George Steinbrenner AP

“What would George Steinbrenner do?” What a ridiculous question

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There’s no sense in sugarcoating it. The Yankees are playing terrible baseball right now. They have lost seven of ten and the offense is in the crapper. Of course it’s early yet, and unless you believe that the Orioles are going to continue to win one-run games all the time and put up big offensive numbers despite striking out a ton and never walking, the Yankees should be back in this thing eventually. But yes, things are bad at the moment.

But no matter how bad things get in the Bronx, could we please dispense with the hacky “If George Steinbrenner were alive he’d …” rebop?  I’m lookin’ at you Wallace Matthews:

This was the kind of night when, in the old Yankee Stadium, George Steinbrenner might have commandeered the PA system to apologize to the fans and maybe offer them a rain check to a future game … In another era, “The Boss” might have grabbed the microphone and apologized for this one, and then stormed into the office to fire someone.

These days, you’ve got to hope the Baby Boss, in his own quiet way, is cooking up something similar.

Yes, because the Yankees’ post-1995 success was totally built on knee-jerk firings as opposed to Steinbrenner, for once in his life, not messing with that which smart baseball people put together. What would George Steinbrenner do?  Probably a bunch of stupid, poorly thought-out things that did way more to generate back page headlines than improve the baseball team. That’s what Steinbrenner would do.

But  sure, if you want to go back to the days when Bob Lemon, Gene Michael, Clyde King and Billy Martin ran around a revolving door and the team didn’t win squat, go right ahead. But that’s not what made the Jeter-era Yankees successful.

The 2012 Yankees are a slumping team that, I suspect, will stop slumping soon and begin crushing the ball again. It’s also possible, on the other hand, that, yes, it’s a team that is suddenly feeling its age and said slump is less aberration than it is the new normal.

But whichever of those things it is, firing people and doing dumb angry things will not help. This is the team Joe Girardi has, and its particular personnel and contractual composition do not make it amenable to quick or easy fixes. You can’t can Girardi and resurrect Billy Martin, nor can you trade A-Rod and Teixeira for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.  To suggest otherwise is to abdicate anything approaching reasonable analysis in favor of mindless yammering.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.