Seven questions and six answers this week, the final mailbag of the 2014 regular season. Don’t worry, the mailbag continues in the offseason. This is a year ’round feature. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week.
Dustin asks: If the Yankees prefer a long-term solution at shortstop to a free agent, what would it take to pry either Starlin Castro or Addison Russell from the Cubs?
Even though there are a ton of quality shortstops set to hit free agency this winter, I think trading for a younger, more long-term solution at the position is something the Yankees should pursue. The Diamondbacks and Cubs have a stockpile of young shortstops but Chicago’s group is better, mostly because they’re more high-ceiling players. I like Chris Owings a lot, but he’s no Castro or Russell. Or even Javier Baez, who’s been awful so far in his MLB career (51 wRC+ and 41.9 K%) and has always had very high bust potential because of his plate indiscipline.
Castro, who is still only 24, rebounded nicely from his down 2013 season to hit .292/.339/.438 (115 wRC+) with 14 homers this year. He’s played in 740 of 778 possible games since making his debut — most of his missed games have come this month due to an ankle sprain — and while he’s not a great defender, he isn’t as bad as his reputation either. Plus he’s under contract through 2019 for a total of $44M. Castro is young, he’s productive, he’s durable, and he’s signed cheaply for another half-decade. He’s someone the Yankees should be very interested in if he’s made available.
Russell is just the prospect, on the other hand. A great prospect, but a prospect nonetheless. He is a riskier of the two shortstops. The price for Russell has already been established, right? Basically a Jeff Samardzija caliber pitcher. It’s worth noting the Cubs balked when the Phillies asked for Russell in Cole Hamels trade talks last month, according to Gordon Wittenmyer. (Hamels’ salary came into play there.) Castro should be similarly expensive. The Yankees aren’t getting these guys with David Phelps and a prospect. Michael Pineda would have to be on the table and you know what? I’m not against that given his shoulder history. I’d prefer Castro to Russell ever so slightly but would be thrilled with either.
nycsportzfan asks: I was wondering if you thought we should trade Shane Greene while his value could be at his greatest this offseason? He could be almost a centerpiece for a mid-rotation guy (Matt Latos, Mike Leake, Tyson Ross, etc.), really.
Mark asks: Would you rather see the Yankees sign a big free agent starter this offseason or acquire a starter in a trade. Some of the Reds’ starters could be interesting targets.
Gonna lump these two together. Greene was very good this season up until his disaster final starter earlier this week. I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him at all but the Yankees can’t afford to give him away either. Their 2015 rotation options are risky and they’ll need the depth. I also don’t think his trade value is high enough to be the centerpiece of a package for a guy like Latos or Ross either. Greene is only one year younger than Latos and two years younger than Ross, remember. We’re not talking about a 22 or 23-year-old here. I’m not sure his trade value is all that high on his own. Definitely not high enough to land a real difference maker.
Four of the Reds’ five starting pitchers are due to be free agents after next season — Latos, Leake, Johnny Cueto, and Alfredo Simon. They do have Homer Bailey signed long-term and Tony Cingrani under team control, but still, losing four starters is tough. Cincinnati is a medium payroll team ($114M in 2014) that already has $70M on the books for just four players in 2016 (Bailey, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips), so re-signing all four of those starters will be impossible. Heck, re-signing just one of Latos or Cueto will be tough. Speculation is they will trade at least one of those two to clear payroll and fill other roster holes this winter and obviously either would make sense for the Yankees. Expect a lot of trade chatter about the Reds’ starters this winter and expect the Bombers to be involved.
Yeah, that rotation would be pretty dynamite in a short series, at least on paper. Who knows what would happen in the actual games. I’d use Kuroda as the fourth starter and put Greene in the bullpen as a multi-inning guy. Joe Girardi would be able to lean heavily on David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren in a short postseason series with built in off-days, so the pitching staff could have been excellent. Too bad the Yankees couldn’t hit at all this year. Thinking about what could have been with this pitching staff is a bummer.
Kevin asks: I have forever been against the idea of a 6-man rotation, however going to next year I don’t think it could make much more sense. CC Sabathia, Pineda, Tanaka and Kuroda (aqssuming return) would all benefit greatly from the extra day for one reason or another. What are your thoughts and do you see the Yankees pursuing this?
