Saturday Links: Comcast, Strike Zone, Intentional Walks

Intentional walks as we know them may soon be a thing of the past. (Getty)
Intentional walks as we know them may soon be a thing of the past. (Getty)

The Yankees and Athletics resume their series with a 4pm ET game later today. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Comcast-YES dispute not near resolution

A non-update on the Comcast-YES dispute: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told John Ourand the two sides are not close to working out an agreement. “We’re learning from the experience that we’re having (with YES) and we hope to get it resolved at some point. But maybe not,” said Roberts. Comcast does not want to pay the rights fees to carry YES, so right now Comcast customers can’t watch the Yankees. Sling TV and Playstation Vue are alternatives for the time being. Eventually the two sides will come to their senses, right?

Changes to strike zone, intentional walks approved

At the quarterly owners’ meetings this week the competition committee approved changes to the strike zone and intentional walks, according to Jayson Stark. In a nutshell, they’ll raise the bottom of the strike zone from the “hollow beneath the kneecap” to the top of the knee, and allow teams to signal for an intentional walk without actually making the pitcher throw four balls. The changes could take effect as soon as next season.

It’s important to note the rule changes are not final. The competition committee has given them the thumbs up, and now the rules committee has to do the same. They’ll also run them by the MLBPA and umpires’ union even though they technically do not need their approval to implement the rule changes. I don’t love the intentional walk rule change — make the pitcher execute the pitch, what if he airmails one? — but it’s another attempt to improve the pace of play.

The strike zone, on the other hand, has slowly been dropping for years. Raising the bottom of the zone figures to lead to fewer strikeouts and more balls in play — specifically more balls in the air — and thus more excitement. The league average strikeout rate is a record 21.1% this year. That’s bad. Strikeouts are boring. More balls in play means more base-runners and more runs scored.

MLB, MLBPA have met 12 times for CBA talks

The MLB and the MLBPA have already had 12 negotiating sessions for the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed to Ken Davidoff. “Twelve meetings at this point in the calendar is a really, really good schedule,” said the commissioner, who also said he’s optimistic the two sides will work out a deal before the current CBA expires on December 1st.

Although it’s not a hard deadline, it would behoove MLB and MLBPA to get a deal hammered out by the end of the World Series. That way any changes to the qualifying offer and draft pick compensation system can be implemented right away this offseason rather than be pushed back to next year. The current CBA was agreed to in the middle of the offseason, which created some headaches. The most important thing is getting it done, but the sooner the better.

Sabathia returns, Yanks beat A’s 8-3 for third straight win


Source: FanGraphs

For the first time this season, the Yankees have won three consecutive games. I’m not joking. First time all year. Crazy, huh? The Yankees beat the Athletics 8-3 on Friday night and they have now won ten of their last 15 games. I wouldn’t say things are going great just yet, but they’re definitely heading in the right direction. West Coast night games get bullet point recaps, so let’s dive in:

  • CC Returns: After 15 days on the DL with a hamstring injury, CC Sabathia returned Friday night and was pretty damn awesome. He allowed a run in the second inning on a walk, a hit batsman, and a single, then settled down to retire 13 of the final 16 batters he faced. Sabathia struck out a season high eight in six innings, allowing just the one run on three singles and a walk. He didn’t show any rust, didn’t run out of gas in the middle innings, nothing. It was like he never left. Sabathia now has a 3.41 ERA (3.19 FIP) on the season. Welcome back, big man.
  • Five in the Fourth: It was obvious early on Sonny Gray did not have it. He hasn’t had it all season, really. Gray was behind in the count all night and he struggled to put guys away with two strikes. In the fourth inning, the Yankees finally made him pay. Following an Aaron Hicks walk and Didi Gregorius single, Ronald Torreyes ripped a legit triple over Coco Crisp’s head in center to plate two runs. A wild pitch brought Torreyes home, then Carlos Beltran doubled in two more later in the inning for the 5-1 lead. Been a while since the Yankees had a big inning like that.
  • The Non-Big Three: The Yankees had a short bullpen Friday night after the big three relievers each pitched Wednesday and Thursday. The big lead allowed Joe Girardi to go to Kirby Yates and Chasen Shreve to close things out and they made it stress free. Yates did allow a run on a single and a double in the seventh, and Shreve allowed a run on a triple and a ground out in the ninth, but that’s no big deal. Yates threw two innings, Shreve threw one.
  • Leftovers: Beltran paced the offense by going 3-for-5 with three doubles. Jacoby Ellsbury (single, two-run triple, walk, catcher’s interference) and Brett Gardner (single, walk) reached base six times in front of him … the 7-8-9 hitters (Hicks, Gregorius, Torreyes) went a combined 6-for-12 with three walks … Mark Teixeira went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and continues to look completely lost from the left side of the plate … Ellsbury’s catcher’s interference was his fifth of the season already. The single-season record is eight by Roberto Kelly with the 1992 Yankees … and finally, this was Sabathia’s 100th win as a Yankee. Pretty cool.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings, and here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. This four-game series continues with the third game Saturday. That’s a 4:05pm ET start. Masahiro Tanaka and rookie lefty Sean Manaea will be the pitching matchup.

