Thursday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today after returning home from their seven-game road trip. While in Anaheim, Alex Rodriguez met with ex-Marine Roy McDaniel, his son Deven, and his son’s best friend Charlie after they came to the game specifically to see him. “Ever since he made his debut in Seattle two decades ago, he has been one of my favorite players,” said McDaniel to Grayson Alexander. Alex spoke to McDaniel and the two boys, and signed all sorts of stuff for them too. Fan friendly guy, that A-Rod.

This is your open thread for this Yankees baseball-less night. MLB Network is showing a bunch of regional games tonight and chances are us New Yorkers will get the Nationals and Braves. Ex-Yankees farmhand Manny Banuelos is making his big league debut against Max Scherzer. So talk about that game, A-Rod being history’s greatest monster, or anything else right here.

Heyman: First rounder RHP James Kaprielian expected to sign for $3M or so

(Don Liebig/UCALA)
(Don Liebig/UCLA)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are still negotiating with first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian, and he is expected to receive a bonus in the $3M range. Slot money for the 16th overall pick is just over $2.44M. The signing deadline is two weeks from tomorrow and I have no reason to think Kaprielian won’t sign. Special assistant Jim Hendry is reportedly leading negotiations.

Kaprielian is a Scott Boras client and Boras has a tendency to go right up to the deadline with his top players so he can milk every last penny out of the team’s draft pool. And would you look at that, our 2015 Draft Pool Tracker shows the Yankees have approximately $3M left to spend on draft picks before getting hit with penalties for exceeding their bonus pool. Coincidence Kaprielian is expected to sign for $3M or so? Nope.

The Yankees signed 20th rounder 1B Isiah Gilliam to an overslot $550,000 bonus earlier this week, so 31 of their 41 draft picks are locked up. New Jersey LHP Andrew Miller (34th round) and Florida HS SS Deacon Liput (39th) are their only remaining overslot candidates and both figure to head to school. That was always the case. The Yankees signed all of their non-Kaprielian picks in the top ten rounds, so here’s no draft pool wiggle room.

Kaprielian, 21, had a 2.02 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 33 walks in 106.2 innings this season. Everything you need to know about him is right here.

Massive home/road offensive split defining the season so far for the Yankees

"Alright guys, three runs, great game!" (Presswire)
“Alright guys, three runs, great game!” (Presswire)

The Yankees went 3-4 on their seven-game road trip despite scoring only 18 runs in the seven games, with half those runs coming on Saturday. They scored zero or one run in each of the four losses, though Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh deserve credit for excellent performances. They overmatched the Yankees. C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney? Eh, not so much.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees are averaging more runs per game at home (5.77) than on the road (3.77). A lot more. I ridiculous amount more. They’ve scored 36 more runs at home in nine fewer games. Geez. Easy to understand why they’re 21-14 (+38 run differential) at home and 21-23 (-16 run differential) on the road in 2015. Just about every offense is better at home — MLB average is 4.22 runs per game at home and 4.02 on the road — but the Yankees have taken it to the extreme this season. Here are the team’s raw offensive numbers:

PA AVG/OBP/SLG wRC+ BB% K% PA/HR PA/XBH BABIP
Home 1,395 .282/.350/.496 130 8.5% 18.2% 22.5 10.3 .306
Road 1,666 .235/.302/.371 88 8.1% 19.0% 39.7 14.5 .269

The Yankees are Kris Bryant at home and Michael Cuddyer on the road. This recent road trip was an extreme example of their offensive struggles away from the Bronx but it’s not confirmation bias either — the Yankees are substantially more productive at home. They’re a much more dangerous team playing in Yankee Stadium. Their three highest run totals and six of their nine highest run totals have come in the Bronx this year, unsurprisingly.

