Yankeemetrics: Surprising news, big wins [Aug. 5-7]

(AP)
(AP)

Tribute to Teix
The first stunning news conference of the weekend came just a couple hours before the opening game of this Yankees-Indians series, when Mark Teixeira announced that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season.

One of the defining numbers of Teixeira’s legacy is his unprecedented combination of power and defense, at a position where most players either excel in one of those two tools, but rarely both. Teixeira is the only first baseman with at least five Gold Gloves (awarded since 1957) and at least 400 homers.

Teixeira was also unique in that he produced at a high level right out the gate as a rookie, and showed impressive consistency during the prime years of his career. He reached the 25-homer mark in each of his first nine career seasons (2003-11), one of four players in major-league history to do that: Darryl Strawberry, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews are the others.

The next season he hit 38 homers and drove in 112 runs, kicking off an incredible eight-year run of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI. Among players that played at least 50 percent of their games at first base during the season, the only other guys to match that streak are Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

Teixeira was in the Bronx for less than a decade, but he still has a place alongside the all-time great first basemen to wear the pinstripes. He is one of three Yankee first baseman to compile at least 200 homers and 800 hits with the franchise. You might have heard of the others: Don Mattingly and Lou Gehrig.

Just hours after Teixeira’s emotional announcement, the Yankees took the field and produced one of their finest offensive performances of the season in routing the AL Central-leading Indians, 13-7.

Starlin Castro delivered the biggest blow of the game with his first career grand slam in the third inning. Thanks to that blast, Castro upped his batting average with the bases loaded this season to .429 (6-for-14 plus a sac fly), the second-highest in the majors among players with at least 15 plate appearances through Friday.

(Getty)
(Getty)

The letdown
The Yankees rollercoaster-like offense continued its up-and-down path, while another so-so performance from their starting pitcher doomed them in a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Saturday afternoon

Since the calendar flipped to August (and through Saturday), the Yankees game-by-game run totals have been as follows: 6, 1, 9, 1, 13, 2. For the season, that’s 44 games with two or fewer runs scored, by far the most among AL teams (no one else in the league even has 40 such games).

CC Sabathia retired the first 10 batters faced, but once again was victimized by the longball, giving up solo shots to Jason Kipnis in the fourth and Mike Napoli in the sixth inning. This was the third straight start that Sabathia has given up multiple homers, the first time in his career he’s done that.

After a shaky second inning during which he coughed up two runs, Corey Kluber dominated the Yankee lineup the rest of the way, facing the minimum number of batters over his final six innings while striking out eight batters. It was his third straight win over the Yankees, and in each of those games he’s given up no more than two runs and gotten at least eight strikeouts.

Only four other players in major-league history have fashioned such a streak — three straight games pitched with a win, eight-plus strikeouts and two or fewer runs allowed — versus the Yankees: Felix Hernandez (2010), Pedro Martinez (1999-00), Bob Feller (1946) and Lefty Grove (1926).

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

An A-bomb from A-Rod
For the second time in three days a shocking off-field news item grabbed the headlines in Yankeeland. Just hours before Sunday’s series finale, Alex Rodriguez and the team announced that the 41-year-old would play his final game on August 12 and then join the front office in a special advisor/instructor role.

A-Rod might be one of the most complicated and polarizing figures in baseball, but it’s hard to ignore his staggering (though tainted) statistical pedigree. He’s compiled numerous historic feats during his 22-season career, but most notably, he arguably possessed the best power/speed/run-producing combo tool of any hitter.

His 11 seasons of at least 100 RBI, 30 homers and 15 steals are the most all-time (and four more than anyone else), and he is the only player in major-league history with at least 2,000 RBI, 500 homers and 300 steals in a career.

Most people would agree that A-Rod’s signature moment in pinstripes was his incredible production during the Yankees’ 2009 World Series run. He hit .365/.500/.808 with six homers and 18 RBI, putting together one of the greatest single-postseason hitting lines in franchise history.