There have already been reports indicating the Yankees are considering a six-man rotation for next season as way to give their starters extra rest. Tanaka (elbow), Pineda (shoulder), Phelps (elbow), Sabathia (knee), and Ivan Nova (elbow) all have injury concerns and could benefit from working in a six-man rotation. How much would the extra day of rest help keep them healthy? Who knows. It’s worth noting pitchers across the league this year have actually performed slightly worst with an extra day of rest than on normal rest.
The Yankees would have to use a three-man bench to make a six-man rotation happen — nothing they’ve done in recent years makes me think they would go with a four-man bench and a six-man bullpen — and that’s doable because players like Martin Prado provide some versatility. They’d have to come up with a similarly versatile backup infielder and have a backup catcher who could maybe play a little first base and left field. I don’t love the idea of taking starts away from Tanaka and Pineda — the difference between a five-man rotation and a six-man rotation is about five starts across the 162-game season — but if it helps keep them healthy, it might be the best course of action. I don’t think there’s a clear right answer here. This is a very debatable topic.
Stephen asks: Now that we know how many we’ll have this season, I’m curious what the percentage is for how many of Jeter’s games played were “meaningless games” — those in which the Yankees were already eliminated from postseason contention. I’d bet it’s probably close to 1%, right?
The Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention in Game 157 back in 2008 and in Game 158 this year, so that’s nine meaningless games between those two seasons. Jeter was injured last year when the Yankees were eliminated and didn’t play in any of those meaningless games. He’s played 2,745 total regular season games in his career, so less than 1% have been meaningless — 0.0033% of his games have come with the Yankees mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. That is: crazy.
Update: Reader @Fgerlando points out Jorge Posada played zero meaningless games in his career. He was hurt at the end of the 2008 season and did not play.
Randy asks: Do you think Jeter will get a monument? Do you think he deserves one?
I was thinking about this yesterday and decided against including it in the thoughts post. Right now there are monuments for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Miller Huggins, and George Steinbrenner in Monument Park. All of them were dedicated posthumously. If the Yankees decide to add a monument for Jeter after he retires, he’ll be the first person to have one dedicated in his honor while still alive. So, really, this question is asking whether he will be worthy of a monument in 40, 50, 60 something years. My answer is yes. Jeter is the greatest Yankee since Mantle and he was at the core of their most recent dynasty. If he isn’t worthy of a monument, I’m not sure how anyone else would be.
For one night, Yankee magic returned to the Bronx. Derek Jeter ended his final game at Yankee Stadium with one of his trademark inside-out singles to right field for a walk-off win over the Orioles. The final score was 6-5.
What an awkward start to the game. Yankee Stadium was rocking, the Bleacher Creatures were giving the Roll Call of a lifetime, and then Nick Markakis launched a monster solo homer into the second deck in right field to lead off the first inning. Then, four pitches later, Alejandro De Aza gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead with another long solo homer, this one longer than Markakis’ according to the official measurements (390 vs. 383 feet). The ballpark in the Bronx was electric and then all the air was let out of the balloon with two swings. Yeah.
Thankfully, those back-to-back homers were quickly erased from memory. The Yankees rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the first and Jeter was right smack in the middle of the rally. He doubled in Brett Gardner for the team’s first run — I thought it was gone off the bat, he missed a homer by about two feet when it clanked off the left-center field wall — then scored the game-tying run later in the inning, after moving to third on a wild pitch and coming home on Brian McCann‘s ground ball to second. This seemed like that would be Jeter’s big hit for the night, but lol to that.
Hiroki Kuroda‘s likely final start as a Yankee went the way so many of his other starts have gone these last few years. He gave up the two runs in the first, then settled right down and took the ball deep into the game. Kuroda allowed just two base-runners after the first inning — Kelly Johnson reached on a Jeter’s throwing error in the second and De Aza singled in the third — and retired the final 16 men he faced. After those two first inning homers, he turned into vintage Kuroda, mowing down hitters and looking like he could pitch another five years if he wanted.
By Game Score (77), this was Kuroda’s best start of the season and best since last August (box score). His nine strikeouts were not just a season high, they were more than he had in any start last year as well. The last time Kuroda struck out 9+ came in September 2012, when he struck out ten Rays (box score). The final pitching line was two runs on three hits and no walks in eight innings with nine strikeouts and nine ground ball outs. Kuroda never did get any kind of big ovation. He was lifted from the game after the eighth inning and that was that. Unless Kuroda surprisingly returns in 2015, it was a fittingly unceremonious end to a marvelous three-year career in pinstripes.
