Game 93: Back on Track

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Yankees lost their first game in Oakland since 2010 last night, but that’s alright. It wasn’t going to last forever. Ivan Nova‘s on the bump tonight looking to get his club back into the win column. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
LF Andruw Jones
2B Jayson Nix
Russell Martin

RHP Ivan Nova

Tonight’s game starts a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Joba allows two runs in latest minor league rehab game

Pitching for High-A Tampa, right-hander Joba Chamberlain allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings this evening. He surrendered a homer to the first batter he faced and the second run came around to score with the help of a passed ball a sacrifice fly. They’re the first runs and baserunners he’s allowed in his four rehab appearances. Joba struck out one — the final batter he faced — and threw 19 of his 32 pitches for strikes. No word on the velocity yet, but I’m sure we’ll get an update later tonight.

Friday Night Open Thread

Another rainy day in New York. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

One down, six to go on the West Coast trip. The Yankees aren’t playing for another few hours tonight, so use this as your open thread as you’re killing time until first pitch. MLB Network is airing a pair of games tonight and who you see will depend on where you live. Have at it.

Heyman: Yanks not interested in Ankiel, Pierre

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Brett Gardner‘s season is likely over thanks to right elbow surgery, creating a bit of an outfield void even though the Raul IbanezAndruw Jones platoon has been insanely productive. Brian Cashman told Marc Carig that the team will remain active on the waiver wire, but Jon Heyman hears that they do not have interest in either Rick Ankiel and Juan Pierre. Speedy center field types figure to be the club’s focus in the coming weeks.

Ankiel, 33, posted a 76 wRC+ in 171 plate appearances for the Nationals this season before being designated for assignment yesterday. He can hit righties a little (95 wRC+ last three years) but not lefties (44), and he’s fine defensively in the corner outfield spots. His arm is obviously extremely strong and he can fake center field just enough for teams to keep running him out there. Over the last four seasons he’s owns a .295 OBP in 1,230 plate appearances. Ankiel will make $1.25M this season and any team that claims him off waivers assumes that obligation.

Pierre, 34, has put up a 107 wRC+ for the Phillies this season. It’s all tied up in batting average (.312) because he doesn’t walk (4.7 BB%) or hit for power (.067 ISO). He’s 21-for-25 (84%) in stolen base attempts and isn’t anything special in left field these days. Pierre is making six figures this year and Philadelphia figures to sell sell sell leading up to the trade. Cashing in Pierre for something, anything seems like an obvious move on their part.

The Yankees have Chris Dickerson, Darnell McDonald, and the recently signed Kosuke Fukudome stashed in Triple-A for outfield depth. Their big and comfy lead in the AL East should allow them to rest Jones and (specifically) Ibanez down the stretch, hopefully limiting the wear-and-tear. Adding on outfielder isn’t a major priority but it should certainly be on the to-do list leading up to the deadline. There’s always room for improvement.

2012 Post-Draft Top 30 Prospects

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The amateur draft changed in a big way thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, as clubs sniffed out ways to maximize their draft pool money and accumulate as much talent as possible. The Yankees draft college seniors in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds and paid them a combined $50k in bonuses. The savings went to overslot bonuses for high schoolers in other rounds.

For the most part this list is just my pre-draft list with some 2012 draftees squeezed in. The order of the guys who’ve been in the organization a while didn’t change all that much, though I did do some reshuffling. Nothing major though, and besides, the difference between two players ranked consecutively is usually too small to argue. It’s all about personal preference at that point; I don’t think there’s much different between the #16 and #30 prospects in this list.

