Report: Yanks talked trade for starting pitcher with Nats

Via Josh Norris, the Yankees had talked with the Nationals about a trade involving one of Washington’s starting pitchers earlier this season. Eduardo Nunez, southpaw prospect Nik Turley, and an unnamed Low-A Charleston outfielder* were supposedly heading the nation’s capitol. Talks have cooled of late and nothing is imminent.

It stands to reason that Edwin Jackson was the subject of the trade talks. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman are presumably off-limits and Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang, and John Lannan aren’t anything special. Certainly not guys you’d trade three young players for. Jackson signed a one-year contract with the Nats this offseason and can’t be traded until June 15th without his consent. It’s an interesting rumor, but Washington lives and dies with its starting pitching. It doesn’t appear that they’re getting enough of an offensive upgrade to dish one of their four best starters, even if he’s only signed through this season.

* I have to think it’s either Ben Gamel or Kelvin DeLeon. I can’t imagine either Mason Williams or Tyler Austin being including in a package like this unless one of Strasburg, Gio, and Zimmermann was on the table, and I find it very hard to believe they are.

Granderson & A-Rod slam Tigers in win


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees beat the Tigers on Friday night to guarantee a winning road trip, but don’t expect to see them on the back pages Saturday morning. Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history and that’s pretty cool. Here’s a recap (of the Yankees)…

  • Granderslam: If you’ve been reading RAB long enough then you’ve heard me say this before: the only things you can count on young pitchers to do are walk people and get hurt. Anything else is a bonus. The Yankees scored five runs on just one hit in the second inning because rookie southpaw Casey Crosby walked the bases loaded, forced in a run by walking Derek Jeter, and served up a grand slam to Curtis Granderson. Just like they drew it up.
  • Sabathia: It was a typical bad CC Sabathia outing, meaning seven innings and three runs. A good start for normal folk but not what you like to see from the ace. Anyway, Sabathia threw 71 pitches in the first three innings but just 42 over his last four innings. Ramon Santiago hit a solo homer and both Prince Fielder and Danny Worth touched him up for run-scoring singles. Big whoop. Sixteen of his 21 outs were recorded on the infield. Go big man.
  • Insurance: The Yankees were up 6-3 when Sabathia left the game and they managed to tack on a trio of insurance runs. Andruw Jones doubled in Nick Swisher in the eighth and one inning later Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer out to left-center off Octavio Dotel. I didn’t think it was gone off the bat, but it just kept carrying. An underrated moment of the game was Jayson Nix’s steal of third in the fourth, which allowed Chris Stewart to slap a ground ball single through the drawn-in infield to answer right back after the Tigers scored in the third.
  • Leftovers: Clay Rapada pitched for the first time in nine days and retired one of four batters, and it wasn’t either of the two lefties he faced … Rafael Soriano picked up a cheapie save by coaxing a double play ball out of Miguel Cabrera with a five-run lead to bail out Rapada … Boone Logan and Cory Wade bailed out Cody Eppley with a scoreless one-run eighth … Derek Jeter and Granderson each had two hits, plus Nix reached base three times (double and two walks) … everyone in the starting lineup reached at least once and five of the nine starters reached at least twice.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now tied with the Orioles for second place in the AL East and are just one back of the Rays in the loss column. Game two of this three-game set is a rare Saturday night game, my least favorite. Hiroki Kuroda and Rick Porcello will be on the bump.

Sanchez mashes, Mitchell mashed in Low-A loss

Got some notes to pass along…

  • RHP Mark Montgomery, OF Rob Segedin, and C J.R. Murphy will represent the Tampa Yankees in the High-A All-Star Game. The Murphy selection is quite sketchy, but they tend to lean towards prospects with these things anyway. Montgomery and Segedin are well-deserving.
  • OF Tyler Austin ranked ninth in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. His .545/.667/.818 performance last week was probably like, his fourth best week of the season.
  • 2B Corban Joseph has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Empire State. This was long overdue, he’s been suiting up for the Thunder since the middle of 2010. Cole Garner was placed on the DL with a hand injury in a corresponding move.

Triple-A Empire State Game One (4-3 loss to Norfolk in seven innings, walk-off style) makeup of an April 21st rain out
CF Kevin Russo: 1-4, 1 R
2B Corban Joseph: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — celebrated his promotion to Triple-A by homering in his first plate appearances
1B Steve Pearce: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 K
DH Jack Cust: 0-4, 1 K
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP — first multi-hit game of his seven-game hit streak
C Frankie Cervelli & 3B Brandon Laird: both 0-3 — Laird struck out twice
RF Colin Curtis & SS Ramiro Pena: both 2-3 — Pena drove in a run and got picked off first
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 9/3 GB/FB — 55 of 85 pitches were strikes (64.7%) … worst start in about three weeks
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K — 12 of his 22 pitches were strikes (54.5%)

[Read more…]

2012 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v3.0

In their latest mock draft (subs. req’d), Baseball America has the Astros selecting Stanford RHP Mark Appel first overall. That seems to be the consensus so far. They have the Yankees taking Florida HS RHP Zach Elfin with their first round pick (#30 overall), a three-pitch righty with lots of projection remaining. I actually wrote up a profile on him earlier today and plan on posting it tomorrow, so check back for that.

