2015 Midseason Review: The Risky, High-Upside Rotation

2015 Midseason Review: The Frustrating and Evolving Nathan Eovaldi
Update: Yankees agree to sign first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian

Boy, the rotation was such a big concern coming into the season. We were talking about every scrap heap starter imaginable in Spring Training — Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner, Randall Delgado, Erasmo Ramirez, yikes — as if they would be some kind of upgrade. The Yankees never did add another starter in camp, and while the staff as a whole has been just okay (4.24 ERA and 3.75 FIP), they’ve stayed relatively healthy and have the potential to be much better in the second half. Nathan Eovaldi is both frustrating and evolving. The rest of the rotation? Let’s review.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Elbow Holding Up, Pitches Left Up

Needless to say, Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow was the single biggest injury risk the Yankees had heading into the 2015 season. He’s their ace, he was one of the ten best pitchers in baseball before getting hurt last year, and now the partially torn ligament in his elbow is like a storm cloud looming over every pitch. You can’t help but let it linger in the back of your mind.

So far this season Tanaka’s elbow has stayed in one piece — he spent a month on the DL with wrist tendinitis and a minor forearm strain, and of course forearm strains are synonymous with elbow problems — but his performance has been uneven. He’s had some truly great starts and some truly awful ones as well. The end result is a 3.63 ERA (3.60 FIP) with strikeout (24.9%), walk (4.8%), and ground ball (47.6%) rates right in line with last year (26.0%, 3.9%, and 46.6%, respectively).

Tanaka’s start-to-start performance has been much more unpredictable, however. Last year he had an average Game Score of 63.4 with a standard deviation of 13.3. This year it’s an average of 56.3 with a standard deviation of 18.7, which means Tanaka’s starts this season are deviating from his average Game Score by a larger margin. So when he’s good, he’s really good, but when he’s been bad, he’s been really bad. Tanaka has some terrible starts earlier this season, no doubt about it.

The common thread whenever Tanaka has a subpar start seems to be his location, particularly leaving pitches up in the zone. Not so much his fastball, but his slider and splitter. Tanaka’s split-piece is world class, that thing is devastating, but if it’s left up in the zone rather than buried in the dirt, it’s basically a batting practice fastball. It’s no surprise then that Tanaka’s home run rate has climbed from 0.99 HR/9 (14.0 HR/FB%) last year to 1.34 HR/9 (15.4 HR/FB%) this year.

No, Tanaka has not been as good as he was last season before the injury, but overall he’s been solid for the Yankees this year and at times spectacular. The Yankees want to see more of the spectacular Tanaka in the second half and they’re going to need him to get to the postseason. So far his elbow is holding up — his velocity is fine and his swing-and-miss rate is still top notch — and that ace ability exists. More start-to-start consistency and fewer grooved pitches are the key going forward.

(Presswire)
That’s quite the wingspan. (Presswire)

Large Michael

Okay, so I knew Michael Pineda had been pretty awesome in the first half, but holy smokes, I didn’t realize how good his rates are: 25.2% strikeouts, 3.0% walks, 50.3% grounders. That is insane. Among the 97 qualified starters that is the 14th best strikeout rate, the fourth best walk rate, and the 22nd best ground ball rate. Holy smokes. Only Max Scherzer (10.71) has a better K/BB ratio than Pineda (8.54). Gosh.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, we have to talk about Pineda’s good but not great 3.64 ERA (109 ERA+) and those 115 hits he’s allowed in 106.1 innings. The peripherals are fan-friggin-tastic, but there’s a disconnect here. The 1.01-run gap between Pineda’s ERA and FIP is the fifth largest gap among qualified starters and by far the largest among pitchers with a sub-4.00 ERA. When Pineda is on, he does things like this …

… but when he’s off, he can’t command his slider and runs short on weapons. Pineda’s slider is absurd when it’s on. It’s an unhittable pitch. But when he doesn’t have it working, Pineda almost becomes a one-pitch pitcher because his changeup, while improved, isn’t a consistent weapon yet. His low-to-mid-90s fastball is really good, it’s just less good when hitters don’t have to honor the slider.

Like Tanaka, Pineda has had his fair share of brilliant starts and duds this year, though Pineda’s duds were bunched together — he had a 6.10 ERA (4.09 FIP) in the seven starts immediately following the 16-strikeout game. Big Mike had a 2.68 ERA (1.89 FIP) in six starts before the 16-strikeout game and he had a 1.25 ERA (1.74 FIP) in his last three starts before the break. So it was seven really bad starts sandwiched between two excellent stretches. Maybe he overextended himself during the 16-strikeout game and it threw him out of whack a bit.

Either way, the biggest concern with Pineda going forward is his workload. He’s on pace for 195 innings after throwing 76.1 innings last year, 40.2 innings the year before, and none the year before that due to shoulder surgery. The Yankees already skipped one of his starts and they will inevitably do it again in the second half. They have no choice. His right arm is too special and it already broke once. They can’t push it again. Like Tanaka, Pineda has ace upside at his best, though the Yankees will have to rein in his excellence in the second half to keep him healthy.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

End Of The Line

Believe it or not, I picked CC Sabathia to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year before the season. That was pure homerism, me foolishly thinking he would get back on track — not necessarily be an ace again, but serviceable — following knee surgery, but nope. It hasn’t happened. Quite the opposite in fact.

