2015 Draft Notes: Broadcast Info, Mock Drafts, Murray

Nikorak. (StudentSports.com)
Nikorak. (StudentSports.com)

The 2015 amateur draft will begin four weeks from yesterday, and while that is relatively close, it still leaves plenty of time for things to change dramatically. Players could shoot up draft boards, play themselves out of the first round, get hurt, all that stuff. These next few weeks are pretty tense for both the teams and the players. Years of hard work have been leading up to this point. Here are some stray notes with the draft drawing closer and closer.

Broadcast Info Announced

Once again, the first day of the draft will be broadcast on MLB Network this year, MLB announced. The first round, supplemental first round, and second round will be broadcast starting at 7pm ET on Monday, June 8th. A total of 75 picks will be made that night and the Yankees have three of them: 16th, 30th, and 57th overall. The Braves lead the way with five picks on Day One. In past years there were five minutes between picks in the first round and one minute thereafter. I assume that will be the case this year as well.

Thankfully, the Yankees have a scheduled off-day on June 8th this year. I remember a few years ago — I think it was 2008, the year they drafted Gerrit Cole — they were playing the Red Sox the night of the draft and it was impossible to pay attention to both the game and the draft at the same time. This year we’ll be able to focus on the draft without worrying about a game. Hooray for that. MLB really should give the draft broadcast a dedicated day, maybe the day after the All-Star Game. Having the draft compete against games means only the diehards are watching.

Baseball Prospectus’ Mock Draft v1.0

Chris Crawford at BP posted his first mock draft yesterday (subs. req’d), and he has the Diamondbacks taking New York HS OF Garrett Whitley with the first overall pick. As Kiley McDaniel noted, Arizona seems to be planning to take a player they can sign way below the $8.6M slot so they can use the savings elsewhere. Considering there is no slam dunk, number one overall talent like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in this draft, that strategy makes sense.

Crawford has the Yankees selecting Pennsylvania HS RHP Mike Nikorak with their first pick, No. 16 overall. Nikorak is the consensus best high school pitcher in the draft and would be a major coup with the 16th pick. I think he ends up going in the top ten somewhere. Crawford notes it “wouldn’t be a huge upset to see a (Mike) Matuella or Brady Aiken” land with the Yankees either. Matuella and Aiken were first overall pick candidates coming into the spring before blowing out their elbows and needing Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago.

MLB.com’s Mock Draft v1.0

Meanwhile, Jonathan Mayo posted his first mock draft of the season earlier today and he has the D’Backs taking UC Santa Barbara RHP Dillon Tate with the first overall pick. Mayo has the Yankees taking California HS C Chris Betts with that 16th overall selection. The Yankees and a catcher? That’s always a safe bet. Betts is a bat first catcher whose best defensive tool is his throwing arm. I’ve seen him comped to Brian McCann on more than one occasion, which means teams believe his bat will play at just about any position during his peak.

Murray Opts Out Of Draft

Texas HS SS Kyler Murray has opted out of the 2015 MLB draft, he announced on Twitter. Unlike other players who have simply asked teams not to draft them, Murray had MLB remove his name from the draft pool, so he is ineligible to be selected according to Teddy Cahill. Teams couldn’t even draft him if they wanted. This kid is pretty serious about college, huh? Not sure why he wouldn’t at least listen to offers.

Anyway, Murray will play both baseball and football at Texas A&M and has indicated he hopes to re-enter the draft and play in the big leagues down the road. He was the top two-spot athlete in the draft and a late first round/early second round talent, ranking as the 32nd and 34th best prospect in the draft class by Keith Law (subs. req’d) and MLB.com, respectively. Law said Murray “could very well be the second-best shortstop prospect in this year’s draft.”

I hadn’t seen anything connecting the Yankees to Murray before his decision was announced, but, since he is an elite athlete at an up-the-middle position, Murray figured to at least be on New York’s radar. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has gone after similar prospects like SS Carmen Angelini, OF Slade Heathcott, 2B Angelo Gumbs, OF Mason Williams, and SS/OF Austin Aune over the years. The Yankees are big on unteachable skills (athleticism, size, power, velocity, etc.) and Murray’s athletic ability sure qualifies. He’s no longer an option though.

