The first two days of the draft are complete, but there are still another few hours and 30 rounds left to go. Thankfully, those 30 rounds will be drafted during a rapid fire conference call with no wait between picks. It’s glorious. The entire draft used to be like that. I get that MLB is trying to market the draft and increase interest, but it really isn’t a made-for-TV event. A minute (or worse, five minutes) between picks is an eternity.
Anyway, Day Three of the draft is actually pretty fun. More than Day Two, at least. Day Two is more about manipulating the draft pool and selecting cheap, easy to sign players to save as much money as possible. Day Three is about drafting high upside players to use that extra money on. Sure, there will be a ton of organizational types selected today, that comes with the territory, but expect a run of prep players at some point.
- Here are the best available players according to Baseball America. Just about all of the top ranking high school players have huge bonus demands and are considered unsignable at this point. Guys like Virginia RHP Jacob Bukauskas and Georgia HS LHP Mac Marshall have definitively said they are going to college.
- In ESPN’s Day Two analysis (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford says RHP Austin DeCarr (third round) has the highest upside among AL East draftees. “[DeCarr's] stock shot up over the past few weeks after touching 96 mph with his fastball, but he was always on scouts’ radars because of his ability to throw strikes with all three pitches, the best of which is a curveball that’s a plus offering right now … has a chance to be a quality starting pitcher, perhaps even a No. 2,” he wrote.
- Within the same link, Crawford says RHP Jordan Foley (fifth round) will reach MLB the quickest among AL East Day Two draftees. “Assuming the Yankees move Foley to the bullpen, he could move quickly through their system as a reliever who can hit 96 mph on radar guns and will show a plus slider with a good amount of tilt,” wrote Crawford.
- “It was a tremendous honor to be drafted by the Yankees. It’s the greatest organization in all of professional sports,” said DeCarr to David Carty. “There’s definitely a business side of baseball, you’ve got to understand it to the best of your ability. With the new slotting system, it has a little bit to do with the talent level, but the draft picks themselves have to do more with signability.”
- In case you missed it the last two days, make sure you check out this FanGraphs post by former Mariners front office staffer Tony Blengino to get an idea of what it’s like inside a team’s war room during the draft.
The draft resumes at 1pm ET and the conference call will be streamed live on MLB.com. Here’s the audio link and here’s the Draft Tracker link. There won’t be a liveblog today (sorry, I just don’t have the time), so do all your draft talking here. Enjoy.
The first two days and ten rounds of the 2014 Rule 4 Draft are in the books. All the fun happens on Day One while Day Two tends to be the least exciting of the three-day event. Teams look for ways to manipulate their draft pools on Day Two, and that leads to a lot of college seniors and fringe prospects being drafted. The Yankees selected one high school player (kinda) and eight college players on the first two days of the draft, and that’s not a coincidence.
“I think we’ve had success getting guys to the leagues both as high school players and as college players,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to Chad Jennings. “But it seems like we’re getting some college guys up there a little quicker and through the system a little quicker. So, if all’s equal right now, we’re kind of looking at it that we might lean toward the college guy if everything’s equal.”
The team’s first five picks were pitchers, the next four position players. Two of the eight college players are seniors and two others are juniors who figure to sign for below slot, even if it’s only a couple thousand bucks. Standard operating procedure under the new system. The Yankees have been doing this since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was implemented three years ago. All of the team’s picks can be seen at Baseball America. Now let’s review the first two days of the draft.
Special, Not A Specialist
For some reason I get the sense many people think Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren (second round) is a lefty specialist. That isn’t the case. He’s expected to zoom through the system — there is a legitimate chance he will pitch in MLB this season, and it depends on whether the Yankees let him more than his talent — and reach the big leagues soon, but his wipeout slider is so good it gets both lefties and righties out. Lindgren isn’t a LOOGY. He’s expected to be a shutdown reliever who just so happens to throw from the south side.
