2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Tuesday

Price. (Presswire)
Price. (Presswire)

We are now just four days away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees stretched their AL East lead to seven games with last night’s winFanGraphs has their postseason odds at 93.8% — but they’re in no position to coast. Ivan Nova left last night’s start with “arm fatigue,” reinforcing the team’s need for pitching help. They could also use a new second baseman and maybe a righty bench bat.

On Monday we learned … well … not much we didn’t already know. The Yankees are in on just about every pitcher, starters and relievers, and they remain interested in Ben Zobrist. Possible bullpen target Tyler Clippard was traded to the Mets as well. Oh, and Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays last night. How about that? We’re going to keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, so make sure you check back often. It really feels like a deal could happen at any moment now.

  • 2:31pm ET: Ben Zobrist is heading to the Royals for two pitching prospects. That is really disappointing. He would have been a massive upgrade at second base.
  • 2:21pm ET: The Yankees and Rockies never seriously engaged in Troy Tulowitzki trade talks. The combination of cost (both prospects and dollars) and injury risk was not particularly appealing to the Yankees. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:10pm ET: The Athletics are “deep” in Ben Zobrist trade talks and he is expected to move soon. It’s unclear where he will end up, but the Yankees have been connected to him for weeks. Zobrist makes a ton of sense for the Bombers and pretty much every other team in MLB. [Jane Lee]
  • 12:29pm ET: The Phillies are asking teams for their “best” offers for Cole Hamels by Wednesday. That makes sense, Hamels is scheduled to pitch Thursday and they probably want to deal him before then. His stock can only go down following the no-hitter. [Jayson Stark]
  • 9:30pm ET: Craig Kimbrel‘s name has indeed popped up in trade talks with the Padres. There was nothing more than speculation connecting the Yankees to Kimbrel prior to this. The Yankees insist they will not trade their top prospects and apparently that stance will have to change to get Kimbrel. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees and several other clubs are “waiting to hear” whether the Tigers will make David Price available. Detroit lost for the seventh time in eleven games since the All-Star break yesterday, though reportedly they’re going to wait a few days before deciding on a course of action. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Second base option off the board: Zobrist goes to Royals

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

The best second base option is officially off the board. The Athletics have traded Ben Zobrist to the Royals for pitching prospects Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks, the club announced. Oakland is in full blown sell mode, having now traded Zobrist, Tyler Clippard, and Scott Kazmir. The Royals, meanwhile, are all-in with Zobrist and Johnny Cueto.

The Yankees were said to have interest in Zobrist for the last several weeks and it made perfect sense. Stephen Drew hasn’t hit all year and Zobrist, a switch-hitter with contact skills and defensive versatility, has put up a .268/.354/.447 (125 wRC+) batting line with more walks (12.2%) than strikeouts (9.6%) this year. His batting average is higher than Drew’s on-base percentage (.263).

The Royals paid a fair price for two months plus one October of Zobrist. Brooks is an up-an-down depth arm, a David Phelps type but not quite that good, while Manaea is a high-end pitching prospect with a history of injury issues (hip and abdomen, mostly). Baseball America ranked him as the 81st best prospect in the game before season.

Going from Drew to Zobrist was the biggest possible position player upgrade the Yankees could have realistically made at the trade deadline this year. (#RealTalk: Going from Drew to Zobrist is a bigger upgrade than going from Jose Reyes to Troy Tulowitzki.) The best available second base option now is, uh, Martin Prado? Egads.

Thoughts four days prior to the 2015 trade deadline

Samardzija. (Jason Miller/Getty)
Samardzija. (Jason Miller/Getty)

The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline is just four days away now, and while the Yankees have not yet made any moves, I expect that to change fairly soon. Here are some stray trade deadline thoughts.

1. Boy that Troy Tulowitzki trade last night was something else, wasn’t it? Came out of nowhere. I assume the Rockies are going to flip Jose Reyes, otherwise the deal doesn’t make too much sense for them, but it’s a big upgrade for the Blue Jays. Yeah, they still need pitching, but a dominant offense will get you to the postseason more often than not. (Also, don’t underestimate the defensive upgrade, Tulowitzki’s a way better gloveman than Reyes right now.) I’ve felt the Blue Jays were the Yankees’ biggest threat in the AL East for a few weeks now, and while that seven-game cushion is nice, the division race ain’t over. The Yankees and Blue Jays still play 13 more times this season. Over/under on the total number of runs scored in those 13 games is set at 149.5.

