DotF: Adams dominates again in Trenton’s blowout win

The day’s notes:

  • OF Aaron Judge (knee) is feeling better and he took some swings in the batting cage today, reports Shane Hennigan. He hopes to resume full-fledged baseball workouts soon. There is no firm timetable for Judge’s return though. The Yankees are playing it safe.
  • Both RHP Brady Lail and RHP Jonathan Holder were bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, so says Hennigan. Lail is back with the RailRiders and is taking Chad Green‘s rotation spot. Holder is in Triple-A for the first time.
  • I forgot to mention this yesterday, but Baseball America posted their midseason top ten Yankees prospects list. The whole thing is behind the paywall though. I will say this: it’s very similar to their preseason top ten, only with 3B Miguel Andujar and LHP Ian Clarkin replacing the traded Rookie Davis and the since graduated Rob Refsnyder. There are no 2016 drafts in these lists, otherwise OF Blake Rutherford would have made it too.

Triple-A Scranton (8-4 loss to Durham)

  • DH Mason Williams: 0-5, 1 K
  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 2 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — 15-for-40 (.375) in his last eleven games
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB , 1 HBP — that’s his 13th (!) hit-by-pitch of the season, far and away the most in the system (a bunch of guys are tied for second with seven) … Puello’s a hit-by-pitch magnet; he was hit by 119 pitches in 560 games from 2009-14 while with the Mets … that’s 34.4 per 162 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-2, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB — 9-for-24 (.375) during his little seven-game hitting streak
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 6 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 63 of 99 pitches were strikes … he allowed three homers, and Shane Hennigan says two were on changeups, a pitch Cessa is still working to develop
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (69%) … 68/7 K/BB in 47 innings at three levels this year
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — seven of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

Earlier today my main man Jon Heyman reported the Yankees have “discussed” whether they should release Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the second half, assuming they sell at the deadline. My guess is that conversation went something like this:

Baseball Ops Person: “We should release Tex and Alex to free up playing time for kids.”
Cashman: “Agreed. We need to start thinking about the future. Hal, Randy?”
Hal and Levine in unison: “lol no gtfo”

In all seriousness, releasing Teixeira and A-Rod should happen if the Yankees do decide to sell buy for the future. I, of course, expect absolutely none of this happen. Pro tip: Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network will air some regional games tonight, and that’s pretty much it. Light schedule today. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, releasing Teixeira and A-Rod, or anything else right here.

Yankees can’t finish sweep, fall 4-1 to O’s in series finale

The four-game winning streak is over. The Yankees failed to improve to three games over .500 for the first time this season (!) thanks to Thursday afternoon’s 4-1 loss to the Orioles. They still won the series three games to one though. Based on the way this season is going, the Yanks will now lose something like five of six after getting their heads over .500.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

An Early Deficit
Carlos Beltran has been the Yankees’ best hitter this season by a mile, but I think most would agree Didi Gregorius has been their best all-around player. That first inning was not one of his best, however. He couldn’t make a play on Jonathan Schoop’s one-out infield single — it wasn’t a routine play but it looked makeable, especially with Didi’s arm — which put the wheels in motion for the two-run rally.

Manny Machado punched a single to right as the next batter, then, with two outs and the very strikeout-able Chris Davis at the plate, CC Sabathia couldn’t put him away in a two-strike count and wound up walking him. The pitch selection was a little odd, I thought. Here are the pitch locations:

CC Sabathia Chris Davis

Pitch No. 3 was the only slider. Everything else was a sinker. Sabathia doesn’t have the slider from hell he once did, but he and Brian McCann never even tried to get Davis to chase a breaking ball with two strikes. They fed him almost all sinkers — including three straight with two strikes — and Sabathia walked him to load the bases with two outs. Weird.

