Mailbag: Price, Severino, Sabathia, Papelbon, Teixeira

Got a dozen questions in the mailbag this week. Remember to use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us questions, comments, links, whatever.

Price. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Price. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Christian asks: What are the chances that Detroit will trade David Price, and what will a rental cost in terms of prospects?

I think the chances are extremely small. They’re good enough to hang around the wildcard race the next few weeks at the very least, even without Miguel Cabrera. The trade deadline is only three weeks away, remember. They’d have to tank real hard to consider selling by July 31st. (Or even trade Price in an August waiver deal.) I have a hard time thinking that will happen.

But, just for fun, let’s say the Tigers do decide to sell before the trade deadline. Price should cost as much as Johnny Cueto, right? They’re both rentals aces, after all. Maybe Price costs more because he’s never had any injury problems (Cueto missed a bunch of time with a series of lat strains a few years ago) and has shown he can pitch in the AL. I don’t doubt Cueto can pitch in the AL as well, but Price has … clears throat … Proven It.

The Tigers would probably want MLB ready pieces in return for Price. Not prospects. They are going to try to win next year. No doubt about it. They don’t have a choice but to go for it, really. Jon Lester (and Jonny Gomes) was traded for Yoenis Cespedes last year, so I guess that’s the going rate for a rental ace. Nathan Eovaldi and Mason Williams for Price? The Tigers probably say no to that.

CanGuest asks: Regarding Luis Severino, does his success at Triple-A change your mind about his long term viability as a major league starter? Also, I’ve heard a lot about how he doesn’t use his lower half well in his delivery. Should the Yankees (or another team, if he is traded) try and alter his delivery and risk messing with his results, or leave him how he is?

No, his Triple-A success doesn’t change anything for me. Severino has three quality pitches and good (but not great right now) command, which is more than enough to start. I think he could be a very good starter in fact, and that was the case before he got to Triple-A. As for his mechanics, I wouldn’t change anything until absolutely necessary. There have been plenty of guys who had ugly deliveries that scouts didn’t like who held up long-term. Look at Tim Lincecum. He’s the perfect example. Let Severino do what he does until something has to change.

Mark asks: If you say the Yankees won’t take CC Sabathia out of the rotation, what happens if they do make the playoffs? Is there a chance they leave him off the roster, or do we finally get to see him as a LOOGY? Or worse yet, do we see him starting a game after he continues to pitch this badly?

We’re a long way from worrying where Sabathia fits into the postseason roster. That said, should the Yankees make it, there’s no possible way they could give him a start over Eovaldi or Ivan Nova (assuming Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka start the first two games in whatever order.). The postseason is no time for being sentimental and trying to squeeze value out of his contract.

Given who’s in the bullpen, I’d say Sabathia should be left off the postseason roster entirely. Now, what will the Yankees do? Probably start him in Game Three with Nova in Game Four and Eovaldi in the bullpen. What they should do and what they will do don’t always line up. Like I said though, long time to go before anyone has to think about this seriously. Sabathia’s status on the postseason roster is a decision I hope the Yankees have to make come October.

Michael asks: Mark Teixeira keeps hitting like this next year. Do you make a qualifying offer? I say yes, worst case he tanks on a $15 to 16mm 1 year deal. Obviously next year a long way away. And to add to this if we do make him a QO, do you think he would accept or reject?

If he continues to hit like this, yes, absolutely make him the qualifying offer after next season. It’ll be an expensive one-year contract (it’ll probably be in the $17M range), but that’s fine. If he accepts, you have a productive Teixeira on a one-year contract. If he declines, you get a draft pick. My hunch is he would decline and look for a two-year deal, even if it’s at a slightly lower average annual salary (Adam LaRoche got two years and $25M this past offseason, for example.) Of course, this is all predicated on Teixeira keeping up this level of performance. That’s not impossible, just seems unlikely.

Papelbon. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Papelbon. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Upstate Yanks: Any chance we could see ol’ Jonathan Papelbon in a salary dump/mid level prospect trade? I know he has a full no-trade (to certain teams) and wouldn’t like the idea of being a “set-up” guy, and the baggage but man, Paps-Dellin-Miller at the end of the game would be ridiculous.

It makes sense from a baseball standpoint because Papelbon is still good (1.46 ERA and 2.75 FIP going into last night’s game) and what team can’t use another quality reliever? His $13M vesting option could be an issue, though the Yankees would have some control over that (he needs to finish 55 games for it to kick in, and he went into last night’s game with 29). The Yankees do love their ex-Red Sox players too, mostly because they’ve shown they can thrive in a hectic market.

