(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

The Yankees were dealt a pretty significant blow yesterday, when what they called elbow inflammation landed Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list. He returned to New York for an MRI and will soon travel to see team doctor Dr. Ahmad, who is currently in Seattle for a conference. Even though the team does not have a full diagnosis, Joe Girardi indicated to reporters the situation was serious enough to warrant a DL stint with or without the upcoming All-Star break. Argh. Here are some scattered thoughts.

1. Everyone is thinking it, so let’s just come out and say it: the prospect of losing Tanaka to Tommy John surgery is terrifying. (There have been so many Tommy John surgeries this year that I don’t know how someone could not think about it.) The timing of the procedure would especially suck — Tanaka would miss the rest of the season and at least the first half of next season. Considering how prone the Yankees are to setbacks the Yankees would likely be conservative during his rehab, he might not return until next August or September. I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but like I said, it’s hard not to fear the worst whenever a pitcher goes down with an elbow injury these days. My fingers are crossed and I am really hoping for the best. Things will be a little tense until Ahmad gets a chance to look at Tanaka.

2. The Yankees have not yet announced who will start in place of Tanaka on Sunday — the 15-day DL stint means he will also miss at least one start after the All-Star break, but they can figure that during the break next week — and it seems like Chase Whitley will be the guy unless he is needed out of the bullpen again at some point between now and then. The Yankees can’t recall Bruce Billings because of the ten-day rule — they used Tanaka’s injury to call up Zoilo Almonte, so they can’t use that to bring Billings back early — and right now Triple-A Scranton’s scheduled starter for Sunday is TBA due to a recent rainout and subsequent doubleheader. It might just be a bullpen game the day before the All-Star break. Two or three innings from Whitley, two or three innings from David Huff, two innings from Adam Warren, etc. Yikes. This team needs the four-day break in the worst way right now.

3. If Tanaka does have to miss an extended period of time for whatever reason, the Yankees will have to consider selling at the trade deadline more seriously than at any point in the last, I dunno, 20 years or so. Or at least consider not buying. That might be the Yankees’ version of selling — not doing anything and standing pat. They are 13-5 in games started by Tanaka and 33-39 in games started by everyone else, and at some point the injuries become too much to overcome. That’s what happened last year. They’ve lost four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation to injury (at least three to long-term injury) and there are too many underperforming everyday players in the lineup to compensate. The Yankees are not a move or two away from serious contention even with Tanaka. Remove him from the equation and it’s damn near impossible. Make another small Brandon McCarthy for nothing to soak up some innings and save the bullpen trade, but give up something of value? No way. The organization prides itself on contending every single year and I can’t imagine throwing in the towel on 2014 would be easy after spending all that money over the winter, but losing Tanaka for an extended period of time would be the straw that breaks the 2014 Yankees camel’s back.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)2.32

4. Now, in the unprecedented event that the Yankees do decide to sell before the deadline, who exactly can they market? David Robertson for certain since he’s due to become a free agent and literally every team could use another shutdown reliever. The Tigers, Dodgers, Angels, Braves, Giants, and possibly the Athletics would all have interest in Robertson, at the very least. I’m sure they would have no trouble finding a team willing to take Shawn Kelley off their hands too. Hiroki Kuroda has a full no-trade clause but might be willing to waive it for one of the two Los Angeles teams since his family still lives there. Brett Gardner would fetch a nice return but his contract makes him worth keeping around. Hard to see a team giving up enough to make trading him worth it. Other than those three, there’s not much to offer. Brian Roberts and Ichiro Suzuki have no trade value, same with Brendan Ryan. Maybe a team would be willing to give up a Grade-C prospect for Kelly Johnson or Frankie Cervelli, but I doubt it. Point is, even if the Yankees do decide to sell at the deadline, their most marketable pieces are a rental reliever and a rental starter. The cupboard is pretty bare.

