Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday, everyone. I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Been a long and busy week here. Anyway, I didn’t read much interesting stuff this week, so I only have two links for the weekend.

  • Todd Schneider posted a really interesting look at New York City taxi data from 2009-15. It includes yellow and green cabs as well as Uber, and it covers over a billion trips. He looks at pickup and drop-off data, airport travel, the bridges and tunnels, and whether John McClane really could have made it from 72nd and Broadway to Wall Street in 30 minutes during rush hour before a bomb went off in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, among other stuff.
  • Here is a touching Scott Fowler article about a 16-year-old boy named Chancellor Lee Adams. Adams was born ten weeks early because his mother Cherica was killed by the hit man hired by former NFL player Rae Carruth, who is now in prison. Chancellor has cerebral palsy due to his traumatic birth but is now thriving after being raised by his grandmother. Really great work.

Friday: Here is tonight’s open thread. The Devils, Islanders, Knicks, and Nets are all playing, plus there’s a bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else right here.

Saturday: Once again, this is your open thread. The three local hockey teams are in action and there’s a bunch of college footballs and hoops on as well. Enjoy.

Sunday: This is your open thread for one last time. You’ve got a full afternoon of football plus the Bengals and Cardinals as the late game tonight. The Islanders, Devils, and Nets are all playing as well, and there’s also the usual slate of college basketball.


I’m hardly one who obsesses over dreams and they’re meanings, but for years now, I’ve had some recurring, sports-related themes in my dreams. Often, in some random context, I’m playing baseball or basketball, things I’ve done for most of my life. As a kid, I was decidedly mediocre at both of these, though getting contact lenses in the eleventh grade certainly helped. Nevertheless, when I have dreams featuring these two very familiar sports, I often find myself playing horrendously: I miss layups and jumpers at a Chucker Costanza like rate in basketball dreams and frequently in my baseball-inclusive dreams, I physically cannot throw the ball. Last night, I had a dream in which my wife and I were coaching a youth team, then I took some cuts against one of the pitchers and whiffed a lot–which I chalked up to playing slow pitch softball and not being used to hitting actual pitching–until finally smacking one over the shortstop’s head, just before the dream’s context and setting changed in a heartbeat, as they tend to do. I suppose the takeaway from this all, sparing you the Freudian dream analysis, is the simplest of all: even in our dreams, it’s damn hard to play sports, especially baseball. Players, managers, and teams have to constantly search for any advantage they can find and exploit in. For managers, one of the simplest and oldest advantages in the game is the platoon advantage. As Mike noted in late October, the Yankees led the league in gaining the platoon advantage over their opponents’ pitchers in 2015. 2016 has the potential to be no different, with at least three platoon situations presenting themselves early in the offseason.


Catcher: When the Yankees traded away John Ryan Murphy to the Twins in exchange for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks, it seemed to open the door for Gary Sanchez to (finally?) fully break through to the Major Leagues and get some consistent playing time. With Brian McCann entrenched behind the plate, Sanchez won’t be the full-time starter unless McCann gets injured. A platoon, however, could develop and give the Yankees value. As a young hitter with little experience to Major League pitching, Sanchez could benefit from a platoon that sets him up for success by limiting his exposure and letting him work against the types of pitchers–lefties–that he’s done well against. Like with any Minor League numbers, take these with a grain of salt, but Sanchez has put up an .863 OPS against southpaws throughout his career with a .241 ISO. His raw OPS against right-handed pitchers isn’t bad–.737–but it’s significantly lower and he’s flashed less power, a .147 ISO, against same-handed pitchers. Additionally, a straight platoon could give Sanchez more predictable playing time and give McCann more regular and consistent rest, something all catchers need, especially ones in their 30’s. On the other side of the ball, Sanchez’s defense, though improved, likely will never be a shining part of his game. Playing him against lefties and limiting him against righties will allow his potential shortcomings to be minimized.

So far, this seems like a decent plan. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t things that would need to be considered. For one, Brian McCann actually has a reverse platoon split in his time with the Yankees, something I didn’t expect at all. The Yankees may also want Sanchez to get every day playing time in the minors until they feel he’s ready, rather than let him sit on the bench. While Murphy flourished with inconsistent playing time last year, the Yankees may not want to do that with Sanchez and opt to put him–along with Greg Bird, probably–in Scranton to see the field every day.


