Via Anthony McCarron: Both Curtis Granderson (hand) and Jayson Nix (hamstring) will begin minor league rehab assignments with High-A Tampa tomorrow. Nix actually played for one of the Rookie GCL Yanks teams today, going 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch while playing five innings at third base. Granderson confirmed he will be with Tampa through the weekend, and I assume he’ll need a longer rehab stint than Nix given the nature of their injuries. Both guys have been getting at-bats in simulated games this week.
Ready for some drama? Dr. Michael Gross, head of sports medicine at Hackensack and the doctor behind A-Rod’s second opinion, just said during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN that Rodriguez is not injured. Gross said that A-Rod has no pain and also noted that A-Rod thinks he could play tonight if the Yanks so choose. Gross examined an MRI earlier and had authority from Rodriguez to discuss the results on the air. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any injury there,” Gross said while acknowledging that a slight Grade 1 strain may not appear on an MRI.
The Yanks haven’t said anything yet, but they can’t be pleased. The team cut A-Rod’s rehab short this weekend when a quad injury occurred, but many reports, based on anonymous sources, described A-Rod’s unhappiness with the decision. Now, with Gross’ public comments, A-Rod is forcing the issue. If he could play right now and the team is holding him back over the looming Biogenesis suspension, I think he’s completely in the right for allowing his doctor to speak publicly on the FAN. I’m sure we’ll hear more over the next few hours. (Additional reporting by Benjamin Kabak)
Update (4:20pm): According to Chad Jennings, A-Rod never informed the team he was getting a second opinion. The CBA gives players the right to get a “second evaluation” from a doctor of their choice, but they have to notify the team in writing first. Brett Gardner used the rule to get a second opinion on his elbow last season. It’s unclear if the team can hand down any discipline in this case, but various reports indicate it wouldn’t be anything significant. Alex may simply have to pay for his own doctor’s visit.
Update (4:40 p.m.): Ken Davidoff spoker further with Gross, and the doctor clarified his views. He did not examine A-Rod, but rather, he saw the MRI results and spoke with Rodriguez. He also stressed to The Post that he has not approved A-Rod for game action.
“I can’t clear him to play,” Gross said. “I’ve never examined him. He knows I can’t clear him to play. I wouldn’t even call it a second opinion. The Yankees have nothing to do with me. The only thing he said to me was he feels he’s ready to play.”
The Yankees haven’t released a statement yet, but Gross seems like he does not want to be the center of attention here. “I have no agenda in this,” he said. “I think that’s probably why they asked me, because I’m not a big name, a famous guy. I’m not Alex’s doctor. I’m not the Yankees’ doctor. In my opinion, I didn’t see much going on. I’m happy to say that, because it’s factual. All I’m saying is, this is what I saw or didn’t see. What they do with it, what they make of it, have fun.”
The Yankees have placed infielder Luis Cruz on the 15-day DL with a right knee sprain, the team announced. He apparently suffered some MCL damage while making that sliding catch in shallow right near he foul line on Monday. David Adams has been recalled from Triple-A to fill the roster spot.
Cruz, 29, has played very good defense on the left side of the infield but has hit just .182/.224/.200 (14 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with New York. The 26-year-old Adams hit .190/.260/.276 (47 wRC+) in a 128 plate appearance cameo earlier this year, though he’s put up a .289/.426/.500 batting line in 11 Triple-A games since being sent down. I assume Adams, who had a .407 OBP in seven games before being sent down, will take over as the everyday third baseman with Brent Lillibridge handling utility infielder duties.
Yesterday afternoon, word got out that the Red Sox and Dustin Pedroia had agreed to a new seven-year, $100M contract extension on top of his current deal, which runs through next season. All told, he is under contract for approximately $114M from now through the end of the 2021 season, when he’ll be 38 years old. It’s likely to be the last contract he signs during his playing career.
Naturally, we have to wonder what Pedroia’s new contract means for Robinson Cano. The two have been connected for the last half-decade only because they are the homegrown players on historic rivals who happen to play the same position. They’ll be linked forever just because of that, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re both great players. Clearly the top two second basemen in baseball right now, in my opinion.
Here’s a real quick side-by-side comparison of their careers, from best seasons down to worst:
The two are pretty much neck and neck in terms of overall production, but Cano has created some distance between himself and every other second baseman in recent years. Since the start of 2010, Robbie leads full-timers at the position with 23.5 WAR. Pedroia is a distant second at 18.4 WAR.
WAR is a nice quick reference tool but it has some major flaws, specifically its reliance on far from perfect defensive stats. Defensive stats that always seem to sell Cano short for whatever reason. WAR is even less helpful when talking about elite players who have real live money-generating marquee value and are paid on a much different scale than everyone else. It’s not as simple as saying “this player has this WAR and makes this much, therefore that player with that WAR should make that much.”