Among Yankees with at least 25 at-bats in a postseason, his 1.308 OPS ranks third behind only Mickey Mantle in 1960 (1.345) and Reggie Jackson in 1978 (1.315). Additionally, he is the only Yankee with more than five homers and more than 15 RBI in a single postseason.

There was still a game to be played after A-Rod’s announcement, and the Yankees once again rode the momentum of yet another tearful and emotional press conference, beating the Indians 3-2.

Masahiro Tanaka was masterful on the mound, scattering six hits across six innings while striking out eight and allowing just one run. He is now 5-1 with a 2.07 ERA in 10 starts following a Yankee loss. Among MLB pitchers with at least nine such starts this season, only Jacob deGrom (1.99) has a better ERA than Tanaka.

Tanaka’s final strikeout — the result of winning a 12-pitch battle with Lonnie Chisenhall to end the sixth inning — was also the 400th strikeout of his career. The only other Yankee to reach that milestone this early into his major-league career (67th game) was Al Downing.

Thoughts following the Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira retirement news

There are too many things to love about this photo. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
There are too many things to love about this photo. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Yesterday morning Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees announced A-Rod will play his final game this coming Friday, at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. After that he will be released as a player and join the team in what is being called a “special advisor and instructor” role. Oh, and by the way, a few days ago Mark Teixeira announced he will retire at the end of the season. It’s all happening so fast, isn’t it? I have some thoughts on all of this.

1. Make no mistake, A-Rod is being “forced” into retirement. Based on everything we heard at the press conference, it sure seem the Yankees — specifically Hal Steinbrenner — made it clear to Alex they no longer have a spot for him on the roster. That doesn’t mean they gave him an ultimatum, but A-Rod’s not stupid. He knew what his options were. Alex sounded very much like a man who still believes he has some quality baseball left in him during that press conference, and there was this weird disconnect during the whole thing. A-Rod was up there by himself, then Brian Cashman went up, then Joe Girardi went up. They weren’t up there together. It was … weird. You could tell this is not the way A-Rod wants things to play out, but he realizes this is his best option.

2. The Yankees do not owe A-Rod anything and vice versa. The club managed to turn him into a sympathetic figure these last few weeks, but they did not do him wrong. If anything, Hal threw Alex a bone by approaching him about an advisor/instructor role. The Yankees could have easily — and justifiably — released A-Rod and been done with him. They gave him an opportunity to go out with some dignity and grace. The end of a player’s career is rarely pretty, and Rodriguez’s was quickly spiraling towards an ugly end. The Yankees gave him an opportunity to avoid that.

3. All of this was, without question, a big distraction. Girardi was getting asked about A-Rod before and after every single game, and you could tell it was wearing on him. How could it not? The same questions, day after day after day. Other players on the team were being asked about it, the front office and ownership had to have it on their minds constantly, the announcers were talking about it … it wasn’t pleasant. Benching A-Rod became a very big thing. I don’t know what kind of effect it had on the other players and their performance, but I know it bothered me watching as a fan, and I’m sure I’m not alone. This was a very awkward situation that I don’t think anyone enjoyed.

4. The A-Rod stuff is very bittersweet. I love A-Rod and have greatly enjoyed watching him these last 12 years. He’s one of my all-time favorite Yankees and I’m sad to see him go. At the same time, the Yankees are better off without Alex at this point of his career, so I’m glad he’s gone. It’s a weird feeling. Different than when Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams retired. I can’t explain it. With those five, it was time for them to retire. I almost feel like A-Rod is being ripped away from me. I’m going to miss watching him. I’m also exciting about the direction the Yankees are heading without him.

5. My one simple request: play Alex every game this week. I’d like to see him start all three games at Fenway Park in addition to Friday’s game against the Rays. It would be the coolest thing ever if he got to play third base Friday, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A-Rod is four homers away from 700 for his career (700!) and I’d like to see him get as many at-bats as possible to try to get there. He’s already hit two homers at Fenway this season, after all. (Plus the Red Sox’s pitching staff is hilaribad.) The man is motivated and I want to watch him play during his final week in the big leagues, not sit on the bench.