2. As for the Yankees, I do still expect them to make a trade or two before Friday’s deadline. Nothing that happened over the last week or two has changed that belief. If anything, the recently winning only makes me more convinced they will do something. The Yankees are not just a win now team, they’re a win now team that hasn’t been to the postseason in two years. They have every reason imaginable — reputation, financial, the whole nine — to upgrade a roster with some obvious needs. This is what the Yankees do. They bought at the deadline even when their postseason chances were microscopic the last two years. I’ll be stunned if they don’t do something meaningful — by meaningful I mean a starting pitcher, a late-inning bullpen arm, or an everyday position player, not a fringe roster guy — before 4pm ET Friday.

3. The Tigers seem to be on the fence about whether to buy or sell, and assuming they hold onto David Price, I think my top target among the remaining available starters would be Jeff Samardzija. (I want the Yankees to go hard after Price if he does become available though.) Samardzija has the fewest flaws among the guys left on the board, specifically Mike Leake, Mat Latos, Yovani Gallardo, and all those guys with the Padres. He’s a power pitcher who misses bats and is also a workhorse who can go seven innings and 110+ pitches regularly. It would be nice to have at least one of those guys in the rotation, wouldn’t it? Also, between playing football at Notre Dame and pitching for the Cubs, Samardzija has experience in hectic sports markets. I don’t think New York would bother him too much. Leake, Gallardo, and all those other guys are useful in their own ways, but I think Samardzija could be a real difference-maker. (But go get Price first.)

4. The Yankees insist they will not trade their top prospects for a rental — when was the last time they did that anyway? when they agreed to give up Jesus Montero for Cliff Lee? — and that’s all well and good, but it is something every team says this time of year. I don’t think Luis Severino would (or should) be off the table if Price became available, for example. That said, I do wonder if the Yankees will end up dealing pieces off their MLB roster at the trade deadline. The game seems to be gearing more towards MLB player for MLB player trades — I guess because everyone is trying to win now and no one wants to wait for prospects — and within the last year alone we’ve seen the Yankees trade Yangervis Solarte, Vidal Nuno, Kelly Johnson, Francisco Cervelli, Shane Greene, David Phelps, and Martin Prado in deals for other big league players. Could that happen again? We’d be foolish to rule it out. Ivan Nova‘s name reportedly popped up in talks with the Reds about Johnny Cueto. Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chasen Shreve strike me as the MLB players the Yankees are most likely to deal at the deadline, should a trade like that go down. Don’t ask me why, just a hunch. Nova and Eovaldi would have to go in substantial moves though, like the Nova for Cueto swap.

Iwakuma. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Iwakuma. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

5. The August waiver trade market will be very interesting this year because there should be a lot of higher priced players available. More than usual. James Shields, for example. He’s someone who still figures to be available come August because no one will risk claiming that contract. I’m not saying the Yankees should make a run at Shields, just that he figures to be available. Dan Haren, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Matt Garza are other examples. Haren (free because the Dodgers are paying him) and Iwakuma ($3M or so the rest of the season) might not make it to the Yankees on waivers because they’re so cheap. Other clubs figure to claim them first, even if it’s only to block a trade. The Yankees usually aren’t very active in August waiver deals — again, the only players they’ve acquired in post-deadline trades since 2009 are Chad Gaudin, Steve Pearce, and Brendan Ryan — but I feel like this season is very different because they missed the postseason the last two years. I feel like there’s extra motivation to make upgrades, even if they have to wait until August.

6. Random thing that struck me while watching last night’s game: right now, in 2015, Mark Teixeira is better than every player the Braves traded to the Rangers for him back in 2007 combined. Eight years later! Not counting last night’s game, Teixeira is at +2.6 WAR this season. This is the package Texas received for Teixeira (and Ron Mahay): Elvis Andrus (-0.1 WAR), Matt Harrison (0.0 WAR), Neftali Feliz (-0.1 WAR), Jarrod Saltamacchia (-0.1 WAR), and Beau Jones (out of baseball since 2012). I’m not sure where I’m going with this or whether it means anything, I just thought it was interesting. It looked like the Rangers set themselves up for a decade with that trade two or three years ago, but it went south in a hurry. Meanwhile Tex is still plugging along and mashing taters. Bet on proven star-caliber players, I guess.