Sabathia’s late-career decline has continued this season with a 5.47 ERA (4.52 FIP) in 100.1 innings. He isn’t walking anyone (4.6%), so that’s good, but he’s giving up a ton of homers (1.70 HR/9) and getting annihilated by right-handed batters (.325/.367/.565 and .397 wOBA). His dominance of left-handed batters (.189/.198/.258 and .198 wOBA) would be more useful if he faced more than 91 of ’em in the first half.

It feels like every Sabathia start plays out the same way: a good first inning that gives you hope he’ll have a good start, a three or four-run second inning that knocks you back to reality, then zeroes the rest of the night that leave you wondering why the One Bad Inning can never be avoided. That’s the Sabathia formula in 2015. It feels like it happens every time out.

The Yankees have already made it known Sabathia will not be losing his rotation spot anytime soon, obviously because of his contract. That’s fine, they’re not the only team giving an undeserving player a lot of playing time because of money, but the Yankees are making life harder on themselves by leaving CC in the rotation. He has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball in 2015, there’s no slicing and dicing the numbers to make it look better, and getting to the postseason will be tougher because of him.

Too Good To Start

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

When the Yankees pulled Adam Warren from the rotation a few weeks ago, he was leading the starters with a 3.59 ERA and had just started to look comfortable in that role. April wasn’t all that good for Warren, who looked very much like a reliever masquerading as a starter, but he got into a groove in the middle of May and was the team’s most reliable starter for a good stretch of time.

Warren lost his starting job through no fault of his own. He pitched well, but the Yankees had a need for a right-handed reliever after David Carpenter flopped and Warren has had success out of the bullpen, plus the team was unwilling to remove Sabathia from the rotation when Ivan Nova returned from Tommy John surgery. Warren did not deserve to move to the bullpen but man, life isn’t fair.

I’m not sure the 14-start stint told us much about Warren we didn’t already know. He threw five pitches regularly, which is something he did even in relief, so it’s not like we had to see if he had the weapons to go through a lineup multiple times. Warren did show he could hold his velocity deep into games, so I guess that’s something we learned:

Adam Warren velocity by inning

His strikeout (16.0%) and ground ball (44.6%) rates as a starter this year certainly weren’t as good as they were as a reliever last year (23.5% and 45.4%, respectively), which isn’t surprising. Every pitcher sees their performance tick up on a rate basis when they move into a short relief role. Warren’s no different. He wasn’t an ace, far from it, but he was a perfectly competent Major League starting pitcher.

It’s easy to forget Warren only made the rotation because Chris Capuano got hurt in Spring Training. He was the sixth starter — if the Yankees are to be believed, he was competing for the sixth starter’s job with Esmil Rogers, which, lol — who got a rotation spot thanks to injury. Capuano’s quad gave Warren an opportunity and he took advantage. He showed he can start in the big leagues. His move to the bullpen says more about the team’s decision-making than it does Warren’s performance.

2015 Midseason Review: The Frustrating and Evolving Nathan Eovaldi
Update: Yankees agree to sign first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian
  • Rob Reddardfsnyder

    Adam Warren A
    Masahiro Tanaka B
    Michael Pineda B
    CC Sabathia F-

    Warren was our best starter. He did everything he was asked to do and it earned him a demotion to the bullpen. He needs to be a starter next year, period. Pineda had a couple bad starts but I thought he was pretty solid. Skipping him a start threw off his rhythym and they should never do that again. The only issue with Tanaka is injury. I think he’s the best ace we’ve had since Roger and we’ll need him in the postseason.

    CC has been a trainwreck and the only way out is if that knee flares up again and he ends up on the DL. He could have a 6 ERA and Joe would just shrug his shoulders and say, it’s not what you want but CC is CC, he’ll figure it out.

    • Bleuboy23

      Would you take Roger’s 5 years or CC’s first five?

  • captainmike

    I hope the yanks are listening to me

    CC NEEDS TO LEARN A NEW PITCH OR HOW TO PITCH WITH WHAT HE HAS GOT LEFT.

    others have done it in the past and he needs to now

    • Chip

      They aren’t..

      Sorry.

      • captainmike

        my kingdom for a horse, and no horse to be found

  • Looser Trader FotD™

    It’s not fine! CC should be out of the rotation. Full stop. This is not dropping Jeter in the batting order (which also should’ve happened). This is a good guy who we’ve paid a shit ton of money to, who has a ton more money coming, who helped us win a title, but now stinks and has stunk for a long time. He should be in the pen, full stop.

  • Centaur Hips

    I think Pineda is set up for a monster second half aside from some skipped starts here and there. Tanaka will be fine if healthy although he might not be quite as dominant as last year due to his HR troubles. CC is what he is at this point, and not what his K/BB or xFIP says he is. Him and Eovaldi have serious platoon issues to fix. Warren’s peripherals were nothing special as a SP, but he still would be fine as a back end guy but that doesn’t really matter right now.

    • Scott

      I was hoping the Yanks would move CC to the 5th starter spot coming out of the ASB but he’s lined up to pitch the 3rd game. Alas

      • Rob Reddardfsnyder

        I didn’t like it either but then I thought they probably wanted him to face Seattle and not Baltimore.

        • Scott

          There is that I suppose.