With McCann and Beltran starting to come around, it’s time for Chase Headley to join the party

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees have won 18 of their last 24 games, and during that stretch they’ve done just about everything well. The bullpen has been excellent, the team defense has been very good, the non-Michael Pineda rotation has been good enough, and the offense is much improved from the last two years. The Yankees are the fourth highest scoring team in baseball with an average of 4.85 runs per game. That’s up almost a full run per game from 2013-14 (3.96 R/G).

For most of April the Yankees relied heavily on Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to generate offense. They still do, but for that first month, those two had to get on base if the club wanted to have any chance to score. Ellsbury and Gardner got on and someone drive them in. If that didn’t happen, the Yankees didn’t score very much. Those two carried the offense.

Lately, the Yankees have been getting some more contributions from the lower part of the lineup. Carlos Beltran, who looked as close to done as it gets for several weeks, is now 12-for-37 (.324) with two homers this month and is showing some real signs of life. Hopefully it’s not just a mirage. Brian McCann has rediscovered his power stroke as well, clubbing three homers in his last 13 games after hitting one in his first 14 games. Getting those two going was really important.

The very bottom of the lineup is a different matter. There’s not much the Yankees can or should do about Didi Gregorius. They have to give him an extended trial at shortstop because he could, maybe, possibly, be a long-term solution at the position. That means living with the growing pains now. Didi’s hitting a powerless .254 with a .333 OBP in his last 18 games, which is fine for a number nine hitter in my book. Jose Pirela figures to steal some at-bats from number eight hitter Stephen Drew, which should help the lineup as well.

That leaves third baseman Chase Headley, typically the seventh place hitter between McCann/Beltran and Drew/Gregorius. Headley is hitting .233/.285/.383 (83 wRC+) in 130 plate appearances this season, with the second highest strikeout rate (22.3%) and the second lowest walk rate (6.2%) among the team’s regulars. He does have a knack for big hits (169 wRC+ in high-leverage spots!), but, overall, the Yankees were counting on more from Headley.

No one came into the season expecting Headley to repeat his stellar 2012 season (145 wRC+), but it was fair to expect a repeat of his 2013-14 campaigns (109 wRC+), especially since he hit .262/.371/.398 (121 wRC+) during his short time in pinstripes last year. Instead, he has the third lowest average exit velocity (84.69 mph) on the team even after last night’s homer. Given that, it doesn’t seem his .273 BABIP with approach his .310 mark from 2013-14 mark anything soon.

The good news is Headley’s plate discipline hasn’t changed despite the drop in walk rate. A change in approach would be a big red flag. He isn’t swinging at any more pitches out of the zone (25.0% after 27.0% from 2013-14) and isn’t making less contact (80.8% after 76.9% from 2013-14). The contact and approach are there. The quality of the contact isn’t for some reason. For what it’s worth, Headley has been a second half hitter since becoming a full-time player in 2009.

First Half Second Half
2009 .232/.308/.366 (88 wRC+) .293/.377/.421 (122 wRC+)
2010 .269/.319/.367 (92 wRC+) .257/.337/.387 (105 wRC+)
2011 .299/.391/.401 (127 wRC+) .247/.306/.390 (98 wRC+)*
2012 .267/.368/.413 (124 wRC+) .308/.386/.592 (170 wRC+)
2013 .229/.330/.359 (100 wRC+) .280/.371/.458 (135 wRC+)
2014 .226/.296/.350 (88 wRC+) .265/.367/.402 (121 wRC+)

* Missed six weeks after breaking a finger sliding into a base.

Does that mean Headley is guaranteed to start hitting later in the season? Of course not. It’s a career long trend though and that’s something we have to acknowledge. Slow starts — slow first halves, really — are nothing new for Headley. Even with last night’s homer, what Headley is doing so far this year is right in line with what he’s done early in every other year as an everyday player.

“It’s fun to just be another guy in the lineup. I feel like guys aren’t game planing against just me. There’s other guys in the lineup they have to worry about,” said Headley to Ryan Hatch recently, referring to no longer having to be The Man offensively, like he did with the Padres all those years. “If you’re going to do that, there are other guys who can get you. There’s consequences with that.”

Headley’s defense has been excellent so far this year, every bit as advertised, but his offense has undoubtedly been a disappointment to date. Hopefully the big game last night is a sign he is breaking out of it. His lack of offense hasn’t really hurt the Yankees yet, and both McCann and Beltran are starting to pick up some of the slack, but the Yankees need Headley to get back to his career norms so the offense can fire on all cylinders.

