Fan Confidence Poll: September 15th, 2014

Record Last Week: 3-4 (22 RS, 25 RA)
Season Record: 76-72 (577 RS, 606 RA, 70-78 pyth. record) 12.5 GB in ALE, 5.5 GB of WC
Opponents This Week: @ Rays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Blue Jays (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

McCann’s late homer not enough, O’s walk-off with 3-2 win

Source: FanGraphs

Is it bad this loss barely made me feel anything? The Yankees are out of the postseason race and they’ve been out-hit, out-pitched, out-defended, out-everythinged by the Orioles all season long. No reason to think that would change Sunday. Let’s recap the 3-2 walk-off loss:

  • #HIROK ‘n Roll: Late season fade? What late season fade. Hiroki Kuroda held the Orioles to one run on two doubles and four singles in seven innings on Sunday night, walking no one and striking out five. Seventeen of his 21 outs came on the infield. The O’s scored that one run on an Alejandro De Aza single and an Adam Jones double that deflected off the glove of a leaping Martin Prado at third base. Kuroda was sharp but got no run support. Story of his career.
  • Two Taters: The Yankees scored their two runs on solo homers. Prado took Chris Tillman deep leading off the second inning and Brian McCann took Darren O’Day deep with one out in the ninth. I didn’t think either was gone off the bat — doubles off the wall, if anything — but both managed to carry just over the wall and into the first row or two of seats. The club blew a first-and-third opportunity with no outs in the third inning, which was easily their best chance to push across some more runs. Oh well.
  • Blown: Following Saturday’s game, David Robertson told reporters he was sore after pitching in back-to-back games and throwing a season-high 35 pitches on Friday. Despite that, Joe Girardi called on him for the third straight day to protect the one-run lead. Robertson looked awful and was completely unable to locate. He got squared up three times in the span of four batters, which never ever happens. Nelson Cruz doubled, Steve Pearce doubled to tie the game, and Kelly Johnson doubled for the walk-off win. Girardi usually goes to great lengths to keep his relievers fresh, so using Robertson this much this weekend was out of character. Almost seems like the team isn’t all that invested in the future of their impending free agent closer.
  • Leftovers: Derek Jeter went 0-for-4, saw eleven total pitches, and is in an 0-for-24 slump. He’s down to .250/.298/.298 (67 wRC+) on the season … Prado and McCann had two hits each. The rest of the lineup had two hits total (Mark Teixeira and Stephen Drew). Chris Young drew their only two walks … Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, giving him 130 strikeouts on the season. That ties 1996 Mariano Rivera for the most strikeouts by a full-time reliever in team history. Mo did it in 107.2 innings, Betances in 86.2 innings … the Yankees are now 4-11 against the Orioles this season. is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees are now five games back of the second wildcard spot with 14 games to play. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 0.8% and their elimination numbers are two (AL East) and ten (wildcard). They’re off to Tampa next and will open a three-game series with the Rays on Monday night. Chris Capuano and Alex Colome will be the pitching matchup.

Game 148: Split

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

The Yankees managed to beat the Orioles yesterday afternoon, which is notable because they’ve beaten the O’s only four times in 14 tries this season. They had lost five straight to Baltimore before yesterday’s win. Winning tonight’s game would give the Yankees the series split, meaning they will have not lost a series to the O’s for the first time this season. Modest goals, I guess. Here’s the Orioles lineup and here’s the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. LF Brett Gardner
  4. 3B Martin Prado
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 1B Mark Teixeira
  7. DH Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. RF Antoan Richardson
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

It is cool and clear down in Baltimore tonight. Pretty much perfect September baseball weather. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy.

Weekend Mailbag: All about the shortstops

Just had a huge and delicious Sunday breakfast. Now have a cup of coffee and nothing particular on the agenda, so let’s get to answering some questions Mike didn’t get to in this week’s official mailbag.

Plenty of people wrote in with shortstop-themed questions, and Mike covered ones relating to Asdrubal Cabrera, trades, and Korean SS Jung-Ho Kang. Yet there were plenty more.

Alcides Escobar
(Credit: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

C.Roy asks: Could you see the Royals being willing to talk about Alcides Escobar in a trade this winter? I see it unlikely that we will fix our lack of power at the SS position and Escobar would provide great defense and one more solid leadoff type. Possibly get Beltran involved (eating money) to open DH for Arod and in turn 3B for Headley.

No, I don’t see the Royals shopping Escobar this winter. They’re right in the race this year and with some young players coming through the system I doubt they’re ready to sit back and start rebuilding. He’s also under contract and has pretty reasonable team options through 2017, so the Royals really have no reason to trade him.

