In case you missed it earlier today, we had injury updates on RHP Ty Hensley and a bunch of other prospects. Chad Jennings has plenty more news and updates, including promotion timetables for RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Rafael DePaula, and RHP Gabe Encinas. Make sure you check that out.
Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Indianapolis)
- 2B Corban Joseph & CF Melky Mesa: both 0-3 — CoJo got hit by a pitch … Mesa struck out three times and has seven strikeouts in his last seven at-bats
- 3B David Adams: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-4 — now he’s in left … he’s worked both corners plus third base since returning last week
- RHP Graham Stoneburner: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4/8 GB/FB — 46 of 75 pitchers were strikes (61%)
- RHP Sam Demel: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 33 pitches were strikes (70%) … 20/5 K/BB in 17.2 innings
The Yankees and Rockies played through some sloppy conditions last night, mostly scattered showers with the occasional flash of lightning mixed in. Tonight’s forecast calls for more of the same, except the chances of precipitation are higher. That doesn’t mean they won’t play, just that it’ll be another messy game. Maybe even a delay or two. They could always play a doubleheader tomorrow, but that would not be ideal. Here’s the lineup that will face right-hander Juan Nicasio…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Jayson Nix
- 3B Chris Nelson
- SP David Phelps
- C Austin Romine
Yes, the pitcher is batting eighth. Maybe Joe Girardi knows they’re going to get rained out and is just screwing around with us*. Either way, the game is scheduled to start at 8:40pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
* There’s actually been quite a bit of research done that shows batting the pitcher eighth is a good idea because the nine-hole hitter acts as a second leadoff man. As with all lineup stuff though, it’s a good idea over the course of 162 games. One individual game is another matter entirely.
Eduardo Nunez Update: Nunez (ribcage) played catch today and is available tonight as a pinch-runner, but nothing more. Hopefully he can hit tomorrow and get back into the lineup, because having no backup infielder kinda stinks.
Ivan Nova Update: Nova (triceps) allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in 4+ innings of work during an Extended Spring Training game today. He felt fine physically, but they’re going to wait to see how he feels tomorrow before penciling him in for Monday’s doubleheader.
Another game against the Rockies means another 8:40pm ET start, so here’s an open thread to hold you over until the regular game thread. The Mets are playing and ESPN is showing Red Sox-Twins, plus you’ve got NHL (Rangers!) and NBA playoff action. Talk about any and all. Enjoy. · (22) ·
Via Donnie Collins: Curtis Granderson will join Triple-A Scranton tomorrow, officially starting his 20-day rehab stint. He’s expected to play four or five games with the team. The 32-year-old slugger hit a homer and played all three outfield positions during an Extended Spring Training game today. Barring any setbacks, it sounds like Granderson could join the Yankees within a week. · (16) ·
Earlier today we learned RHP Ty Hensley is likely to miss the rest of the season following hip surgery, and now it’s time to get caught up on some other injured minor leaguers. Chad Jennings has all the updates…
- RHP Angelo Gumbs (finger) is a couple of weeks away from return to High-A Tampa. He’s playing in Extended Spring Training games now. Whenever he is ready, I have to think Rob Refsnyder will get bumped up to Double-A Trenton to make room.
- RHP Jose Ramirez started the season on the DL with fatigue, there was no injury. He pitched in winter ball and overextended himself a bit in big league camp, so they held him back. Ramirez has since rejoined the Double-A rotation.
- RHP Jose Campos (elbow) had a bone bruise last year according to VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. Campos said himself it was a small fracture. I don’t know who to believe, but I suppose something could have been lost in translation.
- RHP Chase Whitley (oblique) is about ten days away from being activated and returning to game action. He might have been called up instead of Preston Claiborne last week had he been healthy.
- LHP Manny Banuelos (elbow) is on schedule as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to miss the rest of the year.
- OF Adonis Garcia (wrist) is taking batting practice while OF Ravel Santana (ankle) is playing in ExST. The ankle injury has completed derailed his career.
Earlier this week I took an early look at some of the Yankees’ needs leading up to the trade deadline, but trades are a two-way street. Like it or not, you have to give something to get something, and this post will focus on what the Yankees have to give.
I think the easiest thing to do is to break down potential trade chips into various categories. Ranking them one through five or one through ten or whatever doesn’t really work for something like this. Remember, a player’s trade value is only as high as what other teams think of him. They all have their own evaluations of what a player is and will be, and rarely are they fooled by a hot month or something like that. It happens, but not often. Let’s look at what New York has to peddle on the trade market.
I don’t expected the Yankees to trade any of these four guys — or Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda, for that matter — but it’s not completely off the table. All four will hit free agency after the season and it seems like only Hughes has a realistic chance of returning for 2014 and beyond. Or at least he should be the priority re-sign given the state of the pitching staff going forward, I should say.
