Yankeemetrics: The buy-or-sell rollercoaster [July 22-24]

(Getty)
(Getty)

Giant victory
Facing yet another first-place team on this make-or-break homestand, the Yankees pulled off a stunning victory over the Giants on Friday night. The Yankees entered this series with a 3-7 record in Interleague play this season, the worst in the American League and second-worst in the majors ahead of only the Reds (4-11).

Masahiro Tanaka outdueled Madison Bumgarner in a battle of aces, firing six shutout innings against the Giants. Tanaka has dominated NL competition during his major-league career, compiling a 1.88 ERA with 59 strikeouts and just six walks in nine Interleague starts. That’s the third-best Interleague ERA among active pitchers with at least seven starts, and the best for any Yankee pitcher that has ever made more than one start during Interleague play.

Tanaka has put together an ace-like resume this year, but one narrative clouding his season performance has been his sub-par numbers on normal rest.

He entered this game with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts on four days rest, a bloated figure compared to his 3.15 season ERA. The 2.18 difference in ERA between his 5.33 normal rest ERA and 3.15 overall ERA ranked fourth-highest among the 143 pitchers with at least five starts on four days rest this season.

Aroldis Chapman’s flame-throwing feats are becoming more and more ridiculous every day. On Friday night, 15 of his 17 pitches were fastballs, and each of the heaters was clocked at 100 mph or faster, with a whopping seven pitches topping out at 104 mph.

That’s now 11 pitches of at least 104 mph in his last two appearances combined (he had four on July 18), an unprecedented total considering that only three pitches of 104 or more mph had ever been recorded in the nine seasons of Statcast data (since 2008) before this week.

Chapman averaged a ridiculous 103.2 mph on his fastball against the Giants, the highest average fastball velocity in a game by any pitcher since 2008, per Statcast.

Bronx bummer
Less than 24 hours after celebrating one of their most uplifting wins of the season, the Yankees crashed back down to Earth with one of their most frustrating and crushing losses, falling 2-1 in 12 innings to the Giants on Saturday.

nova fist pump
(Getty)

Not only did they lose after playing a dozen innings in the brutal heat, but they also failed numerous times in the clutch (went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position) and wasted a gem from their fifth starter (seven innings and one run allowed by Ivan Nova).

And to pile on the depressing facts, they whiffed on a chance to reach three games over .500 for the first time this season, and — because the Blue Jays lost earlier in the day — could have pulled to within three games in the loss column of the second wild card spot if they had somehow won the game.

Instead, the Yankees’ momentum was halted and they suffered yet another disheartening defeat in a season filled with far too many of them already.

It was just the third time the Yankees have lost an Interleague game at home that lasted at least 12 innings. The others were a 6-2 loss on April 18, 2013 to the Diamondbacks and a 2-1 loss on June 12, 2001 against the Expos (both games went 12 innings, too).

This isn’t the first time Nova has been stellar against the Giants; he threw a six-hit shutout in San Francisco on Sept. 12, 2013 in his only other appearance against them. He now owns a shiny 0.56 career ERA against the Giants, the lowest mark among active pitchers that have made more than one start versus the franchise (LOL, small sample sizes).

(AP)
(AP)

Yankees Last (home)Stand
The Yankees seemingly staved off an imminent fire sale for yet another day by capping off this make-or-break homestand with a solid series win against the first-place Giants.

They climbed back up to two games above .500, tying their high-water mark of the season. It marked the 33rd time the Yankees finished a game with a record within two games of the magical .500 mark, the second-longest streak of that kind in franchise history, per the Elias Sports Bureau. The only longer one was a 42-game streak in 2008.

Carlos Beltran opened the scoring in the first inning with his 413th career home run, passing Alfonso Soriano for sole possession of 52nd place on the all-time list. Up next is Darrell Evans with 414.

