Saturday Links: Wildcard Game, Thames, Judge, Son, Yogi


The Yankees and White Sox are halfway through their four-game series. They continue the set with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time.

Wildcard games start times announced

Earlier this week, MLB announced the start times for the two wildcard games. The AL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Tuesday, October 6th, while the NL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Wednesday, October 7th. Standard postseason start times. The AL game will be broadcast on ESPN and the NL game on TBS. Those are the only games scheduled those days. The full postseason schedule can be found right here.

The Yankees come into today four games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East and 4.5 games up on the Astros for the first wildcard spot. They’re five games up on the Angels for a wildcard spot in general. The magic number to clinch the team’s first postseason berth since 2012 is a mere five, as Joe DiMaggio tells you in the sidebar. It’s unlikely the Yankees will catch and pass the Blue Jays to win the AL East, so they figure to be playing in that wildcard game one week from Tuesday. They’ll host the game at Yankee Stadium if they hold onto their lead for the first wildcard spot.

Q&A with Marcus Thames

Brendan Kuty recently posted a short-ish interview with Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Marcus Thames, who was with the Yankees during their recent trip to Toronto. Thames discussed his philosophy as a hitting coach and some players we’ve seen come up from the minors this year. He also spoke about top prospect OF Aaron Judge at length after Judge hit .224/.308/.373 (98 wRC+) with a 28.5% strikeout rate in 61 games for the RailRiders.

“If you come to a game and watch, everybody’s trying to make him expand (the strike zone). So if he expands, he’s going to get himself out. So he’s going to have to have discipline to know what he does well, and that’s swing at strikes. If he does that, he’s going to be fine,” said Thames. Judge is always going to strike out a bunch — he’s 6-foot-7 remember, that’s a lot of strike zone to cover — but another few hundred at bats in Triple-A next season is best for him. Triple-A is the place to learn how to not expand the zone, not the big leagues.

Son. (Korea Times)
Son. (Korea Times)

Korean OF Ah-Seop Son plans to come to MLB

Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son plans to come over to MLB this offseason, reports Jeff Passan. Son will not be a free agent this winter, so his team, the Lotte Giants, will have to make him available through the posting system. Once he is posted, teams will be able to place a blind bid, and high bidder gets a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with Son. Here are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

2007 19 -9.5 Lotte KBO 4 6 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .333 .500
2008 20 -8.2 Lotte KBO 80 250 31 66 11 1 3 17 2 3 28 35 .303 .387 .404 .791
2009 21 -7.3 Lotte KBO 34 96 11 16 4 0 3 4 1 1 9 16 .186 .263 .337 .600
2010 22 -6.0 Lotte KBO 121 487 85 129 23 0 11 47 6 2 50 82 .306 .377 .438 .815
2011 23 -5.4 Lotte KBO 116 492 79 144 25 5 15 83 13 4 43 80 .326 .385 .507 .892
2012 24 -4.3 Lotte KBO 132 556 61 158 26 0 5 58 10 5 41 79 .314 .370 .396 .766
2013 25 -3.5 Lotte KBO 128 568 83 172 23 4 11 69 36 7 64 88 .345 .421 .474 .895
2014 26 -2.9 Lotte KBO 122 570 105 175 25 3 18 80 10 3 80 78 .362 .456 .538 .994
2015 27 Lotte KBO 108 480 82 133 26 0 12 52 11 6 62 95 .321 .408 .471 .879
All Levels (9 Seasons) 845 3505 539 994 164 13 78 411 89 31 377 554 .324 .399 .462 .860

Son, who turns 28 in March, is described as a player “whose forte is more hitting for a high average and getting on base” rather than hitting for power. Passan notes Son will qualify for free agency next year, so if he gets lowballed during contract talks this winter, he could simply return to Korea for another season, then try again as a true free agent with more negotiating leverage next offseason.

The Yankees have a full and rather pricey big league outfield as well as a bevy of lefty hitting outfielders in the upper minors — Son is a left-handed hitter as well — so I’m not sure he makes sense for them. (For what it’s worth, the Yankees are reportedly scouting Korean first baseman Byung-Ho Park.) That said, you can be sure teams will take a much harder look at Korean players going forward following the success of Jung-Ho Kang with the Pirates.

Yogi’s funeral will be an “intimate private memorial”

According to Priscella DeGregory, the funeral for the late Yogi Berra will be an “intimate private memorial” next week, likely near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. It’ll be a small service for his family according to officials for Berra’s museum. “The outpouring of emotion that we have witnessed is a testimonial to how significant an impact he had not just as an athlete but as a human being,” said museum CEO Kevin Peters to DeGregory. Yogi passed away at age 90 late Tuesday night. We all miss him.

