Via Daryl Van Schouwen: The White Sox are planning to “make a hard push” for Curtis Granderson when he officially becomes a free agent in a few weeks. The outfielder is from the area and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, which recently broke ground on a new baseball stadium funded by and bearing Granderson’s name.
Granderson, 32, hit .229/.317/.407 (97 wRC+) with seven homers in 245 plate appearances this year while missing more than 100 games thanks to a broken right forearm and broken left hand suffered on hit-by-pitches. Just last week, his agent confirmed Curtis’ “first choice” is returning to New York next year. I don’t expect Granderson to have a hard time finding contract offers this winter, but with every report that another club is interested, the likelihood of him declining a qualifying offer increases. · (51) ·
Last week we looked at the five longest homeruns the Yankees hit this season, so now it’s time to flip the coin and look at the shortest. Given how hilariously homer-friendly Yankee Stadium plays, you can be sure the Bombers hit a ton of cheap homers. Not as many as they hit in Fenway Park though — the four shortest outside-the-park homers were hit in Boston this year. That kinda surprised me, but I guess the Green Monster and Pesky Pole offer some advantages.
Anyway, as I mentioned last week, the Yankees hit 101 fewer homers in 2013 than they did in 2012. That’s the largest single-season drop from one year to the next in baseball history. That decline probably would have been much greater if not for the short right field porch in the Bronx, which saw its fair share of cheapies this summer. You know what I’m talking about, the homers that hit off the top of the wall or just sneak over. The ones that make you chuckle. With a big thanks to Hit Tracker, here are the team’s five shortest homers from this past season.
August 13th: Alfonso Soriano vs. Joe Blanton (video)
I was at this game! That’s kinda fun. The Yankees demolished the Angels during a four-game series in the middle of August, and this game featured two homers by Soriano. The first was a normal-distance two-run shot that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead, but the second was a three-run shot that really turned the contest into a laugher. The full count slider caught a little too much of the plate, and Soriano lifted it out to right field for a dinger off the top of the right field wall. We’ve seen some cheap homers change games dramatically, but not this one. It was already a blowout. Distance: 339 ft.
May 18th: Robinson Cano vs. Brandon Morrow (video, 0:43 mark)
Another two-homer game, this one with two two-run homers for Cano. Both came against Morrow, but it’s the first that winds up on our list. This one was a line drive more than a high fly ball, making it a little more legitimate in my opinion. Those balls that hang up in the air and land just over the wall rather than settling into the outfielder’s glove as a can of corn are the ones that make me roll my eyes. Cano hit this one right on the screws and gave his team a much more comfortable 3-0 lead. His second homer off Morrow was a bomb into the bleachers in right-center. Gone off the bat, no-doubter … all that stuff. Not a candidate for this post, basically. Distance: 338 ft.
July 28th: Soriano vs. Matt Moore (video)
This game was memorable for several reasons. First, the Yankees honored Hideki Matsui‘s career prior to the game with on-field ceremony in which Godzilla officially signed his retirement papers. Second, Derek Jeter made his (second) return from the DL and homered on the first pitch he saw. Third, Soriano, who had just been acquired from the Cubs, had his first big “welcome back to New York game,” going 4-for-5 and driving in three runs. Two of the three scored on his third inning homer, which just snuck over the right field wall to give the Yankees a one-run lead. Watching the replay, you can almost see the exact moment Soriano had the epiphany and realized how friendly the right field short porch can be. Distance: 338 ft.
August 27th: Soriano vs. J.A. Happ (video)
Yep, Soriano again. Of his 17 homers with the Yankees this year, six were classified as “Just Enoughs” by Hit Tracker, meaning they cleared the wall by less than ten vertical feet or landed less than one fence height behind the wall. Unlike the other homers in this post though, this one was not hit in Yankee Stadium. It’s yet another two-homer game, with the second one being a third inning solo shot that literally hit the top of the Rogers Centre left field wall and scooted over for a dinger. With all due respect to Kevin Pillar, a better fielding (better jumping, really) left fielder has a chance to bring this one back. Distance: 337 ft.
May 1st: Ben Francisco vs. Erik Bedard
Yes, Ben Francisco actually hit a homerun as a Yankee. Just one though, and in fact this was the only run he drove in during his 21 games (and 50 plate appearances) in pinstripes. The dinger required a perfect storm: a homer-prone (1.1 HR/9) left-hander in Bedard, a belt-high 89 mph fastball in a 2-0 count, and a ballpark that was just small enough to let the ball carry out. To his credit, Francisco hit the homer out to left field and didn’t take advantage of the short porch in right. The MLB.com video isn’t working for whatever reason, but fast-forward to the 0:30 mark of the embedded video above for Francisco’s season-short tater. Distance: 335 ft.
The 30 clubs combined to hit 4,661 homeruns this past season. Of those 4,661 homers, only eleven traveled a shorter distance than Francisco’s according to Hit Tracker. Two of those eleven were inside-the-park homers, and, believe it or not, there was even one inside-the-parker that traveled farther than Francisco’s blast — Angel Pagan’s walk-off inside-the-parker clanked off the AT&T Park right field wall 388 ft. from home plate. Pretty crazy.
Via Chad Jennings: It’s unlikely the Yankees will allow Dellin Betances to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. “It’s doubtful right now,” said VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. The right-hander asked to play in winter ball so he could continue working on some mechanical stuff.
Betances, 25, moved to the bullpen permanently in May and pitched to a 1.34 ERA with 83 strikeouts (29.3%) and 26 walks (9.2%) in 60.2 relief innings for Triple-A Scranton. He allowed six runs in five big league innings, but struck out ten and walked two. Betances will be out of options next year, meaning he can’t go to the minors without first passing through waivers. That won’t happen, someone would definitely claim him. Brian Cashman confirmed the 6-foot-8 righty will compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training during his end-of-season press conference.
“This year is a big year for me. This is pretty much it. Either I make the team, or I’m with someone else, so I’m definitely looking forward to Spring Training,” said Betances to Jennings. “I feel great. I got the chance to come back up [to the big leagues], and I’m learning a lot. I haven’t had enough experience, but I think next year will be the year.” · (25) ·
The 2013 season is over and we’ve had a week to catch our breath. It’s time to review pretty much all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the team’s strong record in one-run games.
One year ago, the Orioles snuck into the postseason thanks in part to a historic record in one-run games. Their 29-9 (.763) record in one-run contests was the best in baseball history, yet we spent all summer expecting them to crash back to Earth. It never happened. One-run games are highly volatile just because they’re so tight — one weird bounce or bad call by an umpire can change everything. Most teams walk the .500 line in one-run games.
The 2013 Yankees were the 2012 Orioles when it came to games decided by one run, though not as extreme. They didn’t make history or anything like that, but they did have baseball’s best record in those such games at 30-16 (.652). Winning those close games definitely helped them stay in the playoff race far longer than you would have otherwise expected. I think we can both admit this club had little business being within shouting distance of a playoff spot heading into the final week of the regular season.
The 46 one-run games were the fourth fewest in baseball and right in line with New York’s last few seasons. This wasn’t some kind of anomaly; they played 47 one-run games last year (.468 winning percentage), 45 the year before (.467), and 39 the year before that (.513). The Yankees didn’t play substantially more (or fewer) one-run contests in 2013, yet their winning percentage in those games went up while their overall winning percentage (across the full 162 games) came down. Outside of those one-run games, the Yankees went 55-61 (.474) and that sucks.
There’s an awful lot that goes into being successful in one-run games, with the most obvious being bullpens. When you have David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth, those one-run cushions in the late innings tend to turn into wins. Bullpens are absolutely a factor, but there has been quite a bit of research showing their impact on one-run contests is generally overstated. The rest of the team usually has to make it a one-run game before the bullpen comes into play. The game situation controls reliever usage, not the other way around.
