Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Lehigh Valley, walk-off style)
- 2B David Adams & C J.R. Murphy: both 0-4 — Adams walked and whiffed
- CF Melky Mesa: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB
- 1B Dan Johnson: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — walk-off two-run dinger
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4
- RHP Caleb Cotham: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 9/4 GB/FB — 59 of 93 pitches were strikes (63%)
Via Andrew Marchand: Alex Rodriguez started the process of filing a medical grievance against the Yankees within the last two weeks. This comes the day after A-Rod’s lawyer accused the team of essentially hiding MRI results and playing an injured player as a way of embarrassing him. Unsurprisingly, Brian Cashman stood behind the team’s medical staff while talking with reporters this afternoon. · (51) ·
As of this morning, the Yankees have a 4.3% and 6.3% chance of making the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus and Cool Standings, respectively. They are currently six games back of the second wildcard spot with 40 games to play, and they’ve managed to gain exactly zero games in the race despite winning six of their last nine games. That’s the problem with having to climb over four teams, someone is always winning on a given day.
The Yankees have a very small chance of making the postseason but it’s not impossible. Their lineup is much improved these days and both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have started to pitch a little better, which will help the cause. Here’s a quick breakdown of the team’s remaining schedule compared to the clubs they’re chasing for that second wildcard spot:
|GB of 2nd WC||Games Left||Games Left vs. NYY||Games Left vs. WC Contenders||Games Left vs. .500+ Teams|
I included the Rangers and Rays here just because they’re so very close to the second wildcard spot. The Rangers and Athletics have been trading first place in the AL West back-and-forth all season.
Despite their tough overall remaining schedule, the Rays and Orioles are in a good spot because they have a ton of games left against the other wildcard contenders. Those head-to-head matchups are crucial, and as long as they have a bunch of them left, they’re still in the race. The Indians have a really soft schedule down the stretch, with 14 of their final 17 games coming against the lowly Twins, Astros, and White Sox. If they stay close enough to the race these next four weeks, they’ll be in good position to close out the season strong.
Following tonight’s series finale against the Red Sox, the Yankees will play seven of their next ten and ten of their next 16 games against the Blue Jays and ChiSox. After that they run through the AL East gauntlet and close out the schedule with three games in Houston. Those 13 games against the Rays and Orioles can help their postseason cause — or completely bury them — but otherwise they’re at the whim of the other teams. All they can do is win their games. They’ll need a lot of help from the other wildcard contenders. Or, really, they’ll need help from the teams playing those wildcard contenders. The road to the postseason couldn’t get much tougher at this point.
Via Ken Powtak: Derek Jeter is continuing to take batting practice and field ground balls down in Tampa, but he and his Grade I strained calf have yet to run the bases. “We’ll go day-by-day … He has not necessarily played in a simulated game or anything of that nature, so we’ll just have to see. For me it’s as soon as we can get him,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings.
Jeter, 39, is eligible to come off the DL today, but obviously that won’t happen. He’s played in just five games this year (4-for-19, .211) thanks to a string of leg injuries. I have to think Jeter is still several days away from returning to the team if he has yet to even run the bases, so returning in time for Tuesday’s series opener — openers, really, they have a doubleheader — against the Blue Jays is unlikely. Rosters expand two weeks from today; I wonder if the Cap’n will be held out that long just to make sure he’s 100% healthy after getting hurt immediately after returning from the DL on two occasions this summer. · (28) ·
Unfortunately, the Yankees aren’t going to score double-digit runs every game. The offense and defense faltered in Saturday afternoon’s 6-1 loss to John Lackey and the Red Sox. Let’s recap:
- Bad Timing: With a Game Score of 37, Hiroki Kuroda picked an unfortunate time to have his second worst non-injury-shortened start of the season. His fielders and the umpires didn’t help him out, but Kuroda did allow a career-high eleven hits and a season-high tying five runs in 5.2 innings. With better defense and proper calls, it’s probably more like three runs in six innings, which is still a notch or two below his recent work. Eh, what can you do. Kuroda’s been too good this year to get worked up about one subpar outing.