J.J. Hardy followed with a hard-hit ground ball to shortstop, which Gregorius failed to knock down, allowing the ball to scoot into the outfield for a two-run single. Again, not a routine play, but one a big league shortstop should make. At the very least, Gregorius has to knock it down and keep it on the infield so only one run scores. Look:

Didi Gregorius misplay

Yeah, not the best inning for Gregorius. Sabathia certainly deserves a share of the blame for allowing the single to Machado and (especially) walking Davis with two strikes and two outs, but Didi’s inability to reel in Schoop’s ground ball and the misplay on Hardy’s grounder led directly to the quick 2-0 first inning deficit.

A Getaway Day on Offense
Not the best day for the offense. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury opened the first inning with a single and a walk, respectively, but a Beltran double play short-circuited that rally, so this was another game with no first inning runs. The Yankees have score one (1) first inning run in the last calendar month. That was the run they scored Wednesday night, after Gardner’s leadoff triple. Remember when they led MLB in first inning runs last year? Good times.

Anyway, the Yankees did get on the board in the second inning thanks to an excuse me double by Gregorius. He poked a ground ball down the third base line and just out of Machado’s reach. Alex Rodriguez‘s fly ball moved Didi to third, then Starlin Castro brought him home with a line drive single to left to cut the deficit to 2-1. Chris Tillman settled down after that and retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced following Castro’s single. Only two of those 17 managed to hit the ball out of the infield.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The O’s Pull Away
To Sabathia’s credit, he settled down after that rough first inning. He retired 15 of 17 batters from the second through sixth inning, and one of those two baserunners came on Sabathia’s own throwing error. He got the weak grounder and had the play at first, he just pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag with the throw. So it goes. Sabathia stranded the runner anyway, so no harm, no foul.

CC started the seventh inning with only 83 pitches, and after getting a quick first out, Caleb Joseph and Julio Borbon singled to put men on first and second. Joe Girardi opted to stick with Sabathia and let him face the top of the lineup a fourth time. Home plate ump Mark Carlson rang Nolan Reimold up on what I thought was a borderline strike three for the second out, though Sabathia was unable to complete the Houdini act. Schoop followed with a two-run double to right to make it 4-1 O’s.

I don’t understand letting Sabathia face Schoop (or Reimold, for that matter) a fourth time, especially since Girardi just spent the last few days saying the Yankees are playing their most important July games in years. Dellin Betances has worked a lot of late, but Andrew Miller had two days off, and that was a spot for your best available reliever. I dunno. Just seems weird to talk about these games being so important, yet manage with such little urgency. I guess Girardi is on #TeamSell.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
Sabathia finished with four runs allowed on seven hits and one walk in 6.2 innings. That’s now six straight starts with at least four runs allowed — Sabathia has done that only one other time, way back in 2002 — ballooning his ERA from 2.20 to 4.04. Sabathia was pretty good this game though. Gregorius didn’t give him much help in the first and then it came apart late, but for the most part he gave the offense a chance to get back in the game.

Castro had by far the best day of anyone on the Yankees. He not only drove in their only run, he also made several stellar plays in the field, including one spinning throw on a ball he had to range far to his left to retrieve. This was Starlin’s best game on defense in pinstripes. Gardner, Ellsbury, Gregorius, and Ronald Torreyes had the team’s other four hits. Gardner and McCann drew the only walks. The Yankees had two baserunners after the second inning: harmless two-out singles by Torreyes and Gardner in the fifth and eighth, respectively.

Chad Green came out of the bullpen to replace Sabathia, which officially closes the door on him starting Friday to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day of rest. I don’t really understand that. Starting Green would have allowed Tanaka to make his next two starts with extra rest. Seems weird not to do it. Green threw 2.1 scoreless innings of relief in this game instead. /shrugs

And finally, Chase Headley returned after missing Wednesday’s game and the first few innings of this game due to personal reasons. He pinch-hit for Torreyes in the eighth inning. Headley told reporters his four-year-old son had a minor operation over the All-Star break, but there were some complications and he needed a second emergency surgery Wednesday. Yikes. Hope everything is okay now.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. Make sure you check out Castro’s three defensive gems. He had a great day in the field. FanGraphs puts the team’s postseason odds at 11.0% as of this writing. The Yankees have won seven of their last eleven games and they still lost half-a-game in the wildcard race. Their situation is indeed dire. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game set with the Orioles is finally over. The Giants are coming to the Bronx next for a three-game weekend interleague series. Friday night’s pitching matchup is a good one: Tanaka vs. Madison Bumgarner. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game as well as the other two remaining games on the homestand.

