A-Rod’s late home run gives Yanks 4-3 win over Mariners, Seager

The second half begins the same way the first half ended: with a win! A late homer gave the Yankees a 4-3 win over the Mariners on Friday night, extending their lead in the AL East to 4.5 games. That’s their largest division lead of the season. Good times.


Crushed By Kyle
Aside from the three times he faced Kyle Seager on Friday, Masahiro Tanaka pitched well. Well enough, anyway. Not great, not terrible. Seager was the problem though. Seattle’s third baseman lined out to left field in the first inning, then smashed a hanging slider for a solo home run in the third inning, then ambushed a first pitch fastball for a two-run home run in the fifth. The fastball was up and it was a moonshot. Over the bullpen and into the right field bleachers. Clobbered.

Seager drove in all three Mariners runs against Tanaka. The rest of their lineup had three singles and two walks against him in seven innings. One hit was an infield single and another was a ground ball back up the middle. Tanaka wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning thanks to Mike Zunino, who has yet to see a pitch he won’t swing at. Seriously. Watching Zunino hit day after day after day would drive me nuts. At least you know Stephen Drew is a veteran guy who stinks. Zunino is young and has potential. That would be so frustrating.

Anyway, Tanaka struck out seven in his seven innings and got eight of his other 14 outs on the ground. He generated 13 swings and misses total — including five on seven swings against his slider, which is bonkers — so four of his five highest swing-and-miss totals this season have come in his last five starts. The Seager homers obviously count, but Tanaka was pretty good aside from that.

Love this guy. (Presswire)
Love this guy. (Presswire)

One Run At A Time
The Yankees scored one run in four separate innings. Certified lefty killer Chris Young hit a solo home run in the second, Chase Headley seeing-eye singled in Young in the fourth (Young smashed a double off the wall), Brian McCann singled in Alex Rodriguez in the fifth (A-Rod singled then moved up on Mark Teixeira‘s walk), then Alex hit a solo homer in the seventh. That’s the Cliff’s Notes version.

The longer version is that the Yankees did a little of everything offensively against Mike Montgomery. They worked three walks, hit one homer, one double, and five singles. Nine of 18 batters reached base against Montgomery at one point from the second through fifth inning. Headley hit into a killer inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with runners on the corners in the fifth, which let Montgomery off the hook when it looked like New York was ready to break it open. Headley has not had a good year at all and he’s been especially bad against lefties. Yuck.

Montgomery threw 104 pitches in six innings and, by my unofficial count, 53 of them were from the stretch. More than half (barely). It felt like much more. The Yankees had runners on base against the lefty in every inning but the sixth. Lefty reliever Joe Beimel served up the go-ahead solo homer to A-Rod in the seventh, an opposite field job into the bullpen. The best part? The paused bat drop (GIF via @MLB):

Alex Rodriguez bat drop

The man is a pioneer. Everyone is trying to come up with more elaborate bat flips, but Alex keeps it simple with a pause and a drop of the mic. That’s now three homers in the last four games for A-Rod. It was also his 19th of the season. He hasn’t hit that many since 2010. Rodriguez is up to .277/.381/.514 (147 wRC+) on the season. The Summer of Al, indeed.

Know who is happy this game is over? Jacoby Ellsbury. He had maybe his ugliest 0-for-4 as a Yankee. Yeah, he drew a walk, but also struck out three times and looked pretty feeble all each time. Not Ellsbury’s best night at the plate. It happens. Brett Gardner (single), A-Rod (single, homer), McCann (single), Young (double, homer), Headley (single), and Didi Gregorius (single) had the hits. Ellsbury, Gardner, Teixeira (two), and Headley drew the walks.

Jul 17, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Andrew Miller (48) reacts during the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees defeated the Mariners 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One-run lead after seven? That meant Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller time. Dellin struck out two in a perfect eighth and Miller struck out one in the ninth. He allowed a two-out single to Mark Trumbo that would have been a double if not for Gardner’s nice sliding stop to cut it off in left. Miller is 19-for-19 in save chances and isn’t even the best reliever in the bullpen. What a world.

