Report: FBI investigating Cardinals for hacking Astros database

Well this is something. According to Michael Schmidt, the FBI and Justice Department are investigating the Cardinals for hacking into the Astros’ proprietary database to steal information about their player evaluation and statistical analysis methods. You may remember that last year some trade information was leaked from Houston’s database.

Here’s more on the Cardinals story from Schmidt:

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Houston Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said.

The officials did not say which employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the team’s highest-ranking officials were aware of the hacking or authorized it. The investigation is being led by the F.B.I.’s Houston field office and has progressed to the point that subpoenas have been served on the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence.

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

Obviously this is very bad for the Cardinals, who have been a model organization (on the field, anyway) for about two decades now. Schmidt says this is the first known case of corporate espionage involving sports teams, though rival companies hacking into each other’s databases is hardly uncommon. It’s usually done through a third party in a foreign country, however. Schmidt makes it sound like a bunch of Cardinals folks just tried a bunch of Luhnow’s old passwords from home.

Luhnow was a very successful yet polarizing scouting executive with the Cardinals before taking over as the Astros GM a few years ago. MLB has not yet handed down any discipline but it is surely coming. Firings, suspensions, heavy fines … I imagine everything is in play at this point, not to mention legal ramifications. No, this doesn’t involve the Yankees, but gosh, what a story.

Young outfielders doing well during their auditions so far this season

(Getty)
Williams. (Getty)

I’m not going to lie. If you had told me back before the start of Spring Training that both Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams would make their MLB debuts before the All-Star break this season, I would have assumed the starting outfield had been decimated by injuries. Not just the starters, but the backups too. Heathcott (injuries) and Williams (poor performance) were not on my big league radar at all coming into 2015.

Instead of fading into prospect obscurity this year, both Heathcott and Williams had strong showings in Spring Training that carried over into the regular season. Slade was simply fully healthy for the first time in basically his entire career. Williams had the proverbial light bulb turn on and finally got serious about his career. It took injuries for them to get to the show — Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) for Heathcott, then Heathcott (quad) for Williams — but both Heathcott and Williams put themselves in position for the call-up and they deserve credit for that.

Ramon Flores also made his MLB debut earlier this year — he actually came up when Heathcott got hurt then went down for Williams — so that’s three young outfielders the Yankees have called up already this season. All three had some immediate success too. Heathcott went 6-for-17 (.353) in his cameo, Flores had some hits against top notch pitching (Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez) and played great defense, and Williams walloped a no-doubt two-run home run in his second at-bat in pinstripes. As far as first impressions go, all three did well.

As is the case with any young player, especially those not considered tippy top prospects at the time of their call-up, these three guys are auditioning for big league jobs. Heathcott, Flores, and Williams want to show the Yankees they can play everyday. On the other side of the coin, the Yankees want those three outfielders to show other teams they can play everyday to boost their trade value. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the team called Williams up last week instead of recalling Flores — the Yankees want to show off as many of these guys as possible.

This is a simple numbers game. Brett Gardner and Ellsbury are locked into long-term contracts and Carlos Beltran is signed through next year with Chris Young and Garrett Jones on the bench as reserves through the end of 2015. With Alex Rodriguez hitting so well at DH, Beltran is stuck in the outfield. Not only are Heathcott, Flores, and Williams waiting in Triple-A, the Yankees also have Ben Gamel and Tyler Austin at that level as well, plus Aaron Judge and Jake Cave are sitting in Double-A. The Yankees have a lot of outfielders and something has to give. They can’t keep everyone. There’s not enough roster spots to do that.

Flores. (Mike Stobe/Getty)
Flores. (Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees have enough Triple-A and Double-A outfield depth to trade at least one of their young outfielders this summer to plug another roster hole. Since Heathcott is on the DL, that leaves Flores and Williams as trade bait. Flores is the more predictable player while Williams has the greater upside. Whom you want to see the Yankees keep is a matter of preference. There’s no right answer. The team shouldn’t label either untouchable though — other clubs will value Flores and Williams differently and the Yankees should be willing to act on either player.

Looking ahead, the Yankees can use one of these guys as the fourth outfielder next season, though the problem is Heathcott, Flores, and Williams are all left-handed hitters. The Yankees would prefer a righty fourth outfielder to balance out the roster. The best fit for the roster among young outfielders might actually be Austin, a righty hitter who can play the corner outfield as well as first base. He’s had a down year though (76 wRC+) and isn’t in the big league conversation right now.

