DotF: Judge goes deep again in Trenton’s shutout win

3B Eric Jagielo‘s knee injury is not serious and he will only miss a few days, reports Nick Peruffo. 1B Matt Snyder isn’t so lucky — his ankle injury is serious and may require surgery. Snyder got hurt last night, Jagielo a day or two ago.

Also, as a reminder, the Short Season Staten Island season begins tomorrow night with their annual home-and-home series with Brooklyn. Rookie Pulaski and the two Rookie GCL Yanks affiliates start their seasons next week.

Triple-A Scranton (10-7 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-6, 1 R, 2 K
  • LF Jose Pirela: 1-5
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 2 R
  • 3B Gregorio Petit: 3-4, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 10-for-18 (.556) in five games at this level
  • C Austin Romine: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 K — first game back from the pitch to the head and he hits a grand slam against the team that plunked him
  • RHP Esmil Rogers: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 37 of 56 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 31 of 52 pitches were strikes (60%)

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Game 66: 3,000?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

We are now firmly in “it could happen any day now” territory as Alex Rodriguez pursues his 3,000th career hit. A-Rod is only three hits away and he’s had two three-hit games already this season. Both came immediately following off-days too, which might not be a coincidence. “I felt like my body was charged up and got some good energy,” he said to Chad Jennings last night, his first start after two days out of the lineup in the NL park.

A-Rod did play yesterday, so he’s not coming off an off-day, and believe it or not he’s never faced tonight’s Marlins starter Mat Latos before, so who knows what will happen. Most importantly, the Yankees need to build off last night’s win, regardless of whether Alex makes history. The top four teams in the AL East came into the day separated by two games in the standings. Here is the Marlins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. CF Mason Williams
    LHP CC Sabathia

Another cloudy and cool day in the New York, but this time there is rain in the forecast. It’s not supposed to start until much later tonight though, so it shouldn’t interrupt the game unless they go to extra innings or something. Tonight’s series finale will begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: Nathan Eovaldi will start Saturday and Masahiro Tanaka will start Sunday. The Yankees want to give Tanaka extra rest and Eovaldi is able to start on three days’ rest because he only threw 36 pitches in Tuesday’s disaster.

Injury Update: Teixeira has been nursing a stiff neck since the Orioles series, which is why he was unavailable last night. Apparently he’s well enough to start tonight … Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) continues to run the bases as part of his rehab.

TiqIQ: Old-Timers’ Day Tickets Averaging Close To $75, With $15 Get-In Price

This upcoming weekend features a circle-the-calendar event as the 69th annual Old-Timers’ Day will be held at Yankee Stadium. Ceremonies will be held prior to the Yankees-Detroit Tigers game at approximately 4:00 p.m., including Willie Randolph being honored with a Monument Park plaque.

For fans looking to attend the ceremony and celebration of Yankees history, there are multiple avenues to explore in trying to find the best deal for tickets.

Yankees Old-Timers’ Day tickets on the secondary market have an average price of $73.64 with a get-in price of $15, according to TiqIQ.com. It is the second-most expensive game of the series against the Detroit Tigers, as Sunday’s average ticket price is slightly higher at $74.38 with the same get-in price of $15.

But the best route might be using Yankees.com. From our price comparisons, the prices for tickets on Yankees.com are at times better than buying on the secondary market. For instance, a 100-level seat (Sec. 123, Row 21) on Yankees.com costs $300, while a seat in the same section and row on the secondary market comes out to $337. Additionally, a 300-level seat costing $100 on Yankees.com for Sec. 323, Row 3, costs $147 on the secondary market.

Another option is the Yankees ticket exchange, which is offering 10% off all tickets to college graduates and dads for Father’s Day weekend with promo code YankeesEmail10.

And it’s shaping up to be another great Yankees event. Yankee greats and Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Yogi Berra, Wade Boggs, Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre are scheduled to attend. David Cone, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, Bucky Dent, Cecil Fielder, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Don Larsen and many more will also be there to celebrate the new member of Monument Park.

Randolph was with the Yankees for 13 seasons and was a five-time American League All-Star. Randolph won back-to-back World Series with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978 and earned four more rings with the Yankees during his 11 seasons coaching.

