Saturday Open Thread

We’re still a few hours away from first pitch between the Yankees and Angels, so here’s an open thread to keep you busy for the time being. The Mets and Giants are on FOX Sports 1 (4pm ET), there are some NFL preseason games on as well, plus the Olympics are still going on. Talk about that stuff or whatever else here. The regular game thread will be along later.

Saturday Links: Gurriel, Beltran, A-Rod, Forbes, Watson

Lourdes Jr. (Getty)
Lourdes Jr. (Getty)

The Yankees and Angels continue their weekend series later today, but not until 9:35pm ET. Blah. I hate Saturday night games, especially when they’re on the West Coast. Oh well. What can you do? Here are some links to help you pass the time.

MLB declares Gurriel a free agent

MLB has declared Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a free agent, reports Eric Longenhagen. He is the younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel, who signed a five-year contract worth $47.5M with the Astros a few weeks ago. Lourdes is a free agent but he’s not going to sign right away. Once he turns 23 in October, he will no longer be eligible for the international spending restrictions. He’s going to wait until then to sign to max out his earning potential.

Longenhagen and Ben Badler (subs. req’d) say reports on Lourdes are mixed. He’s a good athlete capable of playing an up-the-middle position, and while he has speed and power, his swing can get long. Gurriel has a lot of upside, but is also a bit of a project for a kid who will soon turn 23. He’s probably not someone who will zoom through the minors and be in the big leagues within a year. That’s fine. Talent is talent, and Lourdes has a lot of it.

Red Sox tried hard to land Beltran

According to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox “tried very hard” to acquire Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, though the Rangers swooped in with a better offer. I assume Boston would have played Beltran in left field, where they’ve had a revolving door pretty much all season. Or maybe Beltran plays right and Mookie Betts moves to left. I dunno. Who cares. Whatever.

The real question is whether the Yankees (and Red Sox, for that matter) would have actually gone through with the trade if the Red Sox had indeed made the best offer. Potentially losing a trade to your biggest rival is enough to make anyone squeamish. My guess is Brian Cashman and David Dombrowski would have been willing to go through with a trade, but the two ownership groups would not have signed off. This is much different than a Stephen Drew-for-Kelly Johnson swap.

Hal not ruling out a spot for A-Rod in Monument Park

During a radio interview last week, Hal Steinbrenner did not rule out the possibility of Alex Rodriguez one day winding up in Monument Park. He didn’t exactly endorse it, but he didn’t shoot it down entirely either. Here’s what Hal said, via Brendan Kuty:

“It’s a bridge to cross when we come to it, but he has done a lot for this organization, on and off the field,” Steinbrenner said. “And I’m talking about players way back, even (Mariners second baseman Robinson) Cano, who he was a mentor to. He’s done a lot for this organization on the field though the years, but also off the field that people don’t know about. He’s been a great mentor.”

A-Rod is, unquestionably, one of the greatest players in Yankees history, especially recent history. He’s among the all-time franchise leaders in a ton of categories, including homers (6th), OPS (7th), WAR (8th), OPS+ (10th), runs (10th), and total bases (10th). Alex also won two MVPs in pinstripes and was a major factor in the team’s most recent World Series title. If that’s not Monument Park plaque worthy, I don’t know what is.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Yankees among most valuable sports franchises

A few weeks back Forbes posted their annual look at the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The Yankees placed fourth, with an estimated value of $3.4 billion. That’s up 6% from last year. The Yankees are behind only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), Real Madrid ($3.65 billion), and Barcelona ($3.55 billion). The Dodgers are the second most valuable MLB franchise at $2.5 billion, so the gap between the Yankees and everyone else is significant.

Attendance dropped from 41,995 fans per game in 2014 to 39,430 last year, and again to 38,967 so far this year. That’s roughly 3,000 fewer fans per game since two seasons ago. The attendance decline was at least somewhat expected after Derek Jeter retired, though obviously the team’s less than inspiring play for much of this season has played a role too. That said, the Yankees are still raking in money through other avenues (YES, Legends Hospitality, etc.), and there’s no real end in sight. The team prints money.

Watson battling kidney failure

Going to close with some sad news: Bob Watson, former GM of the Yankees, is currently battling kidney failure, he told Chuck Modiano. He is on nocturnal dialysis and doctors told him he only has a few years to live. “I really wanted to be (at the 1996 World Series reunion last weekend), but my health won’t allow it. I am battling Stage 4 kidney failure. Not too many people know about it,” said Watson, who beat prostate cancer in the mid-1990s.