Double plays doom Yankees in 5-2 loss to White Sox

Every loss seems to play out the same way these days. The starter pitches okay but not great, the offense doesn’t get The Big Hit, and the Triple-A bullpen allows an insurance run or two. That’s exactly what happened in Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox. It followed the script perfectly.


Three Bad Innings
Earlier this season, CC Sabathia seemed to fall victim to the One Bad Inning start after start. He’d pitch well for a few innings, allow like four runs at once, then continue to pitch well afterwards. It was annoying. This game featured three bad innings. The White Sox scored one run in the second, another run in the third, and then two more in the seventh.

The second and third inning rallies involved a series of base hits. They’re weren’t quick rallies. Melky Cabrera singled and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s double into the right center field gap in the third — Ramirez’s double was a single that became a double because, you know, Carlos Beltran defense — then Sabathia put two more runners on base before escaping the inning. Four of the first six batters reached base in the second.

In the third, Sabathia allowed a one-out single to Trayce Thompson and a two-out single to Avisail Garcia to score the run. (Thompson took second on a ground out earlier.) The PC Richard & Son whistle mistakenly went off after strike two to Garcia, which was amusing. Both hits in the inning came in two-strike counts, which was less amusing. Mike Olt and Gordon Beckham then hit solo homers in the seventh for two runs. Olt hit a ball into the second deck in left. Very bad pitches. Very, very bad.

Sabathia finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out three and did get an impressive 14 ground ball outs. (Only two in the air.) Sabathia has pitched much better since coming off the DL but this was easily his worst start of the four. Those two homers in the seventh ruined it. Sabathia was fine up until then.


Blown Chances
Carlos Rodon did everything in his power to give this game to the Yankees. He walked five and hit two batters in six innings of work. That’s seven (!) free base-runners. Not a single one of those seven scored. Didi Gregorius drove in both of New York’s runs in the fourth inning. Brian McCann (single) and Chris Young (infield single) reached base earlier to setup the rally.

Of course, all those free base-runners led to lots of chances, yet the Yankees never capitalized. A hit batsman and a walk in the second? Rob Refsnyder grounded out to end the threat. A hit batsman and a walk in the third? Beltran popped up to end the inning. Bases loaded in the fourth? Chase Headley hit into an inning-ending double play. A double and a walk in the sixth? Brett Gardner banged into a double play. A leadoff base-runner in both the seventh and eighth? More double plays! These by Alex Rodriguez and Young.

That was rough. The Yankees had plenty of chances but were smacking into double plays or popping or whatever all night. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — there are simply too many players not hitting at the moment, most notably Gardner, Headley, and A-Rod — and we’ve seen a few too many games like this recently. Lots of opportunities but not lots of runs. They’ve got ten days to figure it out before the wildcard game.


David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 32nd save. Wait … he’s not on the team anymore. Force of habit. Anyway, Andrew Bailey was the first reliever out of the bullpen and he retired all four batters he faced, with two strikeouts mixed in. Nick Rumbelow (two singles) and Chasen Shreve (one single) conspired to allow an insurance run in the ninth. The bullpen is a mess right now.

The Yankees had six hits: a double by Refsnyder and singles by Gardner, Headley, McCann, Young, and Gregorius. A-Rod, McCann (two), Greg Bird, Refsnyder, and Gregorius drew the six walks. Gardner and McCann were hit by pitches. McCann was on base four times? Huh, didn’t realize it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains five as of this writing. The tragic number in the AL East is also five. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox still have two more games to play. They’ll play the third game of this four-game set Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Adam Warren and John Danks is the scheduled pitching matchup. There are only six home games left in the regular season, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.

Game 153: Happy Anniversary

One year ago today, Derek Jeter played his final home game at Yankee Stadium. I know you remember that. It was an incredible night capped off by Jeter’s walk-off single to win the game. If a movie ended like that, it would be the cheesiest thing ever. But real life? It was remarkable. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

One year ago today, the Yankees had already been eliminated from postseason contention. Jeter’s walk-off didn’t help the team in the standings at all. This year, the story is different. The Yankees are in contention and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is a mere five. They could clinch as soon as Sunday if things break right. One game at a time though. Focus on winning tonight and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cloudy and cool in New York, but there is no rain in the forecast tonight, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) threw a 31-pitch bullpen session with no problems, but admitted the Grade I strain “isn’t completely gone” and won’t be until after the season. He’s yet to run at full speed or attempt any fielding drills. Tanaka insists he can pitch with the injury, for what it’s worth.