Sock just one more dinger, Al. Please. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Sock just one more dinger, Al. Please. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

6. No one thinks another team is actually going to sign A-Rod, right? I’ve seen a few people talking about the possibility, but who wants a DH who can’t hit? No one signed Barry Bonds back in the day when he was coming off a very productive year. I see two possibilities and they’re both long shots: the Rays and Marlins. The Rays could use a DH and, if nothing else, signing A-Rod will generate some buzz and sell a few more tickets. As for the Marlins, well, owner Jeffrey Loria has a history of making moves geared towards headlines, and A-Rod would definitely qualify. Martin Prado just got hurt yesterday, so hey, they need a third baseman now. I just can’t see it happening. Alex is persona non grata around the league.

7. I’m intrigued by the special advisor/instructor role. A-Rod said he’s going home to Miami after Friday’s game and will begin his new role in Spring Training, so he won’t immediately jump right into it. (He did also say he’ll help whenever the Yankees ask, even later this year.) By all accounts A-Rod is great with young players and we know he has a lot of knowledge to give, and boy do the Yankees have a lot of talented young players on the way. He can work with their young shortstops, including Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo, not to mention their potential sluggers like Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge. Rodriguez could be a real asset in a role like that. I hope the Yankees take advantage of having him on the staff these next few months.

8. Rodriguez is truly one of the greatest and most talented players in baseball history, and he has a slam dunk first ballot Hall of Fame resume. He’s in the inner circle of the inner circle. Will A-Rod actually get into the Hall of Fame? Right now my gut says no. Roger Clemens and Bonds aren’t close to getting in and we have far more evidence A-Rod used performance-enhancing drugs than those two, so yeah. The odds are stacked against him. That doesn’t change the fact Alex was the greatest ballplayer whose career I got to see from start to finish. (I was too young to understand how good Bonds was in the 1980s.) It’s going to be a very very very long time until we see someone seriously threaten 700 homers and +120 WAR again. Those kinds of numbers. At his peak, A-Rod was the perfect baseball player. Talented, instinctual, fundamentally sound, durable … he was the total package. What a joy it was to watch this man day after day.

9. The question on everyone’s mind: who takes A-Rod’s spot on the roster? The Yankees have plenty of open 40-man roster space — they have three open spots right now and will get a fourth once Alex is gone — so that’s not an issue. I think it’s between either Tyler Austin or Aaron Judge, and right now I think it’ll be Austin. Judge just missed a month with a knee injury, and while he hasn’t missed a beat since returning, it’s still not a bad idea to give him a few more at-bats in Triple-A to get up to speed. Austin can play first base, right field, and DH, so it’ll be much easier to get him into the lineup right away. Like it or not, the Yankees still seem committed to letting Aaron Hicks play as much as possible, and that will cut into Judge’s playing time. So my guess is Austin comes up for A-Rod, then Judge comes up once rosters expand in September.

10. I don’t have much to say about Teixeira retiring, I guess because a) I didn’t get as attached to him as I did A-Rod, and b) I was expecting him to be gone after the season anyway. Not retired, but gone as a free agent, so really, nothing has changed. Like I said before, I feel like Alex is being ripped away. Teixeira was a very good two-way player for the Yankees for a long time whose biggest problem was injuries the last few years. The Yankees are going to find guys to hit homers and things like that, but they’ll miss Teixeira’s defense. It remains world class even at age 36. Teixeira is still the guy I want the ball hit to with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the World Series. Was his contract worth it? Oh yeah. Absolutely in my opinion. He was a key part of the most Yankees’ most recent championship team and he was a total pro who played hard every day. Teixeira got hurt and that stinks. I never once doubted his effort or commitment to the Yankees.

11. Teixeira called the Yankees a “team in transition” during his press conference and that has stuck with me. I mean, we all knew it was true, but to hear one of the team’s key veteran leaders say that was a bit different. The players are all aware of what’s going on now. These last two weeks have totally changed the direction of the franchise. The Yankees sold at the deadline and two longtime cornerstone players are getting ready to call it a career. That’s a lot of change in a very short period of time! It’s exciting! And also sorta scary! There’s comfort in familiarity and none of this is familiar to a large segment of Yankees fans, myself included. I definitely remember the Yankees being bad back in the early-1990s. I just didn’t fully grasp the inner workings of the team at the time. I’m sad to see A-Rod go and I’m sad to see Teixeira go. I’m also ready to embrace this “team in transition” and see where it leads next.