That said, Papelbon’s got a bit of a mouth on him, and when’s the last time the Yankees brought in someone like that? Reggie Jackson almost 40 years ago? Adding Papelbon the reliever makes sense from a baseball standpoint — I’d let him close and turn Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller loose in the seventh and eighth innings, but that’s just me — but the Yankees tend to steer clear of dudes with distraction potential. Maybe Papelbon would be someone ownership would go over Brian Cashman‘s head to acquire. Also, I’m pretty sure I’d puke if I saw him wearing pinstripes.

LL asks: Always been curious about veteran player interactions when they’re on rehab assignments in the minors. Do they ever take guys out for dinner or something, like with Jacoby Ellsbury with High A Tampa?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. They don’t necessarily take them out to eat, but it’s standard practice to buy the team a great big spread after the game. Whenever a guy rehabs there are always some minor leaguers on Twitter thanking them for the meal. Here’s a good article from John Wagner on guys buying their temporary teammates dinner while on rehab assignments. Minor league food really sucks. Those few days with a rehabbing big leaguer is the best most minor leaguers will eat during the season.

Remco asks: If we stop the season at approximately the halfway point, who would be the biggest candidates for the comeback player of the year award? As a Yankees fan I’m biased towards A-Rod of course, but what other comebacks are going on this season?

I think Teixeira has to be ahead of Alex Rodriguez in the AL Comeback Player of the Year race right now. A-Rod’s awesome! But so is Teixeira and he actually plays a position. Jason Kipnis, Kendrys Morales, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jose Iglesias stand out as other candidates. I always feel like I’m forgetting someone obvious when discussing Comeback Player of the Year candidates and I probably am now. (Also, does coming back from a bad season enough to be Comeback Player of the Year? Or should the guy be coming back from an injury, etc.?) I’d say Teixeira is definitely among the favorites right now with Rodriguez lagging a bit.

Luke asks: I know Sabathia technically never opted-out of his original Yankee contract and instead signed an extension, but given the situation it seems like the 2012-2017 period can be thought of as a separate deal. Where would that deal rank among the worst signings of all time? It’s basically $140M for one good season.

Sabathia leveraged the opt-out into the extension, getting one guaranteed and a vesting option tacked onto the four years and $92M left on his original deal. If the option vests, the Yankees will pay him $142M across six years, and he currently has a 4.44 ERA (92 ERA+) and a 3.96 FIP in 557.1 innings in the first three and a half years of that six-year deal. That’s terrible! Here are the consensus two worst pitching deals in history:

  • Mike Hampton, eight years and $121M: 4.81 ERA (96 ERA+) and a 4.74 FIP in 891.1 innings with two full seasons lost to injury.
  • Barry Zito, seven years and $126M: 4.62 ERA (87 ERA+) and a 4.61 FIP in 1,139.1 innings.

Sabathia could finish his current contract with something like a 4.70 ERA in 1,000 or so innings, assuming he stays healthy, which isn’t a safe bet given his degenerative knee condition. That’s at least as bad as Zito, right? I don’t know if it’s as bad as Hampton, but man, it’s bad. I will forever love Sabathia — remember, he was a beast right before signing the contract (3.00 ERA, 143 ERA+, 2.88 FIP in 237.1 innings in 2011) — but man, this deal is ugly. Definitely in the conversation for the worst pitching deal in history, and thus one of the worst contracts in baseball history overall.

Samantha asks: In the 3rd inning of Tuesday’s game, Stephen Drew caught a ball on a fly that was ruled a grounder. He got a double play off of it. Could the A’s have challenged the call and ended up with just one out instead of two?

No, because after the catch the runner was doubled off first base anyway. Here’s the play:

The runner at first kept going to second and never tagged up after the catch, so it would have been a double play either way. Either a traditional 4-6-3 or the unconventional line drive 4-6-3. That’s why A’s manager Bob Melvin never bothered to challenge. Two outs no matter what.

Dan asks: If Carlos Beltran‘s injury lingers, might we see Aaron Judge this season?

I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but I do think it’s unlikely. The Yankees have so many other outfielders on the 40-man roster ahead of Judge as it is, and I think if it ever got to the point where Beltran was going to miss a significant amount of time, they’d go out and make a trade. If Judge were to come up now, we’d probably see a lot of swings and misses on breaking balls away. I don’t think he’s ready. I’m totally fine with letting Judge get a few hundred plate appearances against the best pitching the minors has to offer the rest of the season.

