DotF: Solak continues hot streak in Staten Island’s loss

Got a bunch of notes to pass along:

  • OF Blake Rutherford is day-to-day with an “undisclosed injury,” the team announced. It’s reportedly his knee. He tweaked it running out a ground ball last week. Rutherford “appeared to take part in pre-game practice” today, whatever the hell that means.
  • 1B Chris Parmelee was placed on the Triple-A DL, reports Shane Hennigan. Parmelee left last night’s game with back spasms. He is not on the 40-man roster and I’m not sure he was going to get a September call-up anyway, but this won’t help his case.
  • RHP Domingo German was activated off the High-A DL, the team announced. That’s good. No idea what was wrong with him, but it couldn’t have been anything serious if he came back this soon. German returned from Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
  • RHP Diego Moreno was called up to Triple-A Scranton and RHP Gio Gallegos was sent down the Double-A Trenton, according to Hennigan. Matt Kardos says Gallegos is staying in Scranton for the time being. It’s just a paper move to temporarily clear a roster spot.
  • Chris Crawford (subs. req’d) spoke to a bunch of scouts about starting pitcher prospects who could come up soon and dominate out of the bullpen right away, a la Edwin Diaz of the Mariners. RHP Domingo Acevedo was mentioned as a candidate. “I don’t think he’s gonna strike out every [dang] hitter like Diaz seems to, but with an 80 fastball and that hard power-change, he could miss plenty of bats,” said the scout.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery earned some love from Jim Callis for being an under-the-radar prospect. “He’s unlikely to become more than a No. 4 starter, yet his track record makes it likely that he’ll surface in the back of a big league rotation. Look for him to get his first shot in New York at some point next season,” wrote Callis.
  • Chad Jennings spoke to 1B Tyler Austin about other players in the system who have bounced back from down years, like himself. “With him being finally healthy and playing every day, I think (his potential is) showing. It’s exciting, and it’s an exciting time for him,” he said of C Kyle Higashioka.
  • Alec Dopp posted a bunch of scouting reports after traveling around the NY-Penn League. OF Timmy Robinson, OF Dom Thompson-Williams, and RHP Nick Green all received write-ups. I like Green. The Yankees seem to do well with “generic righty” profiles like that.

The minor league regular season ends in about two and a half weeks, so let’s update the standings. It’s been a while since I’ve done that.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 loss to Pawtucket) they’re 78-48 and have a 3.5-game lead in the North Division … their regular season ends Monday, September 5th

  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate … 13-for-40 (.325) in his last nine games, but only two extra-base hits (double, triple)
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — 10-for-23 (.435) since being sent down
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 1 K
  • LF Cesar Puello: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GB/FB — 31 of 53 pitches were strikes (58%) … making the spot start because they played two doubleheaders earlier this week, and their rotation is all out of whack
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 20 of 30 pitches were strikes … great, now do this in the big leagues, Chasen
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eight pitches, six strikes

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Thursday Night Open Thread

It actually is Thursday today. I double-checked after making a little headline mistake with yesterday’s open thread. My bad. Anyway, I recommend checking out this Rob Arthur article on baseball’s rising home run rate. The article is a week old but I didn’t get a chance to read it until today. Pretty good stuff. Give it a whirl.

Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing some regional games, the Mets are playing out on the West Coast later tonight, and there’s some preseason NFL games on as well as the Olympics. You folks know how these open threads work, so have at it.

The Yankees should evaluate more than just their young players down the stretch


Moreso than at any point in the last 20 years, the Yankees are in the middle of a youth movement. Aaron Judge is playing right field every day, and, most notably, Gary Sanchez has taken over as the starting catcher. That’s a big deal because Brian McCann is still on the roster. Judge is replacing the traded Carlos Beltran, so it’s an easy. McCann’s role has been reduced to make room for Sanchez. The Yankees are going all-in on the kids.

Beyond Judge and Sanchez, the Yankees have also called up Tyler Austin to take at-bats away from Mark Teixeira. Alex Rodriguez has been released too. Chad Green and Luis Cessa are in the rotation, though that’s more out of necessity than anything. Once rosters expand we’ll see Ben Gamel and Rob Refsnyder again, probably Luis Severino and others as well. Ben Heller will be back too. He was up last week but did not appear in a game.

