Today is the 4th of July, and barring a rainout, the Yanks are scheduled to play their 81st game of the season—the midway point. So, midseason report cards.
The team is on pace for 87 wins, not great but in this division, it may be good enough for the division championship. In fact the Yanks are in first place by one game as I write this. Now, it isn’t a drastic improvement over 2013 (85) and 2014 (84) wins. They have basically stayed the same, maybe a slight improvement. However most prognosticators had them as a fourth-place team with about 78 wins this year. They are playing better than expected. Therefore, I’ll give a B to Joe Girardi and the team.
Now for the individual players.
McCann: A. This is the McCann we expected last year. His adjusted OPS is 122, 22% better than league average. Forget batting averages (McCann is at .264), give me OPS+. He is on target for 25 HR and 100 RBI. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Murphy: C. Tough on a kid to go from playing everyday to playing once or twice a week. .250, OPS+ just 75. He’s been average, so a grade of C, average, seems appropriate.
Teixeira: A. He should be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. Once again, forget about the average. (.245). He is on target for 40 HR and 115 RBI. Did you think, after the poor year he had last year, that he would rebound like that? His OPS+ is 145. That is MVP quality performance, and in fact, he is the Yankees’ 2nd most valuable player right now as far as WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
A-Rod. A very unexpected A. He will be 40 later this month, missed all of 2014 with the suspension, and played in only 44 games in 2013. He has no speed anymore, but is on pace for 30 HR and 90 RBI. No one expected that. His OPS+ is 148, yes, MVP-quality. And so far, he’s behaved himself.
Drew. D. Only three guys on the team have more HR, which keeps Drew from getting an F what with that .181 batting average. (There are times when you can’t overlook the batting average). Defense ok. Either an automatic out or he gets an extra base hit. Strange. 22 of 42 hits are extra bases. On a 20 HR pace. Still, .181. Ugh.
Gregorius: D+. Coming on after a terrible start. Average up to .245 (with a 8 HR/34 RBI pace) but was brutal early, and made some boneheaded plays. Still, between Didi (OPS+ 77) and Drew (OPS+ 70), the Yanks have perhaps the worst DP combo in baseball, offensively. From Cano and Jeter both hitting over .340 to this. It reminds you of Horace Clarke and Gene Michael.
Headley: C -. C minus. A plus defender who has made far too many errors, and is on course for .250-15-60 or there abouts. OPS+ 87 (13% below league average). You expected a bit more—on both sides of the ball.
Pirela: F. You expected more from him out of spring training. You expected versatility and a sparkplug. Instead, his defense has been shaky. He is hitting just .206 with just 3 RBI in 63 at bats. Would probably be back at AAA if not for Ryan (who gets an X, Incomplete) being hurt all year.
Petit: F. 38 at bats, .184. As bad as the Yanks DP combo has been, their backups haven’t helped either.
Gardner: A. Last year Gardner was their MVP, the leader in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He is the leader in that category again. On pace for .300-18-78 (who knew power would develop?) and 30 SB. I’d like more SB out of him. He’s proving that HE should have been hitting second last year, and that Jeter should have been dropped in the order, but the Yanks weren’t going to disrespect Jeter like that….even if it would have been better for the team.
Ellsbury: A – . This was a tough one. I wanted to give him an A. After all, .324 with an OBP of .412 merits that. But you can’t contribute if you are on the DL, so I had to make it an A minus. Here is proof of how bad Drew and Didi have been. Despite a .324 batting average in the 37 games Ellsbury has played in, he has just six RBI, because Drew and Didi were automatic outs hitting in front of him. One thing that also knocked him down to an A minus was this: Where has his power gone? 48 hits, only five for extra bases. Still, the Yanks need him back. He and Gardner have 29 SB between the two of them. The rest of the team, combined, have eight. The Yanks miss his speed. But when he comes back, how will the knee be? Will he be able to run and steal bases?
Beltran: C – . His defense has been brutal, and he is replaced late in games for that reason. The offense was slow to heat up. But the offense is just average. On pace for .260-14-60. The Yanks overpaid for him, a fading star. I would love to dump him and bring up Aaron Judge to play RF but I’ll be surprised if it happens. As for next year, I’d really like to see Judge take over the RF spot.
Young: A. Another surprise. The average isn’t much, .254, and he is streaky, but he is on pace to produce about 20 HR and 50 RBI off the bench.
