The clown show continues. The Yankees dropped their fourth straight game on Tuesday night, this one by the score of 7-6 to the Blue Jays thanks to a walk-off error. The Yankees have now been outscored 29-10 in their last four games.
I was just thinking to myself the other day that it’s been a while since the infield had a truly hideous defensive game. Earlier in the season they were botching something every day, but it hasn’t been so bad lately. Maybe I’ve become numb to it or simply hadn’t noticed around the offensive incompetence.
The infield defense was nice enough to rear its ugly head on Tuesday, and I’m going to save the worst of it for later. Right now all you need to know is that the Yankees lost this game because Brian Roberts chicken-winged on Yangervis Solarte‘s throw following Melky Cabrera‘s bunt in the ninth inning. The throw sailed down the line and Jose Reyes, who had doubled earlier in the inning, trotted around to score the walk-off run. Solarte and Adam Warren appeared to have some communication issues playing the ball before the throw.
There are two problems with the play. One, Solarte’s throw was rushed and not very good. He threw it right into the runner, basically. Two, Roberts saw the throw going into the path of the oncoming runner and pulled his glove away. I’m sure you remember the Bubba Crosby incident years ago, when Crosby ran into Roberts reaching for a ball on a similar play and destroyed his elbow. Pulling your arm out of the way after that is understandable, though it did cost the Yankees the game. Solarte shoulda just held on and not forced the throw.
Tied, For Now
The Yankees fell behind six-zip in the middle innings — again, more on that in a second — but they rallied to tie things up in the sixth and seventh innings. Derek Jeter hit a solo homer in the sixth — both of his homers have come on hanging offspeed pitches from lefties (Mark Buehrle and Hector Santiago), pretty much the only thing he can hit with authority these days — and Roberts tacked on a two-run shot in the seventh. I can safely say I did not expect Jeter and Roberts to homer in the same game at some point this season.
The rest of the seventh inning rally came after the Yankees had the bases empty with two outs. Brett Gardner blooped a double in and out of Melky’s glove in left, Jeter drew a walk, Jacoby Ellsbury sliced a single to left to score Gardner, and Reyes committed a throwing error on Mark Teixeira‘s would-be inning-ending ground ball, allowing Jeter and Ellsbury score. He short-hopped the throw and Edwin Encarnacion couldn’t handle it. Teixeira accidentally elbowed Encarnacion in the head on the way by and it looked like a sure concussion. Encarnacion stayed down for a while but ultimately remained in the game. Two homers, a single, and a two-run error led to six runs in two innings.
He’s In There For His Bat
Jeter has been playing baseball an awfully long time, yet the fifth inning may have been the worst inning of his career. David Phelps was pitching admirably as he waited for his offense to show up, and he got the dangerous Encarnacion to hit a nice chopper to Jeter with two outs and men on first and second. All Jeter had to do was throw the ball to first and the inning was over. But no. He looked at second (Reyes was basically at the bag already), looked at third (no one was there to catch a throw), then fired to first. Encarnacion beat it out for an infield single.
Jeter had to forget how many outs there were, right? I can’t think of any other explanation. There are two outs and there’s a slow runner at the plate. Field the chopper, fire over to first, inning over. Instead, the inning continued, Phelps hung a curveball to Colby Rasmus, and Rasmus smashed it off the wall for a bases-clearing single. It missed being a grand slam by about two feet, maybe less. Phelps made a terrible pitch that deserved to get hammered, but he shouldn’t have even have needed to make that pitch in the first place. The inning should have been over.
The cherry on top was another Jeter defensive miscue. Rasmus got caught in rundown between first and second on the single, and rather than flip to Teixeira at first to apply the tag, Jeter tried to out-run Rasmus and tag him himself. Rasmus had no trouble beating him to the bag and the sixth run of the game came around to score on the rundown. I mean, what the hell? Jeter’s never been a good defender but these were mental mistakes. He didn’t short-hop a throw or boot a grounder. He didn’t throw to first to get Encarnacion and he thought he could out-run Rasmus back to the base. The Cap’n has had better innings.
