Even before Refsnyder demotion, Yankees needed to add a second baseman at the trade deadline

(New York Daily News)
(New York Daily News)

Disappointingly — and somewhat surprisingly — the Yankees demoted Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A Scranton yesterday when they needed to clear a roster spot for Carlos Beltran. Refsnyder played four games after being called up right before the All-Star break, going 2-for-12 (.167) with a homer while playing a not-so-natural second base. The team never did commit to him as the everyday second baseman.

“Just continue to improve,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings when asked what the team wants to see from Refsnyder. “Understanding the position, continue to make little adjustments. I thought he did a really good job considering the situation we put him in. In Fenway Park, that’s not the easiest place to start. But we believe he’s going to be here for a long time, and for right now, we’re going to stay with the guys we got.”

Brian Cashman said the move was made to maintain depth prior to the trade deadline — the obvious move to keep Refsnyder would have been designating Brendan Ryan for assignment — which makes sense but is disappointing. We’re all sick of the unproductive Stephen Drew and the homegrown Refsnyder is the team’s best chance for an upgrade from within. Four games with an All-Star break mixed in isn’t much of an audition.

Now, here’s the thing: Refsnyder wasn’t going to get much of audition before the trade deadline anyway. There’s nothing he could have done between the time he was called up and the July 31st trade deadline that could have convinced the Yankees or anyone else he was ready to be the everyday second baseman on a contending team. It’s not enough time to evaluate a young player at all. He was going to get 40 at-bats at the most before the deadline. That’s it.

The Yankees didn’t make a mistake by sending Refsnyder down yesterday. The mistake was not bringing him up sooner. Drew hasn’t hit all season — Girardi pointed out Drew had a good June (125 wRC+), but that month was three two-homer games and 11-for-83 (.133) in the other 21 games — and, as many have been saying, Refsnyder should have been up weeks ago, getting a longer audition to show what he can do, good or bad. They stuck with Drew too long.

“I think a lot of times people are going to have discussions about it, try to gather as much information as you can, and make the best decision you feel at the time,” said Girardi to Jennings. “Sometimes as you look back, maybe you would have done it a little different, but I think the important thing is that you make the best decision at the time with the information that you have. Guys are very close here, and that’s probably what’s making this decision tough.”

So the Yankees are in the same place they were a few weeks ago, in need of a new second baseman. Except now the Yankees have less time to evaluate Refsnyder before having to go outside for help, so in essence Refsnyder is a non-option. Well, that’s not true, I just have a hard time believing the Yankees would throw him to the wolves as a starting middle infielder in the middle of a postseason race. Believe it or not, he could actually be worse than Drew.

The team’s hesitancy to use Refsnyder tells us they don’t quite believe he is ready for regular big league action, either offensively, defensively, or both. In that case, the Yankees will need to go out and make a trade for a second baseman at some point in the eleven days, because the last four months have told us their current options aren’t enough. That was true even before Refsnyder was sent back down.

Yankeemetrics: Back to baseball, wins (July 17-19)

Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Deja vu
The Yankees started the second half of the season the same way they ended the first half, beating the Mariners 4-3 on Friday night. It gave them a 4.5-game lead in the AL East, their biggest division lead since August 2012.

A-Rod delivered the game-winning hit with a solo homer in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. It was his 19th go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later as a Yankee; since he joined the team in 2004, no other Yankee has hit more than 10 such homers.

Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs over seven innings and improved to 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 27 strikeouts in three career starts against the Mariners. He is the fourth Yankee to win each of his first three starts against Seattle (Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Underwood, Tim Leary), but the only one of those guys to do it while striking out at least seven batters in each of those games.

Tanaka’s off-speed pitches have been really impressive over his last two starts. Against the Mariners and A’s (July 9) he threw 144 sliders, curves and splitters combined, and those pitches yielded just two hits while netting him 34 outs.

Oh no, don’t cha know
It’s not often you can say after a baseball game that one player beat you … but that’s pretty much what happened in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners. Robinson Cano hit two homers and drove in all four of the Mariners’ runs — an outburst that hardly could have been predicted before the weekend.

Cano entered the game 9-for-40 (.225) against the Yankees since leaving for the Pacific Northwest two seasons ago, his worst batting average against any American League team in his career. Not only was it his first multi-homer game in a Mariners uniform, it was also the first time he had at least three hits and four RBI in a game over the past two seasons.

Brian McCann drove in both Yankee runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 15th home run of the season. He is the ninth catcher in major-league history to hit at least 15 homers in 10-or-more seasons, and one of only three to do that in his first 11 career seasons. The others? Oh, just Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench.

Throwback Sunday
CC Sabathia turned back the clock and delivered a ace-like performance in the series finale, going pitch-for-pitch with King Felix for six innings, and Mark Teixeira hit another clutch late-inning homer to give the Yankees a dramatic win over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.

Sabathia now has a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners since joining the Yankees, the lowest ERA vs. Seattle by any pitcher in franchise history with at least seven starts against the M’s.

