DotF: Judge, Sanchez, and Refsnyder continue hot streaks in Scranton’s win

Some notes:

  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, reports Shane Hennigan. He’s from the Scranton area, so that’s cool. Wotherspoon has emerged as a sleeper because he’s throwing 94 mph with both a curveball and a slider. So far this season he has a 1.06 ERA (1.85 FIP) with a 33.3% strikeout rate in 17 innings with Trenton. RHP Vinnie Pestano was placed on the DL to clear a roster spot. I’m not sure what the actual injury is.
  • Also going to Triple-A is RHP Mark Montgomery, so says Matt Kardos. LHP Dan Camarena has been sent down to Double-A in a corresponding move. Montgomery has a 2.25 ERA (2.56 FIP) in eight innings with Trenton this year. He’s struck out eleven and walked six. Montgomery has split the last three seasons between Double-A and Triple-A.
  • To replace Wotherspoon in Trenton, the Yankees signed RHP David Kubiak out of an independent league and assigned him to Double-A, per Kardos. Kubiak, 26, threw 25.1 innings in rookie ball with the Rays in 2011. He’s been bouncing around indy leagues since. Kubiak allowed four runs with 20 strikeouts and two walks in 11.1 innings with Bridgeport Bluefish this year.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles, two homers, four walks, and three strikeouts in his last six games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 3-5, 1 SB — 15-for-45 (.333) with six doubles and a homer in his last eleven games
  • LF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 1 R
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 3-5, 2 RBI, 1 SB — 14-for-36 (.389) during his nine-game hitting streak … second straight game in right field, and Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings it was Refsnyder’s idea to spend some time in the outfield
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 11/1 GB/FB — 65 of 92 pitches were strikes (71%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Phil Coke: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 19 pitches were strikes (63%) … back into a relief role after making a spot start a few days ago
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes … 19/3 K/BB in 13 innings for the three-time Tommy John surgery guy

[Read more…]

Game 25: Stage Three


I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve reached the third stage of grief over the Yankees being so unwatchably bad. I’ve already gone through denial (“It’s just a slump, they’ll be fine”) and anger (“Blow this crapfest up”), and now I’m in the bargaining phase. Just win a game, please? Score some runs, get good pitching, that’s all I ask. I’m a simple man. I guess depression and acceptance can’t be too far away now. Sigh.

Anyway, the Yankees could really use a win! They have 138 games remaining including tonight, and eventually they need to win one (or, preferably, 80) of them. Even by accident. You’d think they would luck into some hits with men on base or get a random great pitching performance one of these days. Hasn’t happened yet though. Each game is better than the next. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Chase Headley
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cool and cloudy in Baltimore tonight, though there is no rain in the forecast. That’s good. I think. Today’s game is going to start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: In case you missed it earlier, Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain. Lefty James Pazos was called up to fill the roster spot.

TiqIQ: Fresh Off Series Sweep, Yankees Look to Avoid Brooms Against Red Sox Again This Weekend

The downward spiral continued for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, as they dropped their sixth straight game, and will crawl to the end of a nine-game road stint in Baltimore on Thursday. The Bombers will return to the Bronx for a ten-game stretch of their own beginning this Friday, hoping to jump start the homestand with a big weekend against the red-hot Boston Red Sox.

Sure, there are more desirable teams the Yankees would rather face given their sluggish start, but the basement dwellers have a chance to right the ship with a good showing at the Stadium this weekend. And for fans who remain optimistic about the team’s early-season woes, plenty of deals still exist for Yankees tickets for this weekend’s series.

The Red Sox make the first of three trips to Yankee Stadium this season looking to regain the divisional lead in the AL East. They did so last week after sweeping the Yankees at Fenway Park, where they decimated Yankees pitching and scored 20 runs during the three-game series. Friday night’s series opener will see Michael Pineda start for the Yankees against Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello. While the bleacher sections are sold out, upper deck seating starts from just $21.

On Saturday, Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound in search of his second win of the season against newly-signed Red Sox ace David Price. Price has been hit early and often this season but a formidable offense has allowed him to start the season 4-0 despite his 6.14 ERA. There is limited ticket inventory available for the matinee game, however, and the cheapest seats are listed from $53 in Section 231.

