1:34pm: “We have a small piece that we’re acquiring right now that hasn’t been announced yet, so again going to continue to try to piece things together,” said Cashman during an interview with MLB Network this afternoon. Something’s in the works.
12:30pm: Despite Masahiro Tanaka’s injury and the Yankees’ apparent inability to play any better than .500 ball, the team will continue to aggressively pursue trades to improve their chances of winning this year, according to Mark Feinsand. “We’ve been aggressive because now we’ve got four starters that we were planning to have in the rotation are out,” said Brian Cashman. “We will continue to be aggressive unless I’m told otherwise.”
I think the Yankees have reached the point where there are simply too many holes to fill at the trade deadline. They could have used another starter before Tanaka got hurt, so now they definitely need one. Add that to a right fielder, a third baseman, and a reliever — at some point the Jim Miller/Matt Daley/Jose Ramirez/etc. revolving door has to stop, right? — and you’re talking about four needs leading up to July 31st. That’s an awful lot these days. This weekend in Baltimore figures to have a big impact on their deadline plans. · (114) ·
Got eight questions for you in this week’s mailbag. The best way to send us anything is through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. We get a lot of questions each week, so don’t take it personally if we don’t get to yours. Also, I should probably mention that I tend to write these things on Thursday afternoon, so send in your questions before then if you want them answered that week.
Adam asks: You will probably hear this a lot this week, but reports say the Nationals are concerned with Desmond balking at a contract extension and that could force them into making a deal for a young shortstop. Is it possible for the Yankees to somehow be a third wheel in a three-team trade this off season for Desmond?
I don’t know if it’s possible but the Yankees should definitely explore it. Desmond will become a free agent after next season and he recently rejected a seven-year extension worth upwards of $98M according to Ken Rosenthal. The 28-year-old is hitting .241/.293/.429 (101 wRC+) with 16 homers and nine steals this year after putting up a .286/.333/.480 (122 wRC+) batting line with 45 homers and 42 steals from 2012-13. He’s also graded out as a very good defensive shortstop. The Nationals are clearly a win now team, so I doubt they’d trade Desmond for prospects. A three-team deal in which the Yankees get Desmond, the Nationals get the young shortstop Rosenthal says they’re seeking, and the third team gets prospects from New York makes sense, especially if the Yankees can convince him to sign an extension. We are talking about a two-way shortstop right smack in the prime of his career, after all.
Many asked: Can the Yankees still trade next year’s international spending pool money? Can they ignore the rules and sign prospects for more than $300k in the next two signing periods? What are the attrition rates for international prospects? Can the Yankees add another minor league team to give these guys a place to play?
(We got a bunch of questions following the team’s international spending spree, so I shortened them all up and lumped them together.)
Yes, the Yankees can still trade their international bonus slots next year despite this year’s spending spree. They will receive a full spending pool next year, they just won’t be able to hand out a bonus more than $300k. They also won’t be able to say screw it and sign a player for more than that amount. The rules are the rules and I assume MLB would void the contract(s) in that case. The Yankees could always work out some under-the-table deals, of course. That happens all the time in Latin America.
The attrition rate question is a good one and I have never seen exact numbers or rates for kids that far down the ladder, but it’s obviously going to be fairly high. The attrition rate only gets higher and higher the further away you get from the MLB level — approximately 25% of high school draft prospects get to MLB in general, not necessarily make an impact — and we’re talking about 16-year-old kids here. The Yankees signed eight of Baseball America’s top 20 international prospects. If they hit on two, I’d be pretty happy. Hit on three and I’d be thrilled. If you want to $/WAR it, then remember that by time these kids have an impact in the big leagues, teams will be paying like $9-10M per win. The Yankees spent around $30M on international free agents last week.