Yesterday we heard Lindgren wants to sign soon and I can’t imagine negotiations will drag out very long. He’s not oblivious, he’s heard all the chatter about possibly getting to the show this year. The sooner he signs the sooner he gets called up. I don’t know if Lindgren will require the full slot value to sign ($1,018,700), but I suppose they could work out an agreement that nets him a smaller bonus in exchange for the promise of a call-up no later than September. That’s been done before (Giants did it with Conor Gillaspie in 2008) even though it’s against the rules. We’ll find out soon enough. Here is everything you need to know about Lindgren for the time being.
High School … Sorta
The only high school player the Yankees selected during the first two days of the draft really isn’t in high school. RHP Austin DeCarr (3) graduated but went undrafted out of a Massachusetts high school last year because he was coming off elbow surgery (bone spurs), then he opted to attend Salisbury Prep School as a postgraduate student rather than a traditional two or four-year college. I can’t remember hearing of a draftee doing that, but I’m sure it’s been done before.
DeCarr stands 6-foot-2 and 220 lbs., and now that he’s healthy his fastball operates in the 90-94 mph range and touches 96. His power curveball is an out pitch on its best days, though his changeup still needs a ton of work. Compared to most Northeast pitching prospects, DeCarr is more polished and less of a project. For what it’s worth, Keith Law called the pick a “solid value” at this draft slot in yesterday’s chat. DeCarr is already 19 because of the postgraduate year, but, as a cold weather guy, his arm is fresh.
The SEC is the toughest conference in Division I baseball and has been for quite a while now. It’s not pro caliber competition, obviously, but it’s far tougher than any other conference. The Yankees grabbed two standout SEC performers in LHP Jordan Montgomery (3) and RHP Jonathan Holder (5) on Day Two, guys who have been playing intense games against the best competition in the country for three years now.
Montgomery, a South Carolina product, stepped right into the team’s rotation as a freshman in 2012, when he helped them to the College World Series finals. He took over as staff ace as a sophomore. Montgomery’s stuff isn’t anything that will blow you away — 88-92 mph fastball, very good changeup, slow curveball, occasional cutter — but everything plays up because he locatea well and knows how to set hitters up. As with most Yankees pitching prospects, he’s a big dude at 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs. This is the type of pitcher who will carve up the low minors with relative ease.
Holden was Lindgren’s bullpen-mate at Mississippi State, and last year he tied the conference single-season record with 21 saves. He remained the closer this year while Lindgren was used as more of a multi-inning relief ace. See? College coaches get it. Anyway, Holden is a husky fella at 6-foot-2 and 240 lbs., and he sits in the low-90s with his fastball. His bread and butter is a big breaking yet slow curveball in the low-70s. That’s some separation between pitches. Like Montgomery, Holden’s been pitching in big situations and big games in a tough conference for three years now, so pressure situations are nothing new.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
The Yankees selected RHP Jordan Foley out of a Texas high school in the 26th round of the 2011 draft, but he declined to sign and followed through on a commitment to Central Michigan. The Yankees drafted him again yesterday, only this time in the fifth round. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder generally works in the low-90s with an occasionally excellent slider and a good splitter, but his mechanics are so inconsistent that one day he’d look like a second or third rounder, the next a fifth or sixth rounder. The Yankees have obviously had their eyes on Foley for a while now, and they’re hoping they can iron out his delivery enough to make him a legitimate starter. If that does work, the bullpen it is.
Right Bat, Wrong Position
UC Irvine 1B Conner Spencer (8) does nothing but hit. He’s hit .351 with 65/62 K/BB in 170 career games coming into the weekend, but he’s only hit one homer in three years. One! Doubles (36)and triples (13) are his primary form of power production, though it should be noted Irvine’s home field is a tough place to hit. Still, first basemen without power are not exactly popular, especially if they’re just okay defensively like Spencer. That said, the pure hit tool is real and in the eighth round, getting a guy who knows how to put the barrel on the ball and control the strike zone is pretty much the best case scenario. Maybe some swing adjustments can untap some hidden power. It’s worth a shot.
The Yankees drafted three players on Day Two who figure to sign below-slot bonuses, and in two cases very below slot. Those three players are Texas OF Mark Payton (7), Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (9), and James Madison 3B Ty McFarland (10). Payton and McFarland are seniors, Conde a low-profile junior who wasn’t expected to be drafted all that high. Payton has the best tools, though he is simply a bat control guy with good but not great speed and defense. He also doesn’t have much power despite hitting a homer in the Longhorns’ Super Regionals opener yesterday. All three guys will provide always important organizational depth, but these picks were geared towards saving some draft pool money for late-round gambles.
