Scouting The Waiver Market: Daniel Moskos

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

There is something very alluring about former first round picks, especially guys taken in the top ten. Even when they flop in the big leagues and don’t show the skills that got them drafted that high in the first place, someone will take a chance on them in hopes of cashing in on their potential. Sometimes it works out (Gavin Floyd), most of the time it doesn’t.

The Pirates cut ties with a former top pick yesterday, designating left-hander Daniel Moskos for assignment to clear room on the roster for former Yankee farmhand Eric Fryer. Moskos was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft and has always been a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh because they passed on Matt Wieters (and Madison Bumgarner) to take him. He flamed out as a starter in the minors but did help the Pirates as a reliever last season, pitching to a 2.96 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 31 appearances. Chances are that’s all they’ll get out of their $2.475MM investment. Let’s see if there’s anything about Moskos that should interest the Yankees…

The Pros

  • He’s left-handed! That always counts for something. Moskos has held Triple-A lefties to a .253/.304/.337 batting line with a 48.5% ground ball rate, a 22.3% strikeout rate, and a 6.0% walk rate over the last two years. Those are some mighty strong peripherals.
  • Moskos uses two different offspeed pitches to offset his low-90s fastball — a sweepy low-80s slider and a mid-80s split-change. As a reliever, he owns a 20.0% strikeout rate overall.
  • Moskos has one minor league option remaining (for 2013) and has less than one year of service time to his credit, so he offers flexibility and six years of cheap team control.

The Cons

  • Moskos got hammered by the 49 big league lefties he faced last season (.385 wOBA), though it is a tiny sample. His walk rate (4.1%) was fine, but the strikeout (12.2%) and ground ball (39.5%) were pretty bad. Righties have hit him pretty hard everyone, majors and minors.
  • After sitting in the mid-90s while touching 97 as recently as 2010, Moskos has lost some velocity because he has a herky jerky delivery and lacks athleticism. Usually guys will pick up velocity with a shift to the bullpen, not lose it.
  • Moskos missed time with a sore elbow this season and developed a brief case of the yips in 2010. He is fine now though, both physically with the elbow and mentally with the yips.

Because the Yankees have the best winning percentage in baseball, they are dead last on the waiver priority totem pole. Moskos first has to pass through the entire NL and then the other 13 AL teams before New York could put in a claim. The Yankees have two quality left-handed relievers on the big leagues (Boone Logan and Clay Rapada), two rehabbing from major injuries (Pedro Feliciano and Cesar Cabral), another 40-man guy in Triple-A (Justin Thomas), and two more non-40-man options in Triple-A (Mike O’Connor and Juan Cedeno). Lefty relief isn’t a top priority at the moment.

As Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wrote yesterday, the move indicates that Moskos fell pretty far down on Pittsburgh’s depth chart. They opted to keep the 32-year-old Doug Slaten over the 26-year-old former fourth overall pick. That said, Moskos does offer that allure of being a former first round pick and there’s a chance someone will give him an opportunity. There’s nothing to lose other than a spot on the 40-man roster and in the Triple-A bullpen. The Yankees have plenty of in-house lefty relief options, enough that they don’t need to pick up the phone and call the Pirates about a trade before Moskos hits the waiver wire. If they put in a claim and get him, great. If not, well no big deal.

Game 74: Andy goes for the sweep

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won the first two games of this three-game set against the Indians, and today they have Andy Pettitte on the mound against a very lefty-heavy lineup. It’s a favorable matchup and frankly I’m not even sure the Yankees need it right now. They’ve been playing very well for the last month or so and it’s hard not to feel confident before first pitch on a daily basis. Here’s the lineup…

CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
DH Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Eric Chavez
Russell Martin
SS Jayson Nix

LHP Andy Pettitte

Today’s game is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

HOPE Week: Chad Jennings has the details on today’s HOPE Week event featuring five-year-old Andy Fass, who suffers from a rare condition called oculocutaneous albinism.

Yankees place CC Sabathia placed on the DL

The Yankees have placed CC Sabathia on the DL after an MRI showed a Grade I strain of the left adductor. That’s a big muscle in his upper leg, near his hip and groin. Sabathia first felt a “twinge” during Sunday’s start against the Mets but did not say anything until after yesterday’s bullpen session. This will be just the third DL stint of his 12-year career — he missed 23 days in 2005 and 29 days in 2006, both with right oblique strains.

Joe Girardi said Sabathia will miss just two starts and return after the All-Star break. Freddy Garcia will start Friday in his place, though Brian Cashman said the team is leaning towards calling up Adam Warren from Triple-A. As our Bullpen Workload page shows, Warren started on Sunday and would lineup perfectly for Friday’s start if they want to go that way. No word on today’s roster move, they may just play with 24 guys this afternoon.