Well, maybe they have one reason. Escobar isn’t a guy known for his bat, as C.Roy mentions in his question. Great on defense, not much of a bat. Sounds like someone else the Yankees have on the roster, Brendan Ryan. Yes, Escobar’s bat is considerably better than Ryan’s, but remember that Ryan once could hit a little bit. His OPS+ during prime years:

2009: 97
2010: 57
2011: 85

It’s only since 2012 that Ryan has been a complete and total zero with the bat. Escobar’s last three years, by OPS+:

2012: 96
2013: 53
2014: 87

Escobar is a bit younger than Ryan was from 2009-2011, so it’s not a straight comparison. But the point is that I wouldn’t place my bets on a light-hitting shortstop, especially as the league hits lighter and lighter.

Nik asks: The Yanks seemed to have had a dearth of OF’ers and catchers, even arms for the mound over the last large handful of years. Why is it so hard to find shortstops who can hit AND play serviceable d? Has the era of Jeter and Ripken passed? Or is it that the Yankees just decided “Well, Derek will play until he’s 55, we don’t need to worry about it…”??

Not sure how they have a dearth of catchers, unless by dearth you mean abundance, in which case sure, maybe. But that misses the larger part of the question.

Yes, the era of Ripken and Jeter has clearly passed. Offense is down league-wide, as it seems we say in every post these days. Of the 22 shortstops who have enough PA to qualify (and Troy Tulowitzki does not), only seven have a wRC+ over 100 (although another four have 98 or 99). Of those seven, three were below average last year. (Of the four with a 98 or 99 wRC+, three were worse in 2013.)

Point being, it’s incredibly difficult to find consistently good, healthy shortstops. In the last three years there are 26 shortstops who have 1,000 or more PA, and of them only eight have an above-average wRC+. Only 15 of them have 1,500 PA (so average of 500 per year, which is not that much).

Making matters worse, at least in terms of 2013 and 2014, is that the Yankees have Derek Jeter. Who’s going to sign with them to play backup to Jeter? Stephen Drew wouldn’t do it last year, even with Jeter’s status uncertain. As for grooming one through the minors: it sounds nice, but how many teams have developed everyday shortstops in the last five years?

Jon asks: Why not take a chance on Tulo next year?

For starters, he’s under contract with the Rockies through 2020, so it’s not as though the Yanks can just take a flier on him. The Rockies aren’t just going to give him away, even if they do owe him $118 million through 2020.

To that point, why would you want to take on the most expensive portion of that contract? Tulowitzki hasn’t played in nearly two months and he’s constantly hurt. Since 2012 he has 1090 PA, or 363 per season. He’s played more than 140 games just three times since coming up full-time in 2007.

What is a fair exchange for a super expensive player (Tulo got the 18th largest deal in MLB history despite never hitting free agency)? How much would the Rockies have to eat? How little would they take? No, I don’t think they’re parting ways with him this winter, just because doing so will be too complicated.

Minor League Notes: Newman, AzFL, Higashioka

A few days ago we learned the Pulaski Yankees of the rookie Appalachian League will be joining the organization as the Yankees’ eighth domestic minor league affiliate starting next season. The club will serve as a stepping stone between the two rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates and Short Season Staten Island. Here are some more minor league notes with the Arizona Fall League still more than three weeks away.

  • According to¬†George King, the Yankees have known about the impending retirement of VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman since February. He’s been with the team since 1988 and has been running for the running the farm system for the last 15 years now. King adds that special assistant Trey Hillman, who was tabbed as Newman’s likely replacement, may not be interested in the job. Hal Steinbrenner will conduct a “total evaluation” of the player development system after the season and it may result in a “complete overhaul.”
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been re-signed after becoming a six-year minor league free agent, according to Matt Eddy. Josh Norris adds Higashioka has been assigned to the Arizona Fall League as the team’s last position player. He missed most of these season following Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are sending several top prospects to the desert this year, including OF Aaron Judge, 3B Eric Jagielo, 1B Greg Bird, and OF Tyler Austin.
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder was named the second baseman for Baseball America’s Triple-A International League All-Star Team. No other Yankees’ farmhands made their classification All-Star Teams. SS Angel Aguilar, UTIL Bryan Cuevas, and OF Alex Palma all made the official GCL postseason All-Star Team.
  • Marc Hulet of FanGraphs reviewed the year the was in the team’s farm system. RHP Shane Greene and RHP Luis Severino understandably earned praise for their rises this season, albeit at very different levels.
  • And finally, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs put together a super early look at the 2015 draft class. Lots of names and lots of information. Make sure you check it out. The Yankees are currently slated to have the 18th overall pick.