As for adding another minor league team, it’s possible but not that easy. Minor league affiliations are a zero-sum game — there are only so many affiliates to go around in each league. The Yankees were able to add a second rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate last summer because the Mets shut down their GCL affiliate in a cost-cutting move (lol) and a spot opened up. Adding another affiliate is a very tough thing to do because you have to wait for another team to drop one of their affiliates, which rarely happens these days. Between the two Dominican Summer League teams and two GCL teams, the Yankees have four low level affiliates to sort these kids out. It’ll get tricky after that, but it’s a good problem to have.
Charlie asks: With all the chatter about Masahiro Tanaka‘s injury being the result of the transition to a five-day rotation, I’m wondering if Dice-K or Yu Darvish had an injury similar to Tanaka’s in their first MLB season?
Darvish has not had any arm problems during his three years in the show. He missed a start with a blister last season and another start with a cut on his thumb this year, but that’s nothing. Those weren’t structural arm injuries. (Darvish has had some back and neck problems over the last year.) Daisuke Matsuzaka missed a month in 2008 (his second MLB season) with a shoulder strain and four months with shoulder issues in 2009. He eventually blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in 2011, his fifth season with the Red Sox. Neither had arm problems in their first MLB season like Tanaka, however.
Gregg asks: Do the Yankees have the option to dip below the luxury tax threshold in the 2015 season? If so, what moves would they need to make to do potentially do so?
The luxury tax threshold for next season is again $189M, and, according to Cot’s, the Yankees currently have approximately $166.8M on the books for the luxury tax next year. That doesn’t include arbitration raises or replacing the guys who could leave as free agents. Unless Alex Rodriguez gets suspended again or the Yankees find a way to unload the Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and/or Carlos Beltran contracts, it’ll be close to impossible to get under the $189M threshold next year. As soon as they went on that spending spree over the winter, it all but eliminated any chance of getting under the luxury tax threshold before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2016 season.
Ghost of Horace Clarke asks: Many of all time Yankee records are mentioned for Derek Jeter. What about double plays, on both sides of the ball?
Jeter is, unsurprisingly, the franchise’s all-time leader in ground ball double plays at 281. Bernie Williams is a distance second with 223. The Cap’n is 15th on the all-time GIDP list, right behind Joe Torre (284) and Albert Pujols (283). Defensively, Jeter ranks first in Yankees history and sixth all-time among shortstops in double plays turned at 1,395. Omar Vizquel (1,734), Ozzie Smith (1,590), Cal Ripken Jr. (1,565), Luis Aparicio (1,553), and Luke Appling (1,424) are the only guys ahead of him.
Luke asks: I was reading Chad Jennings’ blog and he’d mentioned that Jeter was elected to the All-Star Game not only by fans, but by players as well (344 votes to Alexei Ramirez’s 313). I haven’t seen them publicized – are these player vote totals available somewhere for the public? I can’t stand fan voting – every year fans ruin it, this year most notably Orioles and Brewers fans – and I’m wondering simply because I’m interested to see how closely the player votes match the fan votes.
I have not seen the full player votes released anywhere. Jennings mentioned Jeter led at shortstop and Jeff Passan says Tanaka received the most player votes among AL starting pitchers, but that’s all I can find. Dellin Betances was voted in by the players as well, and since there were only four relievers on the initial roster, we know he received no fewer the fourth most player votes among AL relievers. Glen Perkins, Greg Holland, and Sean Doolittle were the other bullpeners on the initial AL roster. Pretty cool that Tanaka and Betances were voted into the game by their peers, no?
Mickey asks: Do you think Ichiro hits a homerun this year? I keep waiting for him to take advantage of the short porch but he seems more BA focused than trying to drive the ball.
Yeah, I think he’ll hit one out eventually. Just about everyone hits a cheapie over the short porch at some point during the season and I don’t think Ichiro will be any different. If you’re looking for a good laugh, here is Ichiro’s spray chart for the season, courtesy of Texas Leaguers (doesn’t include last night’s game):
There is no reason for outfielders to play anything but shallow against Ichiro.
