Time keeps ticking. That’s a constant. Or is it? Some theoretical physicists maintain the common person's understanding of time, that it is moving forward and will move forward endlessly, is just a human construct, and that in fact the past, present, and future all occur simultaneously. But this is not the time (ha!) or place to discuss theoretical physics, so please ignore everything that came before this sentence.
The few days remaining until the August 31 waiver trade deadline are melting away. As the Yankees' offense flounders, Toronto surges (and is seemingly set to never lose a game again), and so, rather predictably, suggestions the Yankees could make a waiver trade are intensifying. That, and a whole bunch of other crazy gossip came to the fore recently. Let’s take a look at some rumors and gossip:
- On Sunday, Brian Cashman said the Yankees would be making no waiver trades and that the roster is, for all intents and purposes, set. That was, however, prior to the escalation of CC Sabathia’s knee condition and his subsequent assignment to the 15-day disabled list. It’s not like Sabathia was making a huge contribution this season anyway – that’s some 4.83 FIP he’s managed to cultivate – but perception and feeling is everything, and his injury will raise questions about the rotation. Before Toronto acquired David Price and Troy Tulowitzki the Yankees were almost a lock to win the division; now, that position is very much in question, and indeed many would look at events over the past two weeks and say Toronto have become the favorites. (On August 1, Baseball Prospectus put the Yankees’ odds at taking the division at 75%. Two days ago, those odds were at 38%.) So could the Yankees add some value through the waiver wire?
- Between Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, and Masahiro Tanaka, the team’s rotation is more or less set, and Bryan Mitchell is a likely candidate to fill in the #5 slot upon his return from the DL. But it’s been suggested the Yankees could swap Mitchell with James Shields. Shields has a 4.20 FIP on the year which means he wouldn’t be a whole lot better than Mitchell – actually, he'd probably be worse than Mitchell, and he’d certainly be worse than Adam Warren. Shields has cleared waivers so he'd conceivably be an option, but he's very much a long shot as it's unlikely the Yankees would be willing to take on his contract for little to no (and perhaps even negative!) added value.
- When we last reported on Jose Reyes, the long term factors around the thirty-two-year-old shortstop’s worth meant the Yankees weren't interested. Yes, in the short-term he would present a small (but perhaps still important) upgrade at the plate over Stephen Drew, but in the long term he is very clearly declining, is owed a significant sum of money, and is under contract through 2017. It’s still hugely unlikely the Yankees will bite on Reyes.
- Ready for some free agent rumors? It’s said part of the Yankees’ reluctance to upgrade second base – either internally through Rob Refsnyder or externally through an option like Reyes – is that the team is likely to make a major run at Ben Zobrist this offseason. Zobrist will, of course, be hitting free agency, providing he doesn’t reach some kind of agreement with the Royals before then. His play was hindered earlier in the year because of injury, but since being traded to Kansas City the thirty-four-year-old utility hero has galloped along with a .330/.412/.534 slash. Whoever signs him, Zobrist is in for some payday.
- If the Yankees snag Zobrist, that’ll be curtains on Refsnyder’s time with the team – expect him to be traded. And if it’s true the organization has issues with Refsnyder’s makeup, they’ll have no compunctions about moving him anyway. His time away from the Majors has kept him relatively sheltered, which is a good thing from the team's perspective – let him continue to play well against Triple-A pitching, they might reason, and leave any questions about his Major League readiness (and his makeup) for the next team he lands with.
- So what about adding value internally? Rosters expand in September, which means any player on the 40-man roster can join the team. While the smart money was on Aaron Judge being kept at Triple-A for service time reasons, it’s now thought the club’s offensive slump has the front office reconsidering. Judge will probably be called up, along with Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, and Refsnyder.
- Greg Bird has certainly impressed in his twelve games with the Major League side, but with Alex Rodriguez ossified at DH and Mark Teixeira blocking first base (providing he’s healthy, which he presently isn’t), Bird is out of position and riding the bench. Joel Sherman asked Brian Cashman if Bird could play right field, and the response was categorically negative: "The move to the outfield would not make sense," said Cashman, continuing, "He is just not athletic enough for that. He is what he is."
- Here’s a fact I’ll let chunder through your mind: Derek Jeter apparently outplayed President Obama at golf last November. According to Obama, Jeter initially pretended to be garbage: "When we got to the practice range, he was shanking balls everywhere," the President of the United States of America said. But once they got to the real thing, Jeter reportedly cut loose with his true golf talent level. "Derek Jeter stole money from me," Obama said. My advice to Jeter: repay the President with one of your trademark gift baskets.
- There was a bit of a stir last night as Carlos Gomez had a disagreement with John Ryan Murphy (and the Yankees dugout). It was, rather predictably, about nothing: Gomez, frustrated at flying out, flipped his bat angrily; some of the Yankees took exception to this – baseball is, rather idiotically, a game where emotion is largely prohibited (because why would anybody want to be human?) – and benches cleared in the lame way they are prone to. Meanwhile, Joe Girardi suggested "some guys took exception to the way [Gomez] flipped the bat." So was the well documented Carlos Gomez-Brian McCann beef at the core of this? Not according to Gomez: "We don’t have no history. He’s my friend. Why do you bring that up?" We’ll call their friendship status unconfirmed, but "We don’t have no history" is about as false as it is possible to be: