Yankeemetrics: Playing for pride [Aug. 1-4]

(Getty)
(Getty)

#TeamFun
With the white flag flying high in the Bronx, the Yankees ushered in a new era of pinstriped baseball on Monday night with a dramatic — and thoroughly fun-to-watch — win in 10 innings over the Mets. This was their first extra-inning win in the Subway Series since May 20, 2006 at Shea Stadium.

It was a back-and-forth battle with the Yankees erasing two deficits before finally edging the Mets with some rare clutch hitting. Trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius added another gold star to his stellar season with a two-out, game-tying two-run single.

That timely hit upped his batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs to a whopping .341, the sixth-best mark among all MLB players with at least 40 at-bats in that situation through Monday. It was also the first time in Didi’s career he delivered a two-out, game-tying/go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning or later.

Starlin Castro won the game with a tie-breaking, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to the warning track in the 10th inning. This was the first extra-inning sac fly hit by a player on either team in the history of the Mets-Yankees rivalry.

The Yankees overcame another disappointing effort from CC Sabathia, who allowed five runs before getting pulled in the sixth inning. It was the 33rd time a Yankee starter gave up at least five runs in a game this season; through Monday’s slate, no other team in baseball had more such starts by their pitchers than your 2016 Yankees.

(Getty)
(Getty)

The new reality
One day after one of the most inspiring and exciting games of the season, the Yankees responded with one of their all-too-familiar lackluster and boring performances on Tuesday night, losing in a rout, 7-1.

On paper, Masahiro Tanaka seemed poised to have a strong outing against the Mets. Not only had he already thrown a shutout at Citi Field in 2014, but he also was the owner of a 1.88 ERA in nine Interleague starts, the third-best ERA among active pitchers (min. 60 IP).

Instead, things went horribly wrong as Tanaka produced a dud, allowing a career-high seven earned runs. Entering this game, he was the only MLB pitcher in the 20-season history of Interleague play to throw a quality start in each of his first nine career Interleague appearances.

For the Mets, Jacob deGrom dominated the Yankees both on the mound and at the plate, tossing seven scoreless innings while going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. (Yes, the 28-year-old right-hander crossed home plate more times than the entire Yankee team.)

deGrom is the first pitcher with multiple hits and multiple runs in a game vs. the Yankees since Ken Brett (brother of George) on Oct. 2, 1972. The pitching Brett was actually a prolific hitter, who once homered in four straight games and finished with a .698 career OPS. That’s the second-best mark among pitchers who began their career after WWII (min. 300 PA), behind only Don Newcombe (.705).

Mark Teixeira reached a nice round-number milestone with his 400th double in the sixth inning. He is the only switch-hitter in major-league history to hit at least 400 doubles and 400 home runs within the first 14 seasons of his career.

New kids on the block
Wednesday’s contest quickly devolved into an unlikely slugfest and resulted in one of the wildest — if not bizarre — games of the season. The good news is that the ending was a happy one for the Yankees, who won 9-5 to move back above the .500 mark again.

Chad Green allowed the first five batters to reach base, including a leadoff homer by Curtis Granderson; he’s now given up eight homers in 18 innings as a starter and zero homers in 9 1/3 innings as a reliever.

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(Getty)

It was also the sixth leadoff homer surrendered by Yankee pitchers this season, the third-most by a Yankee staff in the last 75 years. The only seasons with more were in 2001 (7) and 2014 (9).

The Yankees eventually rallied with Mark Teixeira delivering the decisive blow in the second inning with a tie-breaking three-run homer off the lefty Matz. It was Teixeira’s first homer from the right side of the plate since July 31 of last year.

In between those longballs — from August 1, 2015 through August 2, 2016 — Teixeira slugged .248 as a righty, the sixth-lowest slugging percentage among the 274 players with at least 100 plate appearances as a right-handed batter in that span.

Luis Severino was brilliant in relief of the struggling Green, taking over in the fourth and finishing his outing with just one unearned run allowed on one hit in 4 1/3 dominant innings. After the game, Joe Girardi praised Severino, noting that “his slider [was] better” and “his fastball command was better … Tonight was the best I’ve seen him.”

Severino’s postgame Pitch F/X numbers echo Girardi’s comments: his darting, mid-90s fastball got strikes nearly 70 percent of the time, and his wipeout slider got whiffs on half of the 10 cuts that the Mets took against it. That was his highest slider swing-and-miss rate in any game where he’s thrown at least 15 sliders.

One is not enough
A 4-1 loss on Thursday night gave the Yankees a split in this four-game series against the Mets, an outcome that is very fitting for this Yankees team that has mastered the art of being .500 this season. They’re now 54-54 overall, which includes 44-44 before the break, 10-10 since the break, 13-13 in July and 2-2 in August.

This was the 25th time this season that the Yankees have scored one run or fewer, the most such games among all major-league teams entering the weekend slate.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s dinger problem reared its ugly head again on Thursday night, allowing his 22nd and 23rd homers of the season in the fifth inning. His rate of 1.67 homers per nine innings this year would be the worst in franchise history for any Yankee pitcher that qualified for the ERA title in a non-strike season. It was also his eighth game in 2016 giving up two or more homers, the most among all major-league pitchers.

Bartolo Colon enjoyed his return to the Bronx as he silenced the Yankee bats, surrendering just one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The 43-year-old righty is the oldest pitcher ever to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium while pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than one run.

Mailbag: Severino, AzFL, Castro, Puig, Miller, PTNBL, Giolito

We’ve got 17 questions in the mailbag this week, so I tried to keep the answers short. The inbox was, by far, the fullest I’ve ever seen it. We got a ton of pre-deadline questions that were all rendered moot by Monday. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address. Send your questions there.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Justin asks: What is the current status of Severino’s service time in regards to when he would first be eligible for free agency?

Luis Severino started the season with 61 days of service time, meaning he needs to spend 73 days in the minors to delay his free agency another year. The Yankees activated him off the DL and optioned him to Triple-A on May 30th, then called him back up on July 25th. That’s 56 days in the minors. The Yankees would have to send him down another two weeks to delay free agency. As it stands now, Severino will qualify for free agency after 2021, same as if he remained on the big league roster all season. The extra year of control would be nice, but it would be useless if he doesn’t pitch well. Severino is having success and building confidence right now. Let the kid run with it.

Asher asks: After all the trades, what does the Yankee’s 40 man roster situation look like for the coming offseason? Is Frazier or any of the other new prospects Rule 5 draft eligible?

The Yankees acquired ten prospects at the trade deadline, not counting the two players to be named later in the Ivan Nova deal. Of those ten prospects, only two will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season: outfielder Rashad Crawford (Aroldis Chapman trade) and right-hander Ben Heller (Andrew Miller trade). The other eight guys are at least one more year away from Rule 5 Draft eligibility.

There’s no reason to add Crawford to the 40-man roster. He’s still an athlete playing baseball, if you know what I mean. His skills are raw and he still has a lot of development left ahead of him. I suppose some team could take him as a defensive minded fifth outfielder, but nah. There will be better players available to fill that role. The Yankees have already talked about calling Heller up this year, but even if they don’t, they’ll protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Triple-A relievers who throw 100 mph are prime Rule 5 Draft fodder.

Many asks: Who could the Yankees send to the Arizona Fall League this year?

I cheated and asked you folks to ask this question in DotF one night this week, and damn yo, like 50 of you sent it in. Thanks. I’ll never do that again. It took me forever to go through the inbox.

Anyway, teams typically send 7-8 players to the AzFL each season. Usually it’s four pitchers and three or four position players. They’re not all top prospects. Many are guys making up for lost time after dealing with injuries. That’s why Greg Bird and James Kaprielian make sense as AzFL candidates, provided they’re healthy enough to play come early-October. That’s a big if.

Aside from Bird, I count five position players who stand out as AzFL candidates: Miguel Andujar, Aaron Judge, Billy McKinney, Kyle Higashioka, and Mason Williams. I guess Clint Frazier too, though he played out there last season. Judge (knee) and Williams (shoulder) both missed time with injuries, hence the AzFL bid. Andujar and Higashioka are having good seasons and you’d like to see them keep it going. McKinney is the opposite. He’s not had a great year and hopefully he gets on track in AzFL.

It’s always tough to pick pitchers because so many guys are bumping up against their innings limit. Domingo Acevedo went last year and is a candidate to go again due to his lower body and back problems. He’s got some innings to make up. Dillon Tate is an AzFL candidate for sure after the Yankees tweak whatever they tweak. Give him more time to work on that stuff. Jonathan Holder and Gio Gallegos are possibilities too. The Yankees seem to have more AzFL candidates than usual this year, especially on the position player side.

Paul asks: Real talk: is Castro the Yankees’ 2b in 2017? He hasn’t worked out very well. Maybe he’ll be more comfortable both in NY and at 2b? Or do the Yankees pull the plug?

I fully expect Starlin Castro to be the starting second baseman next season. That said, he hasn’t had a good season at all and I’d really like the Yankees to move on and find another second baseman. The guy has over 4,000 plate appearances in the show and he still looks like an overmatched rookie at the plate. No plan whatsoever. Castro has $33.5M left on his contract after this season and I feel like it’s only going to get harder and harder to trade him with each passing year. Move him while you can, then find someone else. Starlin’s closing in on his third replacement level season in the last four years. Next.

Puig. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Puig. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Dan asks: Should the Yankees be/have been in on Yasiel Puig?

I say no. Puig is a declining asset. His performance has gotten worse each season since his 2013 debut — to be fair, he was still above-average as recently as last season — and he’s been dealing with nagging hamstring injuries for more than a full year now. Plus no one seems to like the guy. Jon Heyman reportedly Puig’s recent demotion to Triple-A had as much to do with his clubhouse demeanor as it did his performance. Yes, Puig is still only 25 and he’s insanely talented, but his performance is declining, he’s having trouble staying healthy, and he’s a negative in the clubhouse. Puig seems like a guy who peaked early and is becoming more trouble than he’s worth with each passing season.

Isaac asks: Looking at the 2017 roster, is there room for 3 catchers to rotate around 1B/DH/C? Romine seems to have more value as a quality backup than as a trade chip, Sanchez deserves a longer look at the MLB level, and McCann is still a quality starting catcher. Does it make sense to keep all 3?

Yes, the Yankees could make three catchers work even if they don’t cut ties with Alex Rodriguez. Would it be good roster construction? Absolutely not. Three catchers and one pure DH equals zero flexibility. Two guys would be in the lineup (one at catcher, one at DH) and two would on the bench on any given day, meaning the last two bench spots have to go to an infielder and an outfielder. Carrying three catchers with no A-Rod would be doable. Carrying three with A-Rod? Eh. They could do it, but it wouldn’t be very smart.

