The Yankees have designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, the team announced. The move clears both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Bruce Billings, who has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to help the overworked bullpen.
Soriano, 38, hit a miserable .221/.244/.367 (61 wRC+) with six homers in 238 plate appearances this season. He started the year as the everyday DH and, thanks in part to Carlos Beltran‘s elbow injury, wound up as a platoon right fielder losing playing time to Ichiro Suzuki. Soriano went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and some awful defensive plays yesterday, which might have been the final straw.
The Yankees are paying $5M of Soriano’s $18M salary this year — the Cubs are paying the other $13M — and they still owe him that. They now have ten days to trade him, release him, or place him on waivers. It’s inevitable he will clear waivers and be released with that salary. Soriano was a monster after being re-acquired last year, hitting .256/.325/.525 (130 wRC+) with 17 homers in 58 games. Father Time remains undefeated, unfortunately.
Earlier this season Soriano said he will consider retirement if he has a poor year and I have to think this qualifies. Another team can sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum once he is released, so he might get another chance (Red Sox?) to show he still has something left in the tank. Soriano was as fun a player to watch as anyone when he was locked in, but the time had come to move on. He wasn’t helping at all this year.
Once the pitching staff gets settled in following the Brandon McCarthy trade, the Yankees figure to call up another position player to replace Soriano. Zoilo Almonte and Yangervis Solarte are on the 40-man roster, but Jose Pirela is an interesting non-40 man option. He has crushed Triple-A pitching this year (124 wRC+) and started playing right field about a week ago. That’s probably not a coincidence. We’ll see.
The Yankees have added some much-needed rotation help, and it came very cheap. The team announced they have acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno. Buster Olney says Arizona will pay half of the $4.1M owed to McCarthy through the end of the season. The Yankees will pay the $1M assignment bonus in his contract.
Arizona comes into today with baseball’s worst record at 36-53, and GM Kevin Towers has made it clear in recent days that they will look to deal veterans for young players in the coming weeks. The D’Backs traded lefty reliever Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana to the Angels just yesterday. I’d expect them to make more moves before the trade deadline. McCarthy is due to become a free agent after the season, so this is a pure rental for the Yankees. It seems like a salary dump for the D’Backs more than anything.
“Quality stuff. Pounds the strike zone. Lots of ground balls, which helps at our Stadium,” said Brian Cashman to Joel Sherman when asked about the deal. “[David] Huff was better than we had and McCarthy was better than what we had, so we improve when we can.”
McCarthy, who turns 31 tomorrow, has a 5.01 ERA and 3.79 FIP in 18 starts and 109.1 innings this year. Homeruns have been a big problem (1.23 HR/9 and 20.0 HR/FB%) and that doesn’t figure to change in Yankee Stadium, but his strikeout (7.63 K/9 and 20.0 K%), walk (1.64 BB/9 and 4.3 BB%) and ground ball (55.3%) rates are all solid. Clearly the Yankees are hoping his .345 BABIP and 66.7% strand rate return to his career norms (.296 and 70.5%, respectively) and he pitches closer to his FIP than ERA the rest of the season.
I wrote about McCarthy as a possible trade target just the other day. He is going to give up some homers, that’s inevitable, but the D’Backs are one the few clubs with a worse team defense (.669 defensive efficiency) than the Yankees (.682), so New York’s porous infield and all their shifts might actually be an upgrade for him. Either way, Nuno set the bar rather low (5.42 ERA and 5.15 FIP). All McCarthy has to do is chew up innings every fifth day to be an upgrade, and that’s not necessarily a guarantee given his worrisome injury history. Here’s a wrote I few days ago:
The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.
Nuno, 26, opened the season as the long man and was initially pushed into the rotation by Ivan Nova‘s elbow injury in April. He remained a starter as CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) went down with their injuries. The Yankees plucked Nuno out of an independent league a few years ago, got about a hundred replacement level innings out of him, then turned him into a half-season of McCarthy. Not bad at all.
McCarthy last started on Thursday and, according to Dan Barbarisi, he told reporters in Arizona he will start for the Yankees on Wednesday. In that case the Yankees will need someone to make Nuno’s scheduled start tomorrow. Bruce Billings, who is currently in the clubhouse after being scratched from last night’s start with Triple-A Scranton, will not make that start according to Joe Girardi. He’s there to help the bullpen. Shane Greene is scheduled to start for Triple-A tomorrow and seems like the obvious choice to make the spot start. Masahiro Tanaka can then start on Tuesday on normal rest.
I think it’s important to note that while McCarthy figures to be an upgrade over Nuno, perhaps a substantial one, this move alone won’t put the Yankees over the top. It can’t be their only move if they truly want to contend. They need help at third base and in right field, plus another reliever to ease the burden on Dellin Betances and Adam Warren would help as well. Another starter shouldn’t be off the table either. Sabathia and Pineda aren’t coming back any time soon and Chase Whitley has hit the wall and hard. The Yankees got better today, but hopefully the McCarthy trade is not the only move they make.
