• Boone Logan has bone spur in elbow, needs offseason surgery
    By

    After visiting with Dr. James Andrews in Florida, Boone Logan has been diagnosed with a bone spur in the back of his elbow. The ligaments are intact. Logan will need surgery in the offseason and is expected to be ready in time for Opening Day. He played long-toss today and hopes to return to the team later this week. Until then, Cesar Cabral will be Joe Girardi’s go-to matchup lefty. · (9) ·

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Once upon a time, it looked like this series would play a huge role in the AL East race. The Blue Jays were offseason darlings and the Yankees are pretty much always in contention, so back in Spring Training it seemed like a late-season series between the two clubs would have a huge impact on the division. Instead, Toronto sits in last place and New York has already been relegated to wildcard or bust.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Jays were off yesterday just like the Yankees. They lost two of three to the Orioles over the weekend and have lost five of their last six games overall. Toronto is 68-81 with a -47 run differential, both the fifth worst marks in the league. Their next loss officially eliminates them from postseason contention.

Offense
At 4.4 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+, the Blue Jays are almost an exactly league average offense. They are without RF Jose Bautista (133 wRC+), IF Maicer Izturis (63 wRC+), and LF Melky Cabrera (86 wRC+) though, all of whom are out for the season with injury. CF Colby Rasmus (126 wRC+) recently came off the DL but is being eased back into things.

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

Manager John Gibbons has an elite power hitter in the middle of his lineup in 1B Edwin Encarnacion (144 wRC+). He still has more walks (82) and extra-base hits (66) than strikeouts (62). SS Jose Reyes (114 wRC+) is still as good as it gets in the leadoff spot and DH Adam Lind (127 wRC+) has had a strong bounceback year. 3B Brett Lawrie (95 wRC+) has been okay, as has UTIL Mark DeRosa (98 wRC+) in a reserve role. The lineup is pretty thinned out without Bautista and Rasmus.

C J.P. Arencibia (61 wRC+), OF Rajai Davis (84 wRC+), and IF Munenori Kawasaki (76 wRC+) are probably the only other guys on the roster everyone will recognize. OF Moises Sierra (152 wRC+ in very limited time) and 2B Ryan Goins (51 wRC+ in very limited time) both play regularly thanks to the injuries. CF Anthony Gose (76 wRC+ in limited time) and C Josh Thole (26 wRC+) are regulars on the bench while the crop of September call-ups include C Mike Nickeas and OF Kevin Pillar. Reyes and Encarnacion make this lineup dangerous by themselves, but the bottom of the order is really weak.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP R.A Dickey
Dickey, 38, has a 4.36 ERA (4.65 FIP) in 31 starts this season after taking home the NL Cy Young Award last summer. Can’t imagine that’s what the Blue Jays thought they were getting when they made the trade over the winter. Dickey’s peripherals have declined across the board: 6.89 K/9 (18.1 K%), 2.98 BB/9 (7.8 BB%), 1.38 HR/9 (12.4% HR/FB), and 40.8% grounders. he uses just one mid-70s knuckleball these days, having apparently lost the second low-80s knuckler that made him so effective last year. A low-80s fastball is his get-me-over-pitch. Lefties (.341 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.308 wOBA). The Yankees have faced Dickey a few times this season and he’s actually pitched quite well against them. He hasn’t dominated, but he hasn’t been a pushover either.

Happ. (Abelimages/Getty)

Happ. (Abelimages/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP J.A. Happ
The 30-year-old Happ was carted off the field after taking a line drive to the side of the head and suffering a very small skull fracture (and knee strain) four months ago. He’s made eight starts since returning from the DL and has pitched well in half of them, and overall he owns 5.15 ERA (4.14 FIP). The southpaw has missed enough bats (7.49 K/9 and 18.3 K%) and kept the ball in the park (0.98 HR/9 and 7.9% HR/FB), but his walk (4.66 BB/9 and 11.4 BB%) and ground ball (37.9%) rates are well-below-average. Happ is a five-pitch guy, sitting right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seamer. Both his slider and changeup come in in the low-80s, his curveball in the mid-70s. The Yankees have seen Happ three times this year and have hit him hard twice.

Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond
Redmond, 28, has a 4.10 ERA (4.19FIP) in eleven starts and three relief appearances this year as injuries have thinned out Toronto’s rotation. His strikeout (9.33 K/9 and 24.8 K%) and walk (2.69 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%) rates are stellar while the homer (1.41 HR/9 and 11.8% HR/FB) and ground ball (31.0%) numbers are underwhelming. Redmond uses sinkers and four-seamers right around 90 mph to setup his bread-and-butter low-80s slider. He uses the slider almost three out of every ten pitches. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his rarely-used fourth and fifth offerings. Redmond held the Yankees to two runs in 5.2 innings late last month, the only time he’s faced them.