Offensively, the Yankees actually fared quite a bit worse in “close and late” situations this year than they did in previous years. “Close and late” situations are defined as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later where they are tied, ahead by one run, or have the tying run on deck. Here’s a quick breakdown of the team’s “close and late” performance in recent years:
So the winning percentage in one-run games got better while the offense was terrible in the late innings of close games. Okay then. I mean, they had a lot of bad hitters on the roster this summer, so it’s no surprise they didn’t hit much late in the game. They didn’t hit much overall. Anecdotally, the Yankees did seem to score a bunch of runs early in games this year before the offense went to sleep in the middle innings, but the stats don’t really bear that out — they scored 221 runs in innings 1-3, 224 runs in innings 4-6, and 205 runs in innings 7+. This isn’t some kinda weird run distribution thing.
Without re-watching each game and figuring out exactly what happened, it’s close to impossible to explain why a team was successful in one-run games. Heck, Mariano Rivera blew seven (!) saves this year and five of them were one-run leads. They actually came back to win two of those five (by one run, of course), but the Yankees could have very easily been 31-15 (.674) or 32-14 (.696) in one-run contests had Rivera not had what amounts to a down season for him. The Bombers had baseball’s best record in one-run games this year for many reasons, and whether those reasons continue next year is a mystery. After that historic record last summer, the Orioles had the fifth worst record in one-run games this year (20-31, .392). The magic isn’t guaranteed to last, but it’s not guaranteed to disappear all together either.
I always try to dig up some kinda neat video for the open thread, preferably a memorable Yankees moment. Occasionally I’ll branch off into general MLB, but I try to adhere to #YankeesOnly. Every so often I’ll stumble across something I completely forgot about, such as the back-to-back-to-back homers against the Indians in Game One of the 1997 ALDS. The bespectacled Eric Plunk gave up the first two homers and was a former Yankee, having come and gone in the two Rickey Henderson trades with the Athletics. The Yankees didn’t win that series, as you know, but boy where those three straight dingers awesome.
Here is tonight’s open thread. The Red Sox are playing the Rays right now on TBS and have a chance to sweep their ALDS matchup (Clay Buchholz vs. Alex Cobb). The Dodgers can eliminate the Braves at 9:30pm ET on TBS (
Ricky Nolasco Clayton Kershaw vs. Freddy Garcia). The Jets and Falcons are the Monday Night Football game, plus the Rangers and Devils are both playing later on as well. Lots to talk about tonight. Go nuts.
Via Mark Gonzales: The Cubs have “made it clear through channels” they are willing to top whatever contract offer the Yankees make Joe Girardi. George King says New York offered their manager a three-year deal worth north of $12M guaranteed with bonuses that could push the total value to $15M. It would make Girardi one of the highest paid managers in baseball and they’re still waiting for his response.
We heard the Cubs were willing to make a “serious contract offer” just last week, but Girardi’s contract doesn’t expire until October 31st and the Yankees are not giving him permission to negotiate with other teams in the meantime. In addition to increasing the risk of losing him, they would also be gift-wrapping Girardi some serious leverage by allowing him to talk to the Cubs or whoever else before his contract runs out. I’m going to stick with my original not-so-bold prediction that if he doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees before his contract expires, Girardi’s a goner. · (63) ·
The 2013 season is over and we’ve had a week to catch our breath. It’s time to review the year that was, starting with the Yankees’ significant injuries. They pretty much defined the season.
Every single team deals with injuries every single year. It’s impossible to make it through the full 162-game season without losing players to injury, either nagging or severe. Injuries come with the territory and the Yankees had a lot of them in 2013. They didn’t use a franchise record 56 players out of the kindness of their heart — they lost roughly 1,400 man games to injury and used the Major League DL a ridiculous (and MLB-high) 28 times this season. If you wore pinstripes this summer, chances are you got hurt at one point or another.