Phelps was charged with six earned runs in five innings but those last three weren’t really his fault. The inning should have been over if not for Jeter’s throwing gaffe. The first three runs scored on Dioner Navarro’s three-run bomb in the fourth inning. Phelps hung a curveball and Navarro deposited it in the second deck. He pimped it too. Phelps struck out seven and allowed those six runs on seven hits and a walk.
Dellin Betances threw two scoreless innings but he was clearly not sharp. He threw 45 pitches and really labored. The bases were loaded with one out in the eighth, then Roberts made a nice play with the infield in to cut the runner down at the plate and Betances struck out Munenori Kawasaki to end the threat. Matt Thornton threw a perfect inning and Warren allowed the Reyes’ double and Melky walk-off bunt into an error.
The Yankees had a chance to push a run across in the top of ninth, but they’d already met their quota for the day. Gardner started the inning with a single, Jeter effectively bunted him to second, except in this case the bunt was line drive off closer Casey Janssen. He recovered and fired to first for the out. Ellsbury grounded out and Teixeira struck out. Inning over.
Teixeira took an ill-timed 0-for-5. He ripped the team a bit on Monday, saying everyone needs to do more offensively. He’s the only big money guy in the lineup actually pulling his weight, this game aside. The amazing, invisible Carlos Beltran went 0-for-4 and otherwise everyone had at least one hit. Gardner, Ellsbury, Roberts, and Brian McCann had two apiece. The good news is that an offensive attack built around homers from Jeter and Roberts and Reyes throwing errors is totally sustainable.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is where you can find the box score and video highlights while some other stats and the updated standings are at FanGraphs and ESPN, respectively. The Yankees still sit in third place in the AL East, one game back of the Orioles and three and a half back of the Jays. Shout out to the White Sox for beating Baltimore on Tuesday.
The Yankees will look to avoid the sweep on Wednesday night, when they send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound. Drew Hutchison will be on the bump for the Blue Jays. It would be very 2014 Yankees-esque for them to lose Wednesday’s game and make up zero ground in the standings following the three-game sweep of Toronto last week.
Got a bunch of notes to start the nightly recap:
- In case you missed it earlier, C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien and RHP Luis Severino will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game next month. Seems like O’Brien got the nod over OF Aaron Judge simply because Team USA needed a third catcher and another first baseman.
- OF Slade Heathcott is done for the season following his latest knee surgery, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Chad Jennings. The kid just can’t stay on the field. Slade will have played 230 of 576 possible games from 2011-14 by time the season ends.
- Newman also confirmed IF Dean Anna has been activated off the Triple-A DL and LHP Nik Turley will join the RailRiders’ rotation on Thursday, says Jennings. Donnie Collins reports RHP Diego Moreno has also been activated and RHP Heath Bell was released. Good thing everyone freaked when they signed him.
- LHP Dan Camarena has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, according to Nick Peruffo. The knows how to pitch southpaw had a 2.72 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 76 innings for Tampa. I’ve always been a fan.
- And finally, remember RHP Jose Mesa Jr.? He was the Yankees’ 24th round pick back in 2012, but apparently he had some kind of surgery and has not pitched. Well, based on his Twitter feed, Mesa will make his debut on Thursday. Neato.
Triple-A Scranton (7-5 loss to Rochester)
- LF Jose Pirela: 1-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — second straight game with a homer and third in his last five games
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — 6-for-17 (.353) with four doubles and a homer since being sent down
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 K
- DH Kyle Roller: 0-4, 3 K
- SS Dean Anna: 1-4, 1 E (fielding)
- 1B Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 BB — first career game at first base
- RHP Bruce Billings: 6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 7/6 GB/FB, 1 E (fielding) — 62 of 93 pitches were strikes (67%)
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB – 19 of 36 pitches were strikes (53%), though one of the walks was intentional … he left the game with the trainer for an unknown reason, which is kind of a big deal because he’s the spare reliever who gets the call whenever an arm is needed
The Yankees have signed seventh round pick Texas OF Mark Payton to a below-slot $45k bonus, according to Max Wildstein and Chris Cotillo. Slot for the 212th overall pick was
$212,300$178,300, so the Yankees saved approximately $133k against the draft pool. Payton, a senior, hit .315/.453/.444 with 57 walks and 27 strikeouts in 67 games for the Longhorns this spring. He’s a little guy (listed a 5-foot-8 and 190 lbs.) with no power but some speed and defense.
In other draft news, the Yankees have also signed 12th round pick Texas JuCo 1B Chris Gittens, according to his Twitter feed. Jim Callis says he received a $125k bonus, and since everything over $100k given to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the draft pool, $25k of that counts against their spending limit. Gittens hit .404/.463/.532 with nine doubles and three homers in 41 games this spring. He’s a big guy who has had some conditioning issues in the past, but Callis says his bat is promising. You can see all of the team’s draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2014 Draft Pool Tracker. · (19) ·
The Yankees have lost each of their last three games — all to division rivals who are direct competitors for a postseason berth — and were a Zach Britton meltdown away from losing four straight. They were outscored 22-4 in the three games even though Masahiro Tanaka started one of them. That’s kinda disheartening.
Thankfully, the Yankees have a chance to move and on get back in the win column tonight. The day in, day out aspect of baseball is both the best and worst thing about it. They can turn the page after last night’s ugly loss and beat a Blue Jays team they beat three times just last week. Scoring some runs would be a good start. This offense has been rather stinky of late. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
RHP David Phelps
It is raining in Toronto and it will continue all night, so the Rogers Centre roof will be closed. Boo. Outside baseball is always better. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on My9. Try to enjoy.
Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran (elbow) will take a break from his throwing program for a few days because of “tightness.” He doesn’t feel it while hitting, so he will continue to serve as the DH. Returning to the outfield looks even less likely now.
CC Sabathia reported “no issues” with his degenerative right knee following a two-inning, 34-pitch simulated game in Tampa earlier today, according to George King. Sabathia is tentatively scheduled to start a minor league rehab game in the rookie level Gulf Coast League on Saturday, but will likely throw a bullpen session or another simulated game in the coming days to make his arm strength is where it needs to be first.
Sabathia, 33, has been out since early-May with the knee issue. He received a stem cell treatment a few weeks ago and is not expected to return to the rotation until sometime next month, probably after the All-Star break. Sabathia had a 5.28 ERA (4.74 FIP) in 46 innings before getting hurt. The rotation has held up fine these last few weeks, but Vidal Nuno is really starting to get exposed and the Yankees need another starter. Nuno has set the bar nice and low. It won’t take much for Sabathia to be an upgrade. · (13) ·
Catcher/outfielder Peter O’Brien and righty Luis Severino will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game next month, MLB announced. I thought they would take Aaron Judge over O’Brien, but nope. The game will be played at Target Field on July 13th, the Sunday before the All-Star Game. The full Team USA and World Team rosters are right here.
O’Brien, 23, is hitting .266/.308/.602 (~149 wOBA) with 25 homers in 292 plate appearances split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year. He has spent his time at catcher, first base, and right field, and could play any of those positions in the Futures Game. The 20-year-old Severino has a 2.99 ERA (~2.60 FIP) with 78 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 72.1 innings at mostly Tampa this season. Congrats to both. · (20) ·
As you know, the Yankees are planning a massive spending spree on international free agents when the signing period opens one week from tomorrow. They’ve been connected to almost every notable prospect in recent weeks and are said to be willing to spend upwards of $30M between bonuses and penalties. They want to add some young impact talent to the organization and will do it via the international market this summer, when they can sign any player they choose and aren’t limited by draft position.
