Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Evaluating The New Acquisitions At The Break

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

A popular thing to do in the blog world at the All-Star break is hand out midterm grades to your team's players and their first half performances.  Most of the grades you'd see from me if I were to do that would be C's, and that's not just because the Yankees have a .500 record and have looked blah in every way through 94 games.  For the most part, things have gone the way the way they had been going and the way they were expected to go for the returning Yankee core.  Father time has caught up to guys like Derek Jeter and Hiroki KurodaIvan Nova and Michael Pineda have provided more questions than answers about their futures, and CC Sabathia's performance decline has continued in perfect harmony with his physical decline.  These guys are who we thought they were and who we were afraid they'd become.

It was the new guys on the block who were supposed to be the fixers.  They were the ones who were going to propel the holdover group back into the playoffs and bridge the gap into the next generation of Yankee baseball.  Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka, the $458 billion saviors.  Or so we thought.  Expectations have hardly been met by this group, although their respective performances have hardly been poor across the board, and some of the blame for the team's present position falls on some of these shoulders.  Here's a quick recap of how that half bil investment is paying off so far.

Luis Severino Promoted To Double-A

I know a lot of people aren't fans of this move, saying it was too soon and that Severino would have benefited more from spending the rest of this year in Tampa.  Here's why all of those people are wrong.  Severino averaged a shade under 5 IP per start with a 2.79 ERA and a 25.3% K rate in 67.2 IP at Low-A before getting bumped to Tampa.  In 4 starts there he's averaged a shade OVER 5 IP with a 1.31 ERA and 35.0% K rate in 20.2 IP.  He's been markedly better against what is supposed to be better competition.  There's nothing left for him to learn at the High-A level and so he should be moved up.  Keeping him in Tampa solely for the sake of keeping him there would be a waste of time.

By moving Severino up to Double-A, the Yankees are giving him a real challenge and giving themselves and the rest of baseball a new measuring stick by which to evaluate his talents.  The jump from High-A to Double-A is much bigger than Low-A to High-A, and a good performance here for the rest of this year will legitimize all the early praise and prospect ranking raises Severino has received and solidify him as one of the best young pitching prospects in baseball.  If he does experience a few growing pains, then he can spend more time at this level next year to work on things.  Really a no-lose situation for him and the Yankees if you think about it.

Briefly On Jeter's Last All-Star Game...

(Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports)

I thought it was awesome.  All of it.  Most of what went down last night is going to get swallowed up in Adam Wainwright-gate today, and that's fine.  I really don't care if he grooved a pitch for Jeter or not.  As tiresome as the MSM's love for Jeter can get, and I've admittedly soured on a lot of his media-made reputation as I've gotten older, last night was really cool to watch.  It was great seeing how much respect and genuine admiration all the players had for him, it was great seeing the old inside-out swing for a double down the right field line again, and it was great to see Jeter make that diving stop in the 1st and show that he can still dial it up and do stuff like that from time to time, even at age 40.

There are great players, good players, All Stars, and MVPs, but there are very few generational players in baseball.  Derek Jeter is a generational player.  He's one of, if not the first player you think of when you think of the last 20 years of baseball, and hundreds of years from now when people are looking back through history, he'll still be the first name associated with this era.  Players like that deserve to have a special send-off from their peers and fellow competitors and fans and it was neat to get to watch Jeter get that moment last night.  It was cool with Mo, it was cool with Cal Ripken, and it was cool last night.  Even somebody as jaded on Jeter as me can admit and appreciate that.