According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Cubs exchanged proposals for both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before the two were traded to the Athletics. It sounds like they were discussing them in separate deals, not one big trade. Heyman says the Yankees finished second in the bidding for Samardzija and lost out because they didn’t want to give up Dellin Betances and simply don’t have a prospect as good as Addison Russell.
With Chase Whitley crashing back to Earth and Vidal Nuno being Vidal Nuno, it’s clear the Yankees need at least one and maybe even two starters. It sounds like CC Sabathia is done for the year and who knows when or if Michael Pineda will return. Even if you think the Yankees won’t contend and have no business being buyers, they still need some kind of veteran innings eater to take some pressure off Betances and Adam Warren. Those two are already starting to show signs of being overworked and the Yankees need to scale back on their workload in the coming weeks. · (36) ·
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Buffalo)
- LF Jose Pirela: 2-5, 1 SB
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-5, 1 K — this is only the fourth time in 25 games with at least five plate appearances that he’s gone hitless
- RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — I know he can’t hit lefties, but I have a hard time believing he isn’t a better option than Alfonso Soriano at this point
- 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 BB
- 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-3, 1 2B, 1 BB — hopefully he tears it up down here and forces his way back into the MLB picture
- DH Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — second homer in 13 games since being sent down
- RHP Edgmer Escalona: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/5 GB/FB — 37 of 47 pitches were strikes (79%) … got the spot start in place of RHP Bruce Billings, who was a late scratch … safe to assume Billings is on his way to join the MLB team to give the taxed bullpen a fresh long man
- LHP Francisco Rondon: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 47 pitches were strikes (62%)
- SwP Pat Venditte: 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K — six of 13 pitches were strikes
- RHP Matt Daley: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 20 of 28 pitches were strikes (72%) … 36/7 K/BB in 25.1 innings at this level
This game was so stupidly 2014 Yankees. It had everything. No offense? Of course. Worn out bullpen? Indeed. Terrible defense? Naturally. Add it all together and you get a silly 2-1 walk-off loss in eleven innings. I can’t even be mad. I’m impressed at how low they’ve stooped. Let’s recap the team’s tenth loss in the last 14 games:
- Gift Run: The Yankees scored their only run after the umpires missed Ichiro Suzuki being thrown out at second on a stolen base. It was a bang-bang play, no doubt, but replays showed he was tagged out. Thankfully the Twins never bothered to challenge or even argue. Frankie Cervelli followed with a two-out single to left to give the Yankees a one-zip lead in the fifth. It was the first of two runs he helped drive in on the afternoon.
- Cy Phelps: David Phelps deserves so much better than a no decision. He gave the team seven innings of one-run ball when the bullpen was gassed, which is exactly what they needed. He allowed three hits — one a Josh Willingham solo homer off the facing of the second deck — and two walks while striking out three. Phelps retired eleven in a row at one point, immediately before the homer. He did his job.
- LMAOffense: The Yankees put runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, and tenth innings, but of course they didn’t get The Big Hit. (They went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position overall.) They had opportunities to score in the late innings. This wasn’t the offense disappearing for like five innings at a time, though someone named Yohan Pino held them to one run on three singles in six innings. Blah.
- Thrown Away: Cervelli literally threw this game away. Joe Girardi went to Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton for two innings each because the bullpen has been overworked — Kelley escaped a bases loaded jam in the eighth — which is about as risky as it gets. Thornton faced eight batters and six were right-handed. (He didn’t even get the two lefties out.) Chris Colabello just missed a walk-off homer in the 11th, instead settling for a leadoff double. A Willingham intentional walk and an Oswaldo Arcia hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out. Thornton got a weak grounder back to himself, started the potential 1-2-3 double play, but Cervelli threw the ball into right field to lose the game. Shoulda just held onto it, I’m not sure a perfect throw would have gotten the out. It’s their second walk-off error in the last eleven days.
- Leftovers: Alfonso Soriano missed a foul pop-up and went 0-for-4 with two feeble strikeouts at the plate. He is hitting .221/.244/.367 (61 wRC+) on the year. I defy you to find a more useless player on an active 25-man roster … Brett Gardner replaced Soriano in left to start the ninth inning but did not pinch-hit for him in the previous half-inning for whatever reason … the Yankees had no extra-base hits and the singles belonged to Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro, and Cervelli (two) … Mark Teixeira and Beltran drew the only walks, so for the eighth time in the last nine games, the Yankees drew two walks or less … the so-called Bronx Bombers have been held to one run or less 18 times this season. They did it 29 times all of last year.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees wrap up this four-game series in Target Field on Sunday afternoon, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball again Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has a 5.49 ERA, which is the highest among qualified starters by one-third of a run. You and I both know that means little with this offense.
Happy Saturday everyone. It’s a surprisingly nice day outside — I thought I remembered seeing it was supposed to rain today, but I guess not — so hopefully you’re out enjoying it. If not, use this open thread to talk about whatever you like. Have at it.
