Open Thread: Brett Gardner Update

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

If you’re like me and you’ve had your fill of Raul Ibanez in the outfield, I have good news for you. Brett Gardner swung a bat today for the first time since being placed on the DL with a bone bruise and a strain in his right elbow ten days ago. He took ten dry swings and another 15 off a tee, reporting no pain afterwards. Gardner could be ready to take batting practice as soon as Monday. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Friday, and hopefully we don’t have to wait a minute longer.

Here is your open thread for the night. The Rangers (win) and Knicks (loss) already played, but the Mets are in action tonight and MLB Network will air a game as well. Most of the country will see Bryce Harper’s debut (9pm ET). That’s neat. You folks know what to do with these threads by now, so have it.

Game 20: Reverse Lock

(REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

The starting pitching has been dreadful so far this season, with Freddy Garcia and his 9.75 ERA across three starts being one of main reasons why. He’ll make his fourth start of the season this afternoon against rookie southpaw Drew Smyly, and we all know the Yankees seem to struggle against young left-handers they’ve never seen before, at least anecdotally. Hopefully when you have two locks like this — Garcia getting pounded and Smyly shutting the offense down — they cancel each other out and we get a favorable outcome. It’s science. Here’s the lineup…

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

RHP Freddy Garcia

Today’s game starts a little after 4pm ET and can be seen on YES, not FOX. Enjoy.

Thinking about Bobby Abreu

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Angels came into the season with a very crowded outfield/DH picture, but they cleared things up a bit last night by releasing Bobby Abreu following their fifth straight loss. Top prospect Mike Trout was recalled to hopefully inject some life into their season. Anaheim is still on the hook for the $9M left on Abreu’s contract, less the pro-rated portion of the league minimum should he sign elsewhere.

The Yankees, as you may recall, actually agreed to trade for Bobby this past offseason before A.J. Burnett invoked his no-trade clause because he didn’t want to go to the West Coast. It stands to reason that they’ll at least explore the idea of signing Abreu as a free agent now even though they brought in a different left-handed hitting DH type after the trade fell through. It doesn’t hurt to look.

The timing works out well given Brett Gardner‘s injury. The Yankees are carrying a 13-man pitching staff at the moment, so they could easily option Cody Eppley to Triple-A and create 40-man roster space for Abreu by shifting either Cesar Cabral or Joba Chamberlain to the 60-day DL. That would give them a very short window to see what he still has to offer as the left-handed half of a DH platoon without having to jettison Raul Ibanez. It’s worth noting that Gardner performed bunting drills yesterday and was scheduled to visit the doctor, though no update was given. He is eligible to come off the DL next Friday.

Joe wrote about Abreu at length at the end of Spring Training, noting that he’s unlikely to be much an upgrade over Ibanez, if he is one at all. Since both guys are relatively cheap and terrible on defense, the decision would essentially come down to Ibanez’s power vs. Abreu’s on-base skills and base running. The Yankees value makeup and clubhouse presence, though they obviously have first hand knowledge of what Bobby is like in that department. Signing Abreu for what amounts to a week-long audition seems like a decent idea given the lack of risk, though I don’t think it’s the most imperative of moves. There are valid reasons both for it and against it.

Triple-A SWB Yankees sale finally final

(Photo via The Scranton Times-Tribune)

The sale of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees franchise is finally complete, reports David Singleton of The Scranton Times-Tribune. Lackawanna County approved the sale on Thursday following more than two years of political wrangling. The team was sold for $14.6M to SWB Yankees LLC, a joint venture between the Yankees and Mandalay Bay. They had passed on an option to buy to the team for $13M in 2007, when the Yankees moved their Triple-A operations out of Columbus and into Northeast Pennsylvania.

Extensive renovations at PNC Field can finally begin now that the sale is complete, with major demolition starting yesterday. The $43.3M project is forcing the team to play all of its home games on the road this season. Last month we heard that construction had to begin no later than April 1st to ensure the facility is ready for the start of next season, but the park is expected to be ready in time following the sale approval. The Times-Tribune has some new renderings like the one you see above.

The sale locks SWB Yankees LLC into a 30-year stadium lease that could run as long as 50 years, so don’t expect the team’s Triple-A affiliate to move anytime soon. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is about as close to the Bronx as the Yankees could get their top minor league club, a two-hour drive if you run into some traffic. The season-long road trip is terrible for the players and prospects currently in Triple-A, but hopefully the sale and new facility sets things up well for the organization moving forward.