  • Sir Didihiro Refsamura

    “Believe it or not, I picked CC Sabathia to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year before the season”

    Lol wow. I consider you a very smart baseball guy Mike (High-baseball IQ) but this one was lol

  • grandedan

    The Yanks can keep pretending Tanaka is an Ace, but the fact remains, since his injury he most certainly is not. Aces don’t work on 100 pitch pitch counts. Aces don’t spend half the time on the DL. And Aces aren’t as inconsistent (really like that standard deviation/game score stuff, need to incorporated that in routine pitcher analysis).

    Should be real interesting how the next few years go with him till the opt out.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      ^ absolutely punishing RAB today

      • Sir Didihiro Refsamura

        Really bringing it today

    • Chip

      Weren’t you banned?

  • Chip

    The CC thing has really backed Cashman into a corner. For him to make a trade for a pitcher that makes sense it needs to be one of the big three: Hamels, Cueto, Shark. He’s not going to bounce Nova or Eovaldi from the rotation for someone who might be marginally better like Leake or Haren.

    • grandedan

      I believe the Yanks will add a starter before the end of the month. And depending how the next couple of weeks go, either CC, Nova or Eovaldi will go to the bullpen to make room.

  • grandedan

    The thing about Pineda is, I don’t remember his slider being inconsistent at all last year. The change up has always been a work in progress but as a third pitch, that’s expected. I wonder if his workload has something to do with his slider slippage.

    • Rick

      What’s interesting is that, according to pitch f/x data, all of his pitches have been below average … http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=5372&position=P

    • Dalek Jeter

      He also only made like…13 starts all last year. 4 (including the one where he got ejected) followed by 9 after a huge layoff. It’s a lot easier to be totally on point with your pitches when you’re 100% fresh. This is the first time in 4 years Pineda’s actually dealt with the work of consistently starting (basically) every 5 days. It’s not really that surprising that he isn’t pitching as well as he did last year.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Agree that CC’s in there because of the contract. But not because of the money already committed–it’s the money that *will become* committed if he doesn’t injure his shoulder. He’ll get every opportunity to let the Yankees off the hook for his vesting option year.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    They should have just _______________ (verb, past tense) __________________ (person’s name), as I said _______________ (number) months ago. We wouldn’t be _________________ (verb ending in -ing) as much about our ___________________ (noun) now.

    RAB Mad Libs, everyone.

    • Dalek Jeter

      They should’ve just traded Severino, Judge, CC, Melky, and IPK for Harvey, as I said seven months ago. We Wouldn’t be whining as much about our rotaion

    • Yankee Trader

      They should have just signed every Cuban talented player, as I said many moons ago(before I joined Mike’s excellent RAB’s site). We wouldn’t be worrying one iota as much about our chances to dominate MLB for years to come! :)

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That……was like when I had my mom join and play Mad Libs in the fourth grade.

        • Yankee Trader

          LOL. What grade are you in now?

          • Some Asshole

            Fortieth.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            A very steep grade.

    • Some Asshole

      They should have just shagged Nathan Eovaldi, as I said 472 months ago. We wouldn’t be sucking as much about our Carl Pavano Syndrome now.

    • Mike Myers

      They should have just sold the gold used undies of Giambi as I said 8 months ago. We wouldnt be unluck-ing as much about our BABIP now.

      • Mike Myers

        my underlines didnt work…..no crtl u?

        • Some Asshole

          You’d be better off doing HTML, so and , but without the spaces.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Now as 4th grade Jeff playing MadLibs: The Yankees should have Farted Sabathia as I said 69 months ago. We wouldn’t be pooping as much about our penis now.

      • Some Asshole

        Sounds like my morning.

      • Dalek Jeter

        I mean 4th grade Dalek. My name certainly isn’t Jeff.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        FACT: I got in trouble for running a dirty Mad Libs ring in the fourth grade. You can ask my teacher….who I’m still FB friends with.

  • Frittoman626

    I miss #Hirok

    • Bleuboy23

      Me too! FWIW, he’s 6-4, 2.68 ERA in Japan this year. I’m happy he could afford to turn down $11.5 million and pitch for his old team, as much as I’d like to have him with the Yanks this year.

  • CarlosJ2

    So are the Yankees only playing Sabathia because they hope he gets injured and will save them money, like Deep Thoughts suggested? It makes absolutely no sense to continue playing a horrible player that has a huge contract. You have to pay them regardless of if they play or not, so if they’re hurting the team you might as well bench them. Sunk costs and all that.

    • Frittoman626

      As much as I’ve hated what CC has become and that he’s currently costing the Yankees game, they’re hope he can figure it something out and at least become servicible.

      Baseball is weird and anything can happen. No one expected Tex and A-Rod to rise from the dead and become almost vintage versions of themselves, so there’s still hope. They’re obviously the exceptions, and not the standard, but the Yankees will continue to hope it does whether we like it or not.

      That being said, I give CC less than a 5% chance that he can ever figure it out. Unless he finds a way to get right handers out consistently, there’s no reason to believe he’ll be average again.

  • grandedan

    Cashman is going to make a move. The Yanks have been foreshadowing this since ST. Hal and Cash couldn’t stop patting themselves on the back for their mid-season moves last year even though they didn’t improve the Yanks’ winning pct one bit.