Rob Refsnyder had an uneven day. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout at the plate, made one nice defensive play charging a chopper, and made a Hail Mary lob to second base on a slow grounder to get the force. The throw just barely beat the runner to the bag. It was … interesting. Garrett Jones pinch-hit for Refsnyder against a righty in the eighth. I thought it was the right move both offensively and defensively. (Drew took over at second.)

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph, which has apparently stopped updating:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday afternoon, in the second game of this three-game series. Michael Pineda and Hisashi Iwakuma will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other four games remaining on the homestand live and in person.

DotF: Beltran draws a walk in third (final?) rehab game

Earlier today the Yankees officially announced they have signed 35 of their 41 draft picks. The signing deadline was 5pm ET this afternoon. There were no surprises among the 35 players, it’s everyone who has been trickling in over the last few weeks. All of New York’s draft picks are right here. The guys in bold are signed.

Update: C Gary Sanchez was promoted to Triple-A Scranton following tonight’s game, reports Jack Curry. That probably means C Austin Romine‘s thumb injury will keep him out a while.

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Louisville)

  • SS Cole Figueroa: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B — has been playing a little more shortstop of late, makes me wonder if the Yankees are getting ready to cut ties with Brendan Ryan when Carlos Beltran returns
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — go-ahead single in the top of the ninth
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-1, 1 K, 1 HBP — left the game after the hit-by-pitch
  • CF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB — threw a runner out at second … the full Aaron Judge experience was on display
  • DH Greg Bird: 1-5, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-2, 1 K — Sweeny Murti says he left the game after aggravating a thumb injury he suffered before the All-Star break
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 K
  • RHP Esmil Rogers: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk, 9/5 GB/FB — 59 of 96 pitches were strikes (72%) … ACEmil Rogers
  • LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GB/FB — only nine of 19 pitches were strikes (47%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 14 of 23 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Game 89: Start of the Second Half

#TrueDetectiveSeason2 (Presswire)
#TrueDetectiveSeason2 (Presswire)

Baseball is back. The All-Star break is over and we’re heading into the dogs days of summer. The Yankees are the team to beat in the AL East right now. They have a nice little 3.5-game lead in the division and have the best combination of offense and pitching among the five clubs, though they’re certainly not without their flaws. The trade deadline is two weeks from today, by the way.

Robinson Cano and the Mariners are in the Bronx to start a three-game series this weekend. I don’t blame Robbie one bit for taking the extra $65M from the Mariners, I would have done the same thing, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t satisfying to see Seattle near the bottom of the standings while the Yankees are in first place. Here is Seattle’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

The weather has been very nice in New York all day. Sunny, a few clouds, temperatures in the upper-70s without much humidity. Pretty great, actually. There is some rain in the forecast tonight but not until the wee hours of the morning. First pitch tonight is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Brendan Ryan (back) has been activated off the 15-day DL and Gregorio Petit was sent down to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Carlos Beltran (oblique) is ready to be activated in a day or two.

Aaron Judge tops Baseball America’s midseason top ten Yankees prospects lists

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

So I guess we’re in midseason prospect list update season now. On Friday, Baseball America (subs. req’d) posted their updated midseason list of the top ten Yankees prospects. They posted an updated midseason top ten for every team over the last two weeks. Their updated midseason top 50 prospects list came out last week.

Here is New York’s updated top ten according to Baseball America:

  1. OF Aaron Judge (13th on the top 50)
  2. RHP Luis Severino (17th on the top 50)
  3. SS Jorge Mateo
  4. 1B Greg Bird
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. 3B Eric Jagielo
  7. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  8. LHP Jacob Lindgren
  9. RHP Domingo Acevedo
  10. RHP Rookie Davis

Not included in any of the top tens are 2015 draft picks. I’m certain RHP James Kaprielian would have slotted into the top ten somewhere had they been included. Otherwise the top eight spots are pretty self-explanatory. Quibble with the order if you want, but those eight names make sense there.