* * *
For the most part, the Yankees selected pitching prospects during the first two days of the draft while going with position players for the draft pool saving spots. The farm system is full of position player prospects — nine of their top 15 prospects in my pre-draft top 30 list are position players — and although no one really drafts for need early in the draft, the Yankees did address an organizational hole with their Day One and Two picks. I don’t know if that was by design or coincidence. They definitely would up with more high-probability than high-upside prospects.
The Yankees are now in position to roll the dice with some late round picks on players with big bonus demands. (Failing to sign a player drafted after the tenth round doesn’t hurt the draft pool situation.) That doesn’t necessarily mean guys looking for seven figures like Virginia HS RHP Jacob Bukauskas or Georgia HS LHP Mac Marshall, the Yankees didn’t save that much draft pool space, but they can make nice six-figure offers to some other players who are thought to be unsignable. Most won’t accept the offers, one or two might. That’s all it takes for the strategy to work.
A winning streak! The Yankees haven’t had one of these in a while. A big hit with the bases loaded and a stellar start from one of the replacement arms carried the Bombers to a 4-2 win over the Royals in Friday’s night series opener, their second straight victory. Let’s recap:
- Don’t Call Me A Reliever: What a start by Chase Whitley. The Yankees haven’t gotten much from length from their … seventh? eighth? I’ve lost count … starter this year, and on Friday he threw a career-high seven innings and held the Royals to two runs on five hits. The Royals managed to string together some hits for a run in the second and a run in the fifth, but otherwise he was never really in a big jam. Kansas City definitely helped him out by hacking early on often, which is in their DNA. Great, great start by Whitley. Sandwich guy approves.
- One Swing, Three Runs: The Yankees nearly blew a prime run-scoring opportunity in the second before Brian Roberts singled in Mark Teixeira with two outs. The third inning is when they did almost all of their damage thanks to Brian McCann‘s opposite field, bases-clearing double. They had loaded the bases on two singles (Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner) and a hit-by-pitch (Teixeira) with one out. The two table-setters got it started, the big money middle of the order guy cleaned it up. Perfect.
- More Bullpen: McCann’s double ended the run-scoring portion of the evening — 18 of the final 23 Yankees made out, and two of the base-runners were an infield single and a walk — meaning Joe Girardi had to go to his ace relievers after Whitley. Dellin Betances drew the eighth inning and struck out two to pitch around a single. David Robertson got the ninth, allowed a double (Billy Butler was out at second) and a walk, but otherwise struck out two for his 14th save. Twenty-nine of his last 39 outs have been strikeouts. That is absurd.
- Leftovers: Ichiro Suzuki got picked off first base in the ninth and I would have liked to see Girardi challenge it. Top of the ninth, close game, no outs in the inning, roll the dice there. Oh well … Roberts made a mental error and forgot to cover second base on Lorenzo Cain’s single, so he essentially “stole” second on the throw back to the infield … McCann’s double was the only extra-base hit (of course) and Gardner was the only player with more than one hit. He had two.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are back in second place in the AL East. Worst second place team in baseball? Sure feels like it. These two clubs will play the second game of their four-game series on Saturday night (argh), when Danny Duffy and David Phelps square off. Do I hear three wins in a row?
Some quick notes:
- Both 2B Rob Refsnyder (#4) and OF Aaron Judge (#6) made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet after their torrid weeks. Refsnyder in particularly has been tearing the cover off the ball for a few weeks now.
- RHP Cole Kimball has been released, according to Nick Peruffo. The Yankees rolled the dice on him after some injury problems and it just didn’t work out. RHP Phil Wetherell was bumped up from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton in a corresponding move.