Signature Moment, Part I
The score remained 2-2 until the seventh inning — the Yankees did not have a hit and only put two men on base in the second through sixth innings — when Jeter gave the Yankees the lead in what everyone thought was his final Yankee Stadium at-bat. The inning started with Stephen Drew striking out and reaching first base on a wild pitch, capping off an awful defensive night for the O’s. Ichiro Suzuki followed that with a walk, then Jose Pirela reached when pitcher T.J. McFarland pulled first baseman Steve Pearce off the bag with a throw on his bunt attempt. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs while hitting the ball maybe 20 feet total.
That brought Gardner to the plate with a chance to give the Yankees the lead, but, with Jeter looming in the on deck circle, I got the sense no out would have cared if Brett struck out. Well, he didn’t strike out, he just grounded into a 3-1 put-out. The bases remained loaded for Jeter, who hit a weak tapper to J.J. Hardy at short. Too weak to turn two, I thought. Hardy flipped to second for the force out, but the throw was wide of the bag and the ball sailed into right field, scoring two runs. Was it the classic Jeter moment we all expected? Nope. Did it get the job done? Hell yes. McCann plated the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly as the next batter, giving the Yankees a 5-2 lead. That was the first ball to leave the infield in the inning.
David Robertson will forever be remembered for the best blown save in baseball history. Like many other people, I watched the ninth inning wondering when Brendan Ryan would trot out of the dugout to replace Jeter so the Cap’n could get one last grand send-off in his final game. That never happened, and while we waited the Orioles scored three runs to tie the game. Adam Jones hit a two-run homer to bring Baltimore to within a run, then Pearce hit a solo homer to knot things up. I mean, what? How did that happen? Ultimately, the baseball gods had another, much cooler ending planned for this game.
Signature Moment, Part II
As soon as Pirela singled leading off the bottom of the ninth, the script wrote itself. Gardner would bunt pinch-runner Antoan Richardson up to second and Jeter would drive him in for the game winning run. Right? Right. Sometimes you can predict baseball, Suzyn. Gardner did indeed bunt Richardson to second, and Jeter did indeed drive him in with a walk-off single. He jumped all over Evan Meek’s first pitch middle-middle fastball and laced it to right field for a classic Jeterian hit. We’ve seen that same hit about 3,000 times now. Richardson chugged around third and slid into home plate safely to score the team’s most memorable run in a long, long time.
Something weird happened following the walk-off hit: Jeter showed some emotion. And I don’t mean his little fist pump that usually follows wins either. Jeter literally jumped for joy after seeing Richardson score the game winning run. Derek’s face showed relief as much as it did excitement. He said following the game that his main thought all night was “don’t cry” — cameras showed him struggling to fight back tears a few times, especially when the “Der-Ek Je-Ter!” chants got louder in the late innings — and that hit allowed him to finally relax. His perpetual all business stare had finally been erased. Outside of winning the World Series, I can’t ever remember seeing Jeter that happy on a baseball field. I will always remember this walk-off hit for Jeter’s rarely seen sense of pure joy as I will the outcome of the game.
All told, Jeter went 2-for-5 with a run scored and three runs driven in on the night. He went 12-for-34 (.353) during the eight-game homestand. Jeter said after the game he will play this weekend out of respect for the fans, but he will not play shortstop. He will pinch-hit or DH only. It would be amazing if the walk-off hit was his final act on a baseball field, but I get it. Not playing this weekend never seemed all that realistic.
Pirela had two hits and both Gardner and Chris Young had one each. Chase Headley, Young, and Ichiro drew walks. That’s it for the offense. The Yankees went 2-for-7 (.286) with runners in scoring position and one of those two hits didn’t even score a run. It was Pirela’s sac bunt attempt in the seventh. Whatever. They scored enough runs to win. That’s all I care about.
Robertson’s blown save was his fifth of the season. He said after the game that “it created another Derek Jeter moment. As much as I wished I wouldn’t have created it, I’m glad it happened.” It’s easy to forget this might have been Robertson’s last game in the Bronx as a Yankee as well.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other game stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. At +.602 WPA, Jeter had the team’s third “biggest” game of the season. Only Carlos Beltran‘s walk-off homer against the Orioles (+.930) and Young’s walk-off homer against the Rays (+.671) were bigger.