Pitching plans show the Yankees wisely have their eyes on the big picture

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night, Michael Pineda turned in arguably his best start of the season, which is pretty impressive when you consider he struck out 16 batters in a game last month. Big Mike carved through the Marlins with his mid-90s electricutter and the best slider command he’s had since the 16-strikeout game. It was Pineda at his best. Overwhelming dominance.

Five days ago Pineda suffered through arguably his worst start of the season by allowing six runs on nine hits in only 4.1 innings against the Orioles, the same Orioles he struck out 16 times a few weeks ago. His slider wasn’t behaving and his location was terrible, hence all the damage. Perhaps not coincidentally, last night’s start came on normal rest while the start in Baltimore came on eleven days rest.

“There’s days he hasn’t had his slider and he’s been on regular rest. So there is no answer to this, as much as you guys want one. There is no exact science,” said Joe Girardi to Ryan Hatch last night when asked about Pineda dominating on normal rest and struggling with extra rest.”These guys are creatures of habit, but sometimes you have to make adjustments. You have off days that you have to adjust to.”

The Yankees didn’t skip Pineda’s start two weeks ago for the heck of it. They did it because they’re trying to keep him healthy, and because he threw 124.2 total innings from 2012-14 following major shoulder surgery. Pineda has already thrown more big league innings this season (81.1) than he did last season (76.1) and we’re only halfway through June. Again: major shoulder surgery in the not too distant past!

Pineda is not the only pitcher who is having his workload monitored. Masahiro Tanaka‘s next start has been pushed back to give him an extra day of rest, something the team is trying to do as much as possible this year. They aren’t so concerned about his exact innings total, they’re just playing it safe with the partial ligament tear in his elbow. Adam Warren, a reliever turned starter who is two starts away from exceeding last year’s innings total, has also had some starts pushed back in recent weeks.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are clearly looking at the big picture here and are willing to lose the battle (Pineda vs. the Orioles) to win the war (Pineda the rest of the season) with their rotation. Having Pineda, Tanaka, Warren, and whoever else around and not just healthy, but productive as well in the second half is far more important than one or two starts right now, before the halfway point of the season. Skipping that start seems to have resulted in a poor outing for Pineda against the O’s. The hope is it will lead to an effective Pineda in September and October.

The workload manipulation is only going to continue these next few weeks, so it would be nice if Pineda figured out how to remain effective in starts with extra rest. That’s an adjustment he has to make. The Yankees may use a six-man rotation when Ivan Nova returns and they figure to insert a spot sixth starter several times down the stretch — they were prepared to start Bryan Mitchell this Saturday until Nathan Eovaldi‘s short start on Tuesday, allowing him to come back on short rest. My guess is Mitchell will still end up taking a few rotation turns later this year.

There is definitely a time and a place for focusing on the here and now, especially with the AL East so tight. The Yankees aren’t at that place right now. There is still 60% of the season to be played and they have to be cognizant of their starters’ physical limitations and do their best to keep everyone healthy and sharp all season. If that means sacrificing some starts now a la Pineda against the Orioles, then so be it. The big picture is far too important right now.

Yankees starting to feel the loss of Ellsbury offensively

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

Saturday marks the one-month anniversary of Jacoby Ellsbury being placed on the 15-day DL with a knee injury we still don’t know much about. We don’t know what he hurt (which ligament, etc.), we just know he didn’t need surgery and is slowly working his way back. Emphasis on slow. Earlier this week Joe Girardi told reporters Ellsbury’s rehab isn’t as far along as hoped.

“He is not where we want him to be physically, so we are not going to risk it. He is not running 100 percent, and obviously that is important,” said Girardi to George King. “It’s going slower than we thought it might. I said earlier in this trip that our hope was — you always get a little excited that things would move faster, but it just didn’t.”

Unfortunately slow rehabs are nothing new for Ellsbury, who had all sorts of injuries with the Red Sox and always seemed to take a little longer to return than initially expected. He’s a slow healer. That’s just his body. The Yankees have said they hope to get Ellsbury back later this month but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t return until the All-Star break, which is only four weeks away now.

Either way, slow rehab or not, the Yankees are really starting to feel the loss of Ellsbury offensively. Defense hasn’t been a problem, guys like Chris Young and Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores and Mason Williams have filled in admirably in the field, but Ellsbury is a game-changing leadoff man and the Yankees haven’t been able to replace his bat in the lineup. Well, they were never going to be able to do that, but they did weather the storm for a while.