ESPN’s Baseball Tonight will broadcast the final game of the series on Sunday night. Luis Severino will be in search of his first win of the year after starting the season 0-4. The Braves will give the nod to Steven Wright, who sits at 2-3 and is coming off a loss against the Chicago White Sox. It will be the cheapest game of the series, with outfield bleacher seats starting from just $17.

While the Yankees have struggled to find any sense of balance through the first month of play, there is plenty of excitement surrounding Aroldis Chapman’s debut in pinstripes next week. Chapman is nearing the end of a 30-game suspension and will provide a boost to a bullpen that already features Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Miller has been sensational thus far, allowing just four hits in 10 innings of work. However, the Miller-Chapman tandem can only go as far the offense takes them, and the bats will need to wake up beginning this weekend if the Yankees hope to curb a streaking Red Sox team.

Yankees place A-Rod on 15-day DL with hamstring strain, call up James Pazos

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Yankees placed Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain this afternoon, the team announced. Left-hander James Pazos has been called up to fill the roster spot on what I assume is a temporary basis. No 40-man roster moves are required or anything like that.

A-Rod left last night’s game after coming up lame running out a ground ball in the fifth inning. Here’s video of the injury. Rodriguez was replaced by pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley in the eighth inning, and the Yankees sent him for an MRI this morning. There’s no word on the severity of the strain just yet. Is this a two weeks thing or a two months thing?

The fact the Yankees called up a reliever — they’re two days into a 20 games in 20 days stretch — indicates they will play Ackley and Aaron Hicks more going forward, with the veteran regulars rotating in and out of the DH spot. Despite his slow start, I’m ready to see what Hicks can do on an everyday basis. I say run him out there full-time with A-Rod out.

The Yankees could and likely will call up another position player like Rob Refsnyder or Ben Gamel (or Aaron Judge or Nick Swisher) and get back to a normal four-man bench at some point during this 20-day stretch. For now, having the extra left-hander in the bullpen will be nice against the lefty heavy Orioles and Red Sox this week.

Rodriguez is only hitting .194/.275/.444 (100 wRC+) on the season overall, but he’s gone 7-for-20 (.350) with three home runs in his last six games, so he was heating up. The Yankees need all the offense they can get right now. A-Rod missed a few games but was able to avoid the DL after tweaking his oblique taking swinging in the batting cage between at-bats last week.

Girardi confirms Aroldis Chapman will take over as closer when he returns


According to Bryan Hoch, manager Joe Girardi confirmed Aroldis Chapman will indeed take over as the Yankees’ closer as soon as he returns from his suspension next Monday. They’re not going to ease him back into things and Andrew Miller‘s otherworldly performance doesn’t mean he’ll remain in the ninth inning.

Chapman is scheduled to make tune-up appearances in Extended Spring Training today and Friday — today’s outing will likely be two innings, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild — before joining the team Monday. He’s been throwing in Tampa since the end of Spring Training and has been gradually increasing the intensity of his prep work.

I thought maybe the Yankees would ease Chapman back into things at first, perhaps with a low to medium leverage outing or two before taking over the ninth. In a perfect world, I bet the Yankees would like to see Aroldis come into Monday’s game to face the 7-8-9 hitters with a three-run lead. Nice and easy for his first game, you know? Just to get those first game jitters out of the way.

Miller has been out of this world so far this season. He’s allowed three singles and one double in ten scoreless innings, with 16 strikeouts and zero walks. Only eight of the 33 batters he’s faced have hit the ball out of the infield. Insanity. Miller has said all along he’ll pitch in any role and he seems sincere about it, so I don’t expect giving up the closer’s job to Chapman to be a problem.

Now, if Chapman comes in and blows one of his first save opportunities, then there will be some second guessing. That’s inevitable. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. Girardi likes to assign relievers set innings, so in all likelihood Miller will take over the eighth inning and Dellin Betances the seventh. I suppose he could mix and match Miller and Betances as necessary, though they’re so good against all hitters it won’t make much of a difference.

“I just think it makes our bullpen longer,” said Girardi to Hoch when asked about the impact of adding Chapman to the bullpen. “You use guys maybe a little bit differently, which I think helps … Let’s just see what we get into. Worry about that when he gets here.”

