Game 18: Make It Five

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Last night’s series opening win over the Mets was easily the most satisfying win of the young season. Right? I can’t be the only one who feels that way. Know what would make it even better? Winning this afternoon’s game too. The Yankees have won four straight and seven of their last eight games. OMG they are soooo hot right now.

Like Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda the last two days, CC Sabathia is making his first start of the year on regular season. All of his Spring Training and regular season starts to date have come with an extra day of rest, which was totally by design as the team looks to take it easy on the veteran southpaw and his surgically repaired knee. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a lovely afternoon for baseball in New York. A little on the cool side but the sky is clear and blue. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 4:05pm ET and you can watch live on WPIX and SNY locally as well as FOX Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy the game.

Saturday Links: A-Rod, YES, NYCFC, Nicaragua, Mustaches

Bern baby Bern. (Presswire)
Bern baby Bern. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Mets resume the Subway Series later this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. It’s a 4pm ET start. Blah. Until then, here are some stray links I had lying around to hold you over.

How the Yankees will fight A-Rod‘s home run bonuses

Back in Spring Training we heard the Yankees were “confident” they could get out of paying Alex Rodriguez his home run milestone bonuses. Now that the season is underway and A-Rod is mashing taters, the breaking point is rapidly approaching. He is two shy of tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with 660 dingers, so it could happen any game now and trigger the first $6M bonus.

Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman have the breakdown of exactly how the Yankees plan to get out of the bonuses, which are part of a separate marketing contract, not Rodriguez’s player contract. Here’s the nuts and bolts of their report:

According to two sources familiar with the situation, when Rodriguez goes deep with number 660, the Yankees will have a precise period of time — two weeks, as per one of the sources — to declare this as a marketable milestone. If they were to do this, then Rodriguez would sign over the rights to his image and associated branding for the price of $6 million.

Once the Yankees formalize this decision, then A-Rod has a set period of time — 30 days, according to one source — to file a grievance. Though Rodriguez has shied away from publicly discussing this, every indication is that he will challenge the Yankees’ interpretation of the side deal.

The Yankees will have to prove they utilized good faith in declining to declare A-Rod’s 660th homer a milestone. They’ve gone so far as to not include A-Rod in the “Upcoming Milestones” section of their daily press notes.

I dunno, seems like a lot of work to save $6M. They really can’t slap together some generic AROD660 shirts, call them official, and at least break even? Besides, you know they were hoping he didn’t hit the two homers in Detroit just so they could get the attendance boost on the homestand.

YES Network ratings down 21% so far in 2015

According to Richard Sandomir, YES Network ratings have dropped a staggering 21% so far this season, down to 267,000 viewers per game. Woof. The report is from Thursday, so it doesn’t include the last few games of this little hit streak. YES averaged over 400,000 viewers per game when it first launched and 355,000 as recently as 2012. Viewership fell to 244,000 per game in 2013 and rebounded to 288,000 per game last year thanks to Derek Jeter‘s retirement. There are still 145 games left to play, so there’s plenty of time for ratings to increase, but still. That’s a big drop. I imagine it would have been even worse if a whole bunch of people weren’t tuning in to hate-watch A-Rod.

No stadium deal for NYCFC on the horizon

New York City Football Club, the expansion MLS franchise that is doing the pro sports team version of crashing on the couch at Yankee Stadium this year, is not any closer to securing their own stadium. “We’re recognizing it’s probably going to take longer than we thought,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber to the Associated Press yesterday.

”There hasn’t been too much buzz about playing in Yankee Stadium or a baseball stadium yet,” said Garber, referring to problems with the field. ”That will happen soon, after somebody trips on a divot perhaps and perhaps misses a ground ball, but we hope that doesn’t happen.” Uh, yeah. Me too.

When we first learned NYCFC would call Yankee Stadium home, it was reported they would play their home games in the Bronx for three years (!). They still need to find a stadium location, build the place, and move in. So yeah, NYCFC isn’t going anywhere for a while. They’re 1-4-3 on the season and 1-2-1 at Yankee Stadium, in case you’re wondering. They’re playing like an expansion team.