Ellsbury got hurt in the middle of an at-bat against the Nationals on May 19th, in the team’s 40th game of the season. In their first 39 games, the Yankees averaged a healthy 4.38 runs per game, better than the 4.13 MLB average. In the 25 games since Ellsbury’s injury, the Yankees are averaging … 4.60 runs per game. But — there’s a but! — the offense has lagged big time of late.

Last night’s win over the Marlins was New York’s third straight game scoring two or fewer runs. They’ve scored just 21 runs in their last seven games. That’s after averaging 5.22 runs per game in the first 18 games without Ellsbury. The Yankees lost their high-end leadoff hitter, somehow increased their average offensive output by nearly a run a game for three weeks, then crashed back to early the last week or so.

For a while the Yankees were able to keep their heads above water offensively without Ellsbury, but his absence is turning into an extended one, and it was only a matter of time until it caught up to the team. Brett Gardner has cooled off, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew still haven’t gotten going, Carlos Beltran isn’t doing much … the Yankees were only going to be able to thrive without Ellsbury for so long.

There’s nothing the Yankees can do now other than wait. Wait and hope guys like Headley and Beltran start chipping in more than they have. Ellsbury is still a few weeks from returning and while these recent offensive struggles are on the extreme side — they’re not going to average three runs per game like they have the last seven games forever, not even the 2013-14 offenses were that bad — the Yankees are without a key piece of the lineup and it’s starting to show.

Scouting The Trade Market: Cincinnati Reds

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

Now that the draft is complete, MLB front offices have turned their attention to the trade deadline to look for ways to improve their big league rosters. The deadline is only six weeks away now, you know. There are going to be more buyers than sellers this summer — the Cardinals have the best record in MLB and the next 16 teams are all within six games of each other in the standings — which means the demand will be greater than the supply.

The Reds figure to sell before the trade deadline because they’re both bad (30-35) and stuck in an extremely competitive division. Having to catch St. Louis would be one thing, but they also have to compete with the red hot Pirates (20-5 in their last 25 games!) and upstart Cubs as well. Cincinnati doesn’t have a ton of pieces that would fit with the Yankees — the Yankees don’t need Jay Bruce or Joey Votto, and Todd Frazier is presumably off limits — but they do have a few. Let’s run ’em down.

LHP Aroldis Chapman

Brian Cashman says the Yankees are looking for a right-handed reliever but I’m sure they’d make an exception for Chapman, who is actually having his worse season since taking over as closer in terms of allowing base-runners. Still, the 27-year-old has an unreal strikeout rate and is generally awesome, and he’d make any bullpen better. Here are the numbers:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9 Whiff% BABIP
2013 63.2 2.54 2.47 43.4% 11.2% 33.6% 0.99 16.5% .280
2014 54.0 2.00 0.89 52.5% 11.9% 43.5% 0.17 20.2% .290
2015 30.1 2.08 2.02 40.1% 13.6% 30.5% 0.30 18.8% .345

Squint your eyes and there are some red flags. His strikeout rate is down (but still great), his swing-and-miss rate is down (but still great), his ground ball rate is down (but he isn’t giving up homers), and his walk rate is up (got nothing there). Chapman is still throwing insanely hard and he’s healthy as far as we know. Give him enough innings and I’m sure that BABIP issue will correct itself. Otherwise everything looks pretty swell.

By elite closer standards, Chapman is a bargain at $8.05M this year with another year of arbitration left next year, when his salary figures to climb into the $12M range. He’ll be a free agent after the 2016 season. Cincinnati’s best chance to get maximum value is right now, when the acquiring team would be getting Chapman for two potential postseason runs, not one. They’d also limit their risk because relievers like to melt down without warning.

Not many relievers of Chapman’s caliber have been traded recently — Craig Kimbrel was under contract for three more years plus an option for a fourth at the time of his trade — so there aren’t any deals we can reference. Half a season of Andrew Miller was traded for a pretty good pitching prospect last year, and Chapman’s track record as an elite reliever is much longer than Miller’s. That’s about as close as it gets.

