White Sox “zeroing in” on Dellin Betances

Via Josh Norris, the White Sox are “zeroing in” on right-hander Dellin Betances after scouting his last three Double-A starts. No word on if the two sides are actually talking trade or anything like that, however. Betances does fit their style though, they grab big power arms and hope pitching coach Don Cooper can help them out. That part makes sense.

I’m not quite sure what the ChiSox realistically have to offer that can help the Yankees. Chicago’s contending so it’s not like they’re going to send over Matt Thornton or something, that would be ideal. Gordon Beckham would be a sweet change of scenery candidate, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Game 89: Ten Up

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Games against division rivals are always meaningful, though just not as much when you have an eight-game lead. The Yankees have a ten-game lead on their opponent tonight, the Blue Jays. They’re always pesky as you know, and it doesn’t get much better than Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the middle of the lineup. The big division lead is comfortable but don’t be fooled, there’s a long way to go. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Alex Rodriguezdealing with a stiff neck, otherwise he would have played third
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C Russell Martin

RHP Phil Hughes

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

Injury Updates: Andy Pettitte & Brett Gardner

Got some injury updates…

  • Andy Pettitte (ankle) had a checkup recently and said everything is healing like it should be. “It looks good … It’s healing up good. Doc said the break was about 50 percent closed up, so that’s good,” said Pettitte, who still can’t run but has been working out in a pool and throwing. [Mike Mazzeo]
  • Brett Gardner (elbow) played three innings in a simulated game yesterday and had four at-bats. He came up sore today is being given the day off. As you can imagine, Joe Girardi expressed some concern. [Chad Jennings & Bryan Hoch]
  • Update: Ken Davidoff says Gardner will have yet another MRI tomorrow. Time to explore the trade market in earnest.

Heyman: Yankees exploring outfield market

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Yankees have been without Brett Gardner for all but nine games this season and they still have some concerns about his elbow injury according to Jon Heyman. He adds that they’re exploring the outfield trade market — moreso than the pitching market — and have spoken to the Diamondbacks about Justin Upton (yay!) and the Phillies about Shane Victorino (meh). Gardner will be back no earlier than July 27th.

I’ve written about Upton a few times in the past, including in last week’s mailbag. As I said when we first learned he was on the block, he’s the rare player you gut the farm system to acquire. Young (24!), right-handed power, speed, favorable contract … Upton offers it all. Unfortunately the Yankees are on his no-trade list and Heyman calls it a “major long shot.” Victorino, on the other hand, is a pure rental. The 31-year-old is having the worst offensive season of his career (93 wRC+) but is still a switch-hitter with speed (19 steals in 21 chances) and very good defense. Victorino is owed roughly $4.5M the rest of the season and will become a free agent this winter.

The Bombers have gotten by with Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones in left field during Gardner’s absence, but Heyman says they are concerned about wear-and-tear as the veteran duo spend more time in the field than anticipated. Victorino would be a fine fill-in if Gardner suffers a third setback, but as Brian Cashman said yesterday, the trade costs for even marginal upgrades are prohibitive at the moment. I doubt the Phillies will take a pair of Grade-B prospects for their center fielder when they can just recoup a pair of high draft pick after the season.

Heyman says the Yankees will monitor the Cole Hamels situation, but we’ve already heard that they have “no intention” of getting involved in a bidding war. They’ve also scouted Francisco Liriano recently, presumably since he’s returned to the rotation and has pitched exceptionally well. With CC Sabathia due back tomorrow, David Phelps stashed away in Triple-A, and Andy Pettitte scheduled to return in September, New York shouldn’t be desperate to add a starter. Frankly they need another quality reliever more than anything.

Yanks’ offense quietly streaking towards history

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The Yankees scored eight runs and lost yesterday, frustrating only because the pitching staff was unable to make all that offense hold up. In the process, the team set a new franchise record by scoring three or more runs in their 39th consecutive game. As I wrote in the game recap, I would have guessed one of those Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig era teams would have done it in like, 60 straight or something. The record streak caught me by surprise a bit.