Only one series left in the season. The Yankee are off to Boston for three totally meaningless games against the Red Sox this weekend. Both teams have already been eliminated from postseason contention, so the only thing on the line is bragging rights. Chris Capuano and knuckleballer Steve Wright will be on the mound Friday night.
Baseball is just the best.
So this is it. Derek Jeter is playing his final home game tonight and his career will be over in four days. I mean, we’ve known this day was coming for months, but I still don’t want to believe it’s actually here. I can barely remember the pre-Jeter Yankees at this point and I honestly don’t want to think about the post-Jeter Yankees right now either. I grew up watching his career from start to finish. He was embedded in my childhood.
Tonight is going to be very bittersweet, the same way Mariano Rivera‘s exit was bittersweet last year. The celebration is so fun but the thought of the Yankees without Jeter sucks. I don’t care how he’s hit last year. Jeter’s an icon and I’m going to miss him. I have no idea what the Yankees and Joe Girardi are planning tonight but I have no doubt it will be amazing. They always seem to nail this stuff. I can’t wait and I don’t want this game to come at the same time, know what I mean? Here is the Orioles lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 3B Chase Headley
- LF Chris Young
- 2B Stephen Drew
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- DH Jose Pirela
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It has been raining all day in New York but it cleared up not too long ago. The game is scheduled to start just after 7pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally as well as MLB Network and MLB.tv nationally. This is the free MLB.tv game of the day, so you can watch even without a subscription. Sweet deal. Enjoy the game, folks.
Later tonight, Derek Jeter will play his final home game at Yankee Stadium. We’ve known this was coming for months now but I still can’t believe it. I grew up watching Jeter’s career from start to finish and I’m finding it impossible to imagine a world in which he isn’t the shortstop of the Yankees. I’m certain tonight will be memorable regardless of the weather forecast. Everything Jeter does is memorable.
Tonight’s game will also feature another, much less celebrated farewell. Hiroki Kuroda is set to make what will likely be the final start of his Yankees career and possibly his MLB career. He has flirted with retirement in each of the last two offseasons and he’s already started doing it again this year. Sure, there is a chance he could return, but the feeling all season has been that the Yankees will move on from Kuroda now that he’s approaching 40 and his effectiveness is staring to wane.
It’s fitting Kuroda’s final start will be (understandably) overshadowed by Jeter’s farewell tonight. Just about everything he’s done in pinstripes has been overshadowed. The day the Yankees signed him was the also day the day they shipped Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Michael Pineda. When Kuroda re-signed with the team after that season, it was overshadowed by Andy Pettitte announcing he wanted to return for one more year. When he re-signed again this offseason, it was the same day Robinson Cano bolted for Seattle and Carlos Beltran became a Yankee.
Getting overshadowed is what Kuroda does, but the fact is he has been the team’s best and most reliable pitcher since first putting on pinstripes. There were always starters getting more attention — CC Sabathia in 2012, Ivan Nova in 2013, Masahiro Tanaka and Pineda in 2014 — but Kuroda was the stalwart in Joe Girardi‘s rotation. He missed one start in three years with the Yankees, and that was when they shut him down after being eliminated last September and sent out a spot starter in Game 162.
Kuroda was remarkably consistent these last three seasons — 2012-14 WHIP: 1.16, 1.16, 1.17; 2012-14 FIP: 3.86, 3.56, 3.58; 2012-14 K/BB: 3.27, 3.49, 3.91 — and he was truly one of the best pitchers in baseball, even with his late-season fades in 2012 and 2013. Here is where he ranks among his peers since joining New York (min. 300 IP, 131 qualifiers):
Kuroda has been no worse than a top 15-20 starter these last three years when you look at the whole picture, his effectiveness on a rate basis and the bulk innings he provided. He went 7+ scoreless innings in 14 starts over the last three years, the fourth most in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw (20), Adam Wainwright (19), and Felix Hernandez (15). In his only two postseason starts with the Yankees, Kuroda allowed two runs in 8.1 innings (2012 ALDS) and three runs in 7.2 innings (2012 ALCS). He struck out 14 and walked one.
“The next outing, I may end my career there. Who knows?” said Kuroda to Chad Jennings following his start last Friday. “For now, I still have a job to do, which is to finish this season. I don’t really put too much time on (thinking about what’s next). It’s something I need to think about once I finish my responsibilities here.”