My guess — and I emphasize that this is a guess — is the Reds would want three players for their ace closer: a top prospect, an MLB ready piece, and a good but not great secondary prospect. That’s where I’d probably start if I was them. Give me someone I could put on my roster right now, a really good prospect, and then another guy too. Negotiate from there. Chapman’s awesome. Would creating the best three-headed bullpen monster in history be worth it at that price to the Yankees?

RHP Johnny Cueto

Cueto, 29, is going to be the top pitching prize at the trade deadline. Yeah, Cole Hamels is great too, but his contract takes some teams right out of the running. Cueto is a rent-an-ace owed about $6M the rest of the season. Every single team could find a way to make that work financially. Do all of them have the prospects to make a deal happen? That’s a different story. I think the Yankees would be able to get it done, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, unless the Reds unexpectedly sign Cueto to an extension — that’s probably not going to happen at this point, mostly because the team is already bumping up against their tight payroll limit — they’ll trade him before the deadline because they simply can’t settle for a draft pick after the season. That’s not enough. Cueto’s probably a goner either way, trade or free agency, and they need to get as much as possible for someone of his caliber. Here are his numbers:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9 Whiff% BABIP
2013 60.2 2.82 3.81 21.1% 7.4% 50.9% 1.04 11.1% .236
2014 243.2 2.25 3.30 25.2% 6.8% 46.2% 0.81 9.9% .238
2015 90.2 2.98 3.27 24.1% 4.5% 40.7% 0.99 10.8% .248

A series of lat strains limited Cueto to those 60.2 innings two years ago but he was healthy before that and has been healthy since then. The decline in ground ball rate isn’t all that scary because grounders were never his thing anyway — Cueto’s a weak pop-up pitcher who consistently keeps hitters off balance and misses the sweet spot (third lowest hard contact rate since 2011). We’re going to need some visual aids here. To the action footage:

Cueto goes full Luis Tiant and turns his back on the hitter. That deception, the wide range of velocity, the assortment of pitches, the ability to pitch to both sides of the plate … pitching is about disrupting the hitter’s timing and few do it as well as Cueto. The guy throws five pitches at least 11% of the time: low-to-mid-90s two and four-seamers, upper-80s cutters, mid-80s changeups, and low-80s sliders. I mean, come on. It’s not hard to see why he’s so successful.

Cueto did miss two starts earlier this season with elbow inflammation and that’s a concern. He’s been fine since, but still, any time a pitcher feels a twinge in his elbow, it’s a red flag. The risk is somewhat mitigated by Cueto’s impending free agency — if you trade for him and his elbow gives out, you can walk away after the season and not have a long-term problem — but you’re still going to have to hold your breath and hope he holds up down the stretch. It’s only natural to feel that way once an elbow starts barking.

The Yankees scouted Cueto over the weekend and then again last night according to Jon Morosi, though I’m guessing that was due diligence more than anything at this point. Either way, Cueto is a capital-A Ace who would instantly improve any rotation. As I pointed out the other day, rental aces are rarely traded, mostly because those guys don’t get to free agency in their primes all that often. The 2012 Zack Greinke and 2008 CC Sabathia trades are the best reference points we have, and they indicate it will take 3-4 good prospects to get a deal done.

There are two ways to look at this. One, the Yankees should get Cueto right now to improve their postseason chances. The longer they wait, the fewer starts they get out of him. Two, the Yankees should wait, see where they are at the deadline, then decide whether to pull the trigger. This isn’t a Cliff Lee situation — the 2010 Yankees were a World Series caliber team looking to add a rental ace to push themselves over the top. The 2015 Yankees are just trying to scratch and claw their way into October. Is gutting the farm system for two or three months of Cueto worth it?

Leake (and Matt Carpenter). (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Leake (and Matt Carpenter). (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

RHP Mike Leake

The 27-year-old Leake is the Reds other impending free agent hurler, though he’s no ace like Cueto. Leake is a perfectly fine mid-rotation starter who helps hold down the fort, not push you over the top. The Yankees were scouting him along with Cueto over the weekend, but again, due diligence, not necessarily serious interest. Let’s get the numbers out of the way:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9 Whiff% BABIP
2013 192.1 3.37 4.04 15.2% 6.0% 48.7% 0.98 6.9% .285
2014 214.1 3.70 3.88 18.2% 5.5% 53.4% 0.97 7.0% .298
2015 82.2 4.35 4.86 13.9% 6.7% 52.4% 1.42 5.9% .262

Leake got off to a tremendous start this season then crashed back to Earth hard and fast. The home run issues probably won’t be as extreme all year (19.7 HR/FB% vs. career 14.1%) and his strikeout rate isn’t that far removed from his career norm (16.1%), so even though his ERA continues to trend in the wrong direction, the underlying performance isn’t all that different. Leake is still limiting walks and keeping the ball on the ground. That’s what he does.