7. Last week Jeff Sullivan put together a neat post looking at where the Mariners have gone wrong this season. They were expected to contend in the AL West at the very least, and some had them as AL pennant favorites. Instead, they’re sitting near the bottom of the standings. Jeff compared each player’s actual WAR to their projected WAR coming into the season to find the “missing” wins. I want to do something similar with the Yankees really quick, though they’re exceeding expectations, not falling short.

Prior to last night’s game the Yankees were 55-42 (.567), which is quite a bit better than FanGraphs’ projected .503 winning percentage coming into the season. The Yankees were beating their projection by six wins through only 97 games. Here is how each player’s actual WAR compares to their preseason projected WAR pro-rated to 97 games (this doesn’t include last night’s game, but one game won’t change much anyway):

Projected WAR vs. Actual WAR through 97 games

This is showing actual WAR minus projected WAR. Positive means a player is performing better than the projections and negative means the opposite. Negative does not necessarily mean negative WAR, it just means less WAR than projected. Got it? Good.

Alex Rodriguez, as expected, is the main projection out-performer here. The projections expected nothing from him and he’s been awesome. Teixeira, Michael Pineda, and Eovaldi have all exceeded projections by a full win already — Pineda’s been shaky at times but the projections didn’t expect much given his injury history — while Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, and Masahiro Tanaka have fallen short of projections by more than a win. Ellsbury and Tanaka because of injury, Headley because he didn’t do much on either side of the ball earlier in the season.

Add all of that together and you get +3.5 wins. The team’s actual record is six games better than projected, and the missing 2.5 wins come from guys like Slade Heathcott (+0.4 WAR), Mason Williams (+0.3 WAR), and all the other call-ups who have had a brief but positive impact so far. Also, WAR seems to underrated DHs. Most players perform worse than expected as the DH because they’re not used to sitting around, similar to pinch-hitters. A-Rod‘s WAR might be underrating his true value.

Scouting The Trade Market: San Diego Padres

Benoit. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
Benoit. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

No team had a busier offseason than the Padres, who, under new GM A.J. Preller, made a handful of blockbuster trades and one big free agent signing. It didn’t work. The club comes into today with a 47-52 record and sub-5.0% postseason odds according to FanGraphs. I’m sure Preller was instructed by ownership to turn things around quick, and he tried valiantly, but it didn’t work.

So now the Padres are sellers and reportedly listening on everyone, including the guys they just picked up this winter. Looking at their roster, there is no untouchable. No Sonny Gray or Chris Sale type, the token “one great player we can build around going forward.” Preller & Co. are said to be listening on everyone and hoping to shed payroll and replenish a farm system that was gutted just a few months ago. Let’s see if any of San Diego’s players fit with the Yankees.

RHP Joaquin Benoit

The Yankees have had a bunch of interest in Benoit in recent years, including targeting him at last summer’s trade deadline as well as during the 2013 Winter Meetings, when he was a free agent. Benoit just turned 38 over the weekend and he has a 2.27 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 43.2 innings this year. His ground ball rate (47.2%) is way up but his strikeout (23.2%), walk (9.5%), and homer (1.03 HR/9) numbers have all taken turns for the worse.

Benoit’s stuff is fine, he still sits in the mid-90s with a swing-and-miss changeup, though his location has been off this year and the results have merely been very good, not great. He’s owed roughly $3.1M the rest of the season with an $8M option for next year ($1.5M buyout), so he’s affordable and can be considered a rental. Heck, if Benoit pitches well, his team could either pick up the option and keep him or pick it up and trade him. Minimal risk.

What Would It Take?: Steve Cishek was just traded for a Double-A reliever, though Cishek was having a really rough season. It could take an organizational top ten prospect to get Benoit like it did to get Francisco Rodriguez a few years ago, especially given his reputation as a late-inning guy who can close or set up. I don’t think it’ll be a pure salary dump trade even with the scary strikeout, walk, and homer trends.

