Do you know how long it’s been since the Yankees last won consecutive games at Yankee Stadium? The last time it happened was when Carlos Beltran hit the walk-off homer against Zach Britton and the Orioles. That was before Yangervis Solarte got sent to the minors. It was the day after the Red Sox released Grady Sizemore. The Blue Jays were still in first. Yeah, it’s been a while.
Last night’s series opening win over the Reds was basically a blueprint for how the Yankees will have to win in the second half — production from the big money position players, solid enough starting pitching, and shutdown relief work. This is Captain Obvious stuff, I know. Do it again this afternoon, bank another win, take another step towards returning the postseason. Here is the Reds lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP Brandon McCarthy
It’s cool and overcast in New York, but there is no rain in the forecast. At least nothing heavy. Maybe some drizzle at some point, but that’s it. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game.
Derek Jeter Update: The Yankees announced they will honor Jeter with a pre-game ceremony on Sunday, September 7th. Here is the official release, though no details have been announced. Just the date. Based on Mariano Rivera‘s ceremony last year, this thing is going to be massive.
While talking with reporters yesterday, Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees do not have any interest in Dan Uggla. The Braves gave Uggla his unconditional release yesterday even though there is roughly $19M left on his contract. “I don’t see where he’d fit, to be honest,” said the GM to Bryan Hoch.
Uggla, 34, hit .162/.241/.231 (35 wRC+) with two homers in 145 plate appearances before his release. He’s put up a .175/.295/.332 (79 wRC+) line in 682 plate appearances over the last two years. Uggla doesn’t even hit left-handers at this point (60 wRC+ from 2013-14) and he’s a bad defender with no versatility (hasn’t play anywhere other than second in a decade). He’s an unrosterable player. He brings nothing to the table other than name value. Next. · (24) ·
That was a pretty great start to the second half of the season, no? The big money lineup additions got big hits to drive in runs and three homegrown arms preserved the lead in Friday’s series-opening 4-3 win over the Reds. Undefeated after the All-Star break, baby. Let’s recap the interleague win:
- C.R.E.A.M.: The Yankees sunk a lot of money into Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury over the winter, and they all came through in this game. McCann’s two-out double drove in the game’s first run and salvaged a first inning rally that looked like it might go for naught. Two innings later, Beltran drove in the team’s second run with a two-out single. Those are the big hits neither guy was providing in the first half. Brett Gardner (single) and Mark Teixeira (walk) set up the first rally while Derek Jeter (single) and Jacoby Ellsbury (single) set up the second.
- Phelps Phriday: Other than the two solo homers by Brayan Pena (seriously?!?), David Phelps was once again rock solid. He held the Reds to three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings, striking out seven and walking one. Errors by Brian Roberts and Jeter gave Cincinnati at least two and possible three extra outs in the fourth inning, leading to a run. It appeared Roberts would have been able to turn a double play had he not totally muffed Todd Frazier’s grounder. Oh well. Phelps was very good yet again, taking the ball into the seventh and sparing some relievers.
- No. 3 Hitter: The fourth inning defensive shenanigans knotted the game up at two, though it took Mike Leake all of five pitches to give up two runs in the fifth inning. Jeter led off with a single to right and Ellsbury followed with a two-run homer to right, a kinda sorta Yankee Stadium cheapie. It wasn’t a wall-scraper but it was only two or three rows back. Who cares, it counted. Ellsbury has been miscast as a number three hitter this year, but, for at least one game, he filled the role perfectly. The homer was his seventh of the year.
- Dellin & Dave: Joe Girardi did not mess around after the four-day All-Star break. He went right to Dellin Betances in relief of Phelps and let him carry the ball all the way to David Robertson in the ninth. Dellin struck out three of five batters faced while Robertson pitched around a two-out single in an otherwise uneventful ninth for his 24th save. These two are going to have to protect every lead they’re given in the second half if the Yankees are going to have a chance.
- Leftovers: The top six hitters in the Reds lineup went a combined 2-for-23 (.090) with one walk and nine strikeouts. The light-hitting Zack Cozart (63 wRC+) had the two hits, naturally … Jeter, Ellsbury, and Beltran all had two hits. Gardner and Teixeira drew the only walks while McCann and Kelly Johnson had one hit apiece … the Yankees stole three bases (Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran (!)) for only the seventh time this year. I would have guessed it was more … Jeter made his 2,610th career start at shortstop, breaking a tie with Omar Vizquel and giving him sole possession of the most starts at short in history.
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late games, the Yankees will be either four games (Orioles lose) or five games (Orioles win) back of the top spot in the AL East and either 2.5 games (Mariners lose) or 3.5 games (Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. Brandon McCarthy and Alfredo Simon will be the pitching matchup in the second game of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.
First, the notes:
- Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings they would prefer to let 2B Rob Refsnyder spend the rest of the season with Triple-A Scranton, at least in part due to the impending 40-man roster crunch. Refsnyder does not have to be added to the 40-man until the 2015-16 offseason.
- Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d) spoke to an anonymous scout about RHP Jaron Long. “Could see big league time for the Yankees this year. He’s a 6-foot right-handed pitcher that throws from a traditional arm slot and might sniff 90 on his best days,” said the scout. The Yankees signed Long as an undrafted free agent, so if he contributes in any way at the MLB level, it’s a big win.
- Joe DeLessio interviewed several of this year’s top international free agents, including Yankees signees SS Dermis Garcia, 3B Nelson Gomez, and OF Juan De Leon. They’re short and fun interviews (what are you going to buy first with your bonus, etc.), so check ‘em out.
Triple-A Scranton (8-4 loss to Charlotte)
- RF Jose Pirela & 2B Rob Refsnyder: both 1-5, 1 K
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 13-for-40 (.325) in his last ten games
- C John Ryan Murphy: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 PB
- RHP Chris Leroux: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 3 WP, 3/1 GB/FB — 44 of 86 pitches were strikes (51%)
- LHP Jeremy Bleich: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 16 of 24 pitches were strikes (67%)
- LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – 23 of 37 pitches were strikes (62%) in his Triple-A debut … 71/16 K/BB in 50 innings this year
The four-day All-Star break is over and the Yankees go back to work tonight. They open the second half with the first of three games against the Reds, part of a ten-game second half-opening homestand. Want to get back into the playoff race? Like, for real? Then take advantage of this homestand. The scheduling gods held up their end of the bargain, now the Yankees have to do their part. Start the second half off on the right foot with a win tonight. Here is the Reds lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP David Phelps
The weather is gorgeous in New York. Perfect night to kick off the second half. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Erstwhile Yankees ace CC Sabathia will miss the remainder of the 2014 season as he is set to undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee next week, the Yankees announced this afternoon. On the bright side, Sabathia isn’t undergoing microfracture surgery yet, and the team is calling this procedure a “clean up.” But with a degenerative condition in his knee, it may be a matter of when, and not if, CC needs a more serious operation. Sabathia had consulted with four doctors — Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews, Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad, and Rangers team doctor Keith Meister — before making the decision. Although the Yanks and CC hope for a Spring Training return, the team and its lefty hurler are heading into a bit of an unknown with this latest surgery as the scope could lead to a more dire diagnosis.
For the Yankees, looking forward, this decision ultimately confirms what they had expected: They will get no more innings from Sabathia this year. With Masahiro Tanaka on the shelf indefinitely and Michael Pineda ever so slowly making his way back from shoulder inflammation, the team is thin on pitching right now and could use a lefty starter. Expect Brian Cashman to be working the phones over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, CC effectively has three years and $72 million remaining on his contract. Don’t think about it too much. · (51) ·
As expected, the Yankees have activated Carlos Beltran off the seven-day concussion disabled list. Bryan Mitchell was sent to Triple-A Scranton during the All-Star break to clear a roster spot. It goes without saying the Yankees need Beltran to hit and hit a lot in the second half if they want to contend. What he’s given them so far this year isn’t nearly enough. · (2) ·
The All-Star break is finally over and the Yankees are back at the office starting tonight. They kick off the second half-opening ten-game homestand with three games against the Reds this weekend. Needless to say, they need to start winning at home if they want to make a run at the postseason, and this homestand is the time to do it. This is their final interleague series of the season, by the way.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Reds won two of three from the Pirates before the All-Star break and they’ve won eight of their last eleven games overall. They are 54-44 with a +28 run differential, which puts them in third place in the NL Central, 1.5 games back of the first place Brewers.
With an average of 3.97 runs per game and a team 91 wRC+, Cincinnati is a bit below the league average offensively. They are really banged up right now too. 1B Joey Votto (127 wRC+) and 2B Brandon Phillips (92 wRC+) are both out long-term with quad and thumb injuries, respectively. UTIL Skip Schumaker (66 wRC+) is out with a concussion, IF Jack Hannahan has not played at all this year following shoulder surgery, and IF Ramon Santiago (91 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue. We won’t see any of them other than possibly Santiago this weekend.
With all of those injuries, rookie manager Bryan Price relies on OF Jay Bruce (97 wRC+), 3B Todd Frazier (137 wRC+), and C Devin Mesoraco (170 wRC+ in somewhat limited time) to carry his offense. Bruce is having a very down year by his standards. OF Billy Hamilton (104 wRC+) is the fastest man in baseball and he sets the tone from the leadoff spot. He’s gone 38-for-53 (72%) in stolen base chances this year and has torn the cover off the ball for a month now (161 wRC+ in the last 30 days). Keeping him off base is imperative this weekend.
OF Ryan Ludwick (104 wRC+), SS Zack Cozart (61 wRC+), and OF Chris Heisey (84 wRC+) are the other names in the Reds lineup you might recognize. C Brayan Pena (76 wRC+) is the backup catcher and part-time first baseman with Votto out. OF Donald Lutz (32 wRC+ in very limited time), IF Neftali Soto (-50 wRC+ in very limited time), and IF Kristopher Negron (268 wRC+ in very limited time) are up to help fill in for all the injuries. I’m guessing Bruce, Hamilton, Heisey, and Ludwick will all be the lineup thanks to the DH this weekend.
Friday: RHP David Phelps (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Mike Leake (vs. NYY)
Leake, 26, continues to be unspectacularly solid for the Reds, with a 3.54 ERA (3.72 FIP) in 19 starts and 127 innings this season. Across the board he has posted career best strikeout (6.87 K/9 and 18.3 K%), walk (1.91 BB/9 and 5.1 BB%), homer (0.92 HR/9 and 12.7 HR/FB%), and ground ball (54.1%) rates. Lefties (.374 wOBA) have hit him much harder than righties (.272 wOBA) this year. Leake is a true six-pitch pitcher, using three upper-80s/low-90s fastballs (four-seam, sinker, cutter) to set up his mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. He throws all six pitches at least 7% of the time and everything but the changeup at least 10% of the time. Leake and Phelps are actually pretty similar in terms of their pitching style.
Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (vs. NYY)
Simon was an All-Star this year thanks mostly to his league-leading 12 wins. The 33-year-old has a 2.70 ERA (4.34 FIP) in 18 starts and 116.2 innings after spending the the last few years as a full-time reliever. Simon doesn’t miss bats (5.79 K/9 and 16.0 K%) and isn’t especially good at keeping the ball in the park (1.08 HR/9 and 13.1 HR/FB%), but he limits walks (2.16 BB/9 and 6.0 BB%) and gets grounders (49.3%). He also has a small platoon split. Simon is an extreme fastball pitcher, using his upper-80s cutter and mid-90s two and four-seamers more than 70% of the time combined. His top secondary pitch is a mid-80s splitter, though he’ll also throw a handful of upper-70s slurves per start. There’s no mystery here. Simon will come right after hitters with hard stuff.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. NYY) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (vs. NYY)
Believe it or not, the 28-year-old Cueto was a first time All-Star this year. I figured he would have gone to at least one by now. He had some downright brilliant seasons from 2011-12. Anyway, the 28-year-old Cueto has a 2.13 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 20 starts and 143.2 innings so far this season. He is striking batters out at a career best rate (8.83 K/9 and 25.1 K%) while his walk (2.19 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%), homerun (0.75 HR/9 and 10.1 HR/FB%), and ground ball (49.7%) numbers are right in line with his career averages. His platoon split is small. Cueto throws two and four-seam fastballs in the low-to-mid-90s while mixing in plenty of upper-80s cutters as well. Both of his secondary pitches are excellent — a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider. Cueto is very, very good.
It all starts at the back-end for the Reds, who have an elite closer in LHP Aroldis Chapman (0.54 FIP). He actually tweaked his hamstring covering first base during the All-Star Game, but apparently it’s only a minor issue and he is expected to be ready for this weekend. RHP Jonathan Broxton (3.14 FIP) is setting up while LHP Manny Parra (3.98 FIP) handles the left-on-left stuff.
RHP Sam LeCure (3.85 FIP) and RHP J.J. Hoover (4.96 FIP) are Price’s primary middle innings guys while RHP Logan Ondrusek (3.46 FIP), RHP Carlos Contreras (2.66 FIP in limited time), and RHP Jumbo Diaz (5.42 FIP in limited time) handle everything else. Here is the requisite photo of the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Diaz. It’s an eight-man bullpen for the time being. Both teams have well-rested bullpens thanks to the All-Star break, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. For the latest and greatest on the Reds, I recommend Redleg Nation.
Got ten questions and nine answers for you this week. The best way to send us anything is through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. We get a ton of questions each week, so don’t take it personally if we don’t get to yours.