5. Without Tanaka, these Yankees are about a two out of ten on the watchability scale. That is true regardless of whether he misses the minimum 15 days or something longer. His starts along with Robertson and Dellin Betances innings are pretty much the only time I get excited to watch this team. That’s just my opinion. I mean, yeah both Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been awesome, but they aren’t must-see television. The Yankees in general are a very boring bunch, mostly because they struggle to score and have no exciting young position players in the lineup everyday. Remember when we were trying to convince ourselves Yangervis Solarte was a guy? Yikes. You’re welcome to feel differently and I hope you do, but man, to me this is the most boring and uninteresting Yankees team of the last 20 years or so. Maybe I’m just a grouch.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (229)

For the third time in the last ten games, the Yankees needed extra innings on Wednesday. Thankfully they managed to win this time. Some stellar bullpen work and a clutch 14th inning homerun gave New York a 5-4 win over the Indians. The Bombers have won five of seven games on this never-ending road trip.

(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

Welcome To New York, Brandon
The Yankees did not waste time showing Brandon McCarthy the ropes during his first start with the team — a throwing error led to three unearned runs in the very first inning. A bunch of singles that dropping in front of outfielders and bounced by infielders did the damage along with Mark Teixeira‘s throw off Michael Brantley’s back. He tried to get the lead runner ay second on a ground ball when he should have just taken the sure out at first base, in hindsight. Nick Swisher‘s two-run single with two outs was the big blow.

After that first inning, McCarthy settled down and allowed only one run in the next 5.2 innings. Fifteen of the 29 batters he faced hit the ball on the ground and four got through the infield for base hits. That’s basically his game, McCarthy doesn’t walk anyone (one walk in this game with a 4.2% walk rate on the season) and he makes hitters hit the ball on the ground (55.6%). He stayed true to form in his first start for the Yankees and the infield defense burned him in the first inning, which will happen from time to time. I mean, a throw into the back of a base-runner? Geez.

Overall, McCarthy gave the Yankees exactly what they were looking for when they acquired him: strikes and innings. He threw 101 pitches in his 6.2 innings and was only lifted to get the left-on-left matchup against the seemingly unstoppable Brantley. The Yankees were not acquiring an ace when they traded for McCarthy. They added someone who is more predictable and better able to pitch deep into the game than Vidal Nuno. Very solid first outing for the new guy.

(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

Two Swings, Three Runs
Those unearned runs in the first inning put the Yankees in a quick three-zip hole, and it wasn’t until the middle innings that they started to chip away. Teixeira opened the team’s scoring with a leadoff solo homer in the fourth inning and he capped off their fifth inning rally with a monster two-run homer. A Jacoby Ellsbury double combined with a Derek Jeter single and a Brian McCann sacrifice fly created the first run in the fifth before Teixeira’s two-run tater. Five of ten batters reached base during that stretch between homers in the fourth and fifth.

Following Teixeira’s second homer, the offense did its best Derek Bell impersonation and went into Operation Shutdown, at least for a few innings. The next nine and 13 of the next 15 batters after the second homer made outs — neither base-runner reached scoring position — taking the Yankees into extra innings. That has become a theme on this road trip, scoring a bunch of runs relatively early then not doing much offensively the rest of the game. Quite annoying.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Who Wants To Win?
Both teams had excellent chances to score in the tenth inning, but neither capitalized. The Yankees put the first two men of the inning on base (Jeter walk, McCann single), but the next three made outs (Teixeira fly out, Roberts fielder’s choice, Ichiro Suzuki strikeout) to end the threat. Brian Roberts banged into what was initially ruled an inning-ending double play, but Joe Girardi challenged and replay showed Cody Allen’s foot slipped off first base before receiving the throw. Of course Ichiro didn’t make the Tribe pay and stranded runners at the corners. Of course.

In the bottom half, Adam Warren got a quick ground out from Asdrubal Cabrera before David Huff was brought in to get the platoon matchup against Brantley. Huff, who is apparently still on the Cleveland payroll as an Embedded Indian, then walked the next three batters to load the bases with one out. He did go to a full count on all three hitters, so he made it look like he was trying to get them out, which I’m sure the Indians brass appreciated. You gotta keep up appearances. Anyway, Shawn Kelley came in and escaped the jam with a strikeout (Swisher) and a routine ground ball to short (David Murphy). Five runners left on base between the two teams in the tenth.