Watson, 70, had an incredibly productive playing career — he hit .295/.364/.447 from 1966-84, mostly with the Astros, but also with the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox — and he became the first African American GM in baseball history to win a World Series in 1996. Watson served as Yankees GM from October 1995 to February 1998, when he stepped down and took a position in the commissioner’s office. He bridged the Gene Michael and Brian Cashman eras. I’m sad to hear he isn’t doing well. Keep fighting, Bob.

Yanks use the long ball and Tanaka to shut out Angels 7-0

Source: FanGraphs

Earlier this season the Yankees were a horribly boring team that seemed to be going nowhere. They might still be going nowhere, but at least now they’re fun and exciting with a bunch of energetic young players in the lineup. The Yankees beat the Angels 7-0 in Friday night’s series opener. West Coast night games get bullet point recaps, so let’s get to it:

  • Bronx Bombers: It was ugly from the get-go for Jered Weaver. He served up a leadoff homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning, then, two innings later, Ellsbury dunked a single into shallow right to score another run. The wheels came off in the fifth. Ronald Torreyes (!), Didi Gregorius, and Brian McCann all took Weaver deep and gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead. Weaver allowed five runs on ten hits (four homers) in 4.2 innings. Oof.
  • Hit Parade: The Yankees kept piling on after Weaver was out of the game. Three singles (Aaron Hicks, Torreyes, Ellsbury) and a ground-rule double (Gregorius) plated another two runs in the sixth inning. Eight of 12 Yankees had hits at one point spanning the fifth and sixth innings, and five of the eight went for extra bases (two doubles, three homers). That led to a comfy 7-0 lead.
  • Master Tanaka: The box score says Masahiro Tanaka allowed five singles in 7.2 innings, and he seemed to be even better than that. The Angels didn’t have a runner reach third base until Gregorio Petit, the last batter Tanaka faced, blooped a single into shallow left to put runners on the corners. Tanaka fanned a season high nine, and nine of his other 14 outs were recorded on the infield. Total domination by the staff ace.
  • Leftovers: Torreyes went 4-for-4 and hit his first homer of the season his career … Ellsbury had three hits, and his leadoff homer was his first homer of the second half … Gary Sanchez went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk … Aaron Judge went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, though he hit a fly ball to right that would have been a homer in Yankee StadiumAdam Warren struck out Mike Trout with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning … the Yankees have hit 3+ homers in three straight games for the first time since last June and only the second time since 2012.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees and Angels continue this three-game series Saturday night. That’s a 9:35pm ET start. Blah. West Coast night game on a Saturday? The worst. Luis Cessa will make his first big league start in that one. Ricky Nolasco will be on the bump for the Halos.

DotF: Frazier homers, Severino strikes out ten in AAA win

Another day’s worth of notes:

  • Hudson Belinsky has a full write-up of RHP Chance Adams’ start last night. It’s not behind the Baseball America paywall, as far as I can tell. “The sum of Adams’ parts certainly points to a future as a major league starter. He’s shown the ability to command four pitches and maintain velocity, and he was able to throw all of his pitches from the same arm slot,” wrote Belinsky. “Fifth-round picks usually are not this good this quickly.”
  • RHP Diego Moreno has been released, reports Shane Hennigan. We’ll always have that game in Texas last year, Diego. The Yankees originally acquired Moreno from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett salary dump trade. We can close the book on that deal now.
  • Hal Steinbrenner told Ken Davidoff he plans to reach out to Alex Rodriguez to gauge his interest in traveling to Tampa to work with SS Gleyber Torres and SS Jorge Mateo in a near future. “I can’t think of anybody better to bring in for a week or two weeks,” said Hal.
  • Mateo, meanwhile, ranked ninth in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He’s finally starting to come out of his extended slump. Also, OF Isiah Gilliam landed in today’s Prospect Report. Gilliam is fourth in the rookie Appalachian League with nine homers.
  • Brendan Kuty spoke to OF Aaron Judge about his ongoing swing changes. Most notably, he’s added a leg kick and lowered his hands this year. Judge told Kuty that happened after watching video of Matt Holliday and Anthony Rizzo.