Acevedo and Davis are the big risers — I didn’t have either on my pre-draft top 30 list, though Davis was an oversight and I should have included him. Acevedo has “a fastball that has touched triple-digits” while Davis has “taken steps forward over the last two years, especially in terms of command,” according to the write-up. Unless LHP Ian Clarkin has some kind of a career-threatening injury, I’d still take him over Acevedo or Davis.

OF Dustin Fowler, RHP Brady Lail, and LHP Jordan Montgomery are all listed as prospects on the rise while RHP Jose Ramirez is tabbed as a player whose stock is on the way down. Clarkin (elbow), RHP Domingo German (Tommy John surgery), RHP Ty Hensley (Tommy John surgery), and C Luis Torrens (shoulder) are all out with season-ending injuries, which knocked them down prospect lists. Can’t win ’em all.

7/17 to 7/19 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners


The All-Star break is (finally) over and the Yankees return tonight with the first of three against the Mariners. That means Robinson Cano is back in New York for the third time as a Mariner — they played one series in the Bronx last season, but one game was rained out and had to be made up later in the summer. Also, Jesus Montero is back! He was called up from Triple-A not too long ago. The Yankees swept three games from the Mariners in Seattle last month.

What Have The Mariners Done Lately?

The Mariners split a four-game series with the Angels before the All-Star break and they’ve been alternating wins and losses for 12 games now. (They’re due for a win tonight if that pattern continues.) Seattle has been a huge disappointment this year, lots of people were expecting them to win the division, but they’re 41-48 with a -48 run differential. That’s the second worst record in the AL.

Offense & Defense

You’re not going to believe this, but the Mariners are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this season. Crazy, I know. Never happens. They’re averaging 3.51 runs per game with a team 91 wRC+. Manager Lloyd McClendon’s offense is healthy too. No position players on the DL or even day-to-day.

Montero. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Montero. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Cano (85 wRC+) is in the middle of the worst season of his career, though I suspect you already knew that. He’s been much better over the last two weeks or so (133 wRC+). That’s still not the Robbie we remember, but it’s a lot better than what he was doing earlier this season. DH Nelson Cruz (158 wRC+) has 21 homers this season — he hit 18 homers in his first 46 games and has hit three homers in his last 41 games. Zoinks.

3B Kyle Seager (114 wRC+) has been solid and OF Seth Smith (130 wRC+) is killing the ball in a platoon role. SS Brad Miller (109 wRC+), OF Austin Jackson (84 wRC+), DH Mark Trumbo (94 wRC+), and 1B Logan Morrison (92 wRC+) all play everyday. Montero (59 wRC+ in extremely limited time) has seen time at first. C Mike Zunino (45 wRC+) is the regular catcher and OF Dustin Ackley (85 wRC+) and OF Franklin Gutierrez (108 wRC+ in limited time) are platooning in the outfield. Yes, Gutierrez is back in baseball. C Jesus Sucre (-93 wRC+) and IF Chris Taylor (24 wRC+) are on the bench.
The Mariners have a surprisingly weak team defense. Cano and Seager are both excellent and Zunino’s a stud behind the plate, plus Jackson can still go get it, but there’s not a whole lot to see besides that. Cruz has actually played more right field (49 games) than DH (38 games) and he’s abysmal in the field, same with Smith and Montero. Miller has a knack for hilarious errors. LoMo’s okay around the bag but won’t wow anyone. Cano, Seager, and Jackson … hit it to anyone but them.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. SEA) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (vs. NYY)
Montgomery, 26, is a well-traveled former top prospect. He’s was part of the James Shields/Wil Myers swap a few years ago before going to Seattle for Erasmo Ramirez before the season. Montgomery has a 2.29 ERA (3.66 FIP) in eight starts and 55 innings this year with low strikeout (15.7%), walk (6.0%), and home run (0.65 HR/9) rates. His grounder rate (46.1%) is about average. He has a reverse split (.364 vs. .241 wOBA in favor of lefties) in his brief big league time. Montgomery’s fastball sits low-90s and his best pitch is a fading low-80s changeup. He’s settled on mid-70s curveball as his primary breaking ball and will mix in upper-80s cutters. Montgomery held the Yankees to one run in six innings in his MLB debut last month.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (vs. NYY)
A lat strain sent the 34-year-old Iwakuma to the DL for two and a half months earlier this year, and tomorrow will be his third start back. He has a 5.22 ERA (6.21 FIP) in five starts and 29.1 innings with few strikeouts (16.5%), few walks (4.1%), an average number of grounders (46.3%), and all the homers (2.76 HR/9). All the homers. Righties (.390 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.356 wOBA) so far this year. Iwakuma lives in the upper-80s with his sinker and throws low-80s splitters and sliders as well as a low-70s curveball. The split-finger is his go-to out pitch, as it is for many Japanese hurlers. The Yankees didn’t see Iwakuma during the series in Seattle because he was still on the DL.

