DotF: Flores goes deep twice in Scranton’s loss

RHP Wilking Rodriguez has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for furosemide, MLB announced. It’s basically a water pill. Rodriguez was in big league camp this year but he barely pitched, and he started the minor league season in Extended Spring Training.

Triple-A Scranton (11-6 loss to Rochester)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate … the odds Flores could help the Yankees in a platoon role more than the current version of Carlos Beltran has to be pretty decent, right?
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 BB, 4 K — no contact day
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Jaron Long: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 8/2 GB/FB — 61 of 85 pitches were strikes (72%) … Triple-A hitters haven’t been fooled as much as Single-A and Double-A hitters so far
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 30 of 44 pitches were strikes (68%) … first outing since the marathon 19-inning game
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 22 of 40 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB – eight strikes, eleven pitches

[Read more…]

Game Nine: Eovaldi For The Series Win

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Yankees tried and failed to win their first series of 2015 last night, but they have another chance in the rubber game against the Orioles tonight. The last time the Yankees lost three straight series to start the season was that awful 1991 season, when they didn’t win their first series of the year until mid-May. I feel like we’ve said “this is the first time the Yankees have done that since 1991″ an awful lot the last few years.

Anyway, Nathan Eovaldi will be on the mound tonight, making his second start in pinstripes. The first was uneven — Eovaldi showed a big fastball and promising offspeed pitches, but struggled to put hitters away. Then again, everyone’s struggled to put the Red Sox away this year it seems. Hopefully the free swinging O’s have a tougher time with Eovaldi tonight. Here’s the starting lineup:

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

The Orioles are sending right-hander Bud Norris to the mound. He got clobbered in his first start of the season by the Rays, allowing eight runs in three innings. Here is Baltimore’s lineup.

There’s no threat of rain at Camden Yards like last night. It’s cool and cloudy without only a slight breeze. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Brett Gardner (wrist) told Chad Jennings he feels “much better today” and expects to return to the lineup Friday. He is available pinch-run and play defense tonight … Joe Girardi told reporters both Chris Capuano (quad) and Ivan Nova (elbow) are progressing well in their rehab. Capuano could be back within a month.

Roster Moves: The Yankees have called up RHP Branden Pinder for tonight’s game, the team announced. RHP Joel De La Cruz was optioned to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Also, RHP Kyle Davies was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton after being designated for assignment the other day.

Dellin Betances projected to fall short of Super Two cutoff, Didi Gregorius will qualify

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Ryan Galla at CAA Sports, the projected Super Two cutoff this coming season is two years and 140 days of service time, which is more commonly written as 2.140. Players who qualify as Super Twos go through arbitration four times instead of the usual three. The cutoff is set at the top 22% of players with 2-3 years of service time and won’t be officially set until after the season. Galla’s projections have pretty spot on over the years.

The projected cutoff means Dellin Betances will fall well short of Super Two status following the season. He came into the season with 1.078 years of service time and, assuming his spotty command doesn’t land him in Triple-A at some point this summer, he’ll finish the season at 2.078. He’s more than two months short of qualifying, so even if Galla’s projection is off considerably, Betances still figures to be a non-Super Two player.

Assuming Dellin finds his mojo and starts dominating again — not a guarantee but let’s roll with it — his arbitration salaries figure to be higher than David Robertson‘s because of the co-closer system. Saves pay, even just a few of them. Robertson earned $1.6M, $3.1M, and $5.125M in his three arbitration years as a setup man. Dellin’s arbitration salaries could instead be along the lines of on again, off again closer (and ex-Yank) Mark Melancon‘s, who made $2.595M in his first year of arbitration and $5.4M in his second. (Next year will be his third.)