Baseball America says the smart money is on the Yankees selecting a high school right-hander from a group that includes Eflin, J.O. Berrios (Puerto Rico), Mitch Gueller (Washington), Shane Watson (California), Ty Buttrey (North Carolina), Lucas Sims (Georgia), and Walker Weickel (Florida). We’ve heard that they’re leaning towards various prep arms for about two weeks now. Baseball America had the Yankees taking high schoolers C Stryker Trahan (Louisiana) and SS Addison Russell (Florida) in their first two mock drafts.

Game 51: Return to Comerica

"Earn the privilege?!" (REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)

A 4-2 record on the West Coast was a pretty good start to this nine-game road trip that now takes the Yankees to Detroit. It’s their first trip to Comerica Park since A.J. Burnett put together an unexpectedly strong performance in Game Four of last fall’s ALDS, in what was ultimately his final act as a Yankee. The Tigers have been disappointing this year, so it would be nice for New York to finish this trip with a couple of wins and head home on a high note. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
DH Andruw Jones
LF Jayson Nix
C Chris Stewart

LHP CC Sabathia

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Brett Gardner Update: Prior to the game, Joe Girardi said that Gardner’s workouts (he hit in the cage today) continue to go well and he could return to the team by next weekend or shortly thereafter. He still needs some minor league rehab games after missing nearly two full months.

David Robertson Update: Robertson was supposed to play catch today and throw a bullpen tomorrow, but it rained in Tampa. He could still throw off a mound tomorrow, but they’re likely to just push everything back a day according to Girardi.

Russell Martin/Laz Diaz Update: MLB Executive VP of Baseball Ops Joe Torre discussed the little spat between Martin and Diaz with both parties and decided not to impose any punishment. No fines, no suspensions, nothing.

2012 Draft: Keith Law’s Mock Draft v3.0

In his latest mock draft (subs. req’d), Keith Law still has the Astros taking Stanford RHP Mark Appel with the first overall selection. He projects the Yankees to take Georgia HS RHP Duane Underwood with their first rounder (#30 overall), noting that they’re primarily interested in prep arms at the moment. He mentions RHP J.O. Berrios (Puerto Rico) and RHP/OF Mitch Gueller (Washington) as targets well.

Law says it’s possible the Yankees would take “a major bat” if one fell into lap and was willing to sign. Their first round slot money is a healthy $1.6M, though I’m sure most of the draft’s best position players are seeking more than that. Law had the Yankees selecting Florida HS SS Addison Russell and Las Vegas HS 3B/RHP Joey Gallo in his first two mock drafts. Here are my write-ups on Underwood, Berrios, Gueller, Russell, and Gallo.

6/01-6/03 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

(photo c/o Getty Images)

The Yankees are in Detroit tonight for the first of seven games they’ll play at Comerica Park this season — three now, and another four in August. The Yankees are 22-25 all-time during the regular season at Comerica (and 1-3 in the postseason), and the only ballpark they’ve played worse baseball at since 2000, minimum 7 games, is Angel Stadium.

Detroit’s had a 2012 somewhat similar to the Yankees in that both teams entered the year with high expectations that neither have yet lived up to. In particular, Detroit is coming off a 12-16 May (and you thought the Yankees’ 14-14 month was lousy), and just dropped three of four at Boston before salvaging the finale last night. In adding Prince Fielder, Detroit was expected to boast one of the top offenses in the league; instead to date they’ve fielded an essentially league-average attack, at 102 wRC+ on the nose.

Old friend Austin Jackson has been Detroit’s best hitter on the season, not to mention one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball, as he boasts a 169 wRC+, but he’s also currently in the DL. Miguel Cabrera (137 wRC+) and Prince Fielder (140) are raking, although Cabrera hasn’t been at quite the superhuman level he hit at last season. Of course, that doesn’t make him any less fearsome.

Left-fielder Andy Dirks has been the biggest surprise on the team, with an outstanding .388 wOBA, while Alex Avila has struggled early to match his 2011 breakout season but has come on of late (112 wRC+). Rookie center-fielder Quinton Berry has raked in a very small sample in place of Jackson thus far, but he figures to come back to earth soon enough. The remainder of Jim Leyland’s everyday lineup is rather underwhelming, with Jhonny Peralta (92 wRC+), Delmon Young (85), Brennan Boesch (71) and Ramon Santiago (45!) providing anywhere from below-average to replacement-level to horrendous production. However, Peralta picked things up considerably in May, with a 115 wRC+.

