Mailbag: Bird, Mateo, Pineda, Murphy, AzFL, Rule 5 Draft

Got 12 questions for you in this week’s mailbag. The “For The Mailbag” form is gone, to delight of many I’m sure. You can now email us your questions at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. There’s a little reminder in the sidebar, under the YES videos and above the Aaron Judge Watch, in case you forget the email address in the future. It’s easy enough to reminder though, right? Right.

Bird. (Presswire)
Bird. (Presswire)

Greg asks: Does Greg Bird see any time in the outfield?

That would really surprise me. Bird is not particularly fleet of foot and he has no experience whatsoever in the outfield. He was drafted as a catcher then moved to first base because his back kept acting up. I wouldn’t rule it out down the line, but I don’t think the Yankees would have him shag fly balls during batting practice for a few days then just throw him out there like they did with Lyle Overbay. Gosh, remember that? That was weird. I think they’d wait and let Bird work out in the outfield in Spring Training should they decide to give it a try.

Ben asks: I know it’s early, but MLBTR just updated their 2016 free agent power rankings and it’s got me thinking. Who can you see the Yanks targeting this upcoming winter? My personal list (however far-fetched): Ben Zobrist and a pitcher (Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann).

I don’t expect the Yankees to pursue any big name free agents this offseason. No one like Price or Cueto, for example. I think they’ll stick to mid-range free agents again. Guys in the $10M per year range, not the $20M range. Second base is the only position player spot they could realistically upgrade, and in addition to Zobrist there’s Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, and Chase Utley. Utley’s cooked, Murphy’s really bad in the field, and Kendrick’s probably going to get a significant contract despite being 32 years old. That makes me wonder if the Yankees will try to swing a trade for a second baseman instead. They’ll need pitching too. I’d love Price but I have a hard time thinking they’ll commit $200M to a pitcher who just turned 30. Staying away is probably the right move too. Hisashi Iwakuma could be an alternative there, assuming they can convince him to leave Seattle. They did get Hiroki Kuroda to leave Los Angeles back in the day, so it’s not impossible.

Anonymous asks: With the Yanks lack of speed this year, should they call up Jorge Mateo in August, and have him eligible for a postseason roster spot?

No way. They can find someone else to pinch-run. There are always Freddy Guzmans and Quintin Berrys lying around in Triple-A to do that job. Go get one of them. Or, you know, use the perfectly qualified Slade Heathcott. Calling up Mateo would mean clogging up a 40-man roster spot going forward and starting his options clock next year. It’s not worth it just to pinch-run a few times. There are too many negative roster ramifications to calling up Mateo in September. This is not a Terrance Gore situation. Mateo isn’t a fringe prospect whose only MLB usefulness may come as a pinch-runner. He’s a legitimate prospect and it’s not worth adding him to the 40-man roster years before it is necessary for a role that insignificant.

Eric asks: Conspiracy theory time: Could the Yankees be faking a Michael Pineda injury to try and cut down on his innings?

Fire everyone if that’s the case. Fall out of first place while you’re faking an injury — an arm injury no less, hurting Pineda’s future trade value — so you can send one of your two best starters to the DL for a month to control his workload? Fire. Every. One. That’s not the case though. Pineda’s actually hurt. It sucks, but it is what it is. I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, but faking an injury like this doesn’t quality.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Brian asks: If Big Mike comes back healthy, could the forearm be a blessing in disguise? Given the innings increase, maybe a month off isn’t the worst thing?

I’m always inclined to say “no” to the whole “injury being a blessing in disguise” thing. Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury have not been the same since coming back from their injuries this year, for example, so there’s always a chance Pineda comes back a less effective pitcher, especially since it is an arm injury. Sure, it’s possible Pineda comes back perfectly fine and well-rested and dominates late in the season and the Yankees still win the division, but I feel like the chances of that actually happening are very small. Injuries are almost always — 99.9% of the time? — a bad thing.

JLC776 asks: I’m writing this prior to the Yankees facing Henry Owens in his MLB debut. I’m used to hearing the narrative that Yankees do miserably against pitchers making MLB debuts (or maybe it’s rookies making their vs Yankee debut), but what are the real numbers? Do we typically do better, worse, the same?