Marc asks: Since the Yanks seem to be in future mode, would it not make some sense to acquire a competitive balance pick or two? Wouldn’t it allow them to boost their bonus pool money so they could take advantage with a seemingly high 1st round pick if someone (a la Rutherford) were to fall in their lap?

Oh sure. It always makes sense to add draft picks. The 12 competitive balance lottery picks were handed out in late-July the last few years, but it didn’t happen this year, which makes me wonder if the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to do away with them. Maybe they’re just waiting for the new CBA before dishing them out. Either way, the rules say you can only trade these picks during the regular season for whatever reason, so if the Yankees want to trade for a 2017 draft pick, they have to wait until April. We’ll see what the upcoming CBA does to this whole process.

Craig asks: Was Miller our best free agent signing in recent years? (Maybe ever?) I cannot think of anyone else who so lived up to, and actually exceeded, expectations. Not sure the best way to measure this, as WAR doesn’t capture relievers very well. Maybe WPA/dollar?

Yes, I think so, and we don’t really need a stat to tell us that. I’d say Miller is the team’s best free agent signing since Hiroki Kuroda (the first time), who was their best since CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. Those guys are the big four. They’re the best free agent signings the Yankees have made in the last ten years or so. Maybe their best since Mike Mussina. It’s too bad the rest of the team stinks and Miller couldn’t stay around a little longer. He’s pretty cool.

Eric asks: How does the recent trade activity impact the luxury tax — both this year and next?

There’s not much impact next year because Chapman and Carlos Beltran were going to be free agents after the season anyway. Miller’s $9M “tax hit” is gone and will be replaced next year by Tyler Clippard‘s $6.15M tax hit and Adam Warren‘s arbitration raise. Clippard and Warren figure to work out to $9M or so combined.

This year is a different story. The CBA says the Yankees are hit with pro-rated tax hits for Beltran, Chapman, Miller, Clippard, and Warren. Luckily the math is easy because Beltran’s and Miller’s salaries are the same as the average annual value of their contracts. Here’s the breakdown.

2016 Salary 2016 Tax Hit for NYY
Beltran $15M $9.26M
Chapman $11.32M $6.98M
Miller $9M $5.55M
Clippard $6.1M $2.34M
Warren $1.7M $0.65M
Total $43.12 $24.78M

The Yankees were originally on the hook for a $35.52M tax hit this season between Beltran, Chapman, and Miller. By trading those three and taking on Clippard and Warren, they’re now only on the hook for a $24.78M tax hit this season. That’s a savings of $10.74M in salary plus $5.37M in luxury tax. That’s not nothing! The Yankees saved roughly $16.11M in salary and luxury tax in 2016 with their deadline dealings.

Michael asks: Ivan nova was just traded for two players to be named later. My question is how are those decided? Do they decide on a list of prospects beforehand, or is it dependent on performance, something else?

As far as I know the only hard rule is that the PTBNL has to be named within six months. I’m not sure what happens if the player isn’t named within six months. I assume the team gets angry they didn’t get their player and the commissioner’s office gets involved. From what I’ve seen over the years, there seem to be four PTBNL scenarios:

  1. Pick someone from a list of players the two teams agree to before the trade.
  2. It’s a player who can’t officially be traded yet, like a guy who hasn’t gone through trade waivers or a recent draftee.
  3. “We’ll figure it out later.”
  4. Nothing. Some PTBNL become cash considerations.

It’s been reported that the Nova trade falls into scenario No. 1. The Yankees and Pirates agreed to a list of players and the Yankees will pick two at a later date. It gives them some time to dig in and really scout those guys before making a decision.

Tyler asks: The return for Mark Melancon to the Nationals seems extremely light. He has great numbers and a similar salary and an expiring contract like Aroldis Chapman. Why was he traded for two marginal young relievers? Obviously Chapman is more dominant, but the package is not even in the same ballpark as the Torres McKinney Warren Crawford package. Is this just a credit to Cashman?

It did seem very light to me. To be fair, Felipe Rivero is a 25-year-old southpaw who has touched 99 mph this year and has a ridiculous out-pitch changeup. He’s not a nobody. But yeah, Rivero and a middling prospect like Taylor Hearn — MLB.com ranks Hearn as the 27th best prospect in Pittsburgh’s system — for a rental reliever as good as Melancon surprised me. Chapman is better than Melancon, but man, the Yankees got a top 25-ish prospect and Warren and two others for Aroldis. That’s all the Buccos could get for Melancon? Really? I guess the Pirates just really like Rivero and Hearn.

Anonymous asks: If a player is claimed through waivers, it is my understanding that the team has three options: (1) pull the player back and keep him; (2) release the player outright to the claiming team; or, (3) work out a trade with the claiming team. With respect to the third option, can the claiming team only trade players who have also cleared waivers or is their entire team and farm system available to trade? Thank you.

Players on the 40-man roster have to go through waivers to be traded. No exceptions. Non-40-man roster players don’t have to go through waivers. They can be traded at any time. There are a lot of PTBNL trades in August because waivers complicate things. Say, for example, the Marlins claim Michael Pineda on trade waivers and want to trade for him. They agree to give up Christian Yelich but haven’t yet placed Yelich on waivers. So the Yankees trade Pineda for a PTBNL, Yelich goes through waivers, and once he clears, he’s named as the PTBNL. And if he gets claimed, the Marlins pull him back and the two teams have to wait until the offseason to complete the trade.

