Rounding Up The Trade Rumors

(Photo Credit: Flickr user terren in Virginia via Creative Commons license)

A bunch of small, rumor-style reports surfaced this weekend about the Yankees and some pitchers they may or may not target in midseason trades, so let’s round them up chronologically …

Top Advisors Scouted The Cubs

Bruce Levine reported on Friday that the Yankees had some scouts watch Carlos Zambrano last weekend, and it wasn’t just a routine check-up. Levine said it was some of Brian Cashman‘s top advisors, and a number of them unsurprisingly prefer Ryan Dempster. Zambrano is willing to waive his no-trade clause, by the way.

Preference: Lefties And Rentals

George King reported yesterday that in a perfect world, the Yankees would like to acquire a left-handed starter that is not under contract beyond this season. That’s a limited (and unappealing) demographic since the only southpaws scheduled to become free agents after the season are Bruce Chen, Zach Duke, Jeff Francis, Paul Maholm, and C.J. Wilson. I can’t imagine Texas would be willing to trade their ace while in contention, and the others … yuck. Mark Buehrle has a clause in his contract that automatically locks in a $15M salary for next season if traded, so we can’t consider him a rental has a full no-trade clause but fits the bill as well.

I do suppose, however, that we could include players in their arbitration-eligible years (since they could be non-tendered, the same thing as a rental), in which case guys like Francisco Liriano, Clayton Kershaw, John Danks, Jonathan Sanchez, and Joe Saunders come into play. That’s better, but how many are realistically available? I can see Liriano, Saunders, and maybe Danks. Maybe. How sold are you on Liriano’s turn around?

Oh, Wait … Yankees Have “Zero Interest” In Zambrano

Wally Matthews reported late yesterday that despite the recent scouting trip, the Yankees have “no interest” in Zambrano. Perhaps they were turned off by his 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R stinker against the Brewers last week or his 6.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 BB gem against the Phillies nine days ago. This latest report makes me happy because I wasn’t a Zambrano fan even before his velocity dropped (again) or his ground ball rate declined (again).

I don’t know where a high-end pitcher is supposed to come from, but it’s pretty obvious the Yankees need someone like that. They can’t assume Bartolo Colon will come back from the disabled list throwing grenades like he was before, and with one more injury we could be looking at Ivan Nova, Brian Gordon, and David Phelps in the rotation all at the same time. Now that is scary.

Yankees win tie game 4-3 over Cubs

Russ just wanted to make sure Pena knew who won the collision.

Joe Buck got so excited when Reed Johnson hit that solo homer off Mariano Rivera to lead off the ninth that he declared the game tied. Of course the homer made it just a one-run game, and Rivera went on to navigate the rest of the inning to secure the win. It wasn’t easy nor pretty, but they all count the same. Let’s quickly recap…

  • If my Play Index skills are as sharp as I think they are, the Yankees are the first team since 1997 and just the 15th in history to score four or fewer runs in a nine inning game in which they had at least ten hits and ten walks. They left the bases loaded in the first, a man on second in the second, men on second and third in the third, men on first and second in the fifth, a man on first in the seventh, and the bases loaded in the eighth. Yuck.
  • Play of the game was easily Brett Gardner‘s double play in the sixth (video). The Cubbies had the bases loaded with one out, and Geovany Soto lined a pitch into left. Gardner caught it on the run and uncorked a perfect throw home to get Carlos Pena. The throw beat him by five or six feet, and Russell Martin held on after the collision for the inning ending out (gif!). At .252 WPA, it was far and away the biggest play of the game.
  • Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least twice except for Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Martin each reached base three times. Nick Swisher and Grandy sacrifice flies were bookended by Eduardo Nunez and Robinson Cano run-scoring doubles, which accounted for the four runs.
  • Burnett had his best curveball in quite some time in this game, certainly his best of the season. Batters swung and missed at nine of his 44 curves (20.5%) and three others went for called strike threes. His one mistake was a meatball fastball to Pena, which he hit for a game-tying two-run homer. Burnett struck out eight of the 24 men he faced in 5.1 IP. Aside from Johnson’s homer and the Soto single that following, the Yankees’ bullpen was flawless. The only batter to reach base against Cory Wade, Hector Noesi, and David Robertson did so on an error. Based on the extremely small sample size of this one game, Wade’s the new fireman and Noesi’s the new seventh inning guy. I like it.
  • Speaking of errors, how bad has the defense been? Nunez flubbed a routine double play grounder and then Cano dropped a routine relay throw from A-Rod in that hectic sixth inning. That doesn’t include two bad throws by Nunez that Tex managed to turn into outs (one by tagging the runner, the other with a great scoop) because he’s awesome. I don’t expect the Yankees to be a brilliant defensive club, but the routine plays have to made, period.
  • Four outs on the bases, topping their season high of three last week (and at least one other time as well). Granderson got thrown out trying to steal second, A-Rod got his Jorge Posada on (tried to stretch a single into a double, was out by a mile), Gardner got picked off first, and Swisher got thrown out at the plate. Seriously, get these guys a baserunning coach. If they have one already, get someone better.
  • Here’s the box score and here’s the WPA graph. This game was an ordeal.