Vinny asks: Obviously he’d have to get his at-bats at DH at the expense of Carlos Beltran, but would you target Justin Morneau at the trade deadline? What would it take to get him?
Morneau, 33, is hitting .312/.345/.502 (119 wRC+) with 13 homers this year, his first with the Rockies. He’s actually hit better on the road (127 wRC+) than at Coors Field (109 wRC+). Morneau has big left-handed pull power and he’d fit wonderfully in Yankee Stadium, plus he’s always been a high contact hitter (10.6 K% this year). The Yankees need righty power more than lefty power at this point, but you take what you can get. The issue is Morneau’s contract — he’s signed for $6.75M next year and I’m not sure where they’d play him unless Beltran or Mark Teixeira went down with long-term injury. It took an okay big leaguer (Nate Schierholtz) and two prospects to get a year and half of Hunter Pence, which seems like a decent trade comp for Morneau. I’m just not sure where the Yankees would play him (unless Beltran has his elbow surgery).
Paul asks: Does St. Louis have any spare pieces the Yankees could deal for since they will need a catcher with Yadier Molina on the shelf for a while?
The Cardinals have a really deep farm system and lots to give up for a interim catcher, whether it be a stopgap like Frankie Cervelli or more of a long-term solution like John Ryan Murphy. Cervelli’s trade value is tiny as an injury prone out of options catcher. George Kottaras is roughly as valuable overall and he’s on waivers every other week (St. Louis actually claimed him right after the Molina injury). Murphy for someone like Randal Grichuk or Steven Piscotty would make a ton of sense for the Yankees since they could stick either player in right field immediately, but I’m guessing the Cardinals would balk, definitely on Piscotty. I get the sense the Cards will just ride this one out with what they have, maybe swing a nothing for a Cervelli type trade. Nothing more.
Jeb asks: Assuming the Yankees fold, would a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury to the Mariners be out of the question? If not, what would you guess the trade would look like?
I don’t think the Yankees would trade him, but, even if they were open to it, a deal like this would hinge entirely on Seattle’s financials and their willingness to take on that contract. This isn’t a salary dump in my opinion, Ellsbury is too good of a player to eat money to move him in a trade. The Yankees would be trading an impact two-way player, someone who is a standout center field defender and top notch leadoff man, so the return would be pretty big. I’d ask for Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, and a very good prospect as a third piece. I don’t even like Franklin all that much (Danny Espinosa without the defense!) and Walker has been battling shoulder issues all season, so that package might even be a little light. An Ellsbury trade doesn’t seem likely at all.
Danny asks: Do you know if Luis Severino has an innings limit this year? At the time of his AA promotion, he’s at 88.1 IP for the year, which is double what he pitched last year.
I’m sure he does. He is only 20, after all. Severino threw 64.1 innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 and 44 official innings last year. That doesn’t include all the time he spent in Extended Spring Training, however. (He made his official season debut in late-June, so he was in ExST for a while.) I have absolutely no idea how many innings he could have thrown there, but he “real” innings total for last season might be closer to 80-90. If so, that would put him in line for 120 or so this year. So he’s got another month or so before being shut down, more or less.
Joe asks: With the lack of any impact talent from the draft and Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Rafael DePaula, Manny Banuelos and Tyler Austin regressing (although I still think Austin ends up a solid ML player) and the Eric Jagielo, Jose Campos, and Abi Avelino injuries, would you say the system is having another down year or do you like the progress of others enough to offset this? Is this a top 15 or 20 system?
Nah, I don’t think this is another down year. Williams and Austin have disappointed and Heathcott and Campos have serious injuries, sure, but the Jagielo (oblique) and Avelino (quad) injuries were just muscle strains. Nothing structural like Heathcott’s shoulder/knee. Aaron Judge and Severino have emerged as top 50-ish prospects while Jagielo, Ian Clarkin, and Gary Sanchez are having good years. Dante Bichette Jr. has rebounded well, Jake Cave has built on last year’s breakout, and guys like Jorge Mateo, Alex Palma, and Leonardo Molina all make their domestic debuts. Has it been a great year? No. But I don’t think this is a down year. If anything, it’s a normal year. Some good, some bad, lots in the middle. I think the system is in the 11-20 range among the 30 teams right now, probably closer to 13-17 if you want a tighter range.
Ryan asks: Would best case scenario for Peter O’Brien be Mark Trumbo? With offense in short supply around the league, there has to be a spot for him somewhere if he continues to hit for this kind of power.
