Game 54: One-Third


Today is the game No. 54 for the Yankees and that means they’ve officially reached the one-third point of the season. Billy Beane likes to say the first third of the season is for evaluating, the second third is for making changes, and the final third is for riding out those changes. My evaluation of the Yankees one-third of the way through the season:

Lloyd Christmas

They’ve been pretty bad overall and horrendously so at times. Like, unwatchably bad. The pitching has been much better the last few weeks (much, much better) but the offense is a nightmare. It’s one thing to be bad, but the Yankees are bad and boring, at least offensively. Watching strikeouts and grounders into the shift gets real old real quick.

Anyway, the Yankees are now in Baltimore after their night in Detroit. They’re 9-15 against AL East teams this year and boy, that has to change in a hurry for the Yankees to get back into any sort of postseason race. Tonight would be a good night to start. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

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

It is warm and humid in Baltimore, and it was raining for part of the afternoon too. It’s supposed to stop in time for the game if it hasn’t already. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and the game will be broadcast on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Brian McCann is day-to-day with a hyper-extended left elbow. “I don’t think it will be too long,” said Joe Girardi. Ronald Torreyes is the backup catcher for the time being … Chasen Shreve (shoulder) played catch again today. He’s going to throw again tomorrow and increase the intensity … Dustin Ackley had his labrum surgery today.

2016 Draft: Latest mock drafts from, Keith Law

The 2016 draft is less than one week away now. The three-day event begins next Thursday and runs through Saturday. I always liked it better when it ran from Monday to Wednesday. Following the draft on the Saturday seems weird. Oh well. It is what it is. Two new mock drafts were posted today, so let’s dive in. v3.0

In his latest mock draft, Jim Callis has the Phillies selecting Florida LHP A.J. Puk with the No. 1 pick. Puk’s had an up-and-down college career — he also missed time with back spasms this spring — but gosh, 6-foot-7 lefties with mid-90s gas and a knockout slider sure are hard to pass up. Callis has the Yankees taking Texas HS RHP Forrest Whitley with their first round pick, No. 18 overall. Here’s my write-up on Whitley.

Within the write-up Callis says there are “mixed signals” coming from the Yankees, with indications being they want either a high school arm or a college bat. Whitley, New York HS RHP Ian Anderson, California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy, Virginia C Matt Thaiss, and Wake Forest 3B Will Craig are on their radar, per Callis. Georgia HS OF Taylor Trammell is considered a dark horse. Here are my write-ups on Anderson, Gowdy, Craig, and Trammell. Haven’t done one for Thaiss yet.

Keith Law v3.0

Like Baseball America, Law has the Phillies taking Puk first overall in his latest mock draft (subs. req’d). Law has the Yankees selecting Anderson with their first round pick and mentions both Gowdy and Trammell as possibilities. He also throws a new name into the mix: Texas HS LHP Kyle Muller. Here is a piece of’s free scouting report on Muller:

(He) added significant strength during the offseason, giving him a heater that now sits in the low 90s and climbs as high as 95 mph. His fastball features some sink and tail, and he uses his 6-foot-5 frame to create angle and plane that are difficult for hitters to handle … Muller’s curveball is inconsistent because his delivery can get a bit methodical, but it should give him a solid second offering. He also shows feel for a changeup with some fade and tumble that he’ll need to use more at the next level.

Muller already looks like a big leaguer at 6-foot-5 and 230 lbs., though that also means he doesn’t have much projection remaining. This isn’t a kid who is going to fill out over the next few years. Moreso than any other year in recent memory, things around the Yankees seem to be very up in the air. It sounds like they’re in on basically everyone. We’re going to be in for a surprise come Thursday. That’ll be fun.

6/3 to 6/5 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles


Third city in three days for the Yankees. This is also the fourth city and sixth day in a trip that will take the Yankees through five cities in nine days. Tampa to Toronto to Detroit to Baltimore to New York. At least most of the flights are short, I guess. Anyway, the Yankees will play three games against the Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend. The O’s took two of three from New York in Baltimore a few weeks ago. These two teams have yet to play in Yankee Stadium this year.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Orioles and Red Sox just played one of those old school AL East slugfest series. They split the four games and each team scored 29 runs. Twenty-nine runs in four games. Reminds me of the mid-2000s. Anyway, Baltimore is 30-22 with a +17 run differential overall. They’re one game back of Boston for the AL East lead and 5.5 games up on the fourth place Yankees.