Cory Wade’s Bad Month

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees were one inning away from shutting out the Indians last night, but Cory Wade let things get out of hand in the ninth and surrendered four runs in his latest dud outing in a month full of them. The 29-year-old right-hander has now allowed nine runs in his last 6.2 innings, spanning ten appearances. He’s walked four, struck out three, and given up three homers during that time. It’s been an ugly stretch, no doubt about it.

Wade has been betrayed primarily by his changeup during this rough patch, the pitch that is usually his go-to weapon. Two of the three homers he’s allowed came on nearly identical mistake changeups, pitches that were supposed to be down and away to right-handed batters — Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez — but leaked inside and belt high. That’s a batting practice fastball. The other homer (by Ian Desmond) was an inside fastball that just caught too much of the plate.

“Couple of balls over the middle and they hit them well … kind of sucks,” said catcher Chris Stewart after last night’s game. “His velocity is the same,” added Joe Girardi. “If I saw a real drop in velocity, I’d be concerned. I just think he’s struggling right now.”

Wade isn’t a guy that’s going to blow hitters away with the fastball anyway, but here’s his day-by-day fastball velocity plot if you’re interested. As Girardi said, there’s no drop. Wade did work quite a bit when David Robertson was on the shelf last month, at one point pitching eight times in 16 days. That includes three days in a row and four times in five days to end that 16-day stretch, which coincides exactly with the start of this rough patch. Remember, this is a guy that is two years removed from major shoulder surgery, so maybe he’s just worn out a bit and his all-important command is suffering. Who knows? It’s just a theory.

It’s very easy to write a guy like Wade off because he doesn’t fit the profile. We all like to see some hard-throwers march out of the bullpen and throw gas by hitters, but Cory is a pure finesse guy who mixes his pitches and changes arm slots to keep the batters off balance. It’s unorthodox so we’re skeptical. It worked brilliantly last season and for the first eight or ten weeks of this season, but the last month or so has been rough. Perhaps the other shoe has dropped, perhaps it’s just a slump. I would greatly prefer the latter.

With David Aardsma about three weeks away, Wade still has some time to sort himself out before his roster spot is really in danger. He obviously shouldn’t see any important late-inning situations anytime soon, but he should be given time to work through this. I do believe he has a minor league option left so it’s not like they would release him anyway, plus the current alternatives are Ryota Igarashi, Justin Thomas, and I suppose the recently claimed Danny Farquhar. No thanks. Wade’s awful recent performance could be just a bump in the road or it could be an indication that the end is near, but the Yankees can afford to be patient and give him some time to right the ship — in a reduced role, of course — before making a change.

Hughes handles Tribe as Yanks win 4th straight

The 6-4 score makes the game seem a whole lot closer than it actually was. The Yankees cruised to their second straight win over the Indians and fourth straight win overall on Tuesday, continuing what is now a month-long stretch of excellent play.

Stew. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

RISP BABIP Correction: Activate

I made a point to mention the team’s BABIP with men in scoring position on Tuesday morning, telling you to just enjoy the homers for the time being because at some point the hits will start dropping in with runners on second and/or third. All those hits seemed to fall in in the second inning against Justin Masterson in this game. First Jack Hannahan came up empty diving after a soft line drive from Chris Stewart, knocking the ball into foul territory and allowing Nick Swisher to trot home with two outs. Then birthday boy Derek Jeter grounded a ball off Masterson that ricocheted into the infield version of no man’s land. That loaded the bases for Curtis Granderson, who stroked a two-strike, two-out, two-run single the other way.

BABIP correction is a wonderful thing. Balls bounce off gloves, grounders deflect away from infielders, all sorts of neat stuff happens. That said, Granderson’s single was the key to that inning. It was his 11th hit to left field this year, already three more than all of last season. I first noticed the opposite field trend when the Yankees were out in Oakland, though we’re still a long way away from knowing if this is just a fluke or a conscious effort on Grandy’s part to shorten up and go the other way. Either way, hooray for getting the runs in with two outs. Those two-strike hits are killers.

Two runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two Curves

After getting tagged for four homers in less than five innings against the Braves last week, Phil Hughes rebounded in a big way against the Indians. He struck out four across eight scoreless innings, getting some timely ground ball double plays (!) when he needed them, and overall just being pretty awesome. The only extra base hit he allowed was a Michael Brantley double that may have been a single had Dewayne Wise not taken a circuitous route. It was good to see him right the ship after getting shellacked last time out.

What I noticed more than anything from Phil was that he seemed to be throwing two different curveballs. One was a straight 12-to-6 number but the other had a little more 11-to-5 break (from the catcher’s point of view). The PitchFX data at Brooks lumps them all under one curveball umbrella, so maybe I’m just imagining things. It just seemed like he was throwing more of a slurvy breaking ball at times, and it was effective. Perhaps it was just dumb luck and unintentional. I’ll keep my eyes open going forward to see if it happens again. Regardless, great start from Hughes. He was money.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Leftovers

So, how about Dewayne Wise’s flying into the stands catch to end the seventh? The best part was the replay showing that he climbed out of the stands with no ball in his glove and they still ruled it a catch. It looked fantastic live, but man was that a brutal call. In fairness, ump Mike DiMuro owned up and admitted his mistake to the media after the game. Hooray for accountability.