Getting Chapman back is not going to cure all that ails the Yankees, not even close, but it’s not going to hurt either. Adding this kind of talent to the roster only helps. We’ll see what kind of shape the bullpen is in next week, though the smart money is one Nick Goody going to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Chapman. Hopefully the Yankees start giving him some games to save.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: May 2011

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

It is time, once again, to go back and take a trip through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We’re now in May 2011, so the season is well underway and teams have started to get serious about prep work leading up to the trade deadline. The Yankees lost Andy Pettitte (retirement) and Cliff Lee (signed with the Phillies) in the offseason, but did add Rafael Soriano.

The big story heading into May 2011 was CC Sabathia‘s impending opt-out clause. That was a thing all season. Sabathia was still a bonafide front of the rotation workhorse at the time, and the possibility of losing him to the opt-out clause was scary, particularly after missing out on Lee. The Yankees were still looking for rotation help in May as well. Time to have some fun and dig back through old rumors.

May 1st, 2011: New York Notes: Lowe, Reyes, Mets, Ownership

The Braves could look to trade Derek Lowe even if they’re still in the playoff hunt, according to a scout who follows the team. Ken Davidoff of Newsday says the Yankees, who “negotiated seriously” with Lowe when he was a free agent, would be an obvious candidate to kick the tires on the right-hander if he’s available.

True fact: I wanted the Yankees to sign Lowe, not A.J. Burnett, during the 2008-09 offseason. Good thing that didn’t happen. Burnett at least gave the Yankees one really good year in 2009. Lowe came out of the gate with a 4.67 ERA (4.06 FIP) in the first year of his four-year, $60M deal with the Braves.

Atlanta did not trade Lowe during the 2011 season. They instead send him to the Indians in a pure salary dump trade after the season. Lowe didn’t pitch well in Cleveland in 2012 either, so they released him at midseason, at which point the Yankees picked him up off the scrap heap. He had a four-inning save in his first game in pinstripes. Remember?

May 1st, 2011: Kevin Millwood Opts Out Of Contract

11:23am:’s Buster Olney confirms (via Twitter) that Millwood has opted out of his contract with the Yankees.

Millwood was very weirdly a hot topic for a few weeks back in 2011. It appeared the Yankees had major rotation issues and he was a familiar name, but he was also 36 years old and coming off a season with a 5.10 ERA (4.86 FIP) for the Orioles. There’s nothing wrong with a minor league deal though, so the Yankees signed him, Millwood allowed eight runs in nine Triple-A innings, then opted out. He later spent some time in Triple-A with the Red Sox before the Rockies let him make nine starts that year. The infatuation with Millwood was always a bit odd to me.

May 3rd, 2011: Minor Deals: Halsey, Cintron

The Yankees have signed left-hander Brad Halsey to a minor league contract, according to the AP (via the Washington Post). Halsey began his MLB career with the Yankees, who drafted him in 2002, but he hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2006. The 30-year-old has a 4.84 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 286 1/3 career innings for the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Athletics.

Ergh. Halsey, who the Yankees sent to the Diamondbacks in the Randy Johnson trade, had his career sabotaged by major shoulder problems. He had a 7.52 ERA in 32.1 minor league innings with the Yankees in 2011 and never pitched again after that. Halsey had drug problems throughout his career and was killed in a fall in 2014. Josh Peters wrote about Halsey’s career and off-the-field problems. Really sad stuff. He died at 33.

May 5th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Russo, Prospects, Granderson

The Yankees explored trading Kevin Russo during Spring Training, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).  Sherman notes that New York could take Russo off their 40-man roster to make room for Jorge Vazquez as a replacement for the injured Eric Chavez, though Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog believes Ramiro Pena will be called up instead.

Russo had his moments with the Yankees in 2010 (this game and this game, most notably) but there was no role for him on the 2011 team. He was a classic versatile/good stats minor leaguer who looked maybe like he could be a useful bench player, but it didn’t happen. The Yankees designated Russo for assignment literally the day after Sherman’s report, and he later cleared waivers and remained in the organization as a non-40-man roster player. Russo never did get back to MLB after 2010. He did hit .249/.301/.315 in an independent league last year though.

