Open Thread: 0, 2, 3, 12, 3, 5, 5, 5, 2, 0, 3

How can you expect to get a hit when you're not even using a real bat? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

You know what that is in the headline? That’s the number of runs the Yankees have scored in each of their last 11 games. That dates back to the first game of the White Sox series, and is an average of 3.64 runs per game. That’s terrible. The 2010 Mariners scored 3.17 runs per game, and they were the worst offensive team of the DH era. The Yankees are hitting .232/.322/.364 during that time, which is bad but not completely horrific. Part of the problem is that they’ve grounded into 13 double plays and stranded 70 runners on base (77.0% strand rate) during that time, ungodly rates. Bah, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. They suck right now.

So here’s your open thread for the night. MLB Network will carry a game (teams depend on where you live) and I’m sure there’s some NBA and NHL playoff action on somewhere. You all know what to do, so go nuts.

Yankees tried to trade Kevin Russo

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees apparently tried to trade utility man Kevin Russo late in Spring Training. That must have been after they decided on Eduardo Nunez and Eric Chavez as the reserve infielders with Ramiro Pena stashed in Triple-A. Given Chavez’s injury, they’re probably glad they held onto him/couldn’t find taker.

By no means is Russo great, but he’s versatile (can play three infield spots and left field) and has shown the ability to get on base in the minor leagues (.351 OBP). He is hitting just .227/.299/.299 in 24 games for Triple-A Scranton this year, but he’s a career .285/.358/.371 hitter at the level, which is where he’s spent the vast majority of the last three seasons. In a brief (54 plate appearance) cameo with the big league team last year, he hit .184/.245/.224 with one really big hit.

Link Dump: Granderson, 2008 Draft, Eiland

The Yankees are done playing and the workday isn’t quite over, so here’s some links to help you pass the time…

Man of the people. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Granderson Steps Up

New York City banned the use of aluminum bats in high school leagues about four years ago, making the game safer but much more expensive to play. Curtis Granderson stepped in to help out last week, donating 300 Louisville Slugger bats to baseball and softball programs in the Public Schools Athletic League according to Mitch Abramson of The Daily News. The contribution is valued $50,000 or so, which means those are some seriously expensive bats. Good job by the Grandyman, we need to hear more about this stuff.

Aside: If you’re feeling charitable, consider participating in our pledge drive.

Reviewing The 2008 Draft

It’s already been three years since the Yankees drafted and failed to sign not only Gerrit Cole, but second rounder Scott Bittle as well. Cole is in the mix for the first overall pick this season, but concerns about Bittle’s shoulder proved prophetic as the right-hander missed all of last season after blowing out his shoulder. The Yankees turned the compensation picks for the failed signings into Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy the next year, which is better than nothing.

But what about the rest of the draft? Marc Hulet at FanGraphs reviews the 2008 AL East draft haul, noting that the Yankees added depth to their farm system with David Adams, Corban Joseph, David Phelps, Brett Marshall, and D.J. Mitchell among others. Mikey O’Brien is starting to make a name for himself at the lower levels, though Jeremy Bleich (the team’s highest signed pick) blew out his shoulder and over-slot signing Garrison Lassiter has fizzled. The jury is still out on Matt Richardson, another over-slot guy. Failing to sign two of your top three picks is a recipe for a disaster draft, though Phelps, Adams, etc. could still salvage the class if they prove useful in some way, even as trade bait.

What’s Dave Eiland Up To?

It’s not quite a case of Where Are They Now?, because we already know that former Yankees pitching coach hooked on with the Rays over the winter in some front office capacity. This is more like: What’s He Doing Exactly? Buster Olney has an update on Eiland today (Insider req’d), reporting that he is cross-checking amateur pitchers for the Rays in advance of their should-be ridiculous draft. The Next Joe DiMaggio Rocco Baldelli is cross-checking position players. A cross-checker is essentially one level up from an area scout, they go in a little later in the spring just to verify previous reports and get a second set of eyes on a player, stuff like that. Tampa holds 12 of the first 89 picks in this June’s draft, so I’m sure those two have been keeping busy.

Yankees Daily Briefing

Just a heads up, friend of RAB Rebecca Glass is doing some work with ESPN New York this summer, posting a daily recap of news and notes from around the Yankees. Here’s today’s entry. There’s no dedicated RSS feed as far as can tell, so you’ll have to schlep though the blog each day, but it’s worth it.

Chavez leaves game with small fracture in left foot

Update (3:28pm): Chavez has a small fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, which is the bone adjacent to his little toe. No idea how long he’ll be out, but it’s obviously a disabled list thing. Maybe they’ll call up a utility infielder that can actually make a throw to first.

Just FYI, Ramiro Pena has not played since fouling a ball of his foot on Monday, though Triple-A Scranton hasn’t played in either of the last two days because of a rain out and a scheduled off day. If he’s not healthy enough to come up, the other 40-man roster options are Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo, but neither has done much with the bat this year (.230 and .224 wOBA’s, respectively).

Original Post (2:07pm): Eric Chavez left today’s game with an apparent left foot injury after legging out an RBI triple in the fourth. He pulled up lame about halfway to third and called the trainer out. After a consultation that focused around Chavez’s left foot, the Yanks’ medical staff had to help Chavez off the field. Alex Rodriguez replaced him at third base. We’ll update with more as it comes.

