The 1st of September is finally here and it is time to cue up all the classic baseball cliches. All the "it's coming down to the wire" and "we're in the final stretch" quotes are soon to be out in full force, rightfully so. It is indeed coming down to the wire and the Yankees are in the final stretch of the 2015 regular season. They currently reside in second place in the AL East behind the Toronto Blue Jays, while also leading the pack for the Wild Card slots. The Yankees are in their first playoff hunt since...well last year, even though it really doesn't seem like it at times. Kind of amazing how playoff hunts are enhanced when the team you root for is actually fun to watch.
This has been mentioned before but aside from a few changes here and there, the 2015 Yankees are not all that much different from the 2014 Yankees. Yes, Brian Cashman traded for Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi, two moves which have thus far proven to be absolute steals for the Yankees' GM. Even with those improvements, the key difference has been production from the middle of the lineup. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are hitting well and driving in runs. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have each had fantastic comeback seasons. This is what they needed last year and didn't get due to injuries, bad luck, being suspended, and all the other things that made 2014 such a drag.
Speaking of things that were a drag in 2014, Stephen Drew has undoubtedly been the primary "hate vessel" for Yankee fans this season. It's not hard to see why. With the rest of the Bombers playing pretty decent to excellent baseball, Stephen Drew has just been there being Stephen Drew, the potential answer to why hitting too many home runs can be a bad thing. Drew's batting average literally just crossed over the fabled Mendoza line a couple of days ago, the first time he's been over it since July of last year. Stephen Drew is just not a fun player to watch.
For the past month or so, Drew has been serviceable at the very least. Yankee fans are not the biggest fans of serviceable players. Boone Logan was serviceable. Phil Hughes was serviceable. Brian Roberts was serviceable. The list goes on and on. All of those players were eventually replaced or traded away. Fans were even slightly excited when the Yankees acquired Drew because both Roberts and Kelly Johnson were gone. Drew was worse and he's still here after over a year of going from bad to serviceable. Second base has not been a fun position to watch since Robinson Cano left.
Rob Refsnyder was the hopeful solution to that problem--a young second base prospect with questionable defense and highly touted offense. To expect him to be Cano was silly, but the similarities were close enough that there was still hope. When the Yankees called him up before the trade deadline, there was a lot of excitement. Was it his time? Could he finally knock Drew off this team? These were exciting questions in July which have essentially been answered by the beginning of September. A little over a month later, he has gone from being a potential answer at second base to merely being a footnote among the list of reinforcements that will be in the dugout tonight.
At this point, we cannot nor should not expect Refsnyder to take any time away from Drew. Perhaps he will take some at bats away from Brendan Ryan, but it's even hard to get excited about that anymore. They could have kept him up on the major league roster to do that earlier. We may never know the reason that Refsnyder was sent back down to Scranton and at this point it doesn't really matter. Whatever the reason was, they still felt that Drew and Ryan were better options than him. To be blunt, it's not a very encouraging sign for the young rookie.
If you gave Yankee fans a choice between a serviceable Stephen Drew or a serviceable Rob Refsynder a month ago, the majority of fans would have most likely picked Refsnyder due to his non Drew-ness. He's young, he has more potential for improvement than Drew, and he's a homegrown Yankee farm hand. Those players are fun. They're exciting. They're the ones fans really love to root for. Then you read things like this.
Since the All-Star break Stephen Drew: .248/.315/.416 in NY Rob Refsndyer: .222/.292/.363 in AAA— Lohud Yankees Blog (@LoHudYankees) August 30, 2015
The stats certainly do not scream "excitement" right now. It's still very possible that given that choice again today, some fans would still choose Refsnyder over Drew for the same reasons mentioned above. They would not be all that wrong in their choice, but the truth is that Refsnyder is irrelevant to the Yankees immediate future.
Last year, despite the awfulness of Roberts and Drew, Refsnyder just had to be an exciting change of pace and scenery. This year, he had to be better than Drew or Ryan or else be mocked and booed by an impatient and playoff hungry fanbase. We'll never know if he could have and right now it doesn't matter. Despite the lack of Refsnyder and the abundance of Drew, it has finally been fun to watch the Yankees play baseball again. Resurgent hitting, an amazing bullpen, a somewhat promising young pitching staff, and a potential playoff run should have every Yankee fan excited.
The 2015 Yankees do not need Rob Refsnyder. They never really did. As mentioned earlier in the year, if the Yankees' offense was relying on the bats of either Stephen Drew or Rob Refsnyder, things would not have been going well. The 2014 Yankees, a team for which things did not go well, needed Refsnyder. That team was not fun to watch. It needed a potential spark of offense in a season plagued with all the things mentioned above that made 2014 drag. It needed someone young, fun, and exciting to root for. This year, especially right now, they need health and reliability from players not named Drew or Refsnyder.
Ultimately, if the worst thing Yankee fans are complaining about in 2015 is too much Stephen Drew and not enough Rob Refsnyder, it has been a pretty good year. Time to see if they can end it on the highest of notes.