Triple-A Scranton (7-4 win over Pawtucket)

  • LF Mason Williams: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI
  • DH Clint Frazier: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — second homer since the trade … he’s gone 9-for-29 (.310) in his last seven games
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB
  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • RF Jake Cave: 3-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — getting more at-bats since the Aaron Judge promotion and he’s making the most of them
  • RHP Luis Severino: 5.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 WP, 5/1 GB/FB — 74 of 106 pitches were strikes (70%) … I don’t care about the results at all … I just want to know whether he threw his changeup
  • RHP Jonathon Holder: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine pitches, eight strikes

[Read more…]

Game 121: Out West


I don’t know about you, but West Coast night games don’t even feel real to me. It’s almost like they don’t count. Baseball’s great. I love it dearly. But staying up this late to watch games? Not something I’d like to do regularly. The Yankees will be out west for the next week, so we’re stuck. So it goes. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. SS Didi Gregorius
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. RF Aaron Judge
  7. LF Aaron Hicks
  8. 1B Tyler Austin
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Great weather in Anaheim. Sunny and generally excellent for baseball. I didn’t even bother to check the forecast. That’s the everyday forecast for Orange County. Tonight’s game is going to start at 10:05pm ET and you can watch on FOX Sports 1. No YES, no regular FOX. FOX Sports 1 only. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Brett Gardner (ankle) remains day-to-day and could return tomorrow … Chase Headley (Achilles) is also day-to-day and he figures to be out a little longer than Gardner … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) went under the knife today. He had his second career Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired. The Yankees say everything went “as expected.”

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are in Orange County and start their three-game series with the Angels a little later tonight. Here’s an open thread to hold you over until the regular game thread comes along. MLB Network is showing some regional games, and apparently there’s a preseason NFL game on as well. The Olympics are still going too. Talk about that stuff or anything else here.

8/19 to 8/21 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The Yankees are out on the West Coast and they start a six-game swing through Anaheim and Seattle tonight. The Yankees haven’t had much success at Angel Stadium over the last decade or so. They’re 13-23 at the ballpark since 2007, and only once during that time did they have a winning record in Anaheim. They went 2-1 there in 2014. Hopefully this trip goes better. The Yankees swept four games from the Angels at Yankee Stadium back in June.

What Have They Done Lately?

Good gravy are the Angels bad. They’re so bad they give me anxiety. How are they going to turn this around? The big league team stinks and they have the worst farm system in baseball. New GM Billy Eppler, who spent years as Brian Cashman‘s right-hand man, sure has his hands full. The Halos recently snapped an eleven-game losing streak and they’re 51-70 with a -34 run differential overall this season. Only the Braves (44-77), Twins (49-72), Diamondbacks (50-71), and Rays (50-69) have worse records.

Offense & Defense

Believe it or not, the Angels have a pretty good offense this season. They’ve averaging 4.52 runs per game with a team 102 wRC+, so they’re above-average. Way better than the Yankees too (4.15 and 88). The Halos are currently without 1B C.J. Cron (120 wRC+), though he could be activated at some point this weekend. He’s been sidelined with a hand injury. Both C Geovany Soto (knee) and OF Shane Robinson (hip) were just placed on the DL.

Duckface Trout. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)
Duckface Trout. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)

As always, manager Mike Scioscia builds his lineup around CF Mike Trout (166 wRC+), who remains the best player in the world. I got caught up in the Bryce Harper hypefest earlier this season too. Shame on me. Trout is simply incredible. He’s so, so good. Trout hits third with 3B Yunel Escobar (116 wRC+) and RF Kole Calhoun (114 wRC+) in front of him, and DH Albert Pujols (102 wRC+) and SS Andrelton Simmons (81 wRC+) behind him. Simmons is day-to-day with a little rib problem, it should be noted.

1B/OF Ji-Man Choi (68 wRC+) is playing left field regularly and 2B Johnny Giavotella (80 wRC+) is the second baseman. C Jett Bandy (116 wRC+) and C Carlos Perez (62 wRC+) share catching duties. I called him Jeff Bandy in the previous series preview. Oops. UTIL Jefry Marte (101 wRC+) has been playing first base with Cron out. OF Nick Buss (143 wRC+), IF Cliff Pennington (97 wRC+), and ex-Yankee IF Gregorio Petit (91 wRC+) are the other bench players. Petit had an annoyingly huge series in New York last time these two clubs met.

