Sanchez homers in Charleston win

Jorge Vazquez was named the Triple-A International League Offensive Player of the Week while Preston Claiborne was dubbed the High-A Florida State League Pitcher of the Week. Randy Flores, meanwhile, will be released tomorrow.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-2 loss to Lehigh Valley) makeup of a May 19th rain out
Kevin Russo, 2B & Mike Lamb, DH: both 2 for 4, 1 R – Russo doubled … Lamb whiffed
Greg Golson, CF, Jorge Vazquez, 1B & Brandon Laird, 3B: all 0 for 3 – Golson walked and whiffed twice … JoVa and Laird struck out once … Vazquez also committed a fielding error
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 RBI – the RBI single came off a rehabbing big leaguer, a brand name
Jordan Parraz, RF: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K
Austin Krum, LF & Doug Bernier, SS: both 1 for 3 – Krum drove in a run
Pants Lendleton, RHP: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1-8 GB/FB – 45 of 76 pitches were strikes (59.2%)
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1-3 GB/FB – 13 of 20 pitches were strikes (65%)
Randy Flores, LHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 16 of 28 pitches were strikes (57.1%)

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Yankees will release Randy Flores tomorrow

Via Danny Knobler, the Yankees will release lefty Randy Flores tomorrow by mutual consent. He signed a minor league contract in May, but was pretty bad with Triple-A Scranton and didn’t get a chance to show what he’s got with the big league team. Left-handed batters hit .259 with 14 hits in as many innings off Flores coming into today, and tonight he gave up a two-run bomb to lose the game.

A-Rod will begin baseball activities on Thursday

Via Chad Jennings, Alex Rodriguez will head to Tampa on Wednesday and begin baseball activities on Thursday as he rehabs from last month’s knee surgery. The Yankees don’t have (or haven’t announced) a firm date for his return yet, but that’s not a surprise since this will be his first time back out on the field. It goes without saying that he’ll need some kind of rehab assignment

Game 107: Captainless

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

Derek Jeter is not playing tonight after two straight finger-damaging days. Saturday he took a ground ball off his right middle finger, and yesterday Jake Arrieta got him in the same digit with a fastball. Thankfully x-rays came back negative and it’s just a bruise, but count on the Cap’n being out of the lineup for at least one night and maybe more.

That’s bad because the roster is already stretched thin. The Yankees are carrying 13 pitchers and just three bench players, none of whom can really play the middle infield. Eduardo Nunez will play short in Jeter’s absence, which means Eric Chavez will be the regular third baseman for the time being. The more he plays, the more likely he is to get hurt. There’s no backup shortstop, and the backup second baseman is Frankie Cervelli. I’m sure Jeter could play in an absolute emergency, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Here’s the starting nine…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Frankie Cervelli, C

CC Sabathia, SP

It’s an 8:10pm ET start, and YES will carry the game for ya. Enjoy.

Rosenthal: Ownership pushed for Wandy

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees push to acquire Astros southpaw Wandy Rodriguez before yesterday’s trade deadline came from ownership and not Brian Cashman. The Yankees were willing to pay $21M of the $38M left on the southpaw’s deal, but Houston was only willing to pay the $2M he’s owed through the rest of the season plus another $5M if his 2014 player option was picked up. Ultimately, the two sides never got to the point of exchanging offers.

Meanwhile, a rival GM told Rosenthal that Cashman had seven untouchables. I’m guessing Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Ivan Nova, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, and … who’s the seventh? Obviously not Phil Hughes if they offered him Ubaldo Jimenez. Could it have been David Robertson?

Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(Photo Credit: Flickr user EdKopp4 via Creative Commons license)

The homestand is over, and the Yankees are heading to Chicago’s south side to play a team with a losing record at home. The White Sox did split a four-game series in the Bronx earlier this year, two of their three wins during a 17-game stretch extending from mid-April to early-May. Weird stuff tends to happen to the Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field, there seems to be an inordinate amount of infield hits and great defensive plays and what not, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The ChiSox are trying to stay relevant in the AL Central race (they’re three back in the loss column), but two straight losses to the Red Sox hurt their cause. Ozzie Guillen’s team had won five of six before Boston took the last two, and overall they’re 7-6 since the All-Star break. The White Sox are 52-54 with a -7 run differential this year, about as close to a .500 true talent team as it gets.

White Sox On Offense

Didn't recognize him without the goatee. (Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

The Yankees might catch a little bit of a break right off the bat; Paul Konerko is not expected to play in the series opener tonight because of a bruised calf (UPDATE: Konerko is not in tonight’s lineup). Andrew Miller hit him with a pitch yesterday and he’s day-to-day after x-rays came back negative. Konerko is the ChiSox’s best hitter and it’s not particularly close, a .305/.385/.550 monster with the sixth most homeruns in baseball (25). That a significant right-handed batter to lose on the night CC Sabathia starting.

