Eduardo Nunez started his official 20-day minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa this afternoon, going 0-for-2 at the plate and playing four innings in the field at shortstop. He grounded out in both at-bats and made two plays on ground balls in the field. Nunez has to be activated off the DL by July 17th, which is right smack in the middle in the All-Star break. Hopefully he won’t need that much time to get ready; the Yankees can use a fresh body in the lineup. · (13) ·
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees are talking to third baseman Ian Stewart about a minor league contract. He was released by the Cubs earlier this week after going on a Twitter rant and tearing into the front office for not calling him up. They suspended him without pay and then released him once the suspension was up.
Stewart, 28, was hitting .168/.286/.372 (68 wRC+) with five homers in 133 Triple-A plate appearances at the time of the suspension. He hit just .183/.272/.289 (44 wRC+) from 2011-2012 while battling numerous wrist and quad problems, and even his good years with the Rockies — .246/.334/.454 (96 wRC+) from 2008-2010 — weren’t all that great considering Coors Field. His left-handed power is nice though, and the Yankees do need help at the hot corner. It doesn’t take much to be better than David Adams. I am surprised they are pursuing him following the Twitter tirade given their emphasis on strong character and all that. · (15) ·
Every year for the last seven years, the Harlem Globetrotters conduct a “draft” to select honorary members to the team based on their work in the community, stuff like that. This year, the Globetrotters selected Mariano Rivera (and Brittney Griner). “We always have a place on our roster for winning athletes with that kind of mindset. His charitable work through the Mariano Rivera Foundation also embodies the spirit of the Globetrotters giving back to the community,” said the release. Mo can now play for the Globetrotters if he wants, and that would be a pretty cool post-baseball career if you ask me. Don’t see it happening though.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Mets are playing the Rockies (Hefner vs. Chatwood) and MLB Network will air a game as well. Who you see depends on where you live. Talk about any of that and more right here. You know what to do, so have at it.
Via Jorge Arangure: Gary Sanchez has been traded for infielder Pedro Ciriaco … in the Dominican Winter League, where each player is contracted to play winter ball. The trade has no impact whatsoever on their big league affiliations — Sanchez remains with the Yankees and Ciriaco with the Padres. I just felt the need to freak some people out, sorry. · (70) ·
Via Bryan Hoch: The fractured bone in Curtis Granderson’s left hand has healed, but he is not yet ready to start swinging a bat. He must first do some hand strengthening exercises, stuff like that. Needless to say, Granderson is still a few weeks away from returning to the lineup, and that’s a problem. The Yankees can’t wait around much longer to improve the offense, the rest of the AL East won’t let them. At least he’s progressing. · (19) ·
Via Jim Salisbury: The Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of pursuing Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz in a trade. He doesn’t say if the two sides have discussed anything, however. For what it’s worth, Phillies CEO David Montgomery indicated to Ken Rosenthal that the team is hesitant to sell at the moment. They did take the plunge and deal both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the deadline last year, remember.
Ruiz, 34, is hitting .273/.310/.299 (68) in only 84 plate appearances this year, down considerably from his career-best 151 wRC+ a year ago. He’s missed a bunch of time with a hamstring injury and a 25-game amphetamine-related suspension. Chooch has always been regarded as a strong defender and a good clubhouse guy, plus he’s owed only ~$2.5M for the rest of this season before becoming a free agent. Even before his huge year in 2012, Ruiz produced a 113 wRC+ from 2009-2011. Adding even a league-average hitting catcher to the lineup would be a huge, huge upgrade for the Yankees. This is a rumor that I hope has some legs. · (63) ·
The Yankees had a chance to clinch of the series and a winning homestand last night, but they were unable to come through despite the best efforts of the offense. Today’s rubber game pretty much determines if this is a good homestand or a bad one, and the Yankees could definitely use a good one given the nightmare West Coast trip they just returned from. Just find a way to win, there are no style points. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander Derek Holland:
- CF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Jayson Nix
- DH Robinson Cano
- RF Vernon Wells
- LF Zoilo Almonte
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- 2B David Adams
- 3B Alberto Gonzalez
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is the 2007 Kevin Lawn Award winners, right-hander Phil Hughes. That award is given annually to the best pitcher in the Yankees’ farm system.