- Grounded: Lackey had a vintage Chien-Ming Wang outing on Saturday. He struck out just one batter in 6.2 innings, but recorded 15 ground ball outs and just two in the air. The top three hitters in the lineup — Brett Gardner, pinch-hitter Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and Robinson Cano — went a combined 0-for-12 with an infield single and eleven ground ball outs. That’s rough. Their best chance to score came in the second, when the Yankees loaded the bases but failed to score. An Alfonso Soriano base-running gaffe and Chris Stewart in general sabotaged the inning.
- Leftovers: For exactly one batter in the fourth inning, Kuroda led the AL with a 2.27 ERA. The next batter singled in a run … Adam Warren threw 57 pitches across two innings, so it’s unlikely he’ll be available to start one game of Tuesday’s doubleheader … Soriano had two more hits and Lyle Overbay had three … Eduardo Nunez drew a pair of walks … the Yankees stole two bases in three attempts and have clearly been picking on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s weak arm these last two games.
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the up to the minute standings, go to ESPN. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either six games (Athletics lose) or seven games (Athletics win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. CC Sabathia and Ryan Dempster is your pitching matchup for the series finale on Sunday night.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Lehigh Valley in eleven innings)
- C J.R. Murphy: 1-6, 3 K
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 HBP — still mashin’
- 2B David Adams: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
- RHP Graham Stoneburner: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 41 of 62 pitches were strikes (66%) … rotation is pretty thin due to injuries and the David Huff call-up, so he’s back with the club
- RHP David Herndon: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 15 of 16 pitches were strikes … he’s thrown well following Tommy John surgery, have to think the Yankees will add him to the 40-man roster after the season to keep him around as an extra bullpen arm next year
- LHP Cesar Cabral: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – ten of 18 pitches were strikes (56%) … 21/4 K/BB in his last 16.2 innings … depending on the team’s plans for Boone Logan, Cabral could find himself back on the 40-man this winter
- RHP Corey Patterson: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 11 of 16 pitches were strikes (69%) … he’s the third different position player to pitch in the system the last two days
Happy birthday wishes go out to Jorge Posada, who turns 42 today. Thanks to the FOX broadcast this afternoon for pointing that out. Can you believe Posada is 42 already? That really happened in a hurry even though this is only his second year of retirement. Going from Posada’s production to what the Yankees are getting out of catcher now has been a shock to the system, even more than I was expecting, but such is life. I really miss him.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Mets and Padres are playing later (Mejia vs. Volquez), MLB Network will air a game (who you see depends on where you live), and the Jets are playing a preseason game (NFL Network). Talk about any of those games or anything else here. Have at it.
Via Steve Eder: Joseph Tacopina, a member of Alex Rodriguez’s legal team, accused the Yankees of deliberately endangering his health in an effort to get him out of baseball. “They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer … They did things and acted in a way that is downright terrifying,” said the lawyer, who claims the team hid MRI results that showed the torn hip labrum from A-Rod last fall and continued to play him in the postseason.
Tacopina also says team president Randy Levine told Dr. Brian Kelly, who examined Alex after the season and eventually diagnosed the labrum tear, that “I don’t ever want to see [A-Rod] on the field again” and clarified “it wasn’t a joke.” Levine, obviously, denied the claims and says the team is willing to release the medical records if given the thumbs up by the necessary parties. Tacopina claims they have copies of “very damaging” email exchanges between A-Rod and Levine that prove otherwise.
So, someone is lying here. Either A-Rod’s camp is lying about what the doctor said or Levine is lying about what he told the doctor. I suppose they could both be correct and Kelly made the whole thing up, but I doubt it. Also, saying they hid the MRI results and continued to play an injured player is a very serious accusation. Like, super duper serious. I can’t wait for the appeal hearing. This is going to be a blast. · (52) ·
The Yankees have won six of their last eight games, including a blowout win over the Red Sox in the series opener on Friday night. The offense is firing on all cylinders thanks in large part to the molten hot Alfonso Soriano, who is doing a mean David Justice impersonation as the club tries to claw its way back into the playoff race.