Dan asks: Ultra-specific question for Mike. On RAB he most often cites to wRC+ when evaluating hitters, but on CBS he cites to OPS+. Is that because wRC+ is a FanGraphs stat and CBS doesn’t have a partnership with them? Which stat do you actually prefer?

I prefer wRC+ to OPS+ because it’s a little more fine-tuned, though they’re usually within a point or two of each other anyway, so it’s not a big deal. As for using wRC+ here and OPS+ at CBS, I’m just catering to different audiences. Not too many CBS readers are down with sabermetrics — I’ve gotten email from people complaining when I list AVG/OBP/SLG because OBP and SLG are too nerdy (I’m not joking) — so I stick with OPS+ to make it as simple yet somewhat informative as possible. I have done stat-heavy posts at CBS, though they never do much traffic. It’s not worth my time at this point. RAB’s different. I’m not overly concerned with generating traffic here, so I can use whatever stats I want. CBS is a job, I have a responsibility to get people to click and read and come back for more clicks and more reads, and there still isn’t much interest in sabermetrics among casual fans. I am trying to find a balance that works. It’s not easy.

John asks: I know that you’re a diehard NY Rangers fan. What would it take to interest you in the Knicks?

I’ve tried to get into basketball! I’ve tried and tried and tried again. Basketball just isn’t my thing. I watched the NBA Finals this year and it just didn’t grab me. I can’t imagine getting invested in a bad Knicks team at this point. I tried to follow them when they were good (well, good-ish) and it wasn’t happening. I enjoy the fast pace of hockey and since baseball has become more than just a hobby for me, hockey gives me a sport to follow on a non-obsessive level. I’m old. At this point I don’t think the basketball thing is going to happen.

DotF: Mateo triples, steals two more bases in Charleston’s win

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 2 K, 1 HBP
  • 3B Brendan Ryan: 1-3 — played five innings in the field … it’s not a coincidence he’s playing third base with Chase Headley‘s calf acting up
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-3, 1 B, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 20-for-49 (.408) with 16 walks and five strikeouts in his last 15 games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 38 of 79 pitches were strikes (48%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/4 GB/FB — 26 of 46 pitches were strikes (57%) … four innings is a new career-high for him
  • RHP Chris Martin: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 20 of 29 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

Well, I was planning to use tonight’s open thread to mention Brett Gardner remained in the fourth place in the AL Final Vote voting according to this morning’s update, but he was named to the AL All-Star Team as an injury replacement for Alex Gordon this afternoon. That’s much better. So instead I’ll mention today is the four-year anniversary of Derek Jeter‘s 3,000th hit. That was cool. It’s also the five-year anniversary of the Cliff Lee non-trade. That was less cool.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing some regional games tonight, so talk about them, Gardner going to the All-Star Game, Jeter’s 3,000th hit, the Lee non-trade, or anything else right here.

Tanaka throws 7+ strong innings as the Yankees beat the A’s 6-2 and take the series

Back in late May, the Yankees lost three out of four at Oakland against the lowly Athletics. They were shut down by the likes of Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez and, by the end of the series, their record was hanging just barely over .500 at 26-25. This time around, New York took two out of three at home. Today’s game was particularly satisfying — Masahiro Tanaka pitched like an ace, the lineup was able to solve Jesse Chavez and, of course, the game win meant the series win. Oh, and The Yankees lengthened the AL East lead to three games.

Sensei (Source: Getty)

He’s Back!

In the second inning, it seemed like nothing was going right for Tanaka. With 2-0 count, Josh Reddick got on first base on catcher’s interference. Billy Butler followed it up with a RBI double to left and Ike Davis walked. That just seemed like a familiar storyline with Tanaka’s recent struggles. He did, however, get Brett Lawrie to GIDP to ease the situation to two outs and runner at third. However, Mark Canha took a fastball up in the zone for another RBI double. Womp. 2-1 Athletics.

Well, that turned out to be the only major jam for Tanaka. From the third inning and on, he allowed ZERO hits and only one baserunner, when Billy Butler reached first after the strikeout pitch escaped McCann’s glove in the fourth. That was more dominant than Tanaka has been in his past few starts and hopefully he’s figured something out. Yankees have a need for an upgrade for the rotation and Tanaka stepping up to his ace form would be huge.