Jennings: Tyler Austin replaces Eric Jagielo in Arizona Fall League


According to Chad Jennings, the Yankees have decided to not send third base prospect Eric Jagielo to the Arizona Fall League this year. Jagielo was one of six players the team originally planned to sent to the desert this year, along with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler, Chaz Hebert, and Tyler Webb. Ian Clarkin was added to the roster yesterday.

“Everything we’re doing right now is more with an eye toward 2016 and making sure he’s ready for Spring Training,” said assistant GM Billy Eppler to Jennings. Jagielo suffered a knee injury sliding into home plate in late-June this year and later had the knee scoped. The injury ended his season. A recent check-up showed everything is healing well, but apparently the Yankees decided not to push it.

Jagielo, 23, will miss the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year. He was scheduled to play the AzFL last season before being hit in the face by a pitch during Instructional League. Jagielo suffered a facial fracture and had to have surgery, so he was unable to play. This year it’s the knee injury keeping him from playing the AzFL. Two dumb, fluky injuries. So it goes.

In 58 games with Double-A Trenton this year, Jagielo hit .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine home runs. He’s a career .266/.356/.469 (140 wRC+) hitter with 33 homers in 205 pro games since being the first of New York’s three first round picks in the 2013 draft. (Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin were the other two.) Jagielo missed time with an oblique injury last year as well.

Outfielder Tyler Austin will replace Jagielo on the Surprise Saguaros roster. Technically it’s an infielder-for-infielder replacement, so Austin will end up playing a whole bunch of first base (and maybe third base? he has experience there) in the AzFL. The Yankees outrighted Austin off the 40-man roster a week ago but apparently still think enough of him to send him to the Fall League.

“He’s still young. (There is) a chance for him to continue to bridge the gap,” said Eppler. Austin, 24, hit .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) with six homers in 94 games split between Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton this year. He started the season with the RailRiders, but played so poorly he had to be demoted at midseason. Maybe he can get himself back on track in the AzFL.

The 32-game AzFL season begins October 13th and runs through November 19th. The Championship Game is scheduled for November 21st. Yankees prospects will play on a team with Royals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Rangers prospects.

Acevedo, Jackson, Holder among Baseball America’s top 20 NY-Penn League prospects

(Staten Island Advance)
Acevedo. (Staten Island Advance)

Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the Short Season NY-Penn League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi owns the top spot and is following by Nationals OF Victor Robles.

The Yankees have three players on the list: RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 3), OF Jhalan Jackson (No. 10), and SS Kyle Holder (No. 18). Acevedo was slated to open the season with Low-A Charleston before a blister forced him back to Extended Spring Training for several weeks, leading to his assignment to the Staten Island Yankees. Jackson (seventh round) and Holder (supplemental first) were 2015 draft picks.

“Acevedo hit 103 mph at least once this summer and routinely worked his fastball at or around triple digits. He sits 95-96 mph early in starts but reaches back for 98-100 when he needs it,” said the write-up, which also noted Acevedo’s penchant for overthrowing. He also has a “plus changeup at 85-88 mph” and a below-average slider he can throw for strikes. The write-up likens the 6-foot-7 Acevedo to a young Dellin Betances.

Jackson claiming a spot in a top ten is surprising, though the scouting report says his “power is a legitimate plus tool.” That’s a good tool to have. “Jackson has profile right-field tools, with a plus arm and at least average speed,” added the write-up. Jackson is also said to have a raw approach at the plate and can get caught guessing at times. That’s a big obstacle to overcome, but you can’t teach this kind of power and athleticism.

As for Holder, the scouting report says “most scouts and evaluators agree that Holder is a plus defender, with some going so far to say that he is the best defensive college shortstop they’ve ever seen.” His defensive tools — body control, movement, hands, instincts, etc. — all draw big time praise. Holder’s offense is the question. “Few project him to be an impact offensive player because of his uphill swing, lack of power and substandard bat speed,” said the write-up.

Acevedo, 21, had a 1.69 ERA (2.85 FIP) with very good strikeout (27.7%) and walk (7.7%) rates in 48 innings with the Staten Island Yanks. The 22-year-old Jackson hit .266/.338/.452 (133 wRC+) with five homers and a 29.8% strikeout rate in 49 games. Holder? The 21-year-old hit .213/.273/.253 (57 wRC+) with a 13.6% strikeout rate in 56 games. Yuck. Both he and Jackson missed time with minor injuries.

