Let’s start with some notes:
- 3B Dante Bichette Jr. has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, according to Eric Morlock. He’ll finish the season there as the everyday third baseman. After two poor years with Low-A Charleston from 2012-13, DBJ hit .271/.352/.410 (120 wRC+) with nine homers for Tampa this summer.
- MLB.com posted top 20 Yankees prospects list a few weeks ago, and today Jim Callis released his list of five bonus prospects. No. 21-25, basically. No real surprises, though I’m surprised to see OF Dustin Fowler get so much love.
- Baseball America published their best tools surveys for MLB and Triple-A. The Yankees didn’t have anyone on the Triple-A list, but Brett Gardner (second best AL bunter, wtf?), Jacoby Ellsbury (second best AL base-runner), Masahiro Tanaka (second best AL pitcher), Dellin Betances (best AL curveball, second best AL reliever), Mark Teixeira (third best AL defensive first baseman), and Martin Prado (second best AL hit-and-run artist) all appear on the MLB survey.
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off-day.
Double-A Trenton (7-3 win over Altoona)
- CF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K – 15-for-43 (.349) in his last ten games
- LF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 RBI
- DH Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 13-for-42 (.310) in his last ten games
- RF Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
- 1B Greg Bird: 4-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI — that’s three homers in his last two games
- LHP Manny Banuelos: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/4 GB/FB – 49 of 79 pitches were strikes (62%) … little bump in the road after allowing only two runs total in his last 14 innings
- LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – 12 of 20 pitches were strikes (60 %) in his Double-A debut … now has a 33/4 K/BB in 14.1 pro innings, which works out to a 20.73 K/9 and 55.9 K%
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB – nine of 16 pitches were strikes (56%)
Quick note to pass along: Double-A Trenton’s bat dog Rookie is up for a Minor League Best Mascot Award. You might remember that Rookie’s grandfather Chase passed away last summer. You can vote right here or by using the hashtag #VoteRookieThunder on Twitter. There are 14 finalists and Rookie is the only living, breathing animal. The rest are dudes in mascot suits. Voting closes on August 11th. Take a second and go vote because bat dogs are awesome. · (13) ·
As you can see, we now are using Disqus to handle our comments. Why the quick change? Because from a technology standpoint we really needed something with low overhead and easy administration. Old comments should be back within the next day or so. As I mentioned previously, please act responsibly and enjoy the discussion. Thanks, Yankees Only.
The Yankees suffered a tough loss last night, though they’ve played well of late and have a chance to bounce back tonight. The bullpen is a little short though — Joe Girardi said Dellin Betances is unlikely to be available due to his recent workload — so Chris Capuano is probably going to throw 100+ pitches whether he likes it or not. This would be a good night for the offense to give the pitching staff some breathing room, for once. Here is the Tigers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- RF Martin Prado
LHP Chris Capuano
It’s warm and cloudy in New York, but there is no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Via Bill Madden: The Phillies wanted top outfield prospect Aaron Judge in exchange for Marlon Byrd at the trade deadline. The report comes after Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Matt Gelb his deadline inactivity was due to other teams not being aggressive enough. Other reports indicate clubs did not believe Philadelphia had sincere interest in moving their players given their unwillingness to negotiate.
Judge, 22, is having a monster year after being selected with the second of the Yankees’ three first round picks last summer. He’s hitting .319/.429/.509 (165 wRC+) with 20 doubles, 15 homers, and a system-leading 74 walks in 108 games split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. Judge for Byrd is silly and the Yankees would never do it, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with initially asking for a big return. If teams never did that, there wouldn’t be any Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trades. It’s the unwillingness to budge that’s the real problem. For the Phillies, anyway. · (72) ·
Heading into the trade deadline, it was clear the Yankees needed to beef up their offense. They were getting very little from right field and second base in particular, plus third base became a black hole as soon as Yangervis Solarte returned to Earth. The Yankees needed to do something to add to their lineup, something more than wait for Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to turn their seasons around.