Janssen. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Janssen. (Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Blue Jays were off yesterday, so their bullpen is well-rested. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.96 FIP) is setup by RHP Steve Delabar (2.72 FIP), LHP Brett Cecil (2.88 FIP), RHP Sergio Santos (2.47 FIP in limited time), and LHP Darren Oliver (4.23 FIP). LHP Aaron Loup (3.28 FIP) and RHP Neil Wagner (4.21 FIP) handle the middle innings. The army of September call-ups includes RHP Kyle Drabek, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP Chad Jenkins, RHP Dustin McGowan, LHP Luis Perez, and LHP Ricky Romero. Yes, that Ricky Romero.

The Yankees are in good bullpen shape and not just because of the off-day. The late-game trio of Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, and Shawn Kelley did not pitch at all this weekend and should be very well-rested. Boone Logan is still out with his elbow problem, however. Our Bullpen Workload page has the full recent reliever usage details. Check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (35)
  • Girardi held a “stern postgame meeting” following Sunday’s loss
    By

    Via David Waldstein: Joe Girardi held a “stern postgame meeting” following Sunday’s loss to the Red Sox to let the team know he was disappointed with their effort in the three-game sweep. “We stunk here,” said the skipper. “We didn’t play well here. But we’ve got options. We can either continue to stink or play better. If we play better, we have a shot.”

    The Yankees have held team meetings under Girardi before — including last month, during the sweep by the White Sox in Chicago — but the message has always had some kind of positive spin. “We’re better than this, let’s not make losing a habit,” that type of stuff. This is the first time I can remember hearing about Girardi ripping into the team, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before. This is the time to be stern anyway. The time for delivering a gentle message has come and gone.
    · (32) ·

Half a rotation spot. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Half a rotation spot. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

For the first four or five months of the season, the pitching staff carried the Yankees. The offense was nonexistent and the guys on the mound had to do all the heavy lifting. That same pitching staff has faltered in recent weeks — Chad Jennings did a great job breaking down the rotation’s recent performance yesterday — perhaps because they’re running out of gas after having so little margin for error earlier in the year. I imagine having to throw something close to a shutout every five days can wear on a pitcher.

The Yankees did not acquire a starter at the trade deadline — they did try to acquire Dan Haren last weekend, but to no avail — so they have had to improvise down the stretch. Since CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte are locked into starting spots no matter what and Ivan Nova pitched more than well enough in July and August to remain in the rotation, Phil Hughes was the odd man out. And deservedly so, he’s been terrible all year.

Unfortunately, the alternatives weren’t all that great. David Phelps (forearm), Vidal Nuno (groin), and Michael Pineda (shoulder) were all hurt, leaving David Huff as the only option. He pitched well in a handful of long relief appearances against last place teams but got destroyed by the Red Sox in his only start, so the Yankees opted to put Hughes back in the rotation with a twist — he and Huff would work in tandem. We saw it against the Orioles last week and Joe Girardi indicated over the weekend the tandem would remain intact.

The whole idea of a tandem starter system is to limit each guy’s exposure. The Yankees are cool with Hughes and Huff going through the lineup once (or once and a half), but the second and third times through are a concern. This calls for some obligatory stats, so here is what Hughes has done each time through the order:

Split G PA R H 2B 3B HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG BAbip tOPS+
1st PA in G, as SP 130 1168 107 268 64 6 27 89 250 2.81 .254 .312 .402 .305 92
2nd PA in G, as SP 128 1116 144 270 53 3 44 83 204 2.46 .269 .329 .459 .294 110
3rd PA in G, as SP 119 765 116 196 41 1 38 54 124 2.30 .282 .334 .507 .292 123
4th+ PA in G, as SP 22 37 0 5 0 0 0 0 4 .135 .135 .135 .152 -26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.

Now here is what Huff has done each time through the order:

Split G PA R H 2B 3B HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG BAbip tOPS+
1st PA in G, as SP 53 481 52 125 24 2 16 38 57 1.50 .287 .342 .462 .297 93
2nd PA in G, as SP 53 465 69 128 38 6 10 32 57 1.78 .303 .354 .492 .328 103
3rd PA in G, as SP 48 314 55 91 29 0 15 22 35 1.59 .314 .364 .569 .317 122
4th+ PA in G, as SP 7 20 3 5 0 0 2 4 2 0.50 .313 .450 .688 .250 171
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.

This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison statistically. Going through the lineup the first time as a starter is different than doing it as a tandem starter. As a starter, you need to hold something back — usually the pitcher’s third pitch — to get through the lineup the second and third time. As a tandem starter, you can go all-out right out of the chute. There’s no reason to hold anything back because the other guy is coming out of the bullpen in an inning or two. It’s more of a reliever mentality and that would improve a guy’s performance, at least in theory.