International Signing News: Contreras, Torres, Torrealba

The Yankees' academy in the Dominican Republic. (Groundskeeper.MLBlogs.com)
The Yankees’ academy in the Dominican Republic. (Groundskeeper.MLBlogs.com)

As always, the 2016-17 international signing period opened on July 2nd this year, and pretty much all of the top prospects wound up signing with the Padres. San Diego went on a massive Yankees-esque spending spree that has seen them pay out more than $27M in bonuses already. They’ll have to pay a near equal amount in tax too.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are still dealing with the penalties stemming from that 2014-15 spending spree. They’re unable to sign anyone to a bonus larger than $300,000 this signing period. That’s okay. The Yankees brought in a ton of talent back in 2014, and they’re pretty good at finding talent on the cheap. Both Jorge Mateo ($225,000) and Luis Severino ($250,000) signed for relative peanuts back in the day.

This signing period the Yankees had a $2,177,100 bonus pool to play with internationally. Also, any bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count against the pool. Teams can hand out as many of those as they want. Here is a recap of the Yankees’ international signings since the current signing period opened on July 2nd.

The Top Prospect: Roancy Contreras

The best prospect the Yankees picked up this signing period is Dominican RHP Roancy Contreras. We heard a deal was likely weeks ago. Ben Badler reported the signing and I haven’t seen his bonus anywhere, but I think it’s safe to assume he received the $300,000 maximum. Baseball America ranked Contreras the third best pitcher and the 25th best prospect overall this signing period. He was the top Dominican pitcher available.

Contreras, 16, is listed at 6-foot-0 and 175 lbs., so he’s not the biggest guy at this point in time. Baseball America’s scouting report (subs. req’d) says he has an upper-80s/low-90s heater and an above-average bat-missing curveball. He’s even shown a changeup already, which is rare for a 16-year-old. Contreras is said to have a sound delivery and good athleticism. It seems like the Yankees found him early, locked him into an agreement, then his stock improved.

The Other Top Prospect: Saul Torres

The second best prospect the Yankee signed this month is 16-year-old Dominican C Saul Torres. He received a $300,000 bonus, reports Baseball America. Balder’s scouting report (subs. req’d) says Torres has promising power potential and “an above-average arm with the blocking and receiving skills to stick behind the plate.” The Yankees generally do very well scouting and developing catchers, so even though Torres was not one of the top 50 international prospects according to Baseball America, I’m guessing the kid has some skills. The team’s track record behind the plate speaks for itself.

Taken from the Red Sox: Eduardo Torrealba

As you may have heard, MLB hit the Red Sox hard after it was discovered they circumvented their bonus pool last year with some shady dealings. The short version: the BoSox were held to the same $300,000 bonus limit as the Yankees, so they’d sign two players for $300,000 each, but actually pay one $10,000 and the other $590,000 (I don’t know the exact amounts, but that’s the idea). The guy getting the small bonus probably wasn’t going to get signed otherwise, so he made some extra cash for playing along. That allowed the Red Sox to game the system and sign some top prospects.

MLB found out about this and punished the Red Sox. They are not allowed to sign any players during the 2016-17 signing period, and all the players who were part of their scam last season had their contracts voided and became free agents. One of those prospects, 17-year-old Venezuelan SS Eduardo Torrealba, later signed with the Yankees for $300,000, reports Jesse Sanchez. (Torrealba got to keep his Red Sox bonus money too. Good for him.)

