Yankeemetrics: Bronx (bullpen) is burning [June 20-22]

(Getty)
(Getty)

Please deactivate Clip-bot
The Yankees returned to the friendly confines on Tuesday night but the story was virtually the same as the previous six games: they got themselves into an early hole thanks to some shaky starting pitching, then rallied to tie the score with a couple Baby Bombs, but a bullpen meltdown ultimately sealed their fate, resulting in another loss.

Their losing streak reached seven games, just the third time in the last two decades the Yankees have suffered that many consecutive defeats within a season – the other seven-game losing streaks came in 2000 (ended nicely!) and 2007 (ended pretty good).

What made this loss even more disheartening is that the odds were in the Yankees favor entering Tuesday’s game:

  • They had won nine straight in the Bronx against the Angels, tied for the second-longest win streak vs. any opponent at the new Yankee Stadium, and the second-longest home win streak against the Angels in the history of the rivalry.
  • The Yankees were 24-8 vs. the Angels at the current Yankee Stadium, their best record against an American League team at the ballpark
  • They had the AL’s best home record (22-9), and led the league in runs per game, batting average, home runs per game and pretty much every offensive statistic at home.

But then Tyler Clippard torched whatever good vibes the Yankees had built up, and the Yankees were losers, again. He entered with the game tied in the seventh – faced four batters, allowed three extra-base hits and three runs, got one long flyout — and exited to a chorus of boos.

Clippard was tagged with his fourth loss of the season, and only Masahiro Tanaka had more among Yankee pitchers after Tuesday’s disaster. Even worse, he suffered his 10th meltdown of the season, the most among AL pitchers through Tuesday. And his slugging percentage allowed in high-leverage situations increased to .737, per baseball-reference.com. Yeah, and Aaron Judge is “only” slugging .702 this season.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Back to business
Our long Bronx nightmare finally came to an end on Wednesday night as the Yankees snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 8-4 win over the Angels.

They avoided what would have been their first eight-game slide since 1995. If you think that’s a long drought … you’d be correct! Every other major-league franchise has suffered at least three losing streaks of eight-or-more games since the start of the 1996 season. And the Yankees have zero.

Jordan Montgomery delivered yet another impressive and gutsy performance (two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings), and it was his curveball that really stood out as a legit weapon for him against the Angels.

He threw 32 curves, per Brooksbaseball.net, and the Angels were 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in at-bats that ended with a curveball. Opponents are now hitting .155 against the pitch this season, the ninth-lowest average among starters (min. 200 curves). Montgomery also netted eight curveball whiffs on 14 swings (53.3%), increasing his swing-and-miss rate with the pitch to 42.7 percent, another top-10 mark for him among starters that have thrown at least 200 curves this season. Pretty good for a rookie, eh?

While Montgomery kept the Yankees in the game on the mound, the hero of the night at the plate was Matt Holliday, who broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a solo shot to right-center. It was a milestone hit for Holliday, too, his 1,200th career RBI.

This lets us reflect on his all-around greatness – his ability to hit for power, drive in runs, get on base – among left-fielders, the position he played for much of 14-year career. He is one of just four players in major-league history that played at least two-thirds of their games in left, and accumulated at least 1,200 RBI, 300 homers, 450 doubles and 700 walks.

The others: Ted Williams, Luis Gonzalez and Barry Bonds.

Holliday wasn’t the only Yankee that entered the record books on Wednesday night – though Tyler Clippard did so in the ugliest way possible. He was inserted in the ninth inning for mop-up duty, and then immediately gave up a booming double to the first batter he faced, and a two-run homer to the next guy, before Joe Girardi mercifully pulled him from the game without getting an out.

Combined with his dreadful outing less than 24 hours earlier (see above), Clippard became the first pitcher in Yankee history to allow at least two earned runs and two extra-base hits in back-to-back appearances of one-third of an inning or fewer.