The Yankees have faced 12 starters making their MLB debut since the start of the 2010 season. It seems like it should be more, right? It’s not though, I double checked. Here are the 12 pitchers and their stat lines (via Baseball Reference):

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GmSc
1 Henry Owens 2015-08-04 BOS NYY L 3-13 5.0 5 3 3 1 5 0 96 59 49
2 Mike Montgomery 2015-06-02 SEA NYY L 3-5 6.0 4 1 1 2 4 0 97 64 62
3 Anthony Ranaudo 2014-08-01 BOS NYY W 4-3 6.0 4 2 2 4 2 1 91 53 54
4 Jacob deGrom 2014-05-15 NYM NYY L 0-1 7.0 4 1 1 2 6 0 91 57 69
5 Rafael Montero 2014-05-14 NYM NYY L 0-4 6.0 5 3 3 2 3 2 108 68 51
6 Erik Johnson 2013-09-04 CHW NYY L 5-6 6.0 7 5 3 3 1 1 105 60 40
7 Casey Crosby 2012-06-01 DET NYY L 4-9 3.1 4 6 6 4 3 1 75 40 27
8 Will Smith 2012-05-23 KCR NYY L 3-8 3.1 6 5 5 1 1 3 54 30 28
9 Wei-Yin Chen 2012-04-10 BAL NYY L 4-5 5.2 7 4 2 1 6 1 101 59 48
10 Garrett Richards 2011-08-10 LAA NYY L 3-9 5.0 6 6 6 2 2 2 91 59 31
11 Josh Tomlin 2010-07-27 CLE NYY W 4-1 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 0 93 60 69
12 Jake Arrieta 2010-06-10 BAL NYY W 4-3 6.0 4 3 3 4 6 0 106 61 54

The Yankees are 9-3 in those 12 games and the pitchers have a combined 4.88 ERA with a 1.58 K/BB ratio. That’s really bad! Tomlin, deGrom, and Montgomery pitched well while Richards, Crosby, and Smith all got smacked around. Everyone else was okay-ish. Not terrible but not great either. A total of 211 pitchers have made their MLB debut as a starter since 2010 and those 211 guys combined for a 4.72 ERA and a 1.81 K/BB ratio in their first starts. So I guess this means the Yankees have been a bit better than average when facing a starter making his big league debut.

Sal asks: Mike, whatever happened to the Hawaii Winter league? Saw Austin Jackson play there in 2007. Also, who are your predictions for Arizona Fall League (please say Ian Clarkin!)?

Hawaii Winter Baseball first ran from 1993-97 and it included players from MLB, the minors, Japan, Korea, and independent leagues. The league folded following the 1997 season and was revived in 2006. It ran from 2006-08 with minor leaguers and Japanese players before closing up shop again because MLB decided it didn’t want another league competing with the Arizona Fall League. Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, and Mark Melancon all played in HWB at one point.

As for the Arizona Fall League this year, guys who have been injured are always a good bet. Eric Jagielo and Jacob Lindgren jump to mind. Clarkin is a possibility if he’s healthy in time (the season starts in early-October), but teams are only allowed to send one player who has yet to play above Single-A, and he’d chew up that spot for the Yankees. Also, not many teams send their top pitching prospects to the AzFL because it’s so hitter friendly. Tyler Austin could be a candidate if he finishes strong at Double-A and the Yankees want to get him some more at-bats to get on track. Jagielo and Lindgren are the two big ones to me. If they’re healthy, I have to think they’ll play in the Fall League.

Michael asks: Do you think it would make sense to trade John Ryan Murphy? As you have said, he has impressed this summer, and figures to be expendable given the fact that we have Brian McCann for a few more years, plus Gary Sanchez, Luis Torrens, and others on the farm. Additionally, Austin Romine is hitting well and plays solid defense, so he could be a serviceable backup catcher. Couldn’t we turn him, along with others in a package, into a more productive and useful roster piece?

SKJRM. (Presswire)
SKJRM. (Presswire)

It could make sense, sure. It depends on what comes back to the Yankees, as always. A similar young and controllable position player (second base?) or starting pitcher? Yeah I could see that making sense. I am the world’s biggest JRM fan and I do think he’ll prove to be quite valuable as McCann ages and sees fewer starts behind the plate, but Murphy shouldn’t be untouchable, especially if someone like Sanchez shows the potential to handle catching duties at the MLB level. I wouldn’t actively shop Murphy but I would definitely listen to offers. Young catchers who can actually catch and hit a little are quite valuable. There’s nothing wrong with keeping him around.

James asks: Do you think there’s any chance the Yankees will sneak in an August trade?