The tandem starter idea sounds great on paper but it’s difficult to pull off most of the season because roster spots are limited. Using two pitchers to fill one rotation spot means either the bullpen or bench is going to be short. That isn’t an issue for the Yankees now because rosters are expanded, so Hughes and Huff can tag-team the fifth starter’s spot without leaving any other part of the team shorthanded. Girardi used each guy for three innings in Baltimore last week and the result was six combined innings of two-run ball, better than anything either Hughes or Huff could do on their own.

Now, the danger of using a tandem starter system is that you may be replacing an effective pitcher with an ineffective pitcher for no good reason. Who knows, maybe Hughes would have fired off five more scoreless innings had he stayed in the game against the Orioles. The more relievers you use in a game, the more likely you are to run into someone who just doesn’t have it that day, and that could be very costly. Same thing with the tandem starter system; the guy coming out of the ‘pen might be less effective than the guy who just left the game. That’s the risk.

Even though the Yankees were off yesterday and are off again next Monday, they can’t use the schedule to skip the Hughes/Huff rotation spot. If they could, I’m sure they would. The best they can do is push it back a day or two, but at this point they’re better off keeping everyone on turn to give the three veteran guys get an extra day of rest late in the season. By themselves, Hughes and Huff are obviously below-average big league starters. When smushed together in tandem system, they might actually be pretty good because they won’t have to go through a lineup multiple times. Considering the alternatives, it’s the best option the Yankees have.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (57)
  • Yankees outright Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton
    By

    The Yankees have outrighted Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. The right-hander was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Brendan Ryan about a week ago. He could have elected free agency but instead decided to remain with the team.

    Miller, 31, allowed three runs in 1.1 innings of work against the Red Sox last week, his only appearance in pinstripes. He did have a pretty strong year with the RailRiders, pitching to a 3.55 ERA (3.22 FIP) with a 13.07 K/9 (33.6 K%) in 63.1 innings across 43 appearances. Miller had his moments with the Athletics last season (2.59 ERA and 4.74 FIP in 48.2 innings) and is probably worth keeping around in Triple-A next season. He will become a minor league free agent in a few weeks, so the decision to come back is his.
    · (2) ·

The Yankees are off today but there is plenty of scoreboard watching to be done. The Rays and Rangers will be on MLB Network (Cobb vs. Garza) and that game is very important to New York’s playoff hopes. Tampa and Texas have the same record and they own the two wildcard spots, so Yankees fans should root for a split to keep both teams as close to the pack as possible. You don’t want one of them to pull away because suddenly it would be a race for one wildcard spot (against the Indians and their cupcake schedule, no less) instead of a race for two. So whoever wins tonight, the Rangers or Rays, you gotta root for the other team tomorrow.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. If you want to forget about baseball for a few hours, the Steelers and Bengals are your Monday Night Football game and there’s also preseason hockey on somewhere. That’s cool. Talk about whatever here. Go nuts.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (19)
  • Rivera, Robertson nominated for sportsmanship and community service awards
    By

    Mariano Rivera has been named one of six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, the MLBPA announced. The award is given annually “for outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to the community.” Past winners include Chipper Jones, Curtis Granderson, and Jim Thome. The other five finalists are Chase Utley, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Gonzalez, and former Yankees Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher.

    In other award nomination news, the Yankees announced that David Robertson has been named the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee. That award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Derek Jeter, Ron Guidry, and Ken Singleton are among the past winners. Each team’s nominee can be seen here, and the fan voting opens tomorrow. Congrats to both Rivera and Robertson. They do a ton of work for charity and in the community and they deserve to be recognized for it.
    · (2) ·

One way or another, the Mariano Rivera era will end in a few weeks. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

One way or another, the Mariano Rivera era will end in a few weeks. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Despite getting manhandled by the Red Sox this weekend, the Yankees wake up this morning with a small chance — a 4.5% chance according to Baseball Prospectus — of qualifying for the postseason this year. Last night’s loss eliminated them from the AL East race, so it is officially wildcard or bust for this team. New York needs a ton of help these next two weeks but they do have a favorable schedule, including nine of their final dozen games against the lowly Blue Jays, Giants, and Astros.

Getting to the playoffs this season doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things for the Yankees. If anything, sneaking into the postseason would (further) mask some severe organizational flaws, whether they be outdated policies (no contract extensions? really?), an over-reliance on old players (two years for Ichiro Suzuki? really?!?), an unproductive farm system, or a medical staff that can’t seem to keep anyone on the field. The list of problems goes on and on and explains why no matter what the Yankees do these next two weeks, it’s impossible to look forward and feel good about where the club is heading.

