Thoughts following the back-to-back off-days

Starsky and Dutch. (Presswire)
Starsky and Dutch. (Presswire)

Thanks to Sunday’s rainout, the Yankees are coming off back-to-back off-days as they head into tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays. It’s not too early to call this a big series, is it? Yeah kinda. Then again, every win the Yankees pick up now is one fewer win they’ll need later. Anyway, I have some thoughts. Read ’em and weep.

1. Through five games the Prestige Worldwide™ middle infield has gone a combined 15-for-38 (.395) with two doubles, three home runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. This is working out pretty well so far, eh? Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius are not going to keep up that pace, we all know that, but it’s exciting to see the Yankees have two bonafide building block players at second and short. I’m a huge believer in building a team from the middle of the field outward, and rebuilding the middle infield in the post-Derek Jeter/Robinson Cano era was not going to be easy. No one is going to confuse Didi and Castro for Jeter and Cano, but these two guys sure look like they have the potential to stick around for a few years. Gregorius has been getting better and better since last May, and Castro has hit the ground running in New York. They’ve been awesome in the super early going.

2. As he’s struggled these last few years, we’ve heard CC Sabathia has been tinkering with all sorts of different pitches. Cutters, two-seam fastballs, two-seam changeups, the works. Most of the time nothing came from it. Late this spring there were reports Sabathia was working on a new cutter that is somehow different than his old cutter, and he actually threw it in his start Saturday. A lot. From Brooks Baseball:

CC Sabathia pitch selectionI’ve been doing this long enough to know getting excited about a new pitch after one outing is foolish, but you can’t ignore the new pitch completely either. Sabathia made a tangible change to his arsenal and it very well may lead to a change in his effectiveness. Not necessarily for the better either. The cutter could stink going forward for all we know. I’m rooting for Sabathia more than any other player on the roster this season given everything he went through last year, and if this cutter in any way helps his performance, great. Sabathia is a dude worth pulling for.

3. The list of available shuttle relievers has very quietly thinned out one week into the season. Bryan Mitchell is out with his broken toe and now Nick Rumbelow needs Tommy John surgery. Jacob Lindgren and Vicente Campos are down in High Class-A getting themselves back on track. That leaves Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, James Pazos, and Tyler Olson as the 40-man roster call-up options. I see Olson as a pure left-on-left matchup guy, so his usefulness is limited. The Yankees do have an open 40-man spot thanks to Aroldis Chapman‘s suspension — Mitchell, Greg Bird, and now Rumbelow are 60-day DL candidates too — so they could always call up someone like Tyler Webb or Chad Green or Diego Moreno or whoever. Still though, if they need a fresh arm and either Pinder or Goody is unavailable because they just pitched, things could get interesting. The Yankees showed last year they’ll call just about anyone up, so don’t be surprised if we see Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Haynes, or Tyler Cloyd at some point.


4. I can’t say I expect the imminent Nick Swisher signing to amount to much, if anything, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing him aboard for a look-see. He’s going to take at-bats away from Chris Parmelee and Deibinson Romero (and probably Cesar Puello too) at Triple-A, and that’s no big deal. Swisher is 35 now, his knees are shot, and he’s been awful the last two years. Those guys usually don’t bounce back and produce, even in limited roles. Given Mark Teixeira‘s injury history though, adding first base depth is not a bad move, and if nothing else Swisher is a guy who knows the strike zone and already knows how to take advantage of the short porch. It would be awesome to see him come up and have some kind of impact. I’m just not expecting anything.

5. How about my boy Ronald Torreyes? I said I was irrationally excited about him soon after the trade — that was before the Yankees designated him for assignment, lost him on waivers, then re-claimed him on waivers — so seeing that 3-for-4 game in his first MLB start last week was pretty cool. I don’t think Torreyes is a future regular or anything, but I think he can be a pretty good bench player going forward. He’s only 23 — good thing the Yankees went young instead of putting Rob Refsnyder on the bench, eh? — and he’s a high contact/high energy guy who can handle the three non-first base infield positions. It’s almost like he’s Eduardo Nunez with better defense. Torreyes is that same kind of live-bodied athlete without the defensive headaches. Nice little find for the Yankees.

