Waiting is understandable, but the sooner the Yankees decide to sell, the better

(Joe Mahoney/Getty)
(Joe Mahoney/Getty)

One of the best and worst things about baseball these days is the second wildcard. It’s great because it gives more teams a chance at the postseason, and that’s generally a good thing for baseball. The Giants won the 2014 World Series as the second wildcard team, remember. Fans want to watch their team play meaningful games and the race for the second wildcard means more meaningful games.

At the same time, the second wildcard leads to a lot of indecision. More teams are in contention — or can talk themselves into thinking they’re in contention — that they’re hesitant to make major moves and deal away players throughout the summer. There’s no better example of this than the 2013 and 2014 Yankees. The 2016 Yankees may be heading for a similar fate. Teams are frozen. The second wildcard clouds their judgment.

The trade deadline is exactly five weeks away, and at least one team is open to buying right now. That team? The Red Sox. They have some pitching problems and president of baseball operations David Dombrowski told Evan Drellich he’s already working the trade market for help. Only a few teams are ready to sell though. From Drellich:

“It’s still early,” Dombrowski said. “I can tell you I’ve done a great deal work, there’s five clubs that are willing to talk about it. They’re the same five clubs that have been at it all year, so it’s still a little early for that type of situation. We’ll just see what happens.

“I think the thing you got to remember is, it takes two clubs to make a deal. And most clubs, as I’ve said all along — and it hasn’t changed whatsoever really — are not prepared to move towards 2017 and be in a position of where they’re willing to move. I mean, there’s probably five clubs that have been looking at that all year long and I think those five clubs are probably the five that remain.”

My guess is the Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Reds, and Padres are those five teams ready to sell. They’re all rebuilding and have aggressively moved veterans for prospects in recent weeks and months. What pitching do they have to offer the Red Sox? Eh, not much beyond Julio Teheran. That’s Boston’s problem though. Who cares about them.

Anyway, the point is the Red Sox are looking to add help right now, but there’s a shortage of viable trade partners. And if the Red Sox are ready to buy, you can be sure other contenders like the Rangers, Nationals, Giants, Cubs, Indians, Dodgers, and Orioles are ready to buy as well. No roster is perfect. They can all be improved, some more than others. The sooner you get that help, the better your chances to contend.

The Yankees insist they are not ready to sell — what else are they supposed to say? — but Dombrowski’s comments indicate they could benefit from being decisive and making moves now. It’s a seller’s market because that second wildcard spot has so many teams thinking playoffs and thus holding on to their players. Selling now comes with some obvious benefits, such as:

  1. You can ask for more in return. Because you’re trading away more games of a player — as of today, it’s five extra weeks of a player compared to moving him at the deadline — you can ask for more in return. Maybe not a ton more, but more.
  2. You lower your risk. This is pretty simple. The longer you hold onto your top trade chips, the odds of them getting hurt on your watch goes up, especially when it comes to pitchers. Think the Padres regret not moving Tyson Ross sooner? You bet they do.
  3. Less trade market competition. No one is ready to sell right now, which means buyers don’t have many options. It’s simple supply and demand. Making your players available right now means you control the market. Everyone is trying to get your players because they’re actually available.

The Red Sox are looking to buy but the Yankees aren’t going to trade with them. I think Dombrowski and Brian Cashman would be open to trading with each other, but a Yankees-Red Sox deal probably gets squashed at the ownership level. I’m talking about a major deal here, not Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew. Neither team wants to risk losing a major trade to the other. That’s just the way it goes.

There are still plenty of other trade partners out there though! Teams are all over the Yankees’ relievers and I’m sure there’s interest in Carlos Beltran too. The Yankees could put those guys (and others) on the market today and not only get some bites, but find legitimate interest. Their ability to be sellers depends entirely on their willingness to sell. It’s not that there’s no market for their players yet. The market exists.

Are the Yankees going to make their players available right now and take advantage of the lack of competition? Almost certainly not. They want to get back into the race — I understand that, but the players aren’t exactly cooperating — so they’ll wait until the deadline to make moves, if any. That means assuming the added injury risk and forfeiting the ability to get out ahead of the market. There’s potentially a lot to be gained by selling now, but the Yankees seem content to wait this out.