Hughes also has the most trade value of the bunch at this moment, especially if his last four starts are an indication of how he will pitch going forward. Granderson could change things if he returns from the DL and starts swatting homers left and right. The Yankees have exceeded expectations so far and they are right in the thick of the division race, so I wouldn’t count on them selling off pieces if that remains the case in a month or two. This team doesn’t trade established big leaguers at the deadline, they acquire them.
Young pitching is always a hot commodity, regardless of the time of year. The Yankees have four good but not great young arms at the big league level right now, though only one has shown he can hold up for a full season as a starter in the show. Given Nova’s general awfulness since last year’s All-Star break, I think Phelps might have the most trade value of the bunch despite having one fewer year of team control remaining than Nuno or Warren. The Yankees need young pitching as much as anyone, but none of these four are expected to be high-end contributors and simple attrition means one or two are likely to flame out rather soon. Keeping the right guys and moving the wrong ones is much easier said than done.
All four of these guys were consensus top 100 prospects coming into the year, but I don’t view any of them as untouchable. The Yankees have a collection of very good but not truly elite position player prospects, none of whom has more than a month of playing time above High-A to their credit. That will limit their value.
Based on the way people in the organization publicly talked about these players the last few weeks, I’m guess Heathcott is the least likely to go. He’s the tooled up former first round pick, and those guys tend to get more rope than anyone else. Sanchez is probably the most indispensable since he’s a catcher and the best prospect of the bunch, but he shouldn’t stand in the way of a significant upgrade to the big league roster in my opinion. Aside from the Cliff Lee non-trade, the Yankees don’t trade their top prospects for rentals. If they move one (or several) of these guys, it will be for someone who will stick around for a few years.
Any player who is a legitimate big league prospect — there are a lot fewer than most fans want to admit — but not a top prospect falls into this category. These are the guys who are missing the standout tool, who are too far down the ladder and unproven, have injury issues, stuff like that. They’re unlikely to be headliners in a trade, especially for an established big leaguer, but they are second and third pieces in a package. Some are easier to part with than others, obviously.
The Impending Rule 5 Draft Guys: Heathcott, Tommy Kahnle, Bryan Mitchell, J.R. Murphy, Chase Whitley
Consider this a sub-category under Secondary Prospects. The Yankees have added something like six or seven prospects to the 40-man roster in each of the last two or three years to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which has created a lot of 40-man clutter. Many of them were fringy prospects who were unlikely to stick on a team’s 25-man active roster all season. Rather than add to the pile this offseason, I’d like to see the Yankees decides which prospects are actually worthwhile and look to move the others. Trading them a year too soon is better than losing them on waivers a year too late. Heathcott and Murphy are locks to be added to the 40-man after the season, but the others are in that “interesting but not MLB ready” limbo. Trading them now would be preferable to carrying them on the 40-man as they continue to develop.
Has Overbay played well enough that some team would actually be willing to give up an okay prospect for him when Mark Teixeira returns? Would the clubs who pursued Ichiro this winter — the Giants, Phillies, and White Sox as far as we know — be interested in taking him via trade? Several teams have asked about Nunez in the past, are any still interested? Those are questions I can’t answer, but they are questions that could have surprisingly positive answers for the Yankees. They’re going to have to move people once the injured players start to return, it would be neat if one or two of them brought something back.
* * *
The Yankees have a large volume of trade chips at their disposal leading up to the deadline, but there’s no knockout player they can put on the table who would help them get pretty much anyone they want. There’s no Jurickson Profar, no 2007 Joba, no 2010 Jesus Montero. The team has some obvious needs, and they might have too look a little harder than most years to find a potential trade partner given what they have to offer.
Via Chad Jennings: VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed right-hander Ty Hensley is likely to miss the entire 2013 season after having surgery to repair labrum damage in his hip. “Spring Training,” said Newman when asked about a target return date.
Hensley, 19, was the team’s first round pick (30th overall) last summer. He agreed to a $1.6M bonus shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical revealed a shoulder “abnormality” and the bonus was adjusted down to $1.2M. I can’t say this is the most surprising news in the world — hip surgery is always pretty serious and when Yankees’ pitching prospects get hurt, they usually stay hurt for a while. I think we’re beyond the point of calling all these minor league pitching injuries bad luck. · (85) ·
Via George King & Chad Jennings: Joe Girardi confirmed Ivan Nova is a candidate to start one game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Indians if he comes through today’s Extended Spring Training game well. “As long as he feels good and throws the ball well (it’s possible),” said the skipper. “We are allowed to add that 26th man [for doubleheaders].”
Nova, 26, is on the DL with a triceps issue and is eligible to be activated on Sunday. I’m probably reading too much into this, but I thought it was interesting Girardi mentioned the 26th man. The rules say the 26th player has to go back to the minors immediately following the doubleheader, so either they’ll have to rearrange the bullpen — technically send down Vidal Nuno or Preston Claiborne, called them back up as the 26th man — or Nova’s going to minors to work on things following that game. My money’s on the former. · (8) ·
Like many of you, I was extremely skeptical when the Yankees acquired Vernon Wells for two non-prospects at the very end of Spring Training. The move stunk of desperation, but frankly the team was desperate at that time. They lost a lot of offense to injury in the prior weeks and something had to be done. The Angels had a player they wanted the dump and the Yankees had a need. The puzzle pieces fit.