The Yankees were assigned a $2.2M bonus pool for international players this summer, which is nothing. It’s less than what they gave Gary Sanchez ($3M) a few years ago. Heck, the Yankees reportedly have verbal agreements in place with three players — Dominican SS Dermis Garcia ($3.6M), Dominican 3B Nelson Gomez ($2.8M), and Dominican SS Christopher Torres ($2.6M) — that are worth more than their spending pool. That $2.2M is relatively meaningless.
Because the pool value means so little in the grand scheme of the spending spree, the Yankees are in position to use it in another way: as a trade chip. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to trade their international pool money and it’s happened a few times these last two years. The Cardinals traded Mitchell Boggs to the Rockies for a little more than $200k in international cash last July, for example. The only purpose that $2.2M serves is to slightly reduce the penalties, so why not use it as a trade chip instead?
Now, trading international money is a little weird in that you can’t simply offer a team some arbitrary sum of money. The international bonus pools are broken up into four slots — like four rounds in a draft, this was put into place as a precursor to an international draft — and those individual slots are traded. You can’t trade a portion of a slot, the entire thing has to be moved. Here are the Yankees’ four international slot values, courtesy of Ben Badler:
- Slot #17: $677,400
- Slot #47: $386,300
- Slot #77: $260,800
- Slot #107: $168,600
In addition to the four slots, each team gets a $700k base that can not be traded, as far as I know. Add those four slots with the $700k base and you get the team’s ~$2.2M total pool. The Yankees can’t just trade a lump of, say, $500k in international money, they have to trade Slot #17 or Slot #47. If the $700k base is untradeable, New York has approximately $1.5M in bonus money to peddle. Got it? Good.
There are two other restrictions to trading international pool space. One, a team can only acquire an additional 50% of its pool, so the Yankees can’t send all of that ~$1.5M to one team in most cases. Two, the pool money can only be traded during the signing period, so between next Wednesday and July 1st of next year. That last part doesn’t figure to be a problem, but it does mean the Yankees can’t use their pool money as a chip for another week.
The Yankees will have to work through some obstacles to use their international spending money as a trade chip, but the idea is sound. They’re already going to spend a boatload of cash on players, so rather than have that pool money serve no other purpose than to save a little on the penalty bill — whatever they trade away is how much extra they’ll have to pay in penalties — they can use it almost as another “prospect” in a trade. It’s another asset that can be moved.
The real question is how do teams value international money? Like I said, Boggs was traded for roughly $200k last summer. He was a middle reliever whose control had deteriorated (26 walks and 25 strikeouts at the time of the trade) and been demoted to Triple-A. At least in that one instance, the $200k in international money had small trade value. The Yankees can use their pool money as a trade chip but it isn’t landing them any impact players by itself. Remember, that money will be used to sign 16-year-old kids who are a half-decade away from MLB.
Brian Cashman has already said he expects to make moves before the trade deadline, but making a deal felt inevitable even before he said that. The Yankees are only 2.5 games out of first place and one game back of a wildcard spot. They’re in contention but need help at several positions. Their international spending pool will be made irrelevant by their spending spree, so they can use that money to land help for the big league team at the trade deadline. It’s not much, but it something they should be very willing to offer.
12:16pm: Buster Olney (subs. req’d) says the Rays are prepared to trade Price “right now,” though no deal is imminent. He is very much on the market.
12:00pm: Via Marc Topkin: The Yankees were among several teams to have high level/additional scouts watch David Price’s start last week. The southpaw struck out 12 while allowing two runs in eight innings against the Astros. He has double-digit strikeouts in four straight starts. Tampa has the worst record in all of baseball and figures to sell off some pieces before the trade deadline next month.