Yankees can’t hit good pitching, win game started by Justin Verlander anyway

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees have a great offense that can’t hit good pitching … except for when they hang five runs on Justin Verlander in six innings. I think that’s how the narrative goes. Anyway, let’s recap Friday night’s walk-off win with bullet points…

  • Off The Hook: Ivan Nova‘s undefeated streak remains intact — I think it’s up to 20 starts now — though he didn’t pitch all that well. The Tigers ground balled him to death in the third before putting together some very hard-hit balls in the sixth. Raul Ibanez‘s defense didn’t help, though Nova did allow the leadoff man to reach base in five of his six innings. Shake it off and do a better job five days from now.
  • Long Ball: Verlander hadn’t allowed a single homerun this season until running into the Yankees, who took him deep twice. Alex Rodriguez connected a legit solo shot to right in the fourth, and one inning later Russell Martin hit a two-run shot the other way. Martin’s was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie, but I’ll take it.
  • Strong Relief: Other than Boone Logan, who didn’t retire either of two left-handers he faced but did get an out on the bases, the relievers once again slammed the door shut. Cory Wade got four outs, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera three each. Rafael Soriano threw about five innings in a simulated game in the bullpen based on how many times he warmed up.
  • Winning Rally: Once again, it was the Captain who set the stage. Derek Jeter‘s 15-game hit streak came to an end, but he drew a one-out walk before advancing two bases on a wild pitch. Hooray for sending the runner in a 3-2 count. With runners on corners and one out, all A-Rod had to do was hit the ball in the air. Instead, the ball went to the backstop. Catcher Alex Avila completely whiffed on a Brayan Villarreal pitch, allowing it scoot far enough away that Jeter was able to score the winning run. Just like they drew it up.
  • Leftovers: I couldn’t really tell from where I sitting, but I assume Joe West had a horrible strike zone given Joe Girardi‘s ejection and all the bickering throughout the game … A-Rod had three hits and started the game-tying rally in the eighth with a single before Robinson Cano extended it with a single and Mark Teixeira capped it off with a sac fly … Nick Swisher doubled off Verlander twice, giving him nine for the season and the second most in baseball … Mo’s appearance was the 1,050th of his career, the eighth most all-time. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Game Two of this three-game set will be played Saturday afternoon at 4pm ET, though it’s not a FOX game. Freddy Garcia will look to right the ship against rookie left-hander Drew Smyly. RAB Tickets can help get you into the ballpark if you want to catch the game.

Turley’s gem highlights offense-less night

For the first time this season, you get bullet points…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Dellin Betances walked only four in five innings, an improvement over recent starts. The bullpen trio of Juan Cedeno, Chase Whitley, and Kevin Whelan threw four nasty innings. Kevin Russo had three singles and Craig Tatum whacked a two-run dinger on a slow night of offense.
  • Double-A Trenton (loss): The Thunder drew eight walks but only mustered three singles with the sticks, one each by Abe Almonte, Walt Ibarra, and Ronnie Mustelier. Shaeffer Hall allowed two runs in six innings in an otherwise uninteresting game.
  • High-A Tampa (loss): Rob Segedin had two hits including a double, but J.R. Murphy‘s single was the only piece of offense they could put together. Nike Turley threw a gem — two runs, five strikeouts, and one walk in eight innings — before Branden Pinder got hit around for the walk-off loss.
  • Low-A Charleston (loss): Mason Williams went hitless in three at-bats before being lifted for a pinch-hitter to open the ninth. I hope that was just a function of getting him rest in a blowout rather than an injury. Gary Sanchez doubled on a night when Tyler Austin, Dante Bichette Jr., Angelo Gumbs, and Cito Culver all failed to reach base. Will Oliver got hammered — five runs in 2.2 IP — and the parade of fringe prospect relievers didn’t fare much better.

Game 19: Revenge

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The last two times I made it to the Bronx for a playoff game, the Yankees were eliminated. The first was Game Four against the Indians in 2007, the second was Game Five of last year’s ALDS. Unless you’re celebrating a World Championship, there’s nothing fun about walking out of the Stadium following the last game of the season. The last three or four days have been pretty rough in Yankeeland, both on and off the field, so a win against the Tigers tonight would be greatly appreciated. Here’s the starting nine…

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

RHP Ivan Nova

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Just a heads up, DotF and the game recap will be up a little later than usual. Enjoy the game.