix, but what are the chances the Yankees make a run at a guy like Upton? He’s going to be 28 next year and likely will command 5-6 years maybe more. Does it make any sense?

It does make sense, definitely, but the Yankees seem to value defense highly these days, and Upton’s a butcher. I have no idea what happened to him defensively. He was excellent with the Diamondbacks, a center fielder caliber defender, and now he’s a really bad left fielder. Upton fits the lineup well as a right-handed bat though. The same circumstances as signing Heyward apply to Upton: you’ve got to pay him a lot of money and (probably) trade an outfielder to make room. If the Yankees are going to spend big on a free agent, I’d prefer Heyward, then Yoenis Cespedes, then Upton.

Mark asks: If Hal called to ask your personal opinion on what to do with Michael Pineda – either keep him and hope he will eventually mature into a solid and dependable solid #3 or #2 starter or trade him this winter while he still is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons – what would you tell him?

This is a tough one. My head says trade him because he’s probably never going to be a 200+ innings guy, but my heart says keep him because he still has a lot of potential. Pineda did not have a great year this season (4.37 ERA and 3.34 FIP) and he again landed on the DL. I can see both sides of the argument. Trade him now because his value really might not get any higher. Or keep him and hope the ERA starts matching the FIP. If Pineda were on another team, I get the feeling a lot of fans would like the idea of the Yankees bringing him on board even with the injuries.

Andrew asks: What are the chances the Yankees trade Brett Gardner in the offseason? With Slade Heathcott playing very well in a small sample size plus the outfield depth in the minors it seems to make some sense.

Small. There’s no reason to expect Heathcott to stay healthy — also, he had a 90 wRC+ in Triple-A this year — and I have little confidence that someone like Mason Williams or Ben Gamel could replace Gardner’s production. I mean, I know Gardner had an awful second half, but by WAR he was still a top 30 outfielder this year and has been over the last few years. There are 90 (!) starting outfield spots in MLB, remember. That’s not to say trading Gardner should be off the table. But trading him to clear a spot for Heathcott or whoever else? Nah ah.

Pounder asks: What impact do you think defensive shifts have on evaluating minor league prospects, both defensively and offensively?

Oh there is definitely an impact. Teams do shift in the minors nowadays — the Yankees do it for certain, how else are the infielders going to learn to play out of position? — and we can barely analyze MLB shifts properly as outsiders, so doing it in the minors is impossible. More than anything, I think it hurts the way ground ball pitchers get evaluated. There might be more noise in their numbers, both good and bad. One guy could really benefit from the shift while another gets burned, even though the guy getting burned may have a better sinker and more command. It just means we have to take the numbers with an even bigger grain of salt. The scouting reports are that much more important.

Gray. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Gray. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Benjamin asks: I’d really like the Yankees to target both Tyson Ross and Sonny Gray this winter. Would an offer built around Pineda, Judge and Sanchez be enough for Gray? The idea of a Gray-Tanaka-Ross-Eovaldi-Severino rotation is what dreams are made of.

I can’t imagine that would be enough for Gray, an ace with four years of team control remaining, but then again I thought it would take much more to get Josh Donaldson than what it did, so who knows? I’d greatly prefer Gray to Ross — Ross isn’t my cup of tea, he walks a few too many batters and throws a scary amount of sliders (44.9%!) for a starter, which seems like a breakdown waiting to happen — and I’d trade Pineda, Judge, and Sanchez for Gray in a heartbeat. The Donaldson trade was really, really bad. I also don’t think it should skew our perception of what it’ll take to get a star player from the Athletics. The Donaldson trade is an outlier compared to Billy Beane’s other moves over the years. He tends to do very well with his deals.

Elliot asks: In relation to your post on Samardzjia, if the Yankees signed a free agent where forfeiting the first round pick is a no brainer (a la Jason Heyward), do you think it would make the Yankees more inclined to sign Samardzija (or another FA with a QO attached) as its only giving up a second round pick, or less inclined as the team doesn’t want their first pick of the draft to be in the third round (or later)?

More inclined, definitely. That’s actually what the Yankees have done the last few times they spent big. They gave up three draft picks when they signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett a few years ago, and they gave up three more picks when they signed Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann two years ago. Giving up the first rounder is the tough one. But, once you do that, might as well keep spending and give up the second and third rounder too. It’s better to do it all in one year than to keep giving up your first rounder every winter.

Sean asks: What about Austin Jackson to play the “Chris Young” Role for next year?

It could work. I’m not a huge Jackson fan but he is a good defender and does have a history of hitting lefties, and that’s what the job calls for. Jackson is still only 28 though, and my guess is some team will give him a chance to play everyday the next few years. He seems a little too young to settle for a fourth outfielder role right now.

Dan asks: Take out your Yankee fandom for a moment: what are the realistic chances of the Yankees signing Jason Heyward? 20%?

Less than that. I’ll say 5%. Realistically, how many teams can afford him this offseason? Maybe ten? Not all of those teams are going to be looking for outfielders either. I don’t expect the Yankees to aggressively pursue Heyward for two reasons: 1) Hal Steinbrenner wants to get under the luxury tax threshold in the near future and another big contract will make that tough, and 2) the Yankees have a full outfield with outfield prospects on the way, and they want to continue giving their kids chances. They absolutely should go after Heyward in my opinion. I’m just not at all confident it’ll actually happen.