Giolito. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Giolito. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Stephen asks: A lot of rumors were tossed around before the deadline. The one that got most attention was the Miller for Giolito (straight up). Given that we now know the actual trade result for Miller, would you have preferred a straight-up trade for Giolito, or the actual return from Cle?

I’d rather have the package from the Indians over Lucas Giolito. Giolito’s really really really good. Maybe the best pitching prospect in baseball. My concerns are that he a) has a major arm injury (Tommy John surgery) in his recent history, and b) seems to have a Pineda-esque “the results aren’t as good as the stuff” quality to him. The Yankees need to rebuild their offense in a big way and Frazier is a potential cornerstone type. Don’t get me wrong, they need everything, arms and bats, but when you’re trading an asset as valuable as Miller, give me the four-player package built around an elite position player prospect over one pitcher. This is a fairly easy call for me.

David asks: I know that Teixeira has a no trade clause. If the Yankees place him on waivers, and he is claimed, and the Yankees don’t ask for anything in return, is that still considered a “trade?” Could they let him and his contract go?

There’s actually been some debate about this over the years. Technically a no-trade clause is a “no assignment clause” and everything in baseball is an assignment. When you send a player down, it’s an assignment to the minors. When you trade a player, it’s an assignment to another team. When you lose a player on waivers, it’s also an assignment to another team. The MLBPA says no-trade clauses should cover all assignments, including waivers. MLB says nope, trades only. I’m not really sure what the answer is here. My guess is if the Yankees tried to dump Mark Teixeira on trade waivers and he didn’t want to go, the union would fight it.

Mike asks: What happens to Rob Refsnyder after this season? Do you think they are auditioning him as a trade piece, or do you think the Yankees see him as a high-upside bench player?

Can we just out the “high-upside” part and go with bench player? If they’re auditioning him as a trade piece, it isn’t going very well, but I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think the Yankees consider Refsnyder an everyday player at any position for a number of reasons. He probably won’t hit enough for right field or first base and he won’t defend enough for second. I think they see him as a possible bench piece if he can hit enough. I also have a hard time thinking the Yankees would make Refsnyder off-limits in trade talks. He’s a role player who’s in the process of carving out a role.

Adam asks: What are the chances a team claims Ellsbury in August? Let’s say someone does, should the Yankees just let him go for nothing but salary relief? Will they?

Never say never, but the odds of a team claiming Jacoby Ellsbury are very small. And if some team does claim him, I think the Yankees would let Ellsbury and the remaining $95M or so left on his contract go. How could they pass that up? Ellsbury isn’t very good anymore and that contract is as bad as it gets. If another team makes the mistake of claiming him, say thank you and unload the contract. The Blue Jays did this years ago when the White Sox claimed Alex Rios. He was a good (but not great) player, but they had a chance to get out of the $60M left on his contract, so they let him go on waivers.

James asks: Out of all the people the Yankees received in the trades it seems like the person no one is talking about that could make an impact is Ben Heller. What do you think about him. He isn’t even in the Yankees top 30 prospects but he could be a great set up man.

Heller actually ranked higher than McKinney when Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked the 50 best prospects traded at the deadline. They had Heller at No. 22 and McKinney at No. 24. (Tate was No. 21.) He seems fairly well-regarded. Heller throws hard and he has a good slider, which makes him like countless other bullpen prospects, and that’s why I’m a little hesitant to run him up the prospects list. What’s the difference between Heller and, say, Johnny Barbato? That isn’t to say Heller is bad. As a third piece in a trade, that’s pretty good. I just want to see a little more before penciling him in to the long-term high-leverage reliever picture.

Subway Split: Yankees drop series finale 4-1 to Mets

Alas, the Subway Series win was not meant to be. The Yankees and Mets split their four games this season, so no one has bragging rights. Fitting for a city currently full of mediocre pro sports teams, I suppose. The Yankees dropped Thursday night’s Subway Series finale 4-1.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The One Bad Inning
Nathan Eovaldi was really good in six innings Thursday night. Too bad he threw seven innings. That four-run fifth inning really ruins what was an otherwise strong outing from Eovaldi, who held the Mets to two hits and two walks in the not fifth inning. The fifth inning featured a double, two homers, and a crucial brain fart by Eovaldi.

The game was still scoreless when that fifth inning started, and ex-Yankee Kelly Johnson broke the 0-0 tie with a line drove homer into the first row of the short porch. Meh. A solo homer won’t kill you. What will kill you is allowing a double and then making an ill-advised throw on a comebacker. That’s what Eovaldi did after the double. He looked Curtis Granderson back to second then threw to second for some reason. They got zero outs on the play. Jay Bruce followed with a three-run homer. Womp womp.

Overall, Eovaldi allowed the four runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out five and threw a first pitch strikeout to 26 of 29 batters, which is ridiculous. That fifth inning sucked and it cost the Yankees the game. Eovaldi’s other six innings were pretty good though. If the Yankees could somehow figure out how to get Eovaldi and their other starters to avoid that one big inning, they might actually be pretty good.

One Token Run
The Yankees had no answers for Bartolo Colon. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that they broke through, and Colon wasn’t even on the mound for that. He served up a booming double to Gary Sanchez, then lefty Jerry Blevins came on and allowed Aaron Hicks to slap a ground ball single back up the middle to score the run. That was the entire offense. The Sanchez double was mighty impressive though. Colon threw a running two-seamer and busted him inside …

Bartolo Colon

… yet Sanchez was able to get his bat around quick enough and muscle it into left field for extra bases. It was about six feet short of a home run, I’d say. Most hitters get jammed and hit a roller to the left side of the infield on a pitch like that. Maybe even break their bat. Sanchez hammered that to left field for a double. We haven’t seen much of Gary yet, but turning on that pitch shows why he’s so highly regarded.

