Thoughts following the West Coast road trip

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees finally wrapped up their 20 games in 20 days stretch last night, going 8-12 in the 20 games. That’s … not very good. Could be worse, I guess. The Yankees have an off-day today before opening a pretty big three-game series with the Rays tomorrow night. Here are some scattered thoughts for the time being.

1. So how pissed is Adam Warren right now? Probably very. He said all the right things when he was demoted to the bullpen earlier this week — “I was a little frustrated at first because I want to be a starter, but I understood. They sat down and talked to me about it, explained it. I understood where they were coming from. I told them I’m not going to be unhappy in the bullpen,” said Warren to Chad Jennings — but I have to think he is very disappointed and frustrated on the inside, if not outright angry. Warren was a starter his entire life before cutting his teeth in the big leagues as a reliever like many others, then he got a chance to start, pitched very well as a starter, and still lost his rotation spot. How he could not be upset? Warren’s earning potential as a reliever is a fraction of what it would be as a starter, and not just in free agency, I mean when he goes through arbitration for the first next year. Michael Pineda missed two and a half years due to injuries and still got $2.1M in his first trip through arbitration this past offseason. David Robertson dominated as a reliever and got $1.6M his first time. Man. Warren’s a pro and he went back to the bullpen without making a stink. I have to imagine he’s really disappointed on the inside though. What more does he have to do?

2. The All-Star Game rosters will be announced this weekend and my guess is the Yankees will have two All-Stars this year: Dellin Betances and Brian McCann. Betances is a shoo-in and I think McCann will beat out Russell Martin for the third catcher spot behind Salvador Perez (leading the fan voting) and Stephen Vogt. Brett Gardner absolutely deserves to be in the All-Star Game, but I think he has less than a 50/50 chance of actually getting selected. He’s just not popular enough, and it is a popularity contest. Maybe he’ll sneak in as an injury replacement or something. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller won’t make it because of their injuries, Alex Rodriguez won’t make it because other players loathe him and won’t vote him in (probably), and Mark Teixeira is stuck behind Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, Prince Fielder, and Jose Abreu at first base. Betances, McCann, maaaybe Gardner. That is my official All-Star guess. Bookmark this post for potential future mocking purposes.

3. The 2015-16 international signing period opens today — no exciting buildup this year! — and the Yankees are not connected any of the top available prospects, according to Ben Badler (subs. req’d). (Here is Badler’s free list of the top prospects, if you’re interested.) That’s not surprising. The team can not hand out bonuses worth more $300,000 during this signing period (or next signing period) thanks to the penalties stemming from last summer’s spending spree, when they bought about four years worth of talent. The Yankees have a full $2.62M bonus pool this year — $2.62M plus the six $50,000 exemptions and unlimited $7,500 exemptions each team gets — they just can’t give any one player more than $300,000. That takes them out of the running for the top talent, but New York has shown they are great at finding cheap prospects. Five dudes on my Preseason Top 30 Prospects list signed for $300,000 or less, including Luis Severino ($225,000) and Jorge Mateo ($250,000). So no big names this year, but that doesn’t mean no quality prospects. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of players the Yankees pull this year. Odds are one or two will develop into better players than one or two of the seven-figure guys they signed last year. That’s just the market. (For what it’s