Offense & Defense

As expected, the O’s are one of the better offensive teams in baseball this year. They’ve averaging 4.37 runs per game with a team 107 wRC+, and they’re second in baseball with 75 home runs. SS J.J. Hardy (85 wRC+) and C Caleb Joseph (21 wRC+) are both on the DL and not coming back this series. Hardy fouled a pitch off his foot and broke a bone. Joseph? He took a foul tip to the biscuits and was placed on the DL with what the team called a “testicular injury.” Yikes. Calling it a groin injury would have sufficed. Here’s the video.

Kim. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Kim. (Rob Carr/Getty)

Manager Buck Showalter shook up his lineup recently and now bats CF Adam Jones (86 wRC+) leadoff despite his chronically low OBPs (.296 this year). Jones and Jose Bautista are now leadoff hitters. What a world. Korean import LF Hyun-Soo Kim (161 wRC+) has forced his way into the lineup even though Showalter wanted nothing to do with him earlier this season. He bats second. Megastar SS Manny Machado (165 wRC+) bats third and 1B Chris Davis (109 wRC+) cleans up. RF Mark Trumbo (149 wRC+) bats fifth. That’s a dangerous fivesome right there.

The rest of the lineup includes C Matt Wieters (102 wRC+), DH Pedro Alvarez (86 wRC+), and 2B Jonathan Schoop (99 wRC+). The O’s are playing Machado at short during Hardy’s absence while UTIL Ryan Flaherty (44 wRC+) and IF Paul Janish (5 wRC+) handle third base. Alvarez has even seen some time at the hot corner too. C Francisco Pena (4 PA), Tony Pena‘s son, is the backup catcher, and OF Joey Rickard (80 wRC+) and OF Nolan Reimold (133 wRC+) are the other outfielders.

Baltimore is a strong defensive team at certain positions. Machado is an elite defender even at short while Schoop, Davis, and Jones are average or better at their positions. Wieters is rock solid behind the dish too. Trumbo is a disaster in right field and honestly, I haven’t seen much of Kim to know what he is capable of defensively. The numbers say he is basically average in limited time. Flaherty and Janish are fine at third. Alvarez? lol no.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (vs. NYY)
Tillman’s up and down career continues. He’s had some great seasons and some truly awful seasons too. This year the 28-year-old has a 2.92 ERA (3.78 FIP) with a 23.7% strikeout rate in eleven starts and 64.2 innings. His walk (10.5%) and grounder (40.1%) rates leave something to be desired, and he’s keeping the ball in the park (0.84 HR/9) way more often than he has for most of his career. Lefties have hit him harder than righties so far this season, though his career platoon split is pretty small. Tillman has actually added some velocity this season and he now sits closer to 92-94 mph than 91-93 mph with his four-seam fastball and occasional sinker. A big upper-70s curveball is his trademark pitch. Tillman also uses mid-80s changeups and upper-80s cutters as well. Tillman limited the Yankees to one run in seven innings when they met in early-May.

Saturday (7:15pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (vs. NYY)
The O’s had some big question marks at the back of their rotation in Spring Training, and the 26-year-old Wilson took advantage of the opportunity and won a job. He has a 3.83 ERA (4.70 FIP) in 49.1 innings spread across seven starts and three relief appearances so far this season. Wilson gets grounders (49.4%) and limits walks (5.8%), but his strikeout (12.6%) and homer (1.28 HR/9) problems are scary bad. His platoon split is fairly small because his low-80s changeup is a solid pitch. Low-90s four-seamers and sinkers set up the change as well as an 80 mph slider. Wilson won’t miss many bats and that’s a plus for the Yankees. Of course, he held them to three runs (two earned) in six innings last month, so who knows.

