Heathcott homers in Tampa win

Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein got together on the Baseball Today podcast this afternoon to talk about prospects who traded at the deadline. They also took some time to speak about RHP Dellin Betances and his awful season, and predictably were pretty down on him. The Betances stuff starts around the 31:00 mark, so check it out.

Meanwhile, OF Melky Mesa has been promoted to Triple-A following tonight’s roster moves.

Double-A Trenton (4-3 win over Altoona in 11 innings, walk-off style)
2B Jose Pirela & SS Addison Maruszak: both 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — Pirela had the walk-off sac fly
3B David Adams, CF Melky Mesa & 1B Kevin Mahoney: all 1-5 — Adams struck out twice, Melky thrice … Mahoney hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth and committed an error when he missed a catch
RF Zoilo Almonte & LF Rob Segedin: both 0-4 — Almonte got hit by a pitch, struck out three times and committed a fielding error … Segedin drew a walk and scored twice
DH Luke Murton: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 K
C Jose Gil: 0-3, 1 HBP
RHP Mikey O’Brien: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 E (pickoff) — 61 of 100 pitches were strikes
LHP Francisco Rondon: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — half of his 22 pitches were strikes
RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GB/FB — 19 of 27 pitches were strikes (70%)
RHP Jon Meloan: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (59%)
RHP Graham Stoneburner: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)

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Yankees release Jack Cust, Colin Curtis, and Ray Kruml

Via Donnie Collins, the Yankees have released DH Jack Cust, OF Colin Curtis, and OF Ray Kruml. Curtis has 64 plate appearances with the big league team in 2010 (42 wRC+), but missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He’ll be best remembered for his mid-at-bat pinch-hit homer for Brett Gardner. Cust was Triple-A Empire State’s most dangerous hitter this year, posting a 145 wRC+ with an absurd 19.1% walk rate. Kruml was just a spare outfielder for the club.

None of the three were going to see time for the big league team this year, but the Cust and Curtis moves are huge blows to Empire State’s push for a playoff berth. I’m guessing we’re going to see a promotion or two in the coming weeks.

Kevin Goldstein’s Top 50 Midseason Prospects

Kevin Goldstein posted his midseason list of the top 50 prospects in baseball over at Baseball Prospectus today (subs. req’d), and Rangers SS Jurickson Profar predictably claimed the top spot. Royals OF Wil Myers and Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy round out the top three.

Two Yankees farmhands made the list, C Gary Sanchez at #23 and OF Mason Williams at #36. They ranked #40 and #99 on his preseason list, respectively. LHP Manny Banuelos was #29 on KG’s preseason list but predictably dropped out due to the elbow injury. OF Tyler Austin cracked the midseason top 50 lists of Baseball America and Keith Law, but Goldstein wasn’t having any of it.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I’ve said this a bunch of times through the years but it’s still true: off days always feel better coming off a win. The Yankees wrecked the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon, ending the four-game losing streak and temporarily halting this little stretch of crummy play. Joba Chamberlain also pitched today (not well), and it was good to see him back out there. I like that Joe Girardi used him for more than one inning too, gotta get him back into the swing of things.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Tigers and Red Sox will be on ESPN at 7pm ET (Porcello vs. Cook) and the Mets are out in San Francisco to play the Giants a little later on (Niese vs. Cain). Talk about those games or anything else your heart desires right here. Have at it.

The trade deadline and the AL playoff picture

(Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

The trade deadline passed yesterday, and as usual there were a number of deals. While blockbuster trades for the likes of Justin Upton, Cliff Lee, or Matt Garza never happened, there were still a number of impact players that changed teams  Contending teams looked to bolster their squads for the stretch run, while the teams who are out of the playoff hunt dumped assets to save salary and strengthen the farm.  In this post, I will take a look at the moves made by the Yankees and their competition, both within the division and within the AL, to see how these deals will impact the 2012 playoff picture.

Yankees

As has become customary for the Yankees this time of year, Brian Cashman and crew did not make any big, splashy moves, citing the excessive costs demanded in prospects and players.  However, they did make a few moves to improve the team’s depth, fill holes created by injuries, and set the Yankees up for a deep run in October.

The Ichiro Suzuki acquisition was one where the hype and excitement is probably disproportionate to the expected impact of the player.  Nonetheless, it was an important acquisition, giving the Yankees speed and defensive prowess that they have missed because Brett Gardner has missed most of the season, and shows no signs of returning anytime soon.  While Ichiro had had a disappointing 2012 so far, anything the Yankees can get from him offensively is gravy.  I think he still has something left in the tank, especially against right-handed pitchers, and he can be an effective table-setting presence from the bottom of the order.

The swap of Chad Qualls for Casey McGehee served two purposes.  Not only did the trade rid the Yankees of an ineffective bullpen arm to clear a spot for the return of Joba Chamberlain, it also brought in a backup corner infielder with some right-handed pop who can fill in for the injured Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, and give the notably fragile Eric Chavez some extra rest.