Now, if Betances were to take over the closer’s job outright, his arbitration salaries would skyrocket. Kenley Jansen made $4.3M and $7.425M during his first two years of arbitration, for example. The Yankees could look into signing Dellin to a long-term contract extension, but I think the unexpected return of pre-2014 Betances this year is enough to scare everything into waiting a little while longer. He’s a major boom or bust guy — Dellin could dominate and make Craig Kimbrel money or flame out faster than Derrick Turnbow.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The projected Super Two cutoff also means Didi Gregorius will qualify as a Super Two by a handful of days — he came into the season with 1.159 years of service time and will finish at 2.159. He’ll qualify by less than three weeks. Gregorius won’t command huge arbitration salaries but being a defense first middle infielder pays more than you think. Similar players like Darwin Barney and Zack Cozart made $2.3M or so in their first years of arbitration, though they weren’t Super Twos. Gregorius might come in a bit under that this offseason.

It’s easy to say this now given his slow start to the season, but even if he was tearing the cover off the ball these last ten days, I still think the Yankees would be better off letting Gregorius play out his arbitration years rather than look to sign him to an extension. The Yankees will be able to afford to pay him whatever arbitration requires, and the risk that he doesn’t hit enough to keep a regular lineup spot is much greater than the risk of him breaking out offensively and commanding big bucks. Slow start or not, Didi’s a year-to-year guy for me.

Obviously the roster will change over the next few months, but right now the Yankees are looking at a decently sized arbitration class after the season. Gregorius, Adam Warren, and Justin Wilson will be eligible for the first time; David Carpenter, Michael Pineda, and Nathan Eovaldi will be eligible for the second time; and Esmil Rogers and Ivan Nova will be eligible for the third time. Pineda and possibly Eovaldi are extension candidates and right now Rogers looks like the only non-tender candidate.

2015 Draft: Opening Thoughts

2015 Draft logoThe 2015 amateur draft will be held from June 8-10 this year, so roughly eight weeks from now. The Yankees hold two of the top 30 picks — Nos. 16 and 30 overall with the latter being the compensation pick for David Robertson — for the first time since 1978. They also haven’t picked as high as 16th overall since 1993.

The draft is always important, that goes without saying, though I think it is extra important for the Yankees this year for a two reasons in particular. One, the team’s international spending will be restricted during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, so they won’t be able to spend wildly and get top talent that way. Two, the Yankees don’t have any extra picks coming their way for a little while. No one on the roster due to hit free agency after this season or next figures to be worth the qualifying offer.

Our draft coverage here at RAB is going to essentially going to be the same as the last few years. Hey, if it’s not broke, why fix it? Over the next few weeks I’ll write up a bunch of short profiles of individual draft picks the Yankees may target this year. Some of them will be personal favorites but for the most part I’ll look at players who fit New York’s recent draft tendencies. These days that seems to be polished pitchers and power hitters, generally college guys with success in the wood bat Cape Cod League.

Obviously a lot of this is guesswork, though I have hit the nail on the head a few times over the years. I wrote up a pre-draft profile for LHP Jacob Lindgren last year, and two years ago I wrote up profiles for all three of OF Aaron Judge, 3B Eric Jagielo, and LHP Ian Clarkin. Way back in the day I wrote up Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, and Dellin Betances as possible draft targets. So either I’m really lucky or I’m better at this than I realize.

The pre-draft profiles for the 2015 draft will start … soon. I don’t have a set date in mind just yet but it’ll be soon. A few days or so. Until then, here are some miscellaneous thoughts to kick off this year’s draft coverage.

Large Bonus Pool Gives Yankees Flexibility

As mentioned yesterday, the Yankees have the sixth largest draft bonus pool this year at $7.885M. Four of the five teams ahead of them hold the top four picks, and the other is the Braves, who have a bunch of extra draft picks. Aside from Atlanta, which picks two spots before the Yankees in both the first and supplemental first rounds, no team is better positioned to pay a top talent big bucks in the middle of the first round or in the sandwich round.

The question isn’t can the Yankees afford a top talent, but will there be a top talent available? These days the only players who tend to fall below their projected draft spot are injured players or good but not great high schoolers with exorbitant bonus demands. I think New York’s best shot at a top draft talent this year is either the injured Brady Aiken or Mike Matuella. I don’t see any top high school prospects falling into their laps in the first round. That doesn’t happen anymore under the new system. The large bonus pool gives the team the flexibility to pay one player big or several players slightly less big, and the latter seems more likely.