Cashner. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Cashner. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

RHPs Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy & Tyson Ross

The Padres have four starting pitchers with real trade value, including these three guys. Kennedy will be a free agent after the season, Cashner will be a free agent after next season, and Ross will be a free agent after 2017. They have different styles too — Kennedy’s a kitchen sink/command guy, Cashner is a hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi type, and Ross is a fastball/slider Michael Pineda type. There’s a little something for everyone in this group. Here are their stats so far this season:

Cashner 116.2 3.93 3.77 20.6% 7.1% 47.7% 1.00 .278 .380
Kennedy 96.1 4.58 5.25 21.7% 6.8% 38.4% 2.06 .384 .358
Ross 122.2 3.45 2.75 25.2% 10.9% 63.3% 0.22 .273 .328

Kennedy is clearly having the worst season of the three — to be fair, he missed the start of the season with a hamstring issue and has a 2.83 ERA (4.41 FIP) in his last ten starts — which means he would also come the cheapest. Cashner is having a strong year despite getting crushed by lefties, though he also has a scary injury history. He’s thrown more than 125 innings in a season just once (175 innings in 2013), and that’s between MLB and the minors.

Ross is clearly the most desirable of the three between his results and two remaining years of team control. He also turned 28 a few weeks ago and is the youngest of the three. The concerns with Ross are theoretical more than anything. (Well, aside from his MLB leading 57 walks.) He throws a frickin’ ton of sliders, 46.2% this year after 41.2% last year, and his delivery is not exactly pretty. Check it out:

Not textbook! Between the ugly delivery and all those sliders, many expect Ross to break down at some point. It doesn’t help that he had Tommy John surgery in college, shoulder strains in 2008 and 2009, and elbow strains in 2010 and 2014. Every pitcher is an injury risk, some moreso than others, and Ross seems like a guy who might carry more risk than most. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not worth acquiring, he is quite good, it’s just something to keep in mind.

What Would It Take?: We’re dealing with three different pitchers here. Kennedy is a low-end rental — a guy like Mike Leake has more trade value given his year-to-year consistency. Low-end rental starters usually go for two low-end prospects. The Dodgers traded two rookie ball guys for Roberto Hernandez last year, for example.

Cashner has the extra year of team control but also a) the scary injury history (lots of shoulder and elbow problems), and b) high-end stuff that screams ace should he ever puts it together. At this point it seems like Cashner won’t ever be an ace though, just an effective pitcher who leaves you wanting more. Think Edwin Jackson. Jackson was traded from the Diamondbacks to the White Sox in 2010 (one year before free agency, like Cashner) for two organizational top ten prospects (Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg). That seems like a decent reference point for Cashner.

Ross has two and a half years of team control remaining and he’s very good, a No. 2 type starter. Not many guys like that get traded these days. Ubaldo Jimenez went from the Rockies to the Indians two and a half years prior to free agency and that seems like a decent comp — Ross now and Jimenez then both have good stuff, walk a bunch of batters, and flirt with ace-hood. The Tribe gave up their No. 2 prospect (Alex White), No. 4 prospect (Drew Pomeranz), No. 9 prospect (Joe Gardner), and a non-top 30 prospect (Matt McBride) for Ubaldo. Not all No. 2 and 4 and whatever prospects are made equal, but you get the point. Ross won’t come cheap.

Gyorko. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Gyorko. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

2B Jedd Gyorko

Two years ago Gyorko put up a solid .249/.301/.444 (111 wRC+) batting line with 23 homers, earning him a sixth place finish in a stacked NL Rookie of the Year class. The Padres believed in into the right-handed pop and signed Gyorko to a six-year, $35M extension after the season. He has hit .212/.276/.333 (76 wRC+) with 15 homers since then, and San Diego shipped him to Triple-A a few weeks ago. (He’s since been called back up.) Gyorko’s been one of the worst hitters in baseball the last two years.

It is no surprise then that Ken Rosenthal recently reported the Padres are shopping the 26-year-old Gyorko hard. There is still roughly $33M left on his contract through 2019 with a $1M buyout of his $13M option for 2020, and they want out of that contract. Gyorko does offer some versatility, having played a bunch of second and third base in his career, but his batted ball profile shows his line drive and grounder rates are moving the wrong direction:

Jedd Gyorko batted ball

The contract means this is not a simple change of scenery deal. You can’t bring in Gyorko, trying him out for a year or two, then non-tender him if it doesn’t work out. You’re locked for another four seasons after this one. There’s no such thing as “taking a flier” on a dude owed more than $33M over the next four years. That’s a long-term commitment and you have to be sure the player is salvageable. I’m not sure Gyorko is.

What Would It Take?: Gosh, I’m not sure. Cameron Maybin, another guy the Padres locked up after one good year, was traded this offseason with two years and $16M left on his deal (half-a-Gyorko!), but he was nothing more than a throw-in to even out salary in a larger trade. I have to think Gyorko is a salary dump at this point. Take on the money and give up a fringe prospect or two in return. And remember, the luxury tax means his $33M contract is effectively $49.5M (!) to the Yankees.

