Via Buster Olney, the Cubs are “trying to nudge” the Yankees into taking Carlos Zambrano off their hands, dangling some money to offset his salary as a carrot. Zambrano is under contract for $18M next season with a $19.25M vesting player option for 2013 that won’t be a factor because he won’t meet the Cy Young Award voting criteria to trigger it. Not only is he completely insane, but Zambrano’s performance has been declining. His 4.70 ERA is backed up by a 4.21 xFIP, the sixth straight year is xFIP is over 4.20. Plus the Cubs are trying to give him away, what does that tell you? Pass.
A few updates from the infirmary…
- Rafael Soriano was not activated before today’s game, he likely will be before Friday’s game. He threw back-to-back rehab games on Sunday and Monday, so they’re just giving him the extra rest instead of rushing him right back out there. Tomorrow’s off day will give him three days off following the back-to-back.
- Alex Rodriguez will do his early rehab work with the team in New York rather than in Tampa. The Yankees have a date in mind for when A-Rod will start taking batting practice and such, but his return to the lineup is still a few weeks off.
- Pedro Feliciano is probably a non-option for the rest of the year. “I would think so, yeah,” said Joe Girardi before today’s game when asked if he’s ready to give up on having the lefty this season. “He’s not doing much.” Girardi said Feliciano is “trying” to play catch.
- Damaso Marte, however, might be able to contribute something late in the season. He continues to throw bullpens in Tampa and is about nine months out from shoulder surgery. I still wouldn’t count on him returning this year, but it sounds like Marte has a better chance to do so than Feliciano.
It’s a getaway day for the Mariners and the Yankees have tomorrow off. I sure hope the bats don’t head into the 48 hour or so break a little early against King Felix. Get greedy and sweep that miserable team, fellas. Here’s the lineup…
Phil Hughes, SP
The game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
With just five days until the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are starting to fly with reckless abandon. The Yankees, by all indications, are looking into most available starting pitchers. There are ups and downs to each, of course, so let’s take a look at the three that have gotten some play in the past day.
Ubaldo Jimenez: In terms of talent, years of control, and contract, he’s the best pitcher on the market. It’s still unclear why the Rockies would consider trading him in the first place. The only reason is to start a quick rebuilding process, since their two biggest stars are under contract for many years to come. Joel Sherman reports that the Rockies have come down in price and are asking for three of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Ivan Nova. Perhaps if they take two and some other prospects it could work, but I cant’ see the Yanks trading three of their top five guys for him.
Ricky Nolasco: We’ve heard his name mentioned a few times in passing before, but nothing seriously. This morning SI’s Jon Heyman said that the Yanks tried for him, but that the Marlins aren’t ready to deal. Nolaso is under contract through 2013, for $9 million next year and $11.5 million in 2013. I don’t quite like this one, unless he comes super cheap. His results have never matched his potential — they’ve been pretty far off, in fact — and his strikeouts are way down this year.
John Danks: There’s nothing connecting him to the Yankees, but Ken Rosenthal reports that he’s on the market. I wrote up the case for Danks last week. He’s my favorite option on the market, all considered. He won’t cost as much as Jimenez and he’s better than Nolasco. The White Sox seem to be in wheeling and dealing mode right now; as I write this, they’re in the process of trading Edwin Jackson to the Blue Jays.
CC Sabathia was almost perfect last night. Mother Nature tried her hardest to throw him off track with a pair of short but just long enough rain delays in the later innings of his outing against the Mariners, perhaps robbing him of just enough command and rhythm that it cost him the perfect game. Sabathia ended his night with a career-high 14 strikeouts in seven innings, allowing a total of two balls to leave the infield. He was dominant, completely overpowering a weak lineup, but this was not a one-start thing.
Sabathia has been the best pitcher in the world over the last month or so, a span covering seven starts. He’s thrown 54.2 of 63 possible innings (86.8%) and allowed just five runs. Five. Only 46 batters have reached base in that time (0.84 WHIP), and only 31 of those 46 batters reached via a base hit. CC has struck out 72 batters in that span, raising his season strikeout rate from 6.6 K/9 to 8.3 K/9 in just seven starts. That’s 46.1% of his season strikeout total in 32.4% of the innings. Sabathia’s been so good these last seven starts that we can legitimately ask this question: has he ever had a seven-start stretch like this before?