May 6th, 2011: Yankees Claim Jess Todd

The Yankees claimed right-hander Jess Todd off of waivers from Cleveland, the Indians announced. The Indians had designated Todd for assignment on April 30th.

Jess Todd is definitely a real person and not someone made up. For a while Todd and Chris Perez were supposed to be the long-term 1-2 punch in the Cardinals bullpen, but Perez was traded away and Todd never panned out. He allowed two runs in 1.2 innings with Triple-A Scranton before being released. Unlike Perez, Todd was still active full-time last season. He had a 5.51 ERA in 81.2 innings with Boston’s Triple-A club. He is not pitching anywhere this season as far as I can tell.

May 8th, 2011: New York Notes: Reyes, Jeter, Logan, Pridie

Within a piece about slow starters, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says he talked to 12 scouts or officials and not a single one believes Derek Jeter will “approach his old self.”

This is why scouts make the big bucks, folks. It takes a trained eye to tell you 38-year-old Jeter will not approach his old self, especially coming off a season in which he hit .270/.340/.370 (93 wRC+). Of course, Jeter then went out and hit .297/.355/.388 (104 wRC+) in 2011, and followed it up with a .316/.362/.429 (117 wRC+) effort in 2012. Sometimes scouts screw up the easy ones too.

May 10th, 2011: New York Notes: Jeter, Berkman, Mets

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out, it’s easy to forget that the Yankees declined their 2011 option for Lance Berkman. The switch-hitter has been among the best hitters in baseball this year, but the Yankees couldn’t have known that in the fall. At the time, they had a DH of their own (Jorge Posada) and Berkman’s $15MM option seemed steep, even for the Yankees.

This was a weird thing for Sherman to write because the Yankees agreed not to pick up Berkman’s option to get him to accept the trade, per Ken Rosenthal. He wanted to become a free agent after the season and test the open market. Besides, the Yankees had Posada at DH and Mark Teixeira at first base. There was no room for Fat Elvis even if they wanted to pick up the option. Facts get in the way of this LOLYanks story.

May 11th, 2011: Bartolo Colon Looks To Stem Cells For New Start

What’s to explain Colon’s resurgence, at age 37 and after five years dominated by shoulder and elbow problems?  According to a story in the Dominican daily Diario Libre, the new life in Colon’s arm could be partially attributable to two treatments of stem cells – or “células madre” as they’re called in the Dominican Republic, where Colon had the procedures. The doctors, Sergio Guzman and Leonel Liriano, told the newspaper they had envisioned using the treatment on Pedro Martinez, but they also sent “an invitation” out to Colon, which he accepted in March 2010. (Pedro’s invitation, the article says, is still open). Guzman was quick to insist, though, that when they took fatty tissue and bone marrow from Colon’s hip and injected it into injured tissues in his rotator cuff and elsewhere in his right shoulder, they weren’t doing anything revolutionary.

This was a big deal back in 2011. Colon was pretty awesome early that season — he had a 3.86 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 37.1 innings on the day of this report — and the doctors he used in the Dominican Republic were kinda shady, so suddenly performance-enhancing drugs entered the conversation. For what it’s worth, MLB looked into things and walked away satisfied. Of course, Colon was suspended 50 games after failing a PED test in August 2012 when he was with the Athletics, so yeah. The guy was as close to out of baseball as it gets in 2010. The Yankees took a chance on him and he has a 3.64 ERA (3.62 FIP) in 935.2 innings since. Wild.

May 13th, 2011: Quick Hits: Astros, Lincecum, Yankees, Beltran

Rosenthal says the Yankees shouldn’t rush lefty Manny Banuelos to the Majors. “Let Manny become Manny … No sooner than 2012,” Rosenthal writes.

There were an awful lot of Yankee fans who saw Banuelos strike out Kevin Youkilis with a 3-2 changeup in Spring Training in 2011 and deemed him MLB ready. That was weird. Banuelos, who was still only 20 at the time, had a 3.75 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 129.2 innings at Double-A and Triple-A in 2011. He made six minor league starts in 2012 before blowing out his elbow. Banuelos has been dealing with elbow problems ever since. That’s a shame. Calling him up 2011 was definitely a thing that was talked about. The Yankees never really needed him though.