Believe it or not, Leake’s salary this season is almost exactly the same as Cueto’s ($10M vs. $9.775M), though it’ll obviously cost much less to acquire him. Lots of mid-rotation guys get traded prior to free agency — Brandon McCarthy, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Justin Masterson, and Ricky Nolasco were all dealt at the deadline of their walk year in the not too distant past. The return package was anything from one okay prospect to four good prospects. Let’s split the middle and say two prospects will get it done. Sound good?

Acquiring pitching depth is never a bad thing, but how exactly would Leake help the Yankees? As things stand right now, he barely moves the needle. I think the only way pursuing Leake makes sense for New York is if they lose a few starters to injury these next few weeks, which is always possible. Masahiro Tanaka (elbow), CC Sabathia (knee), and Michael Pineda (shoulder) are perpetual injury risks and we still have no idea what Ivan Nova (elbow) will look like when he returns. Leake is available. At this point in time his usefulness to the Yankees is limited.

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

2B Brandon Phillips

I suppose it’s time for our annual “say no to Brandon Phillips” post. Phillips is actually having an okay year with the bat, hitting .295/.333/.364 (92 wRC+) overall, which makes it his best offensive season since 2012. But still, we’re talking about a player who a) turns 34 in less than two weeks, b) is owed roughly $35M through 2017, c) is slipping in the field according to every available metric, d) is battling more and more nagging injuries (groin and toe this year), and e) is losing power each year:


Source: FanGraphsBrandon Phillips

There’s a lot of value in batting average and putting the ball in play, two things Phillips is doing well this season, but he is clearly a player in decline. A player in decline who is owed a lot of money and tends to be a distraction when things aren’t going his way. The Reds offered Phillips for Brett Gardner straight up during the 2013-14 offseason and the Yankees wisely said no.

Yes, Stephen Drew is terrible and no, there is no reason to expect him to stop being terrible. Drew’s a problem and the Yankees need an upgrade. Locking themselves into two and a half years of the declining and overpriced Phillips should not be the solution, however, even if he comes in what amounts to a salary dump trade. Phillips has had a heck of a career and he was a very good player for many years, but he is no longer that player despite being paid to be that player. The Reds have been trying to move him for a while now, and, as bad as Drew is, the Yankees shouldn’t let Cincinnati off the hook. This is a contract they’ll have to live with.

* * *

The Yankees and Reds might actually match up well for a trade. Cincinnati needs outfielders even with top prospect Jesse Winker on the way because Bruce is trade bait and Billy Hamilton simply can’t get on base, plus Marlon Byrd is hurt and an impending free agent. They’ve had Ivan DeJesus Jr., Brennan Boesch, Kris Negron, and Skip Schumaker start games in the outfield recently. Yikes. The Yankees have lots of upper level outfielders — Mason Williams, Ramon Flores, Tyler Austin, Ben Gamel — so Cincinnati can take their pick.

I am decidedly anti-Phillips and Leake doesn’t help much, but Chapman and Cueto are difference-makers the Yankees have to at least consider pursuing. Maybe there’s a Nathan Eovaldi plus Luis Severino plus Aaron Judge plus other stuff for Chapman and Cueto trade to be made. (My trade proposal sucks.) The Reds are going to be sellers at the trade deadline and both Chapman and Cueto are extremely desirable pieces who would help any team, including the Yankees.

DotF: Cave, Payton, and Fowler have big games in wins

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Rochester)

  • RF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 K
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 K — he’s been okay but hasn’t forced the Yankees to consider calling him up … a ~.750 OPS in Triple-A for a bat only prospect isn’t anything special
  • CF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 R — 8-for-28 (.286) since being sent down
  • SS Gregorio Petit: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3/5 GB/FB — 58 of 99 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 17 of 28 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 37 pitches were strikes (57%)

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