Archive for Asides
Via Peter Gammons: The Yankees “are claiming everyone” off trade waivers this month. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to make a trade, they’re most likely blocking players from getting to the teams ahead of them in the wildcard race. The Yankees can still use some help with five weeks left in the season — another reliever, a right-handed bat, etc. — like every other team, but it seems unlikely they will make another trade at this point. They made their moves before the trade deadline.
Via Dan Martin: Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda has not yet thought about whether he will retire or continue playing after the season. He hasn’t made the decision until well into the offseason the last two years. “I have not thought about next year,” he said. “Since I’ve signed one-year contracts, I always wait until the completion of the season before I decide what to do.”
Kuroda, 39, has a 3.94 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 26 starts and 160 innings this year, so while hasn’t been the same guy we saw from 2012-13, he has been solid overall. I’ve been assuming this would be Kuroda’s last year in New York one way or the other, but I don’t think that’s completely set in stone. The Yankees need pitching, so if he wants to continue playing and is willing to sign for something like $10M to $12M instead of $16M, he could be back in 2015.
As expected, Masahiro Tanaka faced hitters today for the first time since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament right before the All-Star break. He threw 35 pitches — including breaking balls and splitters — across two simulated innings against Brendan Ryan and Zelous Wheeler. Tanaka said he felt good but rusty, which isn’t surprising. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild called the throwing session encouraging.
It’s unclear what the next step will be — I’m guessing they’ll wait to see how Tanaka feels in the coming days before setting anything in stone — but the minor league season ends in about ten days, so there might not be enough time to get him in minor league rehab games. All of his preparation may have to be done in simulated games. The most important thing is that Tanaka is healthy and making real progress as he attempts to rehab his injury.
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are “strongly considering” using a six-man rotation in September and are at least “talking about” doing the same next year, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Brian Cashman confirmed. “No doubt, you have to see how all the pieces fit, but I think it is something you have to take a look at,” said Rothschild.
There are several good reasons for employing a six-man rotation once rosters expand in September and I’m for it. Doing it next season is a different matter. The Yankees will have four starters with varying levels of injury concern in Masahiro Tanaka (elbow), Michael Pineda (shoulder), CC Sabathia (knee), and Ivan Nova (elbow), and giving them extra rest makes sense, but how do they pull that off? Do they go with a six-man bullpen/four-man bench or seven-man bullpen/three-man bench? Everything they’ve done with their roster the last few years points to the latter. Do it in September, sure, but they’d need to figure some stuff out before doing it in 2015.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Following yesterday’s shutout win, Brandon McCarthy said he would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “Yeah. There wouldn’t be a question in my mind about that,” he said when asked about returning to New York. “I feel like it’s a great fit for me here. The guys here have been fantastic, everybody associated with the club. And it’s living in New York — there’s so many great aspects.”
McCarthy, 31, has a 1.90 ERA (2.33 FIP) with a stellar 51/7 K/BB in eight starts and 52 innings for the Yankees. I don’t think you can expect him to pitch that well going forward, plus he has a long and scary history of shoulder injuries, but the team needs pitching and he shouldn’t require a huge contract. McCarthy is wrapping up a two-year, $18M deal right now. If they can get him on another two-year deal at, say, $20M to $24M, they should jump all over it. Especially before he actually hits free agency.
According to multiple reports, the Red Sox will sign Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo to a record six-year contract in the $72M range. The Yankees had Castillo in Tampa for a private workout and were said to have interest in him as a second baseman, but the other day we heard they “ended any pursuit” of him. Commence complaining.
Via Jon Heyman: Along with the Cubs, the Yankees are viewed as a likely landing spot for free agent-to-be left-hander Jon Lester this offseason. Heyman says a reunion with the Red Sox is considered unlikely. The Cubbies are run by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who obviously know the southpaw from their time in Boston.
Lester is a great fit for the Yankees because he’s a great fit for every team in baseball. Every club could use a prime-aged workhorse left-hander with proven big market and postseason chops. The real question is whether the Yankees are willing to take on a third $20M+ annual salary pitcher, especially given the other holes on the roster. The team is very top heavy and I think they need to focus on adding several solid players rather than one star plus a bunch of replacement level guys this winter.
Rehabbing right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will face hitters and throw live batting practice on Saturday, Joe Girardi announced. He threw his second bullpen session yesterday, including breaking balls and splitters, and everything went well enough for him to move forward in his rehab from a partially torn elbow ligament. This will be the first time Tanaka throws to hitters since getting hurt. It’s a pretty big step given the increase in intensity.
10:39am: Whitley has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the roster for Wheeler. Rosters expand in ten days, so he’ll be back before you know it.
10:36am: The Yankees have called up utility man Zelous Wheeler, according to the various reporters in the clubhouse. No word on the corresponding move yet, though I assume the team is dropping one of their eight relievers. Rich Hill or Chase Whitely seems likely. Carlos Beltran received a cortisone shot in his elbow yesterday and will miss a few games, so Wheeler gives them an extra bench player. I suppose there’s a chance Beltran is heading to the disabled list. We’ll see.
David Phelps will return to the Yankees as a reliever when healthy, Joe Girardi confirmed. Phelps is currently working his way back from elbow inflammation and is two or three weeks from being activated off the disabled list, assuming no setbacks. Whatevs.