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
Felix. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Sunday (1pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY)
Hope you weren’t expecting the Yankees to mix Felix this weekend. He has a 2.84 ERA (3.27 FIP) in 117.1 innings across 18 starts this year with very good to great everything: 24.1 K%, 7.5 BB%, 57.3 GB%, and 0.77 HR/9. Lefties (.292 wOBA) are having some more success against the 29-year-old than righties (.246 wOBA). These days Hernandez throws a fastball only 40% of the time or so — he favors his low-90s sinker over his low-90s four-seamer — and instead relies heavily on his upper-80s changeup. He throws that pitch more than one-third of the time, believe it or not. An upper-70s curveball is Felix’s preferred breaking ball, though he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s sliders per outing. The Yankees scored seven runs in 4.2 innings against Hernandez last month, but I wouldn’t bet on a repeat.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners only have a six-man bullpen right now, but they do have an open roster spot, so someone will get called up before tonight’s game. RHP Carson Smith (1.73 ERA/1.95 FIP) and RHP Fernando Rodney (5.50/5.27) have been sharing the closer’s job of late. Smith is the high-leverage guy — he comes in to get the big outs regardless of whether they’re in the eighth or ninth inning.

RHP Mark Lowe (0.64/1.61) is the Seattle’s only other righty reliever. LHP Joe Beimel (2.73/4.03) is the matchup lefty, former Yankees LHP Vidal Nuno (2.39/2.96) is the long reliever, and LHP David Rollins (12.46/4.92 in very limited time) was just called up not too long ago. Both bullpens are fresh thanks to the All-Star break, but check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of New York’s top relievers anyway. Then head over to Lookout Landing and USS Mariner for the latest on the Mariners.

2015 Midseason Review: Odds & Ends

Time to tie up some loose ends and conclude our Midseason Review series. The second half of the 2015 seasons starts tonight, thankfully. I’ve come to appreciate the All-Star break, but yeah, I am ready for more baseball.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

G.I. Jones and the Serial Killer

By bench player standards, Chris Young has been dynamite this season. He’s mashing lefties and playing strong defense, which are his two main job functions. Garrett Jones, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a set role. He’s the backup at first base, yeah, but otherwise he doesn’t play regularly against righties or anything. Jones has started just 28 of the team’s 88 games, for example. He batted 28 times in April. That’s it.

Playing that infrequently didn’t exactly help Jones remain productive. He went 6-for-40 (.150) before hitting his first home run on May 22nd, a pinch-hit three-run homer into the Yankee Stadium short porch. That seemed to get him going. Jones is 24-for-89 (.270) with four homers since then, including at least one big one …

… while continuing to play sporadically. Jones is hitting .233/.277/.395 (84 wRC+) with five homers overall — again, he’s been much better since that dreadful start — and all things considered, he’s been really good for his role. That backup first baseman/fifth outfielder/lefty power bat off the bench who rarely plays. This is exactly the kind of veteran dude you want in this role. Not some prospect with an actual future.

