Well that wasn’t fun. The amazing disappearing offense was a no-show against a pitcher who’s been out of the league for more than two years while Hiroki Kuroda was done in by one bad inning on Friday night. Let’s recap the 4-1 loss…
- Two Outs: After pitching around two-out doubles in the second and third, the wheels came off the Kuroda train in the fourth. Another two-out double spiraled into a four-run inning that featured a walk to Nick Franklin (#7 hitter), a walk to Kelly Shoppach (#8 hitter), and a two-run single by Brendan Ryan (#9 hitter). A two-run single by Jason Bay (#2) accounted for the other two runs. Kuroda was one strike away from ending the inning scoreless on two occasions. Four runs on eight hits and three walks in 6.1 innings is a decidedly un-Kuroda-like effort. Shake it off, Hiroki.
- LMAOffense: One run on four singles and one walk in 12.2 innings against Blake Beaven and Jeremy Bonderman. I wish I would say I was surprised, but I’m not. After forcing Bonderman to throw 51 pitches in the first two innings, the Yankees coaxed just 46 pitches out of him in the next four innings. You can file this one under “well-earned losses.”
- Death by Bunting: I know Reid Brignac is terrible, but I don’t get bunting on Bonderman (!) in the second inning (!!!) after the first two batters of the inning reach base. What’s the plan, set up Chris Stewart for the RBI opportunity? It’s super early in the game and Bonderman has been out of the big leagues since 2010. Swing the damn bats that early in the game. Strategy fail.
- Leftovers: The two through six hitters went a combined 1-for-19 (.053) with one walk, and the one hit was Kevin Youkilis‘ two-out double in the ninth … Preston Claiborne threw 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Kuroda and almost walked the first batter of his big league career, but the would-be ball four pitch hit Shoppach in the arm. Claiborne still has yet to issue a walk in 18.1 innings.
Go to MLB.com for the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs for some other stats, and ESPN for the updated standings. The Red Sox were rained out while the Rays beat the Orioles, so the Yankees are two back of Boston and one up on Baltimore and Tampa (in the loss column). Andy Pettitte will get the ball against Joe Saunders in game three of this four-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Syracuse)
- DH Thomas Neal: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
- LF Zoilo Almonte & CF Melky Mesa: both 0-4 — Almonte struck out once, Mesa twice
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — threw a runner out at the plate … ten hits in his last 20 at-bats with three doubles and a homer
- LHP Vidal Nuno: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 18 of 26 pitches were strikes (69%) … apparently he called the trainer out and left the game due to injury, so that really sucks
- RHP Chase Whitley: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 26 of 37 pitches were strikes (70%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 12 of 23 pitches were strikes (52%)
- RHP Dellin Betances: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 14 of 26 pitches were strikes (54%) … allowed just one run in his last three appearances (6.1 innings)
The Yankees have won four straight and they seem to be playing better and better with each passing win. The offense has put together a few big games and the pitching staff has rebounded after hitting the skids for about two weeks, and it doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are close to the total pushover. For whatever reason, the Yankees always seem to hit their midsummer stride whenever they make their first West Coast trip. Here’s the lineup that will face right-hander Jeremy Bonderman…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Travis Hafner
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Reid Brignac
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is a second round pick in the 1996 Nippon Pro Baseball draft, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 10:10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
The Yankees are still a few hours away — aren’t West Coast night games on the weekend just the worst? — so use this as your open thread until the regular game thread comes along. The Cardinals and Reds will be on MLB Network (Wainwright vs. Leake), plus there’s some NHL playoff action on as well. Talk about either game or anything else here. Have at it. · (49) ·
Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and the Yankees have granted him his release, the team announced. I guess he had more opt-out clauses than the five that were originally reported. Ken Rosenthal says he will sign with the Blue Jays and join their rotation next week.
Wang, 33, pitched to a 2.33 ERA (3.36 FIP) with 58% ground ball rate in 58 innings across nine starts for Triple-A Scranton this year. Rumor has it he was seeking a big league contract before opting out of his contract, and it looks like Toronto is willing to give him one. The Jays are dealing with a ton of pitching injuries and need the help. The emergency of Vidal Nuno and Michael Pineda’s encouraging rehab pushed Wang further out of the picture, so it’s no surprise he opted out. Oh well. · (38) ·
Four questions in this draft-free mailbag. If you’re interested in the draft though, check out today’s open thread. Otherwise, think up some questions for next week’s mailbag and send them to use with the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Kenny asks: What are your thoughts on re-signing Phil Hughes next year to close? Granted, he’d have to want to close and it would take a few other things like Michael Pineda coming back strong, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps continuing to progress, but he could dominate there.