6. James Kaprielian, last year’s first round pick, made his season debut last night with High-A Tampa and was pretty awesome. His stats are in the James Kaprielian Watch in the sidebar. Kaprielian threw only 60 pitches in his five innings, and that leads me to believe the Yankees are controlling his workload early in the season so he can help come August and September. This is exactly what they did with Luis Severino last year. The limited his work in the minors in April, May, and June, then turned him loose in the second half in the big leagues. They didn’t want to run into a situation where Severino had to be shut down in early or mid-September because his workload was getting out of control. It appears Kaprielian is on a similar plan. That doesn’t guarantee he will be up later in the season. It just means the Yankees want to be prepared in case Kaprielian does force the issue and come up.

DotF: Kaprielian strikes out nine in season debut

Some news and notes:

  • In case you missed it earlier, RHP Nick Rumbelow needs Tommy John surgery. Donnie Collins says RHP Tyler Cloyd is moving into the rotation and RHP Conor Mullee is up from Double-A Trenton to fill Rumbelow’s roster spot. RHP Jonathan Holder goes from High-A Tampa to Trenton, per Matt Kardos. I figured that would happen soon. He threw over 100 innings in Tampa last year.
  • The Yankees released several players, per Matt Eddy: C K.J. Alexander, OF Chris Breen, OF Taylor Dugas, OF Frank Frias, C Jake Hernandez, and RHP Jaron Long. Dugas spent a few days in the big leagues last year, but did not actually play in a game. He still gets affordable health care for life though. Long is gonna sign with the Mets in a matter of days, I bet.
  • LHP Ian Clarkin was included in today’s Monday Morning Ten Pack. It is not behind the paywall, so check it out. “Clarkin checks a lot of boxes in what you are looking for out of a future starting pitcher: Athletic, clean arm action, above-average arm speed, pitches for strikes, athletic delivery. While the elbow injury does bring some cause for concern down the line, it hasn’t been an issue for him thus far and might’ve been a bump in the road instead of a detour,” said the write-up.
  • And finally, make sure you check out Chad Jennings’ comprehensive overview of the four full season minor league affiliates.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 win over Pawtucket)

  • LF Ben Gamel:  3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 SB — had one hit total in his first three games of the year
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — first time this season he didn’t go exactly 1-for-4
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Donovan Solano: 3-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • RF Cesar Puello: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — he’s getting the short end of the playing time stick right now, but he made the most of his start tonight
  • LHP Tyler Olson: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 6-1 GB/FB — 43 of 69 pitches were strikes (62%) … I’m not very optimistic the LOOGY will make a decent starter, but what the heck, might as well try
  • RHP Vinnie Pestano: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 18 of 30 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 24 of 30 pitches were strikes (80%) … chances we see him in the bullpen at some point this summer? I say 80%
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 16 pitches were strikes (75%) … he gave up *another* homer … he’s up to two homers in two regular season innings after allowing five dingers in 10.2 innings during the spring

[Read more…]

Monday Night Open Thread

Thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Yankees had their second straight off-day today. Yesterday wasn’t a total off-day though. The Yankees worked out at Comerica Park after the game was postponed. “We got some guys throwing (bullpens) and we hit in the cage. We can’t really work out (Monday). From what I understand, they have a charity event going on at (Rogers Centre). You never want two days off,” said Joe Girardi to George King. The team opens a three-game set in Toronto tomorrow.

Here is tonight’s open thread. Unfortunately the MLB Extra Innings free preview is over, but the Mets are playing the Marlins (Matz vs. Cosart), and that game will be on ESPN in addition to SNY. The Nets are playing too. (The NHL regular season is over. The postseason begins later this week.) You folks know how these open threads work by now, so have at it.

Jennings: Nick Rumbelow to undergo Tommy John surgery


6:19pm: Brian Cashman confirmed Rumbelow does indeed need his elbow rebuilt, reports Mark Feinsand.

5:54pm: Bad news: Chad Jennings hears right-hander Nick Rumbelow needs Tommy John surgery. He pitched an inning for Triple-A Scranton last night and went out for a second inning, but he got hurt during warm-ups and was removed from the game. The Yankees have not yet confirmed the news.

Rumbelow, 24, allowed eight runs in 15.2 innings for the big league club last year. The team’s seventh round pick in the 2013 draft shot through the minors and reached the show roughly two years out of college. The Yankees were reportedly planning to try Rumbelow as a starter this season.

The Yankees have a lot of minor league bullpen depth, but they’ve now lost Rumbelow and Bryan Mitchell to long-term injuries. They’re already down two arms. Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, James Pazos, and Tyler Olson are the 40-man roster relievers in Triple-A at the moment.

