Checking in with Rob Refsnyder, IL Batter of the Week

refsnyderRob Refsnyder had made a name for himself well before the Yankees took him in the fifth round of the 2012 Draft. After being drafted, Refsnyder went on to win Most Outstanding Player honors with Arizona at the College World Series. Having capped off his collegiate career on top, Refsnyder signed with the Yankees and quickly began his professional pursuit. The young second baseman hasn’t stopped picking up some hardware as he journeys towards the Bronx, with his most recent honors coming on Monday, when he was named the IL Batter of the Week.

In truth, Refsnyder’s recognition for last week was well-deserved, but doesn’t come close to telling the full story. Between May 11 and May 17, Refsnyder hit .400, with six extra-base hits (two homers and four doubles) and six RBIs. After Tuesday’s game against Charlotte, however, Refsnyder is riding a ten-game hit streak and has made it on base in every game since the second game of a doubleheader against Pawtucket on April 25 (21 games).…

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Quick Hit: Slade Heathcott’s Big Chance

By now everybody knows the bad news.  Jacoby Ellsbury is on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury and it’s still not exactly clear how serious it is.  Given how quickly he went from leaving the game to getting MRI’d to getting put on the DL, it stands to reason that it might be more severe than just a 15-day DL trip.  Ellsbury is a key part of the Yankee offense, maybe THE key part, and he’s the team leader in fWAR.  Losing him for any amount of time is a blow.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Ellsbury’s injury created an opportunity for one of the farm system’s more interesting stories.  Roughly 6 months from being non-tendered, removed from the 40-man roster, and then re-signed in January, Slade Heathcott will come up to the show and get his chance to be a Major League ballplayer.

From 1st round draft pick to top organizational prospect to injury-prone bust, it’s been a long road through the Yankee system for Heathcott since he was drafted.  …

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About Last Night: Eovaldi, The Fifth Inning, and Other Thoughts

Eovaldi vs WAS II

Courtesy of Getty Images

The New York Yankees keep giving Nathan Eovaldi leads and the pitcher just cannot seem to handle the windfall. Last night, the Yankees had just spotted Eovaldi with a 6-2 lead after scoring four runs in the fourth and another two in the top of the fifth. Eovaldi’s response was the walk the first batter he faced in the bottom of the fifth. Yankee fans everywhere threw stuff.

Sure enough, it was the start of a bad inning that turned a good chance for a win (calculated at 89% at that moment) to a loss. Eovaldi only recorded one out in the inning.

You get to the point where you wonder if Nathan Eovaldi needs a good sports psychologist. Like many starting pitchers, Eovaldi has trouble with the first inning. His ERA this season in that frame is 7.88. But then he settles down nicely in the second through the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, it gets ugly.…

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Checking in on the Yankees’ Defense

Remember when the Yankees were projected as the 3rd best defense in baseball before the season began? Those were the days.

Entering play on May 19th, the Yankees rank 7th-worst in the bigs in UZR. Fangraphs would categorize that as somewhere between “Below Average” and “Poor”.

uzr

UZR through 5/19/15 via Fangraphs

 

While it’s difficult to measure defense with stats, and UZR is far from the perfect defensive metric, you can look just about anywhere and find the Yankees at the bottom of the rankings. They’re 22nd in Fielding Percentage (.981), 6th in Errors (28), and 14th in Defensive Runs Saved (-14).

The additions of Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley were supposed to remedy some of the Yankees’ defensive woes, but it hasn’t quite worked out. Headley (8) and Gregorius (4) have combined to commit 12 errors, with Stephen Drew adding 4. While Gregorius is enjoying the highest UZR of his career (1.3), Headley (-2.9) is far from where he was last year (20.9 with SD & NYY). …

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Adam Warren v. Dave LaPoint (and Starter v. Reliever Velocity)

Warren vs BAL II

Courtesy of Getty Images

Ever have a job you were performing decently, but that still left you wondering every day if a demotion is coming? Adam Warren does. While he’s not killing it, or pitching deep into games, his average of just under 5.5 IP/start isn’t awful, and not many teams have both 4th and 5th starters beating Warren’s 4.50 ERA / 4.15 FIP. But Chris Capuano‘s return was sure to cost the rotation spot of one guy a decade younger – either Warren or, it turned out, TJ patient Chase Whitley.