During his three years in New York, Kuroda was consistently solid, occasionally brilliant, and rarely bad. He was almost like the position player version of Hideki Matsui, fitting the team in a way that made it seem like he had been with the Yankees for years and years. Kuroda was obviously excellent on the field but he also carried himself with class and represented the team with dignity. Forgive the cliche, but he was a True Yankee in every way.
Kuroda’s tenure in pinstripes will likely come to an end tonight, overshadowed by Jeter’s farewell. That’s fine though. He’s been overshadowed and somewhat underappreciated ever since he arrived in New York. That’s his thing. Hopefully he gets a moment in the spotlight and a big ovation when he walks off the Yankee Stadium for what figures to be the final time tonight. Kuroda has been a great pitcher and a damn good Yankee these last three seasons, and he deserves a little send-off of his own.
Via George King: Soon-to-be free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas already has a $75M contract offer from an unknown team, though it is not the Yankees. King and Ben Badler said Tomas looked good during his showcase over the weekend and that hundreds of scouts showed up. The Phillies and Rangers have scheduled private workouts and Jesse Sanchez says more are expected to happen in the coming days and weeks.
Tomas, 23, has established residency in Haiti and been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Asset Control, but he still hasn’t been declared a free agent by MLB. That is expected to happen soon but he is unable to sign at this very moment. The Yankees’ level of interest in Tomas, a right-handed power hitting outfielder with some swing-and-miss concerns, is unknown at this point. They did invite recent Cuban free agents Aledmys Diaz and Rusney Castillo for private workouts, so I assume they will do the same with Tomas. If he is truly a middle of the order hitter with power, I think the Yankees should be all over him. · (64) ·
Derek Jeter will play the final home game of his career later tonight. Pretty much the only silver lining to being eliminated from postseason contention yesterday is that everyone will now be able to focus on Jeter and not the outcome of the game. (Not that Jeter’s retirement was lacking coverage or anything.) Here are a few random thoughts prior to the Cap’n’s last game in Yankee Stadium.
1. First things first: today’s weather forecast is not so good. Last I checked, there was a 70% chance of rain throughout the day before dropping to 20% later this evening. The tarp was put on the field immediately following yesterday afternoon’s game. Because the Yankees have been bounced from playoff contention and the Orioles have already clinched the AL East title (and are just about locked into the second best record in the league), this game normally would not be made up if it is rained out. It’s meaningless to the final standings. A league spokesman told Brendan Kuty that “all efforts will be made to get the game in” tonight and there have been no discussions about what would happen if it is rained out, nor should there be. There’s no way the league would force them to make the game up next week just to honor Jeter. It’s not fair to the postseason-bound Orioles, for starters. The weather is the weather and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it. I’m just going to put my faith in the baseball gods and hope the skies clear up enough at some point.
2. I and I think everyone else is looking forward to seeing what the Yankees and Joe Girardi do for Jeter after Mariano Rivera‘s memorable exit last season. Pulling him in the middle of an inning so he can get a standing ovation seems a bit too obvious but that just might be what happens. The KISS method (keep it simple, stupid) is never a bad choice. My guess? The rest of the team will stay behind in the dugout when Jeter takes the field defensively in the ninth inning — maybe earlier if they’re worried about rain in the later innings — so he can be alone on the field and get a roaring ovation. Then Girardi will pull him mid-inning so Jeter can get another ovation. I dunno, I’m just spit-balling here. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be awesome and memorable. The Yankees have a knack for doing these right. After all, it’s the people that make this stuff special. Everything else is secondary.
3. Earlier this week Girardi said he plans to play Jeter during the final three games of the season in Boston, though he softened that stance after yesterday’s loss and said he’ll ask Jeter what he wants to do. Of course Jeter said he wants to play, but maybe he’ll change his mind if tonight’s send-off is just too perfect. That’s what happened with Rivera last year. Needless to say, I selfishly hope he doesn’t play in the series against the Red Sox at all. Like Rivera, let his final moment on the field come at Yankee Stadium with the home fans sending him off in a matter befitting of an all-time great. It would be different if the team was contending and set to go to the postseason, but they’re not, and I want to see Jeter end his career in the Bronx, not Fenway Park. I don’t care if that makes me sound like a jerk — yes, I know lots of people paid lots of money for tickets to see Jeter this weekend, including plenty of Yankees fan — I want his final moment to come at Yankee Stadium. That’s my selfish storybook ending for his career.