(AP)
(AP)

No lead is safe
Deja vu was the theme of Thursday night’s brutal loss as the Yankees once again found themselves in an early hole, then quickly rallied to take the lead, only to have the bullpen (and some sloppy defense) set fire to that mid-game optimism, resulting in another disgusting defeat.

It was their sixth loss this season when entering the seventh inning with a lead, matching the same number of losses they had in that situation as all of last year. They also got charged with their 13th blown save of the season, one shy of the Tigers for the most in the majors. At this point last year (game number 70), the Yankees had just four blown saves. And it was the third time this year they lost a game after leading by four or more runs. Yup, you guessed it, that’s the same number of such losses they suffered the entire 2016 season.

The difference on Thursday was that Dellin Betances hopped on the Struggle Bus, coughing up two runs on two hits (single and double). In his first 24 appearances of the season combined, he had surrendered only two runs (one earned) and had yet to give up an extra-base hit.

The night actually started on a high note when Aaron Judge crushed his 25th homer of the season in the second inning to straightaway center and deep into Monument Park, giving the Yankees a 5-1 cushion. It was his MLB-leading 15th longball with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph; last year’s leaders in 110-plus mph home runs (Nelson Cruz, Giancarlo Stanton) had 14 … for the entire season.

Of course, he’s not just obliterating the Statcast leaderboards, he’s making a mockery of the Yankee and major-league record books too.

  • His 25 homers are just four shy of the Yankee rookie record set by Joe DiMaggio in 1936.
  • He’s just the fifth Yankee age 25 or younger to hit 25-or-more homers before the All-Star break (since the game was first played in 1933). The others you might have heard of: Mickey Mantle (1956) and Roger Maris (1960).
  • Judge is the second Yankee right-handed batter to reach 25 home runs before the All-Star break, joining a fella named Alex Rodriguez in 2007

And, finally, Judge is the only MLB rookie outfielder ever to hit at least 25 homers before the All-Star break. #AllRise

Mailbag: Vogt, Moran, Bird, Adams, Judge, Betances, Shreve

I’ve been busy the last few days, so I didn’t have much time for mailbaggin’. Only eight questions this week. These things used to only be three or four questions, you know. Now eight qualifies as small. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. Send questions there.

Vogt. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty)
Vogt. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty)

Mike asks: Do you believe in Stephen Vogt?

I believe in Stephen Vogt. The Athletics designated Vogt for assignment yesterday as part of their renewed emphasis on youth. Vogt is gone, Trevor Plouffe is gone, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time until Jed Lowrie, Yonder Alonso, and Rajai Davis are gone too. The A’s are going young.

Vogt, 32, was hitting .217/.287/.357 (73 wRC+) with four homers in 174 plate appearances this year — Chris Carter went into last night’s game hitting .201/.287/.384 (77 wRC+) — after being an All-Star in 2015 and 2016. His production has dropped from a 116 wRC+ in 2015 to a 93 wRC+ in 2016 to a 73 wRC+ in 2017. That is: bad. And yet, there is this:

  • Vogt is a career .260/.320/.428 (106 wRC+) hitter against righties.
  • He’s a left-handed hitter who can take advantage of the short porch. Example: this homer.
  • He can play first base, fake the outfield, and be an emergency third catcher.
  • Vogt is an A+ clubhouse dude. He’s awesome. Example: his NBA referee impression.
  • If he gets released, Vogt can be signed for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.

The Yankees gotten nothing from first base this year. Stephen Vogt has been very bad this year! Can he better in Yankee Stadium while limited to platoon duty? Maybe! Now that Aaron Hicks is healthy, the Yankees don’t need Mason Williams on the bench. Sending down Williams for Vogt and giving him a chance at first base could be an upgrade. Probably not, but maybe so.

Here’s the thing though: I don’t think the A’s will release Vogt, and he definitely won’t elect free agency because he has fewer than five years of service time, meaning he’d forfeit the remainder of his $2.965M salary by electing free agency, and that’s not happening. The A’s will outright him to Triple-A and stash him as depth. I wouldn’t trade anything to get him nor would I take on the salary via waivers. If the A’s do release Vogt, sure, see if he’ll come to New York. If they don’t release him, then forget it.

