Brett Gardner is day-to-day with some kind of stomach irritation, Joe Girardi told reporters. It sounds more like a muscle strain than an illness. He was not available for today’s game and might not be available tomorrow either. Apparently Gardner had the same problem earlier in the season, right before the All-Star break, so they’re confident he won’t be out very long. · (6) ·
Here is your open thread for the rest of the evening. MLB Network will air a regional game and I’m sure there’s college football on somewhere. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.
So this is it. If the Yankees are going to make a run at the second wildcard spot –they are 4.5 games back with three teams ahead of them — it has to start today. There are 23 games remaining and I’d say they need to go at least 17-6 to have a shot at the postseason. Does this team have a 17-6 run in it? It’s hard to believe having watched them all year but stranger things have happened. The 1995 Yankees went 19-4 in their last 23 games to sneak into the postseason, remember. Here is the Royals lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Derek Jeter
- 2B Martin Prado
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- LF Zelous Wheeler
- SS Brendan Ryan
- C John Ryan Murphy
RHP Brandon McCarthy
It’s hot and cloudy in New York, and there are scattered storms in the forecast just about all afternoon and evening. Who really knows with the weather, but it sure looks like it could impact the game at some point today. First pitch is scheduled for a bit after 4pm ET and you can watch only on Fox Sports1. There is no YES broadcast. Here are the Fox Sports1 television listings. Enjoy the game.
Updates: In case you missed it earlier, Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) threw his bullpen session as scheduled and everything went fine … Joe Girardi said Frankie Cervelli is dealing with migraines unrelated to his concussion history. Austin Romine was officially called up.
As scheduled, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw in the bullpen this morning for the first time since dealing with fatigue in his arm late last week. He told reporters he felt fine following the 34-pitch session and reported no fatigue or soreness in his arm. Tanaka also reiterated that he still wants to pitch in a game this season to test out his elbow.
The Yankees have not yet announced the next step — I’m guessing they’ll wait a day or two to see how Tanaka feels before finalizing any plans — but reports indicate he could face hitters in a simulated game next. Although there only 22 games left in the season after today, there is still enough time for Tanaka to pitch in two simulated games and make two MLB starts with an extra day or two of rest mixed in at some point. The most important thing is that he feels good today. It seems this recent setback was nothing more than a little dead arm phase. · (64) ·
Yesterday morning, the Diamondbacks officially fired GM Kevin Towers in the wake of their massively disappointing season. (Towers spent 2010 working as a special advisor with the Yankees, so I suppose there’s a chance he could return to the team in some capacity. He and Brian Cashman are very close.) During a conference call with Nick Piecoro, D’Backs exec Tony La Russa named Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler as someone on their list of GM candidates.
Eppler was reportedly a finalist for the Padres GM job earlier this summer, though San Diego eventually went in a different direction. He was also the runner up to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels GM gig a few years ago. The Yankees gave Eppler permission to interview with the Padres and I have no reason to think they won’t allow him to speak with Arizona. He’s been with the Yankees since 2004 and was the director of pro scouting from 2005-11 before being promoted to assistant GM. It’s only a matter of time before Eppler becomes a GM, and with the Yankees likely to re-sign Cashman after the season, chances are that opportunity will come with another team. · (106) ·
Building off that awesome walk-off win over the Red Sox was a fun idea for a few hours. The Yankees had one of their worst offensive showings of the season on Friday night and dropped the series opener to the Royals by the score of 1-0. Let’s recap the loss:
- Big Mike: Considering he was fighting his command and leaving the ball up in the zone early on, Michael Pineda pitched very well on Friday. He only run he allowed came after the usually reliable Chase Headley whiffed on a hard-hit ground ball, allowing Alcides Escobar to hustle a single into a double and eventually score on Norichika Aoki’s single up the middle. Pineda held Kansas City to the one unearned run on three singles in seven innings, walking none and striking out four. He retired the final eleven men he faced. It was obvious Pineda was not on top of his game in the first few innings but he figured out how to pitch effectively anyway. Very nice to see.
- Shut Down: The Yankees grabbed their biggest win of the season on Thursday night and responded with three singles and a hit batsman on Friday. They did not have a runner reach third base all night and it wasn’t until Derek Jeter singled with one out in the ninth that they had a man reach base with fewer than two outs. The Yankees did put the tying man at second that inning — pinch-runner Antoan Richardson stole second — but Brett Gardner (swinging) and Carlos Beltran (looking) struck out to end the game. Thirteen of the final 14 men they sent to the plate made outs. James Shields was cruising and probably could have thrown ten innings if Ned Yost wasn’t so quick to go to his bullpen. The offense was completely overmatched.