Alex Rodriguez to play final game next Friday, join Yankees as special advisor

It’s time to say goodbye to another all-time great Yankee. Earlier today the Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees announced he will play his final game next Friday, August 12th, then join the front office as a special advisor and instructor. He will be unconditionally released following Friday’s game.

“This is a tough day … this is also a proud day,” said A-Rod at the press conference. “I never thought I could play for 22 years. At 18 I just wanted to make the team … I want to thank the Steinbrenner family for giving me this opportunity, and for making me part of this team and for giving me an opportunity to stay involved by mentoring the next generation of Yankees … I especially want to thank the fans for letting me play the game that I love.”

During the press conference A-Rod said Hal Steinbrenner approached him a few days ago about joining the team in some sort of front office capacity. He didn’t come out and say it, but it sure sounded like an ultimatum may have been given. Either retire with grace and join the front office, or we’re going to release you. That sort of him. A-Rod was pretty diplomatic during the press conference.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” said Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success. Baseball runs through his blood. He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

Rodriguez has not played much the last few weeks — he’s started one of the team’s last 14 games — because he hasn’t hit much this year. He owns a .204/.252/.356 (58 wRC+) batting line with nine homers in 62 games, and the Yankees have used the DH spot for other players. The team has been playing with a 24-man roster the last few weeks and it’s been pretty awkward. Seeing A-Rod on the bench game after game was just weird. It really was.

Because the Yankees are releasing Rodriguez, the Yankees will pay him the remainder of his contract and yes, he will still count against the luxury tax. “He gets everything he deserves — the contract he negotiated — in full force,” said Brian Cashman. Cashman, by the way, dropped the mic when asked how Alex should be remember.

What a power move. Highlight of the press conference right there.

Considering this is essentially a forced retirement, the Yankees accepted the financial impact of releasing A-Rod. They simply decided he couldn’t help them on the field and were better off paying him to do something else while giving the roster spot to someone else.

A-Rod has long been praised for his work with young players and a mentorship/instructor role should suit him well. This is sort of a bittersweet day. I’m sad to see A-Rod go, but it’s clearly the best thing for the Yankees at this point in time. I hope he socks some dingers between now and Friday and goes out with a bang. This has been one hell of a ride.

Yankees, A-Rod call press conference for 11am ET Sunday

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez will hold a press conference at 11am ET tomorrow, the team has announced. A-Rod, Brian Cashman, and Joe Girardi will be in attendance. No reason for the press conference was given, so feel free to speculate. The press conference will be broadcast on YES.

The way I see it, there are four possible reasons for the press conference. Well, there are countless possible reasons, but these are the big four:

  1. A-Rod is retiring, effective immediately. Seems really unlikely.
  2. A-Rod is retiring, effective at the end of the season. Possible!
  3. The Yankees are releasing A-Rod.
  4. The Yankees and A-Rod have agreed to some sort of “mutual parting of ways” that involves a buyout.

My official guess: A-Rod will announce he is retiring at the end if the season.

The fact A-Rod, Cashman, and Girardi will be at the press conference suggest that, whatever it is, it’s amicable. I have a hard time thinking Alex would be a willing attendant if the team did decide to release him.

Whatever it is, I just hope we get to see one more gentleman’s bat flip before it’s all over.

Alex Rodriguez bat flip

What a weird, weird season in Yankeeland.

Saturday Links: Chapman, Beltran, Best Tools, A-Rod

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their three-game series later this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Chapman, Beltran open to re-signing with Yankees

After being traded last week, impending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran told reporters they would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “I would love to come back again,” said Chapman to Mark Feinsand while Beltran simply told Jared Diamond he would “gladly” return to the Yankees if the opportunity presents itself.