The Yankees are making these moves and decisions because this season is close to a lost cause. Yeah, they’re technically still in the wildcard race, but it is a long shot. They admitted as much when they traded away arguably their three best players at the trade deadline. The Yankees are looking ahead to the future and allowing their top young players, the guys they intend build around doing forward, to get their feet wet now.

So far everything is going pretty well. Judge and especially Sanchez have produced right away, and while the instant success is good, how do they handle the inevitable failure? That matters too. The young players are front and center, and the Yankees will evaluate them the rest of the season. They’re not the only people the Yankees have to evaluate though. There’s also Joe Girardi. Is he the right man to lead the team through what they’re calling a “transition?”

I’m not here to criticize Girardi or call him a bad manager to anything like that. This is a legitimate question. The Yankees are trying to mold Sanchez and Judge and everyone else into the core of the next great Yankees team, and you want to have the right person leading them. This is important stuff. Managers don’t just fill out lineup cards and change pitchers. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. Here’s what we know about Girardi’s experience managing young players.

1. The Yankees have never asked Girardi to do something like this. Since hiring Girardi during the 2007-08 offseason, the Yankees have been a win-now team. That was the case even coming into this season. Things didn’t work out that way, so the team shifted gears at the trade deadline and now the emphasis is on young players. There’s been a Brett Gardner here and an Ivan Nova there over the years, but that’s pretty much it. The front office is now dropping a bunch of kids in Girardi’s lap, all at once. They’ve never done this before. The closest thing to this is when they started the 2008 season with both Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes in the rotation, and that lasted barely a month.

2. Girardi did manage a lot of rookies with the Marlins. Thanks to one of the team’s trademark fire sales, Girardi had to manage an incredible 22 rookies (!) with the 2006 Marlins. Heck, Girardi was a rookie himself. That was his first season as a big league skipper. He had a rookie middle infield (Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla), a rookie outfield (Josh Willingham, Reggie Abercrombie, Jeremy Hermida), four rookie starters (Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Scott Olsen) and more. That was an entire team of young players.


Managing a bunch of rookies with a Marlins team that has zero expectations and is under no microscope is a much different animal than managing rookies with the Yankees. Girardi had no choice but to play those guys in Florida. Hanley and Uggla were going to be his middle infield, the same way Didi Gregorius was going to be his shortstop last year. The difficult part is when you have a veteran like McCann and need to play a rookie like Sanchez. That can be tough and uncomfortable.

Last week was not Girardi’s finest week with the Yankees. He said last Sunday he would play A-Rod as much as he wanted during his final week, then it didn’t happen. That’s not a good look. Anything that could potentially compromise the players’ trust in the manager is bad. That also seemed to be an isolated incident, and I’m not entirely convinced Girardi wasn’t under orders from above to keep A-Rod on the bench. It’s not like that was part of a pattern. Quite the opposite, really.

Girardi generally defends his players tooth and nail and does what he can to take the heat off them. He’s not above calling players out when they make a mistake, but it is rare. He’s going to protect his players and I see that as quality you want in a manager in charge of a rebuild. The kids are going to make mistakes. They’re unavoidable. They’re going to throw to the wrong base, they’re going to slump, they’re going to do all of that. Being a young player trying to cut your teeth in the show can be overwhelming, especially in New York, and you want a manager who will guide the player through the tough times, not just pat him on the back when things go well.

At the same time, I’m a big believer in managers having a shelf life. Eventually things get stale and it’s time for a new voice and fresh ideas. Every manager is different, so sometimes getting stale happens after three years, or five years, or 15 years. Is Girardi approaching his shelf life? Eh, that’s tough to say. That’s something for the players to decide. It does seem like we’ve seen more careless mistakes (baserunning, etc.) from the Yankees this year than in the past, and fair or not, that reflects poorly on the coaching staff and manager.

I don’t think there’s any chance the Yankees will fire Girardi after the season, so this is all probably a moot point. Trading away veterans at the trade deadline took all the heat off him as far as missing the postseason. The people above him too responsibility for that. Brian Cashman and, more importantly, Hal Steinbrenner seem to like Girardi, so I think he’s safe. There’s two years left on his contract too. Like it or not, all signs point to Joe being back in 2017.

