Entering their series finale with the Minnesota Twins this afternoon, the New York Yankees’ record sits at 37-36, 6.5 games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles (44-30) and 2.5 games back for the second American League wild card.
However, poor hitting, inconsistent starting pitching, and in general, finding ways to lose — not win — games has been the narrative of the Yankees’ season. The bullpen, spearheaded by the dominant trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman, has helped to shorten games — when the Yankees can secure a lead heading into the seventh inning.
Also, guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, and Didi Gregorius have rebounded from poor starts and are enjoying adequate seasons. Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran has been the rock of the Yankees’ lineup, hitting a brisk 0.290/0.328/0.573 with 19 home runs and 53 runs batted in through 70 games. Last season, Beltran hit 0.276/0.337/0.471 with 19 HR and 67 RBIs through 133 games — so he’s on pace to eclipse all of his totals from 2015.
However, the veterans who carried the Yankees’ offense last season, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, have done little to contribute this season. Teixeira returned yesterday after a stint on the disabled list due to a torn cartilage in his knee. Some expected “Tex” to miss the rest of the season but he miraculously healed in a matter of weeks. But in the Yankees’ 2-1 win yesterday afternoon, Teixeira went hitless in three at-bats, dropping his season totals to 0.176/0.271/0.259 with three HR and 12 RBIs.
As for Rodriguez, he’s shown improvements with the bat but for the most part, he’s been ineffective. With his own DL stint mixed in, A-Rod is hitting 0.223/0.264/0.398 with eight HR and 26 RBIs in 44 games. He also does not give the Yankees much flexibility since he’s strictly a designated hitter at this stage and cannot play in the field. That means Beltran, a 39-year-old with bad knees who’s a poor defender has to play right field every day.
If both men do not improve, Joel Sherman and of the New York Post opines that the Yankees cut ties with them at some point this season. The veteran sluggers have combined for 11 homers, 38 RBIs,.595 OPS and a slash line of 0.199/0.268/0.320 this season, leaving a lot to be desired. In Teixeira’s absence, prospect Rob Refsnyder received a lot of time at first base and while his defense is a work in progress, he held his own with the bat (0.286/0.339/0.393).
It would be an expensive proposition for the Yankees to cut ties with both men — mostly for financial reasons. Teixeira is in the final year of his contract with New York and is earning $22.5 million. As for A-Rod, he’s under contract until next season, making $20 million both season.
Sherman points out that the Colorado Rockies (Jose Reyes) and Los Angeles Dodgers (Carl Crawford) both ate a lot of money to cut ties with veteran players. The moves cost the teams $39 million and $35 million, respectively. It might be easier in Teixeira’s case since he’s a free agent but with Greg Bird done for 2016, few other viable candidates exist.
If A-Rod is cut, Sherman says the Yankees could move Beltran to the DH slot and improve their outfield by giving more playing time to Aaron Hicks or call up top prospect Aaron Judge. All-Star weekend is just a shade over two weeks away and Sherman says the Yankees need to take that time to evaluate both men’s’ value to the roster.
While others may be quick to write the veterans off, Yankees catcher Brian McCann is more optimistic than most about their abilities.
“One hundred percent I think that [Rodriguez and Teixeira hitting] will happen,” McCann said to the NY Post. “I go off bat speed, and their bat speed looks good. And I go off their track records, and they obviously have that.”
[Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]