The Yankees announced today that Rob Refsnyder will work out at third base this spring. I can’t understand why he hasn’t been working out there and all over the diamond for weeks now.
Here’s what we know about Refsnyder. He has a good bat, one that projects to be decent in the big leagues. He also doesn’t appear to be an everyday second baseman. I say that because the statistics when he played there briefly last year weren’t great, and because there is no way the Yankees go and trade for Castro if they thought Refsnyder could play second on a regular basis. So why didn’t the Yankees tell him to spend the winter trying out some other positions?
It makes no sense. Castro is going to be in pinstripes for the next four years at minimum. By that time Refsnyder will be out of options and on another team. Furthermore, the Yankees have Ackley on the roster to backup second if needed. Sure, Castro or Ackley could get hurt, but the Yankees have stashed a couple of glove guys in the minors to prepare for that. So keeping Refsnyder as a second baseman only keeps him in the minors in 2016 which doesn’t make a ton of sense when you look at the Yankees bench.
We know two guys who will make the bench, Hicks and Ackley. There will be a backup catcher, and assuming that the Yankees carry 12 pitchers, always a good bet, one other player. If Refsnyder can play some third, he becomes a favorite for this spot. For one thing, he is a righty bat, something the Yankees could use. For another, he came to the Yankees as an outfielder so it is reasonable to expect that he could fill in there in a pinch.
Think about that bench. You have a backup catcher TBD. You have Hicks covering all the outfield spots with Ackley backing him up in the corners and at second and first. You have Refsnyder covering third and second, and the outfield in a pinch. You have decent pinch-hitting options, and the flexibility to use them because of the multiple ways you can cover things defensively. That makes a ton of sense for the 2016 Yankees. I just wonder why it took them so long to think of it.
The Yankees are taking a lot of heat for getting rid of print-at-home tickets this season. Part of that is because of the terrible optics of the deal- more on that in a minute. Part of it is because of the absurd defense they have used for the idea- more on that too. But overall, this is a good idea. In fact, I would say the idea hasn’t gone far enough. They should get rid of all physical tickets.
Physical tickets were a necessary evil for years, but they are obsolete in the 21st century with the advent of the cell phone. Between smart phones and basic cell phones, the technology exists to get rid of paper tickets entirely. Just like airlines have, stadiums can provide apps with barcodes for people to get into games. And if someone doesn’t have a smart phone, how about a text message with a unique string of characters to allow entry at some sort of kiosk? With a little thought and planning, teams could easily get rid of physical tickets.
And that would be a good thing because it would eliminate the easiest way for people to defraud potential buyers- scalping fake tickets. With the printing capabilities out there today, people can easily create very authentic looking fake tickets at home and scalp them outside a stadium easily. Here’s an example from 2015 in Indianapolis. Eliminating this kind of fraud is a worthy idea.
But the Yankees have done a terrible job of making the case for it. For one thing, the crackdown on paper tickets appears to be an attempt to stop reselling of tickets on Stub Hub. The Yankees have opened their own ticket exchange and they don’t want Stub Hub taking away from that action. They can pretend otherwise, but that is the real reason they don’t want print-at-home tickets.
And they should stop with their bizarre defense that this has something to do with the free market. A free market is one without regulation, yet getting rid of print-at-home tickets is obviously a regulation. Furthermore, baseball is rife with violations of the free market. The Yankees Ticket Exchange sets a minimum price floor for tickets where a free market would allow supply and demand to determine prices. MLB allows teams to have geographic monopolies where a free market would never allow that. I could go on and on, the point is there is nothing close a free market in baseball.
So get rid of the paper tickets, but work with all secondary markets to figure out how. That’s a win-win for everyone.
The Yankees have brought someone with serious character questions into their clubhouse. That’s a responsibility they cannot evade.
The Yankees should be honest. Chapman isn’t in camp with them without his electric fastball and dominant numbers. If he wasn’t a great pitcher, the Yankees would never have bothered with him considering the allegations he faces. That hardly makes the Yankees unique. Sports figures are given way too many chances because of their natural abilities. Organizations make these moral compromises all the time. It would be nice if they were more honest about them.