Second Base: Catcher is not the only spot on the field where the Yankees have a young player who may be ready to break out. Fans clamored for Rob Refsnyder through much of last season, and in 2016, they’re likely to get him–along with trade-deadline acquisition Dustin Ackley. This situation is likely more amenable to a straight platoon since the difference between Ackley and Refsnyder–while large, as one is an established-if-not-great Major Leaguer and the other is still unproven–is not as large as the difference between McCann and Sanchez. Neither one of these guys is making mega-bucks, so there’s no financial incentive to play one over the other more consistently.

A platoon at second base between these two would be best for them and the team as it would let their strengths play up, as platoons tend to do. In his career, Ackley has put up a replacement-level wRC+ of 80 against lefties. His mark against righties–97–isn’t great, but it’s much more palatable than the one against lefties. He’s also got a respectable .140 ISO against right-handed pitching and a solid 8.4% walk rate against them. Meanwhile, Refsnyder’s hit both types of pitchers will in the minors, but has outperformed against lefties: an .863 OPS against lefties compared to an .800 mark against righties. And with these two, you’ll let one of them shine. As soon as one starts to perform and the other starts to lag, you can ride that wave without too much consequence. If Refsnyder prevails, Ackley becomes the backup. If Ackley reclaims some of that prospect shine, Refsnyder can go back to AAA for some more seasoning and more reps.

The only real downside to this platoon is that neither of these players is strong on the defensive side of things. There’s also that chance that Ackley continues to be aggressively “meh” at playing Major League Baseball and that Refsnyder never blossoms into the player we all want him to be. The alternative in that nightmare scenario, then, is Brendan Ryan? Yuck.

Aaron Hicks

Outfield: Last week, I touched on the newest Yankee, Aaron Hicks, and his potential to get a lot of playing time even if he isn’t necessarily a starting outfielder, so I’ll be brief here as not to be repetitive. With Hicks in the fold, the Yankees can add a bit more balance to their outfield, balance that’s missing when two of the three outfielders are lefty hitters and one of them–Jacoby Ellsbury–has struggled against lefties recently. Manager Joe Girardi has also shown a propensity to platoon for Brett Gardner in the past and doing so with Hicks would be a fairly seamless transition. Carlos Beltran‘s concerns are from the defensive side, and it’s easy to see how much and how often he’ll be replaced on defense in the late innings. In that vein, a platoon involving Ellsbury, Gardner, and Hicks will always leave the Yankees with at least two–three when Beltran sits–outfielders capable of playing center field and playing it well, bolstering their outfield defense.

Hicks does struggle against righties, which limits his usefulness in resting Ellsbury and Gardner if the Yankees hit a long stretch of right-handed pitchers, but there is hope that some new adjustments can help overcome those (hopefully former) struggles. Regardless, Hicks’ defense and the injury concerns that all three starting outfielders have should give Hicks plenty of burn in the field and in the lineup, making a de-facto, if not de-jure, platoon situation.

Seeking the platoon advantage is something the Yankees have clearly prioritized of late and they’re set up to do so again in 2016. The ways hinted at here are not necessarily what will happen–it’s only November, after all–but it’s easy to see the Yankees tinkering with their lineup day in and day out to get the biggest advantage possible. They’d be foolish not to.

Saturday Notes: In-Market Streaming, Netting, Martone, Murtaugh


Here are some stray links and notes related mostly to league-wide matters that affect the Yankees and their fans.

MLB announces in-market streaming deal with FOX

Yesterday afternoon commissioner Rob Manfred announced MLB has agreed to a three-year deal with FOX to provide in-market streaming. It is only available for teams whose games are broadcast by FOX Sports — that’s 15 teams, so half the league — and that does include the Yankees thanks to the YES deal with News Corp. a few years back. This is NOT a cable alternative. You have to subscribe to YES through your cable provider for in-market streaming. It’s better than nothing, I guess. MLB is still working with the other networks on in-market streaming deals.

