Archive for Asides
Masahiro Tanaka will pitch in a minor league game at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa on Monday, Joe Girardi told reporters. He came through yesterday’s 45-pitch simulated game just fine and will throw a bullpen session on Friday as preparation. I assume Tanaka will pitch in an Instructional League game next week, not another simulated game. Girardi hinted that Tanaka could be activated off the disabled list to start for the Yankees next weekend if Monday’s outing goes well.
Via Jayson Stark: MLB and the MLBPA are working on an agreement that would “clarify” the new home plate collision rules, specifically for plays like this. An official announcement is expected soon. Stark says the clarification “would remind umpires that while the intent of the rule was to protect catchers from violent collisions at the plate, the wording was not intended to be interpreted so strictly that it would allow runners to be called safe on a technicality if the throw had beaten them to the plate by a substantial margin.”
As Dave Brown put it the other day, home plate has become the twilight zone. No one really seems to know what’s happening on plays at the plate anymore and they’re often followed with reviews and arguments and confusion. Hopefully whatever MLB and MLBPA are working on will clear up some things, but I still expect there to be some bumps in the road. I think the spirit of the rule is great — avoid turning catchers’ brains into mush, basically — but the new rule is clearly a work in progress. There has definitely been a league-wide learning curve in year one.
The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte to Triple-A Scranton, according to the official league transactions. That means he went unclaimed on waivers. Almonte can not refuse the assignment since this is his first outright, but I believe he is due to become a minor league free agent in a few weeks anyway. I would expect him to sign elsewhere since it’s pretty obvious he won’t get much of an opportunity in New York.
Almonte, 25, hit .261/.311/.436 (103 wRC+) with 18 homers in 105 Triple-A games this season. He’s had several unsuccessful (39 wRC+) big league cameos over the last two seasons. Almonte is a switch-hitter in name only — he absolutely can not hit left-handers — but he has some pop against righties and can play good defense in the two corners. I thought he could be a useful platoon/fourth outfielder, but the fact that every other team could have had him for free off waivers but passed is telling.
As expected, David Phelps faced hitters in a simulated game yesterday for the first time since going down with elbow inflammation last month. He threw 31 pitches and felt fine. “I feel like I made some good pitches. I was just nice to be out there with some adrenaline flowing. It feels good enough to get guys out right now,” he said to Brian Heyman.
The Yankees will see how Phelps feels in the coming days before deciding on the next step, and it’s entirely possible he will be activated off the disabled list before throwing another simulated game. The team already announced he will return as a reliever — at this point of the season I’m not sure there’s enough time to get him all the way stretched out to start anyway — and I’m sure he’ll jump right into some kind of quasi-high-leverage role similar to what Adam Warren is doing right now.
Brett Gardner is day-to-day with some kind of stomach irritation, Joe Girardi told reporters. It sounds more like a muscle strain than an illness. He was not available for today’s game and might not be available tomorrow either. Apparently Gardner had the same problem earlier in the season, right before the All-Star break, so they’re confident he won’t be out very long.
As scheduled, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw in the bullpen this morning for the first time since dealing with fatigue in his arm late last week. He told reporters he felt fine following the 34-pitch session and reported no fatigue or soreness in his arm. Tanaka also reiterated that he still wants to pitch in a game this season to test out his elbow.
The Yankees have not yet announced the next step — I’m guessing they’ll wait a day or two to see how Tanaka feels before finalizing any plans — but reports indicate he could face hitters in a simulated game next. Although there only 22 games left in the season after today, there is still enough time for Tanaka to pitch in two simulated games and make two MLB starts with an extra day or two of rest mixed in at some point. The most important thing is that he feels good today. It seems this recent setback was nothing more than a little dead arm phase.
Yesterday morning, the Diamondbacks officially fired GM Kevin Towers in the wake of their massively disappointing season. (Towers spent 2010 working as a special advisor with the Yankees, so I suppose there’s a chance he could return to the team in some capacity. He and Brian Cashman are very close.) During a conference call with Nick Piecoro, D’Backs exec Tony La Russa named Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler as someone on their list of GM candidates.
Eppler was reportedly a finalist for the Padres GM job earlier this summer, though San Diego eventually went in a different direction. He was also the runner up to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels GM gig a few years ago. The Yankees gave Eppler permission to interview with the Padres and I have no reason to think they won’t allow him to speak with Arizona. He’s been with the Yankees since 2004 and was the director of pro scouting from 2005-11 before being promoted to assistant GM. It’s only a matter of time before Eppler becomes a GM, and with the Yankees likely to re-sign Cashman after the season, chances are that opportunity will come with another team.
Francisco Cervelli is dealing with “severe headaches” and will not be available for the foreseeable future, according to Sweeny Murti. Insert joke about having to watch the offense here. Austin Romine will be called up to join the Yankees in the meantime. Cervelli has a history of concussions and, if I remember correctly, he did take a pretty hard foul tip to the face mask the last time he played. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. The brain is nothing to mess around with.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees intend to offer Brian Cashman a new contract once his current deal expires after the season. Hal Steinbrenner was non-committal when asked about the future of his GM last month, but Heyman says ownership does not blame Cashman for what is likely to be back-to-back years without the postseason.
Now, just because ownership wants Cashman back doesn’t mean he will come back. He could always move on to another team if he wants a new challenge or something like that, or he could be burnt out after such a long tenure. Cashman has always been extremely loyal to the Yankees though — they are literally the only employer he’s had in his adult life — and I would be surprised if he left for another club. Either way, Cashman or no Cashman, the Yankees have a lot of work to do to get the team back to perennial contender status. I don’t think they’re one or two more free agents away at this point.
Martin Prado is day-to-day with a “mild, mild” left hamstring strain, Joe Girardi announced. Prado will not play tonight and he is unlikely to play tomorrow, but he could be good in time for Friday’s series opener against the Royals. He left last night’s game with tightness in the hamstring and had an MRI today. Prado has been one of the team’s best hitters these last few weeks, so losing him hurts.