John Ryan Murphy, meanwhile, has a total of 85 plate appearances as Brian McCann‘s backup this year, and is hitting .247/.286/.325 (65 wRC+). That’s about on par with the league average for backup catchers. Murphy’s defense has been fine to the untrained eye — he’s thrown out six of 19 attempted base-stealers (32%), so teams have tried running on him in limited action — and for whatever reason the pitching staff has better strikeout (23.4%) and walk (5.6%) rates with him behind the plate than McCann (21.8% and 7.2%, respectively). Could easily be sample size noise.

The Yankees reached the point where something had to happen with their catching depth. Someone had to go, and it was Francisco Cervelli, who was two years from free agency. The Yankees turned him into Justin Wilson, gave Murphy the backup job, and managed to keep Austin Romine in Triple-A as a non-40-man roster player. As an unabashed JRM fan, I’m happy with the way things turned out and I look forward to seeing Murphy continue to develop on both sides of the ball.

Futility Infielders

Pirela. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Pirela. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

It feels like more, but the Yankees have had four differential utility infielders this season, not counting the just called up Rob Refsnyder. Gregorio Petit, Jose Pirela, Brendan Ryan, and Cole Figueroa have hit a combined .209/.243/.310 (~53 wRC+) in 140 plate appearances. Pirela (41 wRC+) has exactly half those plate appearances. There’s a decent chance the Yankees will stick with Refsnyder as the regular second baseman and push Stephen Drew in the backup infielder role going forward, which would still be a net upgrade even as bad as Drew has been. Young, Jones, and Murphy have been pretty good off the bench, all things considered. The infielders have … not.

Get Called Up, Get Injured

When Jacoby Ellsbury hit the DL, the Yankees first called up Slade Heathcott, and it was a great story. Slade has dealt with all sorts of on-the-field and off-the-field issues over the years, so much so that he was dropped off the 40-man roster in the offseason, but he came to Spring Training healthy and played well in Triple-A. He earned the call up, went 6-for-17 (.343) with a homer, then blew out his quad and landed on the DL for a few months. Brutal.

Heathcott’s injury opened the door for Mason Williams, who battled mostly work ethic and makeup problems the last few years, but had the proverbial light bulb go on this offseason. He played well in Double-A and Triple-A, got called up to replace Slade, went 6-for-21 (.286) with three doubles and a homer, then suffered a shoulder injury diving back into first base on a pickoff throw. The day-to-day injury turned into a 60-day DL stint. I repeat: brutal.

The only young fourth outfielder to escape the injury bug in the first half was Ramon Flores, who got called up to replace Williams and went 7-for-32 (.219) with a double. He’s been up and down a few times and hasn’t gotten the everyday opportunity like Heathcott and Williams did before getting hurt. Maybe that’s the team’s way of keeping him healthy. I’m glad the Yankees have given their young outfielders a chance. It sucks they keep getting hurt. Seriously hurt too.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

One Hundred Pitches Or Less

Through 88 games this season, the Yankees have had a starting pitcher throw 100+ pitches only 22 times, tied with the Rockies and Royals for the fewest in MLB. Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi have both thrown 100+ pitches seven times, Adam Warren did it four times before being put in the bullpen, CC Sabathia has done it three times, and Masahiro Tanaka has done it once. That’s it. The Yankees do have 38 starts of 90-99 pitches, for what it’s worth.

The lack of 100+ pitch starts is the result of many things, first and foremost ineffectiveness. Sabathia and Eovaldi have gotten knocked around a bit at times, Warren struggled in April, and even Tanaka and Pineda went through rough stretches. The Yankees also have a strong bullpen and Joe Girardi has not been shy about going to it early rather than letting his starter go through the lineup a third time. Can’t say I blame him.