Triple-A Scranton (12-6 win over Norfolk)
- LF Jose Pirela: 3-3, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB — 33-for-90 (.367) with 13 doubles and three homers in his last 22 games
- RF Adonis Garcia: 4-5, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI — have yourself a game, Adonis
- DH Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 4-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — 14th homer of the year and his third in the last nine games
- 3B Zelous Wheeler: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
- C Austin Romine: 2-5, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
- RHP Bruce Billings: 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6/6 GB/FB — 48 of 75 pitches were strikes (64%)
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 19 of 29 pitches were strikes (66%)
The last homestand was not very good for the Yankees. In fact, they haven’t been very good at home this season in general. They’ve gone 13-16 with a ridiculous -39 run differential in the Bronx this year, but, on the road, they’re a much more palatable 17-13 with a +11 run differential. For whatever reason the Yankees have stunk at home, so I guess this ten-game road trip comes at a good time.
The Royals are another team that hasn’t had much luck at home this year, going 14-15 with a -27 run differential. (They’re 15-16 with a +9 run differential on the road.) Ultimately these numbers don’t mean much of anything this weekend, I’m just glad to see the Yankees out of Yankee Stadium after that homestand. The change of scenery alone will make me feel a little better after that mess. Hopefully their road success (and Kansas City’s home struggles) continue all weekend. Here is the Royals lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Chase Whitley
It is cool and cloudy in Kansas City, and there is rain in the forecast later tonight. It shouldn’t be a problem for the game unless it goes long though. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
The Mississippi State season ended a few days ago and Yankees top pick LHP Jacob Lindgren is ready to begin his pro career. “I want to sign as soon as possible and begin my journey as a New York Yankee. I’m ready,” said the southpaw to reporters during a conference call. Chad Jennings has some more quotes from the call.
The Yankees selected Lindgren in the second round (55th overall) after forfeiting a bunch of high picks to sign free agents last winter. Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700, and there were no indications he would require an above-slot bonus before the draft. He might even sign for something less than slot. We’ll see. Everything you need to know about Lindgren is right here. The sooner he signs the more likely he is to pitch in the big leagues this year. · (7) ·
Despite yesterday’s win, the Yankees just wrapped up a pretty terrible homestand in which they went 2-5 and were outscored 37-16. So far this season they are 13-16 with a -39 run differential at home compared to 17-13 with a +11 run differential on the road. So I guess this ten-game road trip came at a good time? The Yankees are in Kansas City this weekend for a four-game wrap around series with the Royals.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Royals just took three of four from the Cardinals in one of those newfangled home-and-home series, but before that they’d lost eleven of 17. Overall, Kansas City is 29-31 with a -18 run differential. They are tied for last place in the AL Central.
The Royals are one of the worst hitting teams in baseball this season. They rank dead last with a team 81 wRC+, and their average of 3.87 runs per game is third worst in the AL. They’ve only hit 26 homers in 60 games, or five more than Nelson Cruz has hit in 57 games. Kansas City replaced their hitting coach less than two weeks ago and have averaged 4.38 runs per game since. Their only injured position player is 3B Danny Valencia (80 wRC+).
Manager Ned Yost’s lineup is supposed to revolve around OF Alex Gordon (124 wRC+), 1B Eric Hosmer (81 wRC+), and DH Billy Butler (68 wRC+), but only Gordon is pulling his weight. Between Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas (41 wRC+), Kansas City is quickly replacing Seattle as the place young hitters go to have their careers stall out entirely. Those two were the third and second overall picks in their draft classes, respectively. OF Lorenzo Cain (113 wRC+) has been good and C Salvador Perez (99 wRC+) average.
OF Norichika Aoki (79 wRC+) has been something of a disappointment while 2B Omar Infante (76 wRC+) has dealt with a few injuries this year. SS Alcides Escobar (95 wRC+) and OF Jarrod Dyson (80 wRC+ in limited time) lead the team with 16 and ten steals, respectively. C Brett Hayes (-44 wRC+ in very limited time) is the backup catcher and IF Pedro Ciriaco (46 wRC+ in limited time) is the backup infielder. Yes, the same Pedro Ciriaco who tormented the Yankees a few seasons ago with the Red Sox. That was a long time ago though. He stinks now.