May 14th, 2011: Jorge Posada May Be In Breach On Contract

7:31pm: Mired in a season-long slump, Jorge Posada pulled himself from tonight’s lineup according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman on the FOX Saturday Night broadcast. Posada had been penciled into the ninth spot in the order for the first time in 12 years, and ESPN’s Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that he refused to play for that reason. He has given no indication that he’s retiring.

This was ugly and Joe Girardi absolutely deserves some of the blame. Posada was not hitting at all — he went into that game with a .165/.272/.349 (68 wRC+) batting line — and Girardi was not wrong to move him down in the lineup, but he chose to bat Posada ninth for the first time during a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. Not the best timing. That was pretty embarrassing for Jorge.

That said, Posada had no right to pull himself from the lineup no matter how pissed off he was about batting ninth. There was talk he would retire, that he demanded a trade, that the Yankees would suspend him or even look to void his contract and call up Jesus Montero, all sorts of crazy stuff. Posada sat out a few days to collect himself before making an apology. The team accepted the apology and the matter was closed. That was rough though. The end of the line is rarely pretty for legacy players and Posada was certainly no exception.

May 17th, 2011: Yankees Sign Randy Flores

The Yankees signed lefty reliever Randy Flores to a minor league deal, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  The deal includes an opt-out, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX SportsJoel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the opt-out is before the All-Star break.

The Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano in the offseason and he almost instantly blew out his shoulder, leaving the team short a lefty reliever. (World Series hero Damaso Marte, who was still with the Yankees at the time, was hurt as well.) Flores was a depth pickup and he was okay with Triple-A Scranton (3.07 ERA in 29.1 innings), but apparently the Yankees didn’t like what they saw, so they released him. That 2011 season was Flores’ last as a player.

May 21st, 2011: Quick Hits: Branyan, Bedard, Vazquez, Turner

Joel Sherman of The New York Post points out that the Yankees once drafted Mets‘ infielder Justin Turner, but he turned down a $200K offer as 29th round pick in 2005 and returned to school for his senior season. Turner signed with the Reds for $50K as a seventh round pick in 2006, then was traded to the Orioles in the Ryan FreelRamon Hernandez swap and was later claimed off waivers by the Mets. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI against the Yanks last night.

Here is a mostly complete list of active big leaguers the Yankees drafted but did not sign: Turner, Jon Gray, Tyler Lyons, Jake Petricka, Gerrit Cole, Rob Scahill, Drew Storen, Tyler Ladendorf, Doug Fister, and Chris Davis. I think that’s all of them. Cole and Davis are the headliners, obviously. Storen and Fister are pretty big names too. Gray is a recent top prospect who is still cutting his teeth at the MLB level. Turner’s had some nice years recently and everyone else is an up-and-down depth player. Every team has a list of players like this though. They’ve all failed to sign a draft pick who went on to become a pretty good player down the line. The Yankees are not unique.

May 23rd, 2011: Quick Hits: Herrera, Bautista, Blevins

Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues points out that recently-designated southpaw Jerry Blevins could be an appealing option for the Yankees if they’re looking for more upside than Randy Flores offers.

This was when RAB made it big and first started appearing on MLBTR. I remember being all over Blevins in 2011. The A’s waived him like four times that year and every single time I said the Yankees should claim him. They never did. No one did, actually. Blevins remained with the A’s all season and for another two years as well.

Blevins, who was only 27 at the time, had five years of team control remaining including that 2011 season. He pitched to a 3.29 ERA (3.61 FIP) with +2.5 WAR in 216 relief innings during those five years of control. Lefties hit only .188/.251/.323 with a 28.3% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate against him during that time too. Lefties who are still in their 20s with an out-pitch breaking ball and a minor league strikeout rate over 30% are almost always worth a claim. SMH, Yankees. SMH.