Teixeira’s game-winning blast was his 23rd homer and 63rd RBI of the season, more than he had all of last season … and it’s the middle of July. The big hit came off a 98-mph fastball from Fernando Rodney, the fastest pitch that Teixeira has sent over the fence since August 14, 2012, when he clobbered a 99-mph heater off Alexi Ogando into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. Before the home run, Teixeira was 0-for-9 in 11 matchups vs. Rodney, his most plate appearances without a hit against any active pitcher.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 20th, 2015

Record Last Week: 2-1 (9 RS, 8 RA)
Season Record: 50-41 (418 RS, 391 RA, 49-42 pythag. record) 4.0 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Orioles (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Twins (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 Features menu in 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: Bird leads the way with four hits in Scranton’s win

RHP Luis Severino has been placed on the Triple-A temporarily inactive list. Joe Girardi told Andrew Marchand that Severino’s wife is having a baby, so congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Louisville) no OF Aaron Judge for the second straight game, though I suspect he’s just banged up and not about to be traded

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 11-for-21 (.524) in his last five games
  • 1B Greg Bird: 4-5, 2 RBI, 1 K — ties a career high with four hits
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 37 of 53 pitches were strikes (70%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 29 of 52 pitches were strikes (56%) … seems like every Triple-A reliever is getting stretched out to three or four innings

[Read more…]

Yankees win 2-1, take series finale from Mariners thanks to Teixeira’s late homer

Source: FanGraphs

On Sunday afternoon, the Yankees faced a former Cy Young Award winner for the seventh time this season, and they improved to 6-1 in those games. (They lost to R.A. Dickey back in May.) A late home run gave New York a 2-1 win over Felix Hernandez and the Mariners to clinch the series victory. Is baseball fun? Baseball is fun. Let’s recap with bullet points because I’ve seen sitting in the sun all day:

  • Big Poppa: Boy, how about CC Sabathia? The big man turned in his best start at Yankee Stadium since June 2013 (!) according to Game Score (62), holding the Mariners to one run on six singles and one walk in six innings. Three right-handed batters singled to create the run in the fifth, but Sabathia was able to limit the damage by striking out Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano with runners at first and third. I like that Joe Girardi didn’t push his luck and took Sabathia out after six innings even though he’d only thrown 87 pitches. Good work, CC.
  • Back From The DL: Unsurprisingly, the Yankees were unable to score seven runs off Felix again. Doing it back in Seattle last month was a minor miracle. Twice? Forget it. Hernandez limited New York to one run in six innings, and the run scored on Carlos Beltran‘s two-out single in the sixth. Brett Gardner started the inning with a walk, moved to third on an impromptu hit-and-run, then scored on the single. Beltran picked up Brian McCann, who struck out on three pitches with Gardner on third and one out. Welcome back, Carlos.
  • Party Like It’s 2009: Man, this vintage 2009 model Mark Teixeira sure is fun, isn’t it? The score remained tied 1-1 into the eighth inning, when Vidal Nuno (!) and Fernando Rodney made quick work of Gardner and Alex Rodriguez. With the bases empty and two outs, Rodney let a 98 mph two-strike heater leak back over the plate, and Teixeira whacked it into the short porch for a go-ahead solo homer. The pitch was supposed to be elevated, Rodney left it down and middle of the plate, and Teixeira did what good hitters are supposed to do with it. Clutch.
  • Leftovers: Justin Wilson (one single), Dellin Betances (two walks), and Andrew Miller each threw scoreless innings. Dellin has 21 walks in 41 innings this year after having 24 walks in 90 innings last year … Teixeira had three of the team’s six hits. A-Rod, Beltran, and Chase Headley had the others. Gardner (two) and Beltran drew the walks … Stephen Drew went 0-for-2 in his return to the lineup and was lifted for pinch-hitter Chris Young against the lefty Nuno in the seventh.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out out Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees have an off-day Monday then open a three-game series with the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Nathan Eovaldi vs. Wei-Yin Chen is the scheduled pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of those three games in person.

Sunday Night Open Thread

That was a fun afternoon at the ol’ ball yard. Hot, but fun. Here’s your open thread for the last few hours of the weekend. The Mets and Cardinals are scoreless in extra innings as of this writing, and the ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Red Sox and Angels (Rodriguez vs. Santiago). I’m looking forward to hearing how the ESPN booth thinks the Sawx will get back into the race. Talk about anything and everything right here.

Game 91: Reverse Trap?


About four years ago, this afternoon’s pitching matchup would have been a gem. CC Sabathia vs. Felix Hernandez. Two of the ten best pitchers in the game. Now it’s lopsided and not in the Yankees’ favor. Sabathia has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball over the last three seasons while Felix remains one of the best. Not a good matchup!

Of course, the Yankees clobbered Hernandez last month, scoring seven runs in 4.2 innings after he started the game with three perfect innings on 21 total pitches. Hopefully today is a reverse trap game. The kind of game with a pitching matchup so lopsided the exactly opposite of what everyone expects to happen happens. That would be nice.

I’m not going to be home in time to post the lineups, so I will direct you to Chad Jennings for New York’s batting order. Carlos Beltran was activated off the DL and Rob Refsnyder was sent down, which is dumb, but the Yankees haven’t exactly shined with their decision making lately.

It’s nice and sunny in the Bronx this afternoon. Hot too. The game is scheduled to begin a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally. Enjoy.