These days teams are giving players closer to 14 months to rehab from Tommy John surgery rather than the usual 12 months, so Rumbelow may not return until the All-Star break next year. Sucks.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: April 2011

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

A new month has arrived, so it is time once again to look back through the MLBTR archives. We’re now in April 2011, meaning the offseason is over. The Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee that winter, which was a big deal. You may have heard about it. They also signed Rafael Soriano, re-signed Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and lost Andy Pettitte to retirement. They needed rotation help and didn’t get it, or so we thought.

April is not a great month for trade and free agent rumors because it’s so early in the season. Teams are still in the process of evaluating what they have and figuring out what they need. There’s a lot of speculation in April. As a reminder, the purpose of this series is to have some fun looking back at what we were talking about five years ago. We’re not looking to make fun of the MLBTR crew or any of the reporters. Rumors are no fun if you look at them once then forget they exist, after all. Let’s dive on in.

April 2nd, 2011: Lame Duck General Managers

Brian Cashman, Yankees – The third longest-tenured GM in the game would seem to be on rocky ground after being over-ruled by ownership on the Rafael Soriano signing, but we heard afterwards that he still has the “full backing” of the Steinbrenners.

The Yankees won the World Series in 2009 and went to the ALCS in 2010, yet there were questions about Cashman’s job security heading into the 2011 season. Kinda crazy, huh? The Yankees lost out on Lee and ownership went over Cashman’s head to sign Soriano, leading to those questions. In fact, there was talk Cashman was ready to move on and find a new challenge himself.

Eventually Cashman signed another three-year contract — and then another three-year contract after that one — and even though the Yankees have played one postseason game in the last three years, his job seems as secure as ever. He’s pulling off this rebuild on the fly thing so far. Cashman is under contract through next season and I have a hard time thinking the Steinbrenners would put him in charge of this retool and not let him see it through.

April 2nd, 2011: East Notes: Simon, Red Sox, Feliciano, Mets

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Pedro Feliciano was “abused” by the Mets‘ use of him in recent years, tweets Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

Gosh that was such a silly thing to say. Any schmuck with an internet connection could log onto Baseball Reference and see Feliciano appeared in 86 (!), 88 (!!), and 92 (!!!) games the three years prior to his free agency. That doesn’t count all the games Feliciano warmed up but did not pitch. Yes, he was only a lefty specialist, but that’s an awfully heavy workload.

And yet, the Yankees signed him anyway. Cashman knew the risk and it blew up in the team’s face. It happens. To turn around and say it was because the Mets abused him made him sound like a sore loser. The Yankees didn’t get what they wanted so Cashman was looking for someone to blame. Lame. Feliciano was abused by the Mets. That’s fair to say. It’s not their fault the Yankees signed him anyway.

April 4th, 2011: New York Notes: Feliciano, Reyes, Harris

Pedro Feliciano told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork that he was upset to hear that Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested he was overworked last year (Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he was “abused.”). Feliciano maintains that he likes to pitch a lot and predicts he’ll strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets this year. Feliciano says he didn’t sign with the Mets because they weren’t willing to offer a multiyear deal.

What a sentence: “Feliciano maintains that he likes to pitch a lot and predicts he’ll strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets this year.” That was back when Davis was the new hotness — .264/.351/.440 (115 OPS+) with 19 home runs as a rookie in 2010! — and Feliciano still had a functioning shoulder.

April 6th, 2011: New York Notes: Pavano, Posada, Mets

Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed to Spencer Fordin of that the Yankees were considering Pavano last offseason, despite his injury-riddled stint with the club from 2005-08. “He’s resurrected his career,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched well for the Twins, and he’s given them innings. When we’ve faced him in the playoffs, he’s pitched well. The guy knows how to pitch. The big thing for Carl is he’s been healthy.”

The Yankees did briefly show interest in Carl Pavano during the 2010-11 offseason because a) they needed pitching, and b) he was coming off a season with a 3.75 ERA (4.02 FIP) in 221 innings. He was going to cost the team a draft pick though, which ultimately was the sticking point. That’s how desperate the team was for rotation help after losing out on Lee (and Pettitte) though. They were considering a reunion with Pavano. He went on to have a 4.30 ERA (4.10 FIP) in 222 innings for the Twins in 2011, by the way.