Wells, 34, made the Yankees look very smart for the first few weeks of the season. He had three hits, including a homer, against the Red Sox during the second game of the season. Two days later he went deep again, and the homers kept coming — five in his first 15 games of the year. Wells finished April with a .300/.366/.544 (145 wRC+) batting line that exceeded every reasonable expectation. It was just what the Yankees needed.
Things haven’t been going so well for Vernon since then, however. Last night’s 0-for-4 dropped him to 3-for-21 (.143) on the month and 10-for-48 (.208) in his last 13 games. That dates back to the series in Toronto, when he bludgeoned his former team for three days. Wells is still hitting a respectable .270/.328/.468 (114 wRC+) on the season, but he has clearly been trending downward of late. Anecdotally, it seems like he’s been getting beat on a lot of outside pitches lately. Both fastballs and breaking balls. The strike zone plots do not show that he’s been getting more outside pitches of late, however (via Texas Leaguers):
Who knows why the slump is happening, but it’s happening. Maybe he’s just fatigued from playing everyday for the first time in two years. The slump shouldn’t be unexpected either, Wells was hitting far better than he did even during his prime last month. At some point he was going to cool off.
The unfortunate thing is that the Yankees need Wells to hit right now, very much so. With Kevin Youkilis injured and, for at least three games, Travis Hafner limited to pinch-hitting duties in the NL park, there needs to be someone in the lineup to complement Robinson Cano. As good as he is, Robbie can’t do it all by himself. Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki have been doing a fine job of getting on-base of late, but someone other than Cano needs to drive them in. Wells has to be that guy and right now he isn’t.
At some point Vernon will heat back up and go on a nice tear. At least I think he will. It is fair to be skeptical of him going forward given how dreadful he’s been the last two years, but I don’t think he’s suddenly regressed to sub-replacement level. The question is when will that rebound happen? Outside of Curtis Granderson and maybe Youkilis, the Yankees are unlikely to get any of their injured bats back this month. Their offense simply isn’t good enough to get by with a slumping Wells. He gave them more than they could have asked for in April, but now they need him to do more in May.
Left-hander on the mound, NL lineup with no Travis Hafner … the Yankees didn’t have a prayer. The offense put up nothing in support of the pitching staff on a rainy Monday night, and the Rockies waltzed to a stress-free 2-0 win in the series opener. The Yankees have now lost three of their last four games.
Kuroda’s One Mistake
As the game progressed, I got the sense the only way the Yankees would win was if Hiroki Kuroda pulled a Clayton Kershaw by throwing a complete-game shutout and hitting a homer. Unfortunately, he did neither. The veteran right-hander had a splendid outing spoiled by one mistake, a middle-middle fastball to Carlos Gonzalez with a full count and two outs in the sixth. CarGo put the ball over the fence and into the bullpen for a two-run homer. Those were the only runs of the game and all Colorado would need.
Outside of that two-run homer, Kuroda was outstanding. He allowed six hits — four in the fifth inning — and one walk in seven innings of work, striking out three and getting 14 of his 21 outs on the infield. This was reminiscent of last year, when Kuroda would consistently pitch well but get little run support. Given the lineup around him, the lack of offense is a little more understandable this time around. Hiroki deserves better.
Now that Vernon Wells has crashed back to Earth, the lineup is basically Robinson Cano and a bunch of guys who might start for Triple-A Scranton. I guess we should cut Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner some slack, but neither started this game because matchups!!! and rules say the Yankees can’t use a DH against the Rockies, respectively. The offense put up very little fight on Monday.
The Bombers had four hits total — bloop singles by Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, and Chris Stewart plus an infield single from Nix — and their best chance to score came in the third, when Ichiro stole second and third bases with two outs. Nix struck out looking to end the inning and the threat. That was that. Just two of the final 14 hitters they sent to the plate reached base safely, and that was a walk and the infield single. Weak.
About the only thing the Yankees did well on offense was steal. They ran wild on Jorge De La Rosa, stealing four bases in his six innings of work. Ichiro stole two in that one inning while Nix and Stewart stole one apiece. Of course, Gardner was anchored to first in the seventh, which led to a Chris Nelson inning-ending double play. So it goes.
I don’t know what else there is to add, really. Stewart made a nice snap-throw to pick a runner off first base in the second inning and Shawn Kelley allowed a single in an otherwise uneventful and scoreless inning. That’s basically it. I wouldn’t call this the most interesting game in the world.
Weird little fact: the Yankees have scored a total of five runs in their last four games at Coors Field, dating back to the series in 2007. That’s … surprising.
The Yankees and Rockies will play game two of this three-game set on Wednesday night, when David Phelps gets the ball against Juan Nicasio. I’m guessing that one will feature a few more runs than this one.