In the subscriber-only chat, Michael Lananna says RHP James Kaprielian “would’ve likely ranked in the top 5″ had he thrown enough innings with Staten Island to qualify for the list. “I heard nothing but positive things,” Lananna added. “I think he could be a fast riser. Some have said he could’ve pitched out of the major league bullpen this year, but obviously that’s not going to happen … He’s a polished, promising pitching prospect.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’ll be out sometime next week. SS Jorge Mateo is a lock — he won’t get the top spot (Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada almost certainly will) but he figures to rank high — and others like OF Dustin Fowler, SS Angel Aguilar, and RHP Jordan Foley have an outside chance to make it too. LHP Jordan Montgomery may fall just short of qualifying for the list because of his quick promotion.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League

Guest Post: Death of a Manager: September 25, 1929

The following is a guest post from Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam in the comments. He’s previously written guest posts on Tim McClelland, Frankie Crosetti, the No. 26, Casey Stengel, and Leo Durocher.

huggins death 1

The baseball world and especially the Yankees’ world took a major blow on September 22, 2015, when Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra died at the age of 90. Berra was a Yankee legend for many generations dating back to the 1940s. Grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandsons around the country knew the name Yogi Berra and would always know what exactly Yogi stood for. Yogi won 13 World Series rings as player, manager and coach for both of the New York teams; the Yankees and the Mets and I think both teams’ fans are hurting right now (more the Yankees than the Mets), because a legend has moved on to the baseball field in heaven.

At the same time as we’re mourning the death of Berra, the 86th anniversary of a similar death, but much more sudden approaches us today. On September 25, 1929, Yankee manager Miller Huggins, the former Cincinnati Red & St. Louis Cardinal second baseman died suddenly at the age of 51. On Friday, September 20, Huggins had been admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village with erysipelas of the face, which basically means the face is bright red due to an acute infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics. His condition had been worsened due to a case of influenza, and though blood transfusions had been performed to help his condition, last rites were called at 12:10 PM on the 22nd. On September 25, the “Mighty Atom,” Miller Huggins was gone.

A Career of Successful Managing

Miller Huggins, up until his death in 1929, had been an excellent manager for the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. But the story of Miller Huggins goes back much further to a kid who was basically handicapped by his own weight for the game of baseball that he loved. The Mighty Atom, standing a mere 5ft 5in tall, worked his tail off against his parents’ wishes (they wanted a lawyer out of him), but instead decided at 16 to make baseball his career. He however, did study at the University of Cincinnati and was accepted to the state bar in 1902.

However, in 1899, Huggins turned his attention to baseball as well, playing his first professional game as a second baseman with the Mansfield Haymakers for the very original Class-B Interstate League that existed as a group of teams through the Midwest. In 1901, Huggins moved onto the St. Paul Saints and showing strong ambition and desire to play the game of baseball, the Cincinnati Reds bought the contract of Huggins from the Saints in 1904. He became a Red permanently for the next six seasons, showing an incredible ability to get on base, even with little power, having a major league high 103 walks in 1905 alone, with a low 46 strikeouts. While Huggins never had any power, his on-base percentage rates were enough to keep him in the league for many years.

On February 3, 1910, the Reds traded Huggins to the St. Louis Cardinals along with outfielder Rebel Oakes and pitcher/infield/outfielder Frank Corridon for pitcher Fred Beebe and infielder Alan Storke. Keeping up with his OBP-heavy playing skills, Huggins eventually was declared a player-manager for the Cardinals, hoping to grow a really lackluster franchise into something strong. However, his performance as a manager of the Cardinals came with lackluster success as he could never get the team higher than third in the league. In 1918, he was hired by Col. Jacob Ruppert and Col. Tillinghast L. Huston to form a championship team out of the New York Yankees, who had yet to win a World Series. Now purely a manager, Huggins successfully started getting the team up to snuff, threatening to win the AL pennant in 1919 and 1920, before winning it in 1921. However, in the final 9-game World Series ever, the Yankees lost 3 games to 5 against the rival New York Giants. In 1922, the same two teams met once again in the World Series, but the Yankees were swept in 4 games. After four years of trying, 1923 was the charm. The Giants and the Yankees clashed once again, but this time, the Huggins-led Yankees emerged victorious with a 4-2 series win.

With the win in the 1923 World Series, Huggins had basically created his “machine” for winning championships. While he failed to reach the series in 1924 and 1925, the Yankees returned in 1926, but lost to the Cardinals 3 games to 4. Finally, the next season, the “machine” had its best season ever, led by those such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Pat Collins, Tony Lazzeri and Waite Hoyt, the 1927 Yankees won an astounding 110 games with only 44 losses, one-quarter of which were to the Cleveland Indians. That year, the hot Yankees walked into the World Series and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4 games to none. In 1928, the same team basically walked into the World Series and swept the Cardinals in 4 games.