The weather is pretty great in New York, though it is hot with some humidity. No clouds or threat of rain, however. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
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Chat: Today’s chat starts at 1pm ET, so join in.
It’s no secret that the Yankees and A-Rod are amidst a tenuous stretch in their tumultuous relationship. It’s been ten years since the Yanks acquired the star — ten years of playoff problems, opt-out operas, drug dramas. After 2007, the Yankees could have walked away from A-Rod, but the two sides just couldn’t quit each other. So here we are in 2013, and A-Rod, 38 next month, is under investigation for shady dealings with the Biogenesis clinic and trying to work his walk back from yet another hip injury.
The latest round of trouble began a few days ago on Twitter when A-Rod, instead of logging off, decided to post a note that his doctor had cleared his hip. The Yanks were supposedly eying a July 1 rehab date, and Alex seemed to jump the gun. It was innocuous enthusiasm from a player who could help his team, and it inspired Yanks GM Brian Cashman to say, on the record to ESPN NY, that Alex needs to STFU. Yesterday was a day of apologies wherein Cashman admitted to overreacting, and A-Rod clarified that he just wants to play.
Today, we have not one, not two, but three anonymously sourced articles all alleging that A-Rod, the Yankees or both are out to commit some form of insurance fraud.
NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez believes the New York Yankees do not want him to return this season, and perhaps ever again, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. According to the source, Rodriguez thinks the Yankees are deliberately slowing his return to their active roster in the hope they can have him declared medically unfit to play this season, enabling them to recoup 80 percent of his $28 million salary through insurance.
According to sources close to the ongoing drama surrounding the star-crossed Yankee third baseman, Rodriguez and his advisers are so concerned that Major League Baseball’s drug posse is quickly closing in on him that they have racheted (sic) up the timetable for him to return to game action. Once he’s back playing in rehab games, the sources say, he could then claim he is physically unable to perform because of the serious hip injury he is recovering from, “retire” from the game, and still collect the full amount of his salary — $114 million over the next five years.
“It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension,” one source close to the situation told the Daily News. “He knows he’s never going to the Hall of Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it.”
One way to do that is for Rodriguez to return to game action, find he can no longer perform up to his standards, then retire before he’s hit with a suspension without pay. A player who retires because he is physically unable to perform, even if he’s later suspended, would still get the full amount of his contract.
Alex Rodriguez informed Yankees officials in Tampa yesterday he isn’t ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment because his surgically repaired hip isn’t up to the task, a source told The Post last night…The source also said he has heard speculation Rodriguez could use the hip problem to retire. That would allow him to collect the $114 million owed to him. Should Rodriguez retire because of a medical problem, he would avoid a possible suspension by MLB in the Biogenesis mess. The Yankees would also be able to collect 80 percent of the $114 million from insurance.
This is, of course, tabloid drama at its finest. A-Rod and the Yanks had a disagreement in the middle of a time period where the Yanks are regretting handing out $275 million to a 32-year-old with baggage, and everyone is now trying to get back at everyone else. A-Rod, a fierce competitor, wants to get back on the field, and he wants his money. The Yanks, desperately in need of any offensive production, would love to escape A-Rod, but for better or worse, they need him if they want to stay in the playoff race. Generally, these stories strike me as a load of hooey.
What won’t happen, despite what various reports say, is a quick resolution to any of the medical drama unless it involves a quick rehab and return to the field for A-Rod. We’ve been down this road before where the muckrakers in the press allege some form of insurance fraud, and if the Yankees and/or A-Rod do plan to pursue a medical out, it won’t be leaked so publicly. For A-Rod to retire and for insurance to cover his contract, some very powerful insurance companies that don’t look kindly upon those who try to bilk them out of dollars will get involved. A whole slew of doctors will examine A-Rod, and policies will be combed through by the finest lawyers around. If ESPN NY thinks the Yanks want to get out of their contractual obligations due to PED concerns, just imagine how the companies that have insured the remaining $114 million on A-Rod’s contract feel.
Sports media will have a field day with this stuff today. The FAN was already all over last night before I went to bed, and as many say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But this isn’t even smoke. It’s a bunch of would/could/should that has no basis in the way baseball, business and the law work. A-Rod may be a pain that the Yanks want to rid themselves of, but it’s a marriage both partners need right now. No amount of anonymously sourced conspiracy theories can change that.