Now Torrealba is not some kind of elite prospect or anything like that. In fact, he was hitting only .247/.318/.247 (71 wRC+) with four strikeouts and ten walks in 22 Dominican Summer League games when his contract was voided. Badler’s scouting report from last year says Torrealba is a “smart, instinctive player with feel for hitting from the right side of the plate and the ability to use the whole field.” Badler notes he may wind up at second base long-term.

Small or Unknown Bonuses

Here is basically everyone else. The guys the Yankees signed to relatively small or unreported bonuses. Good luck finding information on these guys. We usually have to wait until they break through as actual prospects and come to the U.S. before we learn anything about them.

Assuming Contreras received the maximum $300,000 bonus, the Yankees have $1.355M in pool space tied up in the players listed above. There’s seven bonuses unaccounted for though. Last year the Yankees signed 57 (!) players even with the bonus limit, so chances are they’ve signed a bunch of other players and will sign more before the 2016-17 signing period ends next June.

Game 95: The Poorly Timed Winning Streak

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees have won four straight games and seven of their last ten overall. That’s usually a really good thing, but when the team is facing critical decisions at the trade deadline and needs a little kick in the rear to go ahead and sell, a winning streak is bad. Not selling will do the Yankees more harm in the future than it will good in the present. Anyone disagree with that? I don’t think so.

Even with these seven wins in their last ten games, the Yankees have gained no ground in the wildcard race. Not one game. They have inched closer in the AL East race, but they have to catch the two wildcard teams (Orioles, Blue Jays) before catching the first place team (Red Sox), and they’ve made no progress on that front. I want the Yankees to win. I really do. I just have no confidence in them doing the smart thing and selling at the deadline if they continue this little hot streak. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. DH Alex Rodriguez
  8. 2B Starlin Castro
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is nice and sunny in New York today, so they’re going to be playing baseball under a bright blue sky at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. Today’s series finale is set to begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Chad Green was called up and Nick Goody was sent down, the Yankees announced. Joe Girardi said Green is here to pitch in relief. I’m guessing that as long as he isn’t needed out of the bullpen today, Green will start tomorrow to give Masahiro Tanaka and everyone else an extra day of rest … Chase Headley (personal reasons) is obviously not in the starting lineup, but he will be at the ballpark today.

Scouting the Trade Market: Chicago Cubs

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the last few weeks no team has been more connected to the Yankees prior to the trade deadline than the Cubs. As good as they are, the Cubbies need some late-inning bullpen help, ideally a southpaw. That’s why they went out and acquired Mike Montgomery from the Mariners yesterday. They needed some more bullpen depth, but Montgomery is not someone who is going to stop them from trying to get another end-game arm. Hardly.

The Yankees have two premium late-inning lefties in Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, either of whom would satisfy Chicago’s bullpen needs. Reports indicate the Cubs prefer Miller to Chapman, which makes sense because Miller is willing to work as a setup man and is under contract an extra two years. Theo Epstein and Miller have a relationship dating back to their days with the Red Sox too, and that only helps.

By now we’ve all heard the Yankees want Kyle Schwarber in any trade involving Miller. The Cubs say that won’t happen. I’m not a huge Schwarber fan but I get why the Yankees want him and why the Cubs don’t want to give him up. The Cubs have so many other talented young players in their organization that not being able to pry Schwarber loose shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. There’s Javier Baez, or Albert Almora, or Willson Contreras, for example.

In this post we’re going to focus on Chicago’s farm system, just like we did with the Indians yesterday. The Cubs have a strong farm system, though it’s not as good as it was a year or two ago simply because they’ve graduated so many guys to the big leagues. They landed three players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 update and could have one or two more by season’s end. Here are eight Cubs prospects who could make sense for the Yankees in a Miller or Chapman trade. All scouting report blurbs come from MLB.com, unless otherwise noted. The players are listed alphabetically.

