Yankees made offer for Brendan Ryan

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees made an offer for shortstop Brendan Ryan, but it was declined by the Mariners. I suppose they were looking at him to replace Ramiro Pena and be part of that third base platoon while Alex Rodriguez is on the shelf. Ryan, 30, can’t hit a lick (61 wRC+ this year, 77 career) but is arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball. He also has experience at second and third.

The Yankees would have been able to keep Ryan next year as a arbitration-eligible player, so I wonder if acquiring him would have made them more comfortable with trading Eduardo Nunez for … Chase Headley? I dunno, speculate at your own risk.

Game 102: Back on Track

(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

The Yankees have an eight-game lead in the loss column in the AL East, and their closest competitor pretty much all season has been the Orioles. They’ve taken five of eight from Baltimore this year but lost two of three at Yankee Stadium back late-April/early-May. It’s only a matter of time before the O’s completely fade out of the picture, and the Yankees can expedite that process with a solid series this week. We all know they need it after winning just three of their last ten games. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
DH Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
RH Ichiro Suzuki
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Freddy Garcia

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Joba Chamberlain Update: As expected, Joba (elbow, ankle) will make another minor league rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton tomorrow. His 30-day rehab window expires one week from today.

Monday Trade Deadline Open Thread

(Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The trade deadline is 4pm ET tomorrow, and the Yankees will definitely be in the market for a fill-in third baseman with Alex Rodriguez on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. Pitching help — both rotation and bullpen — could also be a target, though they figure to be done looking for outfielders following the Ichiro Suzuki pickup. We’re going to keep track of any Yankees-related trade deadline rumors right here throughout the day, so check back often for updates. The latest will be on the bottom. Here are Sunday’s rumors if you missed them…

  • Stephen Drew is one potential option as the Yankees look for infield help. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers worked for the Yankees in 2010 and knows their farm system, which could expedite things. Drew will likely clear waivers in August, so he doesn’t necessarily have to be traded by tomorrow. Joe looked at him in-depth last week. [Joel Sherman]
  • “I don’t think they are even in on it,” said someone in the know about the Yankees and Chase Headley. Yesterday we heard that the asking price was a bit too rich. [Sherman]
  • Cliff Lee is on the market and the Phillies intend to trade him either before the deadline or in the offseason to clear payroll. They obviously want a monster haul in return, but the Yankees won’t get involved because they don’t want to take on his contract. [Buster Olney & Sherman]
  • We heard yesterday that the Yankees had interest in Rafael Betancourt, but they have not contacted the Rockies about the right-handed reliever. [Sherman]
  • The Yankees are prioritizing defense in their search for infield help. They have players ahead of Ty Wigginton on their shopping list, unsurprisingly. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees are not close to any trade as of this afternoon, but that is always subject to change rather quickly. [Olney]

The Year of the Setback

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Yankees have the best record in the American League and the best record in the AL East by no small margin, and they’ve gotten there despite a number of significant injuries. Offseason pickup Michael Pineda has yet to throw a meaningful pitch for the team thanks to his torn labrum, Brett Gardner has started all of seven games, Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in a fluke accident, Andy Pettitte had his ankle broken by a batted ball, and Alex Rodriguez had his hand broken on a hit-by-pitch. The list of injuries to non-essential players is even longer.

Yesterday we learned that Pettitte suffered a setback during his rehab, a minor setback but a setback nonetheless. Brian Cashman called it the “ebb and flow” of rehab and said he wasn’t progressing as hoped, which qualifies as a setback in my book. Gardner suffered not one, not two, but three (!) separate setbacks before finally having season-ending surgery, three months after the original injury. Pineda was working his way back from shoulder tendinitis when he apparently suffered the tear. That’s an awful lot of setbacks this year, to the point where you wonder if it’s a trend and not just a coincidence.

Obviously injuries are just unavoidable at times — the Gardner, Rivera, Pettitte, and A-Rod injuries were the definitions of fluke — but it seems that if you’re a Yankee and you get hurt theses days, you stay hurt. David Robertson (oblique) and CC Sabathia (groin) made it back from their ailments in short order and Joba Chamberlain has breezed through his rehab (his setback was self-inflicted), but they are the lucky ones. Even if you go back to last year, there were setbacks from Phil Hughes (shoulder), Pedro Feliciano (shoulder), and Rafael Soriano (elbow). Again, coincidence or trend?

I think durability is the most underrated skill in the game. Every team, particularly those in the AL East, is so well run these days that winning isn’t just about having the best players, it’s about having the best players and keeping them on the field as much as possible. Are all these setbacks a medical staff problem? A fluke? Are players being rushed back before they’re 100% ready to go for the sake of winning? Remember, Joe Girardi took it easy on Robertson when he came back from the oblique because he wanted “to be cautious.” Did Robertson come back sooner than maybe he should have? I think all of those questions are fair game.

The Yankees have weathered their injuries as well as could be expected thanks to both strong depth and unexpected performances (Dewayne Wise and David Phelps in particular). Pettitte had his setback yesterday and if something happens to throw A-Rod off the recovery course, his season will be effectively over. We shouldn’t spend time every summer talking about how the best additions the Yankees could make at the trade deadline are getting their own players back and healthy, all of these setbacks are a concern because they’re happening so frequently.