It’s easy to understand why the Yankees are more productive at home, right? Yankee Stadium is a hitter friendly park and the Yankees have tailored their lineup for the short right field porch — Brian McCann, Garrett Jones, and Stephen Drew are all left-handed pull hitters who were brought in after everyone knew how the park played (Mark Teixeira signed before the park opened), and Carlos Beltran is way more effective batting lefty than righty. Has been for years. Brett Gardner learned how to pull the ball for power in recent years as well, and even Didi Gregorius has benefited from the short porch.

The largest home/road splits belong to McCann (195 wRC+/62 wRC+), Gardner (179/107), Drew (101/44), and Alex Rodriguez (182/113). A-Rod‘s the outlier as a right-handed hitter. The home/road splits make sense for the other guys. Rodriguez is hitting for power both at home (.256 ISO) and on the road (.201 ISO), and his walk rates are high (13.7% and 12.0%), yet he has a .393 BABIP at home (146 PA) and a .248 BABIP on the road (166 PA). The sample sizes aren’t big though, and I suspect his home production will take a step back and is road production will improve as the season progresses.

There are other factors in play here that are tough to quantify, if not outright impossible. For example: traveling sucks. The Yankees have played 44 road games this season, the second most in baseball, and their 35 home games are the third fewest. Thirty-four of their 57 games since May 1st have been on the road. Yeah, they’re pro athletes and they make gobs of money, but maybe they’re just worn out from the travel. How do you quantify a good night’s sleep? I don’t know, but the Yankees are trying.

I’m not sure how or if the Yankees can improve their road production. I don’t think they can force the issue and try to be something they’re not — sac bunts, hit-and-runs, those sorts of things. They don’t have many players capable of doing that stuff. This is a team of wallbangers. I’d like to think this lineup is better than a true talent 88 wRC+ offense on the road, especially once Jacoby Ellsbury returns, but this recent road trip was a reminder of how tough it can be for the Yankees to score runs when the threat of a short porch homer doesn’t always exist.

Thoughts following the West Coast road trip

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees finally wrapped up their 20 games in 20 days stretch last night, going 8-12 in the 20 games. That’s … not very good. Could be worse, I guess. The Yankees have an off-day today before opening a pretty big three-game series with the Rays tomorrow night. Here are some scattered thoughts for the time being.

1. So how pissed is Adam Warren right now? Probably very. He said all the right things when he was demoted to the bullpen earlier this week — “I was a little frustrated at first because I want to be a starter, but I understood. They sat down and talked to me about it, explained it. I understood where they were coming from. I told them I’m not going to be unhappy in the bullpen,” said Warren to Chad Jennings — but I have to think he is very disappointed and frustrated on the inside, if not outright angry. Warren was a starter his entire life before cutting his teeth in the big leagues as a reliever like many others, then he got a chance to start, pitched very well as a starter, and still lost his rotation spot. How he could not be upset? Warren’s earning potential as a reliever is a fraction of what it would be as a starter, and not just in free agency, I mean when he goes through arbitration for the first next year. Michael Pineda missed two and a half years due to injuries and still got $2.1M in his first trip through arbitration this past offseason. David Robertson dominated as a reliever and got $1.6M his first time. Man. Warren’s a pro and he went back to the bullpen without making a stink. I have to imagine he’s really disappointed on the inside though. What more does he have to do?

2. The All-Star Game rosters will be announced this weekend and my guess is the Yankees will have two All-Stars this year: Dellin Betances and Brian McCann. Betances is a shoo-in and I think McCann will beat out Russell Martin for the third catcher spot behind Salvador Perez (leading the fan voting) and Stephen Vogt. Brett Gardner absolutely deserves to be in the All-Star Game, but I think he has less than a 50/50 chance of actually getting selected. He’s just not popular enough, and it is a popularity contest. Maybe he’ll sneak in as an injury replacement or something. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller won’t make it because of their injuries, Alex Rodriguez won’t make it because other players loathe him and won’t vote him in (probably), and Mark Teixeira is stuck behind Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, Prince Fielder, and Jose Abreu at first base. Betances, McCann, maaaybe Gardner. That is my official All-Star guess. Bookmark this post for potential future mocking purposes.