3B Jeimer Candelario

Background: Candelario, 22, signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic a few years ago and has gradually climbed the minor league ladder since. He’s hit .245/.356/.417 (118 wRC+) with seven homers, a 13.7% walk rate, and a 19.6% strikeout rate in 83 games split between Double-A and Triple-A this year. The Cubs called Candelario up briefly a few weeks ago, and he went 1-for-14 (.091) at the plate in five games in his MLB debut.

Scouting Report: “A switch-hitter, Candelario has a fluid swing and makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate. He understands the strike zone and could develop into a solid hitter for both average and power … Though Candelario has below-average speed and quickness, he has worked hard on his defense and is selling more scouts on his ability to stay at third base. His hands and arm are assets, and his instincts help him make plays.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? A switch-hitter who makes contact and knows the strike zone is a pretty sweet offensive player, even if the power projects to be more 15-18 homers than 20+. The Yankees have a long-term need at the hot corner, not to mention a need for hitters who work the count and spray the ball line to line. That Candelario is in Triple-A and close to MLB ready is a bonus.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Candelario might not be a third baseman long-term. There are plenty of folks who think he’s going to wind up at first base at some point soon — he’s played a handful of games at first in the minors — and if that happens his bat figures to be light for the position, especially in the power department. You’ve got to either really believe in the bat or really believe in his ability to stay at third to see Candelario as a regular.

RHP Dylan Cease

Background: The 20-year-old Cease was a potential first round back in 2014, but he needed Tommy John surgery that spring and fell to the Cubs in the sixth round. He made it back to the mound late last year, and so far this season he has a 3.32 ERA (3.56 FIP) with a 25.6% strikeout rate and an 8.9% walk rate in 21.2 innings down in a short season rookie league.

Scouting Report: “Cease reached 97 mph with his fastball before he got hurt and hit 100 shortly after he returned to the mound last summer. He sits in the mid-90s with his heater, which also features life that makes it even tougher to barrel. He has turned what was a three-quarters breaking ball into a true power curveball … Cease needs to refine his changeup and use it more … The Cubs have helped him clean up his mechanics some and he should be able to repeat them efficiently enough to fill the strike zone.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Cease is a classic projectable power arm — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs. — with an out-pitch breaking ball and improving mechanics. He was a first round talent before getting hurt, remember. Cease has the potential to one day pitch near the front of a rotation, and guys with that kind of ability aren’t easy to find.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The recent Tommy John surgery is a red flag, as is the fact Cease is injured right now. He left a start with a still undisclosed injury two weeks ago, and according to Steve Mims, Cease is currently throwing and could return to the mound soon. Still though, he’s hurt again. Cease has an awful lot of talent and an awful long way to go to reach the big leagues and his ceiling.

2B/OF Ian Happ

Background: The Cubs grabbed the 21-year-old Happ with the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft and he’s doing exactly what you’d expect the ninth overall pick to do: mash. Happ is hitting .302/.394/.470 (143 wRC+) with a 13.4% walk rate, a 21.4% strikeout rate, nine homers, and 13 steals in 92 games between High-A and Double-A. Baseball America had him 37th on their recent top 100 update.

Scouting Report: “A switch-hitter, he exhibits a quick stroke and good balance from both sides of the plate, and he owns deceptive strength and solid speed. Happ should post high batting averages and on-base percentages, and he has the upside of a 20-20 player … Happ is a good athlete with a strong arm, and Chicago will try to maximize his value by playing him at second base in 2016 … he also saw action at all three outfield spots in his pro debut.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Lots and lots and lots of reasons. Happ is a switch-hitter with power and patience, some speed, and good defensive shops. He’s taken to second base well this season and is average and improving at the position. Happ can be in the big leagues next season and he projects as a switch-hitting impact player on both sides of the ball.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? No reason, really. Even if you don’t buy into Happ at second base, his bat will be more than fine for the outfield.