On the surface, it appears as though Pedroia’s new contract means Cano should expect a lot less than the $200M-whatever he’ll be seeking. These are two very different players though, and there are a number of reasons why that isn’t the case. Let’s break ’em down:
Power vs. No Power
Absolutely nothing in baseball pays like power, especially in this suddenly power-starved era. Homers drive up prices exponentially, and Cano happens to hit a lot of them for a second baseman, especially compared to Pedroia. In fact, Cano has hit exactly as many homers this year as Pedroia has hit over the last two years (21). Pedroia’s career homer total (96) is as many as Cano has hit since July 2010. Power pays and Robbie has an enormous advantage in that department. There’s no comparison here, Cano blows his Red Sox counterpart out of the water.
Durable vs. Injury Prone
A hamstring injury cost Cano about five weeks back in June 2006, but otherwise he’s been an iron man for the Bombers. He’s played in at least 159 games (!) in each of the last six years (!!!), and his days off usually come from Joe Girardi getting him off his feet rather than some nagging day-to-day injury. Robbie is one of baseball’s most durable players, no doubt about it.
Pedroia, on the other hand, has played in just 476 of 588 possible games since the start of 2010. Two separate left foot fractures sidelined him for 85 total games in 2010, and a nagging thumb issue sent him to the sidelines for a total of three walks in 2012. Heck, he’s playing through a torn thumb ligament right now. Pedroia has only once played as many 159 games in a season whereas Cano does it year after year. Another advantage for Robbie.
Hardware vs. No Hardware
Major awards pay well, though not as well as power (or saves). Pedroia was the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and 2008 AL MVP, so his mantle is well-stocked. Cano has … three top-six finishes in the MVP voting? He was the 2005 Rookie of the Year runner-up, so there’s that. Robbie has never won a major award, which takes away from his resume ever so slightly. You may laugh, but this kind of stuff gets brought up in contract negotiations all the time.
Extension vs. Free Agent Contract
This is the big one here. The Red Sox already had Pedroia under contract through 2014 with an affordable club option for 2015, so there was no bidding war. They had exclusive negotiating rights and zero urgency to hand out a nine-figure contract. Actually, there probably was some urgency to get it done now just to make sure Cano’s next deal didn’t jack up the price. Players tend to give a bit of discount by signing an extension, and Pedroia appears to have done just that with this deal.
Barring something surprising over the next 15 weeks or so, Robbie will hit the free agent market and be able to field any and all offers. Remember, he will be Roc Nation’s first big contract, and I doubt they’re looking to set a precedent by taking a discount. There will be a bidding war and the price will climb rather quickly. Signing an extension while already under contract and signing a new contract as a free agent are completely different animals. There’s a major difference in leverage.
* * *
The total value of Pedroia’s new contract is the largest ever for a second baseman, but the average annual value ($14M total through 2021) is just the second highest behind Ian Kinsler’s deal ($15M). He didn’t raise the bar all that much. Besides, Cano was all but guaranteed to land a nine-figure contract anyway. He wasn’t exactly waiting for someone to set that market.
The only thing Pedroia’s contract really does is define a term limit. He is ten months younger than Cano and is signed through age 38. If the Yankees were to sign Cano through age 38 this winter, it would require an eight-year contract. There have been rumors saying he will seek a ten-year contract, but I can’t see that happening at all. I don’t think the team will be handing out any ten-year deals to players on the wrong side of 30 anytime soon. Eight is the limit now, so there’s that.
The Red Sox got themselves a nice deal with Pedroia, the kind of deal I wish the Yankees would have given Cano about two years ago. He was represented by Scott Boras at that time and Boras very rarely does long-term extensions for his elite players, however. Ultimately, Pedroia’s deal doesn’t change much for the Yankees and Cano simply because Robbie is the better player. He’s the better player with more leverage by virtue of having more power, being more durable, and presumably having more suitors as a free agent.
Well that was unexpected. What looked like another disappointing, forgettable loss turned into one of the very best wins of the season. The Yankees definitely needed that. The ninth inning, come-from-behind rally resulted in a 5-4 win over the Rangers on Tuesday.
Big Game Joe
Texas closer Joe Nathan might be the second best reliever of the last decade, but we all know he has a knack for coughing up leads against the Yankees. That’s exactly what he did in this game, and it all started with a rare Vernon Wells walk. A wild pitch to the next batter moved Wells into scoring position and really put the comeback in motion.
With Eduardo Nunez at the plate and Wells at second, the outfielders had to play in to cut off any potential run-scoring bloops. Sound strategy given Nunez’s generally light bat. It backfired through, as Nathan caught way too much of the plate with a pitch that Eduardo lined off the base of the wall in center field. Had the outfielders been playing at normal depth, center fielder Craig Gentry likely catches it at the wall. The wild pitch changed everything.
