Cashman heads to Japan as Otani scouting frenzy heats up

Part-time pitcher, part-time hitter, full-time fun as hell. (Getty)
Part-time pitcher, part-time hitter, full-time fun as hell. (Getty)

The 2017 regular season is fast approaching the stretch run, meaning rosters will soon expand and postseason races will really start to heat up. Four weeks and three days. That’s all that remains in the regular season. I swear, the season goes by a little faster each year. I guess that’s a function of getting old.

Anyway, even with the final month of the regular season on tap, clubs are already starting to look ahead to the offseason, either because they’re rebuilding and want to reshape their roster, or they’re contending and want to bring in more help. All 30 teams, regardless of whether they’re rebuilding or contending, figure to be interested in Nippon Ham Fighters ace/slugger Shohei Otani, who may or may not be posted this winter.

According to David Lennon and Erik Boland, Brian Cashman headed to Japan this week to get a firsthand look at Otani, and he is only the latest big name executive to do so. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently went to see Otani as well. Otani has been hampered by an ankle injury all season, though Jon Morosi reports he will make his first start today, so I imagine more talent evaluators are going to see him.

It’s unclear whether Otani will actually be posting this offseason, though, for what it’s worth, Jon Heyman suggests the Yankees and Red Sox could be gearing up for bidding war. (Morosi says the Yankees are among Otani’s most serious suitors.). I say a “bidding war” because Otani will be limited to the international hard caps, so the bids can only go so high. Heyman says both the Yankees and Red Sox have traded for the maximum allowable additional hard cap space, giving them $8M to spend internationally during the 2017-18 signing period.

Both teams have, of course, already spent a lot of that money. They both loaded up on Latin American amateurs when the 2017-18 signing period opened on July 2nd. It’s impossible to know exactly how much of their $8M bonus pools they’ve spent so far because so many international deals go unreported. Here’s the little we know:

Based on that, the Yankees can make Otani a much larger offer than the Red Sox. That’s great. The problem is if Otani does come over this year, it won’t be because he’s chasing top dollar. If securing top dollar was the priority, Otani would spent 2018 and 2019 in Japan, make more than he’d make here as a pre-arbitration player, then come over once he is no longer subject to the international hard cap.

(The Dodgers, by the way, are limited to $300,000 bonuses this signing period as a result of previous international spending. The same is true for other potential Otani suitors like the Cubs, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, and Giants.)

If Otani does come over — and I still think this is a pretty big if — chances are his decision will come down to factors other than money. Example: who will let him hit? That seems like a potential big one. The team that gets Otani very well may be the one that agrees to let him DH on days he doesn’t pitch. Location, chances to win, and things like that figure to be considerations as well. Point is, if Otani does come over, it won’t be strictly for money. Being able to offer more doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.

Cashman going to Japan is a pretty good indicator the Yankees are very interested in Otani. Cashman isn’t flying halfway around the world for nothing. I’m curious to know who went with him. Cashman is not a scout. He’s an administrator, not a talent evaluator. Very few general managers these days came up through the scouting ranks and even fewer played once upon a time (Jerry Dipoto is the only former MLB player turned GM in baseball right now). Times have changed.

Anyway, Mike Mazzeo says Cashman brought assistant general manager Jean Afterman on the trip, which makes sense. She has worked with Japanese players for a long time, both on the team side and agent side. I’m sure Cashman also brought a few of his top lieutenants on the trip. Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring, vice president of player development Gary Denbo, pro scouting director Kevin Reese, special assistant Jim Hendry, senior advisor Gene Michael, and so on. The Yankees had eyes on Masahiro Tanaka for a long, long time before he became available. I’m sure they’ll have (and have had) many different folks see Otani, though the ankle issue threw a wrench in things this year.

For now, the next several weeks are all about the end of the season and the postseason races, and then hopefully a long postseason run as well. We still don’t know whether Otani will come over to MLB this winter. The only thing the Yankees and every other team can do is prepare. Scout him, analyze the numbers, the whole nine. The Yankees have international money to spend, at least in theory, though I suspect money will not be the deciding factor for Otani.

DotF: Andujar stays red hot in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique was named the Triple-A International League Manager of the Year for the second straight season, so that’s cool. Also, SS Tyler Wade named to the IL end-of-season All-Star Team. Congrats to both.