    The question is, will Cash trade a high level prospect for the addition? Perhaps he feels now is time with the team this close to being good. I can only remember him doing that once, the Granderson trade, but even then Cash got control for control. The Yanks have more options in the upper minors than they’ve had in recent times.

    Prices now are probably still sky high. Cash wants to trade a Flores, or Williams or even Sanchez or Refs, but right now, that’s probably not enough.

  • yanksgoyanks

    Perhaps convert Shreve into a starter? he showed great length back in April during hat game against Boston, plus isn’t an injury risk like most of this rotation.

    • Frittoman626

      If they wanted to convert a reliever to a starter, why not just keep Warren as a starter?

      • Stan

        They didn’t WANT to.. they needed to with Nova being unavailable until late June. Converting Shreve makes minimal sense to me.

        • Frittoman626

          You don’t say… I’m responding to this guy’s comment about converting Schreve into a starter, which my respond was why would they if they could just convert Warren back into a starter. This answer has NOTHING to do with why Warren was taken out of the rotation…

          • Stan

            yeah i edited my comment after i re-read the whole thread

  • yanksgoyanks

    Another suggestion is I hope during the break CC went down to Houston and continued his work with Pettite. It might not be a guranteed fix but it’s ideal, and worth a look.

  • Mike Myers

    The only way to fix CC is to find that genie from the movie BIG and revert him to 29.

  • ScottinSJ

    The Yankees don’t desperately need another starter. Sure, they could always benefit from another arm, but the answer to improving the rotation already lies within. He’s sitting in the bullpen and he’s more consistent than anyone not named Pineda or Tanaka. Maybe it will take an injury for the team to ultimately improve its rotation.

    • Tom

      That someone was more consistent than Tanaka or Pineda in June.

      • ScottinSJ

        I agree; I was trying to be graceful and diplomatic.

    • Stan

      Come playoff time I would prefer someone with a longer track record than Warren. especially since by october warren will have probably pitched more innings than at any time in his pro career if they put him back into the rotation

      EDIT

      To be honest again… I’d like someone with a longer track record than Pineda and Tanaka also

      • ScottinSJ

        Disagree. If you’re the Red Sox, do you want Eduardo Rodriguez or Rick Porcello (he of the longer track record) or Masterson or Miley pitching a must-win game? 99% of people will take the kid.

        • Stan

          I’d still take Porcello… Rodriguez may crack under the pressure a must win game whereas Porcello has been there. And thats with Porcello having a terrible year

          • Dalek Jeter

            Thing is, especially if we’re talking about 2015 Porcello, how much worse is Rodriguez cracking under pressure than Porcello at his best.

            • Stan

              Its a fair point… and numberswise it may not be any different… but history has shown that teams are more likely to go with experience down the stretch barring some incredible run by a kid.. and rodriguez hasnt been incredible.. he’s been good not incredible

        • GPU

          Given where the Sox are now, they’d be thrilled to have Porcello pitch a must-win game for them.

    • Robinson Tilapia
    • cxz

      If we’re going to be honest with ourselves, nobody expected Warren to pitch the way he did for us this season in the rotation. Everyone thought he could be solid and all, but he out performed what most thought he’d do. Is it really reasonable to expect him to continue to do that and be the answer? I’m not saying he couldn’t be, but I don’t think it’s the obvious answer you’re making it out to be, either.

    • blake

      last year they needed pitching…..they had 3 starters hurt and really only one consistent guy up Kuroda….which is why they needed to make the McCarthy deal.

      This year starting pitching is more of a want…..which is why IMO they either need to go big or hold there. Go after a big upgrade like Hamels…..or just sit tight with what they have and use their energy to address other stuff.

  • blake

    Pineda has pitched like one of the best pitchers in baseball in about 13 of his 17 starts this year……I don’t believe in throwing out bad starts either (because I know some of you believe the same)…..but I do think it’s important to know how pitchers get to their numbers.

    Does a pitcher have a 3.60 ERA because they pitch like a 3.60 era most of the time…..or do they have a 3.60 era because they pitch better than that most of the time and way worse than that sometimes.

    Pineda pitches like a pitcher way better than that most of the time……3 of 4 times this year he’s either not had his slider or a team has just hit him and it’s dragged his ERA down……of course you can’t throw those starts out…..but I do like to look at what a pitcher is “most of the time”

  • Some Asshole

    I feel like somebody needs to make a Horace Clarke reference here. Nothing to do with the rotation, just like how previous threads about Sabathia turned into “I Hate Stephen Drew” clearance sales.

  • RetroRob

    Felix Doubront was in camp? Did he ever pitch?

    Tanaka’s issues were/are command related. I don’t expect that to continue. Pineda will probably continue to have his duds until he develops and/or has more faith in his changeup. It’s looked great at times, so that’s encouraging. The bigger concern is workload. 195 regular season innings, to say nothing of potential postseason innings? Nova is probably going to be spotty the rest of the way. He was prone to that when healthy, so I don’t expect that to improve immediately following TJS. Even Harvey on the Mets is showing the unevenness pitchers often have their first season back, and he is a higher level being than Nova. Patience will be needed. Eo is Eo, which is fine. Maybe he’ll even progress some, but if not he’s ok.