With that in mind, I am curious to see how Girardi handles the young kids the rest of the year, and not just the playing time. I’m curious to see how he helps them deal with the media when they struggle, and also how he helps them learn and become better players. The objective has changed. For most of Girardi’s time here it’s been all about winning. Now it’s about developing these young players into the next great Yankees, and the team wants to make sure they have the right man in charge to do that.

Yankeemetrics: Dawn of a new era in the Bronx [Aug. 15-17]


Mean Green Chad
In what could become a familiar storyline over the final month-and-a-half of the regular season, two rookies were the difference-makers in the series-opening 1-0 win, giving the Yankees their first victory this season when scoring exactly one run (their 0-20 mark in those games before Monday was easily the most such losses without a win among all teams).

The scorching-hot bat of Aaron Judge drove in the game’s only run with a booming double to center field, while Chad Green spun a gem on the mound, tossing six scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Thanks to those fantastic efforts, both carved out a place in the Yankee record books and baseball history.

  • After hitting homers on Saturday and Sunday, Judge became the first Yankee with at least one extra-base hit in each of his first three career games … that’s right, Mantle, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Jeter, etc. never did it.
  • He also is the only player in American League history to have an extra-base hit and drive in at least one run in each of his first three major-league games.
  • At 25 years and 83 days old, Green is the youngest pitcher in franchise history to strike out at least 11 batters and allow no more than two baserunners in a game.
  • Green is just the second player in Major-League history to have an outing with more than 10 strikeouts, no walks and two or fewer baserunners this early into this career (ninth game). The other gem? Kerry Wood’s epic 20-strikeout, 1-hit masterpiece on May 6, 1998 against the Astros.

If not for the dazzling pitching performance by Green and the clutch hitting of Judge, this could have been a demoralizing loss for the Yankees, who squandered numerous scoring opportunities throughout the night. It’s amazing they actually won the game considering the lineup went 2-for-18 with RISP and stranded a small navy of runners on the basepaths.

The 14 men left on base were the most by any Yankee club in a nine-inning 1-0 win over the past century. In fact, the last time they even managed to do that in a 1-0 victory of any game length was July 4, 1925 against the Philadelphia A’s. The Yankees won that game on a walk-off single by backup catcher Steve O’Neil in the 15th inning, while Herb Pennock earned the win after throwing a 15-inning, four-hit, no-walk shutout.


From awesome to awful
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Tuesday’s ugly loss to the Blue Jays perfectly captured the Yankees’ maddeningly inconsistent season in a nutshell.

It was a tale of two games, as the Yankees built up a 5-0 lead before a thunderstorm halted the game in the middle of the fifth inning. When play resumed after a 42-minute rain delay, the Yankees tacked on another run for a seemingly insurmountable six-run lead, before everything went horribly wrong. Thanks to a few horrific performances from Anthony Swarzak (2 outs, 4 ER), Adam Warren (1 out, 4 ER) and Chasen Shreve (0 outs, 4 ER), the bullpen imploded in historic fashion and the Blue Jays scored 12 unanswered runs en route to a 12-6 victory.

The Yankees epic bullpen meltdown can be summarized in this one stat: This was the second game in franchise history where three relievers each allowed at least four earned runs; the other was July 19, 1987 against the Texas Rangers.

Even worse, it was first game in American League history in which a team had three relievers who each pitched fewer than one inning and gave up four or more earned runs. (It has happened twice before in the National League: the Giants against the Expos on May 7, 1997, and the Pirates against the Cardinals on August 6, 1959.)

Gary Sanchez provided one of the few highlights for the Yankees, going 3-for-4 with four RBI while crushing his third and fourth career home runs. The 23-year-old phenom is the youngest Yankee catcher with a multi-homer game since Bill Dickey (age 22) in 1929. Along with Sanchez, the only other Yankee backstops age 23 or younger to have a four-RBI game were Dickey and Yogi Berra.


Sanchez shines, Sabathia slumps
For the second day in a row, the Yankees struggled to contain Toronto’s explosive offense and lost, 7-4, as a terrible pitching performance once again doomed the home team. Tuesday night’s culprit was the bullpen, and on Wednesday afternoon the blame shifted to the rotation (plus some shoddy defense).