Yankeemetrics: When two out of three isn’t enough [June 24-26]

(AP)
(AP)

Chapman heating up
The Yankees continued their homestand with another win against their favorite punching bag (and the worst team in the AL), the Minnesota Twins. By taking five of their first seven matchups against the Twins this season, they’ve clinched their 15th straight non-losing season series versus them.

That’s the second-longest streak of its kind in the history of this rivalry, which dates back to 1903 when the Twins were known as the Washington Senators. Amazingly, from 1934-64, the Yankees went 31 straight years without losing a season series to the Senators; the only year they didn’t end up with an outright advantage was in 1943, when the teams split their 22 matchups.

Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp, but he was still good enough to give the Yankees a chance to win, allowing three runs in six innings. Despite struggles with his overall command, his splitter was in peak form. “Haven’t had that good of a split for a while,” Tanaka told Chad Jennings of Lohud.com after the game.

The Twins whiffed on nine of their 17 (53 percent) swings against the pitch, his second-highest whiff rate on the splitter this season. The pitch also netted him seven outs, including four strikeouts, and the lone hit allowed off the pitch was a single in the sixth inning. The key was his ability to keep the splitter down in the zone – he located the pitch an average of 1.74 feet below the center of the strike zone, his lowest mark of the season.

Masahiro Tanaka (1)
Aroldis Chapman had perhaps his most electric performance of the season so far, striking out the side in the ninth inning on 11 pitches. The first 10 were fastballs at 100-plus mph, increasing in speed on each successive pitch, with the final four going over 103 mph. And then he dropped a 90 mph changeup for a called strike three on Kurt Suzuki to end the game. Ridiculous.

Through Friday’s games, there had been 77 pitches of at least 103 mph thrown in the regular season since 2008 (the start of the Pitch F/X era). Seventy-five of them came from the arm of Chapman; the other two were thrown by Neftali Feliz and Henry Rodriguez, both in 2010.

Bronx bunters
The Twins are the gift that keeps on giving for the Yankees, who beat Minnesota for the fifth time in six matchups this season.

It was an unusual win from a statistical perspective: the Yankees had 10 hits in the game, but all were singles. The only other time over the last nine seasons that they won a game at home with double-digit hits and no extra-bases hits was on July 6, 2013 vs. the Orioles.

arod dork
(Getty)

Tied 1-1 heading into the eighth inning, the Yankees staged a most improbable rally, one that began with an infield single by Alex Rodriguez and was capped off by Aaron Hicks scoring the go-ahead run when Starlin Castro reached on an error by Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar. For Castro, it was his team-leading third go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning or later.

Castro might have been the hero, but it was Michael Pineda who stole the spotlight with his finest effort of the season. The right-hander surrendered one run on two hits while striking out eight batters with one walk in six innings.

It was his fifth start this season of at least eight strikeouts and one or fewer walks, the second-most in the AL behind Chris Sale (six). The rest of the Yankee pitchers this season combined for two such starts through Saturday.

Pineda struggled mightily during the first two months, and entered June with an MLB-worst 6.92 ERA, but has seemingly turned his season around since the beginning of the month. He now has 3.00 ERA with 37 strikeouts and five walks in his last five starts, and just 25 hits allowed in 30 innings.

His darting slider was a key weapon for him against the Twins, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with the pitch. It was the first time all season he didn’t allow a hit on his slider. He was able to bury the pitch in the dirt, inducing whiffs on half the swings against the pitch. It was the third time in five June starts he’s had a swing-and-miss rate of at least 50 percent with his slider, after doing so just three times in his first 10 starts.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Boooooooo-birds in the Bronx
With a chance to get to two games above .500 for the first time since April 12 and extend their win streak to four games, the Yankees instead flopped miserably, losing in near-historic fashion to the worst team in baseball.

The final tally for the Yankee pitching staff was eight hits, seven runs and six homers allowed. It was the most homers the Yankees have ever allowed in a game against the Twins/Senators franchise. The last time the Yankees surrendered a half-dozen longballs in a game against any team was Sept. 6, 2012 vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards and the last time it happened in the Bronx was May 7, 2009 against the Rays.