Mark Teixeira added a solo shot of his own in the next frame, his 200th homer in pinstripes. He is just the fourth Yankee switch-hitter to reach that milestone, and also the fourth first baseman in franchise history with at least 200 homers. His fellow Yankee switch-hitters in the 200-homer club are Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Mickey Mantle; the other first baseman are Jason Giambi, Don Mattingly and Lou Gehrig.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s erratic season has mirrored the Yankees’ inconsistency, so it was little surprise that he delivered a standout performance (two runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings) on the same day the Yankees actually looked like a contender. What is surprising is that one of his best outings came against the Giants, a team that he’s historically struggled against.

Eovaldi entered the game with a 13.30 ERA in five starts versus San Francisco, the second-highest ERA by any active MLB pitcher against a single opponent (min. five starts). The highest mark is by Dana Eveland, who boasts a 16.11 ERA in 10 games (five starts) against the Red Sox.

Yankees send Aroldis Chapman to Cubs for four players

(Presswire)
Bye Aroldis. (Presswire)

4:10pm: Both teams have announced the trade, so it’s official. Officially official. The trade is as reported: Chapman for Torres, Warren, McKinney, and Crawford. Torres and Crawford are going to High-A Tampa and McKinney is going to Double-A Trenton. Warren is going to join the Yankees in Houston.

“I want to thank the New York Yankees for trusting and supporting me, and I wish nothing but the best for the Yankees organization and my former teammates,” said Chapman in a statement. “I am excited about today’s trade and look forward to joining the Chicago Cubs and meeting my new teammates. It is a privilege to wear the Cubs uniform and to play for the fans of Chicago.”

12:13pm: For the first time in a long time, the Yankees have made a true “sellers” trade. The Yankees and Cubs have an Aroldis Chapman deal in place, reports Jon Heyman. Shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, outfield prospect Billy McKinney, right-hander Adam Warren, and a fourth player are coming back to New York. Patrick Mooney identifies the fourth player as outfield prospect Rashad Crawford. We’re still waiting for an official announcement from the team, just FYI.

Trading Chapman before the deadline was close to a no-brainer. The Yankees acquired him from the Reds in the offseason for pennies on the dollar because of his pending suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. Once the suspension was served, they could market him for what he is: an elite rental reliever. Generally speaking, this all boils down too:

Rookie Davis
Eric Jagielo
Caleb Cotham
Tony Renda
35 innings of Adam Warren
Brendan Ryan
a few months of bad PR stemming from Chapman’s domestic violence incident

for

31.1 innings of Aroldis Chapman
Starlin Castro
Gleyber Torres
Billy McKinney
Rashad Crawford

That is a pretty incredible. The Yankees did not surrender any of their top prospects to acquire Chapman and now they’re netting Torres, who Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America respectively ranked as the 26th and 27th prospect in baseball in their midseason updates, plus some decent secondary pieces. That’s pretty great.

Using Andrew Miller as a benchmark, the going rate for an elite rental reliever was one top 50-ish prospect just two years ago. The Yankees got a top 25-ish prospect and more for Chapman. That’s a function of a) Chapman having a much longer track record than Miller, and b) the market for bullpen help being insane right now. The Yankees would be wise to gauge the market for Miller and Dellin Betances next. It doesn’t hurt to listen, after all.

Torres, 19, is obviously the center piece of the deal. He’s hitting .275/.359/.433 (122 wRC+) with nine homers, 19 steals, a 21.3% strikeout rate, and a 10.3% walk rate in 94 High-A games. Torres is doing that despite being nearly four years younger than the average Carolina League player. He’s outperforming Jorge Mateo, who is an excellent prospect himself, at the same level while being a year younger. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

Torres signed for $1.7 million out of Venezuela on the strength of his advanced bat and potential for solid tools across the board. He has a quick right-handed swing and a mature approach, recognizing pitches well and using the entire field. Once Torres gets stronger and learns to pull pitches more often, he could produce 15 or more homers per season … While Torres’ range may be just average, his instincts and strong arm allow him to make plays. If he has to change positions, he’d profile well offensively and defensively at either second or third base.