Injuries Wreaking Havoc On Top Prospects

It’s not only Aiken and Matuella who have gotten injured so far this spring. California HS LHP Kolby Allard, a projected top ten pick, suffered a back injury a month ago and won’t return until mid-to-late-May at the earliest, according to J.J. Cooper and Keith Law. Scouts won’t have much of an opportunity see him this spring. Something like this could send Allard to college — no team may decide he’s worth the risk high in the draft.

It doesn’t stop there either! Boston College 1B Chris Shaw and South Carolina HS OF Kep Brown bother suffered significant injuries last week, reports Hudson Belinsky. Shaw broke the hamate bone in his right hand and won’t return until late-May, right before the draft. Brown tore his Achilles tendon and will be out at least six months. Shaw was considered a fringe first rounder and Brown a second rounder coming into the spring.

A handful of draft prospects get hurt every year, that’s just baseball, but this spring it seems there have been more devastating injuries to top talent than at any point in the last 10-15 years or so. And the more top guys get hurt, the fewer quality prospects there will be for the Yankees to draft.

Heavy On Re-Drafts?

Every year teams will draft a player(s) they selected in a previous year. Teams do this all the time. They draft players they’ve already drafted once before but were unable to sign for whatever reason. It makes sense, right? At one point they liked the player enough to call his name, so when he re-entered the draft a few years later, they take him again.

A trio of New York’s unsigned 2012 draft picks are among the top college performers this year: UCLA OF Ty Moore (25th round in 2012), Florida State OF D.J. Stewart (28th), and Miami 3B David Thompson (38th). The Yankees took all three out of high school as late-round fliers knowing they were unlikely to sign, and indeed all three followed through on their college commitments. Here are their 2015 stats through this past weekend:

  • Moore: .375/.458/.533 with eight doubles, three homers, 17 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 32 games.
  • Stewart: .306/.506/.595 with six doubles, nine homers, 41 walks, and 31 strikeouts in 37 games.
  • Thompson: .357/.462/.667 with six doubles, six homers, 15 walks, and seven strikeouts in 22 games.

Stewart is the best prospect of the three but not only because of the stats. He is among 60 players on the Golden Spikes Watch List (baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) and Baseball America (subs. req’d) and MLB.com ranked Stewart as the 21st and 28th best prospect in the draft, respectively. Neither ranked Moore nor Thompson among the top 50 draft prospects. (Keith Law didn’t rank any of the three among his top 50 draft prospects.)

The Yankees clearly liked Moore, Stewart, and Thompson once upon a time and felt they were worthwhile late-round gambles. They didn’t just pick their names out of a hat. All three players will be draft-eligible again this year and could again be targets for New York, Stewart in particular as a left-handed hitting outfielder with that classic power and patience profile the Yankees have leaned on for decades.

Dellin Betances’ struggles shouldn’t end the co-closer experiment

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Although the 2015 season is barely more than a week old, it’s already clear Dellin Betances‘ rough Spring Training has carried over into the regular season. After pitching to a 5.40 ERA with six walks and nine strikeouts in 8.1 Grapefruit League innings, Dellin has walked six and allowed three hits against only three strikeouts in 3.1 innings across three appearances since the start of the season. Only 36 of his 81 pitches have been strikes (44%).

It appears Betances’ struggles are mechanical more than anything. His fastball is still humming in around the mid-90s and his breaking ball has its usual break, but he just has no idea where the ball is going. And considering Betances had no idea where the ball was going for most of his career prior to 2014, that’s sorta scary. Mechanical issues and a lack of command are hardly new for Dellin.

“Before (in the minor leagues) I was way off. Like, not even close. Now I feel a lot better. I’m right there. I’m missing right there, but you just have to have confidence in yourself. Keep going out there and battling,” said Betances to Chad Jennings after Monday’s game. “I’m right there. I know I’m right there. I just have to attack the hitters, be aggressive in the strike zone and keep making pitches.”