Kimbrel. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Kimbrel. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

RHP Craig Kimbrel

The Padres acquired Kimbrel literally hours before the first game of the 2015 season and now they’re looking to move him to restock the farm system and shed salary. He’s owed roughly $27.5M through 2017 with a $13M club option ($1M buyout) for 2018, which is more than a reasonable for a reliever of his caliber when you consider what Andrew Miller and David Robertson fetched this past offseason.

Kimbrel, 27, has a 2.75 ERA (2.48 FIP) in 39.1 innings this year, which is both excellent and not as good as his work from 2011-14 (1.51 ERA and 1.52 FIP in 268.1 innings). His walk (9.5%) and grounder (47.1%) rates are right in line with the last few years while his strikeout (34.8%) and homer (0.69 HR/9) have taken a step back (42.0 K% and 0.40 HR/9 from 2011-14). But again, his strikeout and homer numbers are still awesome, he’s just not the guy he was the last few years.

“You don’t see the easy gas you used to see. He used to just overmatch hitters, and it’s not quite that easy for him,” said a scout to Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently. Kimbrel’s fastball velocity is actually a career-high (97.3 mph), but hitters have been able to do more damage this year (.269 wOBA) than last year (.209 wOBA) or the year before (.222 wOBA). He’s starting from an extremely high baseline, remember. There’s no shame in going from the best reliever in the world to merely being a top five bullpener.

What Would It Take?: Not many elite relievers get traded these days, and Kimbrel’s trade in April doesn’t help us much because the Braves attached him to Melvin Upton Jr.’s disaster contract. Even with his relatively slight decline this year, Kimbrel is still a dominant closer signed to a below-market deal, so anything short of a top prospect or three won’t get it done. The Braves got a top 50 prospect — Matt Wisler, who was ranked right next to Luis Severino in Baseball America’s top 100 list before the season — for Kimbrel in April even with Upton attached. Taking on the salary and giving up a fringe prospect or two in return isn’t happening. Kimbrel’s good.

Shields. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Shields. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

RHP James Shields

Shields is the fourth of the four starters I mentioned earlier, though unlike Cashner, Kennedy, and Ross, his value is hurt by his back-loaded contract. He’s making only $10M this season with $21M annual salaries from 2016-18, plus a $2M buyout of his $16M option for 2019. Not ideal for a 33-year-old who averaged 223 innings per year from 2007-14!

The move to a big ballpark in the NL has not helped Shields, who has a 3.77 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 126.2 innings this year. He’s actually striking batters out at a career high rate (26.9%) and getting the same ol’ number of ground balls (45.2%), but his walk rate (8.8%) is a career-high and his homer rate (1.42 HR/9) is through the roof. Shields has always been homer prone, but not this homer prone.

Going under the hood a bit, Shields has lost a mile-an-hour off his fastball this year, and it now averages 91.4 mph. That’s not horrible, he’s never been a big velocity guy anyway, but it is a red flag given his age and workload. Also, lefties have absolutely annihilated him, putting up a .285/.367/.537 (.389 wOBA) batting line. This is a guy who has historically had a reverse split because of his all-world changeup. Now batters of the opposite hand are crushing him.

It’s not all bad though. Shields is certainly familiar with the AL East — the ballparks, the hitters, all that — and he’s been through postseason races, so the transition should theoretically be a little easier. Shields seems like the type who could age gracefully since he’s always located well and never been a blow you away type. Other than that though, a subpar year at his age with that much money left on his contract is sorta scary.

What What Would It Take?: Jon Heyman says the Padres are “pushing hard” to trade Shields, again because they want to clear payroll and pile up prospects. Shields is a special case without similar trades we can reference — a former high-end starter (former as in just last year) with three years left on his contract at huge dollars. Who was the last guy like that get traded? We’re out of luck here. I’m sure San Diego wants to dump the contract, but I don’t think they’re going to just give Shields away either.

* * *

The Padres are also listening to offers for Justin Upton, and as much as a big bat like that would help the Yankees, they don’t have a spot for another outfielder, not unless someone gets hurt between now and the trade deadline. San Diego has other spare parts like Yangervis Solarte and Clint Barmes — don’t laugh, Barmes is hitting .311/.382/.492 (144 wRC+) against lefties and would be an upgrade over Brendan Ryan — who could make sense for New York, but they wouldn’t be difference-makers. Just depth. Guys like Ross and Cashner and Kimbrel could really impact a postseason race.

