As always, the notes come first:
- SS Yonauris Rodriguez made the Helium Watch section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. The Yankees signed him for $570k last year and he’s currently hitting .324/.444/.438 (159 wRC+) in the Dominican Summer League. After being billed as a glove-first player when he signed, Baseball America says “Rodriguez is a more advanced, more complete player than scouts were projecting him to be at this time a year ago.”
- Apparently I missed this at some point recently, but the Yankees have released RHP Bruce Billings. I know this because Eric Stephen says he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers yesterday. Well then. Carry on.
- Baseball America published their best tools surgery for both High Class-A and Low Class-A today. OF Aaron Judge appeared on both, grabbing Best Outfield Arm (High-A) and Best Power Prospect (Low-A). No other Yankees’ farmhands appeared in the surveys.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Columbus) tonight’s promotion was “What If” night, so they played as the Trolley Frogs instead of the RailRiders … Trolley Frogs lost the fan voting when the team changed named a few years ago
- DH Jose Pirela, RF Zoilo Almonte & 3B Zelous Wheeler: all 0-4 — Pirela and Wheeler each struck out once
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 BB
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4
- RHP Michael Pineda: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 52 of 72 pitches were strikes (72%) … had more on his rehab outing earlier
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (66%)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes (66%)
In his second rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, Michael Pineda struck out seven in 4.1 innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits and did not walk a batter. Fifty-two of his 72 pitches were strikes, and Donnie Collins says he sat 92-94 with his fastball. Pineda was scheduled to throw 70-80 pitches or so after throwing 58 pitches last time out. He’s been on the shelf since late-April due to a muscle problem in his back/shoulder.
Joe Girardi and the Yankees have hinted that Pineda could return to the rotation next week if this start went well. He lines up perfectly to replace Esmil Rogers, who made the spot start tonight in place of the injured David Phelps. The rotation has performed well of late, but obviously getting Pineda back would be huge. I’m sure it’ll be a day or two before we learn what the next step will be. He seems to be healthy and that’s the most important thing. · (12) ·
With tonight’s spot start, Esmil Rogers will become the 12th different pitcher to start a game for the Yankees this season. They last used that many starting pitchers back in 2008, when they used 13 different starters because of injuries and also because they used September to see what they had in Ian Kennedy and Alfredo Aceves once they were out of the race. The Yankees used either eight or nine different starters every year from 2009-13. Here’s the list, if you’re interested.
Anyway, the Indians are in town to help wrap-up this homestand. They’ve kinda been hanging around the wildcard race these last few weeks — the Yankees are a half-game back of the Royals for the second wildcard spot and the Indians are 3.5 games back of the Yankees — so this series is pretty important for both teams. Unlike last year, when it felt like the Yankees had no business playing meaningful games in the second half, this team is definitely good enough to get to the postseason. They still have a lot of work to do though. Don’t let up after that big series win over the Tigers. Here is the Indians lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- 3B Martin Prado
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Esmil Rogers
The weather in New York is pretty much perfect. Nice and sunny but not overwhelmingly hot or humid. Just a fantastic night for baseball. The game is scheduled to begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (finger) is still sore and can’t grip a bat. He did not take batting practice today and Joe Girardi labeled him as day-to-day … Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) felt good after playing catch from 60-90 feet today. He’ll stretch it out to 120 feet tomorrow then rest on Sunday.
From our friends at TiqIQ:
All season the New York Yankees have found a way to stay competitive. With the amount of injuries they have sustained, especially in the starting rotation, it would not have been surprising if they had one of the worst records in the league, but somehow they’ve remained above .500 all season. Currently they are second in the AL East with a 60-54 record, despite losing four of their five original starting pitchers to injuries. That’s especially shocking for a team that was realistically expected to struggle offensively. But there is one area the team hasn’t struggled, and that is with ticket sales for games at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are always one of the most expensive tickets in the league, and the only team that has been close to them this year is the Boston Red Sox. For the remainder of the season the Yankees have an average ticket price on the secondary market of $131.43, while most teams fail to even come close to the $100 mark. The league average is about $80 but most teams are lower. That number would be a lot lower if it weren’t for the Yankees and Red Sox.