    CC will not remain in the rotation for the rest of the season. If they trade for a starter, he’ll be out. If they trade for a righty reliever, Warren may return to the rotation with CC out. Warren’s nice stretch probably represents his peak ability, leaving a better impression of who he is as a starter than the reality. Yet I did see enough to believe he could be a 5th starter for a full season. That’s more than I thought coming into the year. Yet replacing CC with even a league average or slightly below starter would represent a significant upgrade. It’s obvious. It will happen.

    • Sam Palazzo

      Doubront wasn’t in camp, what Mike was saying is that people thought it would be smart for the Yankees to pick up a scrap heap guy for insurance.

      • RetroRob

        Uh, oh. I think I was just caught skimming Mike’s article!

    • ScottinSJ

      It’s obvious, but it may not happen. And no one here knows if it will or won’t.

      • 86w183

        Most encouraging thing about CC was in his last start he finally started pitching RH hitters inside. If he continues to do that he can be a decent “quality start” guy… he can pitch six-to-seven innings, give up three earned runs and that’ll give the team a chance to win.

    • Sir Didihiro Refsamura

      “Yet replacing CC with even a league average or slightly below starter would represent a significant upgrade.”

      Oh how far CC has fallen…

      • RetroRob

        It is quite sad. He went from one of the top five starters in baseball to one of the bottom five starters in rapid order. The team is putting up the white flag every 5th day.

  • HoopDreams

    Tanaka has been decent I suppose, but not at the contract expense. Looks like the league has adjusted to him, I don’t think hes hurt per say. If I had to bet, I think he’ll have a better 2nd half. Pineda has been fine. But if either are gonna be an “ace” let’s have more consistency here.

    • blake

      I don’t know that the league has adjusted to Tanaka as much as they have just hit his mistakes. When he’s down in the zone nobody hits him…..

      • HoopDreams

        So, then that would mean they have adjusted right? he hasn’t been as good as last year.

        • Stan

          I think you need to add his coming off the injury to the mix of factors. like Nova isn’t fully back to himself either

          • ScottinSJ

            Nova was never that good to begin with. I wouldn’t expect too much more from him.

            • Stan

              Healthy nova is a #4/borderline #3 type guy to me

              • RetroRob

                Nova does have much have higher upside. Warren will now be overrated by some because he left the rotation when he had a nice run. Leave him in the rotation and he would have his down games too. Warren is a fringy #5 type to be used as the team views best.

                • Stan

                  Warrens start = greens start. Take it and be happy with it in my mind

                • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

                  Warren looks shot his last 2 appearances.
                  Hopefully he just needed a rest.

          • HoopDreams

            I guess, are you referring to the elbow injury? because he had this problem back in April as well. Then turned it around before going on the DL again with the forearm issue. Then struggled in about every start until the last game against Oakland.

        • blake

          what I meant was I think it’s more about him than the hitters……he’s making a few more mistakes so far than in his pre-injury time last year.

          • Stan

            I can agree with that.. he is making more mistake pitches therefore they are hitting more of them

        • Sir Didihiro Refsamura

          That’s not them adjusting, that’s Tanaka sucking.

      • RetroRob

        Correct. It’s command. He’s hanging splitters. That’s why I think he’ll be more consistent the second half.

  • dave_8

    OT: Heyman was FAN. Said Severino, Judge, Bird AND Refs are the ones they won’t part with. Interesting that Mateo wasn’t mentioned but Refs is now on the list. Also said that they Yankees are looking for a RH bat. But it’s Heyman, so….

    • RetroRob

      Mateo is too low in the minors to make that list. No one on FAN has ever heard of Mateol

      • dave_8

        Heyman has.

        • RetroRob

          He has. I just don’t see the name popping up.

          • Tom

            Maybe when Mateo makes the top 50 list.

            • RetroRob

              Sure. As he rises through the system and begins to (hopefully) hit the top 100 lists, his visibility will increase among the general base of fans. Someone like Heyman won’t throw Mateo’s name out there on a sports radio show right now because he’s just not known by most fans. He fits in the “other guys” category, even though we know he’s hardly just another guy. If Mateo is traded, we’ll be screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” where the average FAN listener will be saying, “Who?”

              • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

                Speaking of lists, looks like F. Rob was “robbed” by Barry Larkin.
                Bench “all-timed” Seaver.
                Both Reds.Both there. Coincidence?

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        I can’t take top 100 prospects below High A seriously, period.

    • grandedan

      Surprised about Refs. Maybe they are playing poker.

    • HoopDreams

      Not much so, Ref is ML ready and Mateo while very very interesting, is years away.

    • cxz

      I don’t know that I like that Refs is off the table. Not that I’m trigger happy hoping to get rid of him, but he seems like a piece that should be at least listened on.

      • RetroRob

        Jesus Montero was always listed as off-limits too. Any player is available for the right deal. I do think the Yankees are serious about holding on to their prospects, but that doesn’t mean all of them. Some of this is just posturing.

        • dave_8

          For a time. Then it changed.

        • grandedan

          I don’t know about that. There were reports of Montero being offered by the Yanks long before the trade was made. It was more like the other side didn’t want him.

          • dave_8

            yep, he was untouchable then some issues were popping up. then he was being offered before being asked for. “untouchable” tag was long gone before that trade.

      • dave_8

        What I thought was interesting was that they were dubbed “The four” according to JH. It’s different than saying they’d prefer not to trade, reluctant, blah, blah. He was implying that those 4 were the untouchables.