The Yankees had nine hits total, including two each by Sanchez and Jacoby Ellsbury. (Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth.) Unsurprisingly, Sanchez’s double was the only extra-base hit. What else would you expect from the team with the AL’s lowest slugging percentage? This was New York’s 29th game with no more than one extra base hit. Only the Braves (38), Angels (31), Mets (30), and Brewers (30) have more. Yuck.

Leftovers
The Yankees did bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play. I was hoping Alex Rodriguez would pinch-hit there, but nope. You need someone who can run into a fastball in that spot and lol that’s not Refsnyder. He hasn’t homered since May 15th, when he was in Triple-A. Whatevs.

Adam Warren and Anthony Swarzak each threw a scoreless inning. Swarzak had one of those innings where he looked completely untouchable. He does that once in a while. Warren looked pretty good as well, which is nothing new. He’s looked like the guy the Yankees had the last three years. Hard to believe he struggled so much in Chicago.

And finally, Bartolo Colon became the first pitcher to win a Subway Series game as both a Yankee and a Met. That surprised me. Then again, how many pitchers have played for both teams the last 20 years? Not many had long stints with both teams.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights, and RAB has Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The 2016 edition of the Subway Series is over. Andrew Miller and the Indians are coming to the Bronx next for a three-game weekend series. Michael Pineda and Josh Tomlin are the scheduled starters for Friday night’s series opener. If you want to catch that game or either of the other two games live at Yankee Stadium, RAB Tickets can get you in the door.

DotF: Gamel and Judge stay hot in Scranton’s win

Here are the day’s notes:

  • Randy Miller spoke to Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique about a bunch of players on his roster. I highly recommend it. Pedrique dished out some brutal honestly. Good stuff.
  • Couple of puff pieces: Bob Sutton on OF Blake Rutherford and Josh Norris (no subs. req’d) on RHP Rony Garcia. Make sure check those out. Also, RHP Austin DeCarr made today’s Prospect Report.
  • LHP Justus Sheffield, who came over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade, will make his first start with the Yankees tomorrow, according to Nick Flammia.
  • RHP Brian Keller and 1B Brandon Wagner has been bumped up from the rookie Gulf Coast League to rookie Pulaski, the team announced.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 3-4, 1 R — has multiple hits in 12 of his last 24 games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB — 1-for-12 (.083) since the trade
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — 5-for-12 (.417) in three games since coming back from the knee injury
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI — has a 14-game Triple-A hitting streak
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 6/4 GB/FB — 55 of 96 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 12 of 25 pitches were strikes (48%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/3 GB/FB — 14 of 27 pitches were strikes (52%) … second outing since the trade

[Read more…]

Game 108: Beat the Mets

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Despite trading away their best hitter and two of their three best relievers in recent days, the Yankees have taken two of the first three games of the Subway Series, and that is pretty darn cool. They have a chance to clinch the four-game series win tonight while remaining reasonably close to the wildcard race. Close enough to keep me interested, anyway. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 3B Chase Headley
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. DH Gary Sanchez
  8. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Pretty great weather in New York today. Nice and sunny but not hot. In fact, it’s a bit breezy. I love it. Great night for a game. Tonight’s series finale is set to begin at bit at 7pm ET. You can watch on WPIX and SNY locally, and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Update: Chad Green has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton and Johnny Barbato has been called up, the Yankees announced. Joe Girardi confirmed Luis Severino will start in Green’s place in five days. Green will continue to work as a starter with the RailRiders.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira‘s shin is “pretty sore” after getting hit by a pitch last night. He’s going for precautionary x-rays and no other tests are scheduled.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: August 2011

Magic Wandy. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)
Magic Wandy. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

A new month has begun, which means it’s time again to scroll back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We’re now in August 2011, so the trade deadline has passed, and the Yankees did nothing. No trades at all despite their pitching needs and some roster holes created by injury. The natives were rather restless about that.

It didn’t help that the Yankees slipped behind the Red Sox in the standings in July. They were 65-42 and a game back of Boston for first place on the morning on August 1st, and the Yankees were looking more and more vulnerable with each passing week. August was an opportunity to add pieces through waiver trades that maybe weren’t available at the deadline. Time to get to the rumors.

August 1st, 2011: Rosenthal On Yankees, Wandy, Ubaldo, Bailey

Yesterday’s push by the Yankees to acquire Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez came from ownership, not GM Brian Cashman.  SI’s Jon Heyman wrote yesterday that the Yankees offered to pay $21MM of the $38MM left on Rodriguez’s contract, implying they feel that Rodriguez is worth less than $7MM a year.  Rosenthal says the Astros were willing to pay $2MM of Rodriguez’s salary this year (essentially all of it) “or $5MM if his [player] option for 2014 were exercised.”

Wandy was pretty good back then. He had a 3.60 ERA (3.50 FIP) in 195 innings in 2010 and finished the 2011 season with a 3.49 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 191 innings. The next year he had a 3.76 ERA (3.93 FIP) in 205.2 innings before falling apart in 2013. Adding Rodriguez would have been a fine move at the time, especially since the Yankees could have used another left-handed starter.