Cory Wade has been pretty bad for about a month now, though I thought it was a pretty good idea to use him in the ninth inning with a six-run lead. They gotta get him sorted out, you know? Anyway, Wade blew up again, allowing a run on a double and a bloop single before serving up a three-run jack to Jose Lopez. It seems to be the same pitch whenever he serves up a long ball, a changeup that hangs out over the plate. Cory has about three weeks to get himself straight before David Aardsma comes calling for a roster spot.

Alex Rodriguez sat out Monday’s game and he is now 17-for-42 (.405) with six homers in 11 games immediately following a day off. His seventh inning solo homer to left landed in the second deck, and we don’t see too many balls hit up there. Unfortunately, Alex’s blast also robbed the Yankees of just their second homer-less win of the season. Boo.

Jeter had a pair of knocks, as did Swisher and Stewart. Every hitter reached base at least once — including pinch-hitter Andruw Jones — except for Raul Ibanez. Jeter (two singles), Granderson (single and walk), A-Rod (homer and walk), Swisher (two singles), and Stewart (two singles) all reached base twice. As a team, they went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Hooray for that.

MLB.com won’t let me embed it, but here’s the video for Tuesday’s HOPE Week event. The Yankees visited Jorge Munoz, the “Angel in Queens” who runs a non-profit organization dedicated to serving hot daily meals to those in need in New York. Pretty awesome.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has a box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. With both the Orioles and Rays losing, the Yankees are now four games up in the division in the loss column. They’re six up on Tampa, and that’s the more important number as far as I’m concerned.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees will look to complete the sweep on Wednesday afternoon when Andy Pettitte gives it a go against Ubaldo Jimenez. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the matinee.

Aune & Breen debut in GCL win

Notes!…

  • RHP Dellin Betances headlined today’s Minor League Update but obviously not in a good way. Kevin Goldstein didn’t offer up any scouting notes or anything, just said it’s time for the Yankees to take him out of the rotation and either put him in the bullpen or have him work on things on the side. It’s a subscriber-only piece but the Betances blurb is above the pay wall.
  • Fifth rounder 2B/OF Rob Refsnyder was named the College World Series MVP after his Arizona Wildcats won the National Championship last night. He hit .476 during the tournament. Last week we heard that Refsnyder was likely to sign as soon as his CWS run was over.
  • UTIL Kevin Russo (sore right hamstring) was placed on the DL while OF Cole Garner was activated to take his roster spot.
  • RHP Michael Dubee was released to free up a roster spot for the recently signed RHP Jon Meloan.

Triple-A Empire State (3-1 win over Gwinnett)
CF Chris Dickerson: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
2B Corban Joseph: 3-3, 1 R, 3 2B, 1 BB — got picked off first, but otherwise it was an excellent night for CoJo
LF Ronnie Mustelier, 1B Brandon Laird, RF Cole Garner & 3B Doug Bernier: all 0-3 — Mustelier drove in a run, walked, and struck out … Garner and Bernier struck out
DH Russell Branyan: 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 K
C Frankie Cervelli: 0-2, 2 BB — stuck in a 2-for-20 rut (.100)
SS Ramiro Pena: 1-3, 1 R
RHP D.J. Mitchell: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HB, 8/5 GB/FB — 67 of 103 pitches were strikes (65.0%) … he needed a strong start like this, he’s been struggling bad of late
RHP Jason Bulger: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eight of 13 pitches were strikes
RHP Ryota Igarashi: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 11 of 15 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 73: A Big Test(s)

Dewayne Wise’s bunt turned the season around. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

Tonight’s game will be an interesting test for both the offense and Phil Hughes. The homer-happy offense will have to deal with Justin Masterson and his turbo-sinker, which is the reason why he has the lowest homerun rate (0.52 HR/9) in the AL since the start of last season. Hughes will have to face an Indians’ lineup featuring seven left-handed batters and two switch-hitters. Phil has held righties to a .308 wOBA in his career but lefties have gotten him for a .337 wOBA. It’s worth noting that he has a (quiet massive) reverse-split this season. Here’s the starting lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
DH Raul Ibanez
LF Dewayne Wise
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Phil Hughes

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9. Enjoy.

HOPE Week: Chad Jennings has the details on today’s HOPE Week event, which focuses on 48-year-old Jorge Munoz and his non-profit organization that distributes hot meals to New Yorkers in need.

Russell Martin Update: Martin (back) is going to take batting practice today and if that goes well, he’ll start behind the plate tomorrow. Hooray for that.

Brett Gardner Update: Gardner (elbow) will take some dry swings next week when the team is in Tampa to play the Rays. Joe Girardi said a return before the All-Star break is unrealistic and that late-July is more likely.