Triple-A Scranton (8-4 win over Rochester)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-3, 1 2B — got picked off second … left the game in the sixth inning for an unknown reason … Conor Foley says Wade remained in the dugout after coming out of the game, so I doubt he’s hurt
  • DH Matt Holliday: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he’s hitting .335/.381/.531 with a 13.4% strikeout rate in 53 Triple-A games
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB — here’s video of the homer
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-2, 1 BB — got picked off first and was ejected for arguing the call
  • C Wilkin Castillo: 1-2, 1 RBI, 1 CS — he was removed in the sixth inning as well, at the same time as Wade … hmmm … update: D.J. Eberle says Castillo left the game with a knee injury
  • RHP Domingo German: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 51 of 87 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%) … chances are he’ll be in New York when rosters expand Friday
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 21 of 41 pitches were strikes
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — eight pitches, five strikes

[Read more…]

No Merritt to this performance: Yankees get swept after a 9-4 loss to the Indians

Source: FanGraphs

So much for winning a game in this series at all. The Yankees suffered another listless loss n the second game of the doubleheader as they got swept by the Indians. They are now five games behind Boston in the AL East standings and have only a 1.5 game lead in the first AL Wild Card spot. Not what you want, folks! Following Mike’s example, we’re also doing it bullet-point style for this recap.

  • Another bad first inning: The game did not start too promisingly for the Yankees. Francisco Lindor singled off Jordan Montgomery to begin the top of the first and Austin Jackson worked a walk. A hitter later, Edwin Encarnacion squared an RBI single to center to make it 1-0 Indians. Carlos Santana followed it up with a double that bounced off the third base bag to drive Jackson in. With runners on second and third, Yandy Diaz hit a single to left to drive both of ’em in to make it 4-0. Not ideal at all. The Indians ended up batting around and Montgomery threw 42 pitches. All kinds of yikes here. Montgomery managed to last through four innings, which feels miraculous given that he spent half of his pitch limits in the first inning.
  • Bird is the word: The Yankees got a run in the bottom of the second thanks to… Greg Bird! Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks got on base with a single each and Bird followed it up with one of his own to make it a 4-1 game. Fast forward to bottom of the ninth, well after Indians lefty Ryan Merritt was out of the game, with Todd Frazier (walk) and Hicks (single) on base, Bird crushed an inside fastball into the right field seats for a three-run homer. Not a lot of things to get excited about in today’s games but man, it is nice to see Bird hit in the majors. His 4 RBI’s today raised his season total up to 9. Hopefully this game gets things going for him because, with major bats slumping in the lineup, the Yankees need someone to step up.
  • Post-Monty: After Montgomery departed, Joe Girardi put in Chase Shreve in the top of the fifth to keep it a three-run game. However, Encarnacion immediately made it a four-run game with a massive solo home run into the left field seats. That was 2012-16 all over again, watching Encarnacion jog around the Yankee Stadium bases with an invisible parrot on his arm. Shreve surrendered another in the sixth. Erik Gonzalez doubled to lead off the inning. After Lindor grounded out, Jackson hit a deep fly into the center that bounced off Hicks’ reaching glove and resulted as an RBI double. It’s been that kind of a game. 6-1 Tribe. But wait, we’re not done there. With Caleb Smith pitching, the Indians tacked on three more on a Yan Gomes two-run HR in the seventh and a Lindor solo dinger in the eighth. Okay, it’s over.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA. It was not a great display of baseball from the Yankees for the past three games, to say the least. Gotta hope that they turn it around quickly starting tomorrow because the Red Sox are coming to town for a four-game set. CC Sabathia will be on the mound against Eduardo Rodriguez tomorrow at 7:05 pm EST.

Game 132: Maybe Just Win One?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Not a good start to the doubleheader. The Yankees dropped the first game 2-1 and have already clinched the series loss to the Indians. All they can do now is salvage the series with a win in today’s second game and go into the four-game weekend series with the Red Sox feeling kinda sorta good about things. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup for the second game:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

Same weather as this afternoon, meaning pretty much perfect. The second game of the doubleheader is tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:55pm ET. YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast again. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: No one was sent down for Montgomery. He is the 26th man for the doubleheader.

Indians 2, Yankees 1: Sometimes two runs are too many to overcome

Source: FanGraphs

Well so much for winning two games in one day. The Yankees dropped the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader despite allowing two whole runs. Can’t ask your pitchers to do much more than that, especially at cozy Yankee Stadium. The final score was 2-1 Indians. We’re not writing two full recaps in one day, so let’s bullet point this one:

  • A Bad First Inning: Two runs (one earned) in five innings plus one batter against a first place team? Hard to complain about that from your fifth starter. Jaime Garcia allowed both runs in the first inning on three singles and a pretty terrible Gary Sanchez passed ball. Cutter right down the middle and Sanchez couldn’t catch it. If it makes you feel better, the run would’ve scored anyway when the next batter singled. (Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, blah blah blah.) Garcia’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. He got batter-to-battered in the sixth, when he walked the only man he faced. A perfectly cromulent outing otherwise.
  • One Run & Done: Pretty miserable showing for the offense. They scored their lone run against Trevor Bauer in the third inning, when Didi Gregorius looped a double the other way to drive in Aaron Hicks. Hicks drew a walk, moved up on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice, and moved up again on Trevor Bauer’s wild pitch. Bauer had one 1-2-3 inning, the fourth, so the Yankees had some baserunners. Brought just the one in though. The Yankees were so desperate for offense they gave Tyler Olson — Tyler Olson! — a free out with a sac bunt in the seventh. You will be surprised to learn it didn’t work. The final eight batters they sent to the plate made outs.
  • Leftovers: Eight batters, seven strikeouts for Chad Green …¬† Tommy Kahnle pitched around a walk and a ground ball single to get his four outs … every starter reached base at least once except Greg Bird and Jacoby Ellsbury. Hicks and Chase Headley were the only Yankees to reach twice though. They each had two walks … Bird went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and swung threw several meaty fastballs, and that’s no good.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Indians will play the second game of the doubleheader pretty soon. The grounds crew will touch up the infield and starters Jordan Montgomery and Ryan Merritt will warm up, then they’ll get started.

Yankees will reportedly visit Philadelphia next year for first time since 2009 World Series


At some point next month MLB will release the 2018 regular season schedule, though bits and pieces are already starting to leak out. The Yankees are due to face the NL East during interleague play next year, and according to Ryan Lawrence, they are tentatively scheduled to visit the Phillies next summer. It’ll be the first time the Yankees visit Citizens Bank Park since the 2009 World Series.

The three-game series in Philadelphia is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, through Wednesday, June 27th. Aside from the 2009 World Series, the Yankees have visited Citizens Bank Park for an interleague series only once. They took two of three from the Phillies back in June 2006. The Yankees starting pitchers that series: Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Jaret Wright. Prior to that, their last trip to Philly was to Veterans Stadium in 2001.

The Yankees and Phillies have played two series at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 World Series. The Phillies took two of three in June 2010 and again took two of three in June 2015. They also played three regular season games at Yankee Stadium in May 2009. The Phillies won two of three that series too. Eh, whatever. That has no bearing on what happens next year. (Also, kiss the ring.)

With the NL East on tap next year, the Yankees figure to get a firsthand look at Bryce Harper before his impending free agency, possibly even in Yankee Stadium. Harper went deep when the Nationals visited the Bronx back during his MVP season in 2015.

Chances are the Yankees will visit new SunTrust Park in Atlanta next year, a ballpark they helped open with an exhibition game back earlier this spring. Greg Bird hit the first (unofficial) home run at the new building. The Yankees play the Mets during the Subway Series every season, so that’s nothing new. Visiting the Phillies and getting to see Bryce Harper up close don’t happen to often for the Yankees, so that’ll be fun. If nothing else, at least interleague travel will be easy next year.

Game 131: Let’s Win Two

Pls bring Votto to NY to keep Reds reunion going. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Pls give Votto to Yankees to keep Reds reunion going thx. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Yankees and Indians will play a single admission doubleheader today. Second one of the season for the Yankees, and their third doubleheader overall. Can’t beat two games for the price of one. Yeah, it’s going to do a number on the pitching staff the day before the start of a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox, but what can you do? At least reinforcements are coming Friday.

Winning two games today sure would be swell, but before you can win two, you have to win one. The Yankees got shut down by Corey Kluber on Monday and hey, it happens. Kluber is really good. Trevor Bauer though? That’s another story. I know he pitched well when these two teams met in Cleveland, but if you want to win a postseason spot, he’s the kinda guy you’ve got to beat up on. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 1B Ha Cheese Lady
  6. DH Greg Bird
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jaime Garcia

Lovely weather in New York today. Doubleheader weather. Much better than all that rain yesterday. The first game of today’s doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Judge (shoulder) feels better, though he continues to receive treatment. He’s going to play in the second game of the doubleheader. Judge has not had an MRI or a cortisone shot, though it has been discussed. I have no idea what the Yankees are waiting for. Between this and letting Bird play on a bad ankle for a month, they’re really Metsing it up with the injuries to their young guys this year.

Appeals Update: Joe Girardi said MLB has not yet scheduled appeal hearings for Sanchez and Austin Romine. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen tomorrow, but right now there’s nothing on the books. Sure sounds like the hearings won’t happen until after rosters expand Friday though. Sanchez was suspended four games and Romine two games for their roles in the brawl with the Tigers last week.