Olney: Yanks among teams most aggressively pursuing Jorge Soler

Via Buster Olney, the Yankees are one of the four teams most aggressively pursuing 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Braves are also in the mix. The first round of bids were due this past Thursday and the second round is due this weekend. This isn’t a posting process similar to Japanese players, it’s just a straight submission of contract offers and counteroffers.

Soler was finally declared a free agent last week, but the Yankees had been connected to him long before that. The outfielder had been trying to establish residency in Haiti (not the Dominican Republic, where he lives now) according to Ben Badler, a red flag because of the country’s shoddy record keeping. Jerry Crasnick says MLB verified Soler’s residency before declaring him a free agent though, so it’s a non-issue. Soler has three weeks and two days to sign a contract before becoming subject to the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Draft Updates: Stewart, Frare, Lopez, Flight

First rounder Ty Hensley is on his way to Tampa to take his physical, but here are some updates on a few Day Two and Day Three draft selections…

  • “I’ll be holding center field down next year in a (Florida State Seminoles) uniform,” said D.J. Stewart to Corey Dowlar, an indication that the 28th round pick won’t be signing. Stewart, along with fellow outfielders Vincent Jackson (23) and Ty Moore (25), was one of those high-upside high school plays in the late rounds. The Yankees saved draft pool money by selecting five college seniors in the top ten rounds so they’d able to sign one or maybe two of those guys, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be Stewart.
  • High school left-hander Caleb Frare (11) will officially sign after taking his physical on Monday, reports Ryan Minch. Slot money for all picks after the tenth round is $100K with any overage being applied to the draft pool. “They asked if I wanted to sign an 11th round contract and I told them ‘yes,’” said Frare. “It was a team-by-team basis for the most part but going in there was a few teams that if they drafted me, I would have signed regardless of which round it was … (The contract) looked good. They are going to honor my scholarship to Utah when I’m done playing baseball whether that is next year or 20 years from now. That makes the decision a little bit easier.”
  • Right-hander Stefan Lopez (16) told Chris Landry that he and his representatives were scheduled to meet with the Yankees last night in an attempt to hammer out a contract. The Southeastern Louisiana closer also said the team contacted him during the draft to see if he would sign for what they were offering in the tenth round, but he said no. They instead took a late-round flier on him rather than risk losing draft pool money if he hadn’t signed in that tenth round. “I don’t want to short-change myself,” said Lopez, who pitched through a torn ACL at the end of the season.
  • Left-hander Tim Flight (17) and his advisor will soon meet with area scout Matt Hyde to discuss a contract according to Kevin Gray. The decorated Southern New Hampshire University ace — he was named Division II Pitcher of the Year this spring and is up for the Tino Martinez Award as the top player in Division II — told the Yankees he is willing to sign but is hoping to land and above slot bonus. Again, everything over the first $100k gets applied to the draft pool.

Diamondbacks called Yankees about Austin Romine

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks called the Yankees about the availability of Austin Romine prior to signing Miguel Montero to his big extension. Talks never went anywhere because New York wanted left-handed pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs in return. Arizona called a number of other teams — including the Blue Jays about Travis D’Arnaud — and found the prices prohibitive, so they re-upped Montero.

Romine recently resumed baseball activities after sitting out the start of the season with a back injury. Remember, D’Backs GM Kevin Towers spent 2010 with the Bombers and is surely familiar with the young backstop. Catching depth is important, so I’m glad to see the Yankees place a premium on it.

Cano & Kuroda lead Yanks to big win over Mets

Source: FanGraphs

One day after failing to complete a sweep of the Rays, the Yankees got right back on the horse and blew out the Mets in the first game of the 2012 Subway Series. The win was their fourth in the last five games, the sixth in the last eight games, and 11th in the last 15 games. Let’s recap…