As it turns out, this isn’t just the longest streak in franchise history, it’s the third longest single-season streak of its kind in baseball history. Thanks to the always useful Play Index, here are the ten longest streaks of three or more runs scored in a single season…

Rk  Tm Strk Start End Games W L R HR SB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 CLE 1994-05-21 1994-07-15 48 32 16 309 64 63 .306 .372 .499 .871
2 PHA 1930-06-27 1930-08-05 41 30 11 295 39 22 .306 .392 .477 .868
3 NYY 2012-05-30 2012-07-15 39 28 11 205 68 25 .259 .336 .473 .810
4 SEA 1996-06-20 1996-08-01 39 23 16 264 58 22 .305 .387 .506 .893
5 CHC 1930-07-23 1930-08-31 39 24 13 282 39 20 .328 .397 .495 .892
6 NYY 1933-05-28 1933-07-04 38 23 15 263 43 25 .300 .382 .478 .860
7 NYY 1938-08-10 1938-09-08 37 28 9 270 55 24 .280 .383 .495 .877
8 DET 1927-06-18 1927-07-26 37 25 12 266 17 53 .317 .389 .470 .859
9 NYY 1937-06-20 1937-07-27 35 26 8 261 56 15 .302 .388 .525 .913
10 NYM 1990-06-01 1990-07-07 34 26 8 216 51 22 .295 .362 .494 .857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/16/2012.

The all-time record actually spans two seasons; the Yankees scored three or more runs in 49 straight games from September 1950 through May 1951. The Oakland A’s also ran off a 40-game streak spanning 2000-2001. Sure, that technically counts, but I’ve always felt streaks spanning two seasons are just … weird. It’s a timing issue, not a performance issue. Wouldn’t it be weird if someone had a hit in the last 30 games of one season and then in the first 27 games of the next? Would it really feel like he’s broken Joe DiMaggio’s record?

Anyway, as you can see the Yankees are hitting .259/.336/.473 during this 39-game streak, almost dead even with their .263/.337/.464 overall season line. They’ve scored the minimum three runs just seven times in the 39 games and have averaged 5.3 runs per contest. Their season average is 4.9 runs per game, and you can attribute that extra 0.4 runs per game to improved performance with runners in scoring position — they’re at .247/.354/.477 with men on second and/or third during the streak compared to .223/.325/.390 during their first 49 games.

The last time the Bombers failed to score at least three runs was the middle game of the nightmare series out in Anaheim, which the Halos won 5-1 after knocking around Andy Pettitte. Here’s the box score. Yeah, it’s been a while. More than anything, this fun little streak speaks to the offense’s consistency this season. They score a healthy amount of runs game-after-game and as long as the pitching doesn’t blow up like it did yesterday, they have a chance to win. The Yankees have won 28 of 39 games during this stretch, which shouldn’t be a surprise given their solid all-around play.

7/16-7/18 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

The Yankees have 74 games left to play this season, and 15 16 of them will be against the Blue Jays. That’s basically one out of every five games. Three of those 15 games will be played this week, starting tonight in the Bronx.

What Have They Done Lately?

Toronto just took two straight from the Indians but have won just five of their last eleven games overall. They’ve hovered right around .500 all season long and are currently 45-44 overall, good enough to put them in a last-place tie with the Red Sox. Their +26 run differential is the third best in the division and sixth best in the league.

Offense

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Only two teams have scored more total runs than the Blue Jays this season. They average just shy of five full runs per game on offense (4.99 to be exact) and own a team 104 wRC+. The guys who do the most damage are, naturally, Jose Bautista (142 wRC+) and Edwin Encarnacion (160 wRC+). They rank second and fourth in the AL with 27 and 25 homers, respectively. They’re not quite vintage David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but Bautista-Encarnacion is one of the game’s very best three-four lineup combinations.

