After coming through yesterday’s flat ground throwing session a-okay, left-hander CC Sabathia told Sweeny Murti that he will get back up on a mound and throw a bullpen session tomorrow. It’ll be his first time throwing off a mound since being placed on the DL with elbow stiffness last weekend. Sabathia remains on target to return to the rotation next Friday in Cleveland, the first day he is eligible to be activated off the DL.
4:30pm: Teixeira is indeed out of tonight’s lineup with a sore left wrist. Joe Girardi indicated that his first baseman could sit out tomorrow’s game as well. Nick Swisher is filling in at first base tonight.
8:00am: Via George King and Don Burke, first baseman Mark Teixeira is still being bothered by the left wrist inflammation that sidelined him for a handful of games late last month. “He might get a rest, but no tests are scheduled,” said Brian Cashman. “It’s definitely not as bad as before, but it’s still bothering him … He’s icing it for maintenance purposes.”
Teixeira received a cortisone shot in the wrist roughly two weeks ago and has gone 14-for-54 (.259) with two doubles and three homers since returning to the lineup. He initially hurt himself on a swing and aggravated the injury further diving for a ball on defense. Just rest him tonight … heck, rest him all weekend. Take advantage of the big division lead and get this right before it’s too late.
Baseball implemented a new playoff system this year, and now we might be closing in on a new instant replay system as well. Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal report that MLB will test out a new radar and camera-based replay system in Yankee Stadium and CitiField starting next week. It’s the same Hawk-Eye Innovations system used for boundary calls in tennis and would be used for fair-or-foul calls only.
“We continue to investigate it,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s VP of Baseball Ops. “I don’t think we’re at the point now where we want to do that, increase replay more than we have. Unless we’re confident that it’s going to be something that will work without any hiccups, we’re not planning to [officially implement] anything right now.”
The results of the test run this year will not be made public or anything, they’re just going to internally test the system. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for expanded replay, and if this new system passes the test in the coming weeks, it could be officially implemented around the league next season. That, obviously, is a very good thing. The human element is the players, not the umpires.
There’s still a lot of opposition to expanding instant replay — especially for ball-and-strike calls as well as bang-bang plays on the bases — but this new testing system is a positive step forward. Even if the Hawk-Eye system flops and is impractical, at least we know that the league is making an attempt to move forward. Automated ball-and-strike calls are a long, long way off, but getting fair-or-foul calls right is progress.
There’s always less to talk about when the Yankees are winning. They took five of seven games last week, and seven of their last 10, so they’re running strong. Here the lowdown:
- A quick review of the last week’s games.
- Pitching, pitching, pitching: Sabathia’s injury, Lowe signing, Phelps rising, Hughes and Nova concerning.
- The week ahead: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and the off-day.
Podcast run time 31:32
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.
This is going to be a much different Yankees-Red Sox series than we’re used to seeing, at least in terms of its impact on the standings. We’re still going to have to sit through four-hour games and all the FOX/ESPN stuff, but in terms on actual impact, there is little to be gained or lost this weekend. The Yankees are far out in front of the rest of the AL East pack, the Red Sox way back.
What Have They Done Lately?
Other than a revolt against manager Bobby Valentine, the Sox are coming off a series-salvaging win over the Orioles yesterday. They lost two of three in Baltimore and ten of their last 15 games overall. At 58-61 with a +36 run differential, Boston is 13 games back of New York in the division race.
The Red Sox can still score runs despite their underwhelming season, averaging 4.9 runs per game with a team 101 wRC+. The Yankees are catching a bit of a break this weekend because David Ortiz (165 wRC+) is still out with his Achilles injury. That alone will save the Yankees like, six runs this weekend. He just kills them. Will Middlebrooks (121 wRC+), Daniel Nava (113 wRC+), and Ryan Sweeney (78 wRC+) are also on the DL.
Among the players that are healthy, you still have the very dangerous Adrian Gonzalez (117 wRC+), Cody Ross (126 wRC+), and Dustin Pedroia (102 wRC+). Carl Crawford (114 wRC+) is hitting well despite his imminent Tommy John surgery, though Jacoby Ellsbury (91 wRC+) has yet to really get it going since returning from his shoulder injury. The rest of the offense is filled out by the likes of Scott Podsednik (144 wRC+ in limited time), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (95 wRC+), Mike Aviles (77 wRC+), Nick Punto (60 wRC+), Ryan Lavarnway (-8 wRC+ in limited time), and Danny Valencia (-57 wRC+ in limited time). The always annoying Pedro Ciriaco (121 wRC+) will be, in fact, annoying. Because they’re carrying 13 pitchers, the Sox only have a three-man bench.