Part of the reason New York Yankees tickets are so expensive is because of Derek Jeter’s impending retirement, but some promotions have also led to the hefty price tags. The next home series for the Yankees is this weekend against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are no slouch, but they are currently third in the AL Central and a game under .500 at 57-58. Still the cheapest game of the series is $113.03. The most expensive game of the series is $176.61, and it also happens to be a game in which Paul O’Neill will have a plaque dedicated in Monument Park on Saturday.
Similarly the most expensive game for a September series against the Toronto Blue Jays has a promotion. The series is a four-game set from the 18-21, with the game on the 21 the only one with a giveaway. The first 10,000 guests 14 and younger will receive a limited edition Yankees bear beanie baby with the number “2” stitched in to celebrate Jeter. Tickets for that game are averaging $145.57, while the first game of the series is just $91.62.
From August 22-24 they play a Chicago White Sox team that isn’t anywhere close to contention. One the 22nd tickets are averaging $100.54, and on the 24th tickets are just $95.31, but on the 23rd the average is $139.48. But there is a big event on that day, with the Yankees retiring Joe Torre’s No. 6. But that pales in comparison to the game on September 7 against the Kansas City Royals. Tickets are currently averaging $543.42, with a special Derek Jeter ceremony scheduled for the day.
Despite everything they’ve had to deal with, the Yankees still have a chance at the postseason berth. But that’s just part of the reason Yankees tickets have been among the most expensive in the league this year. One of the big reasons seems to be all the promotions the team is having, especially those centered around their most popular players.
As expected, the Yankees have called up right-hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton. He was scheduled to start for the RailRiders last night, so he’s good for plenty of innings behind spot starter Esmil Rogers if need be tonight. Hopefully not.
Righty Matt Daley was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Mitchell. I’m pretty sure Daley is just going through revocable options waivers — which he’s already done on two occasions this season — and not actually being removed from the 40-man roster. He made his MLB debut more than three years ago and this is the process the team needs to go through to send him back to the minors. Whatever. · (90) ·
One AL Central opponent leaves town and another comes in. The Indians are in the Bronx for a three-game series this weekend. They split a four-game set with the Yankees in Cleveland last month.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Indians just lost three straight to the Reds but they had won four straight before that. They are 9-11 since the All-Star break and 57-58 with a +7 run differential overall this year, good for third place in the AL Central. They are 3.5 games back of the Yankees (and Mariners and Blue Jays) in the wildcard race, so this series is not nothing.
Cleveland quietly has one of the best offenses in the game, one that averages 4.43 runs per game with a team 104 wRC+. They are currently without OF Michael Bourn (97 wRC+) and DH Jason Giambi (26 wRC+) due to hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. Bourn just started a rehab assignment and is unlikely to return this weekend. Giambi is out long-term and there’s a decent chance he’s played his last MLB game. I’ll miss Big G.
Manager Terry Francona’s lineup is built around OF Michael Brantley (151 wRC+), who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in baseball. He’s excellent. 1B Carlos Santana (131 wRC+) has been tearing the cover off the ball for two months after a terrible start while 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (135 wRC+) is going the other way — he started out hot and has slowed down big time of late. C Yan Gomes (127 wRC+) has established himself as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball these last two seasons.
2B Jason Kipnis (95 wRC+) and OF David Murphy (102 wRC+) have been just about average this year while ex-Yankee OF Nick Swisher (73 wRC+) has been awful. IF Jose Ramirez (21 wRC+ in very limited time) has taken over at short since Asdrubal Cabrera was traded away. UTIL Ryan Raburn (52 wRC+) and ex-Yankee OF Chris Dickerson (122 wRC+ in limited time) see platoon duty while IF Mike Aviles (71 wRC+) and C Roberto Perez (87 wRC+ in very limited time) fill out the bench.