MLB announces new amateur prospect league in Nicaragua

Earlier this month MLB announced a new amateur prospect league will be launched in Nicaragua this summer to provide scouts with “neutral in-game scouting opportunities of unsigned prospects.” This is baseball’s second amateur prospect league — they launched one in the Dominican Republic back in 2012. The league will run until July 4th, and there will be another “season” starting in September.

The press release says 46 players from Nicaragua have signed with MLB teams since 2010 and right now there are 31 Nicaraguan players under contract in MLB or the minors. Everth Cabrera and Erasmo Ramirez are the only players from Nicaragua in the big leagues at the moment. By far the best player to ever come out of the country is Dennis Martinez. (Vicente Padilla and Marvin Bernard are distant runners-up.) I’m glad MLB is branching out and giving young kids a chance to show their stuff. Hopefully they open more prospect leagues in other Latin American countries soon.

The Yankees are growing mustaches, for some reason

And finally, you may have noticed during last night’s game that several Yankees are growing — or attempting to grow, anyway — mustaches. Apparently it is part of some kind of team unity thing. Marly Rivera says Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley, Esmil Rogers, Dellin Betances, Garrett Jones, and Stephen Drew are among those growing mustaches, and during the game last night it looked like Jacoby Ellsbury is trying to get in on the act as well. This is either going to be very good or very bad. Maybe a little of both.

DotF: Slade Heathcott has another big game, Jorge Mateo steals another base

According to Matt Eddy, RHP Domingo Acevedo was both placed on the 7-day DL and activated off the DL this past week. Hopefully it happened in that order! Also, Donnie Collins says LHP Matt Tracy will jump into the Triple-A Scranton rotation on Sunday. He was re-claimed off waivers from the Marlins the other day.

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 loss to Pawtucket)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-3, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB — 8-for-11 (73%) in his last three games
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-3, 1 BB — missed just one game after being hit by a pitch
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 K — stuck in an 0-for-12 (.000) slump
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 48 of 79 pitches were strikes (61%) … that’s not going to help his case if he wants to get a call-up for sixth starter duty
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 28 of 45 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 3 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 26 of 42 pitches were strikes (62%)

[Read more…]

Teixeira homers twice, Yankees beat Mets 6-1 in Subway Series opener


Source: FanGraphs

The streak lives on. No, not the Mets’ eleven-game winning streak. That sucker’s over. The Yankees extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-1 humbling of a Mets team that seemed to be getting a little too big for their britches less than three weeks into the season. The Bombers have won seven of their last eight games overall. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Large Michael: I think that was the best Michael Pineda has looked as a Yankee. He had it all working. Cutters, sharp sliders, a filthy changeup he apparently woke up with one morning in Spring Training … it was all going. Pineda carved the Mets up for 7.2 innings, allowing just one garbage time run (infield single, wild pitch, advance on a fly ball, sac fly) on five hits. He struck out seven, walked no one, and recorded 17 of 23 outs on the infield. Seventy-eight of his 100 pitches were strikes. Seventy-eight! Only five of 28 hitters saw a first pitch ball. Brilliance.
  • deBombed: It started right in the very first inning. Brett Gardner ripped a single to center and Mark Teixeira skied a high home run into the second deck in right field for quick 2-0 lead. It was just inside the foul pole. Two innings later, Jacoby Ellsbury blasted a cheap Yankee Stadium solo homer and Teixeira followed with another two-run homer a few batters later. It was basically identical to first homer. The Yankees were up 5-0 just 13 batters into the game. Jacob deGrom didn’t know what hit him. (They were homers. Too many of ‘em.)
  • Leftovers: The sixth run scored on two singles, a walk, and a Stephen Drew sac fly. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh but didn’t score. Blah … Chasen Shreve recorded the final four outs without making it interesting … the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 9-for-20 (.450), the bottom four went 2-for-14 (.143) … for only the second time this year, a Yankee threw 100+ pitches in a start and Pineda threw 100 on the nose. (Nathan Eovaldi threw 101 in Baltimore.)

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and Announcer Standings. The Yankees and Mets will continue the Subway Series on Saturday afternoon. That’ll be CC Sabathia against Matt Harvey. Fun fact: Sabathia was starting his seventh year as a big leaguer when he was Harvey’s age.