3. The 2015-16 international signing period opens today — no exciting buildup this year! — and the Yankees are not connected any of the top available prospects, according to Ben Badler (subs. req’d). (Here is Badler’s free list of the top prospects, if you’re interested.) That’s not surprising. The team can not hand out bonuses worth more $300,000 during this signing period (or next signing period) thanks to the penalties stemming from last summer’s spending spree, when they bought about four years worth of talent. The Yankees have a full $2.62M bonus pool this year — $2.62M plus the six $50,000 exemptions and unlimited $7,500 exemptions each team gets — they just can’t give any one player more than $300,000. That takes them out of the running for the top talent, but New York has shown they are great at finding cheap prospects. Five dudes on my Preseason Top 30 Prospects list signed for $300,000 or less, including Luis Severino ($225,000) and Jorge Mateo ($250,000). So no big names this year, but that doesn’t mean no quality prospects. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of players the Yankees pull this year. Odds are one or two will develop into better players than one or two of the seven-figure guys they signed last year. That’s just the market. (For what it’s worth, Balder (subs. req’d) says the Yankees are “expected to be active” in Venezuela this year, with RHP Maximo Castillo, IF Oswaldo Cabrera, and C Andres Chaparro the likely targets.)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

4. Masahiro Tanaka has allowed three home runs in each of his last two games, and five of the six came on hanging offspeed pitches. The other came on a fastball up in the zone and on the other half (Carlos Correa is just that damn good). Here are the videos if you don’t believe me: one, two, three, four, five, six. Tanaka’s stuff has been fine — his velocity is good and his two highest swing-and-miss totals of the season have come in the last two games — but his mistakes are getting absolutely hammered. The old adage says a drop in velocity means a shoulder injury while bad location means an elbow injury, and obvious Tanaka’s elbow is already compromised, so the recent bad location isn’t encouraging. That doesn’t mean he’s hurt! It could just be two bad starts. Those do happen. But at this point everything Tanaka does is looked at through the lens of his elbow. Bad starts get magnified and good starts are just a five-day reprieve. Sucks. Needless to say, I’m hoping to see some better location tomorrow. Miss down, not up.

5. Speaking of Tanaka’s elbow, what are the chances the Yankees have another pitcher on the staff right now pitching with a partially torn elbow ligament? I think the chances are pretty high and we just don’t know about it. And by we I mean everyone — fans, the Yankees, and the player himself. Pitchers have all sorts of scary stuff going on in their arms and there are probably dozens of ’em around the league with a tiny UCL tear that is not affecting them at all. No pain, no loss of stuff, nothing. Pitchers are weird like that. They all have something going on in their arms and a lot of the time you don’t know about it until you take a real good look. Ty Hensley had his signing bonus reduced when he was drafted because the Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder even though he had no problems and was completely asymptomatic, for example. Pretty good chance someone on the staff has a small UCL tear right now and it is no problem whatsoever. Kinda scary to think about.

Offense breaks out for three runs, Yankees salvage series with 3-1 win over Angels


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees matched their run total from the previous three games combined on Wednesday night, and while that usually means a big game, this time it meant only three runs. Those three runs were enough for a 3-1 win over the Angels, salvaging the series finale for New York and halting their three-game losing streak. They went 3-4 on their seven-game road trip. Blah.

I only caught the first three innings or so on television before shifting to the radio for the rest of the night, so I didn’t actually see much of the game and can’t talk about it intelligently (which makes this no different than every other recap, I suppose). I did see Chase Headley come up with a clutch two-out single to drive in the game’s first run after Didi Gregorius singled and Stephen Drew bunted him up into scoring position. That felt like the token run of the day.

The Yankees tacked on two runs in the later innings, thankfully. Garrett Jones took the amazingly homer prone Matt Shoemaker deep for a solo home run in the sixth, then Gregorius singled in another run in the eighth. The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out that inning and got just the one run. Argh. Better than no runs, I guess. The offense did pile up a dozen hits (three by Headley and two each by Didi and Chris Young), equaling their hit total from the last three games combined.