It’s good to hear Dellin feels he’s close to getting back to where he was — a positive attitude is underrated! — but Joe Girardi still had to make some mid-game adjustments Monday. Betances retired just two of six batters faced and Girardi had to go to Andrew Miller for the five-out save. After the game, the skipper told Jennings he was “trying to map it out (the late innings) but it never goes strictly according to plan. I had to rework it a little bit.”

We could take that as Girardi saying he’s lost at least some trust in Betances, and at this point I couldn’t blame him even though Dellin has only made three appearances. His spring issues have carried over into the regular season and these games count now. The Yankees can afford to give Betances more time to work through his issues, just not necessarily in high-leverage spots. Keeping him away from situations like Monday night — he inherited a two-on, one-out situation — wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.

Thankfully, the Yankees still have one elite reliever to lean on in Miller. He could step right in and serve as the closer now and no one would blame Girardi one bit. Me? I don’t think Betances’ struggles should put an end to the co-closer experiment. I like the idea of matchup based high-leverage work even if Dellin isn’t the man for the job right now. Bullpen plans have a way of not going, well, according to plan.

Rather than roll with Miller and Betances as co-closers, I’d like to see Girardi go with Miller and David Carpenter for the time being. Carpenter is a competent late-inning reliever with experience and is a righty to complement Miller. He steps into the late-innings, Betances slides back into a lower leverage role until he rights the ship, and the co-closers plan remains in place. The personnel changes, the plan stays the same.

Girardi has been very rigid with his bullpen usage during his time in pinstripes — in addition to a set closer, he’s had a set eighth inning guy and even a set seventh inning guy at times. He’s shown some willingness to be flexible this year with the co-closers setup — he was talking about this even before Spring Training, remember — and I hope Dellin’s rough start to the season doesn’t end things. Everyone seems to be on board, both the coaches and the players, so the Yankees should follow through on the plan while adjusting roles to accommodate Betances’ early-season issues.

DotF: Luis Severino dominates in season debut

Some notes to start the night:

  • According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have released RHP Sam Agnew-Wieland, RHP Zach Nuding, LHP Rigoberto Arrebato, C Tyson Blaser, C Kale Sumner, C Jackson Valera, 1B Brady Steiger, OF Adam Kirsch, and OF Zach Wilson. Nuding’s the big name there. He 25-year-old throws very hard but had a 3.93 ERA (4.04 FIP) with an underwhelming 17.6 K% in 293 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A the last two years.
  • Double-A Trenton is on Keith Law’s list of the most talented minor league teams (subs. req’d). “The Yankees’ farm system has been hit by injuries and thinned by trades over the past two years, but there’s a strong collection of prospects at their Double-A affiliate in Trenton this spring, especially on offense,” said Law. He mentioned OF Aaron Judge, 1B Greg Bird, 3B Eric Jagielo, C Gary Sanchez, RHP Luis Severino, and RHP Johnny Barbato as the Thunder’s top prospects.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 loss to Rochester)

  • LF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – off to a bit of a slow start, which he did at Double-A last year as well
  • DH Kyle Roller: 1-4, 3 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 K
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 WP, 2/1 GB/FB – 52 of 87 pitches were strikes (60%) … that might be the most Bryan Mitchell line ever
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 28 of 41 pitches were strikes (69%) … he’s allowed eleven balls in play this year: ten grounders and one fly ball
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 17 of 30 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — 15 pitches, ten strikes … seven strikeouts in four innings so far

[Read more…]

Comeback falls short, Orioles hang on to beat Yankees 4-3

Sometimes you just get beat, and the Yankees got beat by the Orioles on Tuesday night. This was one of those boring “that’s baseball” games where the O’s got some timely hits, the Yanks didn’t, and that was that. Know what I mean?