When it was all said and done, Tanaka threw 7.2 innings, allowed only two hits, one earned run and struck out six. Another important thing — no homers! Home runs had been killing him a bit this year (1.52 HR/9 prior to this game) and keeping balls in park — especially at the Yankee Stadium — is a pretty good sight.

The bats

Prior to today’s game, Yankees didn’t do well against the journeyman RHP Jesse Chavez — he had held the current Yankee position players to a cumulative .235/.279/.370 line. There was a good news though: Chavez himself had been in a funk. After tossing eight scoreless versus the Yanks in May 31, the righty had been 2-4 with 5.00 ERA in 6 starts.

Chavez didn’t have a horrible outing but it was still not great. The righty tossed 5.0 innings, allowed seven hits, four runs, three walks and struck out three. That’s really mediocre and given on how brilliant Tanaka was, and the bats did a more-than-an-adequate job.

How about Cole Figueroa? He went 2-for-4 in his Yankee debut. It could have been a 3-for-4 performance too — in the second inning, he hit a hard grounder that went right to first baseman Ike Davis to end the frame, but, off the bat, I thought he could have had himself a single. He, however, catalyzed the rally in the fourth with a double to right, setting up a one-out, runners on second and third situation for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury ended up driving both in with an RBI-single for a 4-2 Yankee lead.

Figueroa contributed to another rally in the eighth, hitting a ground-rule double to set up another situation with runners on second and third. Ellsbury followed it up with what seemed to be an inning-ending ground out … but Marcus Semien threw offline and Ike Davis couldn’t handle it. Both runners scored and Semien was charged with his 28th (!!!) error of the season.

Back to Figueroa — he¬†will probably be sent down as soon as Chase Headley is ready to play again but I would guess he’ll be up again later this season if he keeps up the 130 wRC+ he had down in the minors.

(Source: Getty)

Hey Now, You’re An All Star

It’s been quite a past few days for Brett Gardner. Hot streak? Check. Being talked about as a possible All-Star? Check. Teammates campaigning for him? Check. Making it as an All Star? Check.

In his the first at-bat of the day, Gardner took a Chavez fastball deep to right field to give a 1-0 Yankee lead. That was also his tenth homer of the year — the most in his career prior to the All Star Game. At the age 31 season, Gardner is simply having his best offensive season — .303/.381/.490 line with an isolated power at .188. If you go with isolated power stat alone, he’s having a better power season power season than Adam Jones (.187), Prince Fielder (.178), Justin Upton (.175) and Troy Tulowitzki (.163). How about that?

Well, besides the homer, Gardner added two more hits later in the game for a 3-for-5 performance. To put a cherry on top, he was also announced to be injured Alex Gordon’s replacement for the All Star Game. Well, no more bald caps for other Yankee players I guess. Congrats, Brett!

Box score, standing, highlights, WPA

Here’s today’s box score, updated standing, video highlights and, of course, WPA

Source: FanGraphs

Yankees head to Boston to play their final series before the All-Star break. Enjoy the rest of Thursday! Maybe watch more baseball coming up later if you feel like it because that’s what I’ll probably do.

Gardner headed to All-Star Game as injury replacement for Alex Gordon


Brett Gardner is an All-Star. MLB and the Yankees announced on Thursday that Gardner has been selected to the AL All-Star Team as an injury replacement for Alex Gordon. Gordon suffered a severe groin strain Wednesday night and will miss about eight weeks.

Gardner, 31, came into Thursday’s game hitting .298/.378/.478 (138 wRC+) with nine homers and 15 steals. He hit his tenth homer this afternoon and is now one of only seven players with 10+ homers and 15+ steals so far this season. And, of course, Gardner’s played awesome defense in both center and left fields.

This is the first All-Star selection for Gardner, who was New York’s third round pick in the 2005 draft. He was a walk-on at College of Charleston — Gardner was actually cut from the team at one point but kept showing up to practice — who is now a big league All-Star and will bank $60M+ in a career. Heck of a story.

Gardner had been one of five players on the AL Final Vote ballot along with Mike Moustakas, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Dozier, and Xander Bogaerts. Royals fans stuffed the ballots for the All-Star Game starting lineups and it would have been damn near impossible for Gardner to beat Moustakas. Don’t have to worry about that now!

Gordon suffered a Grade II groin strain running down a ball in left field Wednesday. He was voted in as a starter in the fan vote, though Gardner won’t start the All-Star Game. Adam Jones will step into Gordon’s spot in the starting lineup since he was next up on the players’ ballot.