That said, the Yankees rank 22nd in innings by starters (510) and eighth in innings by the bullpen (283.1), which is a bit unbalanced. Over the last five years the ratio of rotation innings to bullpen innings is almost exactly 2.0 (1.996, to be exact) in the AL. The Yankees are at 1.80 this year. I’m not saying it can’t work all year, but it would be nice to see Girardi let the starters go a little deeper into games to help avoid bullpen burnout, especially with multi-run leads. I’m not sure asking the relievers to get a dozen outs each night is a built to last strategy.

Mailbag: Kimbrel, Gallardo, A-Rod, Outfielders, Severino

Nice big mailbag this week. Fourteen questions total. Be sure to use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us questions throughout the week.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Jeff asks: Let’s hypothetically say the Yankees make a trade for Craig Kimbrel. What inning would he slot into?

I’d let Kimbrel close and use Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller as setup men, though there’s really no wrong answer here. Miller closing with Kimbrel and Betances setting up? Sure. Dellin closing with Miller and Kimbrel setting up? That works too. All three are excellent, and as long as they’re pitching in high-leverage spots, the Yankees would be fine. That said, I don’t see the Yankees trading for Kimbrel. Yes, he would make the team better, but an elite closer is pretty much the last thing they need to add at the trade deadline. Get second base and rotation help first.

Mark asks: Why do you think the Yankees have signed more than their typical number of drafted players this year? Do you think it has anything to do with the two minor league teams they have added in the past few years? Seems like a decent way to gain a competitive advantage (extra spots means more lottery tickets) without having to worry about luxury tax.

Yes, I do think it has something to do with the extra affiliate (Rookie level Pulaski) this year. They need more bodies because there are more roster spots to fill. They didn’t sign more high-end prospects, they just added more late-round college juniors and seniors. The system doesn’t let teams spent as much as they want on higher upside prospects who fall due to signability concerns anymore. I do think having the extra affiliates gives the Yankees a developmental advantage, especially in the wake of last summer’s international spending spree. They need places to play these guys, and now they won’t have to share positions. Simply put, they can acquire more prospects because they have more places to play them.

Adam asks: Yovani Gallardo seems like a upgrade over Nathan Eovaldi/CC Sabathia/Ivan Nova, and won’t cost as much as Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels or Jeff Samardzija. What’s would we have to give up to get him?

The Rangers are falling out of the race — they’ve won just five of their last 20 games following that little hot streak that had people wondering if they were going to contend — and Gallardo is an impending free agent, so it would make sense for them to listen to offers, especially since he’s pitching better this season than he has in years. Gallardo, 29, has a 2.62 ERA (3.54 FIP) in 113.1 innings and recently had a 33.1-inning scoreless streak.

Among the various rental starters who figure to be available at the trade deadline, I’d rank Cueto at the top (duh) with Samardzija and Gallardo basically 2A and 2B, then Mike Leake a distant fourth. Gallardo has continued his weird “replace strikeouts with ground balls” trend …

Yovani Gallardo K GB

… which has been going on so long now that I have to think it’s a conscious decision. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different, especially since his strikeout rate is now well below the league average (20.2%). Even if it is something he is doing intentionally, the decline in missed bats is a red flag for me, though not enough of one to derail a trade because he is only a rental and not a long-term pickup.

The Rangers gave up three prospects to get Gallardo before the season — an MLB ready reliever (Corey Knebel), an MLB ready-ish all-glove/no-hit infielder (Luis Sardinas), and a pitcher all the way down in the Dominican Summer League (Marcos Diplan) — and I have to think it would cost less to get him now by virtue of acquiring only a half-season of him. Two good prospects? Say, Ramon Flores and Brady Lail? I think the Rangers are more likely to keep Gallardo and try to re-sign him (he grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area) than trade him though.

Sal asks: Mike, do you think if David Carpenter pitched better, Adam Warren might still be in the rotation? Did Yanks rationalize their CC sunk cost fallacy approach by “we need Warren in the pen” mentality?