April 8th, 2011: Heyman On Marlins, White Sox, Jenks, Glaus

Before the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano, GM Brian Cashman told Bobby Jenks that he wasn’t offering any setup man $8MM. The Yankees signed Soriano for $35MM over three years, though Cashman advised against it.

I remember reading somewhere that Cashman said he told J.J. Putz’s agent he would not give multiple years or big money to a setup man that offseason, which is why he came out and said he was against the Soriano signing. He told all these agents he wouldn’t do exactly what ownership did, so he had to make sure it was clear it was his superiors, not him. Cashman had relationships to maintain.

April 9th, 2011: Yankees Sign Carlos Silva

The Yankees have signed Carlos Silva, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).  It is a minor league deal, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Yankees will be responsible only for the major league minimum if he is added to the big league roster, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

There were a lot of folks clamoring for Silva that offseason. He was only 31 and he had a 4.22 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 113 innings for the Cubs in 2010. Silva looked like he could help someone, especially a team with rotation questions like the Yankees. Instead, he sat out there in free agency drawing little interest. The Yankees signed him to this minor league deal, he threw 36 innings in the minors, then blew out his shoulder and never pitched again. (Not true: He threw two innings in winter ball in 2014. That’s it.) I have to think his medicals scared the crap out of teams that offseason.

April 9th, 2011: Quick Hits: Pedro, Martin, Archer, David, D’Backs

Pedro! He was 39 at the time and he had not pitched at all since the 2009 World Series, yet he wanted to make a comeback in 2011. It didn’t happen though. No one signed him and a few years later he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Pedro’s very last act on a baseball field was getting Brett Gardner to line out to second base to end the fourth inning of Game Six of the 2009 World Series.

As for Doug Davis … yikes. He made eight starts with the 2010 Brewers and managed to allow 36 runs and 79 base-runners in 38.1 innings. Davis was 35 and his PitchFX says his fastball averaged 84.4 mph in 2010. That was not going to fly in Yankee Stadium. The Cubs scooped him up and he allowed 38 runs and 87 base-runners in 45.2 innings in 2011. He never pitched again after that. The Yankees were desperate for pitching, but not that desperate.

April 13th, 2011: Heyman On Hamilton, Young, Felix, Royals

A rival GM says he’d trade Felix Hernandez to the Yankees for Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero if he were running the Mariners.

You’re my kinda guy, rival GM. Remember, this was back in 2011, and heading into the 2011 season, Felix was 24 years old and he had just won the damn Cy Young thanks to 249.2 innings of 2.27 ERA (3.04 FIP) ball. Not only that, he had just signed a long-term extension in April 2010, so he was owed a total of $68M total from 2011-14. Felix was maybe the most valuable commodity in the game back then.

At the same time, that was a hefty prospect package. I am going to use this image once again:


Montero was a super-elite prospect. Everyone knew he was going to hit. But hey, guys like Felix don’t come cheap, right? Baseball America (no subs. req’d) also ranked Banuelos (No. 41) and Betances (No. 43) as top 100 prospects heading into that 2011 season, so yeah. Nova was not a standout youngster or anything, but he was cheap and had a promising MLB debut in 2010. That package was three great prospects and a cheap young starter.

Needless to say, that trade would have been incredible for the Yankees and a total disaster for the Mariners even with Betances becoming one of the two or three best relievers in the world. Don’t forget to trade your prospects, folks.

April 13th, 2011: Quick Hits: Feliciano, Twins, Rendon, Oswalt

The Yankees were frustrated that the Astros never made them fully aware that Roy Oswalt was available last summer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Credit Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for acquiring Oswalt quietly and later denying the Yankees their primary offseason target, Cliff Lee.

The Phillies traded Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, and J.A. Happ for Oswalt at the 2010 trade deadline, and Happ was the headliner. He was only 27 and up to that point he had a 3.11 ERA in 217 big league innings. Of course, he also had a 4.50 FIP, and following that trade he pitched much closer to the FIP than the ERA.

A comparable package at the time would have been something like Nova, Eduardo Nunez, and Slade Heathcott. A cheap and servicable big league starter plus tooled up shortstop and center field prospects. Heathcott was only a year removed away from being a first round pick at the time though. Oswalt was pretty great for the Phillies after the trade and very good in 2011 before fading. If the Astros didn’t make it clear to everyone Oswalt was available, it’s a bad move on their part. You’ve got to create a bidding war.