I do. Nothing major, of course, but a depth piece or two. I could see them grabbing an extra back-end starter or something to provide depth. Someone to chew up innings. A Chad Gaudin type but not actually Chad Gaudin, if you catch my drift. Could that be … Ian Kennedy? Kyle Lohse? Aaron Harang? I’m not sure. Utley is the biggest name out there but I’d be surprised if they pulled the trigger on a deal of that magnitude, not that Utley is any good these days. I could see a smaller move to add depth, yes. Nothing too exciting though.

Tom asks: During the August waiver system: If I put player X on waivers, you claim him, and we open trade talks. You offer player Y. Does player Y have to clear waivers, too?

Of course. Any player on the 40-man roster has to go through trade waivers to be traded after July 31st. Non-40-man players do not have to go on waivers. I remember a few years ago when the Red Sox acquired Billy Wagner from the Mets, the deal sent two players to New York, one of whom had yet to go on waivers. When that player was placed on waivers (I think it was the other Chris Carter?), the Yankees claimed him just to create a roster headache for Boston. The BoSox had to pull the player back, include him in the trade as a player to be named, keep him on their 40-man roster the rest of the year, then send him to the Mets after the season.

Danny asks: I had a dream last night that the Yankees got Andy Pettitte to come back and pitch for them this year. Would that be a good idea? Are there any restrictions on “un-retiring?”

The only un-retiring restriction I know of involves players who retire while still under contract. They don’t just come back as free agents, their former teams still hold their rights. Pettitte would be a free agent since his contract was up. It would be neat to see Pettitte pitch again, but remember, he wasn’t very good towards the end of the 2013 season. That complete game in his last start really did come out of nowhere. Pettitte pitched to a 4.00+ ERA for much of the summer and generally looked to be nearing the end of the line. Love Andy, always will, but I think his baseball usefulness is very limited at this point. Such is life.

Justin asks: Who has to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft?

This is worth an entire post and I’ll put that together at some point in the future, probably soon after the end of the season. The short answer is this: the Yankees have a ton of useful players set to become Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter, too many to protect, so they’re going to lose some. There’s nothing they can do about it. Can’t fill up the 40-man with prospects. Here are some of the notable players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason: Ben Gamel, Jake Cave, Rookie Davis, James Pazos, Tony Renda, Johnny Barbato, Miguel Andujar, and Abi Avelino. (I believe Andujar and Avelino are Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter. International guys are always tough to pin down because we don’t know their exact signing date.) Vicente Campos can also become a minor league free agent if he’s not added to the 40-man roster. Lots of tough decisions!

Yankees stop skid in Greg Bird’s debut with an 8-6 win over Indians

Textbook post-swing extension shot. (Source: Getty)

At last, the Bombers are back in the win column. It was not a squeaky clean game but a win is a win. The early offensive outburst was a really, really good sign and hopefully the start of an upwards trend while Nathan Eovaldi pitched just well enough to earn another win.

Runs!!!

The Yankees offense had been in something of a drought the past several games. But tonight, the fountain burst from the first inning — Brian McCann hit a towering three-run homer to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner for a quick 3-0 lead.

In the second inning, Stephen Drew once again showed off his power by taking a Trevor Bauer pitch out for a solo homer, making it 4-0. How about that: Stephen Drew, a second baseman with 15 homers!

Drew struck again in the fourth! With Didi Gregorius on first, Drew drove a double down the left field line for another RBI, 5-2 Yankees. Two batters later, Gardner drove a big double off the left field wall to drive in Drew, making it 6-2. Golly, that was probably the hardest hit ball Gardner’s hit in awhile.

The Yankees would score two more – both on Brett Gardner singles (sixth and eighth innings) and those proved to be quite vital considering the Indians managed to score some runs against the bullpen.

(Source: Getty)

An avian debut

Highly-touted 1B prospect Greg Bird got his first ML at-bat in the first inning against Trevor Bauer. On the sixth pitch, Bird drove a curveball to deep right but right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall caught it in almost a shoestring manner. Had the ball sliced just a bit more, it could have been an RBI double.

In his second at bat, Bird squared up a Bauer fastball pretty well towards left field – but it ended up being another hard-luck line out. In the fifth, Bird hit another liner to left but it was right towards the left fielder Michael Brantley. Three hard contacts in a row but nothing to show for it (at least on the scoreboard)!

When it was all said and done, Bird went 0-for-5 with three well-hit balls and two strikeouts. I didn’t think he looked overmatched or anything — Joe Girardi‘s gotta be pretty pleased with the hard contact the kid made.

Also, some may know this, but the last Yankee to go 0-for-5 in ML debut? Some guy named Derek Jeter.