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          What got me was the Greg Bird part. Dude’s got a lot to prove in my mind.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I trust reports on who is available less than I trust Cashman when he says who is and isn’t available.

      • Tom

        Cashman fails at disclosing secret information.

      • 86w183

        No way in hell that Refs is unavailable, none. Only the first two should be in that category, and there are a bunch of others… Mason Williams, Brian Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Gary Sanchez that I would protect over Refs. Bird is debatable because I don’t know he’ll provide much power at 1B.

        • Tom

          I would consider trading Mason or Sanchez.

          • 86w183

            I would too…. but I’d be more reluctant to deal either of them than Refsnyder.

            • Tom

              I’m willing to wait and see how Refs does while he’s up. If he starts booting ground balls on a regular basis, then it’s time to find a replacement and he could be part of a trade. If he’s adequate at 2B and hits .250, I’ll take that.

        • HoopDreams

          Williams and Lindgren over Ref? eh.

          • 86w183

            Absolutely.

            • HoopDreams

              Williams doesn’t have a spot here with Ells and Gardner locked down. Lindgren is just a reliever, upside to be a good one. Both of those over a possible long term 2B solution seems aggressive.

              • 86w183

                Valid points, I’m just looking at the talent not the roster fit. A decent MLB second baseman is not a hard thing to find….or at least it shouldn’t be. Players with Williams athletic ability or Lindgren’s potential are more rare/special..

    • GPU

      Of course. Because if he said he WAS willing to part with Judge or Severino that’s all anyone would ask for for pieces of any value.

      • dave_8

        Who’s “he”? How do we know the source?

        • Tom

          Cashman?

          • dave_8

            I have no idea. It could be 3rd hand. “I’m hearing” could be from anyone in the org.

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          I hurl feces at the NYT building and let them know that my 9 month old niece is the Yankees’ only untradeable prospect

          • cashmoney

            at that point I assume Cash-Man will rappel down the building and smack you silly.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      There’s no way that’s accurate.

      • dave_8

        Who knows? But Heyman called them “The four”. It wasn’t the usual blather where you say Judge and Severino b/c you really haven’t heard anything new. He made it sound like it’s their current stance. And he said they were offered Bruce, but turned them down b/c they’re looking only for a RH bat.

        • Dos Luises

          I remember when the Four untouchables were Roberto Kelly, Bernie Williams, Jay Buhner and Al Leiter. Three got traded ;)

          • dave_8

            Of course. But timing is a factor in your example. Kelly was a player, not a prospect when he left.

    • cashmoney

      I am little shocked that Ref is on the list. the only thing I will say is those 4 seem to be close to major and can possibly supply a cost control solution to an organization that wants to get under LT in 2 years when some of the big tickets expires. But it all comes down to what comes back in return. anyway, I take it with a grain of salt.

    • Some Asshole

      Everyone has a price.

  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

    Nice shout out by Ruocco to “that fine blog River Ave Blues.”

    • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

      He obviously doesn’t read it or participate j/k. ;)

      • RetroRob

        Unfortunately, those types of mentions bring more of the unwashed.

        • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

          Have you seen any tonite?

          • Some Asshole

            GrandeDan has obviously been allowed more than his one hour of computer access today.

            • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

              Well if he’s on an hour limit he might be going to the Pen soon.

          • RetroRob

            You mean beyond us? : -)

            • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

              I showered today.

  • ZachA

    OT: Forbes lists the Yankees as the world’s 3rd most valuable sports franchise (at $3.2 billion), up one spot and $700 million in value from last year. And that’s with missing two playoffs in a row. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2015/07/15/the-worlds-50-most-valuable-sports-teams-2015/)

    • ZachA

      “The value of the Yankees is up 28%, and the team moved up two spots to tie for second place. The 27-time world champions missed the postseason for the second consecutive season in 2014 and only the third time since 1994, but the Bronx Bombers still finished tops in the American League in attendance, averaging 42,520 fans per game. The Yankees generated $676 million in revenue before deducting for $90 million in revenue-sharing payments and $78 million in bond payments that go towards stadium debt.”

      • ZachA

        Yanks pay more in revenue-sharing than 7 teams entire payrolls.

        • Pete22

          Including their share of YES profits they exceed the average revenue by about 400 million so 90 million is chump change. Revenue sharing has actually went down in nominal dollars, and in real dollars adjusted for MLB revenue inflation is probably 1/2 what it was in 2009.

    • RetroRob

      Looks like they’re tied for 2nd with the Cowboys, and are only a bit short of Real Madrid now. George wouldn’t stand for this. #1!

      The Mets really are a disaster. Being in NY and their position on this list shows how they’ve been mismanaged over the years. Not saying they’d be a more valuable property than the Yankees, but they certainly shouldn’t be trailing the Red Sox. They should be in the $2B plus range.
      Last, if the Yankees ever went up for sale, they would blow away the $3.2 billion valuation number.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/yankees-no-2-forbes-list-knicks-top-10-article-1.2293166

      • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

        I laugh when I hear fans say the Yanks are mismanaged with the Mets across town. We compare everything else, why not these 2 teams. I couldn’t imagine being a Met fan.

        • Some Asshole

          Those Mets are taking over. I mean, deGrom is fantastic, and he’s so young! Only a few wrinkles and crow’s feet on him!