It wouldn’t be crazy to consider Torres the Yankees’ top prospect now. I haven’t thought enough about it to have a firm opinion, but he’s definitely in the conversation along with Mateo, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. For what it’s worth, Law ranked Judge higher than Torres in his midseason top 50 while Baseball America ranked Mateo higher than Torres in their midseason top 100. So yeah. This is a bit up in the air.

The other big name in the trade is McKinney, who went to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija/Addison Russell trade two years ago. The Yankees were connected to him prior to the 2013 draft — I even wrote up a draft profile on him — and last year McKinney ranked 83rd on Baseball America’s top 100 list. He’s had a rough 2016 though, hitting .252/.355/.322 (101 wRC+) with one homer, a 19.5% strikeout rate, and a 13.5% walk rate in 88 Double-A games.

The good news is McKinney is still only 21 — he’s three years younger than the average Southern League player — and just last year he was a top 100 guy who hit .300/.371/.454 (135 wRC+) between High-A and Double-A. The bad news is McKinney’s 2015 season ended in August when he fouled a pitch off his knee and suffered a hairline fracture. His bad 2016 season may be the result of the injury. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

McKinney has hit everywhere he has gone, the result of his quick left-handed swing, tremendous hand-eye coordination and mature approach. He also draws enough walks to record healthy on-base percentages, though some evaluators question how much over-the-fence power he’ll develop. He has bat speed and makes hard contact easily, so he should produce plenty of doubles with 15 or more homers per season … He’s a decent athlete with average speed and fringy arm strength, which doesn’t make him much of a factor on the bases or in the outfield.

The knee injury and down 2016 season stink, but without them the Yankees wouldn’t be able to get McKinney as part of this trade. They’re buying low on a good pure hitter who was a top 100 prospect just last season. Considering McKinney is not the center piece of the package that’s coming to the Yankees, he’s a pretty nice little lottery ticket. Shrewd pickup.

Crawford, 22, is currently hitting .255/.327/.386 (99 wRC+) with three homers, 22 steals, a 19.8% strikeout rate, and an 8.9% walk rate in 83 High-A games. He is not a top prospect in any way. In fact, neither MLB.com nor Baseball America ranked Crawford among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects coming into the season. He’s a fringe prospect, though J.J. Cooper calls him a “perfect” fourth piece for the Yankees because of his tools, specifically above-average speed and center field defense.

I assume the Yankees will send Torres and Crawford to High-A while McKinney goes to Double-A. That’s where they were playing with the Cubs. The Torres-Mateo dynamic will be interesting in Tampa. Will Mateo finally get the promotion he reportedly complained about, or will Torres get the promotion because he’s had a better year? Perhaps they’ll both stay in High-A and split time at second and short. Intrigue!

Welcome home, Adam. (Getty)
Welcome home, Adam. (Getty)

As for Warren, well, we’re all familiar with him. He pitched well for the Yankees in a variety of roles from 2013-15 before being traded for Castro this offseason. Warren, 29 next month, has not had a good season with the Cubs, pitching to a 5.91 ERA (5.83 FIP) in 35 innings. His walk (12.5%) and homer (1.80 HR/9) rates are far higher than they ever were in New York. He’s even had to spend some time in Triple-A.

My guess is Warren will step right into Chapman’s roster spot and reclaim his old jack of all trades bullpen role, which might make him the seventh inning guy right off the bat. Basically, he’s in the Circle of Trust™ until he pitches himself out of it, which just might happen based on the way he’s pitching with the Cubs this year. We’ll see what happens. I’m pretty stoked to have Warren back. He’s always been a personal fave.

There was talk the Cubs would not do the trade without signing Chapman to an extension first, and who knows if that happened. As far as the Yankees are concerned, who cares? They didn’t have to do any of the legwork (negotiate the extension, etc.) and apparently the Cubs were compelled to give them some extra players anyway. Hey, I’m not complaining. Whatever it took to get done. For what it’s worth, Joel Sherman says the Yankees did talk to Chapman about an extension at one point, and when he wasn’t interested, it swayed ownership to trade him.