Holy Moly! Blue Jays reportedly acquire Troy Tulowitzki

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

Well this is a blockbuster. According to both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays have acquired Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies. No word on what Toronto is sending to Colorado, but I’m sure the package involves many top prospects. Wowza.

The Blue Jays already have a pretty good middle infield with Jose Reyes and Devon Travis, but Tulo is way better than both, so yeah. I wonder if Travis is in the package going to the Rockies with Reyes sliding over to second. He played second earlier in his career in deference to Kaz Matsui, remember.

Either way, the Blue Jays have emerged as the Yankees’ biggest threat in the AL East since the All-Star break, and they just got a whole lot better. The best offense in baseball got better, I should say. Toronto still needs pitching, but Tulowitzki is a major addition and will help a ton this year and in the future.

Update: Rosenthal says Reyes, not Travis, is in the package going to the Rockies. Unexpected! It’s Reyes and a bunch of minor league guys for Tulo. I wonder if the Rockies will flip Reyes somewhere else now, sorta like when the Marlins had Mike Piazza.

DotF: Fowler has a big day in Tampa’s doubleheader

Got a whole bunch of notes to pass along:

  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) caught Double-A Trenton over the weekend and said RHP Brady Lail “showed a solid-average fastball/curveball combination and pounded the zone all night … He’s a fair ground ball guy now who throws a lot of strikes, and could profile as a fifth starter with a better third pitch — he’s a good candidate for a difference in splits given his arm slot — or a good two-pitch reliever if not.”
  • The Yankees were planning to call up RHP Bryan Mitchell for tomorrow’s spot start, but he fell and hit his head in the weight room last week, Joe Girardi told Bryan Hoch. His most recent start for Triple-A Scranton had to pushed back (Mitchell’s fine now) and he no longer lined up for Tuesday. Womp womp.
  • RHP Chris Martin has been placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL, reports Chad Jennings. Martin had elbow trouble earlier this year but it’s unclear if that’s the problem. If nothing else, the Yankees are out one depth arm for the foreseeable future.
  • RHP Andrew Bailey has been activated off the Double-A Trenton temporarily inactive list, so says Matt Kardos. Also, RHP Joel De La Cruz has been bumped up to Triple-A Scranton, replacing Martin on the roster.
  • RHP Jonathan Holder was officially activated off the High-A Tampa DL, according to Nick Flammia. I’m not sure what was wrong with him, but he missed about six weeks. RHP Chris Smith was released to clear a roster spot.
  • And finally, check out this Josh Norris article on OF Slade Heathcott, who is currently on a minor league rehab assignment. Heathcott spoke about all the adversity he’s dealt with (on and off the field) and how he’s learned to deal with everything.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 K — threw a runner out at second … what, no two hits and a triple?
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 1-4
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 1 BB
  • 1B Greg Bird: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4 — he’s hitting sixth … this is easily the most prospect-laden I can ever remember the Triple-A affiliate, at least position player-wise
  • LF Tyler Austin: 1-3 — threw a runner out at third
  • RHP Esmil Rogers: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 Balk, 4/1 GB/FB — 54 of 98 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 24 of 36 pitches were strikes (67%) … 18/3 K/BB in his last 15.1 innings
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/2 GB/FB — eleven of 21 pitches were strikes (52%)

[Read more…]

Yankees celebrate A-Rod’s 40th birthday with a 6-2 win over the Rangers

Happy birthday, A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez turned 40 on Monday and the Yankees celebrated with a crisp 6-2 win over his former team, the Rangers. They’ve won eight of ten games since the All-Star break and now have a season-high seven-game lead in the AL East. Their magic number to clinch the division is 58. Oh yeah, I just went there.


Fighting Spirit
Isn’t it wonderful a two-run lead is no longer insurmountable? Hooray for having a real offense. The Yankees fell behind 2-0 early in Tuesday’s game but battled back to not only tie the game in the next half-inning, they took the lead. The bottom of the order did all the heavy lifting too. Remember earlier this year when the Yankees lived and died with the top of the order? That’s not the case any longer.