Here are my preseason and pre-draft lists. No one has graduated to the big leagues — though David Phelps is a handful of innings away from losing prospect status — and no one fell off due to injury. The ages listed are as of today and I’ve included pre-draft rankings in parenthesis where applicable. Let’s dive in…

  1. Mason Williams, OF, 20 (2) — started slowly after the promotion from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, but he’s gotten in a groove of late and figures to be a top-30 prospect in baseball after the season
  2. Gary Sanchez, C, 19 (3) — has shown the same power this year as last (.229 vs. .219 ISO) while cutting down on the strikeouts a bit (23.1 vs. 27.1 K%)
  3. Manny Banuelos, LHP, 21 (1) — it’s been a lost season for the team’s best pitching prospect due to an elbow injury, but he’s still way ahead of schedule as the youngest player in the Triple-A International League
  4. Tyler Austin, OF, 20 (7) — the MVP of the farm system so far has already been bumped to High-A Tampa and has a realistic chance of reaching Triple-A Scranton as a 21-year-old in the second half of next season
  5. Jose Campos, RHP, 19 (4) — another season lost due to an elbow injury, Campos still has plenty of time to catch up like Banuelos due to his age
  6. David Phelps, RHP, 25 (8) — he’s shown improved velocity this season and has progressively gotten better during the summer while pitching in the big leagues
  7. Ty Hensley, RHP, 18 (N/A) — his mid-90s fastball and power curveball is the best two-pitch mix in the system, and whatever shoulder abnormality they found during his pre-signing physical isn’t serious enough to keep him off the mound
  8. Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, 19 (6) — it’s been a disappointing season for last year’s first rounder, specifically his lack of power (.081 ISO) with Low-A Charleston
  9. J.R. Murphy, C, 21 (10) — he’s reached Double-A Trenton and has quietly shown big time improvement behind the plate, particularly with his throwing (thrown out 32 of 96 attempted base-stealers, 33%)
  10. Ravel Santana, CF, 20 (11) — the ankle injury is fully behind him and the bat has started to come around after a slow start with Short Season Staten Island
  11. Ramon Flores, OF, 20 (14) — it’s easy to forget he won’t turn 21 until next March because he’s been around for a while, but he’s having another strong year and could be with Triple-A Scranton at this time next year
  12. Austin Romine, C, 23 (13) — the back injury has effectively wiped out his season, but he has started to appear in some low-level rehab games over the last week or two
  13. Slade Heathcott, OF, 21 (15) — has played the field sparingly following his second left shoulder surgery but is already two walks shy of last year’s total in 121 fewer plate appearances
  14. Angelo Gumbs, 2B, 19 (19) — easy to overlook given the other star power at Low-A Charleston, Gumbs showed serious power (.162 ISO) and speed (26-for-29 in stolen base attempts, 90%) before hurting his elbow on a swing
  15. Dellin Betances, RHP, 24 (9) — his control deteriorated to the point where basic strike-throwing had become a challenge, resulting in a demotion to Double-A Trenton
  16. Mark Montgomery, RHP, 21 (17) — the strikeout extraordinaire (14.7 K/9 and 39.4 K% as a pro) has reached Double-A Trenton and should be big league ready at this time next year
  17. D.J. Mitchell, RHP, 25 (12) — has been used sparingly in several big league stints, but he’s very quietly put up his best strikeout (7.6 K/9 and 19.7 K%) and walk (3.0 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) rates with Triple-A Empire State since his first pro season in 2009
  18. Nik Turley, LHP, 22 (22) — blister problems have been a speed bump this year, but the big southpaw just continues to get better and better each year and with each start
  19. Austin Aune, SS, 18 (N/A) — a left-handed hitter with pop who was drafted as an outfielder, this year’s second rounder will stay at shortstop until he shows he can’t handle it
  20. Adam Warren, RHP, 24 (16) — forget about his disastrous (and only) big league start, his performance in the minor leagues has gone backwards for the second straight year
  21. Brett Marshall, RHP, 22 (18) — hasn’t missed a start since having Tommy John surgery in late-2009, but the lack of strikeouts (5.7 K/9 and 15.4 K%) at Double-A Trenton is a concern
  22. Peter O’Brien, C, 22 (N/A)– whether he can remain behind the plate long-term remains to be seen, but O’Brien offers some pop from the right side and catchers who can hit are very hard to find
  23. Bryan Mitchell, RHP, 21 (20) — he flashes pure dominance at times thanks to be the best curveball in the organization, but he still has a long way to go before harnessing it all
  24. Zoilo Almonte, OF, 23 (23) — he’s mashed since returning from a hamstring injury but is going to have to do a lot more to force his way into the outfield picture at some point in the next year or two
  25. Cito Culver, SS, 19 (21) — it’s been a real struggle offensively for the team’s first rounder of two years ago, but he’s shown nice plate discipline (13.1 BB%) and can play the hell out of the shortstop position
  26. Ben Gamel, OF, 20 (25) — missed some time with a minor injury but has shown contact skills and more recently some power potential in the form of doubles
  27. Greg Bird, C, 19 (24) — played in just four games for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees before a back strain sidelined him, and the unconfirmed rumor is that his days as a catcher are over and he’ll return as a first baseman
  28. Nick Goody, RHP, 21 (N/A) — this year’s sixth round is a potential quick moving power reliever capable of missing bats within the strike zone with his fastball-slider combo
  29. Corban Joseph, 2B, 23 (30) — a shoulder injury delayed the start of his season, but CoJo has moved up to Triple-A Empire State and has started to answer some of those power questions by hitting hit two more homers than last year in 261 fewer plate appearances
  30. Jordan Cote, RHP, 19 (NR) — the big and raw right-hander has made great strides with his delivery and command since signing and is poised to zoom up these rankings within the next few months