Stepping at first base will likely be Adam Dunn, the most disappointing disappointment to ever disappoint. He’s hitting .165/.298/.303 on the season after signing a four-year, $56M contract last winter, and just .041/.220/.041 against southpaws. Don’t be surprised if he sits tonight. If he does, Brent Lillibridge (yes, that Brent Lillibridge) would likely give it a go at first. He’s hitting .250/.336/.461 in part-time duty. Carlos Quentin is the only other player on the team producing at an above-average rate, a .261/.350/.501 hitter that’s already part of the rare 20/20/20 club. That’s 20 homers, 20 doubles, and 20 hit-by-pitches.

Alexei Ramirez is at .269/.333/.397 and A.J. Pierzynski at .283/.327/.386, the only other two guys in the lineup above a 90 OPS+. Gordon Beckham is a(nother) rushed prospect that has disappointed (.248/.307/.357), Juan Pierre is just bad (.275/.330/.324), and rookie Brent Morel has been overmatched (.253/.271/.305). Alex Rios has been so bad (.207/.253/.296) that he’s losing playing time to Alejandro De Aza (eight at-bats so far, and the only time he’s reached base was on a homer). Omar Vizquel does nothing off the bench (.263/.291/.316), and quality backup catcher Ramon Castro (.235/.307/.456) is injured. The White Sox have the tenth worst wOBA in baseball (.308), so losing Konerko for even a day is a killer.

White Sox On The Mound

Monday, RHP Jake Peavy (vs. CC Sabathia): It’s a matchup of 2007 Cy Young Award winners. Sabathia out-bWAR’d Peavy 6.8 to 6.2 that year, and he’s massively outperformed him since. That mostly due to Peavy’s injuries (ankle, elbow, shoulder), which have cost him more than a full season’s worth of playing time. The now 30-year-old righty has made seven starts since his latest DL stint, putting 60 runners on base in 37.2 IP (5.73 ERA, ~3.00 FIP thanks to a miniscule homer rate). Peavy’s fastball(s) still sit in the low-90’s but are trending downward with the injuries, though it’s always been about life and movement for him. His heater runs all over the place, and it still does. A changeup and slider are his two secondary pitches, and he’ll also mix in a curve. He’s not the same guy he was when he won the Cy, but he’s still quite good.

Tuesday, LHP John Danks (vs. Phil Hughes): Luckily Joe told you everything you need to know about Danks less than two weeks, so I’ll just refer you to that. In two starts since coming back from his oblique injury, Danks has allowed one run in 13 IP, striking out 16 and walking four.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, RHP Gavin Floyd (vs. A.J. Burnett): Mark Teixeira‘s neighbor growing up, Floyd has allowed just two earned runs across 22.1 IP in three starts since the All-Star break, taking his season ERA down from 4.59 to 3.96. He’s a low-90’s four-seamer/mid-80’s cutter guy, missing bats with a high-70’s curveball that’s among the best in baseball. Floyd doesn’t have much of a changeup and struggles against lefties because of it. He beat the Yankees already once this year (8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 10 K) and has traditionally been tough against them, but it’s a five start (and one relief appearance) sample.

Thursday, RHP Phil Humber (vs. Ivan Nova/Bartolo Colon): So it turns out that Humber doesn’t suck. Yankees’ fans were irate after Humber shut them down back in April (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K), but he shut everyone else down in the first half and carried a sub-3.00 ERA into July. The second half has not been kind to Humber though, he’s put 28 men on base in 14 IP, allowing at least four runs in all three starts. We’ve heard all about his new cutter and how it’s helped him resurrect his career, but PitchFX hasn’t been able to pick the pitch and says he’s thrown zero this year. Maybe the break is so subtle that it’s registering as a four-seamer. Anyway, Humber uses his low-90’s heat and high-70’s curve two-thirds of the time, filling in the gaps with a pair of low-80’s offerings: a slider and changeup. I feel confident in saying he won’t one-hit the Yankees for seven innings again).

The Yankees, meanwhile, have announced that Colon with start Thursday’s game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started Nova instead. That would allow them to start Bartolo in Fenway against the Red Sox on Friday. (UPDATE: Yep, the Yankees just announced that it’s Nova on Thursday, Colon on Friday)

Bullpen: It took some time to figure out the ninth inning, but former infielder Sergio Santos is the undisputed closer now. He actually got his first two saves of the season against the Yankees in April. He’s a strikeout machine (11.71 K/9) but will walk himself in trouble (4.37 BB/9). Hard-throwing southpaw Matt Thornton wasn’t traded before yesterday’s deadline, and he’s got a 9.00 K/9 and 3.75 BB/9. Those numbers are actually bad for him compared to the last few years, when he was routinely north of 12 K/9 and under 3 BB/9. Lefties are also hitting him far better than they should be.

