Streaking Yankees Could Find It Tough to Sell Come Trade Season

Danny KnoblerMLB Lead WriterJune 10, 2016

New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) and relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) celebrate with Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Hicks, right, after a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday, June 9, 2016, in New York. The Yankees won 6-3. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

NEW YORK — The stories saying the New York Yankees would sell at the trade deadline were already starting to appear.

It made perfect sense, because the Yankees are old and flawed and sure don't look like a team set up to win a championship. Trade Aroldis Chapman, trade Carlos Beltran, maybe even trade Andrew Miller and the Yankees could set themselves up for a better future.

It still makes perfect sense, except for one small detail: Check the schedule.

Look hard at the next two-plus weeks, because the Yankees have a ton of games coming up against teams just like the hapless Los Angeles Angels they beat up on the last four nights. Look at all those games against the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins, and even at a series in San Diego the first week of July.

The Yankees are three games out of a wild-card spot after Thursday night's 6-3 win over the Angels. Ask yourself, can you really imagine they'll lose enough of those games against the Twins and Rockies to be out of contention by the All-Star break?

More likely, they'll be right in the middle of the playoff race when it comes time to make a buy/sell decision in the second half of July. Given the way the Yankees normally think, it's hard to equate that with a decision to sell.

Look, sometimes teams become surprise sellers. The Detroit Tigers are another organization that believes in going for it, but when they were on the fringes of the wild-card race last July, the Tigers moved David Price and Yoenis Cespedes to give themselves a better chance to win in 2016 and beyond.

Aroldis Chapman will be a free agent after the season and could be a top trade target, if the Yankees do sell in July.
Aroldis Chapman will be a free agent after the season and could be a top trade target, if the Yankees do sell in July.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Perhaps the Yankees could end up making the same call this year, but it sure seems doubtful. They don't have players who would bring the same return the Tigers got for Price and Cespedes, and the schedule gives you every reason to believe they'll hang around in the race.

Already Thursday, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball wrote that "Yankees higher-ups have determined they are having no selloff in the immediate future."

That was before their latest win over the Angels, a team that had pitching issues even before it had injury issues. The Yankees scored 29 runs in their four wins, just the second time this season they've had five runs or more in each of four consecutive games.

With Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner getting hot at the top of the order, and with Beltran staying hot in the middle of it, the Yankees looked like the team they have hoped all season they would be. Beltran was the first Yankee in 39 years (since Chris Chambliss in 1977) to have at least two RBI in each game of a series of at least four games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"If we continue to do what we're doing now, it's going to be fun for us," Beltran said.

If they don't, it could be fun for him to go to a team with a lot better chance to win. But the 39-year-old Beltran, who chose the Yankees the last time he became a free agent, would rather stay here.

"I just want to go out and do my job," he said. "What the front office is going to do, they already have their plans. It's just that you don't know what that plan is, and we don't know it."

The Yankees may indeed have their plans, but plans change all the time in baseball. Earlier Thursday, an American League official was thinking back to 2014, when the Kansas City Royals reached July wondering whether they should be deadline buyers or sellers.

Carlos Beltran can still hit enough to help a contender.
Carlos Beltran can still hit enough to help a contender.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The 2014 Royals won just enough July games that they didn't sell, and they ended up going all the way to the World Series.

The Yankees don't look like a World Series team, but they don't look like a team with no chance—at least not when they play an opponent like the Angels.

As of Thursday, the Angels ranked 24th in the major leagues in team ERA. Two of the six teams behind them are the ones the Yankees will play the next two weeks.

After this weekend, when they have three home games against the Tigers, the Yankees go to Colorado (28th in ERA) for two games and to Minnesota (29th in ERA) for four. Then they come home and play those same two teams again.

Late Thursday night, the Yankees were wondering who will play first base, because after two successful nights at the position, Chris Parmelee was headed to the disabled list with a right hamstring injury. The truth is that against opponents like the Angels, Rockies and Twins, it hardly matters who's on first.

The Yankees can't build a championship by beating bad teams, but they can build an argument against a selloff. Maybe they'll be brave enough to pull the plug even if they win a lot of these games against bad teams.

More likely, a few series like the one against the Angels will be enough to convince them they still have a chance.

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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