Nunez’s triple (!) tied the game at four and gave the Yankees a prime opportunity to plate the go-ahead run with one out. Brent Lillibridge earned his pinstripes not with a productive out like a sacrifice fly, but with a regular old base hit to left field to score Nunez and give New York the lead. Solidly hit and well-timed. It was glorious, and it was the team’s fourth win when trailing after eight innings this season. They had one such win all of 2012.
Although he retired nine batters in a row at one point, Phil Hughes wasn’t particularly sharp on Tuesday night. He allowed four hits (three doubles) and three walks in 5.2 innings, striking out just one. Only two (!) of his 80 pitches generated a swing-and-miss. Hughes exited after allowing two runs in the sixth thanks to some shoddy defense, but he wasn’t long for the game anyway. The Rangers were squaring him up well the third time through the order.
Despite all that, it was a pretty curious decision by Joe Girardi to pull Hughes with two outs in the sixth. Yeah, he did it to get the all-important left-on-left matchup, but the bullpen has been worked hard of late and squeezing one more out from the starter against the bottom of the order seemed like the obvious move. Boone Logan came in and surrendered a go-ahead two-run homer to Mitch Moreland, and just like the 3-0 lead was gone. This was probably one of those no-win situations for the manager – people complain if he goes to the ‘pen, people complain if he sticks to the starter — but it was definitely a weird move that backfired in a huge way.
At long last, the extra-base hit-less streak came to a merciful end at 24 innings (!) when Melky Mesa slugged a double into the left-center field gap to leadoff the third. Austin Romine followed that up with a double down the right field line as the very next batter, so the Yankees got extra-base hits from back-to-back batters after going almost three full games without one. Baseball is weird sometimes.
The Yankees scored two more runs on an Ichiro Suzuki infield single in the third (to score Romine) and a Lillibridge fielder’s choice in the fourth. Wells managed to slide around the tag at home on Lillibridge’s little ground ball to second. I thought he was going to be out by a mile, but he managed to sneak in for the third run. Lillibridge was their last base-runner until the start of the comeback rally. It looked rather bleak for a while.
Logan allowed the homer and a double to the two batters he faced, but the bullpen was perfect after that. Preston Claiborne (1.1 innings), Joba Chamberlain (one inning), and Mariano Rivera (one inning) combined to retire all ten men they faced. Joba needed some help from Brett Gardner, who made an outstanding diving catch to rob Elvis Andrus of extra bases in the right-center field gap. That was a huge play in retrospect.
Fifteen straight Yankees were retired before Wells drew that rally-starting walk in the ninth inning. Nunez was the only guy with multiple hits and Wells had the one free pass. The Yankees had four extra-base hits in a game — Wells doubled in addition to the Mesa double, Romine double, and Nunez triple — for just the second time in their last 15 games. How does that happen? They still haven’t hit a homer since the game immediately prior to the All-Star break … nine days ago.
In case you were wondering, Mesa became the 46th different player to play for the Yankees this season. They used 45 players in 2012. They should pass 50 players easily, but I wonder if they’ll get to 60? I wonder if that’s every happened before.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Now that is a fun graph. For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has the nerd stats and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are six back of the AL East lead and three back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. They need to build off this win and string a few more together, especially since the Rangers are one of the teams ahead of them in the wildcard race.
Same two teams on Wednesday night, when Andy Pettitte gets the ball against the newest Ranger: righty Matt Garza. It’s been a while since the Yankees have seen the former Ray.
Infielder Luis Cruz is likely headed to the DL with a knee injury, Joe Girardi said after tonight’s game. He’ll head to New York for an MRI; the medical staff has initially called it an MCL injury. I assume he hurt himself making that sliding catch in shallow right field near the foul line on Monday. Alberto Gonzalez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A just today, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was called right back up to serve as the backup infielder. The Yankees do have an open 40-man roster spot.
IF Alberto Gonzalez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He was designated for assignment over the weekend.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (3-1 loss to Toledo in ten innings) makeup of yesterday’s rainout
- 2B David Adams: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K — seven walks and four strikeouts in his last nine games
- C J.R. Murphy: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K
- RF Adonis Garcia: 2-4, 1 BB
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 0-4 — just one hits in 20 at-bats (.050) since coming off the DL
- RHP Michael Pineda: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 27 of 39 pitches were strikes (69%) … Brian Cashman confirmed he was pulled early because of “innings management” … okay then
- LHP Mike Zagurski: 2 IP, zeroes, 5 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 22 of 29 pitches were strikes (76%) … 23/5 K/BB in 13.2 innings with SWB