April 14th, 2011: Yankees Will Look For Relief; Move Unlikely

Pedro Feliciano has a capsular tear in his left shoulder and may require significant surgery, Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters. There’s a strong possibility that the Yankees’ $8MM free agent signing won’t throw a pitch for them in 2011. Cashman says he’ll look for another left-handed reliever, but according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the GM’s expectations are low (all Twitter links).

Boone Logan emerged as the primary lefty in 2010 — he held lefties to a .190/.286/.215 (39 OPS+) batting line with 33.0% strikeout rate in 40 innings that year — and the Yankees wound up cycling through a ton of scrap heap options to find a second lefty during the 2011 season. Aaron Laffey, Raul Valdez, Steve Garrison, the works. None stood out. Now they have Andrew Miller and Chasen Shreve, with Aroldis Chapman on his way back. And James Pazos in Triple-A. Once upon a time the Yankees struggled to find quality lefty bullpen help. Now they have it in spades.

April 14th, 2011: Minor Deals: Mattingly, Mariners, Yankees

The Yankees have signed 24-year-old right-hander Reinier Casanova.  The Cuban-born hurler defected following the 2009 season.

Casanova allowed 12 runs and 31 base-runners in 19 minor league innings in 2011. He was released after the season and has not pitched anywhere since as far as I can tell. Lots of Cuban guys are coming over and getting really nice contracts. Lots more leave their families behind in Cuba and never get very far in baseball.

April 14th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Marte, Pinto, Torre

Speaking of the Yankees bullpen, Cashman says that the overuse of relievers under the watch of Joe Torre was not his fault, writes Ian Begley of  In fact, the GM says that he told relievers to be truthful with Torre and his staff when they were asked about their availability to pitch.

That was doomed to fail. You want players to be truthful but they never are. They all want to play tired and hurt and whatever. That’s just the way these guys are wired. Leave it to the players to tell the manager they need a day to rest and most of them won’t say anything. It’s up to the manager to make those decisions. Joe Girardi has shown he is very good at that with his bullpen. Now they’re going to ramp up the rest for the position players.

April 17th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Millwood, Hughes, Martin

Earlier today, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told the press that the club had planned to send Phil Hughes to Triple-A to work through his troubles, tweets Wallace Matthews of  Hughes ultimately convinced the Yankees that that wouldn’t be the best course of action for his “dead arm”.

Hughes was awesome as a setup man in 2009 and solid as a starter in 2010. He had a 4.19 ERA (4.25 FIP) in 176.1 inning that season and was only 24, so he looked like a guy who was emerging as a rotation fixture. Phil’s velocity was way down early in that 2011 season …

Phil Hughes velocity… and there was talk of sending him to Triple-A, especially with Bartolo Colon looking so good in long relief and forcing his way into the rotation conversation. The Yankees put Hughes on the DL with what they called arm fatigue shortly after this report, and he was on the DL until mid-July, so it was not a short-term stay. His velocity never really did get back to normal the rest of the season either. (He was in the bullpen at the end of the season, hence the late-season bump in velocity in the graph.)

Looking back, this seems like a classic example of a pitcher feeling a bit of a hangover following a huge bump in workload the year before. Hughes threw 111.2 total innings in 2009 then 176.1 innings in 2010, so it was an increase of 64.2 innings. His career high was 146.2 innings way back in 2006. Hughes rebounded and had a nice 2012 season, but that 2011 campaign was a lost cause.

April 18th, 2011: Heyman On Young, Emaus, Rays, Wilson, Melky

Alex Rodriguez worked out with Melky Cabrera this offseason and “begged” the Yankees to sign the outfielder to no avail.

This was a pretty big deal for a while because Melky had a good start with the Royals — and ultimately a strong full season — after being released by the Braves the year before. The Javy Vazquez reunion didn’t work out and it hadn’t yet become clear Curtis Granderson was truly #cured and a legit power hitting monster, so people wanted Melky back. The cries for Melky were even louder during his time with the Giants in 2012, but then he got popped for performance-enhancing drugs, and everyone lost interest. It’s pretty clear now keeping Gardner and trading Cabrera was the right move.

April 20th, 2011: Minor League Signings: Lawrence, Place, Salome

Right fielder Jason Place, released by the Red Sox in Spring Training, was signed by the Yankees.  Place was drafted 27th overall in 2006, one spot ahead of Daniel Bard.  18 of the 44 first-rounders from that draft have yet to play in the Majors, Place among them.