Yeah, that sounds about right. It is worth noting that when Trumbo was O’Brien’s age, he was hitting .299/.366/.575 (133 wRC+) with 36 homers at Triple-A, with better strikeout (21.2%) and walk (9.2%) rates than O’Brien has now (24.5% and 4.6%, respectively) in Double-A. O’Brien’s right-handed power is very real — I seem to remember Keith Law rating it a 70 on the 20-80 scale recently and 70 power is no joke, but I can’t find the link — but I’m not going to lie to you, I am very skeptical about whether O’Brien will be able to tap into that power at the big league level given the holes in his swing and his general lack of plate discipline. Keep giving him chances, of course. Everyone should be thrilled if he turns into Trumbo.
Mark asks: At what point do we know if Shane Greene is the real deal? I know two starts is a ridiculously small sample, but he sure would be a nice find in a bleak (to this point) season. Thanks in advance.
The stuff is the legit, right? You can see that from watching him. PitchFX says Greene has averaged 93.9 mph with his sinker and 87.8 mph with his slider, which will play anywhere. The only question is whether he will continue to command it well enough to be successful. I don’t think we can put a number on this, X starts or Y innings before knowing if he’s the real deal. Greene is going to hit a rough patch at some point, it’s inevitable, and his ability to adjust will determine if he’s the real deal. I will say that I feel far better about his chances of remaining in the rotation long-term because of the quality of his stuff than I did Chase Whitley, with all due respect. Whitley did have a nice little run there and that shouldn’t be forgotten. Greene’s stuff is more built to last.
Tom asks: With Masahiro Tanaka out for a while, could they flip Brandon McCarthy prior to the deadline if they fall further back (another good start or two and I’d think they could end up with something even better than Vidal Nuno)? Is there a restriction on trading a player recently acquired? (time limit? player approval?)
Darrin asks: With the health of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda in indefinite question and Hiroki Kuroda‘s retirement coming sooner rather than later, if McCarthy pitches well would you be in favor of the Yankees signing him to a short term deal (1 year+option, 2 years) this offseason? He would cost less than some of the high dollar FA guys, although I wouldn’t mind another elite pitcher as well. Yanks need to fill several rotation spots.
Going to lump these two together. The Yankees could flip McCarthy at the deadline, there are no restrictions. The Red Sox acquired Adam LaRoche just before the 2009 trade deadline and traded him away nine days later. I don’t think they would get anything more than Nuno in return, however. There are a ton of teams looking for another starter and no one bit on McCarthy when he was with the Diamondbacks. If anything, they’d get a player similar to Nuno in return, nothing better.
As for re-signing McCarthy, that depends on how he performs in the second half, obviously. His long history of shoulder trouble is scary, so that will have to be considered. If McCarthy pitches well down the stretch and he’s open to a short-term contract, then sure, bring him back. The Yankees are going to need pitching and he’s a solid option for the middle to back of the rotation. As we’ve seen this year, there is no such thing as too much pitching. There will always been room for him. McCarthy is on a two-year, $15.5M contract right now and I wouldn’t go any higher than that after the season. Maybe even offer less since he’s two years older and not as good as he was the last time he was a free agent. Two years and $12M instead?
Austin asks: I’m glad to see that Bernie Williams is going to be honored with a plaque in Monument Park next year, but I think he deserves a larger footnote to the ‘Core Four’ discussion. From 1995 – 2002 he slashed .321/.406/.531 and averaged 5.2 bWAR. How does Bernie stack up with center fielders of his era?
I hate the Core Four (the term, not the players) because it completely ignores Bernie for no other reason than because Core Five doesn’t rhyme. It is pretty disrespectful to the guy who was the best all-around hitter on the team during the dynasty years. Anyway, Bernie’s peak was basically 1994-2002, so a strong nine years. Let’s stretch it out and call his era 1990-2005. I’m not sure where else to cut it off. Here is the center field WAR leaderboard during that period (full list):
No, WAR isn’t perfect, but it’s fine for an exercise like this. Plus it’s easy to search. Griffey being at the top should be no surprise. It’s definitely Griffey (big gap) Lofton (moderate gap) everyone else among center fielders of the era. There’s a decent-sized gap between Bernie and the number six player, Steve Finley (43.7 WAR and 107 OPS+). You could argue that, offensively, Williams was the third best center fielder behind Junior and Edmonds. His defense lagged behind the other guys and that costs him, but I don’t see any shame in being the fifth best overall center fielder in an era with Griffey, Lofton, Edmonds, and Andruw. All five of those guys are borderline Hall of Famers at worst.