The Yankees haven’t made a move like this — a big leaguer for prospects trade designed to improve the long-term future of the franchise — in a very long time. Since trading Rickey Henderson and Mike Pagliarulo in 1989, basically. The trade hurts in the short-term, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve all seen the impact Chapman can have. The Yankees will miss that in their bullpen even with Miller and Betances still around.

This trade helps improve the 2017 and beyond Yankees though, and considering the team’s current place in the standings, it was time to prioritize the future. Based on everything we know right now, this trade looks like a major coup for New York. They capitalized on Chapman’s stock being down over the winter and flipped him for a 25-ish prospect plus other stuff. Pretty cool.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 25th, 2016

Record Last Week: 5-2 (24 RS, 12 RA)
Season Record: 50-48 (403 RS, 428 RA, 46-52 pythag. record), 4.5 GB of postseason spot
Opponents This Week: @ Astros (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Rays (three games. Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Eovaldi and Green lead Yankees to 5-2 win over Giants

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

So, who had the Yankees going 9-5 against the Indians, Red Sox, Orioles, and Giants? Definitely not me. I wouldn’t say it was the prettiest stretch of games, but hey, nine wins in 14 games against four of the best clubs in baseball is pretty darn cool. The Yankees won Sunday’s game 5-2 to wrap-up the Giants series and the homestand.

I didn’t see the entire game, just bits and pieces here and there, so here are some thoughts and observations about what I did see.

1. Big Game Nate. The bullpen was very short Sunday and boy, Nathan Eovaldi came through with a big time start. He was charged with two runs in 6.2 innings but pitched better than that — the bullpen allowed two inherited runners to score, uglifying his line — and he gave the Yankees some much needed length. Eovaldi threw 118 pitches, second most of his career, and that includes a 33-pitch fourth inning.

In his two starts back in the rotation, Eovaldi has allowed three runs total in 13 total innings against two pretty good offenses (Orioles, Giants). That’s exactly what the Yankees were hoping to see, regardless of whether they decide to trade him at the deadline or hold on going forward. No one benefits when he pitches poorly. Eovaldi came through Sunday when the Yankees really needed a good performance from their starter.

2. Castro gets the big hit. The Yankees scored two runs early before breaking the game open in the sixth inning, when Starlin Castro came through in what I thought was the biggest at-bat of the game. They scored a run to make it 3-0 earlier in the inning, then Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann strung together back-to-back two-out hits. Castro made them count with a first-pitch single to left to score a run and make it 4-0.

For whatever reason a four-run lead feels much more comfortable than the three-run lead, at least to me. Blame the save rule, I guess. That fourth run gave the Yankees some breathing room — they scored their fifth run when Didi Gregorius smacked a ground rule double after Castro — and Starlin came through with two outs. Giving up two-out runs is so demoralizing. It really is.

3. 4-1-5 against the 415. Holy smokes, how about that double play in the eighth inning? It was the first 4-1-5 double play in franchise history, and it required great plays by Castro (sliding grab and flip to first), Chad Green (hustle to cover first, throw to third), and Chase Headley (catch the short-hop throw and apply the tag). Look. Just look:

Incredible. That’s back-to-back days with stellar defensive players. Brett Gardner, Gregorius, and McCann teamed up for that relay throw and play at the plate Saturday, remember. Now Castro, Green, and Headley do that. What a play. Where was this back in April and May? And June? And earlier in July?

4. Chad Green: Proven closer. Is Chad Green in the Circle of Trust™? He might be after that game. Green struck out one and got six ground ball outs during a seven-out save, the second save of his pro career. (He had one back in High-A ball.) Yes, Green allowed the two-run single to Buster Posey in the seventh, but that had more to do with Buster Posey being insanely good at baseball and poking a pitch well off the plate …

Chad Green Buster Posey

… the other way and inside the first base bag than Green making a mistake. That pitch isn’t even a strike. Whatever. Tip your cap to Posey. He’s really good.