The 11th, 12th, and 13th innings went by rather quietly — Roberts singled to leadoff the 13th and for whatever reason Ichiro did not bunt him over. I guess the bunt is reserved for the second inning when the opposing pitcher is struggling — and it appeared the 14th inning would be more of the same until Ellsbury hooked a Vinnie Pestano slider into right field for a two-out solo homer. Pestano threw him a few nasty sliders earlier in the at-bat and Ellsbury was sitting all over it with two strikes. Perfect.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Leftovers
Aside from Huff, who walked all three batters he faced, the bullpen was really strong in this game. Matt Thornton (one out), Dellin Betances (three outs), and Warren (one hit, four outs) bridged the gap between McCarthy and extra innings, then Kelley bailed out Huff in the tenth before adding a perfect 11th. Chase Whitley retired six straight after allowing a leadoff single in the 12th. David Robertson pitched around a one-out single in the ninth. The non-Huff portion of the bullpen allowed three singles and struck out nine in 7.1 scoreless innings.

The top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-24 (.333) with a double and three homers. The other five lineup spots went a combined 4-for-28 (.143) with no extra-base hits. Considering the starting lineup, I don’t think that’s too surprising. When Roberts is hitting fifth for your team in the year of our lord 2014, you can’t expect the bottom of the lineup to do much of anything.

For some reason Allen was allowed to throw two warm-up pitches following the video replay in the top of the tenth. The rules say warm-ups are only allowed at the start of an inning or when a new pitcher enters the game. I don’t think it changed the outcome at all, just wondering why it was allowed. Making up the rules as they go?

And finally, Kelly Johnson dropped the would-be final out in the bottom of the 14th. It was a tough basket catch play on a pop-up in foul territory, but the ball clanked off his glove. Brantley hit a rocket to left field that looked like it might get over Zoilo Almonte‘s head, but he twisted around and made the game-ending catch. Scary few moments there.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and video highlights are at MLB.com while some other stats are at FanGraphs. ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles lost and the Mariners are getting blown out as of this writing, so the Yankees are now three games back of the top spot in the AL East and will likely be 2.5 games back of the second wild-card spot. This feels like the 2000 season all over again. First team to 87 wins gets the division title.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Indians wrap up this four-game series Thursday night. David Phelps and lefty T.J. House will be the pitching matchup.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (30)
  • Beltran has two small facial fractures after getting hit by ball in BP
    By

    Carlos Beltran has two small facial fractures after being hit by a ball that ricocheted off the cage during batting practice, Joe Girardi announced. They still need to make sure he did not suffer a concussion, but there’s a chance he will avoid the disabled list. The All-Star break is only four games away, after all. This team, man. · (13) ·

2B Rob Refsnyder, OF Aaron Judge, and RHP Luis Severino all made Baseball America’s All-Prospect Team for the month of June, which is pretty cool. Refsnyder was also listed as a non-top 50 prospect to watch by Baseball America.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (7-2 win over Charlotte in seven innings) makeup of yesterday’s rainout

  • 2B Jose Pirela: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 1-4 — during a recent radio interview, Brian Cashman said that if they call up Refsnyder this year, it will be to play right field than second base … don’t like it at all, just let Zoilo Almonte play right and let Refsnyder continue to work on his defense at second
  • 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Austin Romine: 2-3, 2 R
  • RHP Chris Leroux: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 61 of 92 pitches were strikes (66%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

The Yankees were dealt a rather significant blow this afternoon when Masahiro Tanaka‘s barking elbow forced the team to place their ace on the 15-day DL. The All-Star break is next week, so the best case scenario means he will miss only two starts. Still, I’d rather not see him miss any.

Tanaka’s injury comes a few days after the Yankees swung a deal for Brandon McCarthy, who will make his debut for the team tonight. I think he might be their ace right now. Boy things really fell apart in a hurry, huh? Hopefully McCarthy makes a strong first impression and the Yankees can get back in the win column following last night’s loss. Here is the Indians lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. DH Derek Jeter
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 2B Brian Roberts
  6. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  7. LF Zoilo Almonte
  8. 3B Zelous Wheeler
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Brandon McCarthy

It is cloudy and cool in Cleveland, but there is no rain in the forecast. Shouldn’t be any trouble getting this game in. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Brett Gardner is day-to-day with a lower abdominal strain and is day-to-day. Tests confirmed it is not a hernia and he hopes to play tomorrow … Carlos Beltran was scratched from tonight’s lineup after a ball ricocheted off the cage and hit him below the eye during the batting practice. I’m not joking.