No, I don’t think an effective Carpenter would have saved Warren’s rotation spot. The “we can’t remove Sabathia from the rotation because of his contract” monster is much larger than some middle reliever. The Yankees simply would have emphasized the “we need to be careful with Warren because he’s already over his innings total from the last two seasons” excuse instead. Having an effective Carpenter would have been nice. He showed the last two years with the Braves he could be a legitimate eighth inning guy. It didn’t happen though. That’s baseball. I don’t think it would have saved Warren’s rotation spot either way.

Chase asks: How would you play A-Rod in a World Series game at a NL park?

Gosh, that’s a tough one. The Yankees would will have home field advantage in the World Series now following the AL’s All-Star Game win, so they’d only have to play Games Three, Four, and potentially Five on the road. I think I would play Alex Rodriguez at third base in those games (and pull him for defense in the late innings, of course), especially since you know he’ll get a chance to rest during the off-day following Game Five. This is the World Series we’re talking about here. You’ve got to put the best team on the field and the Yankees are at their best with Alex in the lineup. Hopefully this is a situation we’ll get to discuss again in a few months.

Ben asks: I almost fainted watching Manny Machado back up Dellin Betances in the 7th inning of the All-Star Game. Obviously both awesome on their own, but I feel like their awesomeness complements each others’ in an almost poetic way. In that spirit, if you could put together an “All-Defense” team to back up the current staff, who’d make the squad?

That’s a good one. I’m basing this on no stats. This is all based on the eye test and my personal opinion, which could mean it is totally stupid. I’d go Yadier Molina at catcher (still) with Mark Teixeira at first, Robinson Cano at second, Andrelton Simmons at short, Machado at third, Christian Yelich in left, Carlos Gomez in center, and Jason Heyward in right. You’ve got three ballhawks in the outfield and three dudes with rocket arms on the infield throwing to Teixeira. (A strong throwing arm is easily the most breathtaking tool in my opinion.) And Yadi. That team might actually score some runs too.

Alex Rodriguez
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

P.J. asks: Every year after the trade deadline the Yankees place several players high priced players (A-Rod, etc..) on revocable waivers. Do you think there is a chance any chance some team might claim A-Rod or Carlos Beltran if the Yankees put them up?

Zero. Well, there’s a tiny little chance someone claims Beltran, but I’d say it’s less than 1%. High-priced players on the downside of their careers almost never ever get claimed for obvious reasons. No one wants to get stuck with the contract. The only recent examples I can think of are Cliff Lee and Alex Rios — the Dodgers claimed Lee (who was still a legitimate ace at the time) but the Phillies pulled him back, and the Blue Jays dumped Rios’ contract on the White Sox (he was only 28 at the time). Every team puts every player on trade waivers in August, and the only ones who get claimed are the good players with favorable contracts. I would be stunned if someone claimed A-Rod and almost equally as stunned if someone claimed Beltran.

Kevin asks: Say Alex Rodriguez was a free agent at the end of this season; what kind of deal could he feasibly get after such a productive year? Would he even receive interest or would his problem-filled past scare teams away?

I don’t think he would get any offers. Barry Bonds was 42 in his final season, so a little older than Alex, but he also hit .276/.480/.565 (157 wRC+) with 28 homers in 126 games, and no one even made him an offer. (They’re both basically DHs too.) Teams decided Bonds wasn’t worth the baggage and poof, he was out of baseball. The only club I could see pursuing A-Rod is his hometown Marlins because they need all the attention and fan interest they can get. Where would he play? Who knows. That said, I think Rodriguez would get pariahed right out of baseball if he was a free agent after the season, no matter how well he hits.

Ethan asks: Should I be worried about Luis Severino‘s low K rate in AAA, especially as a pitcher who doesn’t throw a sinker?

Nah, not at all. Severino has struck out 18.3% of the batters he’s faced in 50.1 innings with the RailRiders while the International League average is 18.6%. Remember, we’re talking about a kid who just turned 21 in February facing grown men, many of whom have MLB experience. Severino is six (six!) years younger than the average player in the league. Also, in his last five starts, he has a 22.7% strikeout rate. It would be cool if Severino was punching out ten dudes every fifth day, but for where he is, he’s doing just fine.