As for Chapman, he clearly doesn’t seem to get it. He maintains that he did nothing wrong, yet he does not contest the police report which states that he used a gun to fire eight shots from his garage. And while seven of those shots didn’t leave the garage, one of the shots landed in an empty lot near his property- meaning it could have killed someone who was simply standing outside of his house.
I in no way condone violence against women, but the sad truth of this case is we will never know what really happened that night in regards to the allegations that Chapman choked a female. The police couldn’t sort out the conflicting stories, and the DA refused to charge Chapman because they didn’t feel there was enough evidence. (I am dismayed that you can apparently fire a gun eight times recklessly in Florida and not commit a crime.) That doesn’t mean Chapman is innocent of the choking charge, but it also means he will not be found guilty by a court of law. Our justice system is based on the presumption of innocence and we have to accept that in regards to the choking allegations.
But that still doesn’t excuse the gun play and this is where I would like to see the Commissioner and the Yankees take a stand. Chapman should be kept away from guns in my opinion. He should be ordered to seek some counseling (acceptable under the CBA) and he should get some sort of suspension. It should also be made clear to him that any additional incidents will not be tolerated. MLB gets the first crack at this, but the Yankees should be ready to act if MLB doesn’t. They took responsibility for Chapman the minute they traded for him.
MLB announced this afternoon that Jenrry Mejia has been banned from baseball for failing a third test for PED use. (Technically, he can apply for reinstatement a year from now, but he must sit out two years before playing again.)
It’s an amazing story of stupidity. Mejia has been suspended at the start of the season last year for 80 games for failing the first test. He was suspended for 162 games almost immediately after returning to the team and is now out of baseball. This is a guy who was going to make over $1-million this year, despite his suspension, and has now failed three drug tests in less than a calendar year.
Give MLB credit for putting in a plan with serious teeth to try to clean up the game. I should note however that this case involves a 6-foot, 200-pound, reliever who threw in the low 90’s. You simply can’t tell who is cheating with your eyes.
Ever since I was a kid, the end of the Super Bowl meant only one thing to me- baseball season was almost here. Back then, the gap was much greater, a month or so, but now it is only a few short weeks thanks to the NFL moving the Super Bowl into February. In fact, pitchers and catchers report next Friday, only 11 days from now.
And while there are still some very good free agents still available, I am going to declare the Yankee offseason over. Which means we can look at this chart, and realize that the Yankees are the only team in baseball that hasn’t signed a free agent this offseason.
I’m completely on board with that, and I think the Yankees had a great offseason mostly. They got a better version of Chris Young, at a much cheaper price. They got a second baseman who is young and a three-time All-Star, and they traded for one of the best closers in baseball. But I wish they had done one other thing- signed some of their starters to extensions.
Luis Severino is the only starter who is guaranteed to be under contract beyond 2017. Nova is a free agent after this season. Sabathia will be either after this one or 2017, depending on if his option vests. Pineda and Eovaldi are under contract through 2017. Tanaka has an opt-out after 2017. I would have liked to have seen the Yankees target either Eovaldi or Pineda for an extension this offseason. Both have faults, but both have the stuff to make a ton of money as free agents.
But ultimately that is a minor quibble about a solid offseason. The Yankees are getting younger and spending smarter. That will pay huge dividends down the road.
Joel Sherman is reporting that Greg Bird will need labrum surgery and will miss all of 2016.
The good news for the Yankees is that Teixeira is apparently healthy and ready to go. It is very unlikely that Bird was going to be anything more than AAA depth this year. In addition, by happening now the Yankees have a chance to address their depth, or lack of depth at first base. I would expect Ackley to get a lot of time there during spring training.
The bad news is that Bird won’t be available to replace Teixeira when he gets hurt and the Yankees now face the prospect of making him the starting first baseman in 2017 after he has missed an entire season. It probably won’t deter them from handing him the job, but it injects more uncertainty into it.