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Out With The Old!

I know that most of us would like to see the Yankees give all the playing time to young guys now. But, that simply isn’t realistic. While the Yankees have done good work moving out some of the road blocks for younger guys, more remain. The problem is that most of the older players, who aren’t playing well, are still due substantial salaries. And while I would like the Yankees to cut A-Rod and Sabathia right now, I can’t expect that they would cut over $50-million of remaining payroll. You also have to remember that 30 of the Yankees remaining 58 games will be played under September roster rules, so they will have plenty of chances to sit some of the older guys extensively. Here’s what I think should happen with a number of the big names

A-Rod- If you listened to the GM last night, he was not kind about Alex’s play. I still don’t think that will equal his release as the Yankees don’t want to pay him the $27-million they still owe him for nothing. But, I also think the idea that A-Rod would walk away for a cent less is foolish. He is going to get paid, the Yankees just have to figure out how to do it. I suspect something like this will happen. A-Rod will continue to play sparingly and at some point in the near future, he will get “hurt” running out a ground ball. His DL trip will last until September when he will be activated and not play much at all. Before the final week of the season, the Yankees will announce he is retiring and becoming a special assistant to Brian Cashman. That will be the cover they use to give him some dignity while they pay him $20-million next year. Maybe it doesn’t happen exactly like that, but Alex isn’t going to be back in 2017.

Teixeira- I bet the Yankees have already put him on waivers and if a team is so bold as to claim him, he will be gone tomorrow. Assuming that doesn’t happen, I suspect he stays and plays pretty frequently until September 1st. The reason for that is that the Yankees could conceivably trade him once he is through waivers and if a playoff team suddenly needed a first baseman, they might be interested. If that doesn’t work, he is mostly a bench player on September 1st and a memory after the season ends.

Sabathia- Barring a miracle shoulder injury in the next few weeks, he will be under contract next year at $25-million. However, his last six starts have been bad and unless he turns it around, he will be a bullpen piece by September 1st. And if that happens, I suspect the Yankees will talk to him about allowing a trade where they will pay almost all of his salary to get him out of here before the 2017 season starts.

Some other names of note. McCann is above-average offensively and good defensively. Sanchez looks like a real find, but with Byrd coming back from injury and no set DH, McCann could easily fit in as a C/DH/1B next year depending on need. Gardner is probably the most likely to go as he is relatively cheap and the outfield could get crowded fast. The Yankees would gladly let Ellsbury go on a waiver claim, but no team would be dumb enough to claim him I think. Headley has been great since May 1st and of all the positions, third is the one with no obvious successor right now. The remaining rotation is all under contract for next year, and I suspect the Yankees will spend the rest of this one trying to decide if they want to keep Eovaldi or Pineda around past 2017.

 

It’s A New Day

Over the last seven days the Yankees have formalized a new vision that their previous actions hinted at. Consider the 2014-15 offseason. The Yankees handed out two free agent contracts- four years each to Miller and Headley, but avoided the entanglements that they have jumped at in years past. They also traded for youth, bringing in Eovaldi and Didi to try to remake the roster. Connect those dots to last year’s trade deadline where their “big” move was acquiring Dustin Ackley, a young guy with promise and a bad track record. Then they became the only team in MLB not to sign a major-league free agent this offseason. All of these developments suggested to me that the Yankees were changing the way they did business, but this past week has confirmed it. The Yankees aren’t going to try to spend their way to success. They are going to look to develop talent and then supplement that with free agency. That’s a welcome change

The Yankees did some of their best work in ages this past week. They got a high-end shortstop prospect and a projected middle of the rotation guy for Chapman plus Adam Warren. They turned Andrew Miller into their potential left fielder of the future, a piece of the rotation and picked up two very promising bullpen arms. They got the #4-pick overall in the draft from last year for Beltran.

But there is more work to do. The Yankees now have just over 1/3rd of the season left to see what some of their younger guys can do. That means Severino goes back into the rotation. It means Green and Cessna get some pitching chances. It means that Refsnyder and Hicks get regular at bats, but also guys like Sanchez get a shot to show some things.  That’s going to cause some changes with some of the older players, lets scope that out tomorrow.

Deadline Blog

2:55- We kick things off early with news that the Yankees and Rangers are close on a Beltran deal.

3:00- Word is Dillion Tate, #4 overall pick last year will be part of the trade

3:02- Rangers will apparently trade Joey Gallo to Brewers for Lucroy

3:03- Tate plus 2 more players reportedly heading to NY

3:04- Tate injured his hamstring in April and hasn’t shown the velocity he had last year, but this would be a great return for Beltran

3:07- Jay Bruce is going to the Mets if the Reds agree on the medicals

3:10- Joel Sherman raises the question of if the Beltran deal goes through do the Yankees bring Sanchez up and use him and McCann as DH/C?