Colin asks: Colin Moran, top college bat, high draft pick, local kid. The Astros are all locked up in the infield (although with Gleyber going to 3rd maybe the Yankees are now). He’s 25 and seemingly figuring it out, would it be possible to pry someone like that away on the cheap side?

Eh, I’m not sure he’s figuring it out as much as he is repeating Triple-A. Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, is hitting .279/.340/.541 (122 wRC+) with 16 homers, 17.6% strikeouts, and 8.2% walks in 57 Triple-A games this year. He’s a left-handed hitter known more for his level swing than his power. MLB.com ranks him as the 23rd best prospect in the Astros’ system. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Known for his pure left-handed swing and his ability to barrel balls easily while controlling the strike zone … His approach and relatively flat stroke yield below-average power, however, and he’s not the walk machine he was in college at North Carolina. Moran contributes little value beyond his bat, so he’ll have to boost his projection to become a big league regular … He has the hands and solid arm to play the hot corner, though Moran lacks range there. He’s a well below-average runner whose only other defensive option is first base.

The ‘Stros have Alex Bregman at third base and Yulieski Gurriel at first — plus A.J. Reed is waiting in Triple-A — so there’s no real spot for Moran going forward. He has a minor league option remaining for next season, so I suppose the Astros could stash him in Triple-A for another year as a depth option. They don’t have to move him anytime soon.

The Yankees don’t have a clear cut long-term third baseman. Gleyber Torres is awesome, though his recent Tommy John surgery throws a wrench into things. If nothing else, it delays his arrival. I am a big Miguel Andujar fan, but prospects are suspects until they prove otherwise. Could the Yankees get Moran for a similar busted former top prospect like, say, Mason Williams? It would be worth it given the uncertainty surrounding third base. Moran is by no means a “must acquire” though.

Jake asks: Given Bird’s setback and the likely probability that Detroit will sell, Alex Avila seems like a good fit. He’s on a prove-it contract that expires at the end of this year, he’s played first in the past, and he’s slashing well (including getting on base at a career-best .432 clip). Is he worth the risk?

Interesting! Avila has played 35 games at first base the last two seasons, so it’s not completely new to him, plus you could always stick him behind the plate. Avila is hitting .314/.437/.587 (172 wRC+) with ten homers on the season, easily his best year at the plate, because he’s doing the “hit more fly balls” thing (like Yonder Alonso):

alex-avila-batted-balls

If Greg Bird continues to have injury issues, Avila would be a nifty little pickup. He’d slide right into Bird’s roster spot as the left-handed hitting first baseman (slash catcher), and he’d give the Yankees a nice platoon option against righties. Plus, left-handed hitter and the short porch! Those two things always mix well. I wonder whether the Yankees could get him for someone like Ben Heller or Jonathan Holder. I can’t imagine Avila has much trade value despite his great start. Getting him for an extraneous reliever (the Tigers are in perpetual need of bullpen help) would work.

Bobby asks (short version): Given that the Yankees drafted numerous players at the bottom of the draft who are early round talents, is there any chance that the Yankees would decide to go crazy and sign all of them to multi-million dollar bonuses? They would have to forfeit their first round pick in the next two drafts and pay 100% tax on the overage.

No team has ever exceeded their bonus pool to the point where they forfeit future draft picks and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. It is an interesting idea though. In the late rounds this year, the Yankees drafted one bonafide first round talent (Alabama HS RHP Tanner Burns) and two players who could be first round picks next year with healthy 2018 college seasons (Stanford RHP Tristan Beck and Louisville RHP Riley Thompson). Beck is a potential top ten pick next year.