Vincent asks: Do you think it’s likely that the Yankees will attempt to reduce Nova’s salary through arbitration as they did with Esmil Rogers last offseason? What is the lowest amount that they can reduce it to?

No. Rogers was very bad and the Yankees basically said take the pay cut or we’ll non-tender you, and chances are Rogers would have only gotten a minor league contract as a free agent. Ivan Nova has much more value than that. He’s an average-ish starter who had a bad year coming off Tommy John surgery, that’s all. The maximum pay cut allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement is 20%, which means Nova would be going from $3.3M to $2.64M. That’s not happening though. Nova has no reason to accept that. If the team tries to get him to take a pay cut, he should tell them to get bent and go to arbitration. No way would the panel side with the Yankees and cut Nova’s salary. It’s never happened and I don’t think it ever will. That’s not how the system works.

Osuna. (Elsa/Getty)
Ozuna. (Elsa/Getty)

mlox44 asks: What would you think of trying to acquire Prado and Ozuna from Miami? Prado would fit perfectly as 3B, 2B, even LF option against some lefties, and maybe even play SS in a pinch. I know Cashman didn’t want to lose him. And Ozuna seems like a classic Cashman reclamation type move. He could be in the Chris Young role for a year, and maybe they can rebuild him enough during the season to then move Gardy or Ellsbury after 2016. No idea what it would take to get them, though.

It could work. The Marlins are definitely going to trade Marcell Ozuna after he called the team out for sending him to Triple-A to delay his free agency this summer. He’s only 24 and a year ago this dude was a 4-ish WAR player with 26 doubles, 23 homers, a 115 wRC+, and strong center field defense. And he’s a right-handed hitter too. I feel like he needs to play everyday at this point of his career though. Nursing him along as a fourth outfielder probably does more harm than good. Prado is Prado. A league average or slightly below average player who people always seem to think is better than he really is. I’m not sure Ozuna’s a fit unless they trade an outfielder. Prado fits anywhere.

Travis asks: Would LHP Scott Kazmir be a good target for the Yankees?

Yeah I think so. This is year three of his comeback and he’s performed well, though he has faded big time down the stretch each year. Given all the arm injuries he dealt with earlier in his career, he might only be able to handle 150 innings at this point. Kazmir’s still young, he’s only 31, and he’s had success by reinventing himself as a two-seamer/changeup guy — he’s not the four-seamer/slider guy he was with the Devil Rays years ago — so I do think he’d be a good target. He’s not a workhorse though, and I’d prefer someone you could count on for 200 innings next season.

Chris asks: Would Beltran be appealing to other teams if the Yankees covered enough salary? Could he be traded for a competitive balance pick at the end of the first round, then sign Heyward to replace him? The picks would be close to equivalent and the upgrade would be tremendous. If the $$$ is a problem for the Yankees, trade Gardner and play a youngster in left. I fear that Gardner’s legs will begin to break down soon. That will help with the youth movement and make the money a bit easier to digest.

Maybe. Carlos Beltran has a full no-trade clause though, and he’s wanted to be a Yankee forever, so I don’t think he’s going anywhere. What teams even have room for him anyway? I have to think only AL teams will be interested, and if Beltran does waive his no-trade clause, it’ll only be for a contender. So that means the list of trade possibilities is the … Angels, Tigers, Royals, Orioles, Rangers, and Astros? An intradivision trade isn’t happening, so forget the O’s. The Royals value defense too much and they already have a DH in Kendrys Morales. So that means there about four realistic trade possibilities for Beltran. I just can’t see it.

Peter asks: Is there enough data (and opinion based on observation) to project Greg Bird against Kris Bryant for performance and expectation? They seem to have similar plate approaches, although obviously hit from opposite sides of the plate, and represent the two IF corner positions.

No, there is no comparison. Sorry. Bird’s awesome, but he’s no Bryant. Bryant has Bird’s approach with legit 40+ homer potential, and he does it while being at the platoon disadvantage the majority of the time. Also, Bryant is a good fielding third baseman and Bird is a bad first fielding first baseman. There’s no comparison. Bird is very good and the Yankees are fortunate to have him. Bryant’s just on another level. Bird is cool just the way he is. No need to talk ourselves into thinking he’s on par with someone like Bryant.

Mitch asks: What would you think of Brett Gardner being traded to the Angels? I looked it up, and their LF situation was terrible this year – their LFs who got the most PAs were Matt Joyce, David Murphy, Shane Victorino, Dan Robertson, and Collin Cowgill, none of whom put up anything approaching a 100 OPS+. I don’t know the Angels farm, but I imagine Gardner would have to be a pretty good fit for them, right?

Here’s the problem with trading Gardner to the Angels: what do the Angels have to offer the Yankees in return? A back-end starter prospect like Nick Tropeano? That’s pretty much it unless you want a bunch of low level lottery ticket prospects. I could totally see Billy Eppler trying to bring Gardner to Anaheim to play left field, I just don’t know what the Angels have to offer the Yankees to make it worthwhile. They’re not going to trade Andrew Heaney and I doubt top prospect Sean Newcomb would be on the table either. There’s not much they can offer the Yankees for Gardner.

Thursday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Mets and Dodgers are playing Game Five of their NLDS tonight (deGrom vs. Greinke at 8pm ET on TBS), and the Thursday NFL game is the Falcons at the Saints. The (hockey) Rangers and Islanders are both playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here.