Gausman. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Gausman. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Sunday (1:35pm ET: LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
The Orioles player development system strikes again. It looked like the 25-year-old Gausman was ready to take the next step this season, but instead he has a 3.78 ERA (4.50 FIP) with an alarming 1.70 HR/9. The O’s haven’t drafted and developed a quality MLB starter since Mike Mussina. (The Yankees haven’t done a whole lot better during that time, sadly.) Gausman’s other underlying stats are solid (22.8% strikeout, 5.6% walks, 44.9% grounders) and he’s dominated lefties this season, though that’s a bit out of line with the rest of his career. A mid-to-high-90s heater is his No. 1 pitch, and he also throws a nasty mid-80s splitter. Gausman also has a low-80s curveball. The stuff is definitely there. He just hasn’t put it together yet. Gausman chucked eight scoreless innings against the Yankees a few weeks ago. He was dominant that night. Would have crushed any lineup with the split he had that game.

Bullpen Status

As always, the bullpen is a strength for the Orioles. Their end-game arms are very good. Not as good as the guys the Yankees trot out there, but still very good. Here is Showalter’s eight-man relief crew:

Closer: LHP Zach Britton (1.21 ERA/1.95 FIP)
Setup: RHP Darren O’Day (3.15/5.37) and RHP Brad Brach (0.91/2.28)
Middle: RHP Mychal Givens (2.16/2.84), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.73/3.42), RHP Dylan Bundy (4.71/5.31)
Long: RHP Vance Worley (2.41/3.48) and LHP Brian Duensing (1 IP)

The O’s had to dip so deep into their bullpen during the series with the Red Sox that they optioned out fifth starter Mike Wright in favor of an extra bullpen arm (Duensing) yesterday. It was one of those kind of series. Givens (21 pitches), Brach (12), and Duensing (25) all pitched yesterday. Worley threw 60 pitches Wednesday night and probably won’t be available until at least tomorrow, if not Sunday. Our Bullpen Workload is the place to go for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

TiqIQ: As Struggles Continue, Yankees Will Roll Out Notable Promotional Schedule in June

The summer is nearly here, and for the first time in recent memory, the Yankees are clinging to relevancy in the AL East. Despite a strong May for the struggling Bombers, who went 18-13 and led an eight-game winning streak through the later weeks of the month, offensive and pitching woes have stunted any climb out of the bottom half of the division. The Yankees own the fourth-worst batting average in the league (.231) and a middling team ERA (4.15), two factors that have directly influenced their sub-.500 record through the first 52 games of 2016.

The on-field production has come at a frustrating pace, but there is reason to believe June will be a bounce-back month for the Pinstripes. The Yankees will play 19 games against teams currently below the .500 mark, including seven meetings with the league-worst Minnesota Twins. The Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Colorado Rockies are also on the ledger, setting the pace for a memorable stretch that may catapult them back into contention as the calendar flips to July.

For those interested in attending an upcoming game at Yankee Stadium, the team’s June schedule at home will include a number of marquee fan promotions. Yankees tickets in June will be in considerable demand for the 70th Annual Old-Timers’ Day, Mickey Mantle Triple Crown Bobblehead Night, Brian McCann Figurine Night and, perhaps the most simple-yet-effective promotion, Cap Night on June 29.

Old-Timers’ Day will occur on Sunday, June 12, when the Yankees host the Tigers for a weekend matinee game. Headlined by former Yankee greats and Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre, Old-Timers’ Day will likely be the hottest ticket in the Bronx this month. However, fans won’t have to break the bank to attend, as Yankees tickets on Ticketmaster start from just $17 in the outfield bleachers. If looking for a legitimate seat in the Stadium, upper-level seating can be found from $21 per ticket.

Stadium giveaways are always a big commodity, and the Yankees are packing a punch later this month. The team will honor the late Mickey Mantle’s 1956 Triple Crown season with a celebratory bobblehead on Friday, June 24 against the Twins. The first 18,000 guests in attendance will receive the collectible, which fittingly portrays Mantle with a crown and bats in arms. Tickets for the game also start at $17 in the outfield bleachers.

It hasn’t been the smoothest transition into pinstripes for catcher Brian McCann, who posted a .232 batting average in each of his first two seasons as a Yankee in 2014 and 2015. The 32-year-old’s production at the plate has dropped off further this season, though fans will pack the Stadium for his Figurine Day on Sunday, June 26 against the Twins. The first 18,000 guests will receive the action-posed figurine that expresses McCann in a throwing motion with catcher’s gear on. Like the previous two giveaways earlier in the month, tickets can be found starting from $17 on the primary market.