Game 17: Big Mike and the Mets

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The Subway Series opens at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Three games in the Bronx now, then three games in Flushing in September. That’s better than the four-game home-and-home series we’ve had the last two years. Believe it or not, this is the very first time both teams are heading into the Subway Series at least tied for first place in their division. The Mets have the best record in baseball (13-3) while the Yankees are tied for first in the AL East with the Blue Jays and Red Sox (9-7).

Michael Pineda is on the bump tonight and is making his first start of the year on regular rest. It’s the same deal as Masahiro Tanaka yesterday — Big Mike made all his Spring Training and regular season starts with an extra day of rest by design. Tanaka pitched very well yesterday, so hopefully Pineda does the same. He’s coming off a stressful 92-pitch outing against the Rays. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s been pretty cold and windy in New York today and the weather will be the same tonight, only colder. Yuck. It’s been more than a week now since the Yankees last played a game outdoors in nice weather. First pitch is scheduled 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES and WPIX locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

2015 Draft: Kyle Cody

Kyle Cody | RHP

Background
Cody was a 33rd round pick (Phillies) out of high school in 2012 who declined to sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Kentucky. He had a 4.05 ERA with a 67/33 K/BB in 95.2 innings while bouncing between the rotation and bullpen as a freshman and sophomore. This spring he has a 5.80 ERA with a 42/11 K/BB in 45 innings, almost all as a starter.

Scouting Report
First things first: Cody is listed at 6-foot-7 and 245 lbs., so he’s a behemoth on the mound. He sits 93-95 mph with his fastball, touches 97 mph regularly, and holds his velocity deep into games. Cody also throws a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider, both of which are inconsistent but improving. His command has improved considerably over the last calendar year and Cody knows how to use his size to his advantage by pitching downhill. As with almost all pitchers this size, his mechanics can fall out of whack from time to time.

Miscellany
MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Cody as the 19th and 25th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. Keith Law (subs. req’d) did not rank him among the top 50 prospects in the upcoming draft. The Yankees love physically huge pitchers and guys who have had success in the Cape Cod League — Cody chewed up wood bats last summer and was ranked the second best prospect on the Cape by Baseball America — though they usually look for college arms with more polish than Cody. He’s a bit of a project and may need three years in the minors before being ready to help at the MLB level. Cody should still be on the board for New York’s first pick (16th overall) and may even be available for their second (30th).

4/24 to 4/26 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Subway Series

The 2015 Subway Series begins tonight. Unlike the last few years, when the Mets and Yankees played a four-game home-and-home series, they’re playing three games at Yankee Stadium this weekend and another three games at Citi Field in September. I like that. It gives you a winner for each series. Both teams are playing well right now, so this should be the most exciting Subway Series we’ve seen in years.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged from the baseball world, you know the Mets are riding an eleven-game winning streak coming into the series. All eleven wins came against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, but hey, you can only play who the schedule says you have to play. The Mets outscored their opponents 57-31 in the eleven games, though seven of the eleven were decided by two runs or less (five by one run). The Amazin’s have baseball’s best record at 13-3.

Offense & Defense

Manager Terry Collins has an offense that has been a tick better than average in terms of runs per game (4.56) but basically average in terms of wRC+ (99). Timing is everything. They’re getting hits at opportune times. The Mets are currently without both 3B David Wright (hamstring) and C Travis d’Arnaud (fingers), two of their three best position players, and they’re not due to return for a few weeks now. Big losses.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Duda. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

With Wright and d’Arnaud out, the Mets’ best player is 1B Lucas Duda (179 wRC+), who may be getting over his career-long inability to hit lefties thanks to some help from current Mets hitting coach and ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. It’s too early to say definitively though. OF Michael Cuddyer (125 wRC+) is off to a nice start and ex-Yank OF Curtis Granderson (93 wRC+) hasn’t hit (.200 AVG and .020 ISO), but he leads baseball with a ridiculous 21.9 BB%. Betcha the Grandyman hits at least one homer in the Bronx this weekend.