For the first time this season, the Yankees lost a game while scoring at least five runs. They were a perfect 24-0 in those games coming into Wednesday night, and they were the last team to suffer a loss when scoring five or more in 2013. The Rangers took the middle game of this three-game set 8-5. This was an annoying one.
Death By Bullpen
The offense wanted to claw its way back into this game. It really did. The lineup tried its darnedest, but the bullpen just wouldn’t let it be. Four relievers combined to allow four runs in three innings, though two of those four relievers — Preston Claiborne and Boone Logan — don’t deserve any blame. They retired all three men they faced. It was the other two who put the game out of reach on two occasions.
Joba Chamberlain, who has no business being in a one-run game (especially with a 13-man pitching staff) was sent out for the seventh inning. He allowed four hits and two runs — both on a Nelson Cruz homer — while recording two outs, raising his season ERA to 6.38. In his last seven appearances, Joba has allowed nine runs, four homers, and 16-base-runners in 6.2 innings. Very bad. Shawn Kelley gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits in an inning and a third thanks in part to a Brett Gardner error. Kelley has been very good for the last eight weeks or so, so he doesn’t deserve the same kind of vitriol as Joba, but he didn’t get the job done. Ugly night for the relievers.
One Really Bad Inning
For the fourth time in five starts since coming off the DL, Andy Pettitte allowed at least four runs. All four of those runs came in the third inning, when he gave up an 0-2 double to Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded and a two-run double to A.J. Pierzynski, who came into the game with an 83 wRC+ against lefties. It looked like Andy had a chance to escape the bases loaded, no outs jam unscathed after striking out Cruz for the first out, but alas.
Outside of that third inning, Pettitte pitched pretty well. Typical Andy really, some base-runners and wiggling out of jams. Of course that bad inning counts, and when you allow four runs in the first three innings with this offense, you’ve dug a huge hole. In his five starts since returning from the lat problem, Pettitte has allowed 18 runs and 43 base-runners in 31.2 innings. Hopefully he snaps out of it soon; Andy has looked very much like a 41-year-old who spent a year away from the game this month.
The Yankees scored their five runs on a Lyle Overbay solo homer, Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner singles (both against a lefty!), and an Ichiro Suzuki two-run homer. On two occasions they fought back to turn a three-run deficit into a one-run deficit, but the bullpen gave those runs right back. Gardner and Ichiro went a combined 5-for-9 from the one-two spots, but the other seven hitters went 5-for-24 with seven strikeouts. Yuck.
Jayson Nix had a really bad game. He went 0-for-4 at the plate with an inning-ending double play while batting with the bases loaded in the sixth, and he also botched three defensive plays. First he ran into Pettitte while Andy was fielding a weakly hit ground ball, then he pulled the first baseman off the bag with a throw on a routine ground ball, then he let a foul pop-up drop in when he assumed shortstop Alberto Gonzalez would catch it. The first two mistakes contributed to that four-run third inning in a big way.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, FanGraphs is the place to go. For the up to the minute standings, head over to ESPN. The Red Sox and Blue Jays won while the Orioles and Rays lost, so the Yankees are two back of Boston, one up on Baltimore, and three up on both Tampa and Toronto in the loss column. This division is way too close, yet no one seems to want to run away with it.
Phil Hughes and Derek Holland is your pitching matchup for the rubber game on Thursday afternoon. The Yankees will have a chance to not only win the series, but also make this a winning homestand. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the matinee in person.
LHP Nik Turley, RHP Tommy Kahnle, OF Ramon Flores, and OF Tyler Austin have all been named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. Both Turley and Austin made it as part of the fan vote. In case you missed it earlier, RHP Rafael DePaula will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game next month.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-3 loss to Syracuse in seven innings) makeup of the June 6th rainout
- C J.R. Murphy: 0-4, 1 K — picked a runner off second with a snap throw
- RF Fernando Martinez: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B — 10-for-29 (.345) with four doubles since being acquired
- LF Thomas Neal: 2-3
- LHP David Huff: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 3/5 GB/FB — 63 of 92 pitches were strikes (68%) … 21/3 K/BB in 21.1 innings here