What's next for Yanks in light of Lee's rejection?

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What's next for Yanks in light of Lee's rejection?

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

Cliff Lee's completely unexpected decision to leave money on the table -- from both New York and Texas -- and join the Phillies leaves the Yankees in the unfamiliar position of bridesmaid.

And where they go from here is anybody's guess.

Not since Greg Maddux in the 1992-93 offseason have the Yanks lost out on their prime free-agent target, and now the question is: What's Plan B? Carl Crawford was a potential option, but he, of course, is gone. There's been talk of them trading for the Royals' Zack Greinke; however, in the trade market the Yankees lose the overwhelming edge -- their checkbook -- they have in the free-agent part of talent acquisition. They'd have to satisfy Kansas City with minor-league prospects, and there's no guarantee the Royals won't receive a better offer elsewhere.

(Plus, there's also the not-so-inconsequential matter of Greinke's social anxiety disorder, which may make him unwillingnot suited to play in New York. That unwillingness cost them Lee's services, apparently; sources indicate the left-hander preferred not to deal with the white-hot Yankee spotlight. "He didn't want to pitch in New York," one Yankee official told the New York Daily News.)

But first the Yanks will have to recover from the psychic blow of being rejected, something they're not used to. In fact, their bedrock belief -- that anyone who's anyone should lust to be a Yankee -- was articulated by owner Hank Steinbrenner last week to the Associated Press:

"For somebody of that stature, it would certainly behoove him to be a Yankee."

How much blame will fall on the head of general manager Brian Cashman is anyone's guess. But, in discussing the Yankees' situation last week, he doesn't sound like he's inclined to make desperate, reactionary moves to make up for the loss of Lee.

"We have a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in CC Sabathia, an 18-game winner in Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett will rebound," Cashman said. "We also have some of the best young pitchers in baseball and a top 10 minor-league system. We got a really good team and will make it better regardless of what transpires.

"I am not panicked by it."

But how about everybody else in New York?

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play through injuries, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to hit better as the designated hitter, or give someone else a chance in his place.

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage.

Putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that he can heal up, or at least attempt to, would be reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup, as has been the case the last two days — you're hampering the roster.

Ramirez was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday because of his left knee, which was hit by a pitch Sunday. He’s been bothered by his shoulders all season.

“He’s improved today. He’s responding to treatment,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday of Ramirez’s knee. “He’s still going through some work right now. Would get a bat in his hand here shortly to determine if he’s available to pinch hit tonight. Prior to yesterday’s game, day to day, and still in that status, but he is improving.”

The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else. Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time should be on the table.

When it comes to lineups vs. lefties, Farrell might be thinking the same way. 

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’d consider playing someone at DH other than Ramirez for performance reasons.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Farrell said. “Where he was so good against left-handed pitching last year, that’s been still a work in progress, for lack of a better way to describe it. So we’re always looking to put the best combination on the field.”

A right-handed hitter, Ramirez is just 5-for-35 (.143) vs. lefties this season, after hitting .346 against them a year ago.

On the flip side: in the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage overall. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season vs. all pitchers.

“You know, the one thing you can’t completely turn away from is what Hanley did last year,” Farrell said. “While I know that’s last year, we’re still working to get some increased performance from him. I think he’s still a key member in our lineup. The presence he provides, the impact that he’s capable of. And yet, we’re still working to get there.”

Farrell said the team hasn’t been able to pinpoint a particular reason for Ramirez’s struggles vs. southpaws.

“No,” Farrell said. “There’s been extensive video review. There’s been extensive conversations with him. There’s been stretches, short stretches, where he’s I think shown the approach at the plate and the all field ability to drive the baseball. That’s been hit and miss a little bit. So, we’re just trying to gain a consistency that he’s been known for.”

Mitch Moreland's been playing with a fractured big toe in his left foot. After he homered and had another impactful night Monday, Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In [Moreland's] most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Asked about that comment a day later, Farrell shot down the idea he was trying to reach Ramirez or anyone else with that remark about playing hurt.

“No,” Farrell said Tuesday. “I respect the question, but that was to highlight a guy who has been dealing with a broken toe, continues to perform at a high level and to compliment Mitch for the way he’s gone about it.”

It doesn't matter why Ramirez isn't producing, at a certain point. Either he is or he isn't. If not, they need to be willing to give someone else an extended look, whether it lands Ramirez on the DL or simply the bench.

Farrell suspended one game for last week's run-in with umpire

Farrell suspended one game for last week's run-in with umpire

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell has been suspended one game because of Saturday night's scream-fest with umpire Bill Miller, when Farrell objected to a balk call made on Fernando Abad that led to an Angels run in the seventh inning.

Farrell is to serve the suspension on Tuesday night. He has also been fined.

Farrell and the umpire couldn't have been much closer to each other's face, and some contact was made.

"There was contact made, yes. I didn't bump him though," Farrell said a day later. "The tip of my finger touched his shirt."

Miller has ejected Farrell three times, more than any other umpire.

"No, honestly I didn't even know that, someone's brought to my attention that it's been the third time," Farrell said Sunday when asked if that history played in. "I don't have a tote board of who's done what and how many times