Cap Day will be the final giveaway at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 29 against the Texas Rangers. Presented by Pepsi, the Yankees hat will be handed out to the first 18,000 fans in attendance. $17 tickets are still available while outfield seating starts from $21.

The Yankees will need a big month if they hope to hang onto their postseason hopes. They currently sit 7 ½ games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, who show no signs of slowing as the summer approaches. For that to happen however, the bats will need to awaken to support a staff that has had brief flashes of greatness over the first two months. With a favorable schedule on the docket for June, expect the Bombers to return to form and quickly close the cellar door on their way up the standings.

Nathan Eovaldi says he’s open to a long-term deal with the Yankees


According to Andrew Marchand, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi said he is open to signing a long-term contract with the Yankees. Assuming the price is right, of course. “It would depend on what they offered,” said Eovaldi to Marchand. “I love it here.”

Eovaldi is one of the most important players on the roster right now. He’s only 26 and he’s pitching as well as he has at any point in his career. He’s also just a year away from free agency. The Yankees have to start thinking seriously about his long-term future if they haven’t already. (I’m sure they have.) Is Eovaldi most valuable long-term as a trade chip or in the rotation?

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a right answer. You could make a very good argument for trading Eovaldi and a very good argument for keeping him. In fact, let’s do both really quick:

Nathan Eovaldi pros and cons

That about sums it up, right? The fact the upcoming free agent pitching market is terrible is a double-edged sword. Teams will be looking for pitching in trades and the Yankees have a pretty good pitcher to offer. Supply and demand, baby. At the same time, it also means it’s going to be pricey for the Yankees to build their own pitching staff.

Right now I am on team #ExtendEvo. I think power pitchers this young are hard to come by, and it helps that he’s already proven to be coachable (learned the splitter) and had some success in New York. If another team had Eovaldi and put him on the trade block — or he was available as a free agent — wouldn’t we want the Yankees to go after him? Of course we would.

At the same time, the Yankees have to listen to trade offers. It’s only smart. Someone might blow you away with an offer and the Yankees need all the young talent they can get. We know the Cubs have some interest. I could see the Giants, Rangers, Tigers, Astros, Pirates, White Sox, and Nationals all getting involved in Eovaldi talks too.

So far this season Eovaldi has a 3.71 ERA (3.53 FIP) in ten starts and 60.2 innings. His strikeout (22.9%) and ground ball (54.3%) rates are both career highs at the moment, as is his swing-and-miss rate (9.3%). There are plenty of reasons to like Eovaldi long-term and also some reasons to remain skeptical. No doubt about it. The fact he is at least open to an extension with the Yankees is a positive.

Mailbag: Judge, Reddick, Castro, Sabathia, Didi, O’Brien

We have 13 questions in the mailbag this week. Remember when these things used to only have four or five questions? What the hell happened. Anyway, use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address to send us anything at anytime.

Judge. (Times Leader)
Judge. (Times Leader)

Nick asks: Is Aaron Judge broken? At what point do we start to worry?

Judge went into last night’s game hitting .224/.286/.378 (91 wRC+) with seven homers, a 7.4% walk rate, and a 26.3% strikeout rate in 217 plate appearances on the season. He hit .224/.308/.373 (98 wRC+) with eight homers, an 11.2% walk rate, and a 28.5% strikeout rate in 260 plate appearances at Triple-A last year, so the numbers are pretty similar. Judge actually started this season well (123 wRC+ in April) before falling into a 9-for-64 (.141) skid with 22 strikeouts over the last three weeks.

On a scale of 1-10 with one being no concern and ten being outright panic, I’d say I’m at a seven. Judge was always a high risk prospect because he’s so damn big. It’s hard to be a successful hitter at 6-foot-7. There’s a reason there are so few of them in MLB history. Oddly enough, his weakness is pitches away. Tall hitters usually have trouble with inside pitches because their arms are so long. Judge can get to the inside pitch. The outside pitch gives him problems.

