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Game 86. Yanks beat Boston 5-1.

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I had to go for my eye exam today and my eyes are still dilated so it is a little difficult for me to do things until the drops wear off. As a result, I’ll just quickly recap last night’s Yankee game and there will be only a very, very slight minor league report from Friday’s action at the end of this article.

Robert Refsnyder has been called up by the Yanks and in Fenway, and against two lefties, will be playing Saturday (MLB debut) and Sunday. The second baseman, a righty hitter, is 24 and was hitting .290-7-37 with 10 SB at AAA SWB. Last year between AA/AAA he hit .318.

Michael Pineda was on last night, A-Rod homered and the Yanks took advantage of bad Boston fielding to win 5-1. With the win, they maintained their three game lead in the AL East.

A-Rod’s HR (17, #671 career) in the first put the Yanks up 1-0.

In the fourth, Clay Buchholz of Boston had to leave the game because of tightness in his pitching elbow. McCann led off the inning with a single, and with one out, Gregorius doubled. Buchholz then had to leave the game. Drew reached on an error, runners holding. After a popup for the second out, Ellsbury reached on a error, one run scoring, Gardner reached on an infield hit which could have been an out with better fielding, another run scoring, and A-Rod walked with the bases loaded to force in a third run. 4-0 Yanks.

Pineda gave up a HR to Mookie Betts in the fifth. 4-1.

In the eighth, Young walked and Gregorius was HBP. After a couple of outs, Ellsbury singled in a run to make it 5-1.

Pineda (W, 9-5, 3.64) 6 2/3 IP, 1 R, 7 H, 0 walks and 6 K.
Wilson 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K. 2.84.
Betances 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 1.58
Miller 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 1.59.

Just some quick minor league notes: Brendan Ryan had two hits for AA Trenton while on rehab. Brady Lail for Trenton tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits.

The Minors.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

AAA: SWB lost 6-4 in 12. 3b/SS Cole Figueroa with 2 RBI. Four players with 2 hits each.

AA: Trenton lost 7-3. Andrew Bailey 1 IP, 2 K, 0 R as he continues his comeback attempt. 2B Cito Culver and LF Rob Segedin each had two hits.

High A: Tampa lost 10-2. 2B Abiatal Avelino with 3 hits, SS Tyler Wade with two.

A: Charleston lost 2-0. Rony Bautista gave up just 1 R on 1 H in 5 2/3, but walked 7.

Midseason Report Cards.

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.

McCarthy gone to Dodgers

There has been a lot of activity lately at the winter meetings (esp. by the Dodgers, who have picked up Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins and Brandon McCarthy while trading away Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon) but other than Didi Gregorious and Andrew Miller, nothing from the Yanks yet.

…and yes, you read that right above. Now cross Brandon McCarthy off the Yanks’ list. He signed a four-year deal with the Dodgers. McCarthy, 31, went 10-15, 4.05 (ERA+ 94) between Arizona and the Yankees last year. For the Yanks, he was 7-5, 2.89 (ERA+ 134). It was the first time he hit 10 wins or 200 innings pitched in a season.

So Greene and McCarthy are gone. There is no word yet on whether Kuroda is coming back or retiring. As of now, you have Tanaka (and his elbow), Pineda (shoulder), CC (knee and diminishing velocity/effectiveness) and Nova (won’t be back until May or June after TJ surgery). The Yanks still can move Phelps and/or Warren into the rotation. Luis Severino isn’t ready yet, nor do I think is Manny Banuelos. They will need a starter.

Word is, they will NOT be paying a mini-fortune (ok, a WHOLE fortune) for Max Scherzer or James Shields. That leaves pitchers like Ervin Santana and Edinson Volquez that may be more realistic for the Yanks on a one or two-year deal.

Also, the Yanks may still need a closer, and that leaves a one-year deal for someone like Sergio Romo, Rafael Santana or Jason Grilli possible.

Then there is the infield situation. If Chase Headley wants four years, he is probably gone, too. If that is the case, Martin Prado probably plays 3B, A-Rod would be at Dh, and the Yanks go with a rookie—either Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder—at 2B.

What it does look like, is that the Yanks (except for the Miller deal), are trying to get away from those long-term deals that are currently tying the team’s hands. So many players have diminishing skills and are tied up for a few more years. We’ll see if they cave in and give a long term deal to someone, but it does appear that they are being scared off of that.

It also seems like they placed all their financial might into last year, getting Ellsbury, Tanaka, McCann and Beltran.

People are blaming Cashman for “doing nothing.” It isn’t HIS budget. He has to make do with whatever budget Hal gives him. Hal isn’t his father.

While Cashman has his positives and negatives, he still has to work with whatever $$$$ Hal Steinbrenner frees up. The question is, how much, if any, has Hal freed up for the 2015 season? What does Cashman have to work with?

The minors.

On a major league note, ex-Yank Kelly Johnson is moving on again. He began the year with the Yanks, was dealt to Boston and now Boston has dealt him to the Orioles.

AAA:  SWB lost to LV, 3-2 in 11. OF Taylor Dugas was pressed into pitching service and took the loss. Ex-Met Chris Young, just signed to a minor league deal this week by the Yanks, hit a solo HR.

AA: Trenton lost 7-1 to Reading. Jacob Lindgren had the first bad outing of his professional career, 1/3 of an inning, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 hit, 3 walks. 0 K.

High A: 3-1 win for Tampa. Brady Lail 6 shutout IP, 2 h, 7 K.

Low A: Charleston won 4-2.

The Minors. 7-13-14.

Luis Severino and Peter O’Brien played in the Futures game.

Severino, a 20 yr. old RHP, pitched one inning, gave up no runs, one hit and got a strikeout. He is currently with High-A Tampa. In 18 starts this year (A, A+) he is 4-3, 2.45.

O’Brien, a 24 yr.old C/1B/3B/DH/OF, is currently at AA Trenton, where he has been playing mostly 1B. He struck out twice in the Futures game. Between High-A and AA this year, he has 29 HR, 63 RBI and a .266 batting average.

AAA: SWB’s game rained out.

AA: Trenton won 5-1. Jaron Long 1 R in 6 1/3. He’s hitting coach Kevin Long’s son. CF Mason Williams 2 RBI, DH Rob Segedin 3 hits.

High A: Tampa won 4-2. CF Jake Cave 3 hits. SS Cito Culver 2 h, 2 rbi. 3B Claudio Custodio 3 for 3.

Low A: Charleston won 5-0. Caleb Smith 6 IP, 1 hit. RF Mark Payton, 3 h, 2 rbi. 1B Mike Ford, solo HR.

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