SS Wilmer Flores (128 wRC+) is getting hot at the plate and 2B Daniel Murphy (46 wRC+) has generally looked lost. UTIL Eric Campbell (109 wRC+) and C Kevin Plawecki (102 wRC+) are filling in at the hot corner and behind the plate, respectively. OF Juan Lagares (61 wRC+) had a huge Spring Training but a small regular season so far. OF John Mayberry Jr. (183 wRC+) platoons against righties and joins C Anthony Recker, IF Daniel Muno, IF Ruben Tejada, and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench.

With Wright and d’Arnaud injured, Lagares is the only clearly better than average defender on the field for the Mets. He’s a stud in center. The scouting reports say Plawecki is strong behind the plate but he’s only played two games, so we haven’t seen him much. Flores and Murphy are a brutal double play combination, maybe the worst defensively in baseball, and Duda is no great shakes at first. To his credit, he’s worked hard to go from abysmal to playable. Cuddyer is below-average in left and Granderson is average at best in right, but he can’t throw. Just don’t hit it to Lagares, basically.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (Career vs. NYY)
The 26-year-old deGrom is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, and he actually made his MLB debut against the Yankees at Citi Field last season. (Chase Whitley also made his MLB debut in that game.) deGrom has a 0.93 ERA (2.45 FIP) with good strikeout (21.8%) and ground ball (44.4%) rates to go with excellent walk (3.9%) and homer (0.47 HR/9) rates this year. He’s been much stingier against righties (.256 wOBA) than lefties (.298 wOBA) so far in his young career. When he’s on, deGrom has maybe the best fastball command in baseball, sitting in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamers, and locating both pitches flawlessly. His array of secondary pitches include an upper-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup, and a low-80s curveball. The curve is his fifth pitch but he still uses it regularly, about 10% of the time or so. deGrom is a late bloomer who played shortstop in college, yet he has developed into one of the best starters in the game right now.

"The Dark Knight" is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)
“The Dark Knight” is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Career vs. NYY)
Harvey has allowed seven runs in 18 innings in his first three starts back from Tommy John surgery (3.50 ERA), but his underlying performance has been insane. He’s struck out 24 (32.0%) and walked just one (1.3%), leading to a 2.34 FIP. Harvey’s ground ball rate is about average (40.0%) and he’s served up two homers, both in his last start to the Phillies. He has a reverse split both this year and throughout his MLB career — lefties have a .228 wOBA against Harvey in his career while righties have a .274 wOBA. Weird. Elbow reconstruction has not sapped any of Harvey’s stuff. The 26-year-old still sits mid-to-upper-90s with his heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up Saturday.

Sunday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. NYM) vs. LHP Jon Niese (Career vs. NYY)
Compared to deGrom and Harvey, the 28-year-old Niese is a bore. He has a 1.50 ERA (4.79 FIP) in 18 innings so far this year with strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.4%) rates that are a little too close together in the early going. Niese is getting a ton of grounders (58.1%) and he’s traditionally been a bit better against lefties than righties throughout his career. Some arm injuries — both elbow and shoulder — have sapped Niese’s velocity in recent years, so he now sits in the upper-80s with his two and four-seamer and mid-80s with his cutter. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his go-to secondary pitches. Niese has been a really good pitcher for several years now. Just because he’s not deGrom or Harvey doesn’t mean he isn’t a tough draw for the Yankees.

Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)
Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Injuries have really decimated the Mets bullpen. They’re without closer RHP Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery), backup closer RHP Jenrry Mejia (elbow), setup man RHP Vic Black (shoulder), lefty specialist LHP Jerry Blevins (forearm), and secondary lefty specialist LHP Josh Edgin (Tommy John surgery). That’s a lot of quality relievers out of action for extended periods of time.

So, with all those guys hurt, Collins is using RHP Jeurys Familia (2.86 FIP) as closer and RHP Buddy Carlyle (1.57 FIP) as the setup man. Carlyle spent some time with the Yankees in 2011. He and Familia have each pitched in the last two games, by the way. LHP Alex Torres (3.07 FIP) is now the team’s go-to lefty and RHP Carlos Torres (2.91 FIP) does a little of everything. Setup work, middle relief, long relief, you name it. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (6.07 FIP), RHP Erik Goeddel (5.32 FIP), and RHP Hansel Robles round out the bullpen. Robles was just called up and has yet to make his MLB debut.

Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. Then head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about New York’s fourth most historically relevant baseball franchise.