Exceeding your bonus pool by 15% or more means forfeiting your next two first round picks and paying a 100% tax on the overage. If the Yankees were to give those three players first round money, say $2.5M to $3M each, they’d be way over their $6.91M bonus pool. Let’s call it $3M each. That means paying $9M in bonus, $9M in tax, and giving up their first round picks in 2018 and 2019. But! You are adding three first round caliber talents to the organization right now. I think this is seriously worth considering when you’re talking about signing more than two such players. Doing it for one doesn’t make sense. But three? It’s not a bad idea. I don’t see the Yankees doing it though.

Michael asks: With the hole at first base who would you acquire? Any thoughts on Matt Adams? He’s cheap and controllable beyond this year.

I’ve never been a big Adams guy but he has been raking since getting traded to the Braves: .294/.346/.647 (148 wRC+) with eleven homers in 30 games prior to last night. Unless you think he’s a new player for some reason — and there’s nothing in the underlying numbers to suggest this is something more than a hot streak — Adams is the same guy he was with the Cardinals a few weeks ago. Atlanta gave up a non-top 30 organizational prospect to get him (Juan Yepez) and that’s all I’d give up to get him now. I’m not paying a bigger price because he had a month long hot streak with the Braves that will in no way benefit me. If the Yankees can get Adams for a non-top 30 guy, say Abi Avelino or Chris Gittens, do it. That’s about my limit here.

Henry asks: without seeing the numbers the eyeball test is telling me that Judges K rate has been climbing. It seems like he is maybe a little frustrated by the lack of good pitches in the zone and hes swinging more at the low and away out of the zone. It also looks that he might be sitting fastball a bit too much as im seeing him take a lot of loopy curves down the middle. do the numbers and your opinion back this up?

Aaron Judge‘s strikeout rate spiked in May and has stayed at the same level since. He was running a 29.8% strikeout rate heading into last night’s game. Here’s the graph:

aaron-judge-strikeout-rate

Twenty-eight of Judge’s 87 strikeouts this season have been looking, or 32.2%. The MLB average is 23.3%. I’m guessing all those low strikes he keeps getting called against him has something to do with that. It does seem like Judge has been caught looking a little more often the last few weeks — I could be completely wrong — and maybe that means he’s caught in between a bit. He’s looking fastball but gets a breaking ball, and vice versa. That sorta thing. Judge is striking out a lot, but man, whatever he’s doing, it’s working. Keep doing it.

Michael asks: Is DiDi’s very low walk rate concerning to you? There have been 208 players with 190+ PA and DiDi is ranked 204th with a BB% of just 3.1.

Nah. I wish Didi Gregorius would walk more, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. This is who he is. He’s a free swinger. And it works for him! Didi makes plenty of contact and he can hit the ball over the fence. I’d just let him be. Swinging is in his DNA so let him do it. If Gregorius wasn’t producing or if the Yankees had six or seven hitters like this in the lineup, it would be a problem. But he’s been hitting and, by and large, the Yankees have a patient lineup. One (or two, really, counting Starlin Castro) free swinger ain’t the end of the world.

Daniel asks: I don’t have video evidence, but it seems to me that Betances has seriously closed off his stance on the mound. What do you think? With Shreve doing the same, does two make a trend?

Both Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve have closed their deliveries this year. Here’s what I mean:

dellin-betances-chasen-shreve-2016-vs-2017

One of the ex-pitcher YES Network broadcasters spoke about this a few weeks ago. I think it was David Cone. He said closing up like that — Betances and Shreve are practically showing their number to the hitter now — helps the pitcher stop from flying open out front. They stay back better and can more easily maintain their balance through their delivery. That’s what the broadcaster (again, Cone, I think) said, so take their word for it.

Shreve is throwing harder this season. His average fastball is 92.9 mph, up from 92.2 mph the last two years, and his max velocity has jumped from 94.8 mph to 95.7 mph. Basically one full mile-an-hour. That’s not nothing. I have no idea whether the slight velocity jump is due to closing up his delivery, but I suppose it could be related. The fact two pitchers on the same staff have done this now, closed up their delivery, leads me to believe it’s not a coincidence. The coaching staff encouraged this. And hey, given the way Betances and Shreve have pitched this year, it seems it be working.