Beyond those two, Toronto also has a surging Colby Rasmus (113 wRC+) and a bunch of guys who rate right around league average: Brett Lawrie (102 wRC+), personal fave Kelly Johnson (100 wRC+), and Adam Lind (93 wRC+). Lind has hit very well since returning from Triple-A, but it’s only been 16 games. Rajai Davis (86 wRC+) brings the speed, J.P. Arencibia (85 wRC+) the power, Yunel Escobar (72 wRC+) the contact skills, and Omar Vizquel (33 wRC+) gives sweet veteran presents. Ben Francisco (78 wRC+) hasn’t played much due to a hamstring issue and Jeff Mathis (120 wRC+) hit the snot out of the ball in April before crashing back to Earth. The Jays are always tough and this series will be no different.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
The Blue Jays currently have four starting pitchers on the DL, but Alvarez has been able to avoid the injury big so far. The 22-year-old right-hander owns a 4.36 ERA (5.19 FIP) because he gets ground balls (59.1%) and limits walks (1.93 BB/9 and 5.0 BB%), though his strikeout rate (3.02 K/9 and 7.9 K%) is the second lowest among qualified starters behind Derek Lowe. Alvarez just doesn’t miss bats despite throwing four distinct pitches: low-to-mid-90s two and four-seamers, a mid-80s slider, and a mid-80s changeup. Left-handed batters have hammered him for a .375 wOBA (.318 vs. RHB) as well. The Yankees saw Alvarez once last September, hanging five runs on him in six innings.

(REUTERS/Frank Polich)

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Brett Cecil
Cecil absolutely annihilated the Yankees back in 2010 — ten total runs allowed in five starts — but he’s not the same pitcher anymore. Toronto sent him all the way down to Double-A earlier this year before the injuries forced him back into the rotation, where he’s pitched to a 6.75 ERA (5.66 FIP) in five starts to far. Cecil can still strike guys out a bit (7.09 K/9 and 17.5 K%) and he doesn’t walk a ton (3.38 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%), but he is one of the game’s most extreme fly ball (26.5% grounders) and homerun (2.03 HR/9) pitchers. His fastball has dipped down into the mid-to-upper-80s, creating little separation with his low-80s changeup. A mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen quite a bit of Cecil over the last few years, and he’s gotten progressively worse each time.

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Ricky Romero
At this time last season, Romero looked like he was in the middle of a breakout season and on his way towards becoming one of the game’s elite hurlers. The 27-year-old southpaw has taken a big step back this year though, posting a 5.03 ERA (5.18 FIP) in 19 starts. His ground ball rate (55.7%) is holding on strong, but the strikeout (6.34 K/9 and 16.1 K%) and walk (4.64 BB/9 and 11.7 BB%) numbers have taken huge steps backwards. Romero’s stuff — low-90s two and four-seamers, low-to-mid-80s changeup, mid-to-upper-70s curve — remains unchanged, but his command has been off. He’ll falling behind in the count far too often — 51.5% first pitch strikes this year, down almost 9% from the last few years — and getting pounded because of it.

(J. Meric/Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
The Indians worked Toronto’s bullpen over pretty well these last few days, forcing lefty reliever extraordinaire Darren Oliver (2.81 FIP) to throw two innings for the save yesterday. Regular closer Casey Janssen (3.04 FIP) had appeared in each of the previous two games. Right-hander Jason Frasor (3.65 FIP) has also worked in two of the last three games and is the third wheel in manager John Farrell’s late-inning trio.

Because their rotation has been so compromised, the Jays are currently employing a 13-man pitching staff. You’ve never heard of most of them either. Aaron Loup (3.07 FIP in two innings) is their only other southpaw besides Oliver, then you have Chad Beck (5.13 FIP in 5.1 innings), Drew Carpenter (10.57 FIP in two innings), and Sam Dyson (one whole out recorded so far). Oh, and then there’s the veteran Francisco Cordero (5.68 FIP), who has been one of the two or three worst qualified relievers in baseball this year. If the starter can get them through six innings, Toronto is generally okay. If not, all bets are off.

The Yankees’ key late-inning guys all got some rest yesterday, so they’re in good shape Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact reliever usage. There are a number of great sites you can check out for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, including Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 16th, 2012

Record Last Week: 2-1 (19 RS, 18 RA)
Season Record: 54-34 (412 RS, 365 RA, 49-39 pythag. record), 8.0 games up in AL East
Opponents This Week: vs. Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Athletics (four games, Thurs. 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?
View Results