Nathan Eovaldi had another strong start until things unraveled a bit in the sixth, though I can’t really blame him for walking Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Gotta be careful with those guys and ball four to Trout could have easily been strike three. Eovaldi allowed five singles and three walks in 5.1 scoreless frames. He has a 4.28 ERA in his last eight starts including the disaster in Miami. It’s a 2.61 ERA excluding that start, though stats don’t work like that. The disaster start counts. Either way, seven of his last eight outings have been very good.

The three-headed bullpen monster of Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances recorded the final eleven outs. The only blemish was a Trout homer off Wilson, which … whatever. Trout’s just awesome. He’s going to hit dingers. Just be happy it was a solo shot. Betances walked two in the ninth before nailing down the save. Dellin’s walked 18 batters in 39.2 innings this year after walking 24 in 90 innings last year. His location just hasn’t been there this year, though it hasn’t really mattered.

How about Shreve though? He retired all five men he faced, including four righties. Righties have reached base just 15 times in 74 plate appearances against him (.203 OBP), and one of those 15 was an intentional walk. Over his last 18 appearances, Shreve has allowed two runs on six hits and five walks in 19.2 innings with 22 strikeouts. He’s retired 57 of the last 68 batters he’s faced overall. What a pickup he’s been. Shreve and Adam Warren setting up Betances and Andrew Miller is going to be a hell of a thing once Miller gets back.

Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, so check those out. The Yankees have an off-day Thursday and then open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday night. Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Archer will be the pitching matchup. Fun! Check out RAB Tickets if you wanna catch that game or any of the six games on the homestand live and in person. Last homestand before the All-Star break, you know.

DotF: Ellsbury plays six innings in center in second rehab game; Palma almost completes outfield assist cycle

OF Jake Cave, 3B Eric Jagielo, C Gary Sanchez, RHP Eric Ruth, and RHP Nick Goody have all been selected for the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game, so congrats to them. Jagielo is hurt and won’t play in the game. Sanchez won’t play because he’ll be in Cincinnati for the Futures Game. RHP Brady Lail got snubbed big time.

Also, the Yankees signed OF Joey Falcone as an undrafted free agent out of Columbia, the school announced. Falcone is 26 and a military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to school, according to Kieran Darcy. He hit .323/.399/.615 with 11 home runs in 51 games this spring and has been assigned to one of the Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley in ten innings, walk-off style)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-6, 1 R, 3 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 BB — locked in right now
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 RBI
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB — two strikeouts and eight walks in his last six games
  • C Austin Romine: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 K — 44-for-134 (.328) in his last 35 games … what a run he’s been on
  • RHP Jaron Long: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 57 of 90 pitches were strikes (63%) … he’s either very good or very bad it seems
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — seven pitches, eleven strikes

[Read more…]

Game 80: Runs, Plural

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have scored one run in each of their last three games. It’s the first time they’ve scored one run or fewer in three straight games since 2013 and only the third time they’ve done it this century. The last time they scored one run or fewer in four straight games? You have to go back to 1990. Yikes. Trying avoid tying some dubious history tonight.

Because the non-Adam Warren bullpen is well-rested and there’s an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees only need about five good innings out of Nathan Eovaldi tonight. I’m guessing Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances are all good for four or five outs to nail down a win if necessary. Of course, scoring runs would be nice. Plural. More than one. Here is the Halos’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

You’re not going to believe this, but the weather is pretty much perfect in Anaheim time. Mid-80s, sunny, no humidity … a lovely day for baseball. Tonight’s game will start at 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Andrew Miller (forearm) threw 20 pitches off a mound this afternoon with no problems. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Miller could return before the All-Star break, which is only two weeks away now … Carlos Beltran (ribcage) is day-to-day for now and will undergo tests when the team returns to New York tomorrow.

Roster Move: In case you missed it earlier, Taylor Dugas has been called up from Double-A Trenton and Esmil Rogers was again outrighted to Triple-A Scranton. Dugas is Beltran insurance for the time being.