Danny asks: In hypothetical world because Jeter; Teams don’t shift Brian McCann when runners are on base, wouldn’t Joe Girardi want to bat him second behind a guy like Brett Gardner so he won’t have some singles taken away?
That does make sense. The best possible spot for him seems like it would be behind both Gardner and Ellsbury, the team’s two best on-base threats. The odds would be pretty high that at least one of those two would be on base for McCann, opening up the field a little bit more. Remember, opposing teams will have to guard against the stolen base, so they can’t let the infielders wander too far away from second. McCann has made an effort to go the other way more often this year — he already has 18 opposite field hits in 2014, one fewer than last year and more than both 2011 (14) and 2012 (15) — but it’s clear he is at his best when he pulls the ball.
Well that was ugly. A spectacular bullpen meltdown turned a nice 3-0 lead into an ugly 9-3 deficit in the span of two innings on Thursday night, sending the Yankees to a loss in their series finale against the Indians. The final score was indeed 9-3.
Nine Unanswered Runs
You know, I made the mistake of feeling comfortable with the three-run lead. Yeah, the bullpen was taxed from the 14-inning game on Wednesday, but David Phelps was cruising (more on that in a bit) and I assumed the late-inning trio of Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, and David Robertson were all available. Everything seemed to be going well … until it wasn’t.
Phelps entered the seventh inning having thrown 96 pitches with seemingly plenty left in the tank, but Chris Dickerson and Roberto Perez opened the frame with singles. Just like that, the tying run was on base with no outs. Joe Girardi gave Phelps the hook and went to lefty specialist Matt Thornton, who allowed an infield single to Jason Kipnis to load the bases with no outs. It would have been a regular ol’ single into the outfield had it not deflected off Thornton’s glove going back up the middle.
That’s what the wheels came crashing off the bullpen bus. Thornton was left in to face the switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera, who poked a bases-clearing triple into the right field corner. Just like that, in the span of eleven total pitches, the Indians went from down three runs with the bases empty to tying the score and having the go-ahead run at third base with no outs. Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly brought in Cabrera from third to give the Tribe the lead.
Girardi brought in the seldom-used Jim Miller and things completely fell apart from there. The journeyman righty allowed seven of 12 batters faced to reach base in the seventh and eighth innings, turning that one-run deficit into a five-run deficit. Both Perez and Carlos Santana clubbed two-run homers in the five-run eighth. Five runs on six hits and a walk in 1.2 innings raised Miller’s season ERA to 20.25. I’m pretty sure he will be dumped off the roster in favor of a fresh arm tomorrow (Matt Daley?). At least he completely erased all hope of a comeback. I hate being teased.
Three Runs Ain’t Enough
The Yankees scored their three runs because two guys named Zelous Wheeler and Yangervis Solarte had a two-run homer and a two-out run-scoring single, respectively. Just as we all expected in Spring Training. The Yankees left the bases loaded in the first and fourth innings, and Frankie Cervelli‘s strikeout to end that first inning rally was one of the worst at-bats of the season. He took a fastball for strike one, swung feebly over a slider for strike two, then swung even more feebly over a slider for strike three. At least Jacoby Ellsbury worked a 2-0 count and put a good swing on the ball when he grounded out to end the fourth. Geez, Frankie.
And yet, those three runs looked like they were going to stand up because Phelps was working his magic and pitching out of jams all night. He put two men on base in the first, third, and fourth innings, but escaped each time thanks to well-timed strikeouts and routine fly balls. Phelps put ten men on base (seven hits, three walks) in six innings plus two batters of work, including the leadoff man in the first, third, fifth, and seventh innings. He seems to have a little Andy Pettitte in him with the way he pitches himself into and out of trouble in just about every start. Phelps was charged with two runs on Cabrera’s game-tying double even though he had been in the dugout for two batters by that point.
Cervelli took a pitch to his knee in the fifth inning and he looked to be in a lot of pain. Like get carried off the field and see you in September pain. He got up and was able to walk it off though. The Yankees would have lost the DH if Cervelli had to come out of the game and Brian McCann had to move behind the plate, but thankfully that was not the case.