Friday: RHP Esmil Rogers (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY)
Bauer, 23, has finally found some success at the MLB level after years of tinkering and having coaches try to “fix” his unique mechanics and workout routines. He has a 4.20 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 16 starts and 92.1 innings with a good strikeout rate (8.31 K/9 and 21.3%) and an okay walk rate (3.27 K/9 and 8.4 K%). Righties (.346 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.325 wOBA) and he’s been worst on the road (.351 wOBA) than at home (.326 wOBA). Bauer is an extreme fly ball pitcher (32.4% grounders) who gives up homers (1.03 HR/9 and 8.3 HR/FB%), but that is by design — he’s said he likes pitching up in the zone because fly balls are higher percentage outs than ground balls, and he’ll live with the homers as a byproduct. He is definitely in the minority when it comes to that approach. Bauer throws a mid-to-high-90s fastball, a mid-to-upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. He throws all five pitches regularly with the slider and curve being his go-to offspeed pitches. New York scored three runs (two earned) in seven innings against him last month.
Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and did not face the Klubot during their four-game series in Cleveland a few weeks. That aren’t getting that lucky twice. The 28-year-old Kluber has a 2.55 ERA (2.49 FIP) in 24 starts and 165.2 innings this year, and his peripherals are excellent across the board: 9.62 K/9 (26.7 K%), 1.90 BB/9 (5.3 BB%), 0.54 HR/9 (7.4 HR/FB%), and 49.2% grounders. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have had much more success against him than righties (.236 wOBA). Kluber is primarily a three-pitch pitcher with a low-to-mid-90s sinker, a hard upper-80s slider, and power low-80s curveball. Both breaking balls are legit out pitches. He’ll also throw a handful of mid-80s changeups per start, but it is his clear fourth pitch. Kluber is not a big name, but the guy has pitched like an ace this year. He’s outstanding.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
The Tribe have had a revolving door at the back of their rotation all year. Carrasco, 27, is coming out of the bullpen to make this start after spending most of the season as a long reliever. He has a 3.88 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 26 relief appearances and four spot starts in 2014, and across the board he has very good strikeout (8.58 K/9 and 23.2 K%), walk (2.49 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%), homer (0.69 HR/9 and 9.4 HR/FB%), and ground ball (56.4%) numbers. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have been more successful against him than righties (.269 wOBA). Obviously his numbers in relief will not translate perfectly over into a starting role. Carrasco sits in the mid-90s with his four-seamer when he comes out of the bullpen, and he uses it to set up his upper-80s changeup, mid-80s slider, and low-80s curveball. He throws all three secondary pitches at least 11% of the time, so he’s a true four-pitch pitcher. Carrasco made two relief appearances against the Yankees last month, three scoreless innings in one and one scoreless inning in the other.
Francona is currently on his third different closer in RHP Cody Allen (2.44 FIP). RHP John Axford (4.23 FIP) lost the job early in the season and RHP Bryan Shaw (3.45 FIP) only had it for about a week. Those two plus RHP Scott Atchison (3.32 FIP) serve as Allen’s primary setup men. Like the Yankees, the Indians are carrying eight relievers at the moment.
The rest of the Tribe bullpen includes LHP Marc Rzepczynski (2.93 FIP), LHP Kyle Crockett (3.28 FIP), LHP Nick Hagadone (3.36 FIP), and RHP C.C. Lee (3.96 FIP). Yes, the Indians have a dude named C.C. Lee in their bullpen. It’s like the ghost of Cy Young winners past has come back to haunt them. Lee threw two innings yesterday but the rest of the bullpen had the day off. Check up on the Yankees’ bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page. Once you’ve done that, head over to Wahoo’s on First for everything you need to know about the Indians.
Via George King: David Robertson said he would have been open to signing an extension at a discount last offseason, but will now be looking for a market value deal as a free agent this winter. “It would have to be a legit offer at this point of the year. This offseason I probably would have gone for a discount, although I wasn’t a closer,” he said. “It’s not like I don’t like playing here, but I have to do what’s best for me.”