- Leftovers: Dellin Betances struck out one in his perfect eighth inning, giving him 124 strikeouts in 82 innings. The franchise strikeout record for a reliever belongs to 1996 Mariano Rivera (130 in 107.2) … David Robertson struck out two in a perfect ninth. Between Pineda and the two relievers, the Yankees retired the final 17 men they faced … Jeter, Headley, and Gardner (double) had the three base hits. No one on either team drew a walk. Coincidentally, both clubs went 3-for-30 with eight strikeouts at the plate … Pineda has a 1.80 ERA and the Yankees have somehow lost six of his nine starts … the Bombers lost a game without allowing an earned run for the first time since May 1996.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late games, the Yankees will end the night either four games (Tigers and Mariners lose) or five games (Tigers or Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 2.3% at this very moment. Brandon McCarthy and Danny Duffy will be the pitching matchup on Saturday afternoon.
Francisco Cervelli is dealing with “severe headaches” and will not be available for the foreseeable future, according to Sweeny Murti. Insert joke about having to watch the offense here. Austin Romine will be called up to join the Yankees in the meantime. Cervelli has a history of concussions and, if I remember correctly, he did take a pretty hard foul tip to the face mask the last time he played. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. The brain is nothing to mess around with. · (25) ·
Am I the only one who finds myself looking forward to Michael Pineda starts more than anything right now? I can’t be, right? I mean, Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy are cool, so is Hiroki Kuroda, but Big Mike is the star of the pitching show. He’s been awesome just about every time out this year. Hoping to see more of the same tonight. Here is the Royals lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 2B Stephen Drew
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Michael Pineda
It’s warm and humid in New York this evening, but the sky is clear and there is no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Martin Prado (hamstring) did some more running and baseball activities but obviously is not back in the lineup just yet. He said he hopes to be available to pinch-hit tonight.
Believe it or not, this is the last series the Yankees will play against a non-AL East team this season. Well, at least until they make that huge September push to win the division and face the Angels in the ALDS. Anyway, the Royals are in town for a three-game set starting tonight. The two teams have split their first four games of the season, three back in June and one last week in the makeup game of a rainout.
What Have They Done Lately?
Prior to yesterday’s off-day, the Royals swept a three-game series from the lowly Rangers. They dropped five of seven before that. Kansas City sits atop the AL Central at 77-61 with a +27 run differential, though their one-game lead over the Tigers is hardly commanding even this late in the season.
Manager Ned Yost’s team averages 4.07 runs per game with a team 93 wRC+, so the Royals are a bit below-average offensively. It’s worth noting they have the lowest strikeout rate in baseball at 15.7%, nearly two full percentage points lower than any other team. They just don’t strike out. Their only injured position player is IF Christian Colon, who just broke a finger and is done for the season.
Kansas City’s lineup revolves around OF Alex Gordon (129 wRC+), who is getting a bunch of MVP love thanks to some recent clutch homers and his UZR-inflated 6.2 WAR. Both 1B Eric Hosmer (90 wRC+) and DH Billy Butler (97 wRC+) are having down years, but both C Salvador Perez (101 wRC+) and OF Lorenzo Cain (106 wRC+) have been strong supporting players for Gordon. OF Josh Willingham (117 wRC+) plays based on matchups.
The rest of Yost’s regular lineup includes OF Norichika Aoki (90 wRC+), 2B Omar Infante (79 wRC+), SS Alcides Escobar (89 wRC+), and 3B Mike Moustakas (78 wRC+). Ex-Yankees OF Raul Ibanez (60 wRC+) and IF Jayson Nix (-1 wRC+ in limited) are on the bench alongside backup C Erik Kratz (78 wRC+) and the speedy OF Jarrod Dyson (96 wRC+). C Francisco Pena, IF Johnny Giavotella, OF Lane Adams, OF Terrance Gore, and OF Carlos Peguero are the September call-ups on the roster. Francisco is Yankees bench coach Tony Pena’s son.
Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (vs. KC) vs. RHP James Shields (vs. NYY)
The Yankees and Royals will technically play only two series this season, but New York is going to wind up facing Shields three times because of that stupid rainout. Just their luck, huh? Shields, 32, has a 3.38 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 29 starts and 192 innings this season, though his strikeout rate (7.03 K/9 and 18.7 K%) is the lowest it’s been in five years. His walk (1.88 BB/9 and 5.0 BB%), homer (0.98 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%), and ground ball (45.3%) rates are right where they usually are. Both his home/road and platoon splits are small. A mid-80s changeup remains Shields’ go-to pitch, though he has scaled back on it a bit this year and is throwing more low-90s four-seamers and mid-80s cutters instead. He also throws an upper-70s curveball on occasion. The Yankees have faced ex-Rays righty twice this year, first scoring one unearned run in six innings, then scoring six runs in 6.2 innings.
Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. KC) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (vs. NYY)
Duffy, 25, has a 2.42 ERA (3.69 FIP) in 141.1 innings across 22 starts and six relief appearances in his first full season following Tommy John surgery. His peripherals aren’t all that impressive outside of his homer rate (0.64 HR/9 and 5.4 HR/FB%) though: 6.88 K/9 (19.0 K%), 3.18 BB/9 (8.8 BB%), and 35.6% grounders. Duffy doesn’t have a home/road split but he is far better against lefties (.170 wOBA) than righties (.292 wOBA). He throws his mid-90s fastball more than two-thirds of the time, even as a starter, and he backs it up with an upper-70s curveball and a handful of mid-80 changeups per start. Duffy allowed three runs to the Yankees in 5.2 innings back in June.
Sunday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. KC) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (vs. NYY)
The Yankees did not see the 23-year-old Ventura when these two clubs met in June because he was nursing an elbow injury. The hard-throwing rookie has a 3.38 ERA (3.67 FIP) in 25 starts (and one relief appearance) and 152 innings in 2014 with very good homerun (0.77 HR/9 and 9.4 HR/FB%) and ground ball (48.0%) rates. His strikeout (7.82 K/9 and 20.3 K%) and walk (3.38 BB/9 and 8.8 BB%) numbers aren’t as strong, plus he has uncannily similar home/road (.295/.314 wOBA) and left/right (.295/.316 wOBA) splits. Freaky. Ventura is one of the hardest throwers in baseball, sitting in the upper-90s with both his two and four-seamer — his average four-seam fastball velocity (96.1 mph) is the second highest among qualified starters, behind only the injured Garrett Richards (96.4) — while also offering mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Like I said, the Yankees did not see Ventura the last time(s) these clubs met.
Yost has the best seventh/eighth/ninth inning trio in baseball in his bullpen. RHP Kelvin Herrera (2.69 FIP) is the seventh inning guy, RHP Wade Davis (1.38 FIP) is the eighth inning guy, and RHP Greg Holland (1.94 FIP) is the ninth inning guy. They’re all dominant and effectively make it a six-inning game. It is worth noting Holland has shown some signs of fatigue recently and been less effective the last week or so.
Elsewhere in the bullpen, Yost has LHP Scott Downs (4.16 FIP), RHP Aaron Crow (5.36 FIP), RHP Jason Frasor (3.47 FIP), and LHP Francisley Bueno (3.85 FIP). The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Casey Coleman, RHP Louis Coleman, RHP Liam Hendriks, and LHP Brandon Finnegan. Finnegan was the 17th overall pick in June’s draft. He’s the first 2014 draftee to reach MLB. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, then check out Royals Review and Royals Authority for the latest and greatest on the Royals.
Yes, I’m swiping Mike’s bit, kind of. He’s invited me to do so for years, and now seems like a good time to take him up on the offer.
Brian Cashman‘s contract expires after this season. With the possibility of his team missing the postseason for the second consecutive year, fans have speculated that Cashman’s 16-year tenure as GM could come to an end.
Plenty of fans, particularly the loudest ones, have hoped that is the case. But it appears that they will be disappointed.
Playoffs or no playoffs, the Yankees intend to offer Brian Cashman a new contract this winter, according to pretty cool guy Jon Heyman. His sources indicate that ownership doesn’t blame Cashman for the way the last two seasons have unfolded.
(Perhaps because their own meddling has played a role?)
Few fanbases stand 100% behind the general manager. There’s always a set of people who believe that they’re the smartest people in the room, and they’re vocal so they can prove it to everyone. Yet it seems that this group is larger than it was the last time Cashman’s contract expired.