Place was a pretty big deal back in the day — aren’t all Red Sox prospects big deals at some point? that’s the way it goes — but he wasn’t much of a prospect by time the Yankees signed him. They needed an outfielder for the lower levels and he was available. Place hit .178/.210/.317 in 27 minor league games in 2011 and has been out of baseball since.

April 23rd, 2011: Quick Hits: Figueroa, Mock, Martin, Mets

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that the Yankees tried to acquire Russell Martin via trade in each of the last three seasons (Twitter link). Cashman got his man this winter, signing him as a free agent after the Dodgers non-tendered him.

At some point word got out the Yankees offered Frankie Cervelli for Martin during the 2010-11 offseason, but were declined. The Dodgers then non-tendered Martin and got nothing in return at all. Not ex-Dodgers GM Ned Colletti’s finest moment. Cervelli, if nothing else, was a cheap backup option at that point of his career. Los Angeles instead cut Martin loose for nothing. I do not understand.

April 25th, 2011: Quick Hits: Bautista, Jeter, Clevlen, Astros

Yankees GM Brian Cashman to Derek Jeter in a November 30th meeting: “You said all you wanted was what was fair. How much higher do we have to be than the highest offer for it to be fair?” That’s from Ian O’Connor’s source; the writer has a new book out next month on Jeter.

The Jeter-Cashman barbs were slowly starting to leak out around this time. Heck, they’re still leaking out. Last year we learned Cashman told Jeter he’d rather have Troy Tulowitzki. Cashman was the bad cop during contract talks, it seems. Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine were the good cops.

April 28th, 2011: Heyman On Lincecum, Cano, Votto, Weaver, Dodgers

Similarly, there’s no reason to think the Yankees would let Robinson Cano leave in the prime of his career.  The Bombers have options for 2012 and ’13 at $14MM and $15MM, respectively, and will obviously exercise them. Look for the Yanks to get a deal done with the second baseman, but only after the Scott Boras client files for free agency.

Yeah the Yankees would never let a homegrown superstar leave as a free agent. What a silly thing to think.

The importance of rest, and the importance of having the best lineup as often as possible

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The 2016 season is only five games old, and already one thing is clear: the Yankees have a really good offense. Their 35 runs scored are the most in the AL and the fifth most in MLB overall, and their team 145 wRC+ is by far the best among the 30 clubs. (The Orioles are second at 132.) That’s despite being shut out once and losing a game to a rainout. The Yankees have scored at least eight runs in three games already, which is awesome.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The Yankees had a very good offense last season — they averaged 4.72 runs per game in 2015, second most in baseball — and the same roster returns this year, except the generally unproductive Stephen Drew has been replaced by Starlin Castro. Castro has been phenomenal so far. It’s early, no doubt about it, but right now the Yankees have a powerful lineup. It’s been fun to watch.

Of course, the offense faded big time down the stretch last season, and the Yankees are trying like hell to avoid that this year. The plan is to give the regulars more rest, and that plan has already been put into motion. Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Chase Headley have all spent a game on the bench. The first three guys spent the same game on the bench, and that was the game the Yankees were shut out.

“Everyone asked me all about last year (why) guys got fatigued at the end of the year,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings after Friday’s shutout loss. “What really made me do this was: we got in late, we played three days in a row, it’s early in the season, you’ve got (players soon to be) 39 and 41 years old. I’ve got to manage them. Mac caught three days in a row (before) another short turnaround. It’s not ideally what you want to do, but it was kind of a product of the rainout.”

I am fully on board with giving the regulars more rest. I have no idea whether it will actually result in the Yankees avoiding another second half slide, but I can’t imagine it’ll hurt. More than a few guys looked out of gas down the stretch last year. Out of gas and banged up. Anything the Yankees can do to avoid that is a-okay in my book. Girardi has to be proactive, not reactive, hence resting players in the fourth game of the year.

There are two ways Girardi and the Yankees can approach this plan to rest everyone more often, I suppose. Here are the two possible courses of action I see:

  1. Rest everyone at once. That’s what happened Friday, when three regulars were out of the lineup. The upside here is you get the full strength lineup more often.
  2. Rest one guy at a time. This is the rest A-Rod one day, Beltran the next, McCann the next, and so on approach. You won’t have the full strength lineup, but you’ll have something close to it each day.