Noa asks: Seeing that the Mets need hitting and have an excess of pitching, do you think the Yankees could trade for someone like Noah Syndergaard. Ignoring the fact that the Mets probably won’t trade with the Yankees, what do you think it would take to get him? I was thinking maybe Rob Refsnyder, Aaron Judge, and someone like Greg Bird or Jorge Mateo. What do you think it would take and would you do the trade?

I probably wouldn’t take a Refsnyder plus Judge plus Mateo package for Syndergaard if I were the Mets (they don’t need Bird with Lucas Duda at first), which I guess means I’d do it if I were the Yankees. Syndergaard has shown very quickly he can dominate MLB hitters (3.11 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 26.3 K%, 5.1 BB%) and a) aside from Refsnyder, no one in that package can step right into the lineup to help their offense, and b) no one in that package solves their most pressing problem, which is the giant hole at shortstop. The Mets seem hesitant to trade their young pitching and I get it, but I think they should try to turn one of those guys into a high-end position player. Syndergaard for Addison Russell, for example. Something along those lines. Judge, Refsnyder, and Mateo is a package that can be beat by several other teams and it doesn’t address the Mets’ biggest immediate needs.

Judge ... and Gary Sanchez! (Rob Carr/Getty)
Judge … and Gary Sanchez! (Rob Carr/Getty)

Sal asks: Clearly Aaron Judge is a bit raw when it comes to facing bigger league pitching. Since he is being groomed for one of the OF spots next year, will prospects like Mason Williams/Ramon Flores be used more openly in trade talks in the coming months? I think some orgs. would love to have that kind of talent at upper levels of minors.

Yeah I think so. The Yankees have a ton of upper level outfielders — not just Williams, Flores, and Judge, but also Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, and Jake Cave — and all of them except Judge are either on the 40-man roster or have to be added this offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. How many outfield prospects can one team carry on the 40-man? I absolutely think the Yankees should and will trade from their outfield depth either at the trade deadline or early in the offseason. They can’t keep all these guys. There’s not enough room for them on the 40-man roster or at Triple-A Scranton.

Jon S. asks: We always see how many wins a player is worth or how many above replacement. But how many wins is replacement? If a team had all replacement level players, how many games would they win?

It fluctuates year-to-year, the same way the league batting average or ERA changes slightly each season. A team of replacement level players would win somewhere in the range of 44-48 games, give or take depending on the year. The worst team this century was the 2003 Tigers at 43-119, who had one pretty good player (Dmitri Young at 3.4 WAR) and a whole bunch of sub-replacement level guys. That’s as close to a replacement level team as you’ll find.

Pounder asks: Has anybody not chosen or played in an All Star Game ever went on to win their league’s MVP?

Oh sure, it’s happened a few times. Kirk Gibson in the 1988 is the most famous example of a player winning MVP but not being an All-Star — Gibson ranks third all-time in WAR among position players never selected to an All-Star Game — but others like Jimmy Rollins (2007), Justin Morneau (2006), Chipper Jones (1999), and Juan Gonzalez (1996) have all done it recently. I’m sure there are others. I stopped looking after 1996 though.

Jeffrey asks: Is it just me or does it seem the Yankees play better and win more against the teams with good records? Do you have the split on how they have done against the teams with winning records and losing records this year?

The Yankees are 21-15 (.583) with a +25 run differential against winning teams this season and 27-25 (.519) with a +1 run differential against teams at .500 or worse. I wouldn’t read much into these numbers at all though. Consider that if the Tigers win tonight, they move to a game over .500 and the Yankees are suddenly 26-17 (.605) with a +45 run differential against teams with a winning record and 22-23 (.489) with a -19 run differential against teams at or below .500. Did the Yankees do anything different? No, the Tigers won some random game the Yankees had no control over, improved to 45-44 on the season, and it drastically changed New York’s record against winning teams and losing teams. So yes, the Yankees do have a higher winning percentage against teams with good records this year. I also don’t think it means much going forward.