May 25th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Soriano, Colon

A third MRI on Rafael Soriano‘s elbow has prompted the Yankees to send the pricey reliever to see Dr. James Andrews, report Mark Feinsand and Sean Brennan of the New York Daily News.  The writers note that this marks Soriano’s sixth elbow-related DL stint; he’s a survivor of Tommy John surgery and ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  I’m not sure what surgeries are left, but the decision by Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and Randy Levine to overrule GM Brian Cashman on this signing is looking bad.  If the team’s bullpen depth is compromised due to the Soriano injury, Cashman might be forced to throw more money and/or prospects at the situation.

Soriano’s first year in pinstripes was really bad. He was hurt for most of it, and when he did pitch, he wasn’t all that good: 4.12 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 39.1 innings. By the end of the season David Robertson had emerged as Mariano Rivera‘s primary setup man and Soriano was the seventh inning guy. Soriano really bailed the Yankees out when Mo got hurt in 2012, but yeesh, 2011 was bad. Real bad. That the signing cost the team a first round pick and came from over the baseball operations department’s head was a little extra salt in the wound too.

May 25th, 2011: Yankees Claim Kanekoa Texeira

The Yankees claimed right-handed reliever Kanekoa Texeira off of waivers, the Royals announced. Kansas City had designated the former Yankees farmhand for assignment last Wednesday.

Kanekoa! He is best known as the other guy the Yankees received from the White Sox in the Nick Swisher trade. He had a nice year with Double-A Trenton in 2009 (2.84 ERA and 3.64 FIP) before being picked by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft after the season. Texeira bounced from the Mariners to the Royals and then back to the Yankees. He was hurt and awful (11.74 ERA) in 2011, and he’s spent the 2012-16 seasons bouncing around the minors, Mexico, and independent leagues. He’s thrown 15 innings for the Braves’ Triple-A team this season, so he’s still out there slingin’.

May 27th, 2011: Quick Hits: McCourt, Abreu, Sizemore, Purcey

Joe Girardi said he could move Nick Swisher into a platoon with Chris Dickerson if Swisher doesn’t pick up his hitting from the left side of the plate, reports Wallace Matthews of  Swisher still has four months to get on track, but right now it looks like there’s no chance the Yankees will pick up his $10.25MM option for 2012.

When he woke up on May 27th, 2011, Swisher was hitting .204/.321/.289 (70 wRC+) with two home runs in 184 plate appearances. He was bad early that season. Swisher then hit .283/.396/.513 (146 wRC+) with 21 homers the rest of the way because he was quite good at baseball back in those days.

The “it looks like there’s no chance the Yankees will pick up his $10.25MM option for 2012″ comment was so far disconnected from reality though. Swisher was very good with the Yankees from 2009-10, and even if he stunk in 2011, his track record ensured he would get much more than $10.25M in free agency. At worst, the Yankees would have picked up the option and traded him. There was this very weird obsession with declining Swisher’s option after 2011. It make zero sense.

May 28th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Trade Calls, Myers, Scouts

Dan Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal wrote about the club’s pro scouting department, which helped unearth Bartolo Colon and others this offseason. “It’s easy to recommend a guy when the numbers are there,” said scout Tim Naehring. “The most difficult thing is feeling confident and putting in a report when the production isn’t there. The biggest challenge is sticking your neck out and saying,’I know there’s more in there. I know there’s better performance coming.'”

I’m not really sure I have much to add to this. I just thought it was a pretty cool comment. The Yankees hit the lottery with some scrap heap pickups back then, most notably Colon but also Freddy Garcia, Luis Ayala, and Eric Chavez. Naehring, by the way, took over as Brian Cashman’s right hand man this past offseason when Billy Eppler left to take over as Angels GM.

Poll: The Next Step with Luis Severino

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Last night, young right-hander Luis Severino made his fifth start of the season, and once again he was not good. He allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings and made a pair of carbon copy errors when he dropped a toss from Mark Teixeira because he was looking for first base rather than looking the ball into his glove. It was not a pretty night.

Through five starts Severino ranks 95th out of 101 qualified starters with a 6.31 ERA. His 4.44 FIP is better but still not good; it ranks 72nd out of those 101 pitchers. Also, his 13.8% strikeout rate ranks 94th. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Severino has been bad this season. You really have to squint your eyes for positives. (He has the tenth lowest walk rate at 4.3%, so yay?)