Roster Updates: Almonte was called up to take Tanaka’s spot on the roster … the Yankees have not yet announced who will start Sunday’s game in Tanaka’s place. I assume it depends on whether Chase Whitley is needed in relief these next few days.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (471)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

5:01pm: The Yankees have placed Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation, Joe Girardi told reporters. He had the MRI earlier today but the team doctors have yet to review the results. “I’m not saying it’s a significant injury, but there’s soreness,” said the manager. “It’s not how you draw it up, but injuries are a part of the game.”

3:28pm: Masahiro Tanaka has left the Yankees to travel to New York for an MRI on his right elbow, according to George KingJon Heyman says Tanaka told the team he was dealing with some discomfort following last night’s start, so hopefully this is nothing more than a precaution.

The Indians roughed Tanaka up for five runs on ten hits in 6.2 innings last night, though after the game he told reporters he “didn’t feel that bad.” Last time out the Twins got to him for four runs on nine hits in seven innings. That had been his worst start of the season up until that point. It’s worth noting Tanaka’s fastball velocity has wavered in his last few starts, but last night he actually had his highest average fastball velocity of the season at 92.46 mph.

Here’s the obligatory velocity graph from Brooks Baseball:

Brooksbaseball-Chart

Tanaka has been relatively healthy throughout his career, though he did miss about a month with shoulder inflammation during the spring of 2012 while with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. His workload in Japan was a hot topic over the winter — Tanaka had thrown more than 1,300 innings before his 25th birthday, a number only Felix Hernandez has approached among MLB pitchers in recent years.

The Yankees have made sure to give Tanaka extra rest whenever possible this season — ten of his 18 starts this year have come with at least one extra day of rest — and only four times did he throw more than 110 pitches. They’ve been pretty careful with him as he transitioned from a seven-day schedule to a five-day schedule, no doubt about it.

Even if the MRI comes back perfectly clean, I would put money on Tanaka not making his scheduled start in Baltimore on Sunday. It’s the final day of the first half and the Yankees have an opportunity to give him a nice extended rest during the All-Star break. No reason not to take advantage of it at this point. It goes without saying that losing Tanaka for any length of time would be devastating.

Categories : Injuries
Comments (221)

The following is a guest post from long-time reader Sung-Min Kim, who you can follow on Twitter at @SungMinKim116.

(Yahoo)

(Yahoo)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the offseason of 2006~07, I always think “what if?” the Yankees had signed Ted Lilly. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, as you may recall, was a Yankee long time ago until the trade that brought Jeff Weaver to Bronx (“Lilly had cried the day in 2002 when Cashman traded him.”) The lefty went on to have few solid seasons with the Athletics and the Jays – 9.7 cumulative fWAR from 2003-06 – until he hit free agency for the first time after the ‘06 season. Lilly strongly wanted to be a Yankee again but the team let him take the Cubs’ offer. Actually, they had someone else in mind by the time Lilly agreed with the Cubs – on November 29, 2006, the Yankees had won the bidding to talk with the Japanese lefty, Kei Igawa. Lilly signed for a four-year, $40 million contract and the Yankees spent a total of $46 million dollars ($26 million in bidding, and $20 million in 5-year contract) for Igawa.

Safe to say, the Bronx Bombers probably should have gone the other way. During the four-year contract with the Cubs, and later the Dodgers, Lilly compiled 12.8 cumulative fWAR — a top 30 figure among the starters who pitched between 2007-10. Igawa, on the other hand, made only 16 total appearances during the five-year contract while compiling an abysmal -0.2 fWAR. Looking at it any shape or form, the Yankees lost out pretty big on this one. While in the Yankee organization, Igawa became the laughingstock of the fans, toiling in the minors for the most of his contract. But before the ill-advised decision by the Yankees front office, what got Igawa the Yankee attention? Who was he?