        • RetroRob

          It could be worse. Could be a Knicks fan. I’d be depressed if I was followed a team like the Knicks (I’m a very casual basketball/Knicks fan) and they were worth so much money yet seemed to be so mismanaged.

          Are there big Knicks fans here? Why can’t they capitalize everything they seem to have going for them into being a better team?

          • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

            Being a Knick fan is better than being a Met or Jet fan.
            The Knicks get the longest leash of all losing NY teams as there are no expectations. They fill the Garden every night, go figure. Loveable losers I guess.

            • cashmoney

              loveable losers? when is last time you were at Garden for a knicks game? Sadist is closest i can think of it.

              • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

                seriously?

                • cashmoney

                  Huh, My buddy has season tickets. All he does is bitch about the Knicks. They are not loveable, not by any stretch of imagination. But he goes to every game. I am not sure why. Loyalty is the only thing I can think of it along with the propensity to absorb pain with glee.

                  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

                    There are no great expectations. No real disappointment as they are expected to lose. As long as they play hard and are in the game fans will pay the big bucks to see them as they still own the town.

                    • cashmoney

                      what you describe above is very definition of loyalty. Half those tickets are corporate seats, MSG is about 15 mins away from Wallstreet and15 minutes walk from a gazillion acct/law firms in the 50s. it’s prime real estate for the affleunt. the expectation comes with realistic assessments of talents they have. Not because they are lovable! anyway, I am not Knicks fan, enough mental masturbation on this topic.

                    • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

                      if you say so….

          • Robinson Tilapia

            More importantly, why hasn’t the resident Heat fan been made fun of for A’mare yet?

      • cashmoney

        Knicks has prime real estate but beyond that I have to give some credits to Knicks fans. Correct me if I am wrong they really have been mediocre and worse since O.J. was cruising on Cali highway in mourning of his wife.

      • LazerTown

        We should hang ourselves in shame that we are second fiddle to something as boring as soccer.

        • cashmoney

          The World is bigger than America.

          • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

            not by much…

  • grandedan

    http://nypost.com/2015/07/15/how-prospect-supply-will-shape-yankees-trade-deadline/

    This is from Sherman. He has the Yanks’ protected four as Severino, Bird, Judge and Mateo. Interestingly, he has the Yanks inclined to trade some of their left-handed OFs (Flores, et al) and relief pitchers because of 40 man roster concerns next winter. Time to thin the herd a bit. He also says Sanchez is getting more love internally.

    • pat

      I agree with all of that. Glad they haven’t wavered on Bird.

    • MTU

      Mateo is in low A. He shouldn’t even be protected from the Sun at this point.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Still would be my third most, uh, hugged, even though I agree with your overall point.

        With Bird…..I’m not hugging a first base prospect so much that i’d group him with the others.

        • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

          You wouldn’t hug Mattingly?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I was eight years old in 1982. New players appeared out of thin air back then.

            • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

              Point being: if you thought of Bird as a future Mattingly, you might hug a 1B.

      • Pete22

        Elite players move up pretty quick. Judge was in low A last year

    • LazerTown

      Flores is exactly someone you can move if it’s going to help your roster. I’d still like to see if you can hang onto Judge, Mason, and Slade, but Ellsbury and Gardner locked up long term, so you really only got one spot to fill.

  • LazerTown

    I’m just going to say this pretty much why I want to avoid the big pitching contracts. Tanaka is supposed to be in his prime, and he is pretty ineffective this year, and it’s not just in his arm, it’s in his head too. Sabathia is being just an awful contract. Pretty much why I want to avoid hamels. Pitching is easier to find, but all of a sudden we seeing more and more massive pitcher contracts.

    • Pete22

      What scares me off about Hamels is his career interleague numbers and the fact he is having a bit of an of year for him. Hal has the dough though, he can easily afford to spend 50 million or more on payroll.

      • Austinmac

        A close look at his peripheral stats are very positive. He velocity is good, his Ks are up and on down the line. His team is awful, and that hurts his ERA along with his record. He is still very good.

        • Pete22

          Pitches in a very weak division, no DH and larger road parks. Factor in the AL East adjustment with its RH heavy power, smaller parks, DH and I can see Hal and Cash being wary. I kind of waver back and forth on him since like you say, he is good, but maybe not as good as he is with the Phillies. If something happens to Tanaka or Pineda before the deadline then maybe

  • Austinmac

    Heathcott has an awful injury history, Mason has not produced until this year and he has recurrent shoulder problems, Flores is a 4th outfielder at best, Cave is another tweener type to my eyes. None of these guys individually or collectively with other similarly situated players will really bring anything that will make this team any better.

    Seattle wants a backup catcher. I’d trade Murphy and use Romine who actually is looking good at the plate. I doubt you get anyone who helps the team either.

    I just don’t se the needle being moved at the TD. Marginal upgrades such as so me one a bit better than Jones and a reliever seem more likely to me. They have wanted a farm system for years. They are keeping the best and the rest are the rest.

    • LazerTown

      Nuno, and O’brien brought help last year. Yankees should be targeting those kinds of moves, not trading their top talent.