Barring injury or a complete performance collapse, there’s no chance Hughes will re-sign with the Yankees as a closer. Zero. None. Not unless they pay him like a starter. Some team(s) will offer him a nice contract and a rotation spot, and that’s where he’ll go. He has no reason to come back as a reliever.
I do think Hughes would be awesome in the bullpen though, and in fact we already know he would be. We’ve seen him do it in 2009 and remember, he was dynamite out of the bullpen late in 2011 and during the postseason. If for some unexpected reason the Yankees don’t need a starter next year, sure, bring him back a reliever. He wouldn’t be open to it, however. The money is in the rotation.
Nick asks: Why not have an eleven-man pitching staff? They have several guys in the pen who can throw multiple innings, and a long man in Adam Warren so I think they can handle it. The 12th guy on the staff seems to go weeks between games (at least for the last few years). The extra bench player could allow them to do more of a platoon with several of their veterans, who are old and have platoon splits.
The easy answer is that a seven-man bullpen is commonplace these days and teams always hesitate to go against the grain. It’s been a while since the Yankees used a six-man bullpen and I don’t see them going back anytime soon. Having the extra arm is always nice, really.
That said, I do think teams could get away with it as long as they have three or four relievers capable of throwing two innings at a time. It also means having no lefty specialist. The Yankees have more platoons than they know what to do with — seriously, pretty much the only positions they aren’t platooning in some way this year are catcher, first base, second base, and center field — so having that extra position player would be nice.
Considering how important the pitching staff is for this team, carrying the extra pitcher (Joba Chamberlain? Shawn Kelley? Preston Claiborne?) over the extra position player (Brennan Boesch?) isn’t the end of the world. I do think a six-man bullpen is more doable that most realize, however.
Biggie asks: If an Alex Rodriguez suspension comes is he suspended without pay? If so, does his entire salary count against the salary cap or is it adjusted? We are almost 60 games in and suspensions sound two weeks away. Add an appeal and this can possibly carry over into next year. What would that mean to the 2014 $189 budget if anything. Thanks!
Well, the suspensions are nowhere close to two weeks away. The appeals alone will probably take months, especially if they do indeed go after 20 or so players. If A-Rod gets suspended, it won’t happen anytime soon. This labor war party is just getting started.
Anyway, yes the salary Alex forfeits during a suspension would not count against the luxury tax. Ken Davidoff was nice enough to spell it all out today, so I strong suggest reading that. We’re talking upwards of $15M in savings if he does get the 100-game ban MLB is seeking, so it’s a big chunk of change. That can fill a lot of roster holes.
Ariel asks: With our replacement shortstops playing abysmally, do you think the Yankees regret giving up on Ramiro Pena? Do you think he would be playing as well as he has with the Yanks?
You can file this under questions I never thought would be asked. New York has gotten a .216/.286/.289 (67 OPS+) from their shortstops this year while Rakin’ Ramiro has hit .318/.372/.506 (143 wRC+) in 95 plate appearances as utility infielder with the Braves. What the hell is that about?
Now, obviously Pena won’t maintain that pace. It’ll be a minor miracle if he does. A 50.0% ground ball rate and 16.7% HR/FB rate in that ballpark just don’t make sense considering the type of hitter he is, plus the .353 BABIP is a bit above what you’d expect even if he was a true-talent .320 BABIP guy. Pena could always pick it defensively, so that wasn’t the issue.
Considering who the Yankees have used at short and what they’ve gotten out of the position this year, I definitely think they want him back. Of course this kind of production was completely unforeseen, and I don’t think he’ll maintain this at all. He might hit better than he did in the Bronx, but Pena didn’t suddenly become Troy Tulowitzki.
Day One and the first 73 picks of the 2013 draft came and went last night, with the Yankees selecting four total players and three legitimate first round talents. There are still another 38 rounds and roughly 1,150 picks to go however, and thankfully none of them will come with the pomp and circumstance of last night’s MLB Network broadcast. The MLB draft just isn’t a made-for-television event, though I understand the league’s effort to increase popularity and all that. It all boils down to money and marketing, as usual.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of Day Two, here are some draft-related links to peruse:
- Here are Baseball America’s top remaining players. The top three — Oklahoma HS C Jon Denney, Virginia HS RHP Connor Jones, Tennessee HS RHP Kyle Serrano — are all considered very tough signs. Serrano pretty much confirmed he will go to college on Twitter, and Jones reportedly sent a memo to teams telling them not to draft him recently.
