Hey Brian!

The Yankees just brought the infield in a scoreless game with one out in the top of the second. I think your manager is trying to tell you that he doesn’t trust his lineup.

Can you blame him? Currently, six Yankees have sub-.700 OPS’s. That’s the most in baseball. Some are surprising, like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, some are not- Brian Roberts and Ichiro. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Here’s my suggestion- nothing. Don’t make a trade for a bat that can carry this lineup. Don’t make a trade for a pitcher who can fix this rotation. Admit that after half a season this team is fundamentally flawed. Try to do better in 2015. I have some ideas about how that might be possible.

1- Soriano and Ichiro have some value to teams in contention with particular holes. Trade them to those teams and eat all of the money. You will get better prospects.

2- Let Brian Roberts go, or trade him for a bag of balls, and promote Refsnyder or Pirela. Clearly, the Yankees will need both a new shortstop and second baseman next year, one of these guys could be that answer. It’s time to find out.

3- David Robertson has tremendous value right now- trade him for future pieces. I don’t know if Betances can be the future closer, but I wouldn’t bet on anyone as a future closer unless their name was Mariano Rivera. the truth is closers mostly flame out quickly. Why not capitalize on the one you have and turn him into something for the future?

It’s weird to wave the flag of surrender when you are only two games back, but the Yankees have to face up to their flaws at some point. Tanaka is under contract for two three more years after this season, I would recommend you make the most of those and give up on 2014 right now.

Not Feeling It

Usually a Yankees-Red Sox series brings fires me up. After all, I created a website around it! But, its a bit harder to get fired up about this series. We have the third and fourth-place teams in the AL East meeting about halfway through the season. What happened to these two teams?

Well, I don’t think the Yankees are a big surprise right now. Before the season I predicted 85 wins and they are on pace for 84. I think the biggest worry you have to have as a Yankee fan right now is that the run differential, -34, indicates they should be much worse than they are. They’ve lost 3/5’s of their rotation and the offense has been mediocre. And, they may burn the bullpen out by August at this rate. Unless some big reinforcements are coming, I don’t think this team finishes above .500.

Boston is a bit more interesting. Dustin Pedroia is having a terrible year, I wouldn’t expect that to last. Xander Bogarts hasn’t lived up to the hype and Jackie Bradley has been awful. But, they have two very good starting pitchers in Lackey and Lester and a nice bullpen, so they could easily make a run.

But for now we have two mediocre teams facing off in late June. If the names on the front of the uniforms read something other than “Boston” or “New York” would we pay any attention?

Time For Changes

The Yankees can’t hit. Well, some of the Yankees can’t hit. Looking at the team, your eye is drawn to five players- Beltran, Roberts, McCann, Soriano, and Jeter.  None of these guys are hitting at this point, but I think it is fair to expect McCann to turn things around, so let’s forget about him for now. Even if you don’t, he has a huge contract and isn’t going anywhere.

Soriano has been demoted to a platoon player with Ichiro. That’s a very smart move as he can’t hit righties anymore, so let’s forget about him for a minute as the Yankees may have solved that problem.

Beltran has been hurt and probably will hit, so let’s forget about him for a minute. Again, big rule contract applies here.

That leaves Roberts and Jeter, and here we have huge problems. Roberts is a switch-hitter who has always been better against RHP than LHP. That hasn’t changed this year, but his numbers against LHP (.231/.310/.288) are beyond bad. The Yankees need to at minimum bench him against lefties and put Ryan in there. At least he will provide some defense (more on this in a minute)  and his numbers against lefties in his career  (.247/.312/.323 ) are an improvement over Roberts’. But this isn’t much of a solution and the Yankees are going to need to address the middle infield soon.

That is because of Jeter. The fact that a 40-year old Jeter isn’t hitting is not a shock. But, his BABIP is over .300 and his line drive rate is 19%. That means he isn’t being hurt by bad luck, he simply isn’t hitting. Now Jeter is a guy you are loathe to count out, but the Yankees need to be realistic about him. Putting Jeter 2nd in the lineup isn’t doing anyone any favors. If he was hitting against LHP, you might be able to argue that he should stay there, but he isn’t  (.619 OPS vs. LHP and .609 OPS against RHP)  How much longer can the Yankees pretend he is going to hit?

Now if he could play defense, the Yankees would probably look beyond his hitting, but we know that isn’t the case. The Yankee announcers haven’t figured out that the reason for all the shifts this year is the defensive problems the Yankees have. We know Jeter has never been a very good shortstop and this year isn’t any different. What is different is that he doesn’t have Robinson Cano playing to his left and a fair number of grounders are getting through the middle.

Now defensive stats are tricky, but consider these numbers for Jeter and Roberts. Both of them are near the bottom of the AL in range factor for their positions.  Now range factor’s two flaws are the fact that teams that give up more flyballs will have lower range factors and having a great defensive player next to you will lower your range factor as he gets to more balls. Both are fair, so let’s look at a more general number- DER.