Judge is hopefully the long-term answer in right field once Beltran’s contract is up. I imagine that’s the plan but this is baseball, and things rarely go according to plan, especially with prospects. That’s why the outfield depth is a good thing. Maybe Williams ends up the long-term right fielder. Or Flores. Or Austin. Or maybe Gardner turns into trade bait and Flores and Judge are flanking Ellsbury in two years. Who knows? The depth gives the Yankees lots of options, and one of them absolutely should be trading prospects. That’s why you have ’em.

So far this season things have worked out to almost the best case scenario for these young outfielders. Heathcott and Williams rebuilt some value early in the season and those two plus Flores made strong first impressions in their brief MLB cameos. Judge, Gamel, and Cave are also having nice years in the minors. Austin’s been the only negative. This depth allows the Yankees to trade one of their young outfielders at the deadline this year to improve their roster elsewhere. A few months ago, dealing some of these guys would have been the definition of selling low.

Yankees lose a pitchers’ duel in Miami 2-1 as the offense can’t support Tanaka

For the third consecutive starts after coming off the DL, Masahiro Tanaka pitched pretty well. He had another seven-inning outing, limiting the Marlins to two runs despite not having his best command. But the New York offense went quiet against Tom Koehler and their bullpen – the Yankees fell tonight 2-1  and lost for the third time in last four games. Oh well. This one does hurt.

Eyes on target (Source: Getty)

Tanak Tanak Tun

Tanaka has been very, very good since coming off the DL. Tonight, while he did allow nine hits in seven innings, you can’t complain too much about the way he pitched – he didn’t allow any walks (again) and struck out six.

In the second inning, Tanaka allowed a one-out double to Derek Dietrich and Adeiny Hechavarria followed it up with an RBI-single on a hanging splitter.

In the third, Masahiro allowed two consecutive singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Christian Yelich. Luckily, Giancarlo Stanton hit a hard grounder right at Did Gregorius for a 6-4-3 double play. Boy, that was a break, especially against a guy like Stanton.

In the seventh, after retiring eleven consecutive batters, Tanaka allowed a homer to right to Dietrich. It was a fastball right down the middle and yeah, it was a goner off the bat. In a 1-1 game like this, especially after being on such a roll, that hurt quite much. For shame. The score remained 2-1 for rest of the game and Tanaka took a hard loss.

Despite the loss, his numbers are still quite elite. In seven starts, Tanaka has a 2.49 ERA and 2.71 FIP – doing it well on both conventional and sabermetric numbers. By the way, if you don’t “get” the title of the section, check this out.

The sole offensive triumph (Source: Getty)

Quiet bats

Tom Koehler is from New York City and grew up a big Yankee fan. Tonight, he earned a win against the team he rooted for.

Now, Koehler is not a bad pitcher. Before tonight, the righty had a 4.13 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) with a 4-4 record, which is not that shabby. But then again, if you put him in a matchup against Masahiro Tanaka, who would have a better chance to be victorious? Probably Tanaka. Didn’t really work out that way for New York tonight.

Leading off the second inning, Mark Teixeira hit a big solo fly to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. That was his 18th of the year and the gluten-free triumph continued! After that, Yankees didn’t get too much going on. I blame the Marlins infield for robbing at least three hard hits though – Hechavarria robbed Chase Headley twice (two at-bats in a row actually) and Dee Gordon robbed Brett Gardner of one. And, of course, Koehler reached first base safe because Mark Teixeira botched picking up a slow roller down the first base line. BABIP gods weren’t that great for New York tonight.

The head-scratcher

Joe Girardi put in Jose Ramirez to relieve Tanaka to begin the eighth. Now, Ramirez is no Chasen Shreve – the righty has a decent minor league track record but he’s yet to show a sustainable ML success. In fact, he has close to none – 5.40 ERA in 10 IP last year and 36.00 ERA in 1 IP in 2015 prior to tonight’s game. It came to no surprise when he got the bases loaded pretty quickly without getting an out. He just looked really, really bad out there not being able to throw strikes.