At that point, after the 2011 season, I fully supported bringing back Cashman. Since the inception of RAB the three of us (now four with Jay) have felt that Cashman is the guy for the job.
Now? I’m not so sure. Hence, a “thoughts on” post.
1. Where is this team headed? The Yankees had some tough decision to make last off-season. Not only did they face a depleted roster, but their far-and-away most productive hitter hit the free agent market. The time seemed ripe for a rebuilding effort.
They could have acted far differently. They could have re-signed Robinson Cano and signed Masahiro Tanaka without sacrificing the 18th pick in the draft. Instead they went in a completely different direction, trying to patch multiple weaknesses with high-priced free agents.
As Mike wrote earlier this week, the Yankees face an even tougher set of decisions this winter. Do they double down on their spending strategy to bring in Jon Lester? Do they seek out an offensive upgrade — Nelson Cruz or Hanley Ramirez? They’ve already committed $168 million to the 2015 team, and that covers just 10 players.
It seems kind of silly to hold back this off-season after going big and seeing little results this past season. Yet, as Mike noted, they certainly need to rethink how they operate as the team around them modify their philosophies.
The point is, in the past we’ve had some idea of the direction the Yankees were taking. Right now? I have none, and I don’t think anyone else outside the organization does, either.
The further point is, I’m not totally sure Cashman is the guy to take the team in a different direction.
2. Is it a higher ups problem? There are plenty of young executives from other clubs the Yankees could poach for a potentially vacant GM spot. But if they’re not allowed to actually make decisions, will it even matter?
The larger question is of whether ownership is truly a problem here. Yes, the Steinbrenners have opened their wallets to help the team, but are they spending that money wisely? Are they meddling to too great a degree? These are questions we have difficulty answering from the outsider perspective.
We’ve seen certain instances where the higher ups step in to make decisions. Rafael Soriano remains the most prominent example. Ichiro Suzuki, too. So how many decisions is ownership forcing on the team? How independently can the GM act?
The Diamondbacks just fired their GM, Kevin Towers. They’ll find someone soon to fill that role. Will he have any success? It’s tough to say, because, as my dear friend Leo said, Ken Kendrick still owns them. It has become pretty apparent that ownership is part of the problem here. Knicks fans have known this for far more than a decade.
If the problem does lie with the higher ups, then does it even matter who holds the GM position? In that case, having Cashman, who has been around the Steinbrenner family his entire adult life, might be an advantage.
3. Would a good candidate even want the job? Many of us have dreamt of becoming the GM. (And a few among us have delusions that we’re qualified.) Who would turn down the opportunity if offered?
Plenty of people. Perhaps the most qualified candidates wouldn’t find the Yankees’ job attractive. Two highly regarded executives, Jason McLeod of the Cubs and David Forst of the A’s, declined to interview for the Padres GM job earlier this year. Would they interview for the Yankees’ gig, knowing that ownership gets involved in baseball decisions?
The absolute worst case scenario is to let Cashman walk only to hire some retread GM, because none of the elite candidates want the job. I like Kevin Towers well enough, but I don’t want to see him replace Cashman as GM of the Yankees.
There’s no point in letting Cashman go if they’re not going to replace him with an elite GM, or a young executive on his path to greatness. Firing Cashman and then hiring (shudders) Ed Wade or Jim Bowden or Jim Hendry seems like a sure step backward. What if they’re the only guys lining up to interview for the job?
4. A Theo/Hoyer situation? By most visible measures, Billy Eppler has done a fine job in the last few years, first as pro scouting director and now as assistant GM. The Padres courted him for their vacant GM position, and nearly hired him. The man is in demand. Might it be his time to shine?
The Yankees could choose to promote Cashman and move Eppler into the GM role, a situation similar to how Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein operate in Chicago. On a practical level that might not accomplish much. Epstein surely continues to call shots in Chicago, just as Ken Williams continues to call shots in Chicago even though Rick Hahn is the GM.
At the very least, this kind of nominal move could keep Eppler in New York. Given the work he’s done in the last few years and the reputation he’s established, that seems desirable. The Yankees have an obstacle, in that they already have a team president. While most of us have less than perfect impressions of Randy Levine, it’s not as though the Steinbrenners are just going to fire him because they want to move Cashman into that position.