Chase Headley opened the top of the third with a sharp single to right, and Didi Gregorius followed with a first pitch home run off Matt Harrison. It wasn’t a no-doubter, but he hit it hard, and the ball carried over the fence to right. It was Didi’s first career homer off a southpaw and his first homer of the season away from Yankee Stadium‘s short porch. The Yankees fell behind 2-0 and tied the game three pitches into the next half inning. Love this team.

Gregorius merely tied the game though. The Yankees scored their third run thanks to a Brendan Ryan triple. A triple! It was his third extra-base hit of the season. He had four all of last year. Brett Gardner walked to put runners on the corners and lefty masher Chris Young plated Ryan with a deep sac fly to left field. The Yankees hit Harrison pretty hard in the first two innings but had nothing to show for it. Didi and Ryan were rewarded in the third.


Ivan The Terribly Mediocre
Would you believe me if I told you Ivan Nova had two 1-2-3 innings in his five innings of work? It’s true. Sure didn’t seem like it though. It felt like Nova was in trouble all night, especially in his final two innings, yet he escaped with just two runs allowed. Both runs came with two outs in the second — Josh Hamilton blooped a single, Elvis Andrus ripped a double to left to score Hamilton, and Leonys Martin shot a ground ball single back through the box to score Andrus. Texas took a quick two-zip lead.

The fourth inning had the potential to be very bad. Very very bad. The inning started with a booming Mitch Moreland double to left, and Adrian Beltre moved him to third with a ground out. Nova walked the nearly unwalkable Hamilton to put men on the corners, then he plunked Andrus to load the bases with one out. Scary! Nova escaped the jam thanks in part to Mark Teixeira — he fielded Martin’s chopper and got the force out at the plate for the second out. Robinson Chirinos grounded out to end the threat.

All told, Nova allowed those two runs on five hits, two walks, and a hit batsman. Remember, he had two 1-2-3 innings, so the eight base-runners were bunched together in the three other innings. Nova threw 75 pitches and left the game with what Joe Girardi called “arm fatigue,” which is, uh, no bueno, especially since Ivan seemed to be missing 2-3 mph off his heater. Hopefully it’s just a post Tommy John surgery dead arm phase. For what it’s worth, Nova said there’s no pain, just fatigue. We’ll see.


Tack-On Runs
It did not feel like three runs would be enough given the way Nova was pitching. That and the fact it was about a thousand degrees in Arlington and the ball carried well all night. A-Rod, the birthday boy, plated the first insurance run with a sixth inning solo homer on a down and away pitch from the lefty Harrison. Alex went down and poked it out to right field. Lovely piece of hitting, that was.

One inning later, Gregorius drove in two more runs with a solid single to right off lefty reliever Sam Freeman. Two hits against a lefty! Didi came into the game hitting .184 against southpaws this season. Carlos Beltran (walk) and Headley (double) set the rally up for Gregorius, who drove in four of the team’s six runs. The bottom third of the order went a combined 7-for-12 (.583) with a double, a triple, and a homer. What a world.


I’m not sure why Girardi used Dellin Betances in the ninth rather than Andrew Miller. Dellin pitched Sunday (only five pitches, but still) and probably won’t be available for the bullpen game Tuesday. Miller ended up warming up anyway. Anyway, Betances (scoreless ninth), Justin Wilson (scoreless eighth), and Chasen Shreve (scoreless sixth and seventh) closed out the win. They each walked one. No hits allowed. Six strikeouts. Door: slammed.

Headley and Gregorius led the way with three hits apiece. Headley’s been on fire since the All-Star break. Didi hasn’t been so bad of late either. A-Rod, Teixeira, Ryan, Young, and Brian McCann had one hit apiece. Gardner drew one walk and Beltran drew two. The Yankees struck out just three times as a team.

Teixeira had the most backwards 1-for-4 ever. He was robbed of a homer by Martin, smashed a line drive at Andrus, flew out loudly to the warning track in right, and then he picked up a dinky ground ball single on a two-strike protect swing. Baseball.

And finally, A-Rod is now the sixth player in the expansion era to play in the big leagues as both as a teenager and a 40-year-old. He joins Rusty Staub, Gary Sheffield, Bill Buckner, Ken Griffey Jr., and Tim Raines. Neato.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages because I do indeed update them every day. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rangers will play game two of this four-game series Tuesday night. Chris Capuano will start that game, Joe Girardi announced. They’re inserting a sixth starter just to give the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest. Lefty Martin Perez will start for Texas.