For the most part, we can fit every injury into one of two categories: predictable and unpredictable. A player rolls his ankle running through first base? Unpredictable. Not necessarily surprising, it happens, but not something you’d expect. But a pitcher with a history of arm problems blowing out his elbow? Yeah that’s predictable. Some guys are so injury prone it’s a matter of when they’ll get hurt, not if. You want to think this is the year they’ll stay healthy — remember when being a full-time DH was supposed to keep Nick Johnson healthy? — but it very rarely is.
The Yankees had a ton of injuries this year, some more devastating than others. We’re not going to focus on the nagging day-to-day stuff or quick 15-day DL stints in this post. We’re going to look at the long-term injuries — both the predictable and unpredictable ones — meaning the guys who missed most or all of the regular season. I’m leaving Alex Rodriguez (left hip) out of this because we knew coming into the year he would be out until at least the All-Star break. I want to focus on the players everyone expected (or hoped) would be on the roster come Opening Day.
Predictable Injury: Derek Jeter
It all started last September, when Jeter fouled several pitches off his left ankle/foot and played through a bone bruise late in the season. In Game One of the ALCS, the ankle finally gave out and fractured. The Cap’n had surgery in October and the initial timetable had him on track for Spring Training and the start of the season. He’s Derek Jeter and he works harder than everyone, so he’ll make it back in time, right? Wrong.
Jeter’s progress in camp was deliberate as he nursed the ankle, and it wasn’t until mid-March that he appeared in his first Grapefruit League game. He played five exhibition games before needing a cortisone shot in the ankle and being ruled out for Opening Day. Here’s the timeline that followed:
- March 31st: Yankees place Jeter on 15-day DL.
- April 18th: Yankees announced Jeter suffered a setback — a second (and smaller) fracture in the ankle. He was not expected to return until the All-Star break.
- April 27th: Jeter is transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Vidal Nuno.
- July 11th: Yankees activate Jeter off DL. He goes 1-for-4 in his first game back but suffers a calf strain running out a ground ball.
- July 23rd: Jeter is retroactively placed on the 15-day DL after the calf doesn’t respond to rest and treatment.
- July 28th: Yankees activate Jeter. He plays five games before the calf starts acting up again.
- August 5th: Jeter is retroactively placed on the 15-day DL (again) as rest and treatment doesn’t do the trick (again).
- August 26th: Yankees activate Jeter. He plays 12 games before his surgically-repaired left ankle becomes sore.
- September 11th: For the fourth time, Jeter is placed on the 15-day DL. The moved officially ends his season. Three days later, the Yankees transferred him to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for David Phelps.
Four DL trips for what amounts to three different leg injuries. Jeter appeared in only 17 of the team’s 162 games and looked pretty much nothing like himself, with little impact at the plate and close to zero mobility in the field. He was never the rangiest defender, but it was especially bad this season. When a 38-year-old shortstop — Jeter turned 39 in June — has a major ankle surgery, you have to expect there to be some delays and complications during the rehab process, even when he has a full offseason to rest.
Unpredictable Injury: Mark Teixeira
Up until last season, Teixeira was an iron man. He was good for 155+ games played a year every year, but various injuries (cough, wrist, calf) limited him to only 123 games in 2012. With the cough behind him and an offseason of rest for the calf, Teixeira was expected to be as good as new for this season. Then, while with Team USA preparing for the World Baseball Classic, he felt some discomfort in his right wrist and had to be shut down.
The soreness turned out to be a tendon sheath injury, which can be pretty severe if not allowed to heal properly. Teixeira and the Yankees opted for rehab because there was no reason not to — surgery, which was always a realistic possibility, would have ended his season anyway, so might as well try the rehab route first. He did the rest and rehab thing before rejoining the team on the final day of May. Teixeira appeared in 15 games before the wrist started acting up again. On July 3rd, he had the season-ending surgery. No one saw the wrist problem, which was described as a “wear-and-tear” injury, coming.