Each of the six homers was hit by a different player, making this just the second time that six guys have gone deep in a game against the Yankees. The only other team to do it was the Indians on April 18, 2009 (R.I.P. Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett).

Nathan Eovaldi had allowed just one run through five innings before he imploded in the sixth frame, giving up three consecutive two-out homers. He’s the first Yankee pitcher to allow back-to-back-to-back homers since Chase Wright coughed up four in a row against the Red Sox on April 22, 2007.

Sunday’s outing ended a nightmare June for the enigmatic righty. In five starts this month, Eovaldi posted a 8.65 ERA as opponents hit .338/.388/.696 with 10 homers against him. The 10 homers were the most allowed by a Yankee pitcher in any calendar month since Jack McDowell also gave up 10 in June of 1995.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Tyler Duffey took a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished with a shiny pitching line of eight innings, two hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. He’s the first pitcher to go at least eight innings and allow two or fewer baserunners against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium since Pedro Martinez’s epic 17-strikeout, 1-hitter on Sept. 10, 1999.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 27th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-2 (21 RS, 27 RA)
Season Record: 37-37 (304 RS, 329 RA, 34-40 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Rangers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Padres (three games, Fri. to Sat.)

Top stories from last week:

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 Features tab in 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?

DotF: German, DeCarr, and Degano all make season debuts

LHP Nestor Cortes has been promoted from Low-A Charleston to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. That has to be a temporary move. Cortes has been really good this year, but not “skip him over High-A permanently” good.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-5, 2 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — no homer today, so he showed off his speed with a triple instead
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 PB — 5-for-13 (.385) in his last three games, so he’s starting to come around a bit … he hadn’t been hitting much since coming back from the broken thumb
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — he’s hitting .301/.366/.671 in 20 games since the promotion
  • LF Cesar Puello: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 35 of 57 pitches were strikes (61%) … had to make the spot start with Luis Cessa in the big leagues
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 30 of 48 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 44 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — ten of 14 pitches were strikes … 45/10 K/BB in 34.1 innings with the RailRiders this season

[Read more…]

Yankees can’t finish sweep, instead get embarrassed 7-1 by the Twins

That was maybe the single worst game of the season, which is really saying something. It had it all. An ineffective starter? Check. Minimal offense? Also check. A leaky bullpen? A third check. That was not a fun baseball watching experience. The Yankees lost 7-1 to the Twins on Sunday to again fall to .500 on the season. They’re 37-37. This team is mediocrity defined.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Nate’s Homers
Nathan Eovaldi‘s home run problem has gone from annoying to alarming. He came into the season with a career 0.63 HR/9 and 7.1 HR/FB% in 614.1 innings. It was 0.58 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB% in 154.1 innings last year. That’s not a small sample! Eovaldi showed a legitimate home run suppressing skill prior to this season, and that skill has totally disappeared this season, and especially of late.

Eovaldi went into Sunday’s start with a 1.45 HR/9 and 17.1 HR/FB% in 80.2 innings this season. After allowing four homers to the Twins, including back-to-back-to-back (!) blasts in the sixth inning, those numbers are now 1.77 HR/9 and 21.3 HR/FB% in 86.2 innings. The 17 homers he’s allowed are a career-high — his previous career high was 14 in 2014 — and in his last five starts, he’s allowed ten homers in 26 innings. Yikes.

Having watched these last five starts, it’s pretty clear the homers are all the result of location problems. He’s not getting unlucky with Yankee Stadium cheapies on well-located pitches. When Eovaldi has missed, he’s missed right out over the plate …

Nathan Eovaldi home runs

… and hitters are just way too comfortable in the box against him. For a guy who throws 100 mph regularly, that should not be the case. Why has Eovaldi’s location been so poor of late? I have no idea. It wasn’t always this bad. Maybe he’s a mechanical mess or maybe he’s pitching through some sort of injury. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Whatever it is, it’s a huge problem and it needs to get fixed. Eovaldi’s either going to help the Yankees back into contention or get traded as part of the rebuild. It’s hard to see a middle ground. And unless he gets this homer issue corrected and soon, Eovaldi won’t help the Yankees contend and he won’t fetch much in return. Along with Luis Severino being a disaster earlier this season, Eovaldi’s homers are the biggest big picture concern for the Yankees in 2016.