CC Sabathia was both electric and dreadful on the mound, striking out 12 (!) while giving up seven (!) runs on nine hits, and producing one of the strangest pitching lines you’ll ever see. He is the only player in Yankee history to have at least 12 strikeouts and give up at least seven earned runs in a game.

In fact, only four other pitchers in baseball history have done that in an outing of nine innings or fewer: Cole Hamels (2006), Curt Schilling (1997, 2001), Randy Johnson (1998) and Nolan Ryan (1973, 1977).

Gary Sanchez stole the show again with another towering homer onto the netting over Monument Park in his first at-bat of the game. He made Joe Girardi look smart for slotting him in at the No. 4 spot in the lineup, as the 23-year-old Sanchez became the youngest Yankee starting cleanup hitter to hit a home run since Bobby Murcer on August 29, 1969 against the Royals.

Sanchez now has five home runs and 11 RBI in the bigs, giving him one of the most prolific starts to a career by any Yankee: He is the only player in franchise history to hit at least five homers and drive in more than 10 runs within his first 15 major-league games.

Most impressively, all five of his longballs have been moonshots, measuring at 437, 419, 403, 407 and 426 feet, per Statcast data. Since he went deep for the first time on August 10, Sanchez is the only player in the majors to hit five 400-foot homers in that span.

Thoughts as the Yankees head out to the West Coast


The Yankees are out on the West Coast and they’ll begin a six-game trip tomorrow night in Anaheim. Angel Stadium used to be a house of horrors for the Yankees. Those days are long gone though. Anyway, here are some thoughts on the off-day.

1. The first two weeks of the Gary Sanchez era have been pretty awesome. It’s not just all the dingers, though those are cool as hell. Sanchez has looked pretty good behind the plate in his limited time there. His arm is obviously a cannon. I mean, holy crap. One of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen. Sanchez’s receiving and blocking look pretty good too. He’s not Gold Glove caliber or anything, but the guy came up through the minors with a reputation for being a poor defender, and now he looks solid. I also like that he seems willing to take charge with the pitching staff. Sanchez is not shy about going out to the mound and talking things over in big spots. The bat is great. I felt pretty confident in Sanchez doing damage at the plate. Maybe not this much right away, but in time. The defense was the bigger question and everything looks good so far. I’m encouraged.

2. When Greg Bird first came up last year, I couldn’t help but notice the way teams would aggressively attack him with fastballs up in the strike zone, especially with two strikes. It really drove home that teams these days have super detailed scouting reports, so much so that when a kid comes up from the minors, the MLB club already knows his tendencies and weaknesses. I remember a few years ago Red Sox manager John Farrell said they had to double check their internal data because the Yankees were shifting on Jackie Bradley Jr. in his first week as a big leaguer. So, with that in mind, here’s the pitch selection against Aaron Judge in his first five games with the Yankees (MLB averages in parenthesis):

Hard (various types of fastballs): 66.7% (61.5%)
Breaking (curveballs, sliders): 20.5% (23.8%)
Offspeed (changeups, splitters): 12.8% (11.7%)

I did toss out Judge’s two at-bats against R.A. Dickey because they tell us nothing useful. Knuckleballers are outliers. That’s the pitch selection against Judge by non-gimmick pitchers. He’s only batted 18 times against non-Dickeys, so it’s not a big sample, but I was still surprised to see Judge has been getting so many fastballs. It hasn’t seemed like that many while watching the games. I feel like he’s been getting a steady diet of soft stuff away, which is exactly what gave Judge so much trouble late last season. Intrigue! Judge has performed well so far and I’m sure he’s going to stop seeing so many fastballs soon. He’s such a unique player because of his size. I’m looking forward to analyzing him as his big league career continues.

3. I get that it was as much a function of their place in the standings than anything, but I do like that the Yankees have called up several of their top young players at the same time. Sanchez was up before Judge and Tyler Austin, but by only a few days. I think it’s good to break these guys in together. The big leagues are hard! It can be even harder and more intimidating if you’re a rookie walking into a veteran clubhouse like the Yankees have had over the years. Sanchez, Judge, and Austin have been playing together for years now and they get to experience all of this together. The successes, the failures, everything. I’m certain MLB can be overwhelming, especially when you’re new. Having a familiar face around to experience things with can only help.