As good as he has been this year, I don’t love the idea of bringing Beltran back next season, even on a cheap-ish one-year deal to DH. There are lots of young position players in Triple-A Scranton waiting for an opportunity. Chapman’s a different story because he’s still right smack in the prime of his career, and there’s always room for another high-end reliever in the bullpen.

I feel like it’s inevitable the Yankees will sign a top reliever this offseason, and I’d prefer Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to Chapman. I just have no interest in rooting for the guy following the domestic violence stuff. You’re welcome to feel differently. Anyway, it’s no surprise Chapman and Beltran are open to coming back. Why would any impending free agent rule out the Yankees?

Baseball America’s best tools survey

One of my favorite features each season is Baseball America’s best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches about the players in their leagues, then put all the results together. Here are the Yankees at each level. The links go to each article and they’re not behind the paywall.

Chapman (best fastball) and Andrew Miller (best slider, second best reliever) both made appearances in the survey as well. Sanchez being voted as the best defensive catcher in the International League is pretty darn interesting. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s made a lot of improvement, or because it’s just a weak year for IL catchers. I choose to believe the former. Go Gary!

No plans to release A-Rod

To the surprise of no one, Brian Cashman said the Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez during a recent radio interview (via George King). If the Yankees had any plans to release A-Rod, I think they would have done so already. Here’s what Cashman said:

“It’s not an easy circumstance, but there are no plans right now to do anything but give some reps to other people and see where it takes us, and if matchups or injuries hit, you might see him back out there,’’ Cashman told ESPN Radio. “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on … There’s a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as [recently] as last year. Now, he’s being put in a position where sporadic play to try to get it going makes it more difficult. It’s fair to ask why and it’s fair to understand why it’s not a quick, rash decision, especially with September around the corner.”

Rosters expand in three weeks and five days, and I expect the Yankees to just ride this out with Rodriguez until then. They could release him in the offseason, but right now my guess is they hang on to him through the winter, then evaluate him in Spring Training. If he hits, they can give him a shot. If he stinks, they’ll cut him loose. And if he gets hurt, they’ll collect insurance on his contract.

The Alex Rodriguez Problem

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

What a difference a year makes, huh? Last season Alex Rodriguez was coming back from his 162-game Biogenesis suspension and no one knew what to expect. How would a soon-to-be 40-year-old with two surgically repaired hips perform after missing a full season (close to two full seasons, really)? Quite well, it turns out.

A-Rod hit .250/.356/.486 (129 wRC+) overall with 33 homers in 2015, which was truly best case scenario stuff. I think each and every one of us would have happily signed up for that before the season. Rodriguez did slump in the second half like most Yankees, but, overall, he was a middle of the order force and a big reason why the team managed to qualify for the postseason.

This season has been a much different story. Rather than come to Spring Training as a complete unknown, Rodriguez came to camp with the Yankees counting on him to provide power and a steadying middle of the order presence. It hasn’t happened. A-Rod owns a .204/.252/.356 (56 wRC+) batting line with nine homers in 234 plate appearances around injuries and benchings.

The Yankees have not so gradually started scaling back A-Rod’s playing time. For a few weeks they benched him against righties, and these days they bench him against pretty much everyone, so much so that Gary Sanchez is expected to be called up today to DH against lefty Steven Matz. Alex can’t play the field at all, and now if he’s not trusted enough to start against lefties, what purpose does he serve? None. He serves no purpose.

It’s no surprise then there’s been talk the Yankees may release A-Rod at some point in the second half. The team denies it because what else are they supposed to do? “I know it’s been tough on him. But he’s been a pro and working his tail off,” said Brian Cashman to reporters earlier this week. Now that Carlos Beltran is gone and the Yankees are in sell mode, chatter about cutting Alex is only going to grow louder. What’s the right thing to do?

