Monday, July 13, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: AL East, Refsnyder, All-Star break, Futures

The MLB All-Star break has begun and the New York Yankees find themselves sitting atop the American League East with a 48-40 record. The Yanks hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (the Rays are five back in the loss column, while the Baltimore Orioles are four back). After a 15-12 record in June, the Yankees are 7-3 in July. The club finished off the first half of the season winning two of three games at Boston; sinking the Red Sox 6 1/2 games back (seven on loss side) in the division.

I wrote last week at SNY that the Yankees will need to find a way to pull away from the pack, but that the clubs trying to stay with them, the Red Sox included, each have the ability to make a run making it no easy task. The division has been declared weak by many, but really the entire American League is nothing to get all concerned about. If the Yankees are able to reach the playoffs by winning the division, they could make some noise in the postseason.

Refsnyder finally called up

Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
For what has seemed like an eternity of waiting for many Yankees’ fans, Rob Refsnyder made his major league debut Saturday in Boston. In his first game, he looked comfortable at the plate, but didn’t come away with any hits. In Sunday’s series finale, Refsnyder went 2-for-4 at the dish with his first MLB hit (a single) and his first big league home run, a two-run blast over the Green Monster, which ended up being the difference in the game. Refsnyder made a couple nice plays in the field, but was charged with an error after failing to make a catch in a fielder’s choice play as part of a messy ninth inning by the Yankees in the field.

The knock on Refsnyder is his fielding. Aside from the missed catch, he looked good during plays he was involved including a nice turn on a double play chance in Saturday’s game. So far he has not looked out of sorts, or overmatched.

There are questions as to how the Yankees will utilize Refsnyder after the All-Star break. Will he be part of a strict platoon with Stephen Drew? Or will he take on an abundance of the plate appearances going forward? Is this an audition for using Refsnyder as a trade chip?

My hunch is that it will start as a platoon with Drew. It puts the veteran in better hitting situations and allows Refsnyder a way to ease into playing full-time. If Refsnyder holds his own, or better, shows more aptitude with the bat and glove than expected, he could garner more time in the lineup reducing Drew to a bench player. This allows the Yankees to see what they have an assists them in making a determination concerning trades for a second baseman.

If Refsnyder sticks and it given most of the plate appearances at some point, Drew can become what the Yankees have used Brendan Ryan for, an infield utility guy and bench depth. There would be no need to keep Ryan around and Gregorio Petit could also be shown the door at that time.

All-Star break welcomed for some

While it would have been nice for the Yankees to have Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez also recognized as All-Stars, it might be best that they can take the four days of rest and get rejuvenated for the summer run.

McCann has played in 72 of 88 games this season, 70 as a catcher (66 starts). Each time A-Rod has been given a day or two off, he has come back even stronger. The Yankees have done a good job with both players to keep them fresh and an extended break could be beneficial.

For the Yankees who made the club -- Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances -- it will be a bit of a whirlwind for a couple of days, but they still get the benefit of two straight days off before returning to the field.

Carlos Beltran will not be resting during the break. He is anticipated to begin a rehab assignment with the notion of returning to the club when they begin their homestand Friday.

Judge, Sanchez represent Yankees in All-Stars Futures Game

Aaron Judge
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr

Finally, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez represented the Yankees in the All-Stars Futures Game Sunday. Judge went 1-for-4 with a single as the designated hitter for the winning USA club. Sanchez roped a double in two at-bats for the World team as the starting catcher.

Judge has made great strides this season, now playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez has also taken a positive step and could be a teammate of Judge’s in the near future. Or Sanchez could be used as a trade piece at the deadline considering McCann’s contract and the depth of catchers in the organization.

I made a radio appearance on FanSided's Yanks Go Yard Radio Show Sunday night. We talked about the Yankees in the first half. Give it a listen here.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.