I jumped the gun big time with RHP Rafael DePaula, who I ranked fifth (!) in the pre-draft list even though he hadn’t even appeared in a game yet. My usual policy to leave international free agents unranked until they make their U.S. debut, which DePaula has yet to do because he’s spending the season in the Dominican Summer League. That’s why I left him out this time, I was just uncomfortable ranking him without an assignment to one of the six domestic affiliates.

RHP Chase Whitely (26), UTIL Ronnie Mustelier (27), LHP Daniel Camarena (29) were squeezed out in the numbers crunch. Camarena’s shoulder issue didn’t help his cause either, though I remain a big fan. 3B/OF Rob Segedin and 2B David Adams were both right on the bubble as well, the latter because of continued injury concerns. He’s hitting though, let’s just hope he can stay on the field going forward. I also really like RHP Gio Gallegos and it’s hard to ignore LHP Vidal Nuno, but I need more info on both guys before I can start ranking them somewhere. You can’t scout a box score.

Mailbag: Draft Picks, Gordon, Girardi, Soriano

I went with short-ish answers this week so I could squeeze in as many questions as possible, but I still only got to six. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything, mailbag questions or otherwise.

Missin’ you. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mark asks: Assuming Brett Gardner is indeed out for the year and that the Yanks’ main AL title competitor, the Rangers, make another big trading deadline splash and acquire either Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke, should the Yanks counter by acquiring a solid hitting left fielder?

Nah, don’t make moves to “answer” another team’s moves. That’s how you end up with a Kei Igawa situation. If the Yankees are able to find a reasonable upgrade for the outfield given Gardner’s surgery, then by all means go for it. What another team — particularly a non-division rival — does is immaterial. Put the best possible team on the field and it doesn’t matter what everyone else does.

Cory asks: One big element missing from the offense this year is speed. Obviously Gardy’s out and his 49 steals from a year ago makes a big difference, but a 36-year-old Alex Rodriguez is the team leader. 38-year-old Jeter is second, and rounding out the top eight are guys with limited action (Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Eduardo Nunez, Gardner), a 40-year-old Ibanez, and Curtis Granderson. Do you expect Cashman to target speed come July 31, or is that an element they can live without this year?