Jones: D. If he replaces Beltran in the OF, you aren’t gaining much defensively. Maybe being a bench player is a bit tough for him to adjust to. At .225 and on a 10 HR pace. It seems you expected a bit more.
Flores, Heathcott and Williams: X. Incomplete. Too small of a sample size to judge. Same with Ryan.
Tanaka. B-. As they say, Tanaka Light. Not the dominating pitcher he was before his injury. You see flashes, but you see inconsistency. Each time he stumbles, you wonder if it is a natural slump or if it has to do with the elbow. You wonder when that elbow will blow and force him into TJ surgery.
Pineda. B. He reminds me a little of A.J. Burnett. Are you getting the guy who struck out 16 Orioles on Mother’s Day or the guy who the lowly Phillies lit up? On pace for 16 wins. With his talent, you would think the ERA should be below 4.00 though.
Eovaldi: C. On pace for 16 wins, but it isn’t pretty. A work in progress, young. In and out of trouble a lot, and you’d like to see him go deeper in games. 4.52 ERA and he does give up a lot of hits.
Warren: B+. Where do you ever see a guy who has the lowest ERA in the rotation sent to the bullpen when someone comes off the DL? Welcome to MLB baseball, where $$$$ talks and performance does not (See CC below).
CC: F. On pace for 6-16. An ERA over 5.50. Maybe the biggest reason the Yanks are not opening up a bigger lead in the AL East, and he may be the reason they miss the playoffs if they do. Frankly, I’d rather see Severino brought up and CC taken out of the rotation than to keep watching him struggle. Instead of Warren leaving the rotation, it should have been CC except for three things: Warren’s innings limit, the fact CC is the only lefty in the rotation and most importantly, the megabucks the Yanks are paying CC. Since 2012, CC is 20-25 with an ERA over 5.00. This isn’t just a bad season. It has been going on for a while and the Yanks still have a couple years of CC left. I hope he can turn it around. I don’t think he can. This is a huge Yankees problem since what are they going to do with him next year or in 2017?
Miller, Betances and Shreve: All A’s. All have ERAs less than 2.00 and in the cases of Miller and Betances, less than 1.15. A solid bullpen core that hopefully Warren can add to.
Wilson: B. 3.14 ERA. Not bad, but doesn’t it always seem like he never has a 1-2-3 inning?
Miller, Betances, Shreve and Wilson are a combined 12-3, 24 saves and a combined ERA of 1.89. Superb.
Carpenter F. Never found a niche, pitched to a 4.82 ERA, DFA’d and traded to Washington for a AA player.
Rogers F. 6.27 ERA. DFA’d, cleared waivers, sent to AAA.
Capuano D. 0-4, 5.00. Better in short stints as a long man than as a starter. Not to further knock CC, but really, is CC any better than Capuano right now? No.
Martin. F. Started strong, got hurt. Back in the minors. 5.63 ERA.
Pinder B. Did well in the short time he was up. Wish he’d be back up and given a greater role. See what he does. 2.53 ERA in 10 2/3 IP.
Nova, Whitley and a ton of others. X. Incomplete. Too small of a sample size. So far Nova’s two starts have been great. Can he keep it up for the second half?
What will the Yanks do at the deadline? I’d love to see them add a starter. (Frankly, NOT via trade… Kazmir, Hamels, Samardzija, Cueto, Leake, etc.) but bring up Severino. Get CC out of the rotation, even if it means an all-righty rotation. Hold on to prospects. Don’t give in and deal the top ones like Severino, Judge or Refsnyder.
Maybe Tanaka’s arm goes and they then NEED to bring up Severino. You just don’t know. Another reason NOT to trade Severino.
Hope Warren adds to the big 4 (Miller, Betances, Shreve and Wilson) for a killer five in the bullpen.
See about picking up a solid middle infielder than can improve that DP combo. One who can platoon with Drew and Didi. Since Drew and Didi are lefty bats, a 2B/SS who hits righty and who would be an improvement over Pirela/Petit, even Ryan when Ryan gets healthy. Refsnyder has been ok at AAA but isn’t doing enough to force the issue and force the Yanks to bring him up. He also isn’t a SS.
Hope Judge continues to develop to the point where he may be a late season callup and be an improvement over Beltran.
As for Cashman’s grade? Well that depends on what moves he makes between now and the deadline.