OF Eloy Jimenez

Background: Three years ago the Cubs went on an international spending spree a la the Yankees in 2014, and the top prospect they signed was the 19-year-old Jimenez. He received a $2.8M bonus. So far this season Jimenez is hitting .331/.370/.520 (160 wRC+) with ten homers, six steals, a 5.8% walk rate, and a 22.5% strikeout rate in 83 Low-A games. Baseball America had him 46th in their midseason top 100, and if you watched the Futures Game, you saw Eloy put on a show.

Scouting Report: “Jimenez has huge raw power and right-field arm strength. He looked much more comfortable at the plate in 2015 than he did in his U.S. debut the year before, making more consistent contact … He’s adding strength to his big frame and exhibits impressive bat speed and leverage from the right side of the plate … he’s an average runner who’ll fit best in right field once he improves his throwing accuracy. The Cubs love his makeup.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Jimenez has premium power potential from the right side of the plate and he’s learning how to use it in games this season. He’s also not a liability in the outfield, so you’ve got a well-rounded prospect with a chance to be an impact middle of the order hitter down the line. Why wouldn’t you want a player like Jimenez?

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The biggest knock on Jimenez is that he’s a bit of a hacker at the plate, so he’s going to chase out of the zone and probably won’t post high OBPs down the line. Also, the kid is 19 and in Low-A ball. There’s a very long way to go to reach that middle of the order ceiling. Jimenez has loads to talent, but he also carries quite a bit of risk simply because he’s so far away.

OF Eddy Martinez

Background: The Yankees “made a run” at Martinez last year, after he defected from Cuba and was declared a free agent by MLB. He would have been part of the 2014-15 signing period. Martinez opted to wait so more teams could get involved in the bidding, and sure enough, he leveraged interest from the Giants into a $3M deal with the Cubs. The 21-year-old is hitting .261/.340/.393 (117 wRC+) with seven homers, six steals, a 10.0% walk rate, and 21.4% strikeout rate in 89 Low-A games.

Scouting Report: “(He) has the potential to have four solid tools and some gap power. He has a line-drive, contact-oriented approach from the right side of the plate. Though he didn’t display much pop in Cuba, he does have bat speed and has added strength since leaving the island … Martinez’s best tool is his speed, which is at least plus and earns plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He has the quickness to play center field but will need to hone his instincts to remain there.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? The same reasons they wanted to sign him as a free agent, I assume. He has some offensive potential and knows the strike zone, and he can be an asset in the outfield as well thanks to his speed. Even if he winds up in a corner, Martinez can be a solid hitter from the right side of the plate and provide value on the field and in the bases. He’s not a star, but the potential to be a future regular exists.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Not everyone buys into the bat, especially Martinez’s power potential and approach. There’s some thought advanced pitchers will be able to pick apart the holes in his swing. There’s definite ‘tweener potential here, meaning not enough defense for center and not enough bat for a corner.

SS Gleyber Torres

Background: Torres, 19, is already in High-A, and he’s hitting .275/.356/.435 (122 wRC+) with nine homers, 18 steals, a 10.1% walk rate, and a 21.8% strikeout rate in 91 games. He’s doing that while being nearly four years younger than the average Carolina League player. Torres was 27th on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 list.

Scouting Report: “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 … Torres seemed a half-step quicker in 2015, enhancing his chances of staying at shortstop  … While Torres’ range may be just average, his instincts and strong arm allow him to make plays.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Not counting players on the big league roster, Torres is the best the Cubs have to offer. He projects to be an above-average two-way shortstop who hits for average, gets on base, steals some bases, and hits for some power. Players with that offensive skill set are hard to find at any position, so Gleyber’s potential to do it at short makes him a potential star.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There aren’t many reasons, really. It’s not set in stone that Torres will remain at short, but he has the defensive skills to handle second or third, which are fine alternatives. The big thing is that this is a 19-year-old kid in Single-A. He’s not going to be MLB ready anytime soon and teenagers always carry a ton of risk. Torres is not an immediate payoff player. He’s more of a long-term project.