We’re already heard that if they do make a trade to acquire a replacement outfielder, that it would be a speedy center field type similar to Gardner. Overall team speed is the club’s one glaring hole just because there is none of it. They’re very station-to-station but they can live with that because they get guys on base and hit a bunch of extra-base hits. I think they can get by without any speed but it is something that would be nice to have, just to add a different element to the offense and occasionally put some pressure on the pitcher. Like I said, if they find someone reasonable to fill that need, by all means go for it.

Mike asks: Does signing money from competitive lottery picks factor into a team’s bonus pool? Could you see the Yanks sending a prospect to a team in exchange for the pick and the pool money, someone like a Adam Warren or Corban Joseph? Other team gets a prospect near MLB ready and doesn’t have to pay $1M for him, Yankees get the pick and don’t have to lose the prospect in the Rule 5 draft.

Yep, the extra competitive balance lottery picks comes with extra draft pool money and they can be traded. There are a dozen such picks and the Yankees don’t have one because they’re the Yankees. I have no idea how teams will value those picks in a trade but I’d guess they’d value the draft pool money more than the pick itself. Trading a near-MLB ready guy like Warren or CoJo seems like a backwards move given the high attrition rate of draft picks in general. I’d rather use them as part of a package for a piece to help the big league team or just keep them for depth. These competitive lottery picks seem like they would be the second or third piece in any trade, not the headliner.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Jon asks: A lot has been mentioned about the Royals looking for starting pitching (now and future). Could a package of David Phelps, Brett Marshall, and another lesser prospect get us Alex Gordon?

I don’t think that’s nearly enough. Gordon’s one of the better outfielders in the game even if his power dropped off quite a bit this year, and he’s signed to very reasonable long-term contract ($50M through 2015 with a player option for 2016). As impressive as Phelps has been in the first half, he’s still just mid-to-back-end starter and that’s not enough incentive for Royals. If they’re going to move Gordon, they’ll need a potential impact, number one type guy in return. Just look at what the White Sox gave up to acquire Nick Swisher at a similar point of his career — a potential front-line guy in Gio Gonzalez, another high-end pitching prospect (Fautino DeLoSantos), and a solid outfield prospect (Ryan Sweeney). Gordon obviously makes sense for New York but they would really need to sweeten that pot.

Michael asks: What do you think it would take for Joe Girardi to get fired in the next couple of years? Losing in the ALDS, losing in the wild card round, not making the playoffs, or maybe even just not winning the World Series?

An awful lot. Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and the rest of the brain trust hand-picked Girardi for the job so it would take a ton for him to get fired. They’d have to miss the playoffs a few years in a row I believe, and even then he would just be a scapegoat. More than likely, the end of the Girardi era will come when he says he’s had enough and decides to walk away due to burnout or because another team offers a megacontract.

Anonymous asks: Given Rafael Soriano‘s success in Mariano Rivera‘s absence, do you see the front office pushing Cashman to renegotiate a contract and extend him beyond 2013 when this season is over? Despite the tools, something tells me David Robertson won’t be successful as our closer and there’s no telling how Mo will perform coming back from an injury at 43 years of age. Speaking of which, what kind of money will Mo receive next year if he’s healthy?

I really hope they don’t push to re-sign Soriano. If he opts out, say thank you very much and let him walk. That $14M he’s owed next season can go not just towards replacing Soriano with another high-end reliever, but also replacing Swisher in right (or even re-signing him) and maybe even adding various depth pieces. Soriano’s been awesome, better than we could have possibly expected once Mo went down, but he won’t continue pitching at this level because no reliever not named Mariano ever has sustained a performance like this across multiple years. It just doesn’t happen and I wouldn’t expect a 32-year-old with a history of elbow problems to do it.

As for Mo, I think they’ll re-sign him to a one-year deal at similar money to what he’s making now, so $15-16M. I know he’s 43 and coming off knee surgery and all that, but I have a hard time thinking they’ll play hardball with the money. They might hold the line on one-year but I doubt they’d balk at a high salary. It’s just money and Mo’s one of the few players with legitimate high-end marquee value that transcends his on-field value.