Green bounced back from that to get the final out of the seventh inning — Brandon Crawford, the batter, represented the tying run at the time — then cruised through the eighth and ninth. He really did a great job with the big three relievers all unavailable due to their recent workload. They might not even be available tomorrow given how much they’ve thrown of late. Bravo, Chad.


Source: FanGraphs

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees are now off to Houston to start a three-game series and an eight-game road trip. Michael Pineda and Dallas Keuchel are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s opener. Keuchel again, huh? They’re not even in the same division and they can’t escape that guy.

DotF: Wade, Fowler, and Andujar help Trenton to a win

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Durham)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — six walks and four strikeouts in his last seven games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-1, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB — 19-for-48 (.396) with 12 walks and 13 strikeouts in his last 14 games
  • DH Jake Cave: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-0 — he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the second inning for an unknown reason after running into the wall in the first inning
  • PH-RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 WP, 8/3 GB/FB — 65 of 104 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — seven of ten pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Update: Yanks moving closer to trading Aroldis Chapman

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sunday, 7:52pm: The Yankees and Cubs are working on a deal that would send Chapman to Chicago for top prospect Gleyber Torres plus a second piece (!), report Jon Heyman and Buster Olney. Apparently the Cubbies want Chapman to agree to an extension before consummating a trade. Sounds like the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow.

Sunday, 1:58pm: Jack Curry, who will inevitably break the Chapman trade news, says nothing is imminent and the Yankees are still mulling offers. For what it’s worth, John Harper says Hal Steinbrenner gave the okay to deal Chapman before the Giants series. Here’s the latest:

  • The Cubs are “strong” in the mix for Chapman, says Ken Rosenthal. The Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians are all involved too. That sounds like a last minute leak from the Yankees to get someone to raise their offer. He’s currently on the DL with a minor shoulder injury and is due back soon.
  • The Yankees have interest in Nats righty Joe Ross, reports Jon Heyman. One source told him there is “no chance” they’ll trade Ross for a rental though. Here’s my offseason Scouting the Market post on Ross.
  • Keith Law hears the Yankees would get righty Erick Fedde, righty Koda Glover, and a third piece if the deal with the Nationals goes through. That is a lot. Here is MLB.com’s Nationals top 30 prospects list so you can familiarize yourself with those guys.
  • The Yankees “love” Cubs shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, according to Buster Olney. I wrote about Torres in our Scouting the Market: Cubs post a few days ago.

Sunday, 12:41am ET: Rosenthal says a trade is not necessarily imminent. The Yankees are preparing to wrap-up the process though. I guess that means they’re sorting through final offers and things like that.

Saturday, 10:38pm ET: The Yankees are telling teams they are close to trading Aroldis Chapman and will hold on to Andrew Miller, reports Ken Rosenthal. There’s no word on where Chapman may be heading or when a deal may be completed. For what it’s worth, the Nationals have been connected to him most frequently.

Following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are now 49-48 on the season and 7.5 games back in the AL East. They’re 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 8.3% as of this writing, which should have the team firmly in sell mode. I’m not sure what else ownership needs to see.

Now, that said, trading Chapman would make sense even if the Yankees were in the race. They were able to get him at a very discounted rate due to his pending domestic violence suspension, and now that the suspension has been served, they can market him as a full price rental elite reliever. That’s pretty darn valuable and should fetch a lot.

In addition to the Nationals, the Rangers, Cubs, and Giants have all been connected to Chapman to some degree. Washington tried to acquire Aroldis in the offseason following his domestic dispute incident, but the Yankees beat them to the punch. Nationals manager Dusty Baker had Chapman with the Reds and has reportedly been pushing to acquire him.

As for keeping Miller, it’s certainly a sound strategy considering his general awesomeness and the two years left on his affordable contract. It’s been reported that the Yankees will have to be blown away to move him. That could still happen before the deadline, it’s not like there’s a shortage of teams in on Miller. We’ll see. The trade deadline is one week from Monday.