Now, the Yankees were trailing 2-1 in the bottom of eighth. The goal there is to keep it a 2-1 game and hope for a rally in the ninth. To increase the chance of keeping the same score, Girardi would have probably put a better pitcher – or at least a reliever with better track record – in.

Fortunately for the Yankees, Sergio Santos managed to get out of that situation unscathed. That was another head-scratching decision but it worked out in the end. The end does not always justify the means but I’m glad (or I was at the time) that the righty got out of it somehow.

Leftover

Yankees faced Ichiro for the first time he signed with the Marlins in the offseason. The Japanese veteran went 2-for-4 with a strikeout tonight, getting closer to the 3,000th hit. The 41-year old is doing eh this season – he does have a .288 batting average but that’s just about the only positive. He has a 89 wRC+ and a -0.3 fWAR. I do admire that he’s still out there and grinding in the Major Leagues though. (Also happens to be one of my idols since he started to play for the Mariners in 2001)

If you watched the ninth inning, you saw that Alex Rodriguez got a standing ovation on a road game. That was a weird yet pretty cool moment. Al from Miami got some love there. Also there were a lot of Yankee fans in the game – the “Let’s go Yankees” chants tonight were one of the loudest I’ve heard in Yankee road games, if not the loudest.

Box Score, standings, highlights, WPA

Here is the box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA. Rays have already won tonight so Yankees are no longer in the first place of division anymore. Oh well. I have a feeling that it won’t stay that way for too long though.


Source: FanGraphs


How about the matchup for tomorrow – David Phelps vs. Nathan Eovaldi! Will it determine who #wonthetrade? We’ll see.

DotF: Breen and Aune have huge games in Charleston’s win

I missed this last week, but UCLA RHP James Kaprielian (1st round) had the best future projection among this year’s first round pitchers according to Chris Mitchell’s KATOH system. Also, Oregon State OF Jeff Hendrix (4th) was among the best projected hitters taken on Day Two of the draft, so says KATOH.

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton had scheduled off-days.

High-A Tampa (3-2 loss to Bradenton)

  • 2B Abi Avelino: 0-2 — left the game in the fourth for an unknown reason
  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-4
  • DH Miguel Andujar: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Mark Payton: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
  • LF Ericson Leonora: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K — that’s his tenth homer of the season and fourth in his last three games
  • CF Michael O’Neill: 1-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Gabe Encinas: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3/5 GB/FB — 64 of 97 pitches were strikes (66%)

[Read more…]

2015 Draft: Yankees sign supplemental first rounder Kyle Holder

(College Baseball Daily)
(College Baseball Daily)

Monday: Holder signed for $1.8M, reports Jonathan Mayo. So slightly below slot but not substantially so. Here is our 2015 Draft Pool Tracker.

Friday: According to his Twitter feed, shortstop Kyle Holder has officially signed with the Yankees. There’s no word on his signing bonus yet. Holder was the team’s supplemental first round pick in this week’s draft, the 30th overall selection. That’s the pick the Yankees received as compensation for losing David Robertson to free agency.

Holder, 21, was drafted out of the University of San Diego. He has been billed as a great defender — some scouting reports called him the single best defensive player in the draft, regardless of position — which a questionable bat, though the Yankees think the offense will come. Everything you need to know about Holder is right here.

“I got more text messages from scouts from within the game — cross-checkers, scouting directors — about how good a pick (Holder) was, more than any other pick we took,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to Chad Jennings. “From the left side, to go along with what he does defensively, he’s going to be a fine offensive player to go along with some stellar defense at shortstop.”

The 30th overall pick comes with a $1,914,900 bonus slot and I have no reason to think Holder signed for substantially more or less than that. He probably took straight slot money, though we’ll find out soon enough. Now that he’s already signed, Holder will likely play with the Short Season Staten Island Yankees when their season begins next week.

Game 63: Tanaka Takes Miami

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

The Yankees are in Miami for the start of a four-game home-and-home series with the Marlins. Two games at Marlins Park, then two games at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have never played a regular season game in Marlins Park, though they did play two exhibition games there prior to the park’s opening in 2012. So, technically, the Yankees played the first two games at Marlins Park.