3:16- Joel Sherman reporting that Yankees are working on a Nova trade

3:18- Nick Cafardo reporting that what the Red Sox have offered hasn’t interested Chicago much in regards to Chris Sale

3:22- Mets trying to get Bruce and Lucroy

3:26- Joel Sherman reporting that Ben Gamel will fill Beltrans roster spot if trade happens

3:28- Buster Olney reports Mets are out on Lucroy

3:30- Pirates interested in Nova according to Rosenthal

3:31- Jack Curry reports Yankees getting Tate, Eric Swanson and Nick Green for Beltran

3:34- Joel Sherman confirms Curry’s report and adds that Mets trade for Bruce is going through

3:38- Ken Rosenthal reporting Jessie Chavez going from Toronto to LA

3:40- Rangers apparently going “hard” after Lucroy according to multiple sources

3:42- Yankees have announced Beltran trade

3:45- Olney reports Yankees are talking to multiple teams about Nova

3:47- Rosenthal reports Lucroy is headed to Texas

3:50- Chad Jennings reports that Gamel is on Yankees active roster

3:53- Jeff Passan says Joey Gallo is not in deal for Lucroy

3:57- Rangers getting Jeffress in Lucroy deal too.

3:59- Nova to the Pirates per Jon Heyman

4:02- Matt Moore to Giants per Joel Sherman

4:10- Chris Sale staying put according to Heyman

4:13-Everything is quiet, could it all be over?

4:20- Nova trade is for infamous PTBNL. Not a shock

4:28-That’s a wrap. Remember trades can still happen, but guys need to pass through wavers first. That means Yankees still could sell some of their big contracts. I’ll add a post later recapping it all.

Now What?-UPDATED

The Yankees have shocked me, and I think a lot of people, by trading Andrew Miller to Cleveland this morning. Now that we can see they are clearly sellers, what do they do from here? I would say the focus needs to be on clearing out the roster of parts they won’t use in the future and getting good looks at guys they want to use in the future. So, here are the guys that need to go.

Beltran tops the list because he is hitting well enough that the Yankees wouldn’t want to lose him without receiving a draft pick back. The problem is that offering him arbitration is risky because he might accept it and be on the team next year at around $17-million. The Yankees can’t let that happen, so they need to move him now.

Nova is next because he isn’t good enough for a qualifying offer and the Yankees are clearly ready to move on from him. Trade him for a bag of balls or release him. They need to use his spot in the rotation for looking at guys like Severino, Green and Cessna.

A-Rod needs to go because rebuilding teams don’t waste spots on 41-year old, lefty-hitting DH’s. If they want him to fake an injury until September 1st when rosters expand, that’s fine to, but he can’t be on the active roster anymore.

Those are the “big 3” the following guys should be moved if possible.

Sabathia- I don’t know if it is possible to trade him, but the Yankees should try to get him out the door.

McCann- Sanchez is out of options next year and obviously the future at catcher. If Atlanta is interested in a reunion, the Yankees should try to make that happen.

Gardner- I would rather trade Ellsbury, but realistically that isn’t happening. The Yankees are suddenly getting flush with outfielders, moving Beltran will help, but they need to make more room to look at other guys.

The Yankees also need to look at some of their younger players in more depth.

I know Aarron Hicks has been abysmal, but the Yankees have to keep trying him for now and seeing if he is worth keeping a roster spot for. They should also get guys like Mason Williams and Ben Gamel back on the active roster to see what they can do. Severino should be back in the rotation and ideally Green or Cessna too. Refsnyder plays somewhere almost every day and Sanchez is brought up to start learning the bigs for real. When September rolls around, Judge makes his debut. The Yankees have 59 games left to figure out the best team to put out there in 2017. No time to waste!

UPDATE-11:30AM

The Yankee have apparently acquired Tyler Clippard for Vincente Campos  Clippard was a Yankee prospect back in 2007 and got sent to Washington for Jonathon Albaladejo in a trade that did not work out for the Yankees because Clippard became a pretty good bullpen arm and Albie didn’t  He is signed through next year, but gives them a veteran arm in a bullpen that is pretty much Betances and Warren with a bunch of rookies  Campos was the second piece of the Pineda trade and has been hit by injuries, but has made it to AAA this year.  Problem with him is that he is probably out of options and would need to stick on the roster next season. Still not sure I would have traded him for Clippard but these are the Yankees and we can’t expect them to abandon all of their tendencies in a week.

