Last night, down in the Stygian coal mines of Moosic, Pa., the Yankees “second-baseman of the future,” Rob Refsnyder went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. That gives him four doubles and a homer in his last eight games, batting .344 over that stretch. At Triple A, he’s hitting .301.
Oh… and did I mention that Refsnyder last night was playing right field?
Yep, right field. That’s where he projects to be a fourth OF or career Triple A player, by the way. Yep, the Yankees “second baseman of the future” now plays practically every other game in right field. Why? Ask your Magic 8-Ball. I’ve given up trying to figure out why the Yankees think and do what they do, other that to conclude that Mr. Brian Roberts – not Lou Gehrig – has been the luckiest Yankee on the face of the earth.
For the record, the Yankees say Refsnyder is not ready for prime time at 2B. Thus, they’re playing him in RF, where I guess he can learn 2B by watching it from a nearby position. Well, actually, they say he’s learning the slot, but they’re not going to bring him up this year, because it would mean a roster move, and they are complicated – anyone seen Bruce Billings lately? – Ref needs work on the glove, and Scranton’s battling for fourth and – “Hey, isn’t that Scarlet Johannson?! Isn’t she great! Move along, everybody, there’s nothing here to see, we’re working on trades, can’t talk now, move along, la-la-la, take it away, Michael Kay!!!!”
The 2014 Yankee season has been marked by two Prime Yankee Directives:
1) Honor Derek Jeter in his final year.
2) Play Brian Roberts at second base.
Listen: I got nothing against Roberts. Once, he was a great Oriole. He’s a grinder, a class act, a wily veteran, takes a lot of pitches, nice to children, holds the door for ladies, yattayattayatta… Only one drawback: At this point in life, he sucks. He’s ninth among AL 2B in hitting – and arguably the worst in the league, if you consider the two guys below him have more power.
The old Brian Roberts never showed up this year. Though hobbled in spring training, he was handed 2B on a plate of oysters. The Yankees traded Eduardo Nunez and went north with Dean Anna – remember him? – and the iconic Yangervis Solarte, but as soon as Roberts limped off the DL, The Dean of Hitting vanished and Yangervis bumped the mysterious Kelly Johnson off third, where Solarte eventually fumbled too many balls to keep the position.
Roberts enjoyed a nice little hitting streak in late May. His batting average rose to .260 – bottle oxygen! – then slowly began to wither down to the naked .230s, where it hasn’t budged. He has the range of a clam. Lately, his glove has also become clam-like: It doesn’t open at the right time. Last weekend, Roberts botched an infield bloop that opened the flood gates for Toronto. It was a play we might look back on someday as the fulcrum point of this season. It wasn’t ruled an error. (Oh, what home cooking by the Yankee official scorers.) It was just a play Roberts had to make… but didn’t. Folks, this is a recurring theme. He doesn’t make the plays that must be made. He won’t get younger. He’s old, he’s tired, and every aspect of his game is cracking, like a tire left too long in the sun. I hate ripping the guy, but what else is there to say? Do we close our eyes and pretend he’s doing the job?
Meanwhile, the Yankees remain adamant – adamant! – that Refsnyder will NEVER get a shot this season. He’s simply not ready. It’s the same thing they said about their other Scranton 2B – Jose Pirela, the International League’s all-star 2B. Pirela is batting over .300, but the Yankees two months ago began moving him to other positions, as if to make it clear to anyone unfortunate enough to play 2B in Scranton: Don’t even think about New York, pal, not as long as Brian Roberts can lace up his shoes.
So here we are: A tired, faltering team, always looking for ways to lose… and a desperate front office, preparing to mortgage the future at this annual trade deadline. Every other franchise in baseball would make the move toward youth. Every other franchise would say, “Why not?” But not the Yankees. Nope. We’re smarter than they are. We know something they don’t know.
So… exactly what photographs of Hal Steinbrenner are out there?
What secrets are he hiding. How do we get a Polaroid? Or a video. Witness? Deposition? Bodies?Kinky boots? Whatever… we need it. Apparently, that’s the only thing that’s going to change this wretched organization.