Judge reworked his swing mechanics a bit in the offseason, specifically by incorporating a bigger leg kick and changing his hand position, and that was always going to take a bit of an adjustment. I think we’re probably beyond the point where his struggles can be attributed to the new setup at the plate though. Judge does not yet have a full season’s worth of at-bats in Triple-A, which is not insignificant. It’s not like he’s been there for two full years and is still struggling.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about Judge’s performance this year. The athleticism and raw power and overall skill set is there. That’s not the question. There are some approach issues to deal with, and also his size is an obstacle that isn’t going away. Judge just turned 24 and for some reason that is freaking people out. Who cares? They don’t check IDs on the field. The Yankees have the luxury of time here. Judge isn’t even on the 40-man roster yet, so they can let him work through things.

Phil asks: Josh Reddick. If his injury hurts his value as a big FA, can we look to sign him to a pillow contract next season (assuming we’d deal Gardner)? Instant short-term upgrade. He’s hit 30+ in YS.

Reddick’s not going to have to settle for a pillow contract even with the thumb injury. He’s expected back in about a month and that gives him the entire second half to show what he’s got. Reddick has made himself into a very good hitter — he’s hit .277/.337/.452 (121 wRC+) with an 8.3% walk rate and a 13.0% strikeout rate since 2014 — and he’s a fantastic defender in right field. That kind of two-way play is highly valuable and will get Reddick paid. The Alex Gordon contract (four years, $72M) seems reasonable to me.

Hey, if Reddick wants to build value in a left-handed hitter friendly ballpark on a one-year deal, sign him up. Even if the Yankees do take the plunge and decide to sell off parts and rebuild, Reddick would be one heck of a trade asset on a one-year contract. I can’t see it happening though. He’ll be back in a few weeks and he’ll get paid handsomely after the season.

Anonymous asks: Read one of your articles today saying league wide batting average is down about 10 points in the past 8-10 years. I believe lowering the mound 1 inch would put more offense back into baseball. What are your thoughts on this?

I don’t think it’s imminent, but I do believe MLB will seriously consider lowering the mound if offense continues to drop. Commissioner Rob Manfred has shown that he is very thorough and wants as much information as possible before making a decision, so I assume he’ll want several years of data before making a change that significant. I have no idea if one inch is the solution. It might be one and one-third of an inch or something weird like that. My guess is Manfred will have his people look into it and come up with a number rather than arbitrarily pick a nice round number like one or two inches.

Steve asks: As a west coast fan, I hate to admit it but I rarely get to catch many games live and thus catch up with most of my Yankee news with your site (thanks by the way) and video highlights. As someone who watches a lot of baseball, how has Castro looked at second? I’ve seen him make spectacular plays and I’ve seen him make some bone head plays … Overall though, are you happy with his D? (That’s what she said!) Has the trade been worth it so far?

I think the best way to describe Starlin Castro‘s defense is that he almost makes a lot of plays. Balls seem to find a way to be just out of his reach. His double play pivots have been noticeably slow at times too. Castro is relatively new to the position, so we should definitely cut him some slack. Overall he’s been fine defensively. Not great, not awful. He makes most of the plays he should make, will occasionally make a spectacular play, and will also occasionally let a ball get by that shouldn’t get by. Starlin hasn’t hit much at all since the Astros series and that’s pretty annoying. My early evaluation of the trade: meh. Not sure what else there is to say at this point.

Castro. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Castro. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

David asks: Forgetting about the probability of it but is it technically possible for the Yankees to get under the cap this year if they were able to trade a whole bunch of folks? I imagine timing might be everything as I assume the cap is based on salaries actually paid so every day that goes by makes it less and less likely.

Sure, it’s technically possible. The Yankees opened the season with a $228M payroll, so they’d need to shed about $40M in payroll to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. Trading Alex Rodriguez ($18.4M), Mark Teixeira ($15.1), and Jacoby Ellsbury ($14.6M) right now at the one-third point of the season would accomplish that easily. The team would shed two-thirds of the average annual value of their contracts against the luxury tax payroll. The problem is those guys are basically untradeable, at least if the expectation is shedding their entire salary. So yes, it’s possible to get under the luxury tax by trading people, but no, it’s not happening.

Paul asks: Who is CC competing against for comeback player of the year?