 

 

We’re Selling!-UPDATED

Not much in the way of details yet, but multiple sources are reporting the Yankees have sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. I’ll update as details leak out.

8:52AM- This is complicated by the fact that Cleveland apparently has also traded for Lucroy.

8:53- Jon Heyman speculates that since the Yankees are in sell mode “Beltran, Pineda, Eovaldi, Nova and others” could be in play. And that “Yankee higher-ups made the call to sell while watching team lose 2 straight….”

8:54- Seems like the two prospects are Clint Frazier (OF) and Justus Sheffield (LHP)

8:59- Frazier is ranked 24th in MLB and Sheffield 95th.

9:00- Frazier just got to AAA Columbus, remember that place? He hit .276/.356/.469 in AA with 13 steals. He is a righty and has played all three outfield positions this year.

9:02- Ken Rosenthal reports that the trade is the two names above plus two more.

9:04- Sheffield is a lefty who is currently in A-ball. 95 innings, 93 K’s, 40 walks. Big stuff, needs to learn to control it.

9:09- Heyman reports that some in Yankees organization see Frazier as “the next Mike Trout”. That is a crazy thing to say publicly.

9:10- Joel Sherman reports that two other players are pitchers.

9:11- Sherman adds that teams want the Yankees to include money in any Beltran trade and the Yankees won’t do that. I get that, but the Yankees need to consider the end game here. Offering Beltran arbitration, to ensure you get a draft pick, is a risky bet since he might accept because he loves playing here and might want to retire after next year. That means you either let him walk away at the end of the year for nothing or risk having him under contract next season. Under those scenarios, you have to trade him now.

I’m just going to add that this is a plunge into the unknown and therefore scary, but at the same time exciting. The Yankees are showing that they get it! They are going to actually rebuild. (Watch them send all these prospects off in a trade for some overpaid star now)

9:15- Joel Sherman points out that Baseball America had Frazier, Torres, and Sheffield ranked 21,27, and 69 in their midseason rankings. By my count this trade gives the Yankees 7 guys on the top-100 list- Frazier, Torres, Mateo, Judge, Sanchez, Rutherford, and Sheffield.

9:18- Both Rosenthal and Sherman speculate that this trade could signal the end of the line for A-Rod as a Yankee.

I have to agree with them. What’s the point of keeping him now?

9:24- Heyman backing off of earlier Mike Trout comparison, now says the Yankees absolutely love Frazier.

9:25-Sherman reports Yankees also getting two bullpen prospects- Ben Heller and JP Freyereisen in the trade.

9:32- Just a reminder, the trade deadline is tomorrow because today is a Sunday.

9:45- Yankees PR just officially announced the trade.

We’re Not Watching

I adore baseball.  I love going to games and I love watching them. It is quite simply my favorite sport. As a kid, that adoration reached its apogee with the All-Star Game. While I watched the World Series religiously, no single game was ever more fiercely contested, with as much star power,  than the All-Star Games that I grew up on. Sadly, those are a distant memory.

Interleague play was bad enough, but I think it was the sight of Bob Brenly and Joe Torre negotiating an ASG tie that forever soured me on the game. What happened to the days when players went all out to win this game?  When did we have to rely on stupid ideas like home field being determined by it, to want to watch this game?

At some point the players stopped caring about this game. They worried too much about injury and not enough about entertaining the fans. Jose Fernandez took a lot of heat Monday for saying he would groove fastballs to David Oritz, but why?  This was Ortiz’s last ASG and why wouldn’t a baseball fan want to see him go deep in an exhibition game?  Fernandez was just open to giving the fans what they wanted and I can’t fault him one bit. The problem is baseball doesn’t agree. They want to use the phony home field gimmick to make us care. It doesn’t.

I’m not alone in feeling this  Look at the TV ratings and the game is bleeding away viewers. (Last night’s ratings just came in as I was finishing this, a record low- 8.7 million viewers)  I don’t know what the fix is, but I would love to care about this game again.  I really miss it

 

Door Number Three

Joel Sherman has a good article today about how the Yankees are boxed in with A-Rod and his lack of roster flexibility. Read it here. I agree with the argument, but disagree with the solution. Instead of cutting him, why not try a stretch with 11 pitchers?