Yankees melt down late to lose 10-5 to the Angels

The Yankees only won 2 out of 6 against the Mike Trout-less Angels team this season, which is not good! They lost 8 of the last 9, which is also not good. Because the Red Sox aren’t playing tonight, the Yankees still stay in the first place (albeit tied), which just seems like a miracle. They had a 5-1 lead tonight that evaporated away for a 10-5 loss. Gross.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Taking the lead

Things did not start great for the Yankees. Cameron Maybin drove the second pitch of the game over the left field fence for a home run. But don’t worry, the Yankee bats are in town! They tied it up on the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked, and Starlin Castro singled to drive a run in to make it 1-1.

The Yankees blew it open (or so it seemed) in the second with four runs. With one out, Chris Carter doubled to get on base. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with a line drive that hit Jesse Chavez on the hip and became a single. Ouch. That seemed painful for Chavez but thankfully, he was able to stay in the game. Brett Gardner drove Carter in with a force out at second and Aaron Hicks extended the inning with a single to make it runners on corners.

Aaron Judge, being the Aaron Judge he is, did what he does the best – working the count and hitting big home runs. On a 3-2 count, Judge got a 90 mph fastball down the middle and drove it into the Monument Park to make it 5-1 Yankees. It was his 25th of the year. A big lead early in the game! With your best starter out there, it would be a walk in the park for the Yankees for the rest of the game, right? Nope. That’s why you gotta play it out.

The Angels got two right back in the top of the third. The Angels got two baserunners on with a Cliff Pennington single and Maybin walk. Kole Calhoun grounded into a force out at second to make it two outs with runners on the corners. Albert Pujols got a hold of Severino’s slider for an RBI single to right field. Yunel Escobar followed it up with another RBI single to make it 5-3 Yankees. Ho-hum, a two run lead. It was still early in the game and you could bank on the Yankee bats on scoring more runs (they didn’t). Halos got another run in the sixth with an Escobar double and a Luis Valbuena RBI single. Heading into the seventh, Yankees had a 5-4 lead…

The meltdown

Top of the seventh, with Severino on the mound, the plan seemed clear: let him have one more inning, then have Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman take care of the last two, right? That is how it should have went, but the Angels had different ideas. Pennington singled to lead off the inning. Maybin followed it up with a grounder to second… that subtly changed its course right before Castro was about to catch it. As a result, the ball went past Castro as he stumbled for an error. Oof. That should have been an easy double play. To be fair, the ball did have a really funky hop and not a lot of infielders would have made such last-split-second adjustment to field it successfully. Anyways, that made it runners on corners with no out. Joe Girardi went to Chasen Shreve and that was it for Severino tonight.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Angels tied the game up with a Calhoun sac fly to center. Girardi then played mix-and-match by putting in Betances to face Pujols. During the at-bat, Maybin attempted to steal second and Gary Sanchez‘s throw sailed way over Castro and allowed Maybe  to advance to third. Yeesh. Some sloppy baseball going on right here. Anyways, Pujols singled off Betances’ 99 mph fastball to make it 6-5 Angels. The next hitter, Yunel Escobar, walked to make it runners on first and second. With Valbuena batting, Betances unleashed a wild pitch way over and outside to put both runners on scoring position. One batter later, Andrelton Simmons jumped on the first pitch for a two-RBI double, making it 8-5 Angels. Welp. Betances had allowed only 9 hits this whole season prior to this game. He allowed two tonight. The Simmons double was also the first XBH he’s allowed all year. It was that kind of night.

The Angels tacked on two in the eighth against Domingo German. It involved even more sloppy baseball. With one out, Pennington doubled and a wild pitch advanced him to third. Maybin walked to make it runners on corners. During Calhoun’s at-bat, German made a pickoff attempt to first but the errant throw got past Carter, scoring Pennington and advancing Maybin to third. Calhoun followed it up with a sac fly to make it 10-5 Angels. The score remained this way for good. Definitely not the pinnacle of the Yankees season.