DER- or defensive efficiency rating measure how often defenses covert outs on balls in play. In 2013, the Yankees were 24th in the league at 69.7%. In 2014 they are 29th at 69.2%. Why have they dropped off? I would suggest it has something to do with Roberts and Jeter. If you don’t trust your eyes, or don’t buy range factor, just think about it. Defensively, the outfield is probably better than last year, or at least as good. Where do the most balls in play go to in a game? Exactly, short and second.

So what do the Yankees do with two guys who aren’t hitting and not playing great defense? Well, I think Roberts’ days are numbered. The Yankees just moved their AA second baseman to AAA. Their AAA second baseman, Jose Pirela is hitting .326/.365/.458 in 246 PA’s. He’s not that good, but I suspect he gets a chance soon. As for Jeter, I wouldn’t expect that situation to change for awhile.

Another Way To Go

Kendry Morales is the easy answer to the question of how to fix the Yankees offense. Morales has been a good hitter in his career and the thinking is that plugging him into this lineup will spark the offense. My question is, where are you going to play him?

Sure, if Mark Teixeira is out for a long period of time you can play him at first. But, it sounds like Teixeira is going to be back, just needing to rest from time to time. Carlos Beltran seems to be on his way back as well. Now Beltran could need surgery, the Yankees won’t really know until he plays a bit, but if he is on the roster that will tie up some DH AB’s. And even if he isn’t, how many games do you want Alfonso Soriano to play the field in? What about Jeter? The Yankees have plenty of DH types on their current roster and adding Morales would give them another one.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t understand how Brian Cashman could construct the 2014 Yankees without thinking about a backup who could play first, but that’s the reality of what he did. So, instead of reaching outside the organization for an answer, how about we try and solve this internally? I have an idea if Teixeira gets put on the DL. Recall Austin Romine, put McCann at first and let Murphy catch.

McCann isn’t hitting, but I don’t expect that to last. And, if he hits like he has in the past, he would provide adequate production at first. But this is more about finding out what the Yankees have in Murphy. Clearly they like him as they moved him ahead of Romine on the depth chart. His numbers this year are not realistic as he has a .441 BABIP (league average is .294 this year) and a line drive rate of 31% (league average is 20.2%), but there is something intriguing about him. At worst, he appears to be a very good backup catcher. At best, he could be a regular starter. That has a lot of value, maybe not for the Yankees with McCann signed for four years after this, but for some team. Murphy could be the chip who brings back a pitcher to stop the bleeding in the rotation. The Yankees need to find out and if Teixeira is going to miss time, I would rather they try this than go out and sign another player.

I Have A Problem

I have a problem with what David Ortiz said the other night about David Price. First, here are his comments:

“I have a lot of respect for the guy, man, but it’s over. I have no more respect for him. Last year we kick his ass in the playoffs, he went off, talking (expletive) about everybody, (Sports Illustrated writer) Tom Verducci and everybody. Players.We kind of got to talk on the phone. We kind of straightened things out. He was kind of upset. Me as a veteran I kind of let him know how things go in this game. Later on he called me and apologized because he knows he was wrong. He apologized in public. He apologized to myself. Everything was cool. So first at-bat of the season against him he threw at me.

I mean, it’s a war. It’s on. Next time he hits me, he better bring the gloves. I have no respect for him no more.

You can’t be acting like a little girl out there. You aren’t going to win every time. When you give it up, that’s an experience for the next time. But when you’re to be acting like a little (expletive) every time you give it up, bounce back like that and put your teammates in jeopardy, that’s going to cost you.

I was going to let him know. I respect everybody in this league and I get the same respect from everybody. If you’re mad because I take you deep twice, let me let you know, I have almost 500 homers in this league. It’s part of the game, son.”

A lot of people are focusing on Ortiz talking about war. Personally, I don’t believe he was literally comparing this situation to war or trying to disrespect troops in any way. War is used as a metaphor in sports by plenty of people and it would be great if they stopped it. War is a horrible thing and should never be trivialized like this. But, the war portion of Ortiz’s comments dominated the story, while the following got almost completely ignored-

You can’t be acting like a little girl out there. You aren’t going to win every time. When you give it up, that’s an experience for the next time. But when you’re to be acting like a little (expletive) every time you give it up, bounce back like that and put your teammates in jeopardy, that’s going to cost you.

There were many things Ortiz could have said here. He could have said, “You can’t be acting like a tremendous ass our there”. Or he could have said, “You can’t be acting like a total jerk”. But he decided to say “little girl” because apparently that is the same thing.  He also added a word for a female dog that is primarily used as an insult to women.

We have to stop this. We have to stop equating being a girl with something bad. And we have to start noticing when people say things like this. It wasn’t that long ago that using a term that questioned a player’s sexuality would have gone almost completely unnoticed. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. But comments like this that equate being a girl with a negative thing persist. I don’t know if David Oritz even realizes the implications of what he said, but it is time he does.

I am the proud father of two girls. I want them to grow up in a world where people judge them by their character. I want them to grow up in a world where they are not limited by their gender. I know I am just like millions of fathers out there in that respect and I hope those numbers will help to change this behavior. Being a “little girl” is not an insult at all. We shouldn’t use it like it is and we definitely shouldn’t teach our children that it is.