TiqIQ: ‘Bernie Williams Night’ Generating High Prices on Secondary Market

Although he hasn’t played in a Major League Baseball game since 2006, former New York Yankees great Bernie Williams officially retired from the game only this year, and will have a day in his honor at Yankee Stadium in which his recognizable No. 51 will be retired by the club.

On Sunday, May 24, “Bernie Williams Night” will be held at the stadium, with a Monument Park plaque dedication ceremony for one of the most decorated outfielders in franchise history scheduled prior to the game, leading up to first pitch at 8:05 p.m. EST for an affair with the Texas Rangers. The contest will cap off a three-game series with the AL West squad.

For games like these, it’s probably best to search for tickets through the team directly, rather than the secondary market, especially with this being one of the more special days of the year concerning the 2015 Yankees’ home slate. Typically, as it concerns promotional days, people selling tickets on the market will drive up the price, also due to the higher-than-usual demand, in order to make the maximum that they can get. In the case of “Bernie Williams Night,” the differences in ticket prices are substantial. On TiqIQ, tickets for the Yankees for this game cost $124.64 on average.

If you’re a longtime Yankees fan and simply wanted to attend the game just out of support for Williams, and therefore only desired 400-level tickets, it would cost you as little as $28 through the Yankees (section 434A, row 10, for example). On the secondary market, similar seating in section 434A, row 11, is running for more than 50% more, being $43. Furthermore, if you’re looking for tickets in the 200-level, you could get seating in section 232B, row 9 for $61, whereas section 232B, row 15 on the secondary market would, again, cost just about 50% more, clocking in at $97. In such instances, it makes a lot more sense to seek out your tickets through the team.

Williams arrived in the big leagues in 1991 and proceeded to etch a very nice career, playing for 16 years, all with the Yankees. He made the All Star team five times, won a Gold Glove in the outfield four times, and also has a batting title on his resume when his .339 batting average topped everyone in the league in 1998. Most importantly, he was an integral part of the famed Yankees rosters of the late-1990’s and 2000, when the club put together one of the more impressive dynasties in sports history, winning four championships in a five-year span. Williams played an important role in all four of those title-winning teams.

As part of the celebration, fans will also be given a Bernie Williams Collector Card. All in all, it is shaping up to be a special night for one of this generation’s most famous Yankees, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a completely sold-out crowd in attendance for the evening.

In new book, Posada opens up about bitterness towards Yankees at end of career

(Posada)
Count ’em. (Posada)

Like many all-time greats before and after him, the end of Jorge Posada‘s playing career was not pretty. Posada hit .235/.315/.398 (92 wRC+) in 387 plate appearances as a 39-year-old in 2011, down from the .248/.357/.454 (119 wRC+) batting line he put up in 2011. By catcher standards, Jorge remained remarkably productive in his mid-to-late-30s. That’s why he’s a borderline Hall of Famer.

Posada’s time as a full-time catcher started to come to an end back in 2008. He caught only 30 games that year due to shoulder surgery, caught 100 games in 2009, then only 83 games in 2010. The Yankees signed Russell Martin and moved Posada to DH full-time for the 2011 season. Jorge once said he thought the team’s decision to move him from second base to catcher in the minors was the “worst decision ever,” and now two decades later he was being moved out from behind the plate.

In his upcoming book “The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes,” Posada opens up about just how bitter he was following the club’s decision to move him to DH, and about the way the end of his career played out in general. Sherryl Connelly has some snippets.

“I’ll put this as plainly as a I can,” writes the man who caught 1,574 games for the Bronx Bombers, “When you take me out from behind the plate, you’re taking away my heart and my passion.”

“I knew that my role with the club was changing, but I don’t think that anyone making those decisions knew how much the things being done hurt me,” he confesses.

“To have even that taken away from me without adequate explanation, hurt me and confused me,” he writes.

From the sound of it, the Yankees simply decided to move Posada out from behind the plate without consulting him. That seems a little harsh even though we all know Jorge would have fought the move. The only way the Yankees were going to get him to stop catching was by taking the equipment away from him.

It’s important to remember the Yankees didn’t just move Posada to DH for the hell of it. Yes, his defense was terrible, but they were also looking out for his health. Posada had concussion issues later in his career, including one in September 2010 that Jorge himself said was “scary, I have to admit.” He described the test results as “not good.”