The Case for Cutting A-Rod

This is the easy one so we might as well start here. The case for cutting A-Rod comes down to two things: his lack of production and his lack of flexibility. He’s hitting .198/.276/.367 (71 wRC+) in 446 plate appearances since August 1st of last year, so this isn’t a small sample. For a DH, those numbers are putrid. There’s a minimum acceptable standard on offense and Alex ain’t meeting it, especially relative to position.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Defensively … well there’s not much to talk about. A-Rod hasn’t played even one out in the field since last May, and although he’s been working out at first base lately, there’s no indication the Yankees will actually use him there. Rodriguez almost got into a game at third base in San Diego a few weeks ago, though that was an emergency situation in the late innings. It didn’t happen. The game ended before he could return to the hot corner.

A DH who can’t hit or play the field in something more than an emergency is useless. It’s a dead roster spot. Cutting A-Rod frees up a roster spot and playing time for one of the many kids the Yankees have in Triple-A. We’re not talking about Shelley Duncan types here. Sanchez figures to be the catcher of the future. Aaron Judge figures to be the right fielder of the future and Tyler Austin is looking to carve out a role as well. Moving on from A-Rod creates an opportunity for players who will part of what we hope is the next great Yankees team.

The Case for Keeping A-Rod

This is a much tougher argument to make, and honestly, I’m not sure I can do it. I’m going to try though. Here are three reasons it may be wise for the Yankees to hang on to Rodriguez in the second half.

1. A-Rod could always get hot. The Yankees traded Beltran, by far their best hitter, at the deadline in one of their “seller” trades. Their best hitter is now, uh, Didi Gregorius? Maybe Brian McCann? That’s not so great. Despite his down year, A-Rod is still insanely talented, and with Beltran gone, the DH spot is wide open. Alex still has the ability to get hot and carry a team for a few weeks, and the Yankees are going to need someone to create runs. I’m not sure Rodriguez can bounce back at this point, but I’ve bet against him before and he’s made me look silly pretty much every time.

2. He’s closing in on 700 homers. Right now A-Rod is sitting on 696 career homers, meaning he’s only four away from becoming only the fourth member of the 700 home run club. That is pretty incredible. It’s historic. It really is. We may never see another player reach 700 homers in our lifetime. It’s also very marketable. I don’t know the numbers, but I’m willing to bet attendance and ratings are down this season, and A-Rod’s pursuit of 700 homers could help the Yankees sell some tickets and improve ratings down the stretch. They would actually have to play him regularly for the chase to be interesting, of course.

3. He can be a mentor to the team’s young players. A-Rod has long had a reputation for being a leader in the clubhouse and a great mentor to young players. He’s a preparation and workout freak, and he makes sure the young guys put in the work that is necessary to excel at the MLB level. “I’m a teacher at heart,” he told Joe Lemire yesterday.

Alex is one of the most talented players in baseball history, and seeing someone that talented do that much prep work really drives home the point of just how hard it is to be a good big league ballplayer. Coasting on talent isn’t an option. The Yankees have a lot of young players on the cusp of the show and, with Beltran gone, A-Rod is someone who can take them under his wing and show them the ropes. He may not hit anymore, but Alex’s leadership has value that can’t be quantified.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Is the 700th home run pursuit and leadership enough to keep A-Rod on the roster? It may not seem so to you and me, but the Yankees could feel otherwise. They know much more about his intangible value as a marquee player and mentor than we ever will. All we see is the on-field performance, which this year means a total lack of production. Like I said, a DH who can’t hit or play the field occasionally is not worth a roster spot.

My guess is yes, the Yankees have indeed kicked around the idea of releasing A-Rod, but they’re not ready to commit to that just yet. Rosters expand four weeks from tomorrow, and I think the team will ride it out with Alex until September 1st, when it’ll be more easy to carry the wasted roster spot. If he smashes his 700th home run between now and then and mentors some young players, great. They’ll reassess his place on the roster in the offseason.

Make no mistake though, if A-Rod were Joe Schmo and not a guy with a huge contract approaching a historic milestone, he’d be long gone by now. Teams usually don’t stand for this type of production, or lack thereof. A-Rod’s still on the roster because of what he’s done in the past and the money still owed to him through next year, and that’s generally not a good reason to keep a player around. Not when there are young players in Triple-A ready for an opportunity.