I honestly think there is a valid argument for both approaches, and really, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The Yankees could use each approach at different times throughout the season.

Personally, I’d rather see the Yankees rest one guy at a time. Sitting three or four of your best hitters in one game doesn’t automatically equal a loss — even the worst teams in baseball win 60-something games each year — but it sure puts you at a disadvantage. The Yankees don’t have a great rotation and they need their offense to carry them most days.

I think Girardi and the Yankees prefer to rest one guy at a time as well. Putting three regulars on the bench Friday was the result of some unusual circumstances. The Yankees lost Tuesday’s off-day to the Opening Day rainout, and they were playing an afternoon game Friday — it was the Tigers’ home opener — after getting into Detroit late Thursday night. It was a very quick turnaround. You don’t see many of those during the season.

The key to this “rest the regulars” plan is the bench players. Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley have be worth a semi-regular lineup spot — I’m optimistic about both, but my opinion doesn’t mean anything — and so does Ronald Torreyes. If the bench guys produce, Girardi will have more flexibility to rest the veterans. Either way, the Yankees are at their best when the lineup is at full strength. That much is clear one week into the season.

Yankeemetrics: Frozen in Motown (April 8-9)

No. 688 (Rick Osentoski | USA Today Sports)
No. 688 (Rick Osentoski|USA Today Sports)

Chill out
The Yankees’ first road trip of the season got off to a historically terrible start, as their bats were put on ice in a 4-0 loss to the Tigers on Friday afternoon at Comerica Park. They were held to just three singles and got only one runner in scoring position against starter Jordan Zimmermann and the Detroit bullpen.

THE GOOD: The game lasted just 2 hours and 44 minutes!
THE BAD: It was the first time since 1980 that the Yankees were shut out in their road opener.
THE UGLY: The last time they were held scoreless and had three hits or fewer in their first road game of the season was 1915 against the Senators. Walter Johnson tossed a two-hit shutout in Washington’s 7-0 win; the lone Yankee hits were by Wally Pipp and Jeff Sweeney.

Zimmermann, who gave up two of the three hits, joined Mike Maroth (2004) as the only Tigers pitchers in the last 25 years to allow two hits or fewer in an outing of at least seven innings against the Yankees.

Luis Severino, the youngest pitcher to start a game in the majors this season, got tagged for a career-high 10 hits and allowed three runs in five innings. He really struggled to command his slider and the Tigers took advantage of those hanging pitches in the zone. Severino threw 28 sliders, Detroit batters swung at 13 of them, put six in play and all six went for hits.

Luis Severino2

Return of the Bats
Playing in even colder temps on Saturday, the Yankee bats warmed up quickly and delivered a nice bounceback win over the Tigers. With a game time temperature of 31 degrees, it was the coldest game the Yankees have played in’s database (which has near-100 percent weather data coverage since 1988).

The three veterans that sat out Friday’s game shined on this frigid afternoon: Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran both homered, while Brian McCann went 2-for-4 with a walk and scored three runs in the Yankees 8-4 victory.

A-Rod‘s homer gave them a 1-0 lead in the first inning; it was his team-leading 15th go-ahead home run since the start of last season, four more than any other Yankee. Beltran’s blast was his 394th career homer, breaking a tie with Jim Edmonds for sole possession of 59th place on the all-time list. McCann’s second-inning single made him 20-of-43 (.465) in his career vs. Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey, his highest batting average against any pitcher he’s faced at least 25 times.

CC Sabathia, the first Yankee with a quality start this season, threw six innings of three-run ball as he improved to 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA versus the Tigers since the start of 2012. That’s the sixth-best ERA and third-best record by any pitcher with at least five starts against Detroit over the last five seasons.

Starlin Castro made sure the young guys also got some headlines. He notched another multi-hit game to give him 1,000 career hits at the age of 26 years and 16 days. Derek Jeter, who reached that milestone on Sept. 25, 2000, joined the 1,000th hit club at the age of 26 years and 94 days.

He’s also in select company with his ability to hit for average and extra bases as a young up-the-middle infielder. He’s just the seventh second baseman and/or shortstop to compile at least 1,000 hits, 175 doubles, 30 triples and 60 homers through his age-26 season. The others: Roberto Alomar, Robin Yount, Bobby Doerr, Arky Vaughan, Travis Jackson and Rogers Hornsby.