Earlier this week I took an early look at some of the Yankees’ needs leading up to the trade deadline, but trades are a two-way street. Like it or not, you have to give something to get something, and this post will focus on what the Yankees have to give.
I think the easiest thing to do is to break down potential trade chips into various categories. Ranking them one through five or one through ten or whatever doesn’t really work for something like this. Remember, a player’s trade value is only as high as what other teams think of him. They all have their own evaluations of what a player is and will be, and rarely are they fooled by a hot month or something like that. It happens, but not often. Let’s look at what New York has to peddle on the trade market.
I don’t expected the Yankees to trade any of these four guys — or Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda, for that matter — but it’s not completely off the table. All four will hit free agency after the season and it seems like only Hughes has a realistic chance of returning for 2014 and beyond. Or at least he should be the priority re-sign given the state of the pitching staff going forward, I should say.
Hughes also has the most trade value of the bunch at this moment, especially if his last four starts are an indication of how he will pitch going forward. Granderson could change things if he returns from the DL and starts swatting homers left and right. The Yankees have exceeded expectations so far and they are right in the thick of the division race, so I wouldn’t count on them selling off pieces if that remains the case in a month or two. This team doesn’t trade established big leaguers at the deadline, they acquire them.
Young pitching is always a hot commodity, regardless of the time of year. The Yankees have four good but not great young arms at the big league level right now, though only one has shown he can hold up for a full season as a starter in the show. Given Nova’s general awfulness since last year’s All-Star break, I think Phelps might have the most trade value of the bunch despite having one fewer year of team control remaining than Nuno or Warren. The Yankees need young pitching as much as anyone, but none of these four are expected to be high-end contributors and simple attrition means one or two are likely to flame out rather soon. Keeping the right guys and moving the wrong ones is much easier said than done.
All four of these guys were consensus top 100 prospects coming into the year, but I don’t view any of them as untouchable. The Yankees have a collection of very good but not truly elite position player prospects, none of whom has more than a month of playing time above High-A to their credit. That will limit their value.
Based on the way people in the organization publicly talked about these players the last few weeks, I’m guess Heathcott is the least likely to go. He’s the tooled up former first round pick, and those guys tend to get more rope than anyone else. Sanchez is probably the most indispensable since he’s a catcher and the best prospect of the bunch, but he shouldn’t stand in the way of a significant upgrade to the big league roster in my opinion. Aside from the Cliff Lee non-trade, the Yankees don’t trade their top prospects for rentals. If they move one (or several) of these guys, it will be for someone who will stick around for a few years.
Any player who is a legitimate big league prospect — there are a lot fewer than most fans want to admit — but not a top prospect falls into this category. These are the guys who are missing the standout tool, who are too far down the ladder and unproven, have injury issues, stuff like that. They’re unlikely to be headliners in a trade, especially for an established big leaguer, but they are second and third pieces in a package. Some are easier to part with than others, obviously.
The Impending Rule 5 Draft Guys: Heathcott, Tommy Kahnle, Bryan Mitchell, J.R. Murphy, Chase Whitley
Consider this a sub-category under Secondary Prospects. The Yankees have added something like six or seven prospects to the 40-man roster in each of the last two or three years to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which has created a lot of 40-man clutter. Many of them were fringy prospects who were unlikely to stick on a team’s 25-man active roster all season. Rather than add to the pile this offseason, I’d like to see the Yankees decides which prospects are actually worthwhile and look to move the others. Trading them a year too soon is better than losing them on waivers a year too late. Heathcott and Murphy are locks to be added to the 40-man after the season, but the others are in that “interesting but not MLB ready” limbo. Trading them now would be preferable to carrying them on the 40-man as they continue to develop.
Has Overbay played well enough that some team would actually be willing to give up an okay prospect for him when Mark Teixeira returns? Would the clubs who pursued Ichiro this winter — the Giants, Phillies, and White Sox as far as we know — be interested in taking him via trade? Several teams have asked about Nunez in the past, are any still interested? Those are questions I can’t answer, but they are questions that could have surprisingly positive answers for the Yankees. They’re going to have to move people once the injured players start to return, it would be neat if one or two of them brought something back.
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The Yankees have a large volume of trade chips at their disposal leading up to the deadline, but there’s no knockout player they can put on the table who would help them get pretty much anyone they want. There’s no Jurickson Profar, no 2007 Joba, no 2010 Jesus Montero. The team has some obvious needs, and they might have too look a little harder than most years to find a potential trade partner given what they have to offer.