Improving the offense wasn’t their only need at the trade deadline. The Yankees also needed to upgrade their infield defense because it was disastrous. Truly one of the worst infield defenses I have ever seen and it would have been a lot worse if not for the club’s emphasis on shifting to compensate for the lack of range. The bad defense was the most consistent part of the team too — every day the infield would cost them. It was amazing to watch, really.
The Yankees are locked into Derek Jeter at short and Mark Teixeira at first for better or worse, though there was nothing standing in way of acquiring upgrades at second and third bases. Acquire those upgrades is exactly what they did, swinging a deal for Chase Headley last month and bringing in Stephen Drew just before the trade deadline. Headley has long been a solid gloveman and while Drew would be playing out of position at second base, his athleticism and quickness made him a decent bet to outperform Brian Roberts.
Headley’s bat hasn’t been anything special yet (86 wRC+ in 58 PA), but he has been outstanding in the field. He gobbles up everything hit his way and seems to really excel at going to his right for backhanded stops. Drew has been with the team for only five games, and while he hasn’t done much with the bat either (64 wRC+ in 18 PA), he’s looked pretty comfortable at second. We haven’t gotten much of a look at him, of course, but Roberts was bobbling routine plays towards the end of his time with the Yankees. Drew hasn’t done that.
With some help from the indispensable Baseball Savant, here is a quick and dirty look at how the Yankees have fared at turning ground balls into outs this season. Real basic stuff, how many grounders are being converted into outs with no adjustment for hit quality or hit location or anything like that. Obvious sample size caveats apply:
|Total Grounders||BABIP||Grounders Per Error|
|Before Headley Trade||1,164||.255||28.4|
|Since Headley Trade||198||.227||66.0|
|Since Drew Trade||67||.194||67.0|
The AL average is a .250 BABIP on ground balls this season, so the Yankees were just a touch worse than that before acquiring Headley. Even with all the shifts and whatnot, they were still a bit below-average because of the general lack of range and sure-handedness they had around the infield. It felt a lot worse, to be honest.
Since acquiring Headley though, that has dropped to a .227 BABIP, much better than the league average. The infield has also cut their rate of making an error — errors aren’t the best way to measure defense, but I’m mentioning them because the Yankees did seem to have a knack for getting to the ball and failing to make the play for much of the year — basically in half. That isn’t all because of Headley, but he is a big part of it. Solarte was sneaky bad in the field and Kelly Johnson never looked comfortable at the hot corner (or first base, for that matter).
The infield defense has improved even more since Drew arrived, though it has been less than a week, so who really knows. The numbers do match up with the eye test though, and that’s always cool. You don’t need to be a trained scout to see how improved defensively the infield has been the last few weeks. Headley is a tremendous upgrade over what the Yankees had at the hot corner for most of the year. Drew looks comfortable at second and has been better than Roberts.
Going from below-average defenders to above-average defenders at two of the four infield spots is a big, big deal. The Yankees had a weirdly built roster earlier in the season in that their best defensive players (Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury) were marginalized by a pitching staff that focused on getting ground balls to avoid cheap homers at Yankee Stadium. Thanks to the Headley and Drew additions, the Yankees now have an infield defense better suited for the strength of the pitching staff, and their impact in the field has been obvious.
According to both Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin, the Padres will name Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller their new general manager. An official announcement is expected later today. Preller beat out Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler for the job, as well as MLB executive Kim Ng and Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen.
Eppler, a San Diego native, was said to be the front-runner for the job just yesterday. If yesterday’s report is to be believed, this is the second time he will have finished second in the running for a GM job. He was the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels’ gig a few years ago. Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2004 and was the director of pro scouting from 2005-11 before being promoted to assistant GM. As I’ve been saying, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a GM, either as Brian Cashman’s successor or with some other team. · (50) ·
Yesterday afternoon, the Yankees dumped lefty reliever Matt Thornton on the Nationals after Washington claimed him off trade waivers. The Yankees literally gave Thornton away — the Nats claimed him and the Bombers could have pulled him back off revocable waivers, but they opted to send him and the $4.5M or so left on his contract south to the nation’s capital for no return. It was a surprising move only because the Yankees need as much pitching as they can get these days.