Old Man Capuano versus The Kids reminds me of my favorite obscure baseball quote: rookie Sterling Hitchcock‘s too-bold yet dead-on blasting of the Yankees’ impatience with trusting young starters over crappy vets. Hitchcock is a Yankee immortal to me, but for this quote, not his forgettable pitching:

You hear a lot about our young guys, but then there’s no slot for us … It’s, “Go back to [AAA] and have a great year, and thanks for coming.” It’s frustrating because you look at other teams … and you see you pitched against them in the minors.

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Chase Headley’s Slow Start

Courtesy: Brad Penner/USA Today

Courtesy: Brad Penner/USA Today

When Chase Headley re-signed with the Yankees for a four-year, $52 million contract there seemed to be a very wide range of opinions on the deal. What I noticed was a lot of the mainstream media guys didn’t get it, while the “stat geeks” loved it and thought Headley was undervalued.

As usual for me, I was on the “stat geeks” side. The narrative in the mainstream media was that Headley had not been a productive player since his MVP caliber season of 2011, which was completely false. He has never been nearly as good as he was in 2011, but he had a .330 wOBA and a 114 wRC+ in 2013 and a 4.2 WAR last season. According to Fangraphs’ WAR to dollar based scale, Headley was worth $31.7 million last season.

Through a month and a half of the season Headley has surprisingly stunk. He’s hitting .236/.285/.386/.670 with five home runs, a .294 wOBA and a 83 wRC+.…

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The Yankees can’t quit Stephen Drew

Drew vs BOS

Stephen Drew is a hot button topic among Yankee fans (and blogs) these days and with good reason. Most people want him designated for assignment because he’s taking up valuable real estate in the field and in the lineup when there are seemingly better and more attractive players waiting in the wings at second base.

Right now, Drew is the worst second baseman in the American League and if it weren’t for poor Chase Utley stinking up the joint in Philadelphia (.138/.214/.241/.455), Drew would be the worst second baseman in all of baseball.

In Drew’s last “full” season (I say full even though it was only 124 games) he batted .253/.333/.443/.777 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI. Last year, through 32 games, Drew was batting .178/.254/.346/.600 with a .168 ISO and this year, through 35 games, Drew is batting .177/.264/.345/.609 with a .168 ISO which is uncanny because the numbers are almost identical.

He’s hitting .213/.291/.362/.653 in 15 games at Yankee Stadium, .152/.243/.333/.577 in 20 games on the road and has one home run at home and three on the road.…

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Can Chris Capuano Be Trusted?

Courtesy: Paul J. Bereswill/NY Post

Courtesy: Paul J. Bereswill/NY Post

After yesterday’s unfortunate elbow injury to Chase Whitley, his spot in the rotation will be taken by Chris Capuano. I felt like Whitley would keep his spot and Adam Warren would be moved to the bullpen to help a struggling middle relief corps. Warren made that decision difficult after a very good outing on Wednesday, but now the Whitley injury made the decision easy. Although, I really don’t know why Capuano was guaranteed a spot over either of them to begin with.

Capuano did a decent job for the Yankees when they brought him in from Boston last season when they were desperate for starting pitching after an avalanche of injures. He went 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. Capuano was mostly a six-inning pitcher, as he never completed a full seven innings in his 12 starts for the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees seem to have too many of those kind of guys right now.…

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Jorge Posada Belatedly Declares Jorge Posada the 2003 MVP!

CBS Sports

CBS Sports

Did a steroid-addled pre-redemption Alex Rodriguez steal Jorge Posada‘s 2003 MVP award? Jorge said so, or at least implied it in a rambling tirade:

“The only thing that I can think is 2003. You know, I was close to the MVP. Didn’t happen. Alex won the MVP and, you know, I think second, either Carlos Delgado or David Ortiz, I don’t remember. But you know, I was almost there,” Posada said. “You know what could have happened if, you know it’s tough.”

All respect to Jorge, whom I still like a lot – but there’s no way he was the best in the league in 2003, with or without A-Rod’s pharmaceutical adventures.

Posada had a great 2003, his best year by WAR – 5.9, a level that’s usually not best-in-league, and was fifth among position players, but is as good as that of many MVPs. Posada’s offensive WAR was actually 0.4 better in 2007 than 2003, but the defensive WAR stats comport with what we all remember: by age 35, his defense had declined badly.…

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