Predictable Injury: Kevin Youkilis
When it became official that A-Rod needed his hip surgery in early-December, the Yankees had to find a replacement everyday third baseman. The free agent market had little to offer, especially once Eric Chavez decided to move closer to home in Arizona. New York signed Youkilis to a one-year, $12M contract to replace Rodriguez despite his history of back problems.
Not counting four separate day-to-day bouts with spasms from 2008-2010, Youkilis spent time on the DL with back problems in both 2011 and 2012. That doesn’t include some nagging day-to-day stuff between the DL stints either. Sure enough, 17 games in the season, Youkilis’ back started barking. He missed a handful of games with tightness before aggravating the injury on a feet-first slide into first base on a defensive play. That sent him to the DL with a bulging disc. Youkilis returned in late-May and managed to play another eleven games before needing season-ending surgery to repair the damaged disc. For their $12M investment, the Yankees received 118 mostly ineffective plate appearances. Backs don’t get better, then just get worse.
Unpredictable Injuries: Curtis Granderson
Aside from Jeter and A-Rod having surgery in the offseason, the parade of injuries started in the first home game of Spring Training. On the fifth pitch of his first Grapefruit League at-bat, Granderson took a J.A. Happ fastball to the right forearm. Just like that, the Yankees had lost their top power hitter for three months with a broken arm. They’re lucky (in a sense) that the injury occurred so early in Spring Training and Granderson was able to return in mid-May, not much later in the season.
After returning from the DL in the team’s 39th game of the season, Granderson appeared in eight games before another errant pitch sent him to the sidelines. This time it was Rays left-hander Cesar Ramos who did the deed. The pitch broke Granderson’s left hand and would keep him out ten weeks even though the initial diagnosis called for a six-to-eight week recovery time. Curtis returned to the team in early-August and wound up playing in only 61 of the club’s 162 games. Hit-by-pitch injuries are the definition of unpredictable injuries.
Predictable Injury: Michael Pineda
Thanks to last May’s labrum surgery, Pineda was expected to miss the start of the 2013 season but be a factor in the second half. He started an official minor league rehab assignment in early-June and exhausted the full 30 days before the Yankees determined he was not big league ready. They optioned Pineda to Triple-A Scranton in early-July and less than a month later, he came down with shoulder tightness. Although tests came back clean, the tightness all but assured we wouldn’t see him in pinstripes for the second straight season. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman said during his end-of-season press conference they shut Pineda down as a healthy player after more than a year of rehab and pitching just to get him rest. Given the nature of the injury, it was no surprise the right-hander was slow to return and ultimately a non-factor in 2013.
Unpredictable Injury: Frankie Cervelli
Thanks to some throwing improvement in Spring Training and the fact that Chris Stewart can’t hit, Cervelli took over as the team’s everyday catcher early in the season. He started 16 of the team’s first 22 games, but in that 16th start, Rajai Davis fouled off a pitch that hit Frankie square in his exposed right hand. His suffered a fracture and was expected to miss at least six weeks … until he suffered a stress reaction in his elbow during rehab. The stress reaction supposedly stemmed from a change in his throwing motion to compensate for the hand injury. Cervelli was suspended 50-games for his ties to Biogenesis in August but that really didn’t matter; the elbow injury had ended his season anyway. Catching is brutal, but a broken hand on a foul tip is still not something you can see coming.
Predictable Injury: Travis Hafner
You name it, and chances are it sent Hafner to the DL at some point in recent years. Most notably, he missed almost the entire 2008 season due to right shoulder surgery. The same shoulder started barking this summer, first in mid-May and then again mid-July. It’s probably not a coincidence his production completely tanked after the first bout with soreness. Hafner was placed on the DL in late-July and missed the rest of the season, for all intents and purposes. He was activated for the last few games of the season but only played in one. Pronk visited the DL seven times from 2008-2012, so it’s no surprise he wound up there in 2013.