Robertson also confirmed the two sides still have not had any extension talks. The 29-year-old has been dynamite in his first season as the team’s closer, going 31-for-33 in save chances with a 2.62 ERA (1.97 FIP) and a 39.7% strikeout rate. Robertson’s in line for something like $10-12M per year over three or four years at this point. I think the Yankees will make Robertson a qualifying offer after the season ($15M or so), and if he accepts, they’ll have an elite reliever on an expensive one-year deal. I am on team #ExtendDRob and hope they work something out soon. · (119) ·
Got a nice and big nine-question, seven-answer mailbag for you this week after skipping it last week. Blame the trade deadline. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us questions, comments, links, complaints, whatever. We get a ton of questions each week, so don’t take it personally if yours is not picked.
nycsportzfan asks: Do you think Joe Girardi could win Manager of the Year even if they don’t make the postseason?
Joe asks: Where is Brett Gardner in the AL MVP voting? No way he wins the award itself but he has to get some votes, no?
Might as well lump these two together. I think Girardi would have a serious chance to win Manager of the Year if they make it to the postseason, but he’ll probably be an afterthought if they miss again. Bob Melvin and Mike Scioscia seem to be the front-runners at the moment, and I’m sure Buck Showalter will get a ton of love if the Orioles win the AL East. John Gibbons would also get plenty of votes if the Blue Jays sneak into the postseason. If Girardi carries this team into the postseason after all the injuries, I have to think he’ll get a ton of consideration for the award.
As for Gardner, I doubt he’ll finish top ten in the MVP voting, maybe not even top 20, but there are always weird down ballot votes every year and he seems like a prime candidate to receive a few. Gardner has not only been the team’s best player this year, he’s also been one of the most productive outfielders in the league. Unless the Yankees completely flop and fall way out of the race these next few weeks, I definitely expect Gardner to get a handful of MVP votes. He’ll never win, but hey, just getting votes is cool.
Joel asks: Can you tell us what percentage of his at-bats Gardner gets to two strikes? I think it’s very high, and I think his batting average with two strikes is close to his batting average.
Prior to yesterday’s game — I’m not waiting around for Baseball Reference to update overnight, sorry — Gardner had gone to a two-strike count in 288 of his 475 plate appearances, or 60.6%. The AL average is 50.4%. In fact, Gardner leads baseball in two-strike plate appearances. Matt Carpenter is second at 287 and Mike Trout is third at 285. No one else is over 280. Gardner has hit .188/.278/.290 in two strike counts this year, and while that sounds terrible, it works out to a 124 OPS+ because the league as a whole has hit .180/.249/.267 with two strikes. Hitting in those situations is mighty tough.
Mark asks: In the simplest terms possible, could you explain the difference between the July and August trade deadlines? I think I have a grasp, but I would like clarification. Thanks in advance
John asks: I’ve been thinking – with the trade waivers period starting up – what would happen if a guy with a no-trade clause was claimed on waivers? Would he have to go to that team? E.g. what if Matt Thornton had a no-trade? Could the Yankees have just let the Nats take him?
Combining two more questions again. After July 31st, any player on the 40-man roster has to go through trade waivers in order to be traded. Trade waivers are completely revocable — if a player is claimed, he can be pulled him back and nothing happens. The player can be traded anywhere if he clears waivers, but if he is claimed, he can only be traded to the team that claimed him (within 48 hours). If a team tries to slip a player through trade waivers a second time, they are irrevocable. A team can also dump the player on the other team if he is claimed, like the Yankees did with Thornton. Players have to be in an organization on August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster. No exceptions. That makes August 31st almost like a second trade deadline.
The no-trade clause stuff is interesting because there really isn’t an answer. MLB and the union have been arguing about this for years. A no-trade clause is technically a no-assignment clause, and both trades and waiver claims are assignments (as are demotions to Triple-A, etc.). The union says a no-trade clause should allow a player to block going to another team on waivers while MLB argues otherwise. The only time I can remember this even remotely being an issue was when the White Sox claimed Alex Rios from the Blue Jays a few years ago, but Rios agreed to go to Chicago and it was a non-issue. Most guys who have no-trade clauses have contracts other teams don’t want, so they are rarely claimed off waivers anyway.
Ryan asks: If you take a few of those early blowout losses out, what is their run differential? Probably closer to a slightly above .500 team?