Price, 28, has pitched to a 3.81 ERA (3.02 FIP) with an absurd 133/23 K/BB in 16 starts in 115.2 innings this season. He’ll earn $14M this year and remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year. The Yankees need another starter and the fit is obvious, right? Price isn’t just an ace-caliber performer, but he’s also AL East tested and a proven workhorse. Would the Rays trade him within the division? I’m guessing yes if the price is right (pun unintended). Do the Yankees have the pieces to meet that price (pun intended)? · (92) ·
Prior to last night’s drubbing at the hands of the Blue Jays, Chase Whitley had been a pleasantly surprising contributor in the wake of the rotation injuries. He rarely took the ball deep into games, but he went into Monday night with a 2.56 ERA (2.70 FIP) in 38.2 innings across seven starts. That’s really good. That he got roughed up so much in Toronto and still owns a solid 4.07 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 42 innings tells you how good he was before last night.
Whitley, of course, did not become a full-time starter until the very end of last season, when he made a handful of spot starts for Triple-A Scranton. Last night was his 22nd career professional start since being drafted in 2010. That’s all. This guy was a third baseman for most of his college career and a full-time reliever in the minors as recently as ten months ago, which makes his pre-Monday success as an MLB rotation member that much more impressive.
Therein lies something of a problem. Because Whitely has been a reliever for most of his life, he has never spent a full season as a starter and dealt with that type of workload before. The season is not even halfway over and Whitely is already rapidly approaching his career-high in innings pitched. Here is his career innings breakdown:
|2011||107.2||0||91||0||16.2 (Az Fall League)|
Whitely has already thrown more innings this year than last year, mostly because he spent the first seven weeks of 2013 on the disabled list with an oblique problem. He’ll probably surpass his 2012 innings total before the All-Star break and his career-high innings total — which was set three years ago now — either late next month or in early August, barring injury or something.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the “Verducci Effect” and the concept of controlling a young pitcher’s workload in an effort to reduce future injury risk. It’s common sense and teams do it every single year. The idea of a 30-inning year-to-year increase being the magic number is a little outdated, but there is definitely a point when a workload increase becomes too much. That usually applies to pitchers younger than Whitley, who turned 25 less than two weeks ago.
Because he was not a top prospect — remember, Whitley went undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft just last December — and there is a pretty strong likelihood he is currently enjoying the best stretch of his career, I’m not concerned about monitoring Whitley’s workload to reduce future injury risk. That’s not to say the Yankees should run him into the ground, they do still have a responsibility to try to keep him healthy, but he isn’t as much of a priority as someone like, say, Ian Clarkin or Luis Severino. That’s just baseball.
My biggest worry about Whitley’s workload is plain ol’ fatigue. He might just run out of gas sometime in the second half, when he approaches 130 or 140 or 150 or whatever number of innings. We don’t know when or even if it will happen. But, just looking at him as a guy who has thrown more than 100 innings in a season twice in his life, it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll hit a wall at some point. Whitley’s never started for an extended period of time before and he’s about to enter uncharted workload waters.
In a perfect world, the Yankees would use off-days to skip Whitley’s starts (or at least push them back a few days) whenever possible to help keep him fresh. They could call up a sixth starter for the day and skip one of his starts that way. They could even give him a little two-week vacation on the disabled list; that’s another way they could control his innings and try to keep him fresh later in the season. The Yankees can’t do any of that though because they’re stretched so thin for pitching. They don’t have that sixth starter to call-up and they need to use off-days to give their other pitchers an extra day whenever possible as well.
CC Sabathia will face hitters in a live batting practice session today and is expected to pitch in a minor league rehab game this weekend, but he is still several weeks away. Michael Pineda can’t even get healthy enough to play catch these days, so the Yankees should just forget about him. If he manages to get healthy and pitch at some point, wonderful. But don’t count on him. A trade? That seems inevitable, but it doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon. Once it does happen, Vidal Nuno (the obvious candidate to lose his rotation spot) can be used as a spot starter to give Whitley occasional rest.