The rubber game of the series will be played Sunday night on ESPN, which means an 8pm ET start. CC Sabathia gets the ball against Randy Wells.

Reminder: We’re going to be running some maintainence from midnight to 6am tonight, so the site may be slow or down completely at times. Thanks for your patience.

Smith, Brackman combine for one-hitter

In case you missed it this morning, the Yankees have officially signed top pick Dante Bichette Jr. and confirmed that he will play with the Rookie Level GCL Yankees when their season starts on Monday. He did have a hit in an exhibition game today, hopefully it went about 500 feet. Also, here’s some video of Bryan Mitchell from last night (one, two, three).

Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Columbus)
Austin Krum, LF & Jesus Montero, DH: both 1 for 4, 1 R – Krum whiffed twice
Greg Golson, CF, Brandon Laird, 3B & Gus Molina, C: both 1 for 3 – Golson doubled and drove in a run … Laird struck out
Kevin Russo, 2B & Jorge Vazquez, 1B: both 0 for 4, 2 K – JoVa has struck out 22 times in his last 36 plate appearances (61.1%)
Jordan Parraz, RF: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Luis Nunez, SS: 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K
Greg Smith, LHP: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 5-6 GB/FB – 57 of 84 pitches were strikes (67.9%) … wow, what a start, he retired 17 of the last 18 men he faced … he’s the first non-Kei Igawa lefty to start a game for SWB since Zach Kroenke in 2009
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (56.3%) … walked the first batter on four pitches, then he sat down six straight

[Read more…]

Open Thread: The Scrapzone

I got sucked into these Hardball Made Easy videos last night after talking with some others about how Matt Kemp got the nickname “The Bison.” I dunno, don’t ask. My personal favorite is this one on blocking the plate, only because you can use The Flatbush outside of baseball as well. Taking one for the team is pretty important as well.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Angels again (Pelfrey vs. Haren), and MLB Network will air a game as well (teams depend on where you live). You’ve also got Taylor Jungmann (Texas, 12th overall pick this year) vs. Karsten Whitson (Florida, 9th overall last year) Florida in the College World Series on ESPN. That’s pretty awesome. It’s Saturday night though, I say go out and live a little.

Site Note: We’re going to be running some maintainence from midnight through 6am, so the site may be slow or even down for periods of time.

Game 69: Ex-Marlins

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Jay?? via Creative Commons license)

A.J. Burnett squared off with former Florida Marlins’ teammate Brad Penny in the second game of the season, and today he’ll give it a go against Ryan Dempster. The two were teammates from Burnett’s debut in 1999 until Dempster was traded to the Reds in 2002, and in that final season together they were the Opening Day (Dempster) and number two starters (Burnett). A.J. got the best of Penny back in April, so it would be nice if he could top another former teammate this afternoon. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS
A.J. Burnett, SP

It’s a FOX game, so first pitch is scheduled for a little after 4pm ET. Yuck. Enjoy the game, not necessarily the broadcast.