The Yankees are currently 60-54 despite a -23 run differential, which says they should be something closer to 54-60. It seems like they win nothing but close games these days. In a one week stretch from April 18th through April 25th, the Yankees lost games by the score of 11-5, 16-1, and 13-1. That’s a -33 run differential right there, so in the other 111 games of the season, the Yankees are at +10. It doesn’t really work like that though, we can’t just ignore select games because they don’t fit a narrative. For example, if we remove their biggest blowout wins (7-0, 14-5, 10-2), they have a -47 run differential on the season. I believe the Yankees’ win-loss record better reflects their talent level than their run differential, but the numbers don’t lie. They are the record of what actually happened on the field.
Leigh asks: I know he has only thrown a handful of innings (and he isn’t on the 40-man roster), but do you think there is a chance we see Jacob Lindgren contribute as a LOOGY in September?
Yes, definitely. I was on the fence up until the Thornton deal (this question was sent in before that), but now I think it’s pretty much a lock as long as Lindgren doesn’t get hurt or completely blow up the rest of the month. I don’t think you draft a pure reliever in the second round and pay him a seven-figure bonus to not get him to the big leagues as quickly as possible. You take him because you think he can help very soon, and Lindgren has done everything he’s needed to do in the minors. I’ll be very surprised if he isn’t up in September at this point.
Greg asks: What can we expect from this year’s class of September call-ups?
In addition to Lindgren, pretty much everyone who is on the 40-man roster and has already been up at some point this year will be back in September. A third catcher is standard and the Yankees will probably call up both John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine, so make it four catchers. Extra arms like Bryan Mitchell and Matt Daley are a given, ditto Preston Claiborne if he returns from his shoulder injury in time. Zoilo Almonte and Zelous Wheeler are other obvious call-up candidates. My hunch is Manny Banuelos will be called up but Gary Sanchez will not.
Tyler Austin, Danny Burawa, Mason Williams, Mark Montgomery, Branden Pinder, and Nick Goody are among the prospects who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, though I would be surprised if the Yankees got a head start on things and called any of them up in September. The only time they’ve done that in recent years was with Murphy and Romine, and only because they needed to get a third catcher on the roster. Lindgren, Murphy, Romine, Mitchell, Daley, Almonte, Wheeler, Banuelos, and Claiborne (if healthy) seem likely to join the club when rosters expand in September. There always seems to be a surprise call-up or two every year, both those are the guys I expect to see brought back.
Mike asks: Who do you see the Yankees sending to the Arizona Fall League?
Teams send either six or seven players to the AzFL each year, usually three position players and either three or four pitchers. All Double-A and Triple-A players are eligible and each team can only send one Single-A player. No players with a full year of service time are allowed, though the league has granted exemptions for young players coming off injury. The AzFL rosters are officially announced at the end of August, so not too far off now.
Players who missed time with injury during the regular season are the standard AzFL fodder, so I think Ramon Flores (ankle) and Goody (coming back from Tommy John surgery) are prime candidates to go to the desert. Banuelos is another as long as he feels well and his innings total is not an issue. Aaron Judge would make sense as the Single-A player if he’s physically up to it. It’s a long season and he might be worn down come October. If not, Eric Jagielo could go after missing more than a month with an oblique injury. The last two or three spots are usually fringe prospects for the taxi squad — they are only eligible to play Wednesday and Saturday, so they are never top prospects — the team wants to see a bit more. Taylor Dugas, Tyler Webb, Nick Rumbelow, and Jaron Long could fit that bill.
Baseball America published their best Double-A tools survey today, though no Yankees farmhands made the cut. I thought OF Mason Williams might take home Best Defensive Outfielder honors, but I guess not. Oh well.
Triple-A Scranton (7-0 loss to Columbus)
- RF Jose Pirela, 1B Austin Romine & DH Kyle Roller: all 0-4 — Pirela and roller each struck out once
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 K — 14-for-41 (.341) in his last ten games
- CF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 0-2, 1 BB
- RHP Chris Leroux: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 48 of 73 pitches were strikes (66%)
- RHP Brandon Pinder: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — nine pitches, eight strikes
- LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 24 of 33 pitches were strikes (73%) … with a lefty bullpen spot there for the taking on the MLB team, this wasn’t to good time to have a dud