Leftovers

Chris Carter probably had the quietest 2-for-4 game that I can remember in awhile. He had that double to start the second-inning rally. Sure, the bats scored five but from the third inning till end, they only managed three baserunners. With the rotation and bullpen not performing to their strength lately, the team needs as much runs as possible.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph.


Source: FanGraphs


New series tomorrow. The Rangers are in town and we have a Japanese pitching matchup – Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound against Yu Darvish.

DotF: Wagaman homers twice in Pulaski’s season opener

Here are the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees called up LHP Tyler Webb, they announced earlier today. UTIL Rob Refsnyder was sent down to clear a roster spot. Webb, the team’s tenth round pick in 2013 and LHP Jordan Montgomery‘s former college teammate, spent nearly all of the last four seasons with Triple-A Scranton. Cool to see him get the call. Webb has a 3.24 ERA (2.14 FIP) with 47 strikeouts and only three walks in 33.1 innings this season.
  • SS Gleyber Torres told Conor Foley and D.J. Eberle he is heading to Tampa on Saturday following yesterday’s Tommy John surgery. He’ll rest the next two weeks before beginning rehab work. Apparently Torres was told he could be ready to play by November, which means winter ball could be in play, though I don’t see that happening. The Yankees won’t push their top prospect. Gleyber said he’s focused on Spring Training.
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been placed on the 7-day DL, the RailRiders announced. Foley says Higashioka is dealing with bad lower back spasms. He was supposed to see a doctor today, and if they’re calling it spasms, I guess that means there’s no structural damage. That’s good.
  • No Triple-A Scranton players lead their positions in the All-Star Game fan voting. Here’s the update. RHP Chance Adams does lead the write-in votes, however. Lehigh Valley fans are really stuffing the ballot, it seems. Voting ends tomorrow. Here’s the ballot.
  • Two links to check out: Chris Crawford asked executives whether they’d take the Yankees farm system or the Braves farm system, and Jim Callis listed OF Clint Frazier as a potential impact prospect for the second half.

Triple-A Scranton (11-1 with over Pawtucket)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — three straight games with a homer … here’s video of the double and home run
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4
  • RF Jake Cave: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — four homers in his last six games
  • LF Mark Payton: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — some team’s future fourth outfielder is hitting .293/.350/.421 on the season
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 5/5 GB/FB — 60 of 100 pitches were strikes … has a 43.7% ground ball rate this year, which is pretty terrible for a good pitching prospect in the minors … the book on him is that he doesn’t get great downhill plane on his fastball (he’s only 6-foot-1) and his heater can be pretty straight … I worry that when he comes up, he’ll initially be really home run prone, especially with the ball flying out of the park all around the league this season
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 19 of 30 pitches were strikes (63%)

[Read more…]

Game 70: Win the Series

(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

The Yankees snapped a seven-game losing streak last night, and regained control of first place in the AL East. A win tonight would give them a full one-game lead over the idle Red Sox heading into the weekend, which would be surprisingly comforting given how close the divisional standings have become. And it will largely be up to Luis Severino – the team’s de facto ace – to get them there.

Severino will face what may well be the Angels best lineup without Mike Trout. That may sound like a joke, but the offense has been surprisingly potent in his absence. Joe Girardi will counter with this:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Aaron Hicks, CF
  3. Aaron Judge, RF
  4. Matt Holliday, DH
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Gary Sanchez, C
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS
  8. Chris Carter, 1B
  9. Ronald Torreyes, 3B

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM EST, and you can catch the game on WPIX.

Other teams are happy with trades they’ve made with the Yankees, and that’s a good thing

Goody. (Ed Zurga/Getty)
Goody. (Ed Zurga/Getty)

Now that the amateur draft is over, teams have shifted in trade deadline mode. Scouts are all over potential trade targets and front offices are talking to each other a little more often with each passing week. The trade deadline is five weeks and four days away now. So close and yet so far. Plenty of time for deal-making.