Still, Posada was hurt by the decision to move him off catcher, and once his offensive production became untenable in 2011, he was upset about being moved down in the lineup. Joe Girardi penciled Posada into the ninth spot in the lineup for a nationally televised game against the Red Sox in August, which upset Jorge, who refused to play.

“I felt like I wasn’t being treated right, that people weren’t always being as straightforward with me as I wanted them to be or treating me as I deserved to be treated, and I exploded.

“I’d just put up with enough.”

Posada claims he was truly regretful and expressed that to management but “those sentiments were never returned.”

I think Girardi’s a really good manager, but I also think he handled that situation poorly. It’s easy to understand why Posada was upset when he found out he would bat ninth for the first time in years on a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. I don’t think Girardi did it to intentionally embarrass Posada, but it was still a bad move. Does that mean refusing to play was the right move? No. Neither side handled it well.

Posada also discusses his relationship with Girardi in the book and how Girardi was different than Joe Torre, who Jorge considered his “father on the field.” Apparently a turning point was Girardi’s decision to communicate daily lineup decisions via text — he’d simply text “catcher” or “DH” to let Posada know where he was playing on a given day. Girardi still does that to this day because, well, it’s 2015 and people communicate via text. Still, Posada felt it hurt their relationship.

While Jorge was upset with the way the end of his career played out, it hasn’t fractured any sort of relationship with the organization. Posada has yet to appear at an Old Timers’ Day but has been back at Yankee Stadium several times in recent years, most notably throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2012 home opener and being on hand for farewell ceremonies for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. Heck, he was in the YES booth this past weekend. He’s also been to Spring Training as a guest instructor.

The Yankees will retire No. 20 in Posada’s honor later this year and I think it is absolutely, 100% deserved. He’s one of the best players in franchise history and was a linchpin during the club’s four most recent World Series titles. I’m disappointed to hear Posada was so upset with the Yankees towards the end of his career — the Yankees brought some of that on themselves, for sure — but I’m happy this is all in the past and two sides have what appears to be a good relationship these days.

Yankees hit five homers, Sabathia finally gets first win in 11-5 rout of Rays

You guys, the Yankees are good now. The Bronx Bombers hit five (five!) home runs — all five came with two outs too — to beat the Rays 11-5 in their series opener at Tropicana Field on Monday night. The Yanks have won 18 of their last 24 games. It’s early, but they have a four-game lead in the AL East for the first time since August 26th, 2012.

Liners & Homers
It started right in the very first inning with Alex Rodriguez‘s monster solo home run off Alex Colome. It was absolutely smoked. The Yankees seemed to hit nothing but rockets off Colome all night, scoring eight runs on eleven hits in six innings against the righty. All eight of those runs scored on dingers: A-Rod‘s solo homer, Chase Headley‘s three-run homer, Carlos Beltran‘s solo homer, and Brett Gardner‘s three-run homer.

Headley’s home run was probably the biggest in the grand scheme of things. The score was tied 1-1 in the fourth, and the Yankees had two runners on base with two outs. Brian McCann popped up on the infield for the second out and was unable to score Beltran from third, but Headley picked him up with a first pitch homer. That was dangerously close to a scoreless inning with two runners stranded. Instead, it was a three-run frame to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

Gardner’s homer turned this game into a laugher. It was another two on, two out situation in the sixth inning, and Colome gave Brett a meatball 2-0 fastball that Gardner drove out to dead center field. Gardner doesn’t hit too many homers to center. He tends to pull them to right field. That one was crushed right back up the middle and it gave the Yankees an 8-1 lead. For good measure, Mark Teixeira went opposite field for a two-run homer in the ninth.

The Yankees hit five homers for the first time this year after doing it twice last year and just once the year before. This game was about much more than the homers though. The Yankees ripped line drive after line drive it seemed. There were no soft hits. Even after Colome left the game, they were hitting line drives. Just a great night for the offense. Everyone seemed to be on every pitch.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The First Win
It took the combination of a big night for the offense and (arguably) CC Sabathia‘s best start of the season for the big lefty to get his first win of 2015. Four runs in seven innings doesn’t really tell you how well Sabathia pitched — he was in cruise control until giving up a bunch of garbage time runs in the seventh inning, when he appeared to run out of gas. At one point Sabathia retired 15 of 17 batters faced, and the two hits were a bloop and an infield single.