- Meanwhile, Baseball America says the Yankees’ top three selections — Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo (#26), Fresno State OF Aaron Judge (#32), and California HS LHP Ian Clarkin (#33) — would all slot into the middle of their top ten prospects list. Of course, their top ten is different than my top ten. They also call Judge “a great get” at his draft slot and note Clarkin “could have gone as high as the 13th pick.”
- The Yankees didn’t make an appearance in Keith Law’s post of the winners and losers from Day One (subs. req’d), though he did give me a “yay” when I asked if he liked the team’s top three selections. Law lists his best available players at the bottom of the post.
- In the pick-by-pick analysis (subs. req’d), Jason Churchill and Christopher Crawford say Jagielo could be “in pinstripes sometime in 2014, early 2015 … The Yankees get some upside [with Clarkin], and with both Jagielo and Judge have had themselves a solid first round.”
- Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer spoke to Buster Olney about the team’s Day One draft on today’s Baseball Tonight podcast. He doesn’t say anything too exciting as you’d imagine, but he does discuss the Jagielo and Judge picks. Oppenheimer’s segment starts are the 16:00 mark.
The draft continues today at 12:30pm ET with rounds three through ten. This will probably be the most boring of the three draft days since the Yankees are likely to go heavy on cheap and draft pool-saving college seniors this afternoon, which is what they did last year. That will allow them to pay over-slot bonuses to early and late-round picks. Unfortunately, college seniors aren’t exactly exciting prospects.
The Yankees were the only team in baseball with three first round picks this year thanks to the free agent defections of Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano, and those three picks made this the team’s most important draft in several years. They needed to add some serious talent to the system — their first round track record has been pretty awful for nearly two decades now — and they did that on Day One last night.
Strong & Polished
For the first time since taking Andrew Brackman with the 30th overall pick in 2007, the Yankees selected a college player with their top pick on Thursday. Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo got the call with the 26th overall pick, giving the Yankees one of the most polished hitters in the draft class. It wasn’t until this spring that he addressed his two biggest weaknesses, specifically plate discipline and defense. He made major strides in both areas.
“Jagielo loads his hands very high and deep, creating a longer path to the ball, compensating with strong hands and forearms that allow him to make solid contact even when he has to fully extend his arms to cover the pitch low and away,” wrote Keith Law (subs. req’d). “He’s quick enough to keep his hands inside the ball and doesn’t project to have trouble with better velocity … he’s an adequate defender at third with arm strength, agile enough to stay at the position even though he’s going to be among the bigger third basemen in pro ball.”
The Yankees didn’t shoot for the moon with pure upside with their top pick, instead opting to snag a well-rounded player at a hard-to-fill position with Jagielo. He was among the very best college hitters available — arguably the best college left-handed hitter — and his offensive polish means there isn’t much tinkering to be done. They can just turn him loose in the minors and watch him climb the ladder. Nice and easy.
Judge, Jury & Executioner
The Yankees hadn’t drafted a legitimate first round college bat in a long time, probably not since John-Ford Griffin in 2001, but they landed two last night. They selected Fresno State OF Aaron Judge with the 32nd overall pick and he’s a physical freak, offering both power and speed despite packing 255 lbs. on his 6-foot-7 frame. Players that big aren’t supposed to run well and be able to play center field in addition to driving he ball out of the park.
“Like a lot of taller hitters who set up high, he prefers the ball up in the zone, and the huge raw power he shows in BP doesn’t always appear in games because he doesn’t get under the ball enough to drive it out,” wrote Law (subs. req’d) “Judge won’t play center in pro ball but is an average runner who should have above-average range in either corner, with a plus arm to handle right, along the lines of Jason Heyward’s defensive profile … He has 30-homer potential for a team willing to overlook what might be 150 strikeouts a year.”
Judge is much more risky than the more polished Jagielo, but he offers more upside and wow potential. A 6-foot-7 outfielder crushing bombs and running down everything in the outfield just isn’t something you see everyday, so we’re talking about a very unique profile here. Outside of Brackman, I’m not sure scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has drafted a more fascinating player in all his years at the helm.
