Cashman: No extension talks or search for bullpen help ongoing

Via A.J. Perez, GM Brian Cashman confirmed that the Yankees are not currently negotiating a contract extension with any players, including Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. That’s not terribly surprising; the team’s policy is to wait until current contracts expire before discussing new deals, and those two are under club control (via option years) next season. Russell Martin and Nick Swisher are the other notable extension candidates and are both due to become a free agent this winter.

Cashman also confirmed that they’re not seeking for bullpen help at the moment, something we first learned last weekend. “I’m not out there looking for relievers,” he said. The Yankees have plenty of internal options to try out in the wake of Mariano Rivera‘s injury before diving into the trade market, but dealing for a reliever at the deadline shouldn’t be out of the question.

Yanks can’t hit good pitching, beat Felix anyway

Source: FanGraphs

Don’t look now, but the Yankees have suddenly won four of five and were an uncharacteristically bad David Robertson inning away from winning five in a row. The last three starting pitchers they’ve beaten are Jamie Shields, David Price, and Felix Hernandez. I’m sure all three just had off-nights since the Yankee can’t hit good pitching. To the bullet points…

  • My Hiro: To be perfectly honest, I don’t think Hiroki Kuroda pitched all that great on Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take two runs in seven innings eight days a week and twice on Sundays, but he seemed to fall behind every batter — first pitch strike to 14 of 29 hitters — and only struck out a pair against the club with the fourth highest strikeout rate in the league. In his last three starts, Kuroda has seven walks and seven strikeouts in 18.1 IP. Underwhelming, though he’s the kind of guy that bends the laws of DIPS theory. Still, I’ll take this type of outing all year long.
  • De-Crowned: Felix came into this start having allowed one earned run in 24 IP at the New Stadium, but the Yankees got to him for a run when Robinson Cano singled in Curtis Granderson in the very first inning. The also tagged him for three runs in the fifth when Raul Ibanez assaulted a first pitch fastball with two runners on. The three-run dinger was Raul’s sixth of the season and his third in four games. Four runs on eleven hits and two walks against Hernandez is more than I could have ever expected. Great job.
  • Matchups: With Rafael Soriano on the shelf due to his recent workload, eighth inning duties fell on the shoulders of three guys. First Clay Rapada retired Ichiro, then Cory Wade retired Jesus Montero, then Boone Logan retired Kyle Seager. Boone got the first out in the ninth before allowing an infield single. Roberson came on to record two stress-free outs on six pitches, and it was good to get him back out there so soon after that hideous blown save.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees won so I can be happy Montero homered, a solo shot to (where else?) the opposite field … Andruw Jones‘ two-run pinch-hit homer was the team’s first pinch-hit dinger since Jorge Posada in September 2010 … Cano went 4-for-4 with a double and now has 12 hits in his last 20 at-bats, raising his season line to .308/.350/.462. That’ll do … Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira had two hits apiece while Derek Jeter, Granderson, Nick Swisher, Ibanez, and Eric Chavez had one each. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The second game of this three-game set is a rare 4pm ET, non-FOX broadcast on Saturday afternoon. Phil Hughes gets the ball against former teammate Hector Noesi. Check out RAB Tickets for some sweet deals.

O’Brien dominates in Tampa win

Got some notes…

  • According to Slade Heathcott, he will play his first game of the season with High-A Tampa on June 5th. Hooray for that.
  • Dellin Betances got the sixth spot on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet following his eight-inning gem the other day. Hopefully he strings a few strong performances together.
  • A number of players — including Betances and Andy Pettitte — have had trouble with the mound in Rochester, so it will be rebuilt. Triple-A Empire State will play 38 of their 72 “home” games in Rochester this season, not to mention their regularly scheduled road games there as well.
  • Mentioned yesterday that Rob Lyerly is out for the season with a shoulder problem, and apparently he had surgery to repair his labrum. That bites. Meanwhile, Jose Pirela is close to returning from the dreaded mystery injury.
  • And finally, check out Yankees Fans Unite‘s interview with Tyler Austin.