RHP Duane Underwood

Background: The 22-year-old Underwood was a second round pick back in 2012. He reached Double-A for the first time this season, and he has a 4.91 ERA (5.10 FIP) with a 16.8% strikeout rate and an 11.3% walk rate in only 58.2 innings due to forearm soreness. Underwood has had all sorts of injuries over the years, but nothing was torn and he hasn’t had surgery. Just a lot of soreness and inflammation.

Scouting Report: “Underwood’s fastball is notable for both its 92-96 mph velocity and its late life, which makes it difficult to square up for hitters. Both his curveball and changeup show signs of becoming plus pitches but neither is fully reliable yet … Underwood doesn’t miss as many bats as his stuff indicates he should, demonstrating his need to get more consistent with his secondary pitches and his command.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Underwood does have premium stuff, led by his lively fastball. He’s also shown promise with two secondary pitches. The stuff is why you want him. The big fastball is an untouchable skill.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The injury history is scary — Underwood is out with the sore forearm right now, and he’s had all sorts of elbow soreness in the past — and his control and command are a long way from being big league ready. You’re buying the stuff and hoping to develop the command and get him to stay on the field. That’s a lot to ask.

LHP Rob Zastryzny

Background: Zastryzny, 24, is a personal favorite and no longer a top prospect. Heck, neither Baseball America nor MLB.com considered him one of the top 30 prospects in Chicago’s system coming into the season. So far this year Zastryzny has a 4.59 ERA (4.42 FIP) with a 19.1% strikeout rate and a 9.1% walk rate in 113.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He was a second round pick back in 2013.

Scouting Report (from me, not MLB.com): At his best, Zastryzny pitches at 91-95 mph from the left side and can spin two breaking balls: an upper-80s slider and an upper-70s curveball. He also throws a low-80s changeup. Control has been a bit of a problem over the years, but the hope is Zastryzny can keep his walk rate where it is going forward. He’s healthy this year after being limited to 15 starts last season, when he was hit by a comebacker and suffered a broken bone in his foot.

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? A top prospect Zastryzny is not, but lefties with low-90s gas and a bat-missing breaking ball (curve) are never a bad trade target. I think the Cubs are wasting their time with Zastryzny as a starter (career 4.71 ERA and 4.12 FIP). I say put him in the bullpen, let him focus on his two best pitches, and really air it out. Zastryzny obviously should not be the center piece in any trade, but as a third or fourth piece, I think you can do worse.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Well, Zastryzny’s performance has not been good, and his control is probably never going to be above-average. It might never be even average, in fact. He’s also seen his velocity fluctuate over the years, sometimes sitting in the low-90s and other times the upper-80s. This is a low-90s year.

* * *

To me, Happ is the guy to target as the headliner in any trade package with the Cubs. Torres and Jimenez are super exciting as well, but I love Happ’s all around ability and close to MLB readiness. The Yankees wouldn’t be wrong to ask for Happ plus Torres or Jimenez plus more in a Miller trade, though who knows if the Cubs would go for that. Probably not.

Either way, all three of those guys are premium prospects, and the Yankees couldn’t trade with Chicago without getting at least one of them. Too many other teams want Miller to settle for something less than the best. The Montgomery trade gives the Cubs an alternative, and if they pass on Miller or Chapman because of him, then that’s their mistake.

Four straight? Four straight. Yankees shut out the O’s 5-0

The Yankees have won four straight games, including three against the Orioles. Remember when this series was supposed to be grim for New York? Completely different so far. They could pull off a four-game sweep now.

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Biggie Mikes

Sure, the O’s lineup is pretty banged up. Manny Machado is sick, so is Chris Davis. Hyun Soo Kim just landed on DL and Matt Wieters was also scratched. However, it was just an ordeal for Michael Pineda earlier this year pitching to any ML lineup. That being said, seeing an outing like that from him is quite encouraging.