4. Didi Gregorius has been the team’s second best hitter this season behind the departed Carlos Beltran, and I’m glad to see he’s finally moved up in the lineup the last few days. Gregorius is an energetic and excitable guy, and he can get really jumpy at the plate. We see it a lot with men on base and in big spots. He goes up there hacking. This little late-season look as the No. 3 or 4 hitter can maybe help get him used to hitting higher in the lineup and keep him from being so jumpy at the plate. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but it’s worth a try. I wasn’t a huge believer in Didi’s bat when the Yankees acquired him, but he’s obviously turned himself into a quality hitter, someone the team can now expect to do damage. With any luck, he’ll continue to improve and still be only their sixth or seventh best hitter as the kids establish themselves. Gregorius is awesome, but when he’s arguably your best hitter like he has been this year, it’s a bit of a problem.

5. What in the world are the Yankees going to do with Jacoby Ellsbury? He’s hitting .263/.326/.361 (86 wRC+) this year, .246/.302/.349 (75 wRC+) since coming off the DL last year, and .264/.324/.379 (94 wRC+) as a Yankee overall. I was okay with giving him this season to show last year’s poor performance was a result of the knee injury, but good grief. His last 800 or so plate appearances have been awful. The Yankees owe Ellsbury roughly $90M from 2017-20, and while no player is truly untradeable, trading him is a question of whether a) the Yankees are willing to live with the terms (eating money, etc.), and b) Ellsbury is willing to waive his no-trade clause. The team has to hope so. The Yankees are suddenly very willing to move on from veteran players, either by trading them (Beltran), reducing their role (Brian McCann), or releasing them (Alex Rodriguez). Ellsbury’s the one guy on the roster with a lots of years left on a big money contract. Unloading him should be a priority this winter.

6. Mark Teixeira is totally going to wind up on television once the season ends and he’s retired as a player, right? Maybe not as soon as next season, but eventually. He’s really good on camera from what we’ve seen, he’s willing to make fun of himself, and he can talk intelligently about the game. Add in the fact that he’s a big name player and you’ve got a great recipe for a television analyst. The only real question is whether he wants to do it. Teixeira’s made so much money in his career that he presumably doesn’t have to work anymore. I’m sure some networks will come calling, maybe even YES, but Teixeira’s in a position where he doesn’t have to settle anything less than the perfect job. Hopefully he hooks on somewhere. I think he’d be really entertaining as a broadcaster.

DotF: Higashioka homers; Gamel, Frazier, Refsnyder each have two hits in Scranton’s loss

Both C Gary Sanchez (two homers in MLB) and LHP Justus Sheffield (another strong start in High-A) made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report after their big games yesterday. As always, it’s not behind the Baseball America paywall, so check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (10-6 loss to Norfolk)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 14-for-32 (.434) during his eight-game hitting streak
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-5, 1 R — 11-for-36 (.306) in his last nine games
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — fourth game since being sent down … he’s played two at second and two at third
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 0-3, 1 K — left the game in the sixth inning … Shane Hennigan says Parmelee had back spasms
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — here’s video of the homer
  • RHP Brady Lail: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 4/2 GB/FB — 49 of 76 pitches were strikes (64%) … managed to allow four homers … ouch
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 24 of 40 pitches were strikes (60%) … he’s been working longer outings of late … looks like they’re stretching him out a bit so he can go two or three innings at a time if necessary in September
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 28 of 40 pitches were strikes (70%) … 28/1 K/BB in 18.1 innings in Triple-A this year (32/12 K/BB in 27.2 innings in MLB)

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Thursday Wednesday Night Open Thread

I missed this the other day: David Laurila interviewed righty Ben Heller when the Yankees were in Boston last week. Heller came over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade and was called up for a few days last week, though he did not appear in a game. I’m certain we’ll see him again when rosters expand in September. Maybe even sooner.

Anyway, here is the open thread for the night. ESPN is showing the Red Sox and Orioles, and the Mets are playing out on the West Coast later tonight. The Olympics are on too. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else here. Have at it.