Baseball America continued their look at the top 20 prospects in each of the 16 minor leagues with the High-A Florida State League today (no subs. req’d). The list was topped by OF Byron Buxton (Twins), the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. 3B Miguel Sano (Twins) and SS Javier Baez (Cubs) round out the top three and complete the holy trinity of position player prospects. They’re three of the very best in the game.
The Yankees had two players make the list, starting with C Gary Sanchez at #7. He was sandwiched between two brand names: RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets) and OF Jorge Soler (Cubs). “Sanchez’s best tools are his plus-plus raw power and his throwing arm, which rates at least as a 70 [on the 20-80 scouting scale] … His blocking and receiving remain suspect, however,” said the subscriber-only write-up. “[He] should produce .260 averages and 20-25 homers annually.”
OF Mason Williams, who had a poor year overall, was further down the list at #19. “Scouts report his swing looked good in batting practice but changed in games to a more slashing approach, costing him power … When he played with energy, he turned in plus running times and showed the easy range to be an asset defensively in center field, with a strong throwing arm,” said the write-up. That whole “played with energy” part has reportedly been a bit of an issue for Williams in recent years.
The Yankees landed six players on the Rookie Gulf Coast League list but only one apiece on Short Season NY-Penn League and Low-A South Atlantic League lists. The Double-A Eastern League is scheduled to be posted next Monday and the league champion Trenton Thunder should be represented by a few players, specifically OF Slade Heathcott and OF Tyler Austin. Sanchez definitely wasn’t with the team long enough to qualify for the list. LHP Nik Turley has a (very) outside chance of making it as well.
2013 Season: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs
Top stories from last week:
- Alex Rodriguez filed two lawsuits last week, one against MLB for their “witch hunt” and another against Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad for an alleged misdiagnosis of his left hip injury last fall. A-Rod also asked MLB to stand down as his general counsel during the appeal of his 211-game suspension, which started last week.
- The Yankees made an official contract offer to impending free agent Joe Girardi, and they’ll have to give him a “significant” raise to keep him. The Nationals asked for permission to interview Girardi while the Cubs are preparing a “serious contract offer.” The Yankees are not giving their manager permission to speak to other clubs until his contract expires on October 31st. Tony Pena is unlikely to be the next manager if Girardi leaves.
- Injury News: Boone Logan (elbow) had surgery to remove a bone spur and is expected to start throwing in December. Minor leaguers Ty Hensley (hips) and Mark Montgomery (shoulder) have started throwing while Gosuke Katoh (finger) will miss a few weeks after tearing a ligament.
- The Yankees were one of several clubs to scout free agent Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who held several showcase events at their complex in the Dominican Republic. The Rangers called to inquire about the availability of Robinson Cano at the trade deadline, but talks never got off the ground.
- Derek Jeter has not yet made a decision about his $9.5M player option. Curtis Granderson‘s agent said his client’s “first choice” is to return to Yankees. Both Mark Reynolds and Brendan Ryan expressed an interest in returning to New York next season.
- Mike Zagurski elected free agency after being removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A Scranton.
- Rafael DePaula made Baseball America’s list of the top 20 prospects in the Low-A South Atlantic League while Eric Jagielo made the Short Season Staten Island list. The Yankees have the 18th overall pick in next summer’s draft.
- Brian Cashman touched on a number of topics during his annual end-of-season press conference. He said the team is going to look into the cause of their unproductive farm system.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Here is your open thread for the night. The Pirates and Cardinals are playing Game Three of their NLDS right now on TBS (Francisco Liriano vs. Joe Kelly) while the Braves and Dodgers will do the same at 8pm ET on TBS (Julio Teheran vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu). Texans-49ers is the late NFL game. You folk know these things operate by now, so have at it.