“We have some young left-handers who are emerging quickly that we’re excited about,” said Brian Cashman to Dan Martin after the move was announced. “It’s about flexibility in 2014 and 2015. I’m not shut down for business, whether it’s buying, whether it’s reshuffling the deck, as we’re doing today … We’ve been mixing and matching all year. That’s not going to stop. I can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Both Cashman and Joe Girardi cited the team’s collection of upper level lefty bullpen prospects — Tyler Webb, James Pazos, and 2014 second round pick Jacob Lindgren were all mentioned by name — as one reason why they let Thornton go. (Girardi didn’t seem to fully trust him, which I’m guessing made the move easier.) It seems they simply believe they can replace him from within and better use that $4.5M elsewhere. Given their recent history with veteran lefty relievers on multi-year contracts, dumping Thornton before he went all Damaso Marte or Pedro Feliciano on them makes sense.
Soon after the deal, Ken Rosenthal reported the Yankees are “working on other things” and could reallocate the savings from Thornton elsewhere. I know $4.5M doesn’t sound like much, especially when the team has a $200M+ payroll and $3.5M of the $4.5M comes next year, but Hal Steinbrenner is very focused on the bottom line and it does appear the club is bumping up against some kind of payroll limit. Hal reportedly had to give Cashman approval to up payroll at the trade deadline, and even then they had cash thrown into the Brandon McCarthy ($2.05M), Chase Headley ($1M), and Stephen Drew ($500K) deals.
The Yankees are presumably still looking to add some rotation help this month — Chuck Garfien noted Yankees special assistant Jim Hendry was in Chicago scouting the White Sox last night, presumably because the very available John Danks was pitching (he got capital-D destroyed) — and the Thornton deal gives them some extra money to make that happen. Not having that roster spot married to a specific veteran pitcher makes swapping out players easier as well, even if we’re only talking about calling up fresh arms whenever they’re needed. (Like today.)
I don’t see this as the Yankees admitting signing Thornton was a mistake. Not at all. Circumstances have changed over the last few months and right now the financial and roster flexibility is more valuable to them than a good but not great left-handed specialist. It’s not often you get to simply walk away from a contract like that, even a relatively small one like Thornton’s. The Yankees took advantage and are now in position to use the savings elsewhere, specifically on a rotation upgrade. I don’t think getting rid of Thornton was the endgame. I think it was the first domino.
Because of a recent influx of commenters and the continued disregard of our Commenting Guidelines, RAB now requires users to register in order to comment. Go here to register. Pick a user name, enter a valid email address, and a verification email will be sent to you with your temporary password. You can pick your own password after that. The verification email may not arrive right away. Make sure to check your spam folder. We will never share your email address with anyone.
We kept our comments open and free of registration for years and years because we wanted to make it easy for readers to contribute to the conversation and be part of the RAB community, but the comment threads simply became too out of hand and difficult to moderate, so requiring registration became a necessary step. As always, thank you for reading and making RAB part of your day. We hope you register and continue to contribute to the site and the community. As always, you can contact us through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. · (131) ·
- If you’ve been reading RAB long enough, then the name Neil Medchill should ring a bell. He spent a few years in the organization before being released last summer. Medchill currently plays in an independent league, but, as Brett Dolan writes, he is giving up the rest of his season and possibly his career to donate bone marrow to a cancer patient. He entered the donor registry recently and got a call a few months later. Check out the story. Great stuff by Medchill.
- RHP Luis Severino has been named to Baseball America’s All-Prospect Team for July. He was on the May team too. Severino is having a whale of a season, though he is currently out with a supposedly minor oblique issue.
Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Syracuse)
- 1B Jose Pirela & LF Zoilo Almonte: both 0-4 — Almonte struck out twice
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 K, 1 HBP – 7-for-29 (.241) in his last six games
- DH Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 R, 1 K
- 3B Zelous Wheeler: 2-3, 1 BB
- C Austin Romine: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — picked a runner off first with a snap throw … 13-for-38 (.342) in his last ten games
- LHP Matt Tracy: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 54 of 88 pitches were strikes (61%)
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 16 of 24 pitches were strikes (67%) in his Triple-A debut