Friday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Franklin Morales
The Yankees have seen Morales a number of times this season, both as a starter and as a reliever. The 26-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 3.29 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 68.1 innings this season, with an excellent strikeout rate (9.22 K/9 and 24.6 K%) to go along with decent walk (3.56 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%) and ground ball (40.3%) numbers. Morales legitimately sits in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamer, backing them up with a low-80s changeup and a mid-70s curveball. He has a rather significant platoon split — righties have gotten to him for a .317 wOBA, lefties just .218 — so it’s a good time to stack dem righties.
Saturday: RHP David Phelps vs. LHP Jon Lester
It’s been a very difficult year for Lester (5.20 ERA and 3.91 FIP), though he is coming off a one-run, six-inning, 12-strikeout performance against the Indians. His strikeout (7.90 K/9 and 20.5 K%) and ground ball (47.3%) percentages are his lowest since becoming a full-time starter five years ago, though his walk rate (2.69 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%) is his best ever. Lester, 28, is mostly low-90s with the four-seamer and sinker these days, and he tends to fall in love with his upper-80s cutter at times. That’s been blamed for his struggles this season, but whether it’s actually true is another thing. A mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball are his offspeed weapons of choice. The Yankees and their fans have seen an awful lot of Lester through the years, both the good and bad versions.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Josh Beckett
The other half of Boston’s disappointing frontline starter duo, the 32-year-old Beckett has posted a 5.19 ERA (4.14 FIP) in 20 starts this year while missing time with back and thumb issues. His strikeout rate (6.53 K/9 and 17.0 K%) is a career-low and his ground ball rate (40.8%) continues to trend downward from his first few years in Boston. Beckett still does limit walks well (2.60 BB/9 and 17.0 BB%), so he does have that going for him. Thanks to a rather noticeable drop-off in velocity, he now sits in the upper-80s/low-90s with his two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter. His upper-80s changeup doesn’t have much separation from his fastball these days, which is why it’s been one of his least effective offerings. Beckett’s mid-70s curveball is still a knockout pitch, but he hasn’t done a good job of getting ahead in the count so he could put hitters away with it. Like Lester, we’ve seen everything this guy has to offer through the years.
The Sox are carrying 13 pitchers but only seven of them are relievers because they’re currently rolling with a six-man rotation. Clay Buchholz threw eight innings yesterday, so closer and former Yankee Al Aceves (3.93 FIP) was the only pitcher used out of the bullpen. He only threw 15 pitches as well, so for all intents and purposes, Bobby V.’s relief corps is as fresh as can be.
Vicente Padilla (3.56 FIP) is currently on the DL, so there will be no Mark Teixeira-induced fireworks this weekend. For shame. Scott Atchison (2.77 FIP) and Rich Hill (3.02 FIP) are also the shelf at the moment. The setup onus belongs to the recently activated Andrew Bailey (0.1 IP so far) and the left-handed Andrew Miller (3.23 FIP). Craig Breslow (3.54 FIP) gives them another solid matchup lefty. The rest of the Boston bullpen is filled out by former Yankee Mark Melancon (5.60 FIP), former Rockie Clayton Mortensen (4.30 FIP), and former Alex Rodriguez punching bag Junichi Tazawa (2.50 FIP). Overall, the Red Sox’s bullpen has pitched to a 3.35 ERA (3.85 FIP) this season.
The Yankees are in decent but not great bullpen shape after yesterday’s late-inning debacle. Both David Robertson and Rafael Soriano are well-rested, and Derek Lowe should be good to go now four days removed from his 44-pitch, four-inning save. Everyone else is a little taxed though. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the full details and Over The Monster for the best independent Red Sox coverage around.
Got seven questions for you this week, so consider this a jumbo-sized edition of the mailbag. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us questions and whatnot.
Countless people asked some variation of: Can/should the Yankees sign Melky Cabrera to a cheap one-year deal after the season following his suspension?
Sure, it’s worth exploring. Based on my last few days at MLBTR, the fans of the other 29 teams are wondering the same thing as well. I suppose the Yankees may have a leg up considering their history with Cabrera, plus the fact that his good buddy Robinson Cano plays here. Either way, I’m sure the club can make a competitive offer if they’re so inclined.