The larger point here is ownership taking the reins and trying to make a move over the head over the baseball operations department, which has happened before and will surely happen again. Ultimately, the Yankees were unwilling to take on much money and the deal fell apart. I’m curious to know what ownership was willing to send the Astros in the trade. I’m almost afraid to ask.

August 2nd, 2011: Olney On Bell, Yankees, Pirates

The Yankees are well-positioned to pursue the next starting pitcher who becomes available on the trade market, since they kept their top prospects this July. They also figure to pursue Weaver when he hits free agency after the 2012 season.

Weaver in this case is Jered Weaver, who wound up signing a long-term extension with the Angels a few weeks after this report. Jeff’s little brother had a 2.41 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 2011 and was still in the middle of his legitimate ace phase. His performance started to collapse in 2014 as his fastball disappeared. Imagine if the Yankees had him on the books right now. It probably would have taken a five or six-year deal to sign him as a free agent after 2012, so they’d still have him through next year or the year after. Yikes.

As for getting involved in the pitching trade market during the 2011-12 offseason, the Yankees did exactly that. They traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. The Yankees have come out ahead in that trade, but yeah, it hasn’t really worked out for anyone. Other starters traded that offseason include Derek Lowe, Jonathan Sanchez, Trevor Cahill, Mat Latos, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Gio Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, and Jeremy Guthrie. There’s a couple good ones in there, but the Yankees opted for Pineda, and given how good he was a rookie, I can’t say I blame them.

August 2nd, 2011: AL East Note: Bundy, Cervelli, Upton, Red Sox

The Yankees and Pirates almost agreed to a deal that would’ve seen Francisco Cervelli go to Pittsburgh in exchange for right-hander Brad Lincoln, reports George A. King of the New York Post.  King hears from a Pirates source that the trade “was very close but [the teams] couldn’t agree on the value of the players.”  Such a move would have given the Yankees room to call up Jesus Montero as both a backup catcher and as a potential DH platoon partner for Jorge Posada.  Brian Cashman said Montero could potentially be called up once the rosters expand in September.

There seem to be a lot of “the Yankees almost traded Cervelli” stories out there. They tried to trade him for Russell Martin in 2010, they offered him to the Pirates for Justin Wilson a year or two before the Cervelli-Wilson trade actually happened, and now we hear they tried to trade him for Lincoln. Huh.

Anyway, Lincoln was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, and by 2011 it was pretty clear he was not going to live up to that draft spot. He had a 6.66 ERA (5.49 FIP) during his MLB debut in 2010, and in 2011 he was an up-and-down spot starter. I’m guessing the Yankees were planning to try Lincoln in relief. He had a 3.76 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 119.2 mostly relief innings from 2012-13 before falling apart. Good thing this one didn’t happen.

August 3rd, 2011: Heyman On Hendry, Yankees, Astros

Yankees people don’t think Erik Bedard would last 20 minutes in New York. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Sunday that he’s happy to let Bedard’s arm respond to his critics.

Bedard allowed 22 runs and put 59 men on base in 38 innings with the Red Sox.

Goodfellas laugh

August 7th, 2011: New York Notes: Jimenez, Nova, Collins, Wade

Within the same piece, Blakeley goes on to discuss the Yankees’ July pursuit of Ubaldo Jimenez, saying that the organization feels Ivan Nova “is as good as this version of Jimenez.”

Blakeley is Gordon Blakeley, a longtime member of the Yankees’ front office. He left to join the Braves a year or two ago. Anyway, that comparison is not totally crazy. Ubaldo was signed through 2013 at the time. Here are his numbers and Nova’s numbers from the 2011 trade deadline through the end of the 2013 season:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9 bWAR fWAR
Jimenez 424.2 4.45 4.17 21.3% 10.8% 42.0% 1.02 1.8 4.7
Nova 376.1 3.99 3.96 19.3% 7.4% 49.4% 0.96 5.6 4.9

See? Not crazy at all. At worse the two were comparable from the 2011 trade deadline through 2013, and at best Nova was far superior based on producing more WAR in almost 50 fewer innings. Plus Nova was making the league minimum and the Yankees would have had to give up other players to get Ubaldo too.

I wanted the Yankees to trade for Jimenez back in 2011. I really did. I was on the “send Montero to Colorado!” train. Good thing that trade didn’t come together for a few reasons.

August 8th, 2011: AL East Notes: Millwood, Posada, Lawrie

Jorge Posada is no longer the Yankees‘ regular DH and the final chapter of his career may be characterized by inactivity, writes Mike Bauman of MLB.com.

There are a lot of similarities between Posada in 2011 and Alex Rodriguez in 2016, aren’t there? Let’s list ’em:

  1. Neither was hitting. Posada was hitting so poorly in 2011 that he was demoted to ninth in the lineup while A-Rod has been so bad this season that he doesn’t even play anymore.
  2. Neither could play the field. Posada had to stop catching because of concussion issues. A-Rod had to stop playing third base because his hip surgeries sapped his mobility.
  3. Both were kept on the roster for off-the-field reasons. The Yankees did not release Posada in 2011 because he was a legacy Yankee. A-Rod has not been released because the team owes him a ton of money through next season.

The Yankees have cut back on Rodriguez’s playing time this season rather dramatically. They did the same to Posada in the second half of the 2011 season as well. He started only 20 of the team’s final 56 games that year, including only seven of 28 games in September. The key difference is the contracts. Posada was a free agent after that 2011 season while the Yankees are stuck with A-Rod through next season.