The Angels are a pretty good team, defensively. Trout is awesome in center and so is Calhoun in right. Simmons is still the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and both Giavotella and Escobar are solid as well. Choi is playing out of position in left field, so he’s their one real weakness. Both Bandy and Perez are very good defenders. Like Scioscia would have an offense-first catcher. Hah.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (10:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (vs. NYY)
Once upon a time the Weaver was one of the best pitchers in baseball thanks to his unique ability to generate weak pop-ups. Now he’s 33 years old and has a 5.32 ERA (5.59 FIP) in 23 starts and 133.2 innings this season. He doesn’t miss bats (11.6%), doesn’t get grounders (28.5%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.75 HR/9). Weaver does limit walks (6.4%) though, plus his platoon split is tiny. (Because everyone crushes him.) These days Weaver averages 83.7 mph with his fastball, better than only knuckleballers R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright among qualified pitchers. Doug Fister has the next slowest heater among non-knucklers at 86.9 mph, so we’re talking about a gap of more than three miles an hour between Weaver and the next slowest fastball. Yeesh. His kitchen sink approach includes low-80s sinkers, mid-70s changeups and sliders, and an upper-60s curveball. Everything is slow. The Yankees scored six runs in 5.1 innings against Weaver in June.

Saturday (9:35pm ET): RHP Luis Cessa (No vs. LAA) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (vs. NYY)
Nolasco, 33, came over from the Twins in a trade deadline move I still don’t quite understand for either team. Nolasco and broken Alex Meyer for Hector Santiago? Okie dokie. Nolasco has a 5.13 ERA (4.43 FIP) in 142 total innings this season — he’s still doing the “lower FIP than ERA” thing, one year he’ll live up to his potential! — with middling ancillary stats (17.6 K%, 5.5 BB%, 42.1 GB%, 1.39 HR/9). Righties have hit him much harder than lefties this season, which is unusual. Typically his platoon split is small because he’s a kitchen sink guy. Nolasco sits in the low-90s with his four-seamer and sinker, in the low-80s with his splitter and slider, and in the mid-70s with his curveball. He throws all five pitches regularly too. The Yankees saw Nolasco back in June, when he was still with the Twins, and he held them to two runs in seven innings.

Nolasco. (Jon Durr/Getty)
Nolasco. (Jon Durr/Getty)

Sunday (3:35pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (vs. NYY)
A few months ago the Angels acquired Chacin in a minor trade with the Braves simply because they needed someone to soak up innings. He’s thrown 103.1 innings across 17 starts and eight relief appearances this year, and he’s allowed a lot of runs (5.92 ERA) and a lot of walks (9.2%). The ground ball rate (49.4%) is good while the strikeout (17.2%) and homer (1.05 HR/9) numbers are mediocre. That all works out to a 4.50 FIP. Chacin has a small platoon split, and his trademark pitch is a low-90s sinker. He backs it up with upper-80s cutters, mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and upper-80s curveballs. Chacin throws everything too. He’s a true five-pitch pitcher. The Yankees faced Chacin during the series in New York a few weeks back. They scored five runs in 5.1 innings.

Bullpen Status

The Angels are currently without closer Huston Street (knee), primary setup man Joe Smith (traded), and secondary setup man Cam Bedrosian (finger). They’ve been losing so much lately that I have no idea who Scioscia would turn to in a save situation. Hopefully we don’t find out this weekend. Here’s the bullpen:

Closer: ?
Setup: RHP Fernando Salas (4.64 ERA/4.93 FIP), RHP J.C. Ramirez (3.67/4.19)
Middle: LHP Jose Alvarez (3.80/3.17), RHP Mike Morin (4.46/3.46), RHP Jose Valdez (5.68/6.62)
Long: RHP Deolis Guerra (2.72/3.38), LHP Brett Oberholtzer (5.60/5.94)

That is not the Jose Valdez who spent parts of seven seasons in the Yankees’ farm system. That Jose Valdez played in Mexico last year and doesn’t seem to be active in 2016. The Angels have a different Jose Valdez. Salas is by far the most experienced reliever in the bullpen — he saved 24 games for the 2011 Cardinals, you know — and I assume he’s their ninth inning guy for the time being.

Alvarez (three pitches), Valdez (nine pitches), and Salas (26 pitches) all pitched last night. The Yankees had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get. Check out our Bullpen Workload for Joe Girardi‘s recent reliever usage anyway.