Triple-A Scranton (8-7 loss to Durham in ten innings) they faced former Yankees great Lance Pendleton
2B Kevin Russo: 0-6, 1 K
CF Ray Kruml: 0-5, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch) — Brandon Laird pinch-hit for him in the tenth and struck out
1B Steve Pearce: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — yawn
DH Jack Cust: 1-2, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 K — six walks in his last ten trips to the plate
3B Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HBP — nine hits in 27 at-bats since the promotion (.333)
RF Colin Curtis: 0-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K — threw a runner out at second
C Frankie Cervelli: 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
LF Cole Garner: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — first multi-hit game of the season
SS Yadil Mujica: 3-5, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 62 of 93 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
LHP Mike O’Connor: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 52 of 83 pitches were strikes (62.7%)

[Read more…]

Game 32: The Return of Jesus

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I was hoping to see a lot more of Jesus Montero at Yankee Stadium this year, but alas, six games is all we’ll get. Funny enough, Montero’s temporary return to New York has overshadowed the fact that Felix freakin’ Hernandez is on the bump for the Seattle and the Yankees figure to have a devil of a time figuring him out. Here’s the lineup…

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

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Yanks activate Eric Chavez, send Eduardo Nunez to Triple-A

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have activated Eric Chavez off the 7-day DL and sent Eduardo Nunez to Triple-A in a corresponding move. They want him to play shortstop and second base on an everyday basis in an effort to improve his defense. Jayson Nix will remain with the team as the utility infielder.

Joe and I talked about the possibility to sending Nunez down at length in today’s podcast. I didn’t think it would happen mostly because it seemed like one of those ideas that wouldn’t even have been entertained had he not made those two errors last night. Something had to give with the kid’s defense though, hopefully he can find some consistency down there. Nix has a ton of experience at second and third bases but just a handful of games at short in each of the last few years. He could fake it once a week but not if Derek Jeter were to miss some time.

Chavez, meanwhile, returns to the team after missing a week with whiplash and possible concussion. He was eligible to come off the DL yesterday but had to wait for MLB clearance to be activated. He’s in tonight’s lineup at DH.

Missing Montero

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

For the first time since January’s trade, the Yankees will get a look at Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariner tonight. The deal already looks like a disaster on New York’s end with Michael Pineda out of the season (torn labrum) and Jose Campos out indefinitely (elbow inflammation), but luckily for the Yankees, you can’t pass final judgment on a trade of this magnitude after four months. The early returns are horrible, however.

Montero has settled in as a middle of the order bat for Seattle. That has more to do with the state of the team than his actual production though, because a .268/.282/.420 batting line (.298 wOBA and 91 wRC+) is hardly deserving of a primo lineup spot. I am surprised Montero is off to such a relatively slow start but not entirely. I mean, he is only 22. We all knew a slow start was possible just because rookies tend to suck. Add in a pitcher-friendly home park and offensively incompetent teammates, and you have a recipe for a slow start. It happens and I’m sure he’ll be more than fine in the long run.

On a personal level, I’ve already accepted the trade and said my goodbyes to Montero. That sounds incredibly lame and cheesy, but it’s hard not to get attached to these guys as you follow their progress through the minors. Heck, here’s the DotF from his pro debut in 2007. We know when these kids sign, when they hit, when they struggle, when they do anything in the minors before reaching the big leagues these days. If you read RAB regularly, they become as much a part of the Yankees experience as Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia and Yankee Stadium. You get attached to them and when they get traded, it bums you out. It’s only natural.

Regardless of what they said publicly, the Yankees didn’t believe Montero was a big league catcher defensively. Actions speak louder than words and when Frankie Cervelli went down with a concussion last September, it was Austin Romine who took over behind the plate. That’s why he was traded. If he was a corner outfielder or something, chances are he’d still be in pinstripes. And that’s fine, when the pieces don’t fit you adjust. I thought Montero could be serviceable enough behind the plate in my completely amateur opinion, enough to catch 50-80 games a year for the next few seasons. He didn’t have to catch forever, but a few years back there seemed doable. The Yankees didn’t agree so they made the move.

Like everyone else, I have favorite players around baseball and Montero is one of them. I disliked the trade at the time and am pretty annoyed at how it’s played out so far, but at the end of the day I root for the laundry. I hope Montero does well this weekend (and going forward) but I hope the Yankees do even better. I miss Jesus and really wish he was the regular DH/backup catcher this year, but he’s not and that’s just the way it is. I enjoyed his short time in pinstripes but as usual, the players change. The Yankees are the constant and that’s where my allegiance lies.

The RAB Radio Show: May 11th, 2012

It’s been something of an eventful week in Yankeeland. We got to see the new endgame tandem of David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. We also saw some breakout signs from Robinson Cano, which should jumpstart the offense. All in all it was a pretty decent week — save for the Gardner injury news, of course. Mike and I are covering it all.

Podcast run time 37:49

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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.