MLB to recommend new stadium netting regulations

Manfred also announced yesterday that MLB will recommend new stadium netting regulations for the 2016 season. (That’s the netting behind home plate. Duh.) It’s unclear how far the league will ask the netting to be extended but to the dugouts seems reasonable. There were several incidents of foul balls and broken bats injuring fans last year. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy:

“In addition to a recommendation on the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program,” said Manfred to the Associated Press. “A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy. We want our fans to be safe in the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.”

Martone leaves, Murtaugh joins front office

The front office shuffling continues. Manager of pro scouting Steve Martone, who had been with the Yankees the last nine years, has left the organization to become Billy Eppler’s assistant GM with the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna. Martone, 35, was responsible for identifying trade and waiver targets on other clubs. He’ll do something similar with the Angels. No word on how the Yankees will replace Martone.

Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro reports veteran scout Pat Murtaugh recently left the Diamondbacks to join the Yankees’ pro scouting staff. Murtaugh, 56, has been in the scouting game a very long time, and, as Piecoro wrote two years ago, he was the scout who recommended Didi Gregorius to then D’Backs GM Kevin Towers back in the day. The Yankees lost Eric Chavez to the Angels a few weeks ago. Chavez had been working in the pro scouting department.

CBA negotiations to begin early next year

Last week, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA are likely to begin early next year, in February or March. The current CBA is set to expire on December 1st, 2016. The qualifying offer and international free agent spending systems figure to get an overhaul, among other things. (We could see an international draft.) MLB has had labor piece for over two decades now. The game is flush with money and I doubt either side wants to mess things up with a work stoppage. I’m hopeful MLB and the union will get a new deal worked out without much of a headache.

MLB minimum salary will not rise in 2016

According to the Associated Press, the Major League minimum salary will remain $507,500 next season due to a lack of inflation. The CBA includes a modified cost-of-living adjustment. The methodology used actually said the minimum salary should be reduced next year, but lol no. The CBA says the minimum salary can only go up, not down. Minimum minor league salaries for players on split contracts are $41,400 for first year players and $82,700 thereafter. Baseball’s good work if you can get it.

DotF: Sanchez & Fowler finish Arizona Fall League strong

The Surprise Saguaros (19-11) finished with the best record in the Arizona Fall League and will play the Scottsdale Scorpions (18-12) in today’s Championship Game. Here are the starting lineups. C Gary Sanchez, OF Tyler Austin, and OF Dustin Fowler are all playing. The game will begin at 3pm ET and you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com. Here are some other minor league notes:

  • Not one, but two former Yankees farmhands signed big league contracts this week. RHP Cesar Vargas signed with the Padres and RHP Andury Acevedo hooked on with the Cubs, both teams announced. Vargas and Acevedo became minor league free agents last week. They’re both hard-throwing relievers. The Yankees have plenty of those.
  • Kelsie Heneghan has a nice article on OF Dustin Fowler, who’s had a strong few weeks in the AzFL. “You can see he’s a line-drive hitter, knows how to handle the bat well. He can steal a base, he has good speed, is aggressive on the bases, a good fielder,” said Surprise manager Carlos Subero. “He’s definitely a player that you like on your team, has good intangibles, good ballplayer.”
  • The Yankees have signed C Francisco Diaz and RHP Jhony Brito to minor league contracts, reports Matt Eddy. Diaz, 25, hit .353/.418/.482 (157 wRC+) in 26 Low-A games with the Pirates last year. He’s a pure depth pickup, not a prospect. Someone has to catch, you know? Brito is an international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic.
  • And finally, Anthony Morales, the ex-football player who allegedly assaulted RHP Ty Hensley last offseason, has been acquitted according to Kyle Schwab. The two reportedly got into an argument about signing bonuses. Hensley recovered from his injuries in time for Spring Training but missed the season following Tommy John surgery.

Now for the winter ball updates. The AzFL regular season is over, so those stats are final. The various Caribbean league seasons don’t end for several weeks.