Speaking of McCann, he went 0-for-4 with a walk and four strikeouts on the night. He’s actually hit pretty well on the road trip, but yeah. That was ugly. Derek Jeter, Ellsbury, and Wheeler all had two hits apiece. McCann and Brendan Ryan were the only starters without hits. Ichiro Suzuki came off the bench to provide a pinch-hit single in the eighth. It was the 2,800th hit of his MLB career.
And finally, Jeter took a ground ball off his left wrist in the eighth inning and seemed to be in quite a bit of pain when he was being looked at in the dugout after the inning. The ball hit the lip of the grass and took a weird hop up into his wrist, above his glove. He is fine, by all accounts.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, MLB.com is the place to go. You can see some other stats at FanGraphs and the updated standings at ESPN. The Orioles won, so the Yankees are four games back in the AL East. Depending on what happens with the late game, they will be either be 2.5 (Mariners lose) or 3.5 (Mariners win) games back of the second wildcard spot.
The Yankees are off to Baltimore for a rather huge three-game weekend series to close out the first half. It’s time to start winning some of these head-to-head, intra-division games. Hiroki Kuroda and Miguel Gonzalez will be Friday’s pitching matchup.
Some quick notes:
- RHP Mark Montgomery (shin) has been activated off the Double-A Trenton disabled list, according to Josh Norris. LHP Fred Lewis, meanwhile, is off to see a doctor for something, says Nick Peruffo. Lewis has been dreadful of late. Not surprising he might be hurt.
- Matt Kardos reports LHP Tyler Webb has been added to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game roster as a replacement for LHP Matt Tracy, who is ineligible to pitch in the game due to the timing of his next scheduled start.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-4 win over Rochester in seven innings, walk-off style)
- 2B Jose Pirela: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
- RF Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — right field again
- 1B Austin Romine: 1-3
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4, 1 K
- DH Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — walk-off fielder’s choice
- RHP Bruce Billings: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 8/7 GB/FB — 67 of 99 pitches were strikes (68%)
- RHP Diego Moreno: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — eight of 12 pitches were strikes … Clip’d the win (some of you have been around long enough to remember what the means, right?)
After traveling from Cleveland to New York to Seattle within the last 48 hours, Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow was finally examined by team Dr. Ahmad on Thursday night. Brian Cashman confirmed his ace right-hander has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament by Ahmad and two other doctors. All three recommended rehab — not Tommy John surgery — because the tear is small.
Tanaka, 25, will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection on Monday and eventually begin a throwing program. If all goes well, he could be back on a mound within six weeks, so the best case scenario has him back in pinstripes in late-August. Cashman noted other pitchers in the organization have successfully rehabbed from similar tears without saying who those pitchers were. Surgery can not be completely ruled out until the rehab program is complete. Here is what Cashman said during his conference call, courtesy of Chad Jennings:
“He has seen three physicians, our chief physician, Chris Ahmad, David Altchek and he has seen Neil elAttrache. All three are in agreement with a diagnosis of a new injury; a partially torn ligament in his throwing arm. The recommendation on the treatment is a rehab protocol that would begin with one PRP injection and a throwing program after an exercise routine. The ligament tear in question is considered small and we, the Yankees, have had success with pitchers that have had this.
“It doesn’t rule out the possibility of Tommy John (surgery) in a failed attempt, but all three doctors agree on the diagnosis and the rehab protocol. We are going to follow their recommendation and none of them recommend surgery at this time. They’re all hopeful that in roughly maybe a six-week period that we will have a pitcher back if he responds positively.”
The most notable example of a pitcher who successfully rehabbed a partially torn ligament is Adam Wainwright, who was able to continue pitching for a half-decade before going under the knife. Ervin Santana has pitched with a partially torn ligament the last few years as well. The odds are strongly in favor of Tanaka needing elbow reconstruction at some point in his career — once a ligament tears, it’s usually only a matter of time before it goes completely — but Cashman said all three doctors do not feel surgery is necessary at this point.