      • Austinmac

        But, last year an average player was an upgrade. This year, about all
        positions are filled with somewhat of an adequate player. Who would be replaced? Drew/Ref, of course. Jones? Replace a starter? If so, unless, they are willing to bite the CC bullet, a replacement has to be a no. 3 quality or better. They are hard to come by with less than your best.

        I guess what I am saying is any new players have to be a quality player to replace what we have.

        • LazerTown

          So what you are saying is that the yankees do not need to make a major move then.

          • Austinmac

            I am saying they have no gaping holes, if Ref can play, that can be fixed due to financial obligations. I would love a big hitting right fielder. It isn’t happening. I would love a top starter. It isn’t happening.

            I don’t see them willing, correctly or not, giving up the top few, and if so, I really don’t see where real improvement could come other than in the pen. Jones seems the only other guy who could be replaced. I assume that is where a right handed bat would be of interest.

      • cashmoney

        realistically, I see them adding depth and small upgrades. but like Mac said, what area of needs, if not impact players. be interesting to see what C does.

  • Austinmac

    We have two guys who could be no. 1s, could go out with injuries or could continue their first half inconsistency. The third seems most likely, and if so, we need a good starter. At best, we still don’t have a guy I want starting in n game three.

  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

    I want a game tonite, or at least, tomorrow night. It’s been a rough schedule.
    2nd half should be better .
    As well as for the team.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    Is there any chance that the Mets would trade Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese to the Yankees for Steven Drew, Chris Martin, Ivan Nova, and Mason Williams?

    • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

      Murphy can’t field and where would you play him?
      Leave Ref alone.

      • Bertin Lefkovic

        50/50 split at 2B between Murphy and Refs. Murphy could also spell Headley at 3B and Tex at 1B from time to time. Would free the Yankees up to trade Jones, opening up his roster spot for a 4th middle infielder like Ryan to backup Didi at SS.

        • Mr Mackey

          Wouldn’t mind the idea of Niese, but the Yanks and Mets almost never make trades.

  • Pete22

    The rotation has been healthier than I expected. But given the health it has not been as good. Pineda and Tanaka have underperformed and neither is in the top 25 of AL ERA. Both are capable of pitching better, but both are equally likely to fade as the innings build up.

    CC been about what I expected when healthy. Bad, bad, bad. That being said, he has been consistently “bad” as opposed to being “awful”. While a 5+ ERA is “bad”, a good bullpen and Joes quicker hooks are minimizing the damage. Giving up 3-4 runs in 5-6 IP makes for a bad ERA, but with a good offense, they are still in the game. CC has had fluid drained twice now. The second half looks not to be any better, and could be quite a bit worse.

    Eovalid has been about what he was with the Marlins. Been pitching better since the Miami meltdown. Doing a great job keeping the ball in the park which helps negates the high hit count. The split makes him a better pitcher. Lets see if he can avoid a repeat of last years fade. Joes been keeping his PC and innings down and the bullpen has probably helped keep his ERA down, and might keep him stronger later.

    I was not a fan of moving Warren to the pen, but he has been the Yankees most consistently good SP’er. Not in the pen anymore and the inconsistent Nova takes his place. Bit of a downgrade that.

    The guy to watch in the 2nd half will be Severino. Next injury and its probably him that gets called up. Not sure how many innings he has left when he gets his chance, but between him, Mitchell and Capuano, not to mention Warren, the depth seems enough unless a worst case scenario develops and they lose 2-3 SP’ers to injury.

    • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

      Try to condense next time.

      • Pete22

        Just read faster. I get paid by the word

      • Bertin Lefkovic

        The guy wrote five lousy paragraphs! Are you functionally illiterate?

  • Austinmac

    It is interesting Heyman said the Yankees said no to Bruce. We are too left handed , but he would look good in NYS. Who would they replace with aright handed bat? It seems it has to be for Jones or at 2B.

    • grandedan

      Interesting player. Pretty consistent except for last year. Pretty good this year. Walk rate up. Huge reverse split this year but atypical. Still in his prime and for the rest of his contract (option 2017)

    • Bertin Lefkovic

      What would it cost for the Yankees to get Bruce? If they got him, could they trade Beltran (and all of the money owed to him), Drew, Nova, and cash to the Mets for Murphy and Niese?

      Trading for Bruce would enable them to include Judge in a deal for Hamels. CC (and all of the money owed to him), Warren, Judge, Sanchez, and Severino should be enough to get Hamels and Papelbon.

      Yankees rotation is Tanaka, Pineda, Hamels, Eovaldi, and Niese. Bullpen is Miller, Betances, Papelbon, Wilson, Shreve, Mitchell, and Capuano.

      Outfield is Gardner, Ellsbury, and Bruce backed up by Young and Refs (in an emergency). Infield is Tex/Murphy, Refs/Murphy, Didi/Ryan, and Headley/Murphy. A-Rod is DH. Catcher is McCann/Murphy.

      Jones is odd man out unless the Yankees dump Capuano and get by with six-man bullpen until September 1.

      • Austinmac

        They already rejected the idea so it isn’t happening.

        • Bertin Lefkovic

          So what? I am just speculating on what they could have done.

  • D J

    Re: Warren

    “His strikeout (16.0%) and ground ball (44.6%) rates as a starter this year certainly weren’t as good as they were as a reliever last year (23.5% and 45.4%, respectively), which isn’t surprising”.

    You do realize that the ground ball percentage is statistically insignificant?