Via Chad Jennings: VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed right-hander Ty Hensley is likely to miss the entire 2013 season after having surgery to repair labrum damage in his hip. “Spring Training,” said Newman when asked about a target return date.
Hensley, 19, was the team’s first round pick (30th overall) last summer. He agreed to a $1.6M bonus shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical revealed a shoulder “abnormality” and the bonus was adjusted down to $1.2M. I can’t say this is the most surprising news in the world — hip surgery is always pretty serious and when Yankees’ pitching prospects get hurt, they usually stay hurt for a while. I think we’re beyond the point of calling all these minor league pitching injuries bad luck. · (86) ·
Via George King & Chad Jennings: Joe Girardi confirmed Ivan Nova is a candidate to start one game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Indians if he comes through today’s Extended Spring Training game well. “As long as he feels good and throws the ball well (it’s possible),” said the skipper. “We are allowed to add that 26th man [for doubleheaders].”
Nova, 26, is on the DL with a triceps issue and is eligible to be activated on Sunday. I’m probably reading too much into this, but I thought it was interesting Girardi mentioned the 26th man. The rules say the 26th player has to go back to the minors immediately following the doubleheader, so either they’ll have to rearrange the bullpen — technically send down Vidal Nuno or Preston Claiborne, called them back up as the 26th man — or Nova’s going to minors to work on things following that game. My money’s on the former. · (8) ·
Like many of you, I was extremely skeptical when the Yankees acquired Vernon Wells for two non-prospects at the very end of Spring Training. The move stunk of desperation, but frankly the team was desperate at that time. They lost a lot of offense to injury in the prior weeks and something had to be done. The Angels had a player they wanted the dump and the Yankees had a need. The puzzle pieces fit.
Wells, 34, made the Yankees look very smart for the first few weeks of the season. He had three hits, including a homer, against the Red Sox during the second game of the season. Two days later he went deep again, and the homers kept coming — five in his first 15 games of the year. Wells finished April with a .300/.366/.544 (145 wRC+) batting line that exceeded every reasonable expectation. It was just what the Yankees needed.
Things haven’t been going so well for Vernon since then, however. Last night’s 0-for-4 dropped him to 3-for-21 (.143) on the month and 10-for-48 (.208) in his last 13 games. That dates back to the series in Toronto, when he bludgeoned his former team for three days. Wells is still hitting a respectable .270/.328/.468 (114 wRC+) on the season, but he has clearly been trending downward of late. Anecdotally, it seems like he’s been getting beat on a lot of outside pitches lately. Both fastballs and breaking balls. The strike zone plots do not show that he’s been getting more outside pitches of late, however (via Texas Leaguers):
Who knows why the slump is happening, but it’s happening. Maybe he’s just fatigued from playing everyday for the first time in two years. The slump shouldn’t be unexpected either, Wells was hitting far better than he did even during his prime last month. At some point he was going to cool off.
The unfortunate thing is that the Yankees need Wells to hit right now, very much so. With Kevin Youkilis injured and, for at least three games, Travis Hafner limited to pinch-hitting duties in the NL park, there needs to be someone in the lineup to complement Robinson Cano. As good as he is, Robbie can’t do it all by himself. Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki have been doing a fine job of getting on-base of late, but someone other than Cano needs to drive them in. Wells has to be that guy and right now he isn’t.
At some point Vernon will heat back up and go on a nice tear. At least I think he will. It is fair to be skeptical of him going forward given how dreadful he’s been the last two years, but I don’t think he’s suddenly regressed to sub-replacement level. The question is when will that rebound happen? Outside of Curtis Granderson and maybe Youkilis, the Yankees are unlikely to get any of their injured bats back this month. Their offense simply isn’t good enough to get by with a slumping Wells. He gave them more than they could have asked for in April, but now they need him to do more in May.
Left-hander on the mound, NL lineup with no Travis Hafner … the Yankees didn’t have a prayer. The offense put up nothing in support of the pitching staff on a rainy Monday night, and the Rockies waltzed to a stress-free 2-0 win in the series opener. The Yankees have now lost three of their last four games.
Kuroda’s One Mistake
As the game progressed, I got the sense the only way the Yankees would win was if Hiroki Kuroda pulled a Clayton Kershaw by throwing a complete-game shutout and hitting a homer. Unfortunately, he did neither. The veteran right-hander had a splendid outing spoiled by one mistake, a middle-middle fastball to Carlos Gonzalez with a full count and two outs in the sixth. CarGo put the ball over the fence and into the bullpen for a two-run homer. Those were the only runs of the game and all Colorado would need.