Red Sox

While Boston is 7.5 games out and just 2 games over .500, the team is too talented to count out.  However, they didn’t do very much at the deadline in terms of either buying or selling.  They re-acquired lefty reliever Craig Breslow, but they didn’t make any moves to deal underachieving pitchers Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, as some speculated they might.  Rob Bradford of WEEI reported that they did discuss a blockbuster deal with the Rangers that included Josh Beckett, Kelly Shoppach, and Jacoby Ellsbury, but nothing ever emerged from those talks.  While the Red Sox did not wave the white flag by selling off any impact players, they didn’t exactly do anything significant to improve their team.  This indicates that they think that they will improve naturally as their players get healthy and start playing better, or consider them too worthwhile to give up long-term assets to increase the small likelihood that they make the playoffs (though they are only 3.5 games out in the Wild Card).

Rays and Orioles

The Rays are 6.5 games behind the Yankees in the division and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card standings, and the Orioles are a game ahead of the Rays.  Nonetheless, neither team showed a sense of urgency, as they didn’t make any trades that would increase their likelihood of winning the Wild Card or catching the Yankees.

Angels

The traditional thorn in the Yankees’ side made one of the biggest moves of the trading period, acquiring RHP Zack Greinke for Baseball America’s #55 prospect Jean Segura and 2 others.  Greinke, who was having a strong season with the Brewers, adds another frontline-caliber pitcher to an Angels rotation that already includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Dan Haren.  With Greinke in the fold, the Angels’ deep rotation becomes even deeper, and that quartet of starters could prove formidable come playoff time.  As a Yankee fan, it’s hard not to be nervous about a Weaver-Greinke-Wilson-Haren rotation come playoff time, especially when paired with Yankee-killer Mark Trumbo and 20 year-old superman Mike Trout.

Rangers

The Rangers, the current AL West leaders, made two moves to improve their team in expectation of a trip to October.  They acquired RHP Ryan Dempster, who was also connected to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Braves in trade rumors.  Dempster is currently #2 in the majors in ERA, and while few expect him to finish that well after moving to the AL and Texas’ hitter-friendly park, Dempster should be a big addition to a pitching staff with some injuries and question marks. They also added catcher Geovany Soto, who will improve the Rangers’ defense behind the plate and allow them to use Mike Napoli at DH or 1st base more often. These two moves strengthened an already-formidable team, and while the Rangers still have questions in the rotation due to injuries, adding Dempster will provide some important stability.

White Sox

The White Sox own a 2.5 game lead in the AL Central and made some additions at or around the deadline. While GM Kenny Williams reportedly tried and failed to acquire Zack Greinke, he did make a cheaper addition to the rotation in the form of Francisco Liriano. While Liriano has had an uneven season and injuries have kept him from fulfilling his incredible potential, he is talented enough that if he figures things out, he could be a major force in the Chicago rotation. Although the deal happened well before the deadline, the Kevin Youkilis acquisition has already paid dividends for Sox.  He provides their lineup with some power and patience, and can adequately fill the 3rd base slot that was causing the Sox problems earlier in the year.

As we can see, almost all of the Yankees’ playoff competitors made significant improvements this trade season.  The Angels adding Greinke is the move that scares me the most, but Texas’s acquisition of Ryan Dempster also provides a major upgrade to an already-strong team.  The Yankees’ divisional competition didn’t do much to improve, which bodes well for their chances to win the division.  While the Yankees failed to make any flashy trades, they filled some holes and should be well-positioned to win the AL East and enter the playoffs as a World Series contender.  Healthy and effective returns by Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte will be of utmost importance here.

Update: Yankees release Dewayne Wise

August 1st: The Yankees have given Wise his release. His final contribution to the 2012 team was a 123 wRC+ in 63 plate appearances, good for 0.8 fWAR and 0.5 bWAR. Pretty solid.

July 30th: Via Feinsand, Wise has refused the outright assignment. The Yankees have until Wednesday to either trade or (more likely) release him. Your bunt will not be forgotten, Dewayne.

July 26th: Via Mark Feinsand, outfielder Dewayne Wise has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Empire State. The Yankees designated him for assignment when they acquired Ichiro Suzuki earlier this week. Because he’s been outrighted a number of times before, Wise can refuse the assignment and instead become a free agent. If another team offers him a Triple-A gig, he might take that instead of rejoining the traveling circus in Triple-A. Hopefully he stays though, Wise is a pretty awesome piece of outfield depth. Plus his bunt turned the season around.

Game 104: Just Win

The AARP All-Stars. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Only four times in the history of the new Yankee Stadium have the Yankees lost four straight games at home, and only twice have they lost five straight: May 11th-May 15th of last season and May 2nd to May 7th of 2009. The Bombers are riding a four-game losing streak, all at home, and are playing as poorly as they have at any point this season. They’ve lost nine of their last 12 despite being outscored by just three runs total. All those one-run losses — six during this recent stretch — will wreck a run differential. Here’s today’s lineup as the Yankees look to salvage a win against the Orioles…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
RF Andruw Jones
Russell Martin
1B Casey McGehee
LF Ichiro Suzukifirst time in left
3B Jayson Nix

RHP Phil Hughes

This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 1:05pm ET, but there is rain in the forecast. A delay or two is very possible. The game can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally once it begins.