“If necessary,” said Brian Cashman to Chad Jennings yesterday afternoon when asked about the possibility of sending Severino to Triple-A. “If we feel that’s what has to take place, that’s definitely an avenue that’s open. Hopefully it doesn’t have to come to that, but if that’s what’s in his best interest, and therefore our best interest, that’s something I have no problem doing.”

After another rough start, the talk about sending Severino to the minors is only going to continue. The Yankees have a ready made rotation replacement in Ivan Nova, or, if you prefer, they could call up either Luis Cessa or Chad Green from Triple-A Scranton since both have pitched well overall. When a young pitcher struggles, he gets sent back to the minors. That’s the way it’s always been.

A week ago I said it was a bit too early to send Severino to Triple-A. Now, after another rough outing, a strong case can be made on both sides. There’s an argument to be made for sending Severino down and an argument to be made for keeping him here. I’m not convinced there’s a right answer at the moment either. Let’s look at the two sides.

The Case For Keeping Severino Around

The rough start to this season can make it easy to forget just how dominant Severino was in the minors. From 2014-15 he had a 2.45 ERA (2.42 FIP) with a 26.4% strikeout rate and a 6.3% walk rate in 212.2 minor league innings. He climbed from Low-A to Triple-A in the span of about 14 months. Severino allowed more than three runs only three times in 43 starts from 2014-15. He allowed more than two runs only ten times. Dominant.

Severino has mastered the minors. He can go down to Triple-A and overwhelm hitters with his fastball alone, and that doesn’t accomplish much developmentally. Severino, like everyone else ever, needs to be challenged to continue his development, and it was not until he got to the big leagues that he was challenged consistently.

As best I can tell, most of Severino’s issues right now are location related. He’s missing his spots and not by an inch or two either. I refer you back to Mark Trumbo’s first home run last night:

Luis Severino Mark Trumbo1

Yeah, Brian McCann wanted it down and away, and Severino threw it up and in. That’s a mistake you can get away with in the minors when you throw 95+ like Severino. Big league hitters will make you pay for that pitch. Triple-A hitters often do not. That pitch shows up as a K in the minor league box score and that K leaves out all the important stuff.

The Yankees can force Severino to work on specific things in the minors — you need to throw this many down and away sliders per start, etc. — though they’ll never be able to replicate the MLB atmosphere. The intensity and the quality of the competition is totally different. Severino could go down, dot the corners with sliders for a month, then come back up and struggle again because it’s a much different game in the show.

Remember, Severino is only 22 years old. He’s a young 22 too. His birthday is in February, so he’ll spend the entire season at that age. He still has a lot to learn, and it seems Severino has learned all he can in the minors given the success he had. The next phase of his development is learning how to get big league hitters out, and that’s not something you can do in Triple-A.

The Case For Sending Severino Down

Let’s start with this: Severino is not pitching well and these games count, so the Yankees should swap him out for a more effective pitcher. That’s pretty simple, right? At the end of the day, results are the only thing that matters in MLB. It’s all about wins and losses, and the current version of Severino is not getting the results that help the Yankees win.

Beyond that, the Yankees can more easily target specific deficiencies in Severino’s game in the minors. They can have him throw X number of whatever per start in Triple-A regardless of situation because the final score doesn’t matter. Sending players to the minors is not about stats. The Yankees won’t send Severino down, watch him pitch to a 2.00 ERA for six weeks, then call him back up because the results are good. Nope. You send a player down to work on specific things, and once the necessary improvement is there, the player comes back up.

There’s also the confidence factor to consider. Severino is only human. He’s struggling, and when you’re a young player who is experiencing failure for the first time, it can be easy to get down on yourself. Imagine how Severino must of have felt last night after giving up two dingers and making those two errors. That has to be tough. An assignment to Triple-A gives him a chance to catch his breath and experience some success again.

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Right now big league hitters are telling Severino he has to make adjustments to stick around, and the Yankees must decide whether they want him make those adjustments in the Bronx or in Scranton. We’re at the point now where having his conversation is not unwarranted. After one or two bad starts? Nah. Too soon to talk about it. But after five? Yeah, this is a thing now. What side of the argument are you on?

Should should the Yankees do with Severino?