Outside of that two-run homer, Kuroda was outstanding. He allowed six hits — four in the fifth inning — and one walk in seven innings of work, striking out three and getting 14 of his 21 outs on the infield. This was reminiscent of last year, when Kuroda would consistently pitch well but get little run support. Given the lineup around him, the lack of offense is a little more understandable this time around. Hiroki deserves better.
Now that Vernon Wells has crashed back to Earth, the lineup is basically Robinson Cano and a bunch of guys who might start for Triple-A Scranton. I guess we should cut Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner some slack, but neither started this game because matchups!!! and rules say the Yankees can’t use a DH against the Rockies, respectively. The offense put up very little fight on Monday.
The Bombers had four hits total — bloop singles by Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, and Chris Stewart plus an infield single from Nix — and their best chance to score came in the third, when Ichiro stole second and third bases with two outs. Nix struck out looking to end the inning and the threat. That was that. Just two of the final 14 hitters they sent to the plate reached base safely, and that was a walk and the infield single. Weak.
About the only thing the Yankees did well on offense was steal. They ran wild on Jorge De La Rosa, stealing four bases in his six innings of work. Ichiro stole two in that one inning while Nix and Stewart stole one apiece. Of course, Gardner was anchored to first in the seventh, which led to a Chris Nelson inning-ending double play. So it goes.
I don’t know what else there is to add, really. Stewart made a nice snap-throw to pick a runner off first base in the second inning and Shawn Kelley allowed a single in an otherwise uneventful and scoreless inning. That’s basically it. I wouldn’t call this the most interesting game in the world.
Weird little fact: the Yankees have scored a total of five runs in their last four games at Coors Field, dating back to the series in 2007. That’s … surprising.
The Yankees and Rockies will play game two of this three-game set on Wednesday night, when David Phelps gets the ball against Juan Nicasio. I’m guessing that one will feature a few more runs than this one.
RHP Mikey O’Brien has been promoted to Double-A Trenton according to Josh Norris. The Thunder have a full rotation, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. I suppose this could be the end of the ill-fated LHP Francisco Rondon as a starter experiment, especially since they line up to pitch on the same day.
Late Updates: 3B Rob Segedin has an impingement in his hip, according to Norris. Hence the whole season-ending thing. Also, Norris says RHP Caleb Cotham has indeed been promoted to Triple-A and will start Thursday.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Indianapolis)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-4, 4 K — 49 strikeouts and four walks this year
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4, 1 K
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 0-4, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
- RHP Brett Marshall: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2/5 GB/FB — 58 of 92 pitches were strikes (63%) … 21 walks in 31.1 innings
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — only ten of 21 pitches were strikes (48%) … seven walks in his last 7.1 innings
I’m not going to lie: I am not looking forward to these three games in Coors Field. Hiroki Kuroda spoke to Ken Davidoff about the challenges of pitching in the thin mountain air, and it doesn’t sound fun. Considering how much the Yankees rely on their pitching, they have to hope the altitude helps the bats or their pitchers avoid the pitfalls of Coors Field. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander Jorge De La Rosa…
- CF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Jayson Nix
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Ben Francisco
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- 3B Chris Nelson
- C Chris Stewart
- SP Hiroki Kuroda
This is the team’s first non-Eastern Time Zone game of the year, which I’m guessing you realized when the game didn’t start at 7pm ET. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (hamstring) played catch and threw some pitches in the bullpen, and everything went fine. He considers himself available tonight, but it’s unclear if Joe Girardi will give him the proverbial “one extra day.”
Ivan Nova Update: Nova (triceps) is scheduled to pitch in an Extended Spring Training game tomorrow, according to Anthony McCarron. Is it a coincidence he lines up a) with David Phelps‘ rotation spot, and b) to pitch Monday (the doubleheader against the Indians)? I’m guessing no. Nova is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.
The Yankees are in Colorado to play the Rockies, which means they’re in the Mountain Time Zone. That means we have to wait longer than usual for baseball. The game doesn’t start until 8:40pm ET, so here’s an open thread to tide you over until the regular game thread goes up. The Mets (and Matt Harvey!) are playing the White Sox, MLB Network is airing a game (teams depend on where you live), plus there’s NBA (Knicks!) and NHL (Isles!) playoff action going on. Plenty of ways to kill the time. · (30) ·
The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Ryan Boldt | OF
Born and raised about 50 miles outside of Minneapolis, Boldt stars for Red Wing High School and has an impressive track record at showcase events. He suffered a bone bruise in his right knee while running down a fly ball late last month, and although he has yet to get back onto the field, Boldt has resumed working out and an MRI showed no significant damage. He’s committed to Nebraska.
