LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees: Like It Or Not, 31 More Days To Sell

Friday, July 1, 2016

Yankees: Like It Or Not, 31 More Days To Sell

A week ago I suggested there are a lot more things to dislike about the 2016 Yankees than like. Seems obvious, considering all the struggles on the roster, the rotation after CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, the middle of the lineup, the bullpen after the big three and the struggles of off season  acquisitions Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks among the issues cited. I  also suggested that top management has to also see more to dislike than like with the current Yankees roster. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees top management denies any thought of an August 1st selloff. As Hal Steinbrenner has said, he expects the Yankees to be "in the thick of it" at the trade deadline. which  is exactly a month from today. Others among the  Yankees top brass agree, including Randy Levine, who was more than slightly adamant these Yankees would not be sellers one month from now.

But this is a team of moving parts and things can change and attitudes can change, especially among the decision makers at the top.

Case in point is Michael Pineda, who, a month ago had rumors of a demotion to AAA swirling about.  Last week I had lumped Pineda's statistics for the season  with other unimpressive statistics of fellow starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino and Ivan Nova. But with Thursday's no-decision in the Yankees 2-1 walk off win, Pineda went six innings, allowing one earned run with a dozen strikeouts. In his six starts during June, Pineda has pitched 36 innings, allowing 27 hits, 11 earned runs and a 41/8 strikeout to walk ratio. Pineda's season ERA  dropped from 6.92 to 5.24 in the month of June. So Pineda has suddenly given the Yankees a lot to like.

But can the other problems be solved or is a sell off best for the Yankees?

The Yankees start a ten game road trip Friday night, which culminates with four games at red hot Cleveland, then the All Star Break. The Red Sox, Orioles and Giants are the ten game home stand following the break. Starting in Cleveland, that's fourteen games with three first place and one second place team. I think we'll know something by the end of that home stand. Certainly. it is not an easy part of the schedule, And though it seems the Yankees will fare poorly during that stretch, there's really no way to predict. Who would have predicted a six run 9th inning Wednesday night against the first place Rangers? If it hadn't rained in the Bronx in the 9th inning on Monday, the Yankees might have taken three of the four games in the Texas series.

And another thought to ponder: the last two games of the Texas series featured two walk off wins, one of which was the six run ninth inning explosion for the Yankees. Could be that the Yankees are up to the challenge, coming back against the first place Rangers the last two days? Or, it could be that the Yankees are a .500 team at best and they just exploited the main weakness in the Texas Rangers, their bullpen. Could be that the Yankees have the answer for that particular need, and within the next month might be ready to strike a  deal?

Only thirty-one more shopping days to buy, sell, buy AND sell or stand pat.

A few other notes and thoughts....

--The Cubs 4-3 loss at the Mets Thursday night featured a three run Mets rally in the seventh inning. If the Yankees become sellers at the deadline and one or more of the big three from the bullpen are available, then this is the kind of game the Yankees should be loving. Losing a game with a lead after six innings is troubling for any contender and might create a more urgent need to strengthen their bullpens. Like Texas this week and the Cubs on Thursday, the more the merrier. Competition between as many contenders as possible only improves what player(s) might be available to the Yankees.  Soon enough we will know if the Yankees are willing to sell a top reliever or two.

--All ten teams in the Yankees farm system are in full swing, including the two in the Dominican Summer League. This is the time of year to get to know some of the prospects throughout the Yankees system. Player development is the number one priority, but it's good to know the Yankees full season teams are all playing well, class AAA to Low A. Several players are league All Stars and prospects Gary Sanchez and Jorge Mateo are scheduled to play in this years' Futures Game in San Diego.

--Good to hear the Yankees recently signed top draft choice , outfielder Blake Rutherford. He fell to the Yankees at the 18th pick, but was rated in the top ten overall in several pre draft rankings. Since drafting Derek Jeter in 1992, the Yankees have had little success with most of their top picks.  Rutherford is an "all the tools" prospect whose left handed bat should play well in Yankeee Stadium.  He is slated to start his career with one of the GCL teams in Tampa. Another player worth following.

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