August 10th, 2011: Quick Hits: Tigers, Angels, Rhodes, Pirates

The Yankees have some interest in signing recently-released left-hander Arthur Rhodes to a minor league deal, according to George A. King III of the New York Post.

Arthur Rhodes was still pitching in 2011, huh? I guess he was. The Cardinals picked him up after the Rangers released him and he threw 8.2 innings for them. The Yankees were connected to Rhodes fairly often through the years and I never wanted any part of him. I’d seen him give up way too many back-breaking homers to the Yankees, most notably in Game Six of the 2000 ALCS …

… and Game Four of the 2001 ALCS …

… so yeah, I never wanted the Yankees to go near him. You don’t forget homers like that. I wanted the Yankees facing Rhodes, not employing him.

August 13th, 2011: Yankees To Sign Fifth Round Pick For $1MM+

The Yankees will sign fifth round pick Greg Bird for a signing bonus in the seven figures, reports ESPN’s Keith Law (on Twitter). MLB’s slot recommendation for the 179th overall pick is just under $132K.

The 2011 draft was the last draft before the bonus pools and Bird received the largest bonus the Yankees handed out that year ($1.1M). Only three players drafted and signed by the Yankees that year have reached MLB: Bird, Branden Pinder, and Matt Tracy. (Jon Gray and Nick Goody went back to school and were drafted again later.) The success of this draft class is all tied to Bird. If he returns from shoulder surgery and becomes an impact player, great. If not, the Yankees got nothing of value from this draft.

August 13th, 2011: Yankees Sign Scott Proctor

The Yankees have signed Scott Proctor to a minor league contract, reports Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News (on Twitter). He’ll report to their Triple-A affiliate early next week.

The one thing I’ll never forget about Proctor’s second stint in pinstripes was Game 162. That was the game the Rays made the huge comeback while the Red Sox collapsed in Baltimore, and ultimately missed the postseason. Proctor came out of the bullpen in the ninth inning of Game 162 and you could tell he was in there for the duration. The Yankees had clinched everything they could have possibly clinched, so Joe Girardi kept sending Proctor back out there, inning after inning. He threw 2.2 innings and 56 pitches before Evan Longoria hit his walk-off homer. Proctor was going to thrown 200 pitches if necessary.

August 14th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Swisher, Sabathia, Soriano, Garcia

There’s no guarantee Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia are Yankees next season, but Garcia projects as a Type B free agent, meaning the club figures to at least offer him arbitration.

Garcia did actually qualify as the Type-B free agent that offseason and yes, the Yankees offered him arbitration. Which he rejected! Ultimately the Yankees ended up re-signing Garcia, but had he gone elsewhere, they would have received the 54th pick in the draft as compensation (assuming my math is correct).

The 54th pick in the draft that year? A kid named Mitch Gueller, who I actually wrote up as a potential draft target. Gueller currently has an 8.10 ERA in Low-A ball. The best player taken between that 54th pick and the Yankees’ next pick (89th overall, Austin Aune) is Alex Wood, almost by default. Not much to see in the late supplemental first/early second round that year.

August 16th, 2011: Yankees Claim Raul Valdes

The Yankees claimed left-hander Raul Valdes off of waivers from the Cardinals, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter). To create space on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved Jeff Marquez to the 60-day DL. They’re assigning Valdes to Triple-A and won’t need an active roster spot for him, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).

The Yankees called up Valdes that September and he allowed two runs in 6.2 innings as a lefty specialist. Forgettable Yankees don’t get more forgettable. Valdes is still pitching at age 38, you know. He currently has a 3.61 ERA in 77.1 innings as a starter for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. How about that?

August 19th, 2011: Yankees Claim Laffey, Designate Gustavo Molina

The Yankees claimed left-hander Aaron Laffey off of waivers from the Mariners and designated catcher Gustavo Molina for assignment, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).

Like Valdes, Laffey got a look in September and he allowed four runs in 10.2 relief innings. Laffey is exactly why you should teach your kids to throw left-handed. The guy has hung around the league since 2007 and he’s banked roughly $4M as a journeyman southpaw. And he’s got a good pension coming too. It’s good work if you can get it. Laffey is only 31 and he’s currently in Triple-A with the Nationals. He’s still got a few more years of call-ups ahead of him.

August 20th, 2011: Yankees, Other Contenders Scouting Rich Harden

Rich Harden has been drawing interest from several contenders, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Yankees were just one of the teams on hand to witness his dazzling start last night. Harden held a potent Blue Jays offense scoreless through seven innings while punching out 11 batters and allowing just two hits and four walks.

At this point Harden was already battling all those injuries and trying to hang on. Here’s that eleven strikeout performance mentioned in the blurb. Harden’s stuff still looked pretty good back then:

The Athletics never did trade Harden that year. Not at the deadline and not in an August waiver deal. He finished the season with a 5.12 ERA (4.69 FIP) in 82.2 innings and that was it. Harden got hurt the following spring and hasn’t pitched since. Baseball is cruel.

August 23rd, 2011: AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Darvish

The Yankees have scouted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish heavily, according to Sherman. Darvish, 25, “is coming” to the Major Leagues this offseason, according to one of Sherman’s sources.

The Yankees did make a bid for Darvish after the season, though we never did hear the amount. Reportedly it was well short of the $51.7M the Rangers bid to win his negotiating rights. I don’t think anyone didn’t want the Yankees to go after Darvish, who has been pretty much as advertised since coming over. He’s an ace and he misses a ton of bats. The Tommy John surgery stinks, but that’s an occupational hazard, not a character flaw.