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Categories : Guest Columns
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A winter’s worth of rumors about an international spending spree proved true last week when the Yankees signed more than 20 players and spent more than six times their spending pool on the first day of the 2014-15 signing period. You can relive the day right here. Here’s more breaking down the record-setting day, and here are some more stray signings and links:

  • The Yankees have signed 16-year-old Venezuelan OF Raymundo Moreno for $600k, reports Ben Badler. He is not among Baseball America‘s nor MLB.com‘s list of the top 30 international prospects. Balder says Moreno has “above-average speed, an average arm and gets good reads off the bat in the outfield. He has good bat speed and gap power from the right side.”
  • Jesse Sanchez reports the Yankees have signed Dominican SS Griffin Garabito for $225k while Kiley McDaniel says they have also signed 19-year-old Dominican RHP Yossty Vargas. Both are older (relative term here) prospects who can begin playing right away. Neither was ranked among Baseball America’s or MLB.com’s top 30 international prospects.
  • In an Insider-only piece, Chris Crawford says that ” in terms of both quality and quantity, [the Yankees had] the most impressive class by a considerable margin.” He also notes that they are also considered the favorite to sign a few of the top players who are still available.

Total Known Bonuses: $15.335M. Total Penalties: ~$13.135M. Total Spent: ~$28.47M.

Comments (19)
  • Sherman: Yankees have called Cubs about young shortstop surplus
    By

    Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have called to check in with the Cubs about their surplus of young shortstops. Chicago recently added Addison Russell to Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Starlin Castro through the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade. Sherman says the Cubbies plan to hold onto their young shortstops for now, however. I don’t blame them.

    It’s easy to be jealous of that shortstop quartet, but remember, only Castro is proven at the MLB level. The Cubs really have one shortstop and three unproven shortstop prospects. Baez has been a strikeout machine at Double-A and above (30.5%), for example. The Yankees have an obvious need for a young shortstop with Derek Jeter retiring and they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t give Cubs a call. It’d be interested to see how a trade for one of those guys would work — prospect for prospect swaps are rare (I doubt Chicago wants a veteran player), especially when they involve an elite prospect.
    · (95) ·


Source: FanGraphs

This was a tale of two games. It was all Yankees in the first two innings and all Indians after that. Masahiro Tanaka‘s worst start of the season and an offense that completely vanished after the third inning led the Yankees to a 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday night. The little two-game winning streak is snapped and New York is back to being only one game over .500 at 45-44.

Something came up tonight (nothing bad, everything’s fine), so I wasn’t able to watch this game at all after the first inning and can’t recap in much detail. Trevor Bauer was all over the place early on though, throwing 67 pitches in the first three innings while allowing three runs and putting seven of the first 14 men on base. Then he threw 45 pitches in the next four innings and retired 13 of the final 14 men he faced. The one base-runner came on a Nick Swisher error. It was a weak grounder right through his legs.

The Yankees did not have a hit after the third inning and did not have a base-runner after the fifth inning. They worked Bauer hard early on, scoring those three runs on a string of mostly singles — the sacrifice bunt in the second inning was silly with Bauer on the ropes, but in fairness, it was Zelous Wheeler at the plate. Two walks (of course) on the night, no extra-base hits. The 2014 Yankees in a nutshell.

Tanaka, meanwhile, got smacked around pretty good. He set a new season-high in hits (ten) and runs (five allowed) for the second straight start, surrendering a pair of homers to Michael Brantley and Swisher. Brantley was 3-for-4 with two doubles and the homer. He’s really impressive. Tanaka struck out five and got another ten outs on the ground, plus Cleveland hitters swung and missed 14 times at his 99 pitches, but his mistakes were crushed. He was bound to hit a rough patch at some point. The All-Star break will do him some good.

The box score and video highlights are at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Brandon McCarthy will make his Yankees debut on Wednesday night, in the third game of this four-game series. Vidal Nuno threw seven shutout innings for the Diamondbacks tonight. Somewhere there is a Yankees fan lamenting the trade. Josh Tomlin will be on the bump for the Tribe.

Minor League Update: No time for the full update tonight, sorry. The box scores can be found right here. 2B Rob Refsnyder had two hits (single, double), OF Zoilo Almonte had three hits (triple, two singles), 1B Peter O’Brien had two hits (double, homer), RHP Luis Severino struck out eight in four innings, LHP Jacob Lindgren fanned three in two perfect innings, and fourth rounder LHP Jordan Montgomery allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in his pro debut. That’s about it.

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