I understand the fear that all they’re doing is delaying the inevitable by trying rehab, but given where they are in the season, having the surgery now would likely knock Tanaka out until sometime next August. Three doctors all agree surgery is avoidable and that Tanaka has a chance to return to the mound this season. Surgery is always the last resort — you don’t want to cut into the elbow of a world class pitcher unless you absolutely have to — and if there’s a possibility it can be avoided, they have to try.
Now, obviously the injury hurts the Yankees on the field immensely. Tanaka was by far the club’s best pitcher and they were already without CC Sabathia (knee), Michael Pineda (shoulder), and Ivan Nova (elbow). None of those four is returning anytime soon. Somehow 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda is the only member of the Opening Day rotation left standing. Tanaka’s partially torn ligament is not the worst case scenario, but losing him for at least six weeks is a devastating blow to a pitching staff already thinned by injury.
The Yankees have a chance to win their second straight four-game series tonight, and I can’t imagine that happens very often. Especially not in back-to-back series. With Masahiro Tanaka‘s final diagnosis looming and a huge three-game series in Baltimore upcoming this weekend, it would be wonderful if the Yankees could bag an easy, bullpen-saving win tonight against the Indians. It’s been a while since we’ve seen one of those. Here is the Indians lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Brian McCann
- C Frankie Cervelli
- RF Zelous Wheeler
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 2B Brendan Ryan
RHP David Phelps
It’s nice and sunny in Cleveland and there is no rain in the forecast. The series finale is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Injury Updates: Tanaka will see team doctor Dr. Ahmad tonight in Seattle and the Yankees could announce a final diagnosis within 24 hours. Dr. Neal ElAttrache is at the same conference as Ahmad and could also examine Tanaka. He did his pre-signing physical over the winter, so there is some familiarity there … in case you missed it earlier, Carlos Beltran was placed on the 7-day concussion DL and Solarte was called up.
The Yankees have placed Carlos Beltran on the seven-day concussion disabled list and recalled Yangervis Solarte from Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Beltran suffered two small facial fractures during a fluke batting practice accident yesterday — he hit a ball off the cage and it ricocheted into his face. He will be eligible to return after the All-Star break.
Solarte, 27, was sent down last week and went 12-for-20 (.600) with three doubles and a triple in five games for the RailRiders. It would be totally awesome if that got him going and he comes back to hit like he did earlier in the season. Beltran has not played since Sunday due to a minor knee/hamstring problem, and he also missed about a month due to the bone spur in his elbow earlier this year. The 37-year-old is hitting .216/.271/.401 (79 wRC+) with nine homers in 61 games this season. · (67) ·
The Yankees lost ace Masahiro Tanaka for at least two weeks yesterday thanks to what is being called elbow inflammation. He still has to be looked at by team doctor Dr. Ahmad before a final diagnosis is made. Either way, the team was dealt a serious pitching blow that exposes just how little pitching depth they have at the moment, even after acquiring the adequate Brandon McCarthy.
Both the Diamondbacks and Cubs have already started selling off players in advance of the trade deadline. It’s only a matter of time before more non-contenders follow suit, including the truly awful Padres. They come into today with baseball’s eighth worst record (40-51) and are on pace to have the lowest team on-base percentage (.276!) since the 1910 White Sox (.275). You think the Yankees’ offense is frustrating? Imagine watching that night after night.
Anyway, the Padres are in a weird place right now because they don’t have a GM. Josh Byrnes was fired two weeks ago and they’ve been relying on front office staffer and former Mets GM Omar Minaya to make personnel decisions (along with some others) for the time being. Will he be allowed to make trades in advance of the deadline, or do they want to wait for the new GM to make those moves? Either way, they have some players who could interest the somehow still in contention Yankees. Here are the pitchers. We’ll look at the position players in the coming days.