Complaints about Garcia don’t match reality

Pick up your head, Freddy. You weren't that bad. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

During and after last night’s game, I noticed a deluge of complaints rendered against Freddy Garcia. When they came during the game it was understandable. He put the Yankees in an early hole, and with a non-functioning offense he might as well have given up 10 runs. But he didn’t. Following Magglio Ordonez’s third-inning homer Garcia didn’t allow another run, and actually struck out seven in the next four innings. (Well, five, since two were Austin Jackson.) His line on the night was actually pretty decent: 7 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 8 GB. And the second walk came in the eighth, which he wouldn’t have pitched at all if the Yankees had scored some runs.

It’s easy to get frustrated with Garcia, because he’s the misfit of the group. The Yankees piled up veteran starters on minor league deals, because they couldn’t get Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte retired. That’s strike one. Garcia doesn’t tantalize with his stuff, basically throwing slow, slower, and slowest pitches. That’s strike two. When he gives up runs — and he absolutely will give up his fair share — that’s strike three. And so the frustrations can run high, and they’ll run higher when the Yankees aren’t doing anything on offense. Hence, the reaction to last night.

As is the case so frequently, the reaction far exceeded the infraction. Garcia actually pitched better than CC Sabathia the night before. CC clearly gets a pass, because he’s the ace and he has already contributed so much to the team. But any way you measure it, Garcia had better numbers. He allowed the same number of hits, runs, and unintentional walks, and had more strikeouts than Sabathia. Neither was stellar, and really, neither was quite good. But neither was horrible, either. That seems to get lost with Garcia.

To this point, Garcia has given the Yankees everything they could have hoped for, and perhaps more. after all, he’s thrown 25 innings to a 2.88 ERA, including two six-inning, no-run performances to start his season. Even by fielding independent numbers he’s doing fine, a 3.98 FIP and 3.70 xFIP. There is really nothing to not like about Garcia right now. Yet he generates plenty of complaints, because he happen to turn in last night’s performance when the Yankees offense had nothing.

I don’t particularly enjoy writing in response to fan reaction, but we’re all fans and we all want the same things. As it stands, Freddy Garcia is helping the Yankees towards their goal of winning the division and eventually the World Series. He’s highly flawed, which makes him an easier target. He also symbolizes the failures of the off-season, which further hurts his case. But to this point he has been better than the Yankees could have expected. Even last night he wasn’t bad. He was just not great. Which, really, is what we should get from Garcia at his best. It’s not the ideal solution, but it’s better than many of the alternatives.

Silva makes his first minor league start

And the next contestant on "Scrap Heap Sweepstakes" is... (AP Photo/Jim Bryant)

Apologies for the lack of a DotF last night, but I’ll make it up to you today with a short version…

  • Both Triple-A Scranton and Low-A Charleston had scheduled off days. Easy enough.
  • Double-A Trenton won. Cody Johnson and Corban Joseph were your offensive stars of the night; both had two hits including a homer. Austin Romine also picked up a pair of base knocks, and both CoJo and Jose Pirela tripled. Dellin Betances allowed one run across five innings, striking out five and walking no one. He also generated nine ground outs and just two air outs. Dominant, yo.
  • High-A Tampa lost again, making it 13 losses in their last 14 games. Rob Lyerly and Luke Murton each had a pair of hits, but that’s about it on offense. No extra base hits at all, just a bunch of singles all around. Carlos Silva made his first minor league appearance, allowing two runs in three innings of work. He got five ground balls and zero fly balls, striking out five and walking one. Jairo Heredia made his not-so-triumphant return from the disabled list, allowing five runs in 2.1 IP. He walked three and whiffed just one. First game back from the DL, he gets a mulligan.

Obviously Silva’s first appearance was the story of the night, as he’s now officially making his case to join the big league team. I have no idea how he looked stuff-wise, but he wasn’t exactly a blow-you-away kind of guy anyway. Silva will pound the strike zone with the sinker, and when he’s at his best he’s getting ground balls and not walking anyone. Here’s some other news and notes…

  • Remember Jose Ortegano? The Yankees re-signed him to a minor league contract after designating him for assignment and releasing him within the last two weeks. He might actually pitch this time around instead of sitting on (what I assume was) the phantom disabled list because…
  • Both Steve Garrison and Brian Anderson were placed on Double-A Trenton’s disabled list. Garrison left Tuesday’s start with a groin injury, though I’m not sure what’s up with Anderson. He’s not a phantom DL kind of guy. Poor Josh Schmidt was sent from Triple-A Scranton down to Trenton to fill one of the roster spots, that guy has done everything he’s needed to do at that level over the last season or two. Such is the life of an org arm.
  • With Garrison’s injury, four of Trenton’s five starting pitchers from the Opening Day rotation have been on the disabled list already. Betances and Manny Banuelos had the blisters, and Graham Stoneburner is still out with a sore/still neck. Shaeffer Hall is the lone survivor. Both Garrison and Stoneburner are heading to Tampa to rehab.

Even with the DL stints, Trenton’s rotation should be just fine. Both Kei Igawa and Cory Arbiso have experience starting and could move out of the bullpen temporarily, and now there’s Ortegano as well. Plus Silva figures to move up at some point, though I suspect he’ll make at least one more start for Tampa before moving up a level. Might even be two more starts just to make sure he’s stretched out to five innings properly. Hopefully he turns out better than Kevin Millwood.