Anyway, Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound this evening making his third start off the DL. His first two were identical in that he allowed one run in seven innings each time, though he only fanned six Nationals last time out after striking out nine Mariners six days earlier. Slacker. Tanaka’s been really great this season (2.48 ERA and 2.61 FIP) so please oh please just stay healthy. Please please please. Here is Miami’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Garrett Jones
  6. 2B Stephen Drew
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s hot and humid with very few clouds in Miami this evening. I’m not sure if the Marlins Park roof will be open tonight — they could close it because of the heat. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and can be seen on WPIX, not YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) took batting practice for the first time today but still has some discomfort. “It’s been pretty good but still not where it needs to be. There is a little feeling he needs to get rid of. I wouldn’t call it pain,” said Joe Girardi to reporters over the weekend … Ivan Nova (elbow) will make one more Triple-A rehab start … Carlos Beltran has a minor hamstring injury and is available tonight if necessary.

Roster Update: Esmil Rogers has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton, so he’s still in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.

All-Star Voting Update: Mike Trout and the Royals are still on pace to start for the AL All-Star Team according to the voting update released by MLB today. No Yankees are close to starting. Alex Rodriguez is probably the closest and he dropped to fifth among DHs.

TiqIQ: Yanks, Fish Meet This Week For First Time Since ‘09; Drawing High Ticket Prices

The New York Yankees and Miami Marlins are getting set for a very rare clash with one another when they collide this week in a home-and-home four-game series, beginning tonight. The first two games will be played in Miami at Marlins Park, while the latter two will take place at Yankee Stadium. This could be a critical set for both clubs, as the Yankees are trying to stay atop the AL East, while the Marlins are simply trying to work their way up from the cellar of the NL East.

That may be easier said than done with New York’s big boppers poised to make an impact as usual, but Miami has some lively bats of their own that can help propel them to an upset. Giancarlo Stanton will be making his much-anticipated Yankee Stadium debut in this series, already in the midst of a home run flurry while sitting on top of baseball with 23 home runs. The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira isn’t too far behind him, having 17 long balls, and he’ll combine with Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the Yankees’ potent offense to try and best Stanton and Co. in the power game, which could ultimately be the difference in who takes this series.

All of that power is one reason why Yankees tickets on TiqIQ spike considerably for the first pair of games, relative to the general lower cost of games at Marlins Park. In fact, the opener currently features an average ticket price of $165.62, with a get-in price of $45, while the second affair has an average ticket price of $151.73 and a get-in price of $51, according to TiqIQ. Without question, these are two of the highest-priced games in Miami all season, as a lot of Florida residents are Yankees fans.

When the series shifts to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 17, the pricing isn’t as steep, as the Marlins are a drop from the usual competition that invades the Bronx. The average ticket price for the first game is currently only $68.74 on TiqIQ, whereas on Yankees.com fans can enjoy MasterCard preferred pricing for discounted tickets. The series finale, which features a Thurman Munson Bobblehead giveaway has an average ticket price of $103.42, with a $28 get-in on Yankees.com including fees. However, as good as those prices may seem, you might be able to get an even better deal through the Yankees Ticket Exchange, as they are offering 10 percent off in honor of Father’s Day and the graduating season for students until June 22.

Yankee fans certainly may have an interest in this series, being the first time the two teams have met since 2009, which, interestingly, was also the last time the Yankees won it all. In that series, though, it was the Marlins — who were still known as the Florida Marlins during that time — who emerged with a surprising 2-1 series victory. Six years later, the Yanks come down to Florida to return the favor, although both sides have had significant makeovers since they last saw each other, as one might expect.

On the surface, this looks like a tough matchup for Miami, as their starting pitching has mostly been suspect, and they’ll be opposing a lineup that ranks amongst the top teams in runs scored with 287. However, Stanton leads an offense that is far from paltry, as Miami has a solid 245 runs on the season, with an improved offense compared to recent years. Another big reason for that has been the emergence of infielder Dee Gordon, who leads all of baseball with a .354 batting average, not to mention while being second in steals with 22 stolen bases.

Miami should be behind the eight ball going into this clash, but regardless of who wins, this is one to cherish for both sides. Fans get to see major power go head-to-head in a series we haven’t seen for the better part of a decade. Considering the relatively solid pricing, fans are arguably getting a steal at both Marlins Park and Yankee Stadium when the two teams get together for this rare home-and-home meeting.