Yankeemetrics: Mediocrity at its finest [July 29-31]

(AP)
(AP)

Loss for #Yankees, Win for #TeamSell
With this weekend’s series against the Rays representing one final opportunity to convince the front office to keep the band together for a late-summer playoff push, the Yankees inched closer to declaring themselves sellers with another frustrating loss on Friday night.

All 10 of their hits were singles and they scored just one run in a 5-1 loss, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The the only other major-league team this season (through Friday) that had a game with double-digit hits, none for extra bases, and scored one or fewer runs was the Brewers in a 8-1 loss to the Phillies on June 5.

Ivan Nova — who had posted a 2.66 ERA in his previous four turns during a stellar month of July — was predictably horrendous in Tampa against the last-place Rays lineup, allowing five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Tropicana Field has become a house of horrors for Nova. This was his first start at the dome since April 19, 2014, his final game before being diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. And he now owns a 7.03 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) at the ballpark, the highest among all active pitchers with at least two starts and 25 innings pitched there.

The Rays clobbered Nova, with five of the six hits he allowed going for extra bases. This continues a yearlong trend of tons of loud contact against Nova, who has given up an average exit velocity of 94.9 mph on line drives and fly balls, the second-highest mark in the majors (min. 100 batted balls).

Chad Green kept the Yankees within spitting distance as he relieved Nova in the fifth inning and went the distance, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. It was his third straight relief appearance with more than two innings pitched and no runs allowed. Green is just the second Yankee pitcher in the last two decades to put together a streak like that; Ramiro Mendoza had a three-gamer in 2001 and a four-gamer 2002.

You can’t spell ‘Sell’ without a couple ‘L’s’
Saturday’s deflating 6-3 defeat gave the Yankees two losses in two games to the last-place Rays, providing another layer of evidence that this team is not fit for October and needs a re-boot.

arod
(Getty)

The Yankees got off to another rocky start as Nathan Eovaldi surrendered a first-inning home run to Brad Miller, the 20th homer allowed by Yankee pitchers in the opening frame this season; through Saturday’s games, the only MLB teams that had allowed more first-inning dingers were the Twins and Royals, both with 22.

Eovaldi gave up a second homer to the Rays No. 9 hitter, catcher Curt Casali, giving him 21 homers allowed in 116 2/3 innings this year. That rate of 1.62 homers per nine innings is on pace to be the third-highest single-season mark by any Yankee qualifying pitcher, behind Phil Hughes (1.65 in 2012) and Terry Mulholland (1.79 in 1994).

Starting for the first time in a week, A-Rod did little to show management that he deserved more at-bats, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. It was the fourth game in his Yankee career that he came to the plate at least four times and struck out each time; only one other player in franchise history had four such games during their career: Mickey Mantle.

Drew Smyly, with a career strikeout rate of 24 percent (just a few ticks above the MLB average of 20 percent), is an unlikely candidate to be A-Rod’s personal kryptonite. But these are the facts: He has struck out in nine of 12 plate appearances (including playoffs) against Smyly, his highest whiff rate versus any of the 600-plus pitchers he’s faced more than five times in his 22-season career.

Just your average Yankees
On the same day the Yankees put the proverbial For Sale sign outside team headquarters in Tampa, they sunk deeper and deeper into the depths of mediocrity, losing to the Rays, 5-3.

They are now 52-52 this season, which includes a 44-44 record before the break, 8-8 after the break and a 13-13 mark in July. #TeamMediocre

It was their fifth time being swept this year, the same number they had in 2015 … with 58 games and two months remaining. And they’ve now scored no more than three runs in 55 of their 104 games, their highest total at this point in the season since 1972.

Michael Pineda once again delivered a maddeningly inconsistent performance, flashing dominance and looking strong at times (eight strikeouts), but ended up with disappointing results and a crooked final pitching line (five runs on six hits in six innings). It was his third game this season with at least eight punch outs and five earned runs allowed; no other American League pitcher has more than one such game.

Carlos Beltran put the Yankees on the board in the sixth inning with a two-run homer that sliced the Rays lead to 3-2. It was his his 22nd homer in 2016, matching Eddie Murray (1996) for the most by a switch-hitter in his age-39 season or older.