Friday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. KC) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (vs. NYY)
Guthrie is 35 already. Am I the only one surprised by that? I thought he was still 32 or 33. Anyway, Guthrie has a 4.00 ERA (5.17 FIP) in a dozen starts and 78.2 innings so far this year. He throws strikes (2.17 BB/9 and 5.8 BB%) but doesn’t miss bats (4.46 K/9 and 11.8 K%), doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.49 HR/9 and 12.4 HR/FB%), and doesn’t really get grounders (42.6%). That’s nothing new though. Guthrie has been doing that for nearly a decade now. He’s always outperformed his peripherals and after nearly 1,500 innings, it’s not a fluke. Lefties, by the way, have it him pretty hard (.358 wOBA). Righties (.289 wOBA) have not been as lucky. Guthrie still sits in the low-90s with his two and four-seamers, and he will throw a handful of cutters per start as well. A mid-70s curveball and mid-80s sliders and changeups are his three offspeed pitches. Guthrie is a bit of a kitchen sink guy despite still having good velocity.
Saturday: RHP David Phelps (vs. KC) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (vs. NYY)
Duffy, 25, returned from Tommy John surgery late last season and has spent the better part of this year bouncing between the rotation, the bullpen, and Triple-A. He has a 3.05 ERA (4.44 FIP) in 41.1 innings spanning six starts and and six relief appearances. The strikeout rate is a little low (6.31 K/9 and 17.0 K%), the walk rate a little high (3.92 BB/9 and 10.5 BB%), and the ground ball rate very low (30.5%). Duffy’s homer rate is fine (0.87 HR/9 and 7.4 HR/FB%) and righties have hit him a kinda hard (.315 wOBA), but man, he’s demolished lefties (.077 wOBA!) in a small sample. He throws his mid-90s fastball more than 70% of the time, even as a starter, and he backs it up with an upper-70s curveball and a handful of mid-80 changeups per start. Duffy has not yet thrown more than 97 pitches in a start and only once has he thrown more than 88 pitches.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. KC) vs. RHP James Shields (vs. NYY)
Here’s a very familiar face. Shields, 33, has a 3.68 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 13 starts and 85.2 innings in his second season with the Royals, and he’s on pace to top 200 innings for the eighth straight season. Only once in that time did he throw fewer than 215 innings. Crazy. Shields is giving up a few more homers than usual (1.26 HR/9 and 14.1 HR/FB%), but otherwise his strikeout (7.35 K/9 and 19.3 K%), walk (2.00 BB/9 and 5.3 BB%), and ground ball (47.1%) numbers are in line with previous years. He has a tiny platoon split. The mid-80s changeup remains his go-to pitch, but Shields has scaled back on it a bit this year and is throwing more low-90s four-seamers and mid-80s cuttera. He also throws an upper-70s curveball on occasion. The Yankees and Shields have had many, many battles over the years, but this is a new lineup and he’s in a different uniform.
Monday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. KC) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (vs. NYY)
The Royals gave the 31-year-old Vargas a four-year contract over the winter, and so far this season he has a 3.28 ERA (4.17 FIP) in 13 starts and 85 innings. There’s a lot of value in eating innings at a league average-ish rate, which Vargas has done for about five years now. He keeps walks down (2.44 BB/9 and 6.5 BB%) but otherwise does not have great strikeout (6.56 K/9 and 17.5 K%), ground ball (38.9%), or homer (1.16 HR/9 and 10.6 HR/FB%) numbers. His platoon split is pretty small as well. Vargas is definitely a finesse southpaw, sitting in the mid-to-upper-80s with his two and four-seamer. A changeup right around 80 mph is his top secondary pitch, though he’ll also throw some mid-70s curveballs. These two came right out of the generic lefty factory.
The Royals have one of the very best setup man/closer combinations in baseball in RHP Wade Davis (1.17 FIP) and RHP Greg Holland (1.25 FIP). They have 41.5% and 40.2% strikeout rates, respectively. The good news for the Yankees is that Holland has pitched in each of the last three games and Davis has pitched in three of the last four. Seems unlikely Holland will pitch tonight, and if Davis does, he probably won’t be available tomorrow.