Arizona Fall League

  • OF Tyler Austin: 21 G, 22-81 (.272), 13 , 5 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 18 K, 7 SB, 2 CS (.272/.344/.444) — apparently he’s heading to Venezuela next to play winter ball
  • OF Dustin Fowler: 16 G, 17-61 (.279), 14 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K, 7 K (.279/.313/.410) — nice work for a guy on the taxi squad playing twice a week
  • C Gary Sanchez: 22 G, 26-88 (.295), 16 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 8 BB, 19 K, 4 SB, 2 CS, 1 HBP (.295/.357/.625) — led the league in homers, RBI, and total bases (55) … he’s considered the favorite for AzFL MVP after 1B Greg Bird won it last year
  • IF Tyler Wade: 14 G, 9-41 (.220), 6 R, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 7 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.220/.313/.268) — hit .208/.250/.266 (46 wRC+) in 43 games between Double-A and the AzFL to end the season
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 7 G, 0 GS, 12 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 2 RBI (2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP) — gotta think he’ll start next year in the Low-A Charleston rotation with a chance for a quick promotion
  • LHP Ian Clarkin: 6 G, 6 GS, 24.2 IP, 34 H, 16 R, 16 ER, 14 BB, 17 K, 2 HR, 1 HB, 3 WP (5.84 ERA and 1.95 WHIP) — ugly numbers but at least he’s healthy … I assume he’ll start next season with High-A Tampa
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 7 G, 1 GS, 14.1 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 10 BB, 12 K, 1 WP (4.40 ERA and 1.60 WHIP) — he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster yesterday so he’ll be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in a few weeks
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 9 G, 0 GS, 12.1 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 1 HR, 2 WP (5.84 ERA and 1.30 WHIP) — got a few innings in after missing the second half with a hand injury

Dominican Summer League

  • IF Abi Avelino: 1 G, 0-1, 1 K
  • C Eduardo de Oleo: 1 G, 0-1, 1 K
  • SS Jorge Mateo is listed on a roster but hasn’t played yet and probably won’t at this point.

Mexican Pacific League

  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 13 G, 0 GS, 9 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 14 K, 2 HR, 1 WP (10.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP)
  • RHP Luis Niebla: 7 G, 7 GS, 35.1 IP, 27 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 24 BB, 20 K, 3 HR, 2 HB, 1 WP (4.33 ERA and 1.44 WHIP)
  • 2B Angelo Gumbs is listed on a roster but hasn’t played yet. As with Mateo, he probably won’t play if he hasn’t already.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

  • IF Cito Culver: 6 G, 2-19 (.105), 1 R, 1 BB, 6 (.105/.150/.105)
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4 G, 4 GS, 20.1 IP, 15 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 9 BB, 13 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (1.77 ERA and 1.18 WHIP) — up to 125 innings on the year … his career high is 145.1 innings set back in 2013

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Diaz: 9 G, 4-13 (.308), 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K (.308/.357/.308) — the new guy
  • OF Teodoro Martinez: 34 G, 35-133 (.263), 17 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, 2 SB, 2 HBP (.263/.293/.316)
  • RHP Luis Cedeno: 6 G, 0 GS, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (9.00 ERA and 2.20 WHIP)
  • RHP Jaron Long: 7 G, 7 GS, 40.2 IP, 39 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 10 BB, 22 K, 2 HR, 2 WP (2.43 ERA and 1.20 WHIP) — up to 195.1 innings on the season
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 14 G, 0 GS, 12.1 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 5 BB, 15 K, 2 HR (6.57 ERA and 1.38 WHIP) — he’s be available in the Rule 5 Draft again after being passed over last year
  • IF Thairo Estrada is also listed on a roster. He’s yet to get into a game yet though.

Yankees add Rookie Davis, Ben Gamel, Johnny Barbato to 40-man roster

(Fred Adams/Times Leader)
(Fred Adams/Times Leader)

The Yankees have added outfielder Ben Gamel and right-handers Rookie Davis and Johnny Barbato to the 40-man roster, the team announced. All three players were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. The team also confirmed righty Chase Whitley has been claimed off waivers by the Rays.

Gamel, 23, had a breakout year with Triple-A Scranton this summer, hitting .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+) with a farm system leading 52 extra-base hits. He joins Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams as left-handed hitting outfielders on the 40-man roster. Gamel’s not the center field defender Slade and Williams are, but he’s a better hitter.

The 22-year-old Davis is one of the team’s best pitching prospects and was the only no-brainer addition this offseason. He had a 3.86 ERA (2.47 FIP) in 130.2 innings at mostly High-A Tampa this past season. Davis is a mid-90s fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher who made big strides with his command and efficiency in 2015.