DotF: Hensley needs second Tommy John surgery

Awful news: RHP Ty Hensley needs a second Tommy John surgery, Brian Cashman and farm system head Gary Denbo confirmed to Chad Jennings. Hensley had his first Tommy John last year. He was the team’s first round pick in 2012 (30th overall) and he’s thrown only 42.1 innings in parts of five seasons due to various injuries (hips, hernia, elbow). Poor kid. Here are some other notes, including more injury updates from Jennings:

  • RHP James Kaprielian (elbow inflammation) will begin a throwing program shortly. We recently heard he’s expected to be back on a mound within 4-6 week. LHP Jacob Lindgren (elbow) is still shut down. Doesn’t sound like Lindgren’s return is imminent.
  • OF Mason Williams (shoulder), OF Slade Heathcott (knee), C Luis Torrens (shoulder), OF Trey Amburgey (hamstring), and RHP Domingo Acevedo (hamstring) are all said to be working their way back with no issues.
  • RHP Austin DeCarr and RHP Domingo German are both progressing well in their rehab from Tommy John surgery. There’s no timetable for their return to game action yet.
  • LHP Nestor Cortes landed in Baseball America’s Prospect Report today after striking out 12 last night. It’s not behind the paywall, so make sure you check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Indianapolis)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-4
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 RBI
  • DH Nick Swisher: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K — back-to-back games with an extra-base hit for the first time since signing
  • CF Cesar Puello: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) — missed some time with a concussion, but he’s quietly hitting .283/.443/.400 so far
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 8/3 GB/FB — 53 of 91 pitches were strikes (58%) … he still has a 1.74 ERA on the season
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 29 of 45 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1/0 GB/FB — four pitches, three strikes

[Read more…]

Game 41: Can the Yankees make it three straight?

Nightmare fuel. (Presswire)
Nightmare fuel. (Presswire)

The season is roughly one-quarter of the way complete and the Yankees still have not won three consecutive games all year. Isn’t that unbelievable? The Astros are the only other team in baseball without a winning streak of at least three games this year. I guess the AL wildcard game screwed everyone up.

Tonight the Yankees have a chance to win their third straight game and boy, it would be really nice to see them get over that hump. They’ve won nine of their last 14 games overall, so they’ve been playing better, but they’re probably not going to climb out of last place winning two games at a time. At some point they need an extended winning streak. What better time than now? Here is the Athletics’ 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. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another cool, cloudy, and windy night in Oakland. Same weather as last night. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 9:30pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) ran the bases again. The Yankees are facing a lefty tomorrow, so if they’re going to activate A-Rod this weekend, that would be a good time to do it … Luis Severino (triceps) is expected to resume playing catch this weekend.

Roster Moves: James Pazos was sent down to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Sabathia … Phil Coke cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton. He can still elect free agency.

Friday Night Open Thread

We’ve got another West Coast night game tonight, but at least it’s the last one on the trip. Two afternoon games this weekend. Here’s the open thread until the regular game thread comes along. The Mets are playing and MLB Network is showing a regional game. You’ve also got NBA and NHL playoff action, so talk about any of that stuff right here.

Yankees sign Neal Cotts to minor league deal

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have signed veteran left-hander Neal Cotts to a minor league contract, the team announced. He’s heading to Triple-A Scranton. Cotts opted out of his minor league deal with the Angels a few days ago. Seems like he’s taking Phil Coke‘s spot in the organization after Coke was designated for assignment earlier this week.

Cotts, 36, had a 3.29 ERA (3.39 FIP) in 13.2 Triple-A innings with the Angels before opting out. Last season he had a 3.41 ERA (5.00 FIP) in 63.1 innings with the Brewers and Twins, and he held lefties to .178/.243/.330 (.251 wOBA) batting line with a 23.9% strikeout rate and a 5.5% walk rate. Not too bad, huh?

A few weeks back the Yankees signed Coke out of an independent league, where he was working as a starter. Cotts is a pure left-on-left matchup reliever, so he’s not someone who can come up to be a long man. I assume his current deal with the Yankees includes an opt-out date. Probably sometime next month. That’s pretty standard.

Injuries have hit the Yankees pretty hard this season. Already they’ve lost Bryan Mitchell (toe) Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), and Jacob Lindgren (elbow) to injuries, among others. Cotts helps replenish that bullpen depth.

The Yankees signed Cotts to a minor league contract way back in 2011, but he failed his physical and the team walked away. He had Tommy John surgery back in 2009 and has undergone four different hip surgeries over the last few seasons.