Believe it or not, Gardner is only the fifth position player drafted by the Yankees to represent the Yankees at the All-Star Game, joining Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada. For real.

Gardner will join Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances at the All-Star Game this year, which will be held in Cincinnati next Tuesday. Gardy!

Reports: Yankees remain in the market for rotation help, continue to scout Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

To the surprise of no one, the Yankees remain in the market for rotation help leading up to the trade deadline, reports Jon Heyman. Joel Sherman says they again had a scout at Johnny Cueto’s most recent start earlier this week, when he thew a shutout against the Nationals. The Yanks have been scouting him (and teammate Mike Leake) since at least last month.

Coming into today, New York’s rotation had a 4.30 ERA (3.80 FIP) on the season, which puts them in the lower third of the league. That includes Adam Warren‘s work as a starter (3.59 ERA and 4.12 FIP), and he’s in the bullpen now, so the five starters currently in the rotation have been less effective than that 4.30 ERA indicates. Besides, there’s always room for improvement.

The trade deadline is three weeks and one day away now, and the market is developing really slowly this summer. By this date last year guys like Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and Brandon McCarthy had all been traded already. (Monday was the one-year anniversary of the McCarthy deal.) Mark Trumbo is the biggest name to have been dealt so far this year. That’ll change soon though.

Only six teams are more than six games out of a postseason spot right now — 12 of the 15 AL teams are within six games of a postseason spot! — so clubs are reluctant to sell. They want to stay in the hunt as long as possible and keep fans interested deep into August and September. Who can blame them? Unfortunately it makes for a dull few weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

The Yankees prefer rentals, and in addition to Cueto and Leake, other rental starters include Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Bartolo Colon, Mat Latos, Ian Kennedy, and Kyle Lohse. Colon and Lohse have been ineffective this year, Kazmir left last night’s start with a triceps injury, and Kennedy has somehow allowed 18 home runs in 80 innings while playing in spacious Petco Park and various other pitcher friendly NL West parks. Cueto’s the cream of the crop, clearly.

CC Sabathia had his knee drained a few days ago for the second time this season and other starters like Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) carry perpetual injury concerns. Ivan Nova is just coming from Tommy John surgery too. Nathan Eovaldi‘s the only starter without some kind of known physical concern. So exploring the market for rotation help is a no-brainer move for the Yankees. The AL East is so very winnable and you don’t have to try to hard to envision a scenario where rotation help is needed down the stretch.

(GIF via

Game 85: Last Home Game Before The All-Star Break


It’s the last home game of the first half. The Yankees are 24-16 with a +34 run differential at Yankee Stadium this season and only 21-23 with a -16 run differential on the road. The offense hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders the last few games, but the Yankees are clearly a much better team in their home ballpark this season. That short porch sure is friendly.

Masahiro Tanaka is making his last start before the All-Star break today and it has been an uneven first half for him. There were times he looked absolutely dominant, times he got smacked around, and off course the month long DL stint. Tanaka’s second half is going to have to be better than his first half for the Yankees to stay in the postseason hunt, I reckon. Hopefully he can finish the first half on a high note today. Here’s the A’s lineup and here’s the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Garrett Jones
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. 3B Cole Figueroa
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Not the greatest weather day for baseball. It was raining this morning and it’s supposed to rain again this afternoon, but not for another few hours. Shouldn’t be a problem unless the game goes into extra innings or something. This afternoon’s game will begin just after 1pm ET and you can watch live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy!

Injury Updates: Chase Headley (calf) had an MRI last night and it showed inflammation close to his knee. He feels much better but remains day-to-day … Brendan Ryan (back) will start a minor league rehab assignment today. It was supposed to start Friday but has been pushed up, I guess because the Yankees want to get Ryan back as soon as possible in case Headley’s injury lingers … If you missed it last night, CC Sabathia had his knee drained before the start of the homestand. Second time he’s had it drained since Spring Training.

Roster Move: So, based on the lineup, Figueroa is with the team now. Jose Pirela was sent down and Taylor Dugas was designated for assignment in corresponding moves, the Yankees announced. Figueroa, a left-handed batter, is having a great season with Triple-A Scranton (.317/.372/.415 and 130 wRC+ with 5.0 K% and 7.5 BB%) and he can play all over the infield. Makes more sense for the roster than Pirela with Headley banged up.