Barbato, 23, was acquired from the Padres last winter in the Shawn Kelley trade. He had a 3.19 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 67.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. He’s a fastball curveball guy. Gamel and Barbato could definitely help in 2016. Davis figures to be more of a 2017 option though it’s not out of the question we see him next year.

Among the notable players left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft are outfielder Tyler Austin, third baseman Miguel Andujar, lefties Dietrich Enns and Chaz Hebert, outfielder Jake Cave, and infielder Tony Renda. Cave and the lefties seem like prime Rule 5 Draft fodder though I’m not sure any of them could stick on a big league 25-man roster in 2016.

Gamel and Davis were the only players 50% of RAB readers said the Yankees should protect in our poll earlier this week. The 40-man roster is now full.

Ryan & Jones: The Necessary Bench Players [2015 Season Review]

Acquiring decent bench players has always been difficult for the Yankees. First and foremost, bench players are like relievers. They tend to be good one year and terrible the next. Secondly, the good ones who hit free agency never want to sign with New York because they know they’ll be stuck behind someone with a big name or a big contract or both. Players want to play. The Yankees over the years haven’t been able to promise much playing time to bench guys.

So the Yankees have instead had to grow their own bench players. Either that or acquire them in trades, which is how they ended up with Brendan Ryan and Garrett Jones. Ryan came over in a trade with the Mariners in September 2013 before taking a two-year contract to be Derek Jeter‘s caddy. Jones was part of last offseason’s Martin PradoNathan Eovaldi swap. Both were part of the 2015 bench. For at least part of the season, anyway.

Ryan. (Presswire)
Ryan. (Presswire)

The Utility Infielder, Because You Need One

For the second straight year, Ryan was not healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster. He had an ongoing back problem in Spring Training, then, once his back was healthy, he strained his calf making a play in the field during a Grapefruit League game. That landed him on the 15-day DL and eventually the 60-day DL. (Ryan was transferred to the 60-day DL to make 40-man roster room for Jacob Lindgren in late-May.)

Eventually Ryan got healthy. He played in some minor league rehab games — that was his Spring Training, basically — before being activated off the DL on June 10th. Ryan made his season debut that day and, naturally, went 2-for-3 with a triple. He reached base three times in the game overall.

Ryan’s return lasted less than two weeks. He appeared in six games over the next eleven days — he started three of them and went 4-for-13 (.308) overall — before returning to the 15-day DL with another back injury on June 22nd.

It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that Ryan returned to the Yankees. He played sparingly the rest of July though did finish the month very well. Ryan went 6-for-16 (.375) with three doubles and a triple in the span of three games at the end of the month. That includes a 2-for-6 with two doubles night in that 21-5 blowout win over the Rangers.

Of course the offense wasn’t going to last though. Ryan has never been much of a hitter and one of those doubles that night looked like this:

That, ladies and gents, is some good ol’ fashioned BABIP luck. It happens.

Ryan stayed healthy the rest of the season but was just awful at the plate. He had four hits in August. Four. Four hits in 35 at-bats (.114) spread across 17 games, including ten starts. A seven-hit September followed. For a while Joe Girardi used Ryan in a straight platoon with Stephen Drew, and, to Ryan’s credit, he did hit .283/.321/.453 (109 wRC+) against southpaws this summer.

All told, Ryan hit .229/.275/.333 (64 wRC+) with a 28.2% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate in 103 plate appearances this past season. He did not hit a home run or steal a base, and 53 of those plate appearances came against lefties. Believe it or not, the 64 wRC+ represents Ryan’s best offensive season since 2011 with the Mariners (84 wRC+).

Ryan makes his living in the field, not at the plate. The defensive stats say he was a below-average defender this summer but it’s hard to take them seriously. He played 261.67 innings in the field. That’s slightly more than 29 full games. The eye test told me Ryan is still really good in the field. He can still do stuff like this:

For the most part Ryan played the middle infield and third base. He also dabbled at first and even spent a few innings in right field. Heck, Ryan threw not one, but two (!) scoreless innings in a blowout loss to the Astros on August 25th. He threw 20 of 28 pitches for strikes and even got a swing-and-miss. What a time to be alive.