The best season of Sabathia’s career was 2008, when he combined to rack up 7.1 bWAR and 7.6 fWAR in a career-high 253 IP with the Indians and Brewers. His second half effort with the Brewers is the stuff of legend, when he practically carried the franchise to their first playoff appearance in a quarter-century. Sabathia made 17 starts with Milwaukee, including the final three on three days rest. He managed to accumulate 4.8 bWAR and 4.6 fWAR with the Brewers, which is a great season for most pitchers. He did that in 130.2 IP.
The best seven-start stretch during Sabathia’s time with Milwaukee came from August 8th to September 5th, when he threw three complete games and two shutouts in seven starts. The table on the right has the stats from CC’s last seven starts this year as well as the stats for that seven-start stretch with the Brew Crew back in 2008. I used Sky Kalkman’s WAR Calculator to calculate the WAR, which is pretty close to bWAR. It uses actual results in the calculation (runs allowed), not underlying performance (FIP) like fWAR. It tells us what did happen, not what should have happened.
As you can see, the run Sabathia is on right now is even better than what he did in Milwaukee three years ago. He recorded two fewer outs but struck out a dozen more batters and allowed 14 fewer hits and one fewer homer. Those seven starts in 2008 came against the Braves, Nationals, Astros, Padres (twice), and Pirates (twice), who combined for a .421 winning percentage that season. These seven starts this year have come against the Rockies, Brewers, Indians, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Rays (twice). That’s a combined winning percentage of .496. He’s performed better against better competition.
It’s hard to believe considering how dominant he was during his brief stint in Milwaukee, but Sabathia’s last seven starts have been better than anything he’s done before. He’s piling up strikeouts and keeping opponents off base via hits and walks. No one is scoring off him, not at all, and he’s taking the ball deep into the game every time out. We see hot streaks come and go all season long, but it’s not often that we see one of the game’s best go off a run better than anything they’ve ever done before. This is the pitching equivalent of 2007 Alex Rodriguez, the starting version of 2008 Mariano Rivera. That’s how good Sabathia has been for the last month.
Another night, another rain delay (two, actually), another win for the Yankees. They followed a very generic but proven effective formula to win Tuesday’s game: get great starting pitching for your ace, hit some homers, hand the ball off to Mariano Rivera, go home. It’s that simple. For Seattle, that meant a 17th consecutive loss.
We’ll never know. We’ll never know what could have been if it wasn’t for the rain. CC Sabathia wasn’t just dominating the Mariners, he was perfect through the first 5.1 innings, retiring the first 16 men he faced before the skies opened up for a 30 or so minute rain delay. Sabathia had struck out the last seven men he faced before the delay and eleven overall to that point, getting swings and misses with every pitch in his arsenal. Only one Mariner had hit the ball out of the infield to that point, and that was Ichiro‘s line out to center on the very first pitch of the game.
That first delay didn’t seem to phase CC, who came back out and retired the next two men to end the sixth. He struck out Ichiro on a hanging slider to kick off the seventh, but he fell behind to Brendan Ryan and gave him a 2-0 fastball. Ryan put a good swing on the ball and ended the perfect game bid with a legitimate single to left. Did the delay throw Sabathia’s command off a bit? Maybe, but again, we’ll never really know. Two more strikeouts and the end of the inning followed.
It started to rain again, and there was a short little delay in the middle of the seventh. The official word was a 14 minute delay, then the Yankees went down quickly against Doug Fister, so the total downtime for CC was maybe 20-22 minutes. At 84 pitches, Sabathia went back out for the eighth and I had no issue with it. Twenty minutes is nothing, it’s like sitting in the dugout while the Yankees score a run or three on offense. Joe Girardi will get torn to shreds because CC walked the first three batters of the inning but whatever, complainers gonna complain.
Sabathia’s 14 strikeouts are a new career high, the third time in his last three starts he’s whiffed ten-plus batters. He raised his season K/9 from 7.9 to 8.3 in this game alone, and my calculations have his already league-leading 5.2 WAR climbing to 5.7, the fourth highest single-season WAR of his career. We’re still in July. The Mariners had no chance in this game, none. Sabathia could have shut them down right-handed. The big guy was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Oh, Hey, Yeah They Scored Some Runs Too
Through all of 2009, all of 2010, and the first 100 games of the 2011 season, Curtis Granderson hit exactly zero homeruns to the opposite field. The last time he hit one out to left was in September of 2008, but not anymore. The Grandyman sat back on a 2-2 curveball and clobbered a big fly to left in the fourth, a solo shot that just cleared the left field wall near the foul pole. That’s some serious strength, and was his team leading 28th bomb. It gave New York a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees tacked on two runs in the very next inning, an inning that started with three straight singles and four singles by the first five batters. Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez (more on him in a bit), Jorge Posada, and Brett Gardner all got involved, and Derek Jeter plated a run with an RBI groundout. I have to say, I was impressed by Fister, a former Yankees draft pick who works quickly with a no-nonsense, four-pitch mix and pounds the zone. That fifth inning was the only time all game he labored, but he was otherwise plenty good enough to win. Unfortunately giving up three runs with that offense backing him is an auto-loss.