A physical specimen listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 lbs., Boldt is a top notch athlete who shows potential above-average tools across the board but no elite carrying tool. He makes consistent hard contact from the left side because he waits well on pitches and can keep the barrel of the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. The swing is gearing for slashing line drives to all fields and not so much power, but he is strong enough to hit the ball out of the park. Boldt runs very well and is a true center fielder with a strong throwing arm. His work ethic and makeup draw rave reviews, and it’s evidenced in the work he did to learn to throw right-handed after tests found growth plate damage in his left shoulder during his Little League days. There are a few more videos at YouTube.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Boldt as the 13th and 22nd best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively, but that was before the knee injury. His high school season didn’t start until last month either, so scouts have had a very limited look at him this spring. Cold weather guys always get the short-end of the scouting stick, but Boldt has been a regular on the showcase circuit and he won’t really sneak up on anyone. He fits the Yankees’ typical position player profile as a super-toolsy athlete at an up-the-middle position, so he certainly looks like someone the team could target with one of their early picks (26th, 32nd, 33rd) if the knee injury and lack of spring exposure cause him to fall.
Last week, Mike polled RAB about which player on the disabled list the Yankees miss the most. Specifically, he focused on the players who started the season on the DL, who would have undoubtedly made the team’s Opening Day roster, and would have been expected to be primary contributors – Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira.
As I contemplated my response to the poll (I voted Jeter by the way), I considered the cost of those four players. They are worth approximately $85M in annualized salary. Add in Kevin Youkilis (who was the injury-prone back up plan to the injury-prone third baseman) for the sake of argument, and we’ve accounted for approximately 40% of the total cumulative Yankee payroll in 2013 (~$228M).
Now, just out of curiosity, I took a quick jaunt over to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and looked at the other AL East rosters. I imagined what those lineups might look like if one effectively removed approximately 40% of the payroll from those rosters. In terms of players, I began by filtering out some of the more expensive contracts on the payroll, as they presumably would have been the same type of key starters that the teams were counting on the most – kind of like the Yankees. It’s not a scientific comparison by any means, but I think the point stands to reason nevertheless.
|Orioles ($92M Total)||Red Sox ($155M Total)||Rays ($62M Total)||Blue Jays ($119M Total)|
|Nick Markakis ($15.3M)||John Lackey ($15.9M)||David Price ($10.1M)||Jose Bautista ($14M)|
|Brian Roberts ($10M)||David Ortiz ($11.5M)||Evan Longoria ($6M)||Josh Johnson ($13.7M)|
|Adam Jones ($8.9M)||Ryan Dempster ($13.2M)||Ben Zobrist ($5.6M)||Mark Buehrle ($12M)|
|Matt Wieters ($5.5M)||Jon Lester ($11.6M)||Yunel Escobar ($5M)||Jose Reyes ($10M)|
Frankly, it’s kind of laughable. For Baltimore, I think they could survive without Roberts (as he’s been pretty injured the last few seasons anyway). Take away Markakis, Jones and Wieters though, and I think they’re in a lot of trouble. I don’t see the Rays surviving without Price or Longoria, let alone both, and I think we’re seeing what the Jays look like when their superstars aren’t overly effective or are absent from the lineup altogether. The Red Sox started the season with Ortiz on the DL and with Lackey being, well, himself. That said, they have relied quite a bit on Dempster, Victorino, and Lester to all help shoulder the burden. Take Lester out of the mix, and that MLB leading record might not be so shiny.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this other than it’s pretty incredible that the Yankees have not only continued to win (fifth best record in the AL, seventh best record in MLB) but have really handled a brutal injury plague about as well as could be expected. After all, many of us (including me) were hoping the team could merely stay afloat. We were hoping come mid-May, the team wasn’t 10+ games back already.
Some of this success can and should certainly be attributed to guys like Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner really stepping up to the plate (see what I did there?), and Robinson Cano performing like the MVP candidate that he is. However, it’s hard to imagine most teams survive in this environment. Now, one could understandably question how much more the team can handle, or even if no one else gets hurt, how long this can last as it is. Still, I for one am absolutely pleased with where the team is all things considering.