(Source: Getty)

“Eh” Nate

Eovaldi didn’t really have his A-game tonight. Well, that is not to say that he didn’t pitch well – it was more like he was lacking a bit with his command and got into some trouble.

Eovaldi got into his first jam in the third inning – he walked Giovanny Urshela to lead off the inning and Jose Ramirez followed it up with a single up the middle. He did take care of Francisco Lindor via sac bunt but the renowned Yankee killer Michael Brantley came up with both runners in scoring position with one out. Brantley drove Urshela in with a sac fly, giving Eovaldi a chance to get out of the inning with only a run allowed, but then Carlos Santana drove in Ramirez with an RBI single. 4-2.

Eovaldi allowed two more runs in the bottom sixth before departing. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Yan Gomes and Abraham Almonte to make it 7-3, and Chisenhall knocked him out of the game with an RBI single, 7-4. Tonight’s start was quite underwhelming for post-Marlins disaster Eovaldi – sometimes pitchers can have a game like this and luckily, it happened on a night where offense certainly supported him.

Bullpen

In the sixth, Adam Warren inherited Eovaldi’s mess and got Urshela to ground into a double play to get out of the inning. Personally, I would have let him start the seventh but Girardi opted for Justin Wilson, who ended up only recording two outs and allowing two baserunners before being lifted for Dellin Betances.

Betances walked Yan Gomes to load the bases. While facing the next hitter, Almonte, he uncorked a 0-2 wild pitch to let Lindor score from third base, 7-5. Yeesh, thank goodness for extra runs tonight. However, Dellin K’d Almonte and pitched a scoreless eighth to bring a save situation for Andrew Miller.

Just like two nights ago, Miller didn’t seem too sharp. Lindor led off the inning with a single. Miller did manage to strike out Brantley and get Santana out with a pop-up. With Yan Gomes batting, Lindor advanced to second on a defense indifference and the Brazilian catcher drove him in with an RBI single, 8-6. Miller avoided further damage by striking out Almonte to end the game.

Leftovers

Ellsbury and Gardner provided some offensive spark tonight and it was vital. They went 5-for-8 combined with two walks and three RBI’s (all by Gardner by the way). See what the team can do (win) when the numbers one and two hitters can hit?

Stephen Drew went 2-for-3 with a homer, double, walk and reached on an error. He also scored four runs, meaning that he scored every time reaching on base one way or another.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees head to Toronto for another three-game series versus the Blue Jays, fun! I’m not going to say it’s a make-or-break series because there’s still a good amount of games left in the season but it would be very positive to see New York beat a much-improved Blue Jays team. Well, we’ll see. Ivan Nova takes the mound against David Price.

DotF: Kaprielian roughed up in pro debut with GCL Yanks

Remember when RHP James Kaprielian was supposed to make his pro debut yesterday but didn’t? Turns out he did! The Rookie GCL Yanks2 box score was screwed up because it was a suspended game, but it was corrected today. Kaprielian’s line was … not good: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GB/FB. Bust! Or he was rusty because it was his first time pitching in a real game since UCLA’s season ended June 1st. Choose your own narrative.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Pawtucket)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP — got picked off first … had reached base four times total in his previous four games
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 1-4, 1 RBI — drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth
  • DH Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 2B
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-2, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — 8-for-20 (.400) during his six-game hitting streak
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-3, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 5/0 GB/FB — 39 of 66 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • LHP Eric Wooten: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 8/4 GB/FB — 44 of 68 pitches were strikes (65%) … here to help out the bullpen since half the team has been on the MLB/Triple-A shuttle of late
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — five pitches, three strikes

[Read more…]

Game 113: If Greg Bird Can’t Save Them, No One Can

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have lost five straight games and they’ve scored six runs in those five games. Four of the six came in one game. The Blue Jays already won today — it was their 11th straight win — so the Yankees have to snap their losing streak tonight just to keep pace in the AL East. They’re in chase mode now.

Earlier today the Yankees called up first base prospect Greg Bird, and it sure seems like the team is acknowledging they are worried Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira may wear down (or are wearing down) in the second half. Bird is here to back up both guys and it seems likely he will play more than Garrett Jones did. That’s a pretty safe bet. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s cloudy and cool again in Cleveland with only a tiny bit of rain in the forecast. Nothing that will cause a postponement or anything. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: Bird was called up, obviously. Nick Goody was sent down to clear a 25-man roster spot and Diego Moreno was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot, the Yankees announced. Goody pitched in each of the last two games and would have been unavailable tonight. The Yankees are back to a four-man bench and seven-man bullpen.