The Pirates have claimed infielder Dean Anna off waivers, the team announced. Anna confirmed the news himself on Twitter. The Yankees designated him for assignment the other day to clear a 40-man roster spot for Zelous Wheeler.
Anna, 27, was acquired from the Padres in a minor trade over the winter. He made the Opening Day roster, went 3-for-22 (.136) with a homer in 12 big league games before being sent to Triple-A Scranton, where he hit .192/.283/.292 (60 wRC+) in 36 games. Anna was probably third on the team’s shortstop depth chart, so while losing him isn’t the end of the world, it would have been nice to keep him in the organization. · (8) ·
It’s been a while since the Yankees last won three straight games. They haven’t done it since sweeping the Blue Jays and winning the first game of the Orioles series in Yankee Stadium three weeks ago. They have a chance to win their third straight this afternoon, and whenever the Yankees need a win, the Twins always seem to come through. Especially in Target Field. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Brian Roberts
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- C Frankie Cervelli — Brian McCann was a late scratch because his foot is still sore, though x-rays were negative
- 3B Zelous Wheeler
RHP David Phelps
It is nice and sunny in the Twin Cities. No threat of rain or anything. Perfect afternoon for baseball. Today’s game is scheduled to start a little after 2pm ET and you can watch live on YES. Enjoy the game.
The Athletics have acquired both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, according to Ken Rosenthal. Top prospect Addison Russell is among those going to Chicago. The Yankees need pitching and both Samardzija and Hammel figured to be on their radar. Forget that now. · (196) ·
It wasn’t particularly easy, but the Yankees beat the Twins by the score of 6-5 on Friday afternoon to win their second straight game. The Twinkies always come through whenever the Yankees need a win. Let’s recap the Independence Day victory, for America:
- Early Offense: The Yankees were all over Kyle Gibson. Three of the first four, four of the first seven, and five of the first eleven men they sent to the plate had extra-base hits, including run-scoring doubles by Brian Roberts and Mark Teixeira. Teixeira missed a homer by a foot or two. Brett Gardner had a triple and Frankie Cervelli had a double amid the carnage. Carlos Beltran (sac fly), Brendan Ryan (sac fly), and Jacoby Ellsbury (two-run single) also drove in runs as the Yankees scored six runs in two innings against Gibson.
- Chased Whitley: Make it three straight dud outings for Chase Whitley. The right-hander allowed four runs (including two solo homers) and put nine men on base in only three innings of work, needing 74 pitches for nine outs. Over his last three starts, Whitely has allowed 17 runs on 27 hits and six walks in 10.1 innings. That is very bad. The Yankees really need another starter.
- Turn Back The Clock: When he woke up Friday morning, Roberts was hitting .237/.309/.355 (84 wRC+). He’ll go to bed hitting .248/.318/.384 (94 wRC+). That’s what a 4-for-5 with three doubles and a triple day will do for ya. Two of the doubles and the triple banged off the wall (one double was a grounder inside the line), so this was no luck. He was smashing everything. Roberts is the first Yankee with a four extra-base hit game since Alex Rodriguez had two doubles and two homers against the Devil Rays in 2005. Roberts is also the first Yankee with zero homers in a four extra-base hit game since Jim Mason in 1974 (four doubles). Crazy.
- Bullpen On Parade: Since Whitley bowed out after three innings, Joe Girardi was forced to dip deep into his bullpen. David Huff chucked three perfect innings then Adam Warren and Dellin Betances combined to throw the seventh and eighth. Betances allowed a run on a single, a hit batsman, a double steal, and a ground out. He looks like he’s running on fumes. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for him. David Robertson allowed a double and struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save. Forty-seven of his last 65 outs are strikeouts. Think about that.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had ten hits, including four by Roberts and three by Cervelli. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Teixeira had the other hits. Gardner drew the only walk, so the team now has two or fewer walks in seven of their last eight games … the Yankees had eight extra-base hits as a team for the second time this year (this was the other game), but it’s the first time they had eight extra-base hits with no homeruns since July 2007 (this game) … Zelous Wheeler made this great catch falling into the dugout, but it didn’t count because he was out of the field of play. Stupid rules.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Blue Jays lost (on a Nick Punto walk-off!) and the Orioles were rained out, so the Yankees are three games back of Baltimore and 2.5 games back of Toronto in the AL East. Depending on the outcome of the late game, they will be either 3.5 (Mariners lose) or 4.5 (Mariners win) games back of the second wildcard spot. David Phelps and Yohan Pino will be the pitching matchup in the third game of this four-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Minor League Update: It’s a holiday, so I’m taking a break from the usual minor league update. Here are the box scores: Triple-A Scranton, High-A Tampa, Low-A Charleston, Short Season Staten Island, Rookie GCL Yanks1, and Rookie GCL Yanks2. Double-A Trenton was rained out. 1B Greg Bird homered, LHP Miguel Sulbaran threw five one-hit innings, and 3B Eric Jagielo singled. Oh, and 2B Rob Refsnyder hit a three-run walk-off homer. That about wraps it up.