Right now, Whitley is pitching well as a starter and the Yankees should ride that out as long as possible. He’s a young guy and he’s big and strong (listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs.), plus he has what looks like a relatively low-effort delivery to me, so maybe he’ll be able to hold up deep into the season. That would be awesome. Whitley is at risk of hitting a wall in the second half though, only because he has never really started before and his workload is going to be pushed far behind his previous limits. It’s just another reason the Yankees need to add a starter and soon.
Once again, the Yankees were on the wrong end of a blowout. They dropped Monday’s series opener to the Blue Jays by the score of 8-3, and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Toronto scored the same number of runs in this game that they did during the entire three-game series in the Bronx last week.
Ace Eighth Starter Whitley
Well, it was bound to happen eventually, right? Chase Whitley had been a revelation for the Yankees coming into Monday’s start, pitching like a borderline ace on a strict pitch count. Then he allowed eight runs on eleven hits and three walks in 3.1 innings against the Blue Jays. It was seven-zip through two innings and ten of the first 15 batters Whitley faced recorded hits. Some were hit right on the screws, others were ground balls with eyes. All were hits and all led to runs. He was fooling no one.
The Blue Jays were the first team to see Whitley twice in his young MLB career — they faced him just last week, so it was a fresh look — and while that certainly may have contributed to the onslaught, Whitley made some truly some awful pitches. Everything was out over the heart of the plate, especially his changeup, and a changeup right down the middle is a batting practice fastball. Here are the locations of the hits allowed, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
Everything was over the plate and great hitting team like Toronto will make pitchers with less than stellar stuff like Whitley pay when they’re not on the corners. He came into the game with a 2.56 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP on the season and left with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Statistical corrections aren’t always pretty. What can you do, sometimes pitchers get roughed up and that’s what happened to Whitley for the first time in his career. Welcome to the show, kid.
The Blue Jays scored the same number of runs in the second inning (six) that the Yankees scored in their previous 34 innings before plating two meaningless runs in the ninth. I mean, Whitley could have twirled a gem and he still probably would have lost. All the run scoring hits by Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson did in the ninth inning was pretty up the run differential. The club’s four base-runners in the ninth equaled their total from the first eight innings. Too little, too late. The game was over at that point.
Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer literally off the top of the center field wall in the fourth inning for what looked like was going to be their only run. At least he continues to swing the bat well. Brendan Ryan, Ichiro Suzuki, and Carlos Beltran also had hits while Brett Gardner and Frankie Cervelli drew the only walks. The Yankees didn’t have a runner reach second base until the ninth inning. This team is no fun to watch whenever Masahiro Tanaka or Dellin Betances are not on the mound. Joyless baseball.
Big ups to David Huff for soaking up 3.2 innings (61 pitches) in long relief despite throwing 25 pitches on Sunday and 20 pitches on Friday. He allowed two walks, one infield single, and zero runs. Huff helped move this game along. The pace was really dragging there for a while. Shawn Kelley struck out three and allowed an infield single in his inning of work. He looked way better than he had in any other outing since coming off the DL.
Ryan made a really nice defensive play in the seventh inning, ranging to his right and diving to snare a hard-hit ground ball. He turned around and fired a strike to first base to get the out despite being off balance. It was pretty rad. Ryan almost made another really nice play ranging to his left behind second base later in the inning, but the throw was off-line and pulled Teixeira off the bag.
The Yankees allowed at least eight runs for the third time in their last eight games. The good news is that the Yankees are getting blown out so regularly this month that eventually Joe Girardi will have no choice but to let Ichiro pitch.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some additional stats and ESPN has the up to the minute standings. The Orioles won, so the Yankees are now in sole possession of third place. They look the part.
David Phelps and Mark Buehrle will be on the mound Tuesday night, in the second game of this three-game series. It would be nice if the Yankees were on the other end of a laugher for once.