RHP Ian Kennedy
Kennedy, now 29, is having his best season since his surprise 21-win campaign for the Diamondbacks back in 2011. He has a 3.71 ERA (2.93 FIP) in 19 starts and 116.1 innings thanks to career-best strikeout (9.67 K/9 and 26.0 K%) and ground ball (41.9%) rates. Kennedy has never really walked anyone (2.32 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%) and spacious Petco Park has helped him keep the ball in the park (0.77 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) more than ever before.
Between that 2011 season and this year, IPK had a 4.43 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 389.2 innings from 2012-13, so he’s sandwiched two very strong seasons around two very mediocre ones. Kennedy is what he is — a mid-rotation workhorse (180+ innings every year from 2010-13) who can be homer prone (career 1.06 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) because of his fly ball heavy style (38.1%). Fly balls aren’t a bad thing, mind you, they are high percentage outs, but they do go over the fence from time to time. Here is the PitchFX breakdown of Kennedy’s arsenal:
Kennedy does not have a single pitch that rates as above-average at getting both swings and misses and ground balls. (Whiff+ and GB+ are like ERA+, only for the individual pitch’s swing and miss and ground ball rates, respectively.) He’s basically a three-pitch pitcher who mixes in some show-me cutters and sinkers per start, which is fine because he has a breaking ball for same-side hitters and a changeup for opposite handers.
Kennedy is owed about $3M through the end of the season and he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year as well, so he wouldn’t be just a rental. The Padres did an excellent job buying low on the right-hander last year — he cost them a big league lefty specialist (Joe Thatcher) and Double-A bullpen prospect (Mike Stites), that’s it — and I doubt he will come that cheap this summer. With Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel now in Oakland, Kennedy might be the second best realistically available pitcher at the deadline behind David Price.
Other pitchers who were dealt a year and a half prior to free agency in recent years include Edwin Jackson (D’Backs to White Sox) and Dan Haren (D’Backs to Angels). Jackson cost Chicago two good but not great pitching prospects (David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson) while Haren fetched a four-player package that included big leaguer Joe Saunders and two top pitching prospects (Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin). Kennedy is much more Jackson than Haren to me. Not even close. Remember, 2010 Haren was pretty awesome.
It’s worth noting that, obviously, the Yankees know Kennedy well from his time in the organization. He’s had a reputation for being a bit of a jerk and a hot head, most notably throwing at Zack Greinke’s head during a game last season. That sparked a benches clearing brawl. (Kennedy led the baseball with 14 hit batsmen in 2012.) The Yankees value makeup and high-character players and all that. I wonder if it’ll be a dealbreaker if and when Kennedy becomes available based on what they know.
RHP Tyson Ross
The Athletics are the best team in baseball and GM Billy Beane built that team by trading all of his young players, including Ross. The 27-year-old righty cost the Padres nothing but two Quad-A guys (Andy Parrino and Andrew Warner) two winters ago, and last season he gave the club 125 innings of 3.17 ERA (3.20 FIP) ball.
Ross has pitched to a 2.93 ERA (3.37 FIP) in 122.2 innings so far this year to earn a well-deserved spot in the All-Star Game. His strikeout (8.58 K/9 and 23.1 K%), walk (3.08 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%), and ground ball (58.1%) rates are almost identical to last season. It’s kinda freaky (23.6 K%, 8.7 BB%, 54.9 GB%). The only significant difference is the long ball — Ross has allowed 0.73 HR/9 (12.8 HR/FB%) this year after managing a 0.58 HR/9 (8.2 HR/FB%) in 2013. Here is the pitch breakdown:
The changeup is basically a show-me pitch. Ross uses the sinker to get grounders and the slider to get swings and misses. As you might expect given the general lack of a changeup, lefties (.319 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.297 wOBA) over the years. Not many pure fastball/slider guys succeed as starters, but Ross is making it work. (Bud Norris, Garrett Richards, and Chris Archer are some others with a fastball/slider/no changeup repertoire.)