As expected, Ryan exercised his $1M player option shortly after the end of the World Series. I suppose the Yankees could look around for an upgrade — Cliff Pennington just signed a two-year contract worth $3.75M, if you’re wondering what backup infielders are going for on the open market — but I consider it a low priority. Utility infielders typically aren’t very good. Ryan still plays strong defense, he’s cheap, and he’s an A+ clubhouse dude. I’m not sure what more you could want from a position that is lucky to crack 150 plate appearances in a season.

G.I. Jones. (Presswire)

The Perfect Fit That Wasn’t

Coming into this season there were a lot of questions about Carlos Beltran (offseason elbow surgery), Mark Teixeira (terrible second half), and Alex Rodriguez (suspended all of 2014). The Yankees didn’t really know what to expect from any of them. All three could have been at the end of the line.

So, to get themselves some protection, the Yankees acquired Jones in that five-player trade with the Marlins. Jones had experience playing right (Beltran) and first (Teixeira), and could also step in at DH (A-Rod). He provided depth at all three spots. The Yankees had been after Jones for years — they first tried to get him from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett trade — and they finally got him last winter.

Once it became clear A-Rod and Teixeira still had something left in the tank, it was very hard for Jones to get playing time. He appeared in only 18 of the team’s first 41 games, starting just eight of them. Jones went 6-for-40 (.150) with one walks and eleven strikeouts in those 41 team games. It wasn’t until May 22nd that he hit his first home run. The next day he pitched in a blowout loss.

Jones actually got into a bit of a groove in late-May, going 11-for-25 (.440) with three home runs in the span of 13 team games. The biggest of those three home runs — and Jones’ most notable moment as a Yankee — was a game-winning three run homer in extra innings against the Mariners on June 2nd.

That was a huge hit at the time. The Yankees had lost 13 of their last 19 games and needed someone, anyone, to come through with a huge hit. And that was it. Jones came through. The homer earned him another start the next day and Jones went deep again. It looked like he was finally going to contribute.

It didn’t last though. Jones went back to playing sporadically and eventually the Yankees cut him loose at the end of July. They acquired Dustin Ackley to effectively replace Jones. Ackley could play right field and first base like Jones, as well as fill-in at second base. Plus he’s seven years younger. It made sense. It seemed like a small upgrade at the time but it was an upgrade nonetheless.

The Yankees cut Jones loose, then, after Ackley hurt his back a few days after the trade, the Yankees ended up re-signing Jones to fill his old roster spot. The timing was a bit awkward, I’d say. Ackley missed the entire month of August but Jones never did get appear in another game with the Yankees. He remained with the team for another two and a half weeks or so, then was designated for assignment when Greg Bird got called up.

Jones was unable to hook on with another team after that. I thought maybe someone would pick him up as a lefty power bench bat once rosters expanded in September, but it didn’t happen. All told, Jones hit .215/.257/.361 (65 wRC+) with five home runs in 152 plate appearances spread across 57 games with New York. He played 24 games in right field, 21 at first base, four at DH, four in left field, plus one on the mound. And he pinch-hit a few times.

On paper, Jones was a great fit for the 2015 Yankees. He gave them some protection at first base, right field, and DH, three positions with questions, and his left-handed power looked like a perfect match for Yankee Stadium‘s short right field porch. It didn’t work out. That’s baseball. The Yankees paid Jones $5M this season and he’s a free agent. No reason to think he’ll be back next year.

Rosenthal: Rays claim Chase Whitley off waivers

So long, Ace Whitley. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
So long, Ace Whitley. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Rays have claimed right-hander Chase Whitley off waivers from the Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal. Today is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft, so it seems the Yankees dropped Whitley to create roster space for someone else.

Whitley, 26, made four spot starts this summer before blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery. He actually suffered the injury at Tropicana Field. Whitley, the team’s 15th round pick in the 2010 draft, has a 5.02 ERA (4.23 FIP) in 95 big league innings spread across 16 starts and 12 relief appearances the last two years.

The Yankees had two open roster spots on the 40-man, so dropping Whitley indicates they are adding at least three Rule 5 Draft eligible players prior to the deadline today. Earlier this week, Rookie Davis and Ben Gamel were the only players 50% of RAB readers said they’d protect from the Rule 5 Draft.