The Yankees have spent the last few seasons doing what? Holding onto the last remnants of the dynasty years because they are either unwilling to move on or simply don’t know how to do it. Their plan doesn’t seem to be much of a plan at all. They aren’t trading veterans for prospects, they aren’t trading prospects for veterans, and they aren’t giving prospects opportunities. What they are doing is picking up discarded players to plug whatever hole arises. Seriously, look at the roster: Ichiro, Chris Stewart, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, Brendan Ryan, David Huff … these guys were all available because their former teams dumped them and now they’re playing significant roles for the Yankees. What kind of plan is that?

I get that injuries really decimated the team. Really, really decimated them. Some were unpredictable (Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira) while others were in no way surprising (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Michael Pineda). Either way, there were a lot of injuries and the club was wholly unprepared for them because the farm system has produced so very little beyond a handful of relievers and emergency call-up types in recent years. The Yankees force Phil Hughes and Eduardo Nunez types down our throats because they so desperately want to prove they can draft and develop competent big leaguers, but they can’t. I feel we’ve beyond the point of saying “they haven’t” and should now say “they can’t.”

Between the unproductive minor league system and the slashing of payroll at the big league level — which ownership will happy remind you of every chance they get, by the way — there’s almost no way for the Yankees to turn around and build a team that can have sustained long-term success this winter. They aren’t a Shin-Soo Choo or a Brian McCann or a Matt Garza away from contention. They’re three starting pitchers, two outfielders, a left side of the infield, a catcher, half a bullpen, and a farm system away from having a club that can have sustained success over a number of years. Their best building blocks going forward are a 30-year-old second baseman and a 30-year-old center fielder. Think about that.

“We have the most money, no secret about that. If we combine that with the best decision-making process on a consistent basis, God help the rest of baseball,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch when he signed his new three-year contract following the 2005 season. Yes, the 2005 season. That’s almost seven years ago and what has happened since then? The Yankees won the World Series, which was pretty awesome, but have they combined their ability to spend with the “best decision-making process on a consistent basis?” I find that very hard to believe and not just because the ability to spend has been willfully marginalized.

Joe wrote about the team’s need to adapt and improve their minor league development last month, but the Yankees need more change than that. I think the easiest way to put it is that they’re behind the times. Teams have more money to spend that ever before, which means the best young players are not hitting free agency or becoming available in trades as their salaries grow. The talent pool available to New York has become diluted and they can’t wave their magic pinstriped wand bank account to make it all better. The rest of baseball has gotten progressive but the Yankees have remained the same.

Everything from the team’s policies to their decision making at the MLB level to their player development needs an overhaul and that starts right at the top. Does that mean replacing Cashman is step one? I don’t really know. I can’t say I have much confidence in ownership hiring the right replacement if they do fire him. The last thing I want to happen is Cashman being replaced by a figurehead GM while Randy Levine & Co. call all the shots. Ownership dips their toes into the baseball operations too much as it is. Change has to happen though. The Yankees run an outdated organization and the rest of baseball is leaving them behind. These last few months couldn’t have made it any more obvious.

Categories : Musings
Comments (224)
  • Sherman: Manny Banuelos is pitching in simulated games
    By

    Via Joel Sherman: Left-hander Manny Banuelos recently started pitching in simulated games as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. Three weeks ago we heard he was facing hitters in live batting practice down at the team’s complex in Tampa. Simulated games are a bit more intense though because you’re actually trying to get outs and throw full 15-20 pitch “innings” with no break between batters.

    Banuelos, 22, had his surgery last October and the Yankees have been conservative with his rehab. Simulated games usually come 8-10 months after surgery according to Mike Dodd’s classic Tommy John rehab article, but Banuelos is already into his 11th month of rehab. No big deal really, he was expected to miss the entire season and the team has every reason to play it safe. Banuelos has missed close to two full years with elbow problems — he threw only 24 innings last year before getting hurt — and those are two pretty important development years at his age.

    Banuelos’ winter ball rights are still control by his former Mexican League team in Monterrey, so the Yankees would have to jump through some hoops if they want the southpaw to get some innings over the winter. They did work out an agreement with Monterrey allowing him to pitch in the Arizona Fall League a few seasons ago. Bench coach Tony Pena usually manages in the Dominican Republic over the winter, so maybe they can figure out a way to get Banuelos there so he’s under a watchful eye.
    · (9) ·

Record Last Week: 3-4 (27 RS, 40 RA)
Season Record: 79-71 (619 RS, 634 RA, 73-77 pythag. record), 12.5 GB ALE/3.0 GB WC
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Blue Jays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs.Giants (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Categories : Polls
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