There was a mess to clean up in that eighth inning after Sabathia walked the bases loaded, and of course the man brought in to take care of business was David Robertson. He was a little wild, but struck out Adam Kennedy in a full count for the first out before running the count full to the corpse of Chone Figgins. Figgins grounded the ball to third where Chavez bobbled it before stepping on the base for the second out. He probably didn’t have enough time to get the runner at the plate or throw to first for the double play anyway. Ichiro struck out looking to end the threat. Robertson allowed a run to score, but that’s almost unavoidable in the situation he inherited. He did his job and limited the damaging, keeping Sabathia’s line nice and beautiful.
Welcome back Mr. Chavez. He made his presence know with two nice stops – one to his left and one to his right – to end the second and third innings before singling in that two-run fifth inning. Chavy did bobble that ball in the eighth, but that’s not the end of the world. It’s good to have him back though, he put together some solid at-bats and reminded us all that he’s still a really, really good glove guy despite all the injuries. With all due respect to Brandon Laird, the Yankees got a nice boost with Chavez’s return.
Granderson’s team lead in homers didn’t last long, Mark Teixeira tied him with his eighth inning solo shot, his third of the homestand and 100th as a Yankee. He also singled earlier in the game. Pretty much all the offense has already been mentioned; Gardner had a single, Jeter an RBI ground out, Grandy the homer, Tex the homer and single, Swisher a single and a walk, Chavez a hit, and Posada two hits. Robinson Cano and Frankie Cervelli took 0-fers. Like I said, Fister ws pretty impressive, I’m a fan. He’s not a star, but a very solid pitcher.
Mariano Rivera closed things out with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth, so all told Yankees pitchers’ struck out 18 and allowed just the one hit to Ryan. Only one other team has thrown an 18-strikeout one-hitter in a nine-inning game since 1920, and that was Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game in 1998. Pretty neat. The Yankees are a season-high 21 games over .500, and have won three in a row plus eight of 13 since the All-Star break. They’re fattening up that win total just like they should be.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The Yankees will go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon at 1pm ET, when Phil Hughes gets the ball against Felix Hernandez. If the Mariners can’t win that one, they may never win again.
Remember Scott Bittle? The Yankees took him with their second round pick in 2008 but did not sign him after a physical revealed “wear and tear” in his pitching shoulder. He went back to school, got drafted by (and signed with) the Cardinals the next year, then did not pitch at all in 2009 or 2010 because of shoulder problems that eventually required surgery. They released him today with just 5.1 career innings to his credit. For shame. With the compensation pick they received for failing to sign Bittle in 2008, the Yankees took J.R. Murphy in 2009.
Speaking of Murphy, you may have noticed that he hasn’t played in a while, since last Thursday in fact. He is currently on the disabled list according to the High-A Tampa roster, though I don’t know why. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, just some nagging bumps and bruises from catching.
Triple-A Scranton (11-2 win over Buffalo)
Kevin Russo, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 5, 3 R, 2 K – threw a runner out at the dish … he reached base three times in fielder’s choices, hence the three runs
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K – the double went to center, the homer was pulled to left … that’s his fifth homer in 15 games, and six of his last eight hits have gone for extra bases
Mike Lamb, DH: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Jorge Vazquez, 1B & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR – Nunez’s was a solo shot … JoVa drove in two but struck out four times
Jordan Parraz, RF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – he’s been their most consistent hitter all year, seems like he’s always picking up a hit or two
Austin Krum, LF: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
Doug Bernier, SS: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch) – eight for his last 15 (53.3%)
D.J. Mitchell, RHP: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 3 K, 8-4 GB/FB – 60 of 105 pitches were strikes (57.1%) … more walks and strikeouts in two of his last three starts
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – ten of 12 pitches were strikes
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB – eight of 12 pitches were strikes
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – seven of 12 pitches were strikes