The Yankees, despite their recent issues winning games, are in good position heading into the trade deadline. They can take on money, as always, and they have a robust farm system with every type of prospect imaginable. Impact players close to MLB? Yep. Lower level lottery tickets? They have them too. Power arms? Toolsy projects? Sleepers? You name it and the Yankees have it. They can put together a competitive trade package for any player.

Another thing the Yankees have going for them leading into the deadline is their trade reputation. As fans, we spend an awful lot of time talking about who won or who lost a trade. It’s what we do. Ask folks in baseball though, especially those actually calling the shots and making trades, and they’ll tell you the best trades are the ones that benefit both teams. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that over the years, an executive saying win-win trades are the best.

Over the last two or three years, the Yankees have made more than a few trades that have worked out pretty darn well for the other team. The notable exception is the Aaron Hicks trade. I have no idea what happened to John Ryan Murphy. The poor kid is hitting .231/.306/.362 (85 wRC+) in Triple-A. Hicks has broken out this year after a rough first season in pinstripes. Maybe Murphy will figure it out and this will go eventually down as a win-win. Right now it doesn’t look good for the Twins.

Here is a sampling of young players the Yankees have traded away since the start of the 2015-16 offseason. I’m emphasizing young players here because they’re typically unknowns. The Indians knew what they were getting in Andrew Miller, you know? Same with the Astros and Brian McCann, the Cubs and Aroldis Chapman, and the Rangers and Carlos Beltran. Anyway, here are some traded Yankees:

  • Nick Goody, Indians: 1.29 ERA (3.87 FIP) with 25.2% strikeouts in 28 innings.
  • James Pazos, Mariners: 2.01 ERA (2.87 FIP) with 29.7% strikeouts in 31.1 innings.
  • Ben Gamel, Mariners: .351/.411/.485 (146 wRC+) in 220 plate appearances.
  • Jose Pirela, Padres: .351/.422/.596 (170 wRC+) in 64 plate appearances since being called up.

Among those not listed are Johnny Barbato, Vicente Campos, and the four kids the Yankees sent to the Reds for Chapman. The Chapman trade was pretty unique in the grand scheme of things and I’m not sure we could ever count on something like that happening again. That deal didn’t work out too well for the Reds.

Anyway, the Yankees traded away those four players above — excess players on the margins of their 40-man roster — and now other teams are reaping the rewards. Gamel has been out of his mind with the Mariners. Goody and Pazos have been solid too. I suppose we shouldn’t count Pirela because he was non-tendered over the winter and could have signed with any team, but he’s still an ex-Yankee, and he’s playing well for the team they traded him too.

That all reflects well on the Yankees. Make a trade with New York, even for lower profile guy squeezed off their roster, and you have a chance to get a pretty useful player. And the Yankees have a lot of guys about to be squeezed off their roster! The upcoming 40-man roster/Rule 5 Draft crunch is real. Some of those guys will be put on the 40-man, some will be traded. And some guys on the 40-man now will be traded to clear roster space for those guys.

Back in the day the Braves had a reputation for trading pitchers who got hurt. Bubba Nelson, Dan Meyer, Jose Capellan … those dudes were all top 100 prospects with the Braves who got traded and broke down almost immediately. It happened so fast there was talk Atlanta traded them knowing they were injured. And, for a while, no teams wanted to trade with the Braves. The whole injured pitching prospects thing sullied their reputation.

It worked out for the Braves in that they traded those guys and got value out of them before they broke down, but, in the grand scheme of things, it hurt them in the long-term because making trades became that much more difficult. And maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe the goal should be to win every trade and make sure the other team loses the trade. I don’t agree with that though. Win-win trades are cool. The more people who end up happy, the better.

Over the next five weeks — really beyond that considering waiver trades — Brian Cashman and the Yankees will explore the trade market and look for ways to improve the roster. That could be short-term help for a playoff push or a long-term addition with a dynasty in mind. And when he’s talking trades, Cashman can point to his recent track record of sending teams good players. That does nothing but help. The club’s trade reputation is strong.