The real question is what kind of hitter do you expect him to be going forward? I don’t buy that testosterone alone turned him into an MVP caliber hitter, but I also don’t think this season’s performance — .346/.390/.516 (146 wRC+) — is a reasonable expectation going forward simply because I don’t believe anyone is a true talent .346 hitter. Not Melky, not Mike Trout, not Miguel Cabrera, not Derek Jeter. No one. If he’s more of a .310 hitter doing forward, that’s still really awesome and shouldn’t be considered a knock. If they can get him for one-year at like, $5-8M to shore up the outfield next season, sure that’s something they should seriously consider. Whether or not it’s actually realistic is another matter entirely.
Daniel asks: The Cubs are offering to turn Alfonso Soriano into a $3M/year player. Any interest in him as a RF solution next season?
This is an unequivocal no for me. Soriano is having a real nice .263/.320/.448 (112 wRC+) year with the bat, but he’s a 36-year-old one-dimensional player. If he’s not hitting homers, he has zero value. Soriano doesn’t walk, doesn’t hit for average, doesn’t steal bases anymore, and doesn’t play much defense either. He’s under contract through 2014 so you’re talking about a $6M commitment for a player that is basically a bad HR/FB% slump away from a forced retirement. Soriano would be like, my Plan F for right field next season.
Brett asks: Let’s say the Yankees don’t re-sign Nick Swisher this offseason and then think like you and let Cano walk after 2013. With Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson (Yankees sign him after Cano leaves) all two years older and currently not even performing that well, as well as a black hole offensively at catcher, do you really think the Yankees lineup will be good enough?
Well that’s the thing, why are we assuming catcher is a black hole? If they let Cano and Swisher walk, the Yankees will have the opportunity to turn over the second base, right field, catcher, and DH positions in the next two offseason. If you think A-Rod is resigned to being a DH down the line, then you can bring in a new body for third base. That four of the nine lineup spots they have to work with. Plenty of room to add some offensive punch.
Bill asks: So with Swisher all but assuredly leaving next year, what do you think the chances are he ends up in Boston? The team needs some pop in right field and they need a good clubhouse guy, with everything that is going on in Boston right now. Think this is a possibility?
Absolutely. If for whatever reason the Yankees had declined his option last offseason, I think the Red Sox would have been the first team to call Swisher’s agent. Pretty much every contending team in need of a bat — the Rangers, Dodgers, Braves, Tigers, Giants, Reds, etc. — figures to have some interest because he’s versatile (corner outfield or first base) and a switch-hitter. Swisher could go 0-for-October and he’ll still have plenty of suitors on the free agent market after the winter.
Sal asks: Do you think we’ll ever get to a point where teams start structuring contracts so that players are paid appropriately in their peak years but the contract dollars are “tapered” in the end years so that they don’t over pay for a players decline?
No, definitely not. I’m sure the club would love it, but I highly doubt the players and agents would. I think it’s pretty normal to want to make more money the older you get, which is why most multi-year contracts include some kind of year-to-year raise. Another part of this is that most GMs won’t be around to see the end of the multi-year contracts they hand out, specifically the big six and seven-year ones. What do I care if I saddle the next GM with a back contract when I could win right now and enhance my reputation? It’s a good idea, but I don’t think the players and agents would go for it.
Tucker asks: This is a bit of a hypothetical, but would the Yankees even have the pieces to acquire Felix Hernandez if he were made available? Could the Rangers swoop in and nab him instead?
No, I don’t believe the Yankees have the pieces to acquire any kind of high-end talent like that right now. Not unless they’re willing to dangle Cano and the other club really values him despite being a year away from free agency. The lack of impact, near-MLB ready prospect really hurts them here.
The Rangers could certainly jump in and make a great offer for Felix if they wanted — if you’re Seattle, don’t you have to listen if Texas offers Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt? I have to think that would at least get their attention. The Yankees can’t put together any kind of offer like that right now, so they’re handcuffed on the trade market. As much as I’d love to see him in pinstripes, there’s just no realistic trade scenario for Justin Upton at the moment.
Right now, with both CC Sabathia and Pettitte on the shelf, yes Freddy would definitely be in postseason rotation. I’d probably have him start Game Two behind Hiroki Kuroda in that scenario, which is … yikes. If Sabathia and Pettitte come back, I would use Freddy as the fourth starter and stick Phil Hughes in the bullpen for October. I don’t see how they could trust Nova in the postseason given his current performance, but he does have about six weeks to figure things out.
Assuming David Phelps is headed back to the bullpen at some point, I’d rank the potential playoff starters are Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Garcia, Hughes, Nova. Just remove players and bump everyone else up as needed due to injury. I don’t think it’s out of the question that Phelps pitches his way ahead of Nova in the pecking order, but I wouldn’t count on it. I think he’ll run out of innings before that happens.