The Padres deserve a lot of credit for stealing Ross from Oakland. He will earn $1.98M total this season, his first of four arbitration years as a Super Two. That means he will remain under team control for another three years and not qualify for free agency until after the 2017 season. Ross would be furthest thing from a rental and that means the price will be rather high. Doug Fister was traded from the Mariners to the Tigers at a similar point in his career, and, as I detailed in our Scouting The Trade Market: D’Backs Pitchers post, Detroit gave up two top prospects and two pieces off their MLB roster to get him. Acquiring Ross would help both the 2014 Yankees as well as the 2015-17 Yankees.
RHP Joaquin Benoit & RHP Huston Street
Very quietly, San Diego has one of the most dominant setup man/closer tandems in baseball. Benoit has a 1.91 ERA (2.42 FIP) with a 30.9% strikeout rate and a 5.0% walk rate in 37.2 innings this season while Street has a 1.13 ERA (2.93 FIP) in 32 innings. He has a 28.0% strikeout rate and a 5.9% walk rate. They aren’t quite Dellin Betances and David Robertson, but they’re not far off either.
Bob Nightengale says the Padres have let teams know Benoit is available, and I assume Street would be as well. The last thing a bad team needs is a high-priced closer with an injury history on the wrong side of 30. Benoit is under contract for next season ($8M) with a club option for 2016 ($8M) while Street has an 2015 club option worth $7M. The Yankees could certainly use another shutdown reliever (what team couldn’t?) and both guys would give them some protection for next season in case Robertson bolts as a free agent.
* * *
Righty Andrew Cashner would also make sense as a trade target because he is both really good (2.86 ERA and 3.19 FIP from 2013-14) and under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through next year, but he is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. It’s his second shoulder-related DL stint of the season and he has a lengthy injury history too. It seems like every pitcher to come out of TCU has arm problems. TCU is the new Rice.
Anyway, I’m not sure the Padres would be willing to deal Cashner right now for anything less than a knockout return, otherwise they’d be trading away their most valuable asset for less than full value. They’re better off holding onto him, letting him finish the year healthy, then shopping him either over the winter or at next year’s trade deadline. Kennedy figures to be very much available though, ditto Benoit and Street, but Ross is someone a team would have to pay a handsome price to acquire. The Padres have little reason to move him.
Via Jon Morosi: The Yankees are not one of the teams included in Cole Hamels’ no-trade list. The southpaw is unable to block trades to just about every big payroll team as well as his hometown Padres. The Phillies are terrible and appear ready to sell off veterans prior to the trade deadline, and even if you think the Yankees have no business being buyers in the coming weeks, Hamels is someone who could help them years into the future.
Hamels, 30, has a 2.87 ERA (3.14 FIP) in 100.1 innings after missing the start of the season with a shoulder issue. He’s been consistently durable (190+ innings every year from 2008-13) and excellent (3.27 ERA and 3.43 FIP since 2008) since breaking into the league. Hamels is owed approximately $100M through 2018 and reportedly the Phillies would be willing to eat money in order to receive better prospects in return. Obviously the Yankees (and every other team) could use a pitcher of this caliber, but after seeing ex-workhorses CC Sabathia, Matt Cain, Justin Verlander, and Roy Halladay crumble in their early-to-mid-30s, adding another $20M+ a year pitcher is kinda scary. · (88) ·
The Yankees were dealt a pretty significant blow yesterday, when what they called elbow inflammation landed Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list. He returned to New York for an MRI and will soon travel to see team doctor Dr. Ahmad, who is currently in Seattle for a conference. Even though the team does not have a full diagnosis, Joe Girardi indicated to reporters the situation was serious enough to warrant a DL stint with or without the upcoming All-Star break. Argh. Here are some scattered thoughts.