Tonight was Pineda’s first scoreless start of the year. How about that? It seemed like he was surely going to have “one of those innings” in the fourth, when he got into a bases loaded, one-out situation. However, Big Mike turned to his most effective weapon to disarm the next two hitters. His slider was pretty filthy tonight. He threw it 45 times and generated 18 swings-and-misses, good for a 40% whiff (!) rate. He struck out Nolan Reimold on three straight sliders and got Ryan Flaherty strike out swinging on a fifth-pitch slider to end the inning. He had, however, thrown a whopping 79 pitches in four innings by then.

Pineda got into more trouble the next year, when he put a runner on third with one out in the sixth. Mark Trumbo led off with a double and advanced to third on Pedro Alvarez’s ground out. After a mound visit, Pineda reverted back to his nasty mode, striking out J.J. Hardy and Reimold to end the inning, and his night. He walked off the mound having thrown 6 scoreless innings with 5 hits allowed, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. It wasn’t a perfect start but it’s the type of an outing that makes you hopeful about his season (or trade stock).

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A First Inning Run?????

Prior to tonight, the last time the Yankees scored a run in the first inning was on June 21, during the home series against the Rockies. What is today? July 20. Almost a full month has gone and Yankees finally, finally scored a run in the first inning today.

On the very first pitch of the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner drilled a slider that deflected off of RF Joey Rickard’s glove and ended up becoming a triple. It seemed like Rickard was going to make a nice catch on the wall but he couldn’t hold onto it. On the very next pitch though, Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to be reluctant to break the streak by popping out. However, Carlos Beltran hit a sac fly to drive Gardner in to make it 1-0.

A Pretty Decent Offense?

The Yankees scored five runs in five different innings today, which, I guess, makes for a neat scoreboard display: no 2’s, no 3’s, just a whole lot of 0’s and 1’s all around. They took that 1-0 lead into the fourth and Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer to make it 2-0. He hit a 88 mph pitch that was more of a line drive than a fly ball, and it just didn’t really sink until it got into the short porch seats. Tex is having a pretty abysmal season (58 wRC+ after this game) but hopefully some dingers will turn it around.

New York could have piled on way more runs in the sixth. Ellsbury led off with a single and Beltran saw a huge open space on the third base side and easily bunted for a single. Brian McCann worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Gallardo, clearly shaken a bit, walked Teixeira in four pitches to force in a run. 3-0 Yankees. With two of the hottest bats in the team coming up (Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro), you’d think Yankees were to score more. However, Gregorius struck out and Castro grounded into a double play to end the frame in an anticlimactic sense. Oh well.

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But pout not, the Yankees came back to score another run in the seventh. With one out, Ronald Torreyes squared up on a 88-mph pitch to right field for a triple. Torreyes was a late addition to the lineup tonight after Chase Headley couldn’t play for “personal reasons.” Gardner skied a sac fly to center to bring Torreyes in. 4-0 Yankees.

Wait, not done yet! Former Yankee RHP Chaz Roe came in to pitch the eighth for the Orioles. Beltran, who already had an RBI and a hit this game, drilled Roe’s fastball into the right field seats for a no-doubt solo home run. It seemed like Roe was trying to pound Beltran inside the zone but simply missed the spot. A good hitter like Carlos will punish that mistake ruthlessly and boy, that home run was majestic. Beltran knew right away and just tossed the bat lightly before starting to job. 5-0 Yankees.

Leftovers

The Yankees’ lead was at 3-0 heading into the top seventh so it seemed like the time for the No Runs DMC equation. Dellin Betances tossed an easy one-strikeout perfect frame to start that sequence … but once the offense scored another, Joe Girardi decided to plug in Nick Goody and Chasen Shreve for eighth and ninth respectively. Both of them threw a scoreless inning each to finish off the game, which was neat. They were able to rest the big arms Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and the lesser guys in the bullpen didn’t allow any damage.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yanks play a matinee match tomorrow to try to sweep the Orioles. Big man CC Sabathia will square up against the O’s ace Chris Tillman.