Wednesday, July 2, 2014


OK, it’s still too early to call the Brian Roberts reclamation experiment” a bust.  After all, the season is just reaching the half-way point.  Still, the project is on the precipice of failure.
Roberts was once the premiere second baseman in the American League.  He had power (18 HR in 2005 with Baltimore) and speed (120 stolen bases from 2007 through 2009), and could hit for a decent average (.294 average from 2005 through 2009).  He never won a Gold Glove, but he was a solid fielder (had .991 fielding percentage in 2007).  Unfortunately, he has suffered through a series of injuries over the past six seasons and hasn’t played in more than 77 games since 2008.

Hoping to catch a little bit of what once was, the Yankees signed Roberts to a one-year, $2 million deal.

I’m starting to think there isn’t anything left.

This season he’s batting .233, and rather than improving over time, he is getting progressively worse.  He started the season slow at the plate, hitting just .222 in April.  In May there was hope as he hit .267 but as the temperature rose, his average dropped, and in June the former Oriole star is hitting .202.

(In Photo: Rob Refsnyder)
Before you think the team needs to swing some one-sided (and not for our side) deal to land a star infielder, consider Rob Refsnyder.  He’s a 23-year-old second baseman who appears to be on the Yankees’ fast-track through the minor league system; and rightly so. 

The kid can rake.

Drafted by the Bombers in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, Refsnyder has done nothing but hit.

In 2013 he hit .370 at Charleston before being moved up to Tampa where he hit .283.  This year he began the season with Double-A Trenton, and after hitting .342 through 60 games there, he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton.

There hasn’t been a letdown.

To date, Refsnyder is batting .371 through 19 games with the Rail Riders.  I don’t think it was supposed to get easier

If you are wondering whether he has “pop” in his bat, fear not.  He has hit three home runs with Scranton.  Translate that to 162 games and you have a guy that can hit in the 25 home run neighborhood.  Not bad for a second baseman.

Does he have speed?  In Refsnyder’s minor league career he is 41 out of 54 in stolen bases.  Yeah, he has speed.

In the field he has been perfect on the 64 chances he’s had at Scranton.  Overall, his minor league fielding percentage at second base is .957 – below average.  By comparison, Roberts has a .979 fielding pct with the Yankees.  It should be pointed out that Refsnyder began his journey through “Yankeeland” as a right fielder with Charleston in 2012.  Given his youth, with more experience the fielding will come.

Considering that the Yankees rank among the bottom three teams in production from second base, it might make sense to “freshen” things up and bring in some new energy.  Refsnyder has the talent to be used throughout the order, and is versatile enough to step into an outfield spot when needed. 
We should keep Brian Roberts around to help with the youngster’s growth and provide occasional at-bats off the bench or spot starts at second.  It is in that role where Roberts can be most valuable to the team.

This is the time of the year when MLB teams call up some of their future stars to give their club a boost at the halfway point of the marathon season. 

There is no better opportunity to see what we have behind the “front lines” of our infield than now.  Given what we’ve witnessed to this point, what can it hurt?


--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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