The first inning started pretty poorly for Sabathia, who walked the first two batters and gave up a booming double to the wall to the fourth batter. Two runs should have scored on Logan Forsythe’s two-bagger — Chris Young missed the cutoff man on Evan Longoria’s fly ball, allowing both runners to advance a base — but Steven Souza Jr. did a funny base-running thing and got thrown out at the plate. Souza tagged up like three times at second base on the double for some reason.

After the double, Sabathia used a combination of changeups and sinkers to keep the Rays off balance and strike out a season-high nine. Five of the nine strikeouts were looking. He really did a good job locating both in and out, I thought. Back-to-back solo homers and an outfield-aided run — Young misplayed a rolling ball and turned it into a triple — uglified Sabathia’s final line in that seventh inning. CC pitched very well, as well as he has at any point this season or last, and he earned that first win of the year.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Leftovers
David Carpenter allowed a stupid run in the eighth — he hit a batter, threw away a pickoff throw to allow him to go to second, then gave up a ground ball single just out of the reach of Didi Gregorius to score the run. He still struggled — two of his three outs were line drives that were caught — but this was exactly the kind of game Carpenter needs to pitch. They’ve got to get him straightened out. Branden Pinder got the final three outs, including the last on a pop fly off one of the catwalks.

The Yankees scored their only non-homer run on a Headley sac fly in the seventh. Beltran (single homer), A-Rod (single, homer), Teixeira (two singles, double, homer), and Headley (single, homer) all had multiple hits. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for Gregorius, who drew a walk. Teixeira went from .212/.336/.567 (137 wRC+) to .239/.353/.615 (154 wRC+) with his big game.

Erasmo Ramirez came out of the bullpen to throw the last two innings for the Rays, which more or less confirms he will not start Thursday’s game. (Tampa’s starter is listed at TBA.) Guessing it’ll be right-hander Matt Andriese instead.

And finally, Erasmo plunked A-Rod with a pitch in the top of the ninth. It didn’t look intentional, but Alex wasn’t happy, so he immediately stole second base. (They scored it defensive indifference for some reason.) That was the most “eff you” stolen base I’ve ever seen.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our useful Bullpen Workload and useless Announcer Standings pages. Now here is the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rays will be back at it Tuesday night, in the second game of this four-game series. Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Archer will be the pitching matchup. One of those guys is 18 months younger than the other. Guess who?

DotF: Lail hit by line drive in the head in Trenton’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 loss to Norfolk)

  • CF Slade Heathcott & DH Ramon Flores: both 1-4
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP — looks like he’s locked in now
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — three multi-hit games and seven no-hit games out of his last ten games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 BB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 0.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K — 21 of 36 pitches were strikes (58%) … ewww
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 5/5 GB/FB — 29 of 46 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — six strikes, nine pitches

[Read more…]

Game 33: Time to get CC a win

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Wins are a terrible way to evaluate a pitcher but that doesn’t make CC Sabathia‘s 0-5 record any less of an eyesore. The Yankees are 1-5 in Sabathia’s six starts and 19-7 whenever anyone else starts this year. Sabathia hasn’t picked up a win since April 24th of last season, nine starts ago. The Yankees are 1-8 in those nine starts since CC’s last personal win. That’s rough, man.

You know that’s wearing on Sabathia, who is fully aware of how poorly he’s pitched the last three years, and you know his teammates are aware of it as well. After all, they bear some responsibility for that 0-5 record. Despite his decline, Sabathia is still the leader of the pitching staff — and the team in general, for that matter — in the clubhouse, so you know everyone wants to get him that first win. Tonight’s a good night to do it, no? The Yankees are playing too well for their erstwhile ace to be 0-5. Here is Tampa Bay’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

Not a good weather night for baseball in St. Petersburg. It’s hot (low-90s) and grossly humid, and it’s supposed to rain a little later as well. Typical Florida, really. Thank goodness for Tropicana Field’s dome, I guess. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) threw long toss today and made ten pitches on flat ground, including some breaking balls and splitters. He will throw a 30-pitch bullpen session tomorrow, which will be his first time throwing off a mound since landing on the DL two weeks ago … Jacoby Ellsbury is fine, just a routine day off. He’s available off the bench if necessary.

Awards!: What happens when you strike out 16 batters in a game? You win an award, that’s what. Michael Pineda was named the AL Player of the Week today, MLB announced. He’s the second Yankee to be named AL PoW this season — Mark Teixeira won it two weeks ago — and the first Yankees pitcher to win it since Mariano Rivera in September 2011. Congrats, Big Mike.