Cy Duffey
What a miserable performance by the offense. You have to give Tyler Duffey credit, of course. He pitched well and deserves all the praise he gets, but we’ve seen the offense disappear far too often this season to think Sunday was just a bad day. Duffey took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Aaron Hicks broke it up with a double to right. Their second and only other hit of the game was Mark Teixeira‘s garbage time solo homer in the eighth. It was his first homer in 43 games and 165 plate appearances.

The Yankees won two of three this weekend but scored only eight runs against a Twins team that came into the series on pace to allow 913 runs (!!!) this season. The last team to allow that many runs was the 2008 Rangers (967). Furthermore, three of those eight runs were unearned, and one of the five earned runs scored when Eduardo Escobar botched an inning-ending grounder Saturday. (Yes, that run was earned.) I can’t remember the last time the Yankees had an offense this boring and ineffective. Even the 2013 offense wasn’t this unwatchable.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Leftovers
Luis Cessa (five outs), Richard Bleier (one out), and Kirby Yates (three outs) came out of the bullpen after Eovaldi. Cessa and Yates allowed solo homers. Cessa is stretched out and I’m not sure why Joe Girardi didn’t just leave him in for the final three innings. Getting Bleier, a 29-year-old rookie with almost certainly no long-term role with the Yankees, work shouldn’t be a priority. He was brought in for the left-on-left matchup in a game the Yankees were losing 6-0.

The two hits — Hicks’ double and Teixeira’s homer — was the team’s only baserunners on the afternoon. No walks, no hit-by-pitches, no catcher’s interferences, nothing. I count only three three-ball counts among the 29 Yankees to bat. They saw five pitches total in the ninth inning too. That was very much a “let’s just get this over with and swing at everything” inning.

The Yankees allowed six homers in a game for the first time since September 2012, when the Orioles got them. The Twins hit six homers in a game for the first time since July 2007, when they did it to the White Sox. The Yankees have been out-homered 95-76 this season. Gross.

And finally, the Yankees went 6-5 during this eleven-game stretch against the Rockies and Twins. The hope was they would pad their record and get over .500 for good during these eleven games, but lol no. Their postseason odds went from 16.6% to 13.4% during the eleven games, per FanGraphs.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The party is over. The Yankees just finished an extended stretch against some of the worst teams in baseball, and now one of the best is coming to the Bronx for a four-game series. The Rangers, owners of the best record in the AL t 49-27, will be in town this week. Ivan Nova and a man named Chi Chi Gonzalez will be on the mound Monday night. That’s the last home series before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch one of those four games live.

Sunday Open Thread

Here is the open thread for the rest of the weekend. The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game is the Dodgers at the Pirates. Some poor kid named Chad Kuhl is going to be making his MLB debut on national television opposing Clayton Kershaw. Now watch Kuhl go out and chuck eight scoreless innings. That’d be cool. Talk about anything except religion and politics here.

Game 74: Do the Twins really have to leave?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees are looking to finish a three-game sweep of the Twins this afternoon, and, unfortunately, they won’t play Minnesota again this season. That’s a damn shame. As we’ve seen the last two days, even with the Twinkies have a lead and the Yankees seem unable to do anything, the Twins will find a way to lose. Gonna miss that. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s a wee bit cloudy in New York, otherwise it’s a very nice day for baseball. A little warm but not really hot unless you’re stuck sitting in the sun. Anyway, this afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Nick Goody was sent down and Luis Cessa was called up, the Yankees announced. Cessa was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s available to go long if necessary. Hopefully it’s not. Joe Girardi indicated he wants to limit Richard Bleier to left-on-left matchup work going forward, so Cessa’s the new long man.

Injury Update: Bryan Mitchell (toe) has started playing catch and could begin throwing off a mound reasonably soon. Girardi said they’re not going to push him though, so there’s a chance Mitchell won’t return to the big leagues this season. He needs innings and he can get them in Triple-A, not sitting in the big league bullpen for a week at a time.