4. As for his post-career life, I’m guessing Jeter will stay out of the limelight for the most part, aside from the occasional charity appearance and whatnot. I’m sure he’ll show up to Spring Training and Yankee Stadium a handful of times in 2015, though I would bet on him waiting a few years before coming to Old Timers’ Day like most new retirees. Jeter will have his publishing business to keep himself busy and I’m sure he has a bunch of other stuff going as well (based on the recent NY Mag article). If Jeter gets involved in baseball in any way after retiring, I assume it’ll be at an ownership level, not in some sort of coaching position that comes with the day-to-day grind and a lot of travel. I could absolutely see the Steinbrenners letting Jeter buy a stake in the team at some point in the future, even if he’d be nothing more than a spokesman/figurehead like Magic Johnson is for the Dodgers. His relationship with the Yankees is far from over, obviously.
5. Admittedly, I have not spent a ton of time thinking about this, but right now I consider Jeter to be the sixth best player in Yankees history behind (in order) Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra. That’s my personal list. There is no right answer to this stuff. We all have own personal top Yankees lists and none are wrong. If you want to take the lazy way out and look at WAR, Jeter is fifth in franchise history with both 71 bWAR and 73 fWAR, behind that top four and ahead of Berra. This is about so much more than on-field production though. We’re talking about players who transcend stats. The Bronx Bombers are the Bronx Bombers because of Ruth and Gehrig. Mantle is the greatest switch-hitter ever. DiMaggio has his record hitting streak and the guy married Marilyn Monroe. Berra? He has a World Series ring for literally every finger. These guys aren’t just baseball players, they’re icons and important historical figures. The same is true of Jeter. Want to argue with me that he is the fifth or seventh or tenth best Yankee instead of the sixth best Yankee? Fine. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort though. We’re talking about all-time greats either way and Jeter’s place among the Ruths and Gehrigs and Mantles of Yankee universe is well-deserved.
The Yankees were finally eliminated from postseason contention this afternoon. We’ve known this was coming for weeks but now it’s official. No October baseball in the Bronx for the second consecutive year. This sucks. Joe Girardi confirmed after the game that Carlos Beltran (elbow) will be shut down for the rest of the season and likely Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring) as well. Maybe Mark Teixeira (wrist) too. Not surprise there. Might as well shut down Dellin Betances before he gets to 90 innings.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Mets are playing and ESPN is showing the Royals and Indians, a game that would have been relevant to us Yankees fans if not for this afternoon’s loss. Talk about those games or anything else right here.
It’s official: the 2014 Yankees will not go to the postseason. They were eliminated from playoff contention with Wednesday afternoon’s come-from-ahead 9-5 loss to the Orioles. This is the first time the Yankees have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 1992-93.
In his final start of the 2014 season, Greene retired the first seven batters he faced and then only four of the next 14. His meltdown started in the third inning, when a single (Ryan Flaherty) and two walks (Nick Markakis and David Lough) loaded the bases with two outs. Greene got Adam Jones to ground out weakly to escape the jam and end the inning. The end result was a zero on the board, though the inning was unfortunately a sign of things to come.
Baltimore’s six-run rally in the fourth inning started with a simply little Nelson Cruz ground ball single kinda sorta back up the middle. It was just out of the reach of both Greene and the shifted infield. Steve Clevenger followed that with a single to center to put two on with no outs. Greene struck out Jimmy Paredes for the first out, then the line just kept moving. Kelly Johnson walked to load the bases, Ryan Flaherty drove in two runs with a double into the corner, Caleb Joseph struck out, Markakis singled in two runs with a soft liner to right, Lough tripled in another run, then Jones drove in Lough with a bunt hit. That finally ended Greene’s afternoon.
David Huff started warming in the bullpen after Flaherty doubled into the corner, but Joe Girardi decided to stick with Greene against the lefty hitting Markakis and Lough and it cost them. Not sure why you’d bother warming Huff up if you weren’t going to use him there. Anyway, Greene ended his season on a down note (3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) like Brandon McCarthy on Tuesday, though he still finished the year with a 3.78 ERA (3.72 FIP) in 78.2 innings — his ERA jumped from 3.12 to 3.78 in that fourth inning — with a 9.27 K/9 and a 50.2% ground ball rate. That is pretty awesome. Bad ending but otherwise a very nice season for Greene.