  • Cano-han: Robinson Cano put any thoughts of back-to-back no-hitters for Johan Santana to bed pretty quickly. He jumped all over the first pitch he saw for a two-run homers in the second, then followed it up with another first pitch, two-run dinger the very next inning. Alex Rodriguez (walk and single) was on base for both. Those are only Cano’s second and third homers off a southpaw this season, but he has plenty of time to hit a few more.
  • Back-to-Back-to-Back: A pair of two-run homers from Robbie wasn’t enough. Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones followed up Cano’s third inning blast with solo shots of their own for New York’s first set of back-to-back-to-back homers since last August. Coincidentally enough, it was those same three players in that same order that time as well. Pretty neat. The four dingers made it six-zip Yankees before Johan was able to get his ninth out.
  • My Kuroda: Of course, it didn’t matter how many runs the offense piled on because Hiroki Kuroda gave the Mets nothing. He took a no-hitter into the sixth and it would have been a perfect game had Derek Jeter not booted a routine grounder in the fourth. Kuroda struck out seven and got 18 of his 21 outs on the infield because he was unpredictable — threw at least 14 four-seamers, sinkers, sliders, and splitters with some curves mixed in (Brooks) — and only threw three of his 91 pitches from the stretch. Three! The only reason Kuroda was unable to go the distance was because he took a comebacker off his left foot in the seventh, but thankfully x-rays were negative. Following an rocky start to the season, he’s now allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. Well done, Hiroki-san.
  • Leftovers: Ryota Igarashi made his Yankees debut in the ninth and became the 113th player to play for both modern New York teams, though he ruined the one-hit shutout by allowing an RBI double to Lucas Duda … believe it or not, the Yankees got two consecutive hits with runners in scoring position (2-for-6 overall) to widen the lead in the seventh … everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except for Jeter and Curtis Granderson, the guys who are supposed to set the table … the four through nine hitters went a combined 9-for-17 with four homers, two doubles, and four walks … Granderson was replaced by Dewayne Wise in the eighth inning of the blowout after playing every inning of every game this season.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and Rays are tied in the loss column atop the AL East, though the Bombers have a sizable advantage in run differential (+37 to +16). Phil Hughes and Dillon Gee will square off in game two of this three-game set, a Saturday night game that will be broadcast on FOX. If you want to head up to Bronx to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.

Gardner begins rehab in Charleston win

Good news on OF Tyler Austin: he just has a big bruise and will be fine according to Josh Norris. He left last night’s game after apparently attempting to break up a double-play while sliding into second. Exhale.

In other injury news, Norris says RHP Ben Paullus has been placed on the DL (mystery injury) and VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed that RHP Danny Burawa (torn oblique) still isn’t close to returning to game action. RHP D.J. Mitchell made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet … in the Not So Hot section. Tough crowd, he only lost one game.

Low-A Charleston (5-1 win over Savannah)
LF Brett Gardner: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB — he also reached on an error and didn’t have to make a single play in the outfield … played five innings by design and he’ll probably play seven tomorrow
LF Ali Castillo: 0-1
SS Cito Culver: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI — two homers in the last three games
CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 K
C Gary Sanchez & 2B Angelo Gumbs: both 0-4, 1 K
3B Dante Bichette Jr.: 2-4, 1 R, 2 K — eight hits in his last 18 at-bats (.444)
1B Casey Stevenson: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
DH Rey Nunez: 0-3
RF Kelvin DeLeon: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K
RHP Scottie Allen: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 52 of 74 pitches were strikes (70.3%)
LHP Dan Mahoney: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 19 of 26 pitches were strikes (73.1%)
RHP Pedro Guerra: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — all nine pitches were strikes

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Update: Kuroda has left foot contusion, x-rays negative

9:44pm: Kuroda has a contusion on his foot and x-rays came back negative, so hooray for that. He lobbied to pitch the eighth inning but Joe Girardi said no. Kuroda expected to make his next start.

9:24pm: Hiroki Kuroda left tonight’s game after getting hit by a comebacker in his right left foot. The ball ricocheted straight up into the air, allowing Alex Rodriguez to make an easy catch on the inning-ending pop-up. Kuroda limped noticeably off the field and headed to the clubhouse with the trainer. He allowed just one hit and one walk in his seven innings, throwing 91 pitches. Hopefully he just left the game because it was a blowout, but we’ll find out for sure soon enough.

Game 57: Subway Series

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

I’m not sure how often this has happened or even if it has ever happened before, but the Yankees open the 2012 edition of the Subway Series with fewer wins than the Mets. They come into tonight’s game with a 31-25 record while the Amazin’s are 32-26. Of course, winning percentage (.554 vs. .552) and run differential (+29 vs. -8) still favor the Bombers. Johan Santana is coming off his 134-pitch no-hitter and has had a full week to recuperate, plus he’s thrown back-to-back complete game shutouts. Let’s hope his scoreless streak ends soon. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
DH Andruw Jones
LF Raul Ibanezagainst the lefty? whyyy
Russell Martin

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on both My9 and SNY locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Joba Chamberlain Update: Joba (elbow, ankle) threw 25 pitches off a full mound in the batting cage down in Tampa this afternoon. He’s also resumed running full sprints in the outfield. “Is that even a question?” he replied when asked if he’ll pitch this season. Just remarkable.

David Aardsma Update: Aardsma (elbow) threw 40 pitches in his third live batting practice session today and he could throw a simulated game as soon as early next week. Reinforcements … they are coming.