From The Left
Considering that their history is littered with high-end left-handed starters, the Yankees have had an alarmingly short supply of even decent southpaw prospects in recent years. Manny Banuelos, Nik Turley, and … that’s pretty much it since Sean Henn. The last time they took a lefty in the first round was 1996, when they landed Eric Milton.
With their third first round pick (33rd overall), New York addressed that organizational hole by grabbing California HS LHP Ian Clarkin. Hilariously enough, Clarkin declared his hatred for the Yankees — “I cannot stand the Yankees, I was so happy [when they lost the 2001 World Series] — in a pre-recorded video MLB Network aired after the selection was made. Don’t worry, money has a way of changing allegiances.
Anyway, more important than handedness is talent. Law (subs. req’d) said Clarkin is a “a good-sized lefty who throws hard and can spin a breaking ball” while noting the “raw material is very strong.” There is still plenty of work to be done on his delivery, command, and changeup, but that’s typical for a high school arm. This draft was very, very light on prep pitchers, and there’s a strong case to be made Clarkin was the third best available behind Kohl Stewart (#4 to Twins) and Trey Ball (#7 to Red Sox).
* * *
The Yankees went off the board a bit with their second round selection, taking California HS 2B Gosuke Katoh with the 66th overall pick. He’s a very good defender but a strong arm short of being a shortstop, and offensively he’s a speedy slap-hitter who needs to fill out his wiry frame to avoid having the bat knocked out of hands by good fastballs. The two sides may have cut a pre-draft deal to save some draft pool money, but who knows. The team does have a reputation for oddball picks, of course.
“We think we had a great first day,“ said Oppenheimer in a statement following the first day of picks, stating the obvious. “I’m excited and the staff is excited. We feel really good about what happened for us today.”
They Yankees had three first round picks and they actually chose three first round talents on Thursday, which was a very welcome change of pace from recent years. They used him to add a nice balance of polish and upside to the system, and they need to turn those selections into quality prospects sooner rather than later. I don’t know if Jagielo, Judge, and Clarkin represent the most realistic best-case scenario for those top three picks, but they definitely weren’t far off. No, not at all.
Fresh off a three-game sweep of the Indians, the Yankees opened their ten-game West Coast trip with a nice and easy 6-1 win over the Mariners in Seattle. A big third inning put this one to bed rather earlier. Let’s recap…
- Big Inning: After having five 4+ run innings in their first 56 games of the season, the Yankees now have one in each of the last four games. Robinson Cano (three-run) and Mark Teixeira (solo) did the homers with back-to-back homers off Aaron Harang in the third inning, part of eight consecutive hits by New York hitters. Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki singled in two runs after the dingers, ending Harang’s night and capping off the six-run frame. I’ve missed innings like that, they’re awesome. This game was over early.
- Philthy Phil: The Yankees couldn’t have asked for more from Phil Hughes, who surrendered one run on three singles and two walks in seven innings of work. He struck out seven, retired 15 of the first 17 men he faced, and threw a first pitch strike to 20 of 26 batters faced. Never once did he throw more than 18 pitches in an inning, and he got 14 swings and misses on 64 fastballs (21.9%). That’s nuts. Hughes did exactly what he was supposed to do against a poor offense, and for the seventh time in his last ten starts, he allowed two runs or fewer.
- Leftovers: After the six-run inning, long man Blake Beavan actually retired 14 straight Yankees hitters … Boone Logan allowed an inherited runner to score, but otherwise he, Preston Claiborne, and Shawn Kelley combined to finish off the final two innings in relief of Hughes … Austin Romine was the only player to go hitless and the Yankees didn’t draw a single walk as a tea,. Travis Hafner was the only player to reach base twice … following Wednesday’s 16-inning nightmare, Seattle had to get 20 outs from their bullpen on Thursday. Hopefully that carries over and impacts the rest of the series.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standing. The Orioles and Red Sox won while the Rays lost, so the Yankees remain one back of Boston, one up on Baltimore, and two up on Tampa (in the loss column) in the division. Hiroki Kuroda and Jeremy Bonderman is your pitching matchup for game two of this four-game set on Friday night.
RHP Corey Black said he was scheduled to throw a side session today on his Twitter feed, so whatever is keeping him on the DL can’t be that big of a deal.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 26th.
Double-A Trenton (5-4 loss to Binghamton)
- CF Ramon Flores: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — seven walks and five strikeouts in his last ten games
- DH Slade Heathcott: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- LHP Matt Tracy: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 53 of 101 pitches were strikes (52%) … had allowed four earned runs in his previous four starts combined, and all four came in the same game