RHP Aaron Crow (4.53 FIP), RHP Kelvin Herrera (3.00 FIP), and LHP Tim Collins (4.83 FIP) figure to pick up the high-leverage slack these next few days. Herrera throws very, very hard. Regularly hits triple digits. LHP Francisley Bueno (2.07 FIP in limited time), RHP Michael Mariot (2.76 FIP), and RHP Wilking Rodriguez (3.07 FIP in limited time) round out the rest of the eight-man bullpen. They’ve been carrying an eight relievers almost all year. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers, then check out Royals Review and Royals Authority for the latest and greatest on the team’s opponent these next four days.
The first day of the 2014 draft is in the books and now we’re moving on to day two. The Yankees selected Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren with their first and only selection on day one — everything you need to know about him is right here — after forfeiting a bunch of high picks to sign free agents last winter. It was kinda boring waiting around for their pick to come up, but that’s life.
Day two will cover rounds three through ten, and the Yankees have a pick in every one of those rounds. Their first selection of the day is 91st overall, or the 17th pick of the day. Their second pick of day two is 122nd overall, then things go back to normal and they’ll pick once every 30 picks. The Yankees will select
seven eight players today and remember, these picks are all tied to the draft pool. Expect to see some regular ol’ prospects as well as some cheap college seniors picked today. The draft pool money saved on the seniors will be redirected to other players.
Here are some stray links following day one and heading into day two:
- “I am humbled and grateful to be drafted by the New York Yankees,” said Lindgren to Michael Bonner. “This is an incredible feeling and a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I would like to thank Mississippi State University, my coaches, teammates and the greatest fans in college baseball for helping me reach this point.”
- In ESPN’s round two analysis (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford called Lindgren the quickest to MLB pick and says he “can get left-handed hitters at the major league level out right now, as his slider is virtually unhittable against hitters from that side and he attacks batters with a 92-94 mph fastball.”
- Here are the best available players from Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America. Virginia HS RHP Jacob Bukauskas, the consensus top available player, sent a letter to teams saying he intends to follow through on his commitment to UNC a few weeks ago, so he’s basically unsignable at this point.
- In case you missed it yesterday, make sure you check out this FanGraphs post by former Mariners front office staffer Tony Blengino to get an idea of what it’s like inside a team’s war room during the draft.
The draft resumes at 1pm ET with a half-hour preview show beforehand, and it’ll all be streamed on MLB.com. Here’s the video link and here’s the Draft Tracker link. There won’t be a liveblog today (sorry, I just don’t have the time), so do all your draft talking here.
Got six questions for you this week. Feels like a light mailbag. Anyway, remember to send us anything through the Submit A Tip box in a sidebar.
Noel asks: Looking at the way this team is constructed and the offensive woes … A-Rod? Is he welcomed back with open arms next year? None of the kids will be ready, Derek Jeter will be gone, do they go another year with him and hope he can help with some thump?
They might welcome Alex Rodriguez back, but it sure won’t be with open arms. It’ll be reluctantly, if anything. He’ll be back only because he’s still under contract too, not because the Yankees think he can help the team. They’ve have made it pretty clear they want nothing to do with A-Rod and would like it if he just went away forever. Can you blame them at this point?
I’ve said I do not expect Alex to ever play in MLB again and I’m going to stick to it. Might as well at this point. He’ll turn 39 years old next month, and once the suspension is over, he will have played 59 games over the last 24 months. That’s both majors and minors. Rodriguez also had the hip surgery last year, remember. So he’s got close to two years of rust and a breaking/broken down body. Can he come back to hit MLB pitching? I very much doubt it, but I suppose it’s not impossible. I am very anxious to see how this all plays out.
Solarte has played mostly third base for the Yankees, but he’s actually played second base primarily throughout his minor league career. Last season he played 88 games at second and 46 at other positions. The year before it was 91 games at second and 35 at other positions. Solarte is actually on pace to play nearly as many games at third base this season (131) as he did in his entire minor league career (135). He’s a second baseman playing the hot corner, basically.