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Results Matter
This felt like another one of those starts were CC Sabathia pitched better than the line score indicates. He allowed four runs on seven hits (five singles, one solo homer, one triple) and one walk in seven innings, striking out seven and getting ten ground ball outs compared to four in the air. The O’s scored one run each in the first (Adam Jones homer), third (Jones sac fly), fourth (Caleb Joseph single), and seventh (Everth Cabrera sac fly).

Sabathia threw a first pitch strike to 18 of 29 batters faced and 63 of his 91 total pitches were strikes, including eleven swings and misses. PitchFX says he averaged 89.5 mph with his fastball and mixed his pitches well: 16 four-seamers, 20 sinkers, 24 changeups, and 30 breaking balls. And aside from the Jones homer and Joseph’s triple into right-center field in the seventh, nothing seemed particularly hard hit. But, results matter, and four runs in seven innings wasn’t good enough to win.

Sabathia has 15 strikeouts (28.3%), one walk (1.9%), and a 67.6% ground ball rate through two starts. I feel like if he keeps doing exactly that, he’s going to be successful. It hasn’t happened yet though. Despite the loss I found this start encouraging. Sabathia was efficient and limited hard contact against a very righty heavy lineup. If he can keep doing that, at some point the four runs in seven innings will turn into two runs in seven innings, right? I hope so.

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Too Late
Man, it was hard to not notice the Yankees squaring Miguel Gonzalez up in the first and second innings. Chase Headley hit a ball to the warning track that Jones ran down, Carlos Beltran ripped a double off the very top of the right-center field wall, Chris Young drove a pitch into the right field corner for a double, and then Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius combined to see 13 pitches (five fouls) in their at-bats. Gonzalez was fooling no one.

I saw that and thought good things were coming. The Yankees were going to light Gonzalez up the second time through the order. Instead, he retired nine in a row until Jacoby Ellsbury poked a single just beyond the reach of the second baseman for a leadoff single in the sixth. Ellsbury took second on a wild pitch then scored on Mark Teixeira‘s double into the corner for New York’s first run, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

Gonzalez managed to complete seven innings after those ominous first two innings. Kevin Gausman was summoned to pitch the eighth and the Yankees had an easier time handling his mid-90s heat and filthy offspeed pitches than they did Gonzalez’s kitchen sink. Gregorius blooped a single, Headley singled, Beltran drove in Didi with a ground ball, and Teixeira drove in Headley with a double off Alejandro De Aza’s glove in left. They ruled it an error but it was a tough play, De Aza had to run a long way.

The tying run was stranded at second when Brian McCann grounded into the shift against closer Zach Britton. The ninth inning was a little weird. Joe Girardi lifted Garrett Jones for a pinch-hitter against the lefty Britton (good!) and sent Gregorio Petit up instead (bad!). Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit with two outs and the bases empty. I get saving A-Rod in case there was a man on base, but down a run, I say let the best hitter bat first so he can start the rally. Eh, whatever.

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Leftovers
The #obligatoryerrors (plural!) belonged to Sabathia and Gregorius, upping the team’s MLB leading error total to eleven. Sabathia’s error was tough — it was a little ground ball along the first base line in the second inning, and his flip to first hit the runner. He didn’t really have a good angle to make the toss. Didi simply bobbled the transfer on a routine ground ball in the sixth inning.

Chris Martin was the only reliever used and he was damn impressive, striking out Jones and Steve Pearce as part of a perfect inning. He got hit around every time out in Spring Training it seemed, yet here he is throwing mid-90s gas to both sides of the plate with a nasty breaking ball in the regular season. No one knows anything about baseball.

The top four hitters in the lineup went 4-for-16 (.250) and everyone else went 2-for-18 (.111). They went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position overall, with Beltran and McCann each going hitless in two at-bats in those situations. Gonzalez struck out ten, a new career high. Gross.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Where else are going to find how the Yankees’s win-loss record with both Michael Kay and Ken Singleton in the booth? Nowhere. That’s where. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Orioles wrap up this three-game series Wednesday night. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi against Bud Norris. Winner wins the series.