Injury Update: Michael Pineda (forearm) threw his first bullpen session since landing on the DL and everything went fine. He said he “felt 100%.” Pineda will make his first minor league rehab start with Double-A Trenton on Sunday. He’s scheduled to throw 45 pitches. Looking at the calendar, Pineda could make three rehab starts and then be activated to start on September 1st, the day rosters expand. It lines up perfectly.

Hal: “I didn’t want to give those kids up” at the trade deadline

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two weeks ago the Yankees did relatively little at the trade deadline, acquiring Dustin Ackley in a minor trade with the Mariners and that’s all. The team was connected to almost every available pitcher but nothing came together, mostly because the Yankees were reportedly unwilling to deal their top prospects. That strategy is both understandable and very debatable.

At the owners meetings in Chicago this week, Hal Steinbrenner told Paul Hagen it was essentially his idea to make those top prospects off limits, mentioning several by name. Here’s what Hal said:

“I really don’t think we had the type of glaring need that you would address by giving up one of your top Triple-A prospects,” the managing general partner said Wednesday during the quarterly Owners Meetings. “I just wasn’t going to do it, especially not for a loaner, a guy you’re only going to have for three months or so.”

“Again, I didn’t want to give those kids up,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve been looking at them for two, three years now. They’ve progressed perfectly, and they’re all sitting there at [Triple-A] Scranton/[Wilkes-Barre]. Any one of them could contribute now if need be. We’ve already seen that in Luis Severino the last two starts. Greg Bird and Aaron Judge. Rob Refsnyder is there. James Pazos, some of the pitchers you’ve seen. Gary Sanchez is having a good year. So we’ve got some talent in Scranton, and we’re not going to give it up.”

Bird was called up earlier today, in case you missed it. He’ll serve as a backup at first base and DH for the time being. There’s really no way to get him in the lineup without sitting Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira, so we’ll see how he’s used going forward.

Many of the team’s top prospects are in Triple-A right now — or in MLB, in the case of Bird and Severino — and those are the most valuable prospects because they’re so close to helping. It made sense to hang onto them … and I also think it made sense to move some of them (not all!) for help at the deadline. The Yankees had obvious needs (pitching, second base) and they were in first place after not going to the postseason the last two years. Would have been cool to get some upgrades.

Anyway, Hal and Brian Cashman and pretty much everyone in the organization said this past offseason the Yankees will rely more on younger players going forward, and it wasn’t just talk. They’ve walked the walk this year by calling up Bird, Severino, Jacob Lindgren, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and a bunch of others throughout the summer. It’s fun! As long as it doesn’t hurt the team’s chances of playing in October, of course.

Next wave of pitching prospects emerging in the minors

(Presswire)
Kaprielian. (Presswire)

Coming into the season, the Yankees had a very position player heavy farm system, with only two of their top ten prospects doing their work on the mound. One was Luis Severino, who is currently in the big league rotation, and the other was Ian Clarkin, who has not pitched in an official minor league game this season due to an ongoing elbow problem. Clarkin is currently on a throwing program, supposedly.

Beyond Severino and Clarkin, the Yankees had a lot of interesting arms in the lower levels of the minors but not much else. The kind of pitching prospects every team has, really. It didn’t help that Domingo German, the team’s third best pitching prospect coming into 2015, blew out his elbow in Spring Training and needed Tommy John surgery. That’s two of their three best pitching prospects down for the season. Yikes.

Thankfully, a new wave of pitching prospects has emerged this summer, giving the Yankees more potential rotation help in the near future. First and foremost, the Yankees added to their pitching inventory by selecting UCLA righty James Kaprielian in the first round of June’s draft. He has yet to pitch in a game since turning pro but was scheduled to do so this week. (That didn’t happen for some reason, I think because the team didn’t want him pitching with the threat of rain in Tampa.)

Assuming Severino throws more than 50 innings with the Yankees down the stretch, Kaprielian takes over as New York’s top pitching prospect, and he could be big league ready next August or September a la Ian Kennedy in 2007. Kaprielian is not quite as refined as Kennedy but he has better pure stuff and the Yankees were very aggressive with Severino, so I assume they will be with Kaprielian as well. There’s no reason to select a pitcher like this only to take it slow as he climbs the ladder.