Hensley debuts with GCL Yankees

Making his professional debut after signing a below-slot $1.2M deal due to an “abnormality” in his shoulder, first rounder Ty Hensley allowed three runs in two innings for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees this afternoon. The first inning was rough, going double, homer, line out, strikeout, walk, walk, ground ball. Hensley allowed two singles to open the second before getting a ground ball double play (run scored) and another grounder to escape the jam. All told, he allowed the three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel was in attendance and clocked Hensley at 90-93 with some 95s, saying he threw three pitches (presumably fastball, curve, changeup) and was rusty with his command and delivery. After a two or three month layoff from game action, that’s understandable. The 95s are an indication that the shoulder abnormality is nothing serious, at least in theory.

7/30-8/1 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Remember when Buck Showalter’s magic turned the Orioles into legitimate contenders? Since peaking at 27-14 in mid-May, Baltimore has gone 26-35 and sunk back into the middle of the AL East pack. They’re better than I thought they were coming into the season, but the O’s seem to have mastered the art of the hot start and midseason fade.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Orioles just lost two of three to those powerhouse Athletics and have lost five of seven overall. At 53-49, they are tied with the Rays for second place in the AL East, eight back of the Yankees in the loss column. Their -58 run differential is the fourth worst in the AL.

Offense

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

With an average of 4.2 runs per game, Baltimore somewhat surprisingly is a bottom five offense in the AL. I thought they were much better for some reason. Adam Jones (134 wRC+) has been their best player by a large margin this season, and he ranks ninth in the AL with 24 dingers. Nick Markakis (114 wRC+) provides solid support, and lately he’s been batting leadoff as Showalter tries to find someone to ignite the offense.

The Orioles added a big bat in Jim Thome (118 wRC+ vs. RHP), their regular DH against righties. They tend to rotate against lefties. J.J. Hardy (69 wRC+) and Matt Wieters (96 wRC+) fill out the top five of the lineup while Chris Davis (103 wRC+) and Wilson Betemit (93 wRC+) provide some depth at the bottom of the order. Baltimore just recalled Lew Ford (!) after he hadn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2007, and he went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game yesterday. Can’t believe that guy is back in the show. Seriously.

The bench is filled out with the likes of backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (-18 wRC+ in limited action), infielder Ryan Flaherty (47 wRC+), and outfielder Endy Chavez (23 wRC+). The recently acquired Omar Quintanilla (124 wRC+ in limited time) is now playing second base regularly with Brian Roberts and Robert Andino both injured. The Orioles have hit the third most homers in baseball (127), so they’ll make you pay when you make a mistake.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
A former Rule 5 Draft pick of the Red Sox, the 28-year-old Gonzalez has pitched to a 4.28 ERA (5.51 FIP) in four starts and three relief appearances since making his big league debut earlier this season. The strikeout rate is solid (7.49 K/9 and 19.1 K%), but the walk (4.28 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%), homer (1.60 HR/9), and ground ball (35.7%) rates all leave a lot to be desired. Gonzalez is a five-pitch guy, using low-90s fastballs (two and four-seamer) to setup his low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. The curve and two-seamer are scarcely used fourth and fifth offerings, however.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Chris Tillman
The Yankees have seen an awful lot of Tillman through the years — they’ve tagged him for a .394/.468/.532 line in five career starts and he also surrendered the single that pushed Derek Jeter past Lou Gehrig for the franchise’s all-time hits record. He’s pitched to a shiny 1.77 ERA (3.35 FIP) in four starts since returning from Triple-A, with career best strikeout (7.06 K/9 and 18.3 K%) and homer (0.42 HR/9) rates. The walk (3.74 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%) and ground ball (36.4%) numbers are in line with his career norms. Tillman, 24, has gotten some velocity back and now sits in the low-to-mid-90s with the four-seamer. He also throws a low-80s cutter, a low-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. This isn’t the same guy we saw over the last few seasons.

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Zach Britton
After missing the start of the season with a shoulder issue, the 24-year-old Britton has pitched to a 5.74 ERA (5.82 FIP) in three starts since returning. He’s walked more batters than he’s struck out (11 BB and 8 K) with a dynamite 66.0% ground ball rate in just 15.2 innings. Britton’s break-and-butter is a power low-90s sinker that is legitimately one of the best sinkers in baseball. He’ll also mix in a four-seamer at the same velocity with the requisite low-80s slider and low-80s changeup. The Yankees saw Britton a few times last year, but there are only so many adjustments you can make against a sinker-slider type.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Bullpen Status
Although Wei-Yin Chen failed to complete six innings yesterday, the Orioles don’t have a single reliever who’s pitched in each of the last two days. Setup man Pedro Strop (3.46 FIP) and middle guy/former Yankee Luis Ayala (4.00 FIP) both threw an inning yesterday, as did righty specialist Darren O’Day (3.12 FIP). Lefty specialist Troy Patton (3.53 FIP) recorded an out as well. Closer Jim Johnson (3.83 FIP) hasn’t pitched since a massive meltdown two days ago, but he’ll be fine. He’s really good. Righties Kevin Gregg (4.31 FIP) and Matt Lindstrom (3.58 FIP) fill out the rest of the bullpen.

Despite the extra innings loss yesterday, the Yankees are in pretty good shape in the bullpen. Rafael Soriano has appeared in two straight games but only needed eight pitches last night. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact usage details, and check out Camden Crazies for some fantastic Orioles coverage.

Ticket Info

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Fan Confidence Poll: July 30th, 2012

Record Last Week: 3-3 (29 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 60-41 (488 RS, 404 RA, 60-41 pythag. record), 7.5 games up in AL East
Opponents This Week: vs. Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Mariners (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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