Here’s the truth, the Yankees don’t use their 12th pitcher very often. And, when they do turn to him, they have enough arms on the 40-man to exchange him for a different pitcher. Consider Anthony Swarzak who was called up in the first week of June. Since then he has appeared seven times and pitched nine innings. He hasn’t pitched since June 22nd. The Yankees brought Richard Bleier up a month ago and he has pitched a grand total of eight times and contributed eight innings. Why do the Yankees need a 12th pitcher if this is how they are going to use them? Because here is the thing. Alex is still hitting LHP. He has a line of .275/.327/.510 against them this year. As a team, the Yankees have only managed a .252/.314/.386 line agains them, so Alex is contributing.

But I doubt the Yankees will ever feel comfortable with 11 pitchers and if that is truly the case, then it is getting close to the time to let Alex go or figure out a way for him to get back into the field. With only four spots on the bench, the Yankees cannot afford to give one of them to a 40-year old platoon player. Joel Sherman is right about that.

Worst Loss Ever!

To quote Comic Book Guy, last night was the worst loss ever.

At least as far as regular season games go.  Bases loaded, no one out in the bottom of the 9th.  How did the Red Sox mess this up?  John Farrell found a way.  First, he pinch hit Dustin Pedroia for Travis Shaw.  Shaw would have been going against a lefty, so I have no major beef with this move, except that Christian Vazquez was on deck and he has been a complete disaster at the plate for the past several weeks.  Why not let Shaw have a crack at it and pinch hit for Vazquez instead?  Both Shaw and Vazquez have been struggling but Shaw is the better hitter.

Pedroia struck out, Vazquez hit a fielder’s choice to the catcher.  Next, Farrell pinch hit for Marco Hernandez with a guy making his major league debut in Ryan LaMarre.  Nothing against LaMarre, but when your first major league at bat is with the bases loaded and 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, there is a fair chance you’ve never been more nervous.  And nervous he was.  First pitch, foul.  Second pitch, swing and a miss and a miss by 1 foot, a very weak and nervous swing.  Third pitch, swing and a miss, inning over.

Craig Kimbrel coughed it up in the top of the 10th and the Red Sox went on to lose 3-1.  This was a crushing loss.  If any one of those 3 had a hit, I probably wouldn’t be writing about but a manager’s job is to improve the odds and put people in positions they can succeed.  LaMarre was in way over his head and that blame falls on Farrell.

We’ll see how the Red Sox recover from this one.

First Is Cursed!

I don’t think I have ever seen a depth chart at a single position get decimated in the way the Yankees’ first base situation has been. Let’s recap.

1- Greg Bird, first baseman of the future and the insurance to a Mark Teixeira injury, goes down in the offseason with season-ending shoulder surgery.

2- Dustin Ackley, the new backup first baseman, hurts his shoulder on a slide and has season-ending, shoulder surgery.

3- Mark Teixeria gets hurt and may require season-ending surgery. He might also come back.

4- Chris Parmalee, the guy they invited to camp when Bird was injured and stashed in the minors, gets hurt catching a throw to first. He has a grade 2, hamstring tear, and will probably miss two months.

So first of all, Rob Refsnyder should get an exorcism performed on the first base area.  Second, this could be a good development long-term.

The Yankees don’t have a position for Refsnyder. He isn’t good enough at second for them. He took a couple of balls off his face at third and they soured on that idea. His arm hasn’t starred in the outfield. But they like his bat and if he hits, they can figure out ways to accommodate his glove.

Ideally, Refsnyder can become a multi-positional talent. If they can put him anywhere on the field, except catcher, center, and short, that is a huge asset to have. They can tolerate a below-average glove if they can hide it by moving it around the diamond.

And ultimately that is what 2016 should be about for this team- experimenting. See what Refsnyder can do at first, and with the bat. See if Pineda can turn into the pitcher his stuff says he should can be. See if Hicks is worth developing, and if Romine has a bigger future than backup catcher.  See what Chapman and Beltran can get you on the trade market, instead of the draft pick down the road.

The Yankees won’t do that unless things fall apart in the next month. Barring that, the best a fan can hope for is last year’s approach- do no harm. The 2016 Yankees could be a lot of things, champions seems the most unlikely. Make sure you don’t mortgage the future to chase an impossible dream.

 

Uh-Oh-UPDATED

Reports are that Andrew Miller got hit by a comebacker on his right wrist and left today’s game in pain.  I will update this post as details become available.

UPDATE(12pm)- Strangely my update from last night seems to have failed. Either way, Miller has a broken bone, but he plans on trying to pitch through it. He still needs to see a hand specialist to confirm he can do that.

The news is not so good on Bryan Mitchell.  He has a Grade 3 turf toe which basically means he will be out about three months. Mitchell had pitched really well this spring and was in line to make a lot of contributions out of the bullpen.