Hal on the possibility of selling at the deadline: “I’m not even thinking about that right now”

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Following last night’s win, the Yankees are 17-22 on the season and 7.5 games back of the AL East lead. Those 17 wins are their fewest through the first 39 games since the 1995 Yankees started the season 15-24. The Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot and their postseason odds sit at 12.4% according to FanGraphs. Not ideal!

There is still a lot of season left — 123 games to be exact — and that’s good, because it’s going to take some time to climb out of his early-season hole. And if they don’t start to climb out of it reasonably soon, the Yankees will have to seriously consider selling at the deadline. How far out would they have to be to sell? That depends. It’s not just the number of games back in the standings, it’s the number of teams ahead of you as well.

At the quarterly owners’ meetings in New York yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner was asked about the possibility of the Yankees selling at the trade deadline if they don’t get things turned around soon. He was non-committal (duh) but didn’t completely dismiss the idea either. Here’s what Hal said about selling, via Jason Schott:

“Every trade deadline, you know me, I do the same thing I do in the offseason. Any possibility that comes along we’re look at, but I’m not even thinking about that right now. But that’s what I do every trade deadline. We looked at a lot of possibilities last year, we just ended up not doing anything. It’s mid-May, I’m going to see you guys, you’re around, I’ll be around the Stadium, we’ll talk again in July.

This is very easy for me to say since my neck isn’t on the line, but, if the Yankees do decide to sell, they have to fully commit and make everyone available. That includes Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino … everyone. It doesn’t hurt to listen, and if the opportunity comes to deal one of those guys for a package of young talent, they have to pull the trigger.

Hal and Brian Cashman are very practical, so I’m certain they’ll be open to listening to offers for anyone and everyone on the roster should push come to shove and the team decides to sell. Whether they get offers to their liking is another matter. They put a high price on Brett Gardner and especially Andrew Miller this past offseason and understandably so. “Selling” doesn’t mean “giving players away.”

The Yankees have a great piece of trade bait in Aroldis Chapman, who I think they should trade even if they get back into the race. That’s just my opinion. Chapman has a lot of value even as a rental and he could net them a piece(s) that helps the 2016 Yankees as well as the 2017 and beyond Yankees. Getting a draft pick for Chapman after the season would be settling for a fraction of what he’s worth in a trade.

There will also be a market for rental players like Ivan Nova, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira. Maybe not a robust market, but a market nonetheless. I could see the upstart White Sox having interest in Beltran or Teixeira for their DH slot, for example. Nova has pitched well in his two starts, and if he remains reasonably effective, someone will want him for the second half. Cheap rental starters are always in demand.

For now the Yankees will keep their players and try to get back into the race, and that’s the right move. There is still a lot of time left this season. If they can’t get back in the race though, then they have to sell off some parts come the deadline. At least the rentals. They have to do it. Keeping guys like Chapman and Beltran just so they finish with, say, 83 wins instead of 78 would be a total mistake. Status quo is not an option if the Yankees continue to flounder.

Eovaldi dominates D’Backs, Yankees take series finale 4-2

Source: FanGraphs

I had an uncomfortable feeling the Yankees would regret not scoring more runs against the shaky Shelby Miller for most of Wednesday’s game, but thankfully that was not the case. The Yankees avoided the sweep with a 4-2 win in the series finale. Here’s the bullet point recap for the late West Coast game:

  • Nasty Nate: Jean Segura, the first batter Nathan Eovaldi faced Wednesday night, hit a little ground ball back up the middle that literally hit second base and went for a double. Eovaldi did not allow another base-runner the rest of the night. He retired the next 18 men he faced, striking out five and getting eleven outs on the ground. The D’Backs hit two balls out of the infield in six innings against Eovaldi. Two. He was awesome. Fastball on both sides of the plate, splitter in the dirt, slider sliding … it was all working. Total domination. Bravo, Nate.
  • Top of the Lineup: The Yankees struck first for two quick runs. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk and Brett Gardner smacked a two-run homer in the first inning. Boom. Two-zip lead before an out was made. The Yankees managed to strand a small army of runners against Miller before tacking on an insurance run in the sixth, an insurance run that was ultimately needed. Chase Headley singled, Eovaldi bunted him over, and Ellsbury singled him in. NL ball at its finest. A bases loaded wild pitch created the team’s fourth run in the eighth inning.
  • Early Exit: Think Joe Girardi wanted this one? He went to Dellin Betances in the seventh inning even though Eovaldi had retired the last 18 (!) batters he faced and had thrown only 85 pitches. It was a questionable decision at best. It worked — Betances walked two and escaped without allowing a run, but he threw 31 pitches and that will affect his availability the next few days — but geez. The Yankees have been begging for a start like that all season. If Girardi’s not going to let Eovaldi pitch the seventh there, when will he?
  • Bad Fundies: Another banner night for ol’ team baseball IQ. In the first Headley declined to throw home for whatever reason even though Segura literally stopped between third and home. Headley fielded the grounder, looked at Segura, then threw to first for the out while the run scored. I do not understand. In the second inning Didi Gregorius managed to run into Headley’s ground ball for an out on the bases. Sloppy. Sloppy sloppy sloppy.
  • Leftovers: Andrew Miller allowed a solo homer and struck out the side in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman fanned one in the ninth … Mark Teixeira went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, though he did rip a deep line drive to right field in the first inning. Brandon Drury made a great jumping catch at the wall. It would have been a homer in the Bronx … Ellsbury had one of those “oh hey he can be really great” reminder games by going 3-for-3 with two walks … Headley and Gardner had two hits. In fact, every starter had at least one hit except Teixeira (and Eovaldi).