Behind Kaprielian, both Brady Lail and Rookie Davis have stepped forward this summer to establish themselves as no doubt rotation prospects, albeit with different styles. Lail is closer to the big leagues — he was promoted to Triple-A not too long ago — and is more of a command and control guy than a big stuff guy. The Yankees did a great job developing him into a legitimate prospect after drafting him as a raw Utah high schooler.

Davis is a classic fastball/curveball power pitcher whose control has improved tremendously as a pro. He spent most of the year at High-A Tampa and was recently moved up to Double-A Trenton, replacing Lail in the rotation. Lail could help as soon as next season in a David Phelps/Adam Warren role, assuming the Yankees are willing to put him on the 40-man roster at some point. He is not Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter. Davis is.

While Davis and to a slightly lesser extent Lail are the Yankees’ top two pitching development successes this year, they aren’t the only ones. Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Holder, two mid-round draft picks last year, have handled Single-A ball well. That’s not surprising for Montgomery after he spent three years in an SEC rotation. Holder is a reliever turned starter however, and he’s had success in his new role. Both guys figure to join Davis in the Double-A rotation to open 2016.

For the most part the Yankees have had their starters stay healthy this year. Masahiro Tanaka spent a month on the DL and Michael Pineda is expected to miss about a month as well, but that’s it. In the grand scheme of things, two starters missing a month each is nothing. Last year almost the entire rotation was on the DL with long-ish term injuries by May, remember. That led to Shane Greene getting a chance as well as the Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano pickups.

The Yankees could have used another starter at the deadline but they weren’t desperate like last year, when he were out of viable rotation arms. That’s a good thing because outside of Severino and Warren, the Yankees didn’t have much upper level rotation depth in the minors. That does not figure to be the case next year, with Lail set for Triple-A and the trio of Davis, Holder, and Montgomery set for Double-A. Kaprielian is on the way too.

Do the Yankees have a bunch of budding aces in the minors? No, of course not. No team does. (Except the Mets the last few years, I guess.) What the Yankees do have now is a collection of competent pitching prospects reaching the upper levels of the minors, putting them in position to step in and help very soon. They didn’t have those guys coming into 2015. It was Severino and that’s it. A new batch of arms emerged this year and the Yankees will surely need ’em going forward.

Curry: Yankees calling up Greg Bird

Sorry, Greg, can't wear No. 20 in the show. (Presswire)
Sorry, Greg, can’t wear No. 20 in the show. (Presswire)

According to Jack Curry, the Yankees are calling up first base prospect Greg Bird. He’ll join the team tonight in Cleveland. The Yankees have not yet officially announced anything but there’s no reason to doubt Curry. The team will have to make both a 25-man and 40-man roster move to accommodate Bird.

Bird, 22, is hitting .277/.356/.469 (138 wRC+) with 23 doubles and 12 home runs in 318 plate appearances split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. I consider him the sixth best prospect in the system but prospect rankings are subjective as hell, and it wouldn’t be insane to say he’s the team’s second best prospect in the minors now that Luis Severino is in the big leagues. Here’s a snippet of Baseball America’s scouting report:

Scouts and evaluators rave about Bird’s approach as well as his bat. He’s a line-to-line hitter with the willingness to work deep counts and take walks if necessary … Overall, the people who saw him play this year picture Bird, at his peak, as a truly balanced hitter capable of hitting for average and with power enough for 20 or more home runs annually while not doing any damage in the field. His home run power is mostly to the pull side (all but one has gone to right field), but he can push doubles to all fields.

Curry says Bird will serve as a backup at first base and DH during this stretch of 16 games in 16 days. Bird is a first baseman and a first baseman only, so there’s really no way to get him into the lineup without sitting either Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira. He’ll be a lefty bat off the bench, something the Yankees could have used last night when Chris Young faced a righty with runners on second and third and two outs, for example.

I’m not sure there’s much upside to calling Bird up only to sit on the bench, but it’s not a bad move, just kind of a weird one. Had Andrew Miller not blown the save Tuesday and forced the bullpen to throw all those innings in the 16-inning game, chances are Garrett Jones would have remained with the team and Bird would still be in Triple-A. Jones was cut yesterday to get a fresh arm on the roster. Hopefully Bird can have an impact as a pinch-hitter and spot starter at first and DH.

The Yankees currently have an eight-man bullpen and a three-man bench, so I assume they’ll send down a pitcher to make room for Bird. I’m guessing Nick Goody will be demoted since he’s pitched each of the last two days and is unlikely to be available tonight. As for the 40-man roster move … I’m not sure. Cole Figueroa and Chris Martin stand out as players who could be outrighted. We’ll see.