One, One, One … Two
The Yankees built a nice picket fence in the early going, scoring exactly one run in the first, second, and third innings. A Chase Headley single and a Mark Teixeira double, both with two outs, created the game’s first run in the first inning. Stephen Drew clubbed a solo homer off Bud Norris in the second inning and then Headley did the same in the third to give New York a 3-0 lead. At one point spanning the first through third innings, the Yankees sent nine men to the plate and all nine either homered (Drew and Headley) or struck out (everyone else).
The team’s best chance to climb back into the game came in the bottom of the fourth, immediately after the Orioles scored those six runs. Frankie Cervelli singled and Drew walked to put runners on first and second with no outs, but Chris Young lined into a bad luck double play (runner doubled off second) and Antoan Richardson flew out to end the inning. Teixeira hit a two-run homer off the right field foul pole in the eighth inning, but by then the O’s had blown the game open and it was nothing more than a garbage timer. Young grounded out with two men on base to end the eighth inning, their last real chance to stay in the postseason hunt.
Huff replaced Greene in the fourth and stopped the bleeding at six runs. He threw two scoreless innings. Chase Whitley and David Phelps let the game get out of reach in the eighth inning, as Whitely put two men on and Phelps let both score in addition to one of his own. Surprisingly, intentionally walking the leadoff man (Markakis) to load the bases with Jones and Cruz looming didn’t work out. Those last three insurance runs especially sucked after Teixeira’s homer.
Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 to end his hitting streak at seven games. He was left on deck when the 27th out was recorded. Headley had three hits, Teixeira had two, and Cervelli, Drew, Young, and pinch-hitter Jose Pirela had one hit apiece. Cervelli and Drew drew walks. Buck Showalter used six pitchers in the span of 12 batters at one point.
It seems like the Yankees have been blowing big-ish leads to the Orioles all season, so I decided to look it up. They had a multi-run lead in nine of their 18 games against the O’s this year yet managed to win only five of those nine games. That’s not very good, especially for a team with Dellin Betances and David Robertson in the bullpen.
Aside from saying goodbye the Jeter, the last item on the 2014 agenda is securing a winning season. The Yankees’ next win will be their 82nd and will clinch the team’s 22nd consecutive winning season. That would be the second longest such streak in baseball history behind the 1926-64 Yankees, who did it 39 straight years.
And finally, recently claimed outfielder Eury Perez entered the game in the eighth inning after Brian McCann pinch-grounded out for Richardson. Perez was the 58th different player used by the Yankees this year, extending the franchise record.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other game stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. As I said, the Yankees have been officially eliminated from postseason contention, so there is no more scoreboard watching to be done.
The Yankees and Orioles wrap-up this four-game series on Thursday night, in the final home game of Jeter’s career. Hiroki Kuroda and Kevin Gausman will be on the mound. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to risk a rainout and catch that game live. I’m sure it’ll be special.
Baseball America officially kicked off prospect season today by releasing their list of the top 20 prospects from the rookie Gulf Coast League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers, Marlins RHP Tyler Kolek, and Braves SS Ozhaino Albies claim the top three spots. The Yankees had two players make the list: SS Jorge Mateo at No. 4 and SS Angel Aguilar at No. 15. OF Leonardo Molina was the only other serious candidate to make it, but he didn’t have a great summer at all (58 wRC+).
Mateo, 19, hit .276/.354/.397 (119 wRC+) with 11 steals in 12 attempts in 15 games while missing time with wrist inflammation. “An explosive, premium athlete, Mateo is a top-of-the-scale runner … He has plus bat speed with average power potential and solid understanding of the strike zone, though he will swing through good breaking pitches. At shortstop he has good range and footwork, while his arm is another plus tool,” said the scouting report. GCL Yanks manager Patrick Osborne compared Mateo to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson for his quick-twitch athleticism.
The 19-year-old Aguilar hit .331/.373/.536 (159 wRC+) with seven homers in 39 games around a groin injury this summer. The scouting report lauds his strength and bat speed, calling him “an intriguing profile as a shortstop who can hit for average and power.” The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the short season NY-Penn League, which probably won’t come out until late next week. The Staten Island Yankees weren’t exactly loaded with prospects this year but I think C Luis Torrens is a lock to make it. RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list. · (76) ·