New York will look to continue their recent hot streak with not just their best pitcher on the mound this afternoon, with one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Hiroki Kuroda has been masterful all season but especially of late, posting a 0.94 ERA and 2.08 FIP in 48 innings across his last seven starts. He’s held batters to a .215/.253/.267 batting line during that time. That’s basically Chris Nelson as a Yankee (.222/.243/.278). Yeah, Kuroda’s been awesome.
Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi is sending out there against right-hander John Lackey. He’s allowed 18 runs in his last 32.2 innings (4.96 ERA). Let’s hope those struggles continue.
- CF Brett Gardner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- DH Curtis Granderson
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- C Chris Stewart
And, like I said, Kuroda is on the mound.
It’s a little cloudy in Boston but there is no threat of rain. Not too hot, not too cold, not too humid … pretty great day for baseball. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 4pm ET and can be seen on FOX. FOX plus Fenway Park usually equals pain for the Yankees, but I’m feeling good about this one. Enjoy the game.
The latest Collective Bargaining Agreement overhauled the draft (and international free agency) and free agency in an attempt to fix long-standing problems, but instead all it did was create a new set of problems. It’s a vicious cycle. Teams are now given soft spending caps with harsh penalties for amateur players, and the qualifying offer system severely limits the market for some free agents. There’s no perfect solution to these problems — no realistic perfect solution, I should say — but Scott Boras has some ideas.
In a guest piece at ESPN earlier this week (subs. req’d), Boras laid out some creative ways to improve the draft and free agency. By improve I mean “make fair,” more than anything. None of his ideas are wacky and all of it passes the sniff test. The entire article is worth a read, but I wanted to touch on the key points separately. Let’s break ‘em down:
Problem: Qualifying offer system limits market for older players
Solution: Players age 31 and older do not require draft pick compensation
Unsurprisingly, Boras uses Kyle Lohse and Adam LaRoche (both his clients) as examples of older players who were hurt by receiving a qualifying offer this past winter. Both guys had strong-to-excellent seasons in 2012 but had trouble finding work on the open market because no one wanted to surrender a first round pick for a guy in his mid-30s. Under Boras’ scenario, a player age 31 or older who received a qualifying offer would net his former team the same compensation pick as any other qualified free agent, however their new team would not forfeit a pick.
I like the idea, but I do think the age threshold may be too low. Thirty-one is still in a guy’s theoretical prime, and a team should have to forfeit a first rounder to sign a prime-aged player. Robinson Cano is a perfect example — he’ll turn 31 in October and is still an elite player, so why shouldn’t a team have to surrender a first pick to sign him? The same would have been true for Nick Swisher last winter. Players like Cano and Swisher, obvious above-average players in their prime, should cost a pick. Maybe 32 or 33 would work better for the age limit.
Problem: Inflexible draft pools with slot values for each pick in the top ten rounds
Solution: No spending limits for the first round
I love this idea. Boras notes the draft talent pool varies from year-to-year, so clubs should be given the flexibility to spend however they see fit with their top selections. If it’s a deep class, they should be able to spend more without being penalized rather than squeezing each draft under the same spending umbrella. Smart teams should be rewarded for identifying the best talent and paying top dollar for it, and the teams with extra picks should be able to take full advantage. I really dislike the draft pool system and feel there should be no slot values at all, but this is a nice compromise. If a good player falls — Boras used Mark Appel (his client, duh) in 2012 as an example — a team should be able to sign him without punting several other picks. Free enterprise, baby.
* * *
Boras also argues young American-born players are at a financial disadvantage compared to Cuban-born players — Stephen Strasburg’s contract ($15.1M) vs. Aroldis Chapman’s contract ($30.25M) at the same age, for example — but I’m not really sure what can be done about that aside from abolishing the draft and going back to true free agency (a.k.a the pre-1965 model). That won’t happen for obvious reasons.
I do think Boras has some good ideas for improving the current system though, particularly with regards to his uncapped first round of the draft plan. Ultimately, the best way to address the qualifying offer problem is to complete sever the ties between free agency and the draft, making them two completely separate events. The current CBA doesn’t expire until after the 2016 season, however, and it’s unlikely MLB and the players’ union will open it back up to address any non-performance-enhancing drug related issue. The owners have no reason to cave on that stuff right now.