The 1929 season was a bit different. Even though the team had upgraded with players such as Bill Dickey and Leo Durocher, the “machine” did not have the same fight in them. The Philadelphia Athletics had basically come in and beaten up on the Yankees and Miller Huggins felt like the entire 1929 season was tough because of pennant races. There is a general belief that the poorer performance in the 1929 season affected Huggins emotionally and health-wise, because he couldn’t stand to see his “machine” fall apart. By September 4, it was clear that Huggins had thrown in the towel about defeating the Athletics and taking the American League pennant. Col. Ruppert suggested for Huggins sake to take a vacation and that he would be guaranteed at least a 2nd place finish that year. Huggins denied and wanted to stay with the team, but his health was getting to him, especially with a boil that he ignored and it turned into the disease that eventually took his own life.

huggins death 2


The response to the death of Huggins was extensive. Huggins had a profound impact across the country and it didn’t seem like the baseball season mattered anymore, even though Art Fletcher had taken over as manager for the last 11 days of the season. On September 25, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 11-10 in 11 innings without knowledge of their manager’s passing until the 6th inning, when players from both the Red Sox and Yankees lined up at home plate and had a moment of silence for the late Huggins. At the Polo Grounds, news of Huggins’ death came over telegraph and flags were moved off their poles and the New York Giants honored the late Huggins with a silent tribute. A lone banner ran at half-mast that honored the manager as “the last Flag” before a game with the Boston Braves.

One of the first syndicated columns about Huggins’ death talked about how size didn’t matter to him, even though he was only 5ft 5in, he commanded respect and obedience from players who played for him and with him. People had accused Huggins of having the biggest checkbook owners and a team that could not lose was his only reason for being successful, but it was tougher than that. Yet, this author saw the 1925 season, in which the Yankees finished in 7th place, as a reason to look away from that perspective. Huggins is the one who re-corralled Babe Ruth’s behavior as a Yankee in 1926, and was the reason Col. Ruppert never broke up the special 1927 Yankees because they were “too strong for the rest of the league.” The columnist said: “Now Huggins has gone. Perhaps the greatest possible testimonial to his ability will be the struggle which the Yankees owners face in trying to find a man to take his place.”

Baseball for the Yankees stopped on September 27, 1929 for their captain, who David P. Sentner stated Huggins had “a heart as big as a baseball park.” At the Little Church Around the Corner, Huggins had a team funeral held in his honor, and Sentner stated that Huggins would’ve been proud for the turnout and respect. Fans basically came in droves to the church to visit the open casket of the passed manager, because they mourned a winner in a city which loves winners. The Yankees players would march behind the casket as it was shipped to Cincinnati to be buried with his late parents. This was led by Babe Ruth, with whom Huggins originally had a rocky start with, but soon became good friends. Sentner believed that no one else on the team suffered more from the loss of Huggins than Ruth.

At the same time, it struck Col. Jacob Ruppert hard. Col. Ruppert had hired Huggins in 1918 to create a championship team out of the Yankees and stuck by him, even with the problems in the 1925 season. Ruppert was visibly shaken that Huggins was gone (along with Ed Barrow). Ruppert, a multi-millionaire, always attended World Series games up to 1929, but in 1929, he could not attend, still extremely hurt by the death of Huggins. A lot of what made things a lot more painful was that at his death bed, Huggins could not remember people who had visited him, such as his sister, Myrtle, in-laws, a good friend named Robert Connery, and most importantly, Col. Ruppert and Ed Barrow.


One of his final recorded statements about his 1929 season was this: “I guess I wasn’t born to be a loser.” Miller Huggins was never a loser, except in the fight for his own life. Baseball was Huggins’ life and he died playing the game he loved because he ignored his health in the same process. I do not mean that as demeaning in any way, just a statement of fact. Huggins was the first true Yankee manager, the one who brought the first three of 27 World Championships to the Bronx, and the first to be Col. Ruppert’s right-hand manager. While Huggins was replaced by Bob Shawkey as manager, I don’t think Col. Ruppert fully ever healed from the death of Huggins before his death in 1939. The origination of Monument Park is thanks to a monument built in center field at Yankee Stadium in 1932 for Miller Huggins. The late Huggins was named to the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee, but it was for a career that ended much too soon, 86 years ago today.