The Tiger bullpen has put up the worst ERA in the AL but the third-best FIP, due in part to the highest BABIP in the league (.316) by a good margin. Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel have split set-up duties and are killing it, as both are striking out more than 13 men per nine and mostly keeping the ball in the yard. Closer Jose Valverde hasn’t quite been his usual dominant self (4.43 ERA/4.55 FIP; 7.5 K/9 against 10.3 for his career, 0.0 fWAR), but every other current member of the bullpen has provided positive value.

The Pitching Match-Ups

Friday, June 1, 2012 at 7:05 p.m. LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Casey Crosby

ALERT. ALERT. ALERT. Not only is Casey Crosby a dreaded starter-they’ve-never-seen-before, but he’s making his Major League debut against the Yankees tonight. And he’s a southpaw! That is, literally, the trifecta of certain Yankee doom; the only thing worse would be if Crosby couldn’t crack 90mph with his fastball; alas, he apparently has mid-90s heat. According to the first scouting report Google turned up, he also features a usable curveball and work-in-progress changeup.

Now in fairness, the Yankees of more recent vintage haven’t struggled quite as poorly against guys-they’ve-never-seen-before as the 2010 team seemed to. While Yu Darvish and Crosby’s Tiger teammate Drew Smyly own the 3rd- and 4th-best-pitched games by Game Score against the Yankees this season, the Yankees did pummel Tyson Ross and Will Smith.

The Bombers have also only faced three hurlers making their MLB debuts as starters since the beginning of 2011 — the Angels’ Garrett Richards, who they tagged for 6 runs in 5 innings last August; Wei-Yin Chen, back in the fifth game of this season, who gave up 2 ER (4 total) in 5.2 IP; and the aforementioned Smith, who they got for five runs in 3.1 innings last week. Additionally, the latter two throw with their left hand, so obviously a rookie LHP starter isn’t quite the death sentence I’m making it out to be. I doubt anyone would be surprised to see the Yankees either hang 7 runs on Crosby in 2 innings or Crosby shut the Yankees out over seven.

Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 7:15 p.m. RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Rick Porcello

Doug Fister was originally slated to make this start before Detroit placed him on the DL; instead, Rick Porcello gets bumped from Friday to tonight. Porcello appears to have taken yet another step backwards this season, and one can’t help but wonder, similar to the Yankees’ situation with Phil Hughes, whether the Tigers might finally stop giving the youngster opportunities to prove himself. The extreme sinkerballer (51% of all pitches thrown) continues to strike no one out, and his peripherals outside of a low walk rate and nice GB% are rather middling across the board. That Porcello allows so many balls in play with one of the most porous infields in baseball behind him has been lost on no one, and it’s entirely possible that Porcello could be a reliable mid-rotation starter on a team with a top-shelf defense. But in Detroit, he’ll likely continue to struggle to be more than a #5.

Porcello also throws a 92mph four-seamer 19% of the time, an 84mph slider 16% of the time and 82mph changeup 11% of the time, none of which are currently above-average by pitch values per 100 thrown. Porcello’s faced the Yankees four times in the regular season and has alternated terrible starts with strong ones. The Bombers of course last saw Porcello in October, and got to him for four runs over six innings en route to forcing a decisive Game 5 in the 2011 ALDS. Every time Porcello takes the hill against the Yankees I expect them to touch him up but then he’ll go out and throw a gem, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Bombers do in this one.

HIROK! has one career start against the Tigers, and it came in 2010 at Los Angeles. I’ve been mostly disappointed by Kuroda’s results thus far — we all expected the K rate to decline, but I didn’t think it would get below 6.0/9, and like everyone else in the starting rotation he’s been way too homer prone — although he’s still managed to do a mostly reasonable job of giving the team a chance to win every five days, even if the process hasn’t always been pretty.

Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:05 p.m. RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Justin Verlander

If Michael Kay is doing the Detroit series, you’ll undoubtedly hear a lot about how Justin Verlander has a career 4.16 ERA against the Yankees over 62.2 regular season innings. Strangely, the only team that his hit him harder in as many or more innings is the Indians. For whatever reason, the Yankees generally seem to be able to hang 3-4 runs on Verlander despite the righty being arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game.

That said, Verlander is once again making a mockery of the American League, and currently leads all of baseball in fWAR while pitching to a 2.55 ERA/2.32 FIP. We all know Verlander is as good as it gets, and this will easily be the Yankees’ toughest assignment of the weekend.

Verlander sets his prey up with a vicious 96mph fastball (thrown 61% of the time), stuns them with an 85.5mph change, and knocks ’em out with an 81mph curve (19%) that currently ranks as the 2nd-most valuable in baseball by wCU/C.

The Prediction

The Yankees are catching a fairly big break in missing Max Scherzer this time around, as Scherzer has given the Yankees fits since 2009 despite underwhelming performances against seemingly everyone else (though they did get to him for three runs over 4.2 innings back in late April).

The Yankees really have to take the Friday game behind Sabathia in what on paper should be the weekend’s biggest mistmatch (although Verlander against Hughes isn’t exactly a fair fight, either), though I’m reluctant to predict two of three this weekend, especially given the team’s historical struggles at Comerica.