The first name that immediately jumped to mind was Yu Darvish, who made his first start back from Tommy John surgery a few days ago. If he pitches at an ace-level for 20 starts, it’ll be hard to give it to someone else. Here are some other candidates:

  • Marcus Stroman: Limited to four starts (and three more in the postseason) last year by a torn ACL. Can you be the Comeback Player of the Year when it’s only your second full season?
  • Michael Saunders: Played only nine games last season due to knee problems, mashing this year.
  • Rich Hill: Can you be the Comeback Player of the Year when you were never great to start with?

The Comeback Player of the Year award generally goes to players who missed a big chunk of time due to injury. CC Sabathia was mostly healthy last season. He missed two weeks with the knee problem and that was it. Sabathia just didn’t pitch all that well. That might work against him. If he keeps this up all season, then yeah, Sabathia will have to be a serious Comeback Player of the Year candidate. Let’s revisit in a few months.

Mike asks: Big Mike reaches his 5 year service time in 2 weeks; so the yanks will need his approval, if they want to send him to the minors.If Pineda doesn’t show improvement over his next two starts, do the Yankees send him to the minors, before he has a say? And who replaces him?

Yes, definitely. The exact date is June 14th, so that is only eleven days away now. On June 14th Michael Pineda will hit five years of service time and be able to refuse any assignment to the minors. Pineda will make two more starts before June 14th. If he doesn’t show significant improvement, send him down and give the rotation spot to … someone. Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Luis Severino, whoever happens to be pitching the best at the time.

Pineda would have to remain in the minors the rest of the regular season to push his free agency back — the Yankees actually pushed it back when they optioned him down in 2013 following his shoulder rehab, he should have been a free agent after this season — but the goal of sending him down is to get him on track. Even if you look at this season as a lost cause, Pineda has very little trade value right now. If a stint in the minors gets him on track, it’ll boost his trade value for the offseason. Pineda’s been arguably the worst starter in baseball this season. That usually results in a trip to Triple-A. Reassess after these next two starts.

What is Dan asks: Didi’s advanced fielding metrics from this year look terrible (-7 DRS, -4.5 UZR). Any idea why these numbers are so low? This doesn’t seem to match the eye test.

I wouldn’t look too closely at defensive stats one-third of the way into the season, but I do think Didi Gregorius‘ defense has slipped a bit since last season. He’s still making spectacular plays, but he seems to be botching routine-ish plays more often. Joe Girardi even called him out on it a week ago, at least as much as Girardi will call out a player.

“He needs to improve on it, that’s what has to happen. He’s a better fielder than what he has showed these first two months,” said the skipper to Ryan Hatch. It doesn’t seem like Gregorius has lost athleticism or anything like that. He looks like the same old Didi. It just seems like he’s misplaying some balls, particularly those hit one step or two in either direction. It could just be a slump. Defense is like anything else in baseball. Slumps happen. I’m curious to see whether Didi can shore up his glovework going forward.

C.J. asks: Mike, Is there a match with the Diamondbacks to potentially move Peter O’Brien back to the Yankees to be a backup 1B/OF, 3rd catcher? He strikes out a ton, but he’s young and he’s got a whole lot of RH power. He doesn’t have a position in AZ and he’d be a better option than Ackley (injured), Parmalee, or Swisher.

O’Brien could be a fit, sure. He’d give the team a true backup first baseman who can also play some left field and even step in as the emergency third catcher. Plus he still has that huge right-handed power.

Power was never the question with O’Brien. The question is whether his lack of plate discipline — he has a 28.9% strikeout rate and a 3.2% walk rate in Triple-A this season — would allow him to use that power at the MLB level. O’Brien can hammer a mistake pitch. Can he do enough other things to be a net positive?

The Yankees could use some right-handed power and a backup first baseman. My trade proposal sucks, but what about Rob Refsnyder for O’Brien, straight up? The Diamondbacks need middle infield help — Jean Segura has been fine but Nick Ahmed can’t hit all, so they could stick Refsnyder at second and Segura at short — and also some outfield depth, two positions Refsnyder can play.

My guess is the D’Backs would want quite a bit more. They consider O’Brien one of their best prospects. At the same time, they’re not oblivious to the fact they have no place to play him. Paul Goldschmidt is entrenched at first and they have Yasmany Tomas making big bucks in left field. O’Brien could be a good fit for New York’s roster as kind of the a Dustin Ackley, the part-time player who sees time at first, a corner outfield, and DH.