1. Everyone is thinking it, so let’s just come out and say it: the prospect of losing Tanaka to Tommy John surgery is terrifying. (There have been so many Tommy John surgeries this year that I don’t know how someone could not think about it.) The timing of the procedure would especially suck — Tanaka would miss the rest of the season and at least the first half of next season. Considering
how prone the Yankees are to setbacks the Yankees would likely be conservative during his rehab, he might not return until next August or September. I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but like I said, it’s hard not to fear the worst whenever a pitcher goes down with an elbow injury these days. My fingers are crossed and I am really hoping for the best. Things will be a little tense until Ahmad gets a chance to look at Tanaka.
2. The Yankees have not yet announced who will start in place of Tanaka on Sunday — the 15-day DL stint means he will also miss at least one start after the All-Star break, but they can figure that during the break next week — and it seems like Chase Whitley will be the guy unless he is needed out of the bullpen again at some point between now and then. The Yankees can’t recall Bruce Billings because of the ten-day rule — they used Tanaka’s injury to call up Zoilo Almonte, so they can’t use that to bring Billings back early — and right now Triple-A Scranton’s scheduled starter for Sunday is TBA due to a recent rainout and subsequent doubleheader. It might just be a bullpen game the day before the All-Star break. Two or three innings from Whitley, two or three innings from David Huff, two innings from Adam Warren, etc. Yikes. This team needs the four-day break in the worst way right now.
3. If Tanaka does have to miss an extended period of time for whatever reason, the Yankees will have to consider selling at the trade deadline more seriously than at any point in the last, I dunno, 20 years or so. Or at least consider not buying. That might be the Yankees’ version of selling — not doing anything and standing pat. They are 13-5 in games started by Tanaka and 33-39 in games started by everyone else, and at some point the injuries become too much to overcome. That’s what happened last year. They’ve lost four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation to injury (at least three to long-term injury) and there are too many underperforming everyday players in the lineup to compensate. The Yankees are not a move or two away from serious contention even with Tanaka. Remove him from the equation and it’s damn near impossible. Make another small Brandon McCarthy for nothing to soak up some innings and save the bullpen trade, but give up something of value? No way. The organization prides itself on contending every single year and I can’t imagine throwing in the towel on 2014 would be easy after spending all that money over the winter, but losing Tanaka for an extended period of time would be the straw that breaks the 2014 Yankees camel’s back.
4. Now, in the unprecedented event that the Yankees do decide to sell before the deadline, who exactly can they market? David Robertson for certain since he’s due to become a free agent and literally every team could use another shutdown reliever. The Tigers, Dodgers, Angels, Braves, Giants, and possibly the Athletics would all have interest in Robertson, at the very least. I’m sure they would have no trouble finding a team willing to take Shawn Kelley off their hands too. Hiroki Kuroda has a full no-trade clause but might be willing to waive it for one of the two Los Angeles teams since his family still lives there. Brett Gardner would fetch a nice return but his contract makes him worth keeping around. Hard to see a team giving up enough to make trading him worth it. Other than those three, there’s not much to offer. Brian Roberts and Ichiro Suzuki have no trade value, same with Brendan Ryan. Maybe a team would be willing to give up a Grade-C prospect for Kelly Johnson or Frankie Cervelli, but I doubt it. Point is, even if the Yankees do decide to sell at the deadline, their most marketable pieces are a rental reliever and a rental starter. The cupboard is pretty bare.
5. Without Tanaka, these Yankees are about a two out of ten on the watchability scale. That is true regardless of whether he misses the minimum 15 days or something longer. His starts along with Robertson and Dellin Betances innings are pretty much the only time I get excited to watch this team. That’s just my opinion. I mean, yeah both Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been awesome, but they aren’t must-see television. The Yankees in general are a very boring bunch, mostly because they struggle to score and have no exciting young position players in the lineup everyday. Remember when we were trying to convince ourselves Yangervis Solarte was a guy? Yikes. You’re welcome to feel differently and I hope you do, but man, to me this is the most boring and uninteresting Yankees team of the last 20 years or so. Maybe I’m just a grouch.