If the Yankees are going to shuffle things around to find some more production, second and third bases are the spots to do it. Roberts has been alright the last few weeks but he’s still the obvious guy to replace. Stick Solarte at second full-time and platoon Sizemore (who was sent to Triple-A yesterday) and Kelly Johnson at third? That could actually be pretty productive. I don’t like Johnson being a guy who plays once or twice a week out of position at first base. Play him fairly regularly at third (or second) and he’ll hit some dingers and steal some bases. That plan works for me. The Yankees seem committed to Roberts because he gives veteran presents though.
Scott asks: Do you think that if CC Sabathia misses a significant chunk of the season (until August or so), and when he does pitch is as ineffective as he has been, that the front office would try to make a big free agent splash a la Jon Lester/Max Scherzer? Or would it disincentivize them even further from signing a big contract despite the needs on the field?
With Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka both on the books, I would be surprised if they went out and added another huge pitching contract. Scherzer’s going to wind up with $200M or so and Lester won’t be too far behind him, so we’re talking about potentially three $22M+ pear year pitching contracts, one of which looks like a total albatross at this point. Obviously both Scherzer and Lester would make the Yankees substantially better, but they are both already 30 (Scherzer will be next month) with lots of regular season and postseason innings on their arms. Remember, Sabathia was 28 when he signed with New York. I’m not sure another huge dollar starter is in the cards.
I’m One asks: I understand why some are calling for the Yankees to sign Kendrys Morales, yet I don’t agree. To much positional inflexibility, despite the added offense. If he does get signed and Carlos Beltran doesn’t need surgery, what would you expect to be the corresponding 25-man move?
It would have to be cutting ties with Alfonso Soriano at this point, wouldn’t it? He’s been terrible so far and I don’t think the leash should be any longer. His at-bats are flat out non-competitive. The problem with cutting Soriano is that the Yankees would be stuck playing Beltran in right field regularly, something they said they want to avoid. They don’t want to risk re-aggravating the bone spur by having him throw. I can’t imagine Morales will sign up for a job where he rotations between first base and DH and might only play two-thirds of the time, so this is all probably just a moot point.
Stephen asks: Here’s a crazy hypothetical. Game 7, World Series. Your starting pitcher must be either Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux, as they are today. Whoever you choose can have a month to prepare. Who do you go with?
When I first read this question, I thought Stephen was asking if I would rather have Johnson or Maddux start a Game 7. I would go with Johnson because he dominated. Maddux was awesome, obviously, but in one game where anything can happen, I want the guy who can miss bats and put the ball by hitters. We’ve seen what Johnson can do in big game situations firsthand unfortunately, and that’s the guy I’d want on my side.
Then I realize the question was asking which one I would rather have right now, as in today with both guys pushing 50. (Johnson is 50, Maddux is 48.) Johnson had back problems later in his career and relied more on the quality of his stuff, so I’d be concerned about what he has left in the tank. Can he finish his pitches and break off those nasty sliders? Maddux was all command. I feel like he could wake up in the dead of winter at 48 years old, repeat his mechanics, and paint the corners on both sides of the plate. At their peak, I’d take Johnson for a Game 7. In 2014, give me Maddux.
gehrig27 asks: Because of the injuries and bad performance there is a good possibility that no Yankee player will have at least 100 RBIs at the ends of the season. When was the last time it happened?
Mark Teixeira leads the team with 27 RBI at the moment, a rate of 0.69 RBI per healthy team game. That puts him on pace for 98 RBI over the full season when you adjust for the time he missed due to injury and all that. They had one 100+ RBI guy in both 2012 (Curtis Granderson, 106) and 2013 (Robinson Cano, 107), and before that they had at least two 100+ RBI guys from 2002-11. How times have changed, eh?
The last time the Yankees did not have a 100+ RBI guy in a non-strike season was way back in 1992. Don Mattingly led the team with 86 RBI that year. They didn’t have a 100+ RBI guy in 1990 or 1991 either. Unless Teixeira stays healthy, it doesn’t look like the Yankees will have someone hit the century mark this season. Solarte is second on the team with 26 RBI and he is on pace for only 71 RBI over the full season. With Teixeira’s wrist figuring to be on ongoing problem, it looks like the team won’t have a 100+ RBI for the first time in more than two decades.
There’s plenty to talk about, both about the upcoming series and about the Yankees, uh, not ideal play for the past week or so.
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