Ariel asks: I know this is more of a question of one’s loyalty and dedication to his team than a regular ol’ baseball question, but am I a bad fan for rooting for the Yankees to lose on a consistent basis? Just so they have to trade away the three headed monster in the bullpen and guys like Teixeira and Beltran (if they waive their no-trade clause).

Nah, that doesn’t make you a bad fan. I can’t think of any reason to consider someone a bad fan. Maybe rooting against the team or a player just to prove you were right about something? The best thing for the Yankees right now could very well be losing and losing a lot, since it would presumably force the brain trust’s hands into beginning a rebuild. If you believe that is the best thing for the team long-term — at that is a 100% percent reasonable stance at this point in time — then how could anyone blame you for rooting for it? We all want the Yankees to win first and foremost. That doesn’t seem to be much of an option right now though.

Stephen asks: Is there any precedent to trading two elite relievers as part of the same deal? What could the Yankees get if they packaged two – or even all three! – of their big three relievers in a trade?

Chapman. (Elsa/Getty)
Chapman. (Elsa/Getty)

I haven’t found any such precedent at all. The closet thing I can find is the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade a few years ago. Samardzija and Hammel were two of the best available starting pitchers at the 2014 deadline, and the Athletics acquired them both in the same trade. They had to give up Addison Russell to do it though. Hammel was rental while Samardzija had one year of control left.

If the Yankees do decide to take the plunge and sell, they should absolutely be open to the possibility of a package deal with their relievers. I’m sure the Dodgers would love to get their hands on both Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, for example. What team wouldn’t? Can they get more if they move them individually than they would as a package deal? I can’t really answer that. My guess is they would end up with more total pieces if they shop them individually but perhaps get the best true impact player if they move them together.

Mark asks: I was wondering what you think the chances are that we may start to see language in contracts regarding failed drug tests and resulting suspensions… I know the suspensions are without pay, but I wonder if teams may eventually want to use such an event to get out of contracts altogether. Love the site and thanks for all your hard work.

Oh I’m sure owners would love to make contracts voidable due to a performance enhancing drug suspension. (But only the bad contracts, right?) I don’t think the MLBPA ever will (or should) agree to that. Giving owners a way to void contracts is a precedent the union does not want to set. The Joint Drug Agreement is by far the best PED testing program in pro sports and the penalties are harsh.

Making contracts voidable gives teams a reason to look the other way, which is the opposite of what should happen. It could create a distrust between the player and team because the team would have some incentive for a player to fail a drug test. Would the Yankees be heartbroken if Alex Rodriguez accidentally took a tainted B-12 shot? Nope. Not at all. Unless the player admits it, it’s pretty much impossible to prove whether he took a banned substance intentionally.

Want to improve the system? It would help by making the team accountable in some way, perhaps by having them donate the player’s forfeited salary to charity. No one really thinks teams are oblivious as to which of their players may be using PEDs, right? There aren’t many secrets in this game. The program is working. Players are getting caught. That’s what supposed to happen. No positive tests doesn’t mean no one is using.

John asks: How do you view Didi and Starlin? Do you think that they’re our long-term solutions up the middle, or are they good, short-term pieces until the farm delivers some of the guys at A and AA? If you think the minors guys are that good, who do you see starting at short and second in, say, 2019?

Closer to short-term fill-in pieces until someone better comes along than long-term solutions. I think Gregorius is closer to being a long-term solution at short than Castro is at second. Their bats are closer than most may realize — Starlin has more power and that’s about it — but Didi is the far better defender at the tougher position. I think it’s harder to find a shortstop like Gregorius than it is a second baseman like Castro, basically.

Jorge Mateo will hopefully fit into the middle infield picture somewhere within a year or two. He’s the obvious internal candidate to assume a long-term middle infield position. The Yankees have a ton of infield prospects but, aside from Tyler Wade, none are particularly close to MLB right now, so it’ll be Castro and Gregorius for a while. My guess is when the team is ready to be a true championship contender again, they’ll have a different double play combination than the one they have right now.