New import Jason Frasor (3.63 FIP) just came over in the Edwin Jackson-Colby Rasmus three-team deal, and high-price import Jesse Crain (3.34 FIP) as been solid in setup work. Former Yankee Brian Bruney has been terrible (5.84 FIP) in limited action, and he was hung out to dry for 58 pitches on Saturday. We might not see him until tomorrow at the earliest. Lefty Will Ohman is the quintessential LOOGY with a big platoon split, though fellow lefty Chris Sale (3.25 FIP) is slightly better against righties. It’s a solid bullpen but not an unbeatable one, especially now that Thornton has returned to mortality.

Recommended White Sox Reading: South Side Sox. Here’s some ticket pricing info if you happen to be in Chicago this week and watch to catch a game or four. RAB Tickets can help you get in for cheap.

Putting (a lot) of faith in the kids

Nope. (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey)

Yesterday’s trade deadline came and went with no moves from the Yankees. Nothing, not a bench piece, not a spare bullpen arm, not an all-important lefty reliever, and certainly not a starting pitcher. They ended the day with the exact same squad as they woke up with. “I just feel like we’re a lot deeper [compared to the last few years],” said Brian Cashman in yesterday’s post-deadline press conference. “I’m willing, by the position I’ve taken in the last three weeks, to rely on that [rather] than go out and pay an enormous price on something that I’m not certain what it’s going to provide.”

That depth is something the Yankees didn’t have a few years ago and comes from having a strong farm system. They didn’t have to make a trade following injuries to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez because Eduardo Nunez had played surprisingly well and Brandon Laird was a phone call away. Hector Noesi and scrap heaper Cory Wade shored up the bullpen after injuries to Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees are currently employing a six-man rotation because of that depth, and Cashman mentioned Adam Warren by name, calling him “a legitimate starting choice for us right now.” Other than Wade and the Brian Gordon experiment, the Yankees have plugged just about every hole from within this year.

But that depth only goes so far. The Yankees have been talking about improving their rotation since the offseason and they didn’t do it before the trade deadline. The current pitching plan is basically just wing it, hope that Bartolo Colon doesn’t tire down the stretch, hope that Freddy Garcia keeps generating ugly swings at an enormous rate, hope that Phil Hughes turns into the early-2010 version of himself, hope that Ivan Nova keeps it up, hope that the kids in the system make an immediate impact if called upon. That last part is the biggest question, because it’s not often young players (especially pitchers) come up and are immediate difference makers, even the most talented of hurlers.

I didn’t like the idea of giving up assets for the chronically injured Rich Harden or Erik Bedard, and I fully understand walking away from the Ubaldo Jimenez talks. I absolutely wanted him, said so many times in this space, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a medical examination of a 27-year-old that has lost three miles an hour off his fastball when you’d have to give up multiple top prospects for him. The Indians obviously felt that way too, and for whatever reason Colorado granted their request. I like Doug Fister, but I don’t love him and question how successful he’ll be outside of Safeco Field and Seattle’s defense. The starting pitching market just didn’t develop, but it’s not much of an excuse. Did the Yankees misread the market? Get over-confident in their ability to absorb payroll as a trade chip? Something else? All of the above? Who knows.

Now, of course we have to mention that the July 31st trade deadline is really just an artificial deadline. Teams can still make trades in August through waivers, and there will be plenty of players available this month. Wandy Rodriguez, for example. There was no urgency to trade for him yesterday because no team is claiming that guy and the $38M left on his contract off waivers. If Hiroki Kuroda has a change of heart and agrees to waive his no-trade clause, he’ll be available as well. More teams will fall out of contention in the coming weeks (White Sox? Twins? Angels? Cardinals?) and some will certainly open up shop. The hunt for starting pitching didn’t end yesterday, or at least I hope it didn’t.

It’s admirable that the Yankees stuck to their guns and refused to overpay for they felt was less than a sure thing, especially since the GM doesn’t have a contract for next season, but the bottom line is that they needed to add to the rotation and didn’t. I love prospects as much as the next guy, but I’m also not really a fan of throwing them to wolves down the stretch, especially starting pitchers. The offense is fine (especially with Alex Rodriguez due back), the bullpen is fine (Soriano’s back, J.C. Romero is available at a moment’s notice), and the Yankees have a sizable lead on a playoff spot (eight games in the loss column), but another Colon hamstring problem or Nova sore ankle or collapse by A.J. Burnett, and their starting staff is going to be in big trouble. Winging it with the rotation is a risky proposition for a team with World Series aspirations.