That offseason the Yankees focused on re-signing CC Sabathia and understandably so. Sabathia was awesome and he showed he could thrive in the tough AL East. The extension hasn’t worked out as hoped, and yeah, going after Darvish rather than Sabathia would have been a much better move based on what we know now. Back then it was very different. Sabathia was coming off another Cy Young caliber season.

August 24th, 2011: Yankees Claim Carlos Pena; Deal Unlikely

5:06pm: GM Brian Cashman told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch that a trade is “very unlikely” for the Yankees and that he’s “not optimistic” about making a deal. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports (on Twitter) that Pena isn’t going anywhere.

4:16pm: The Yankees claimed Pena, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). That means every team in baseball other than New York and possibly Boston passed on Pena. It’s clear that the Yankees want Pena, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Cubs remain reluctant to make a deal (Twitter links).

Hah, I forgot the Yankees claimed Pena. He was having a typical late-career Carlos Pena season in 2011, hitting .225/.357/.462 (121 wRC+) with 28 homers, a ton of walks (16.7%), and a ton of strikeouts (26.6%). I assume the Yankees wanted him as first base/DH insurance. The Cubbies went 71-91 that season and were 56-73 on the day of this report, and I’m not quite sure why they were unwilling to discuss a trade with the Yankees. Pena was on a one-year contract. Weird.

August 31st, 2011: AL East Notes: Red Sox, Orioles, Montero, Rays

The Yankees were also involved in trade talks for Gonzalez, according to MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. However, Baltimore president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail preferred the pitcher the Rangers were offering.

The Gonzalez referred to here is Mike Gonzalez, the southpaw reliever. He had some incredible years with the Pirates back in the day, but, by 2011, he was essentially a middle reliever and left-on-left matchup guy masquerading as a high-leverage pitcher. The O’s traded him to the Rangers for Pedro Strop that year and the Yankees instead cycled through the Aaron Laffeys and Raul Valdeses of the baseball world as they looked for a second lefty to complement Boone Logan. How thoroughly unexciting.

Yankees rank second in MLB.com’s updated farm system rankings

Frazier. (@Kelsie_Heneghan)
Frazier. (@Kelsie_Heneghan)

In the span of one week, the Yankees transformed their farm system from middle of the pack to arguably the best in baseball. The three recent trades (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran) brought ten new prospects to the system, plus the Yankees have two players to be named later on the way thanks to the Ivan Nova trade. Let’s not forget about drafting and signing Blake Rutherford too. That’s a pretty big deal.

Yesterday afternoon MLB.com prospect guru Jim Callis posted an updated ranking of the top ten farm systems in baseball. The Yankees are not No. 1. That distinction goes to the Brewers, who are in the middle of a massive rebuild and added a bunch of prospects themselves prior to the deadline with the Will Smith and Jonathan Lucroy/Jeremy Jeffress trades. The Yankees are No. 2 though, and that’s pretty awesome. Here is Callis’ blurb:

If not for the Brewers’ Monday moves, the Yankees’ Trade Deadline activity would have given them the best farm system in baseball. They maximized the value received for Aroldis Chapman (shortstop Gleyber Torres, No. 24 on the Top 100, among four players), Andrew Miller (outfielder Clint Frazier, No. 22, and left-hander Justus Sheffield, No. 93, among four players) and Carlos Beltran (right-hander Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, among three players). Even before that, New York had plenty of high-ceiling talent, including speedy shortstop Jorge Mateo (No. 25), a pair of nearly-ready sluggers in outfielder Aaron Judge (No. 30) and catcher Gary Sanchez (No. 37), and toolsy outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 62).

In a separate piece Callis says the Yankees “were doing a strong job of building up their farm system” even before the trades earlier this week. “They’re one of the most aggressive teams on the international market,” wrote Callis, “… (and) New York has drafted better in recent years as well.” I have some quick things to add.

1. The Yankees really did kill it at the deadline. I can’t stay this enough: the Yankees did far better with their trade deadline deals than I ever possibly imagined. Best case scenario stuff on the three big trades. Part of that is just me not having a firm grasp on the market as an outsider. Another part of it is the Yankees doing a really good job getting teams to chip in those extra third and fourth pieces. Mark Melancon and Will Smith are really great relievers and they combined to fetch four players total. The Yankees managed to get four players each for Chapman and Miller. That’s pretty incredible. MLB.com’s updated farm system rankings reflect just how well the Yankees did at the deadline.

2. Expect some of these prospects to be traded. Prospects serve two purposes. One, they come up and assume roles on your big league roster. Some turn into stars, some turn into regulars, and some turn into role players. That’s the way it goes. And two, they’re trade chips. No one likes to think about their favorite prospects getting traded but it is part of the game. Not all these players are going to work out — the majority are not going to work out, in fact, because baseball is hard — and the key for any organization is figuring out which is these guys are worth keeping and building around, and which should be used as trade chips. That’s much easier said than done, obviously. The more prospects in the system, the more wiggle room you have when making those keep or trade decisions.

3. Farm system rankings are not meaningless. There have been countless studies about prospect rankings over the years, and by and large they’ve shown overall farm system rankings correlate well to future big league team success. (Here’s one, here’s another.) Does a good farm system guarantee future success? Of course not. But the more talent you have in the system, the more likely you are to be successful in the future. Right now the Yankees have more depth and talent in their system than they have at any point in the last 15-20 years, maybe even longer, and that bodes well for a franchise that is in desperate need of a youth infusion.