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees are done in the desert and now go to Oakland for a four-game series. Ivan Nova and Kendall Graveman will be Thursday’s pitching matchup. That’s a 10:05pm ET start. No more of this 9:40pm ET stuff.

DotF: Mateo goes deep in Tampa’s nearly perfect win

RHP James Kaprielian (elbow inflammation) is expected to return to the mound in 4-6 weeks, Hal Steinbrenner told Brendan Kuty. The Yankees said they will be conservative with their top pitching prospect, so I’m guessing it’ll be closer to six weeks than four. That puts Kaprielian on target for a late-June return.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-2 in over Louisville in seven innings) makeup of yesterday’s rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — threw a runner out at second … 5-for-19 (.263) with three doubles in five games since being sent back down
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 RBI
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 HBP — 1-for-11 (.091) since his brief MLB cameo
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-4, 1 K
  • LF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 7/4 GB/FB — 52 of 87 pitches were strikes (60%) … 6/7 K/BB in 15.2 innings here
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 15 pitches, ten strikes

[Read more…]

Game 39: Avoid the Sweep


So the first two games of this series have not gone according to plan. The Yankees were coming off the high of a 7-3 homestand only to get slapped in the face with two pretty forgettable losses. They have a chance to avoid the sweep and salvage the series tonight. The Yankees have been swept in a three-game series twice already this season (Athletics, Red Sox). Last year their third sweep didn’t come until early-August. Anyway, here is the Diamondbacks’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s a little cloudy with temperatures in the mid-80s out in Phoenix. There’s no rain in the forecast, so I’m guessing the Chase Field roof will be open again. Tonight’s game is set to begin at 9:40pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) did some running in the outfield today. The earliest he will return is Saturday, Joe Girardi said.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

We’ve got yet another West Coast night game tonight, so, in the meantime, I command you to read Andy McCullough on the retired Dan Haren. Haren never did play for the Yankees, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. He opened up his decision to retire and all the internal stress he dealt with while being a big league pitcher. Really interesting stuff. Make sure you check it out.

This is the open thread until the regular game thread comes along. The Mets and Nationals will be on ESPN, and there are both NBA and NHL playoff games on as well. Talk about any of that stuff and more right here.

2016 Draft: Keith Law’s Mock Draft v1.0

Three weeks from tomorrow is Day One of the 2016 amateur draft, so the mock drafts are going to be coming in pretty steadily from here on out. Keith Law (subs. req’d) released his first mock draft earlier today, and he has the Phillies taking Florida LHP A.J. Puk with the top pick. Barring injury, that seems like a lock at this point.

The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick and Law has them selecting Georgia HS OF Taylor Trammell. No, he’s not related to Bubba. Here’s a snippet of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

Because he has divided his time between two sports, Trammell still is learning how to recognize pitches, handle offspeed offerings and tap into his raw power. He does show some feel for hitting and his well above-average speed will help him reach base. With his bat speed and strength, he could develop average or better pop.

Trammell also is figuring things out defensively, but he has the tools to be an asset in center field. He’s working on improving the strength of his arm, which should be fine for center.

Trammell was a big time high school football star — he ran for nearly 2,500 yards last fall — so he’s still very raw on the diamond. He’s been splitting his time between two sports. The athleticism and tools are high-end though. Trammell is committed to Georgia Tech but for baseball only, not football.

The Yankees haven’t had a whole lot of success developing raw athletes into baseball players in recent years, which is why they’ve started focusing on college players. That doesn’t mean they’re completely opposed to raw high schoolers like Trammell. It just means they’ve leaned towards college guys.

Law reiterates the Yankees’ interest in California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy, who is the classic SoCal polished prep arm scouting director Damon Oppenheimer seems to love. Here’s my write-up on Gowdy.

Poll: The Backup Infielder

Refsnyder. (Presswire)
Refsnyder. (Presswire)

At some point during the road trip the Yankees are expected to welcome Alex Rodriguez back from the DL. He is eligible to be activated tomorrow, though following last night’s game Joe Girardi admitted that won’t happen. A-Rod has yet to test his hamstring by running at full speed. That’s kind of a big deal.

“He is not going to be ready on Thursday. He still has some hurdles to cross and get by, and he is not by them yet. He really hasn’t had a setback. We were hoping for 15 days, but it will be more than that,” said Girardi to George King yesterday. The team does expect to get Alex back “sometime in Oakland” though. He’ll be back soon, just not tomorrow.

Whenever A-Rod comes back, the Yankees will have to clear a roster spot for him, which almost certainly means demoting either Rob Refsnyder or Ronald Torreyes. I suppose the team could cut ties with Dustin Ackley, but that would surprise me. They could use the lefty bench bat and they wouldn’t have a backup first baseman. Refsnyder or Torreyes it is.

It’s easy to assume Refsnyder’s stint with the Yankees will be short-term a la Gary Sanchez last week — the circumstances aren’t quite the same, but you know what I mean — because, after all, Torreyes has been with the team all season and has mostly been fine. I don’t think that is necessarily the case, however. Refsnyder has the better track record offensively and he’s improved his versatility by playing third base and right field this year. He could stick instead.

For now both Refsnyder and Torreyes are on the roster until A-Rod comes back, whenever that may be. We’re not going to learn a whole lot about these two in the coming days, especially if they ride the bench, so we know pretty much all we need to know about them right now. Which one is a better fit for the bench going forward? Let’s look.

The Case For Refsnyder

Here’s a challenge: try to make a case for Refsnyder that doesn’t involve citing minor league stats from a year or two (or three) ago. Refsnyder is now 25 years old and he’s in his third year at Triple-A. His numbers have gotten worse each season (Triple-A wRC+ from 2014-16: 137, 123, 115) and he’s not a good defender at all. Refsnyder is, by all accounts, a great teammate and a hard worker. That matters. But so does everything else.

Refsnyder offers versatility in that he can play second and third bases in addition to right field, though we’ve seen him at second and third, and it’s not pretty. Right field? I’m not so sure. I haven’t seen him out there. He could be a Jason Heyward level defender for all I know. Seems unlikely though. So Refsnyder’s versatility isn’t as valuable as it may seem. Sure, he can play multiple positions, but if he can’t play them even decently, what’s the point?

That said, Refsnyder does have offensive upside, especially compared to Torreyes. He has more power — Torreyes has hit 22 home runs in over 2,600 pro plate appearances — and late last season he also showed the ability to spray the ball around a bit. And, even though his defense is below-average, it’s passable. Refsnyder probably isn’t someone you would be comfortable playing every day, but he can make spot starts here and there no problem.

The case for Refsnyder is built around his offense, and offense has been a problem for the Yankees much of the season. Especially against lefties too. They’ve hit .231/.289/.345 (78 OPS+) as a team against southpaw starters this year. We’ve already seen a few clubs call up lefties to make spot starts against the Yankees for that reason (Blake Snell, Cesar Ramos). Refsnyder’s righty bat would help the lineup whenever a lefty is on the mound. Torreyes has started 12 of 38 games. Start Refsnyder that often and his glove won’t be a huge issue.

The Case For Torreyes

Torreyes and Refsnyder are pretty much opposites. Refsnyder is bat first and glove second. Torreyes is bat second and glove first. Torreyes did get off to a fantastic start offensively, going 6-for-9 in his first three games, but that was never going to last and it hasn’t. He’s gone 4-for-29 (.138) since and is down to .263/.282/.342 (66 wRC+) on the season overall. Ewww.

Torreyes. (Presswire)

That said, Torreyes does have an elite offensive tool in his contact ability. He’s struck out four times in 39 bats (10.3%) and his swing and miss rate is a measly 7.5%. Torreyes struck out in 6.2% of his minor league plate appearances, so this isn’t small sample noise, this is who he is. Few players in the game can get the bat on the ball as frequently as he can. Put the ball in play and generally good things happen.

In the field is where Torreyes really makes an impact. He’s an above-average gloveman who has already played the three non-first base infield positions this season, plus he’s spent a few innings in right field. Girardi has said he’s comfortable playing Torreyes pretty much anywhere. Offense can be hit or miss with bench players because it’s easy to lose rhythm with sporadic playing time. Defense seems to be more of a constant.

(It’s worth noting that if the Yankees go with Refsnyder or Torreyes, Starlin Castro would have to take over as the backup shortstop.)

Keeping Torreyes would mean prioritizing defense over offense and, frankly, the Yankees could use help in both departments. That he puts the ball in play so much means he’ll occasionally run into a BABIP fueled hot streak, like he did early in the season. Zero power limits his offensive upside though. Torreyes is a classic bench guy who can play almost anywhere and control the bat.

* * *

I’m pretty sure I know how this poll is going to turn out, but I guess I’ll post it anyway. Both Refsnyder and Torreyes have clear strengths and weakness and they are different strengths and weaknesses, which is why this is not an insignificant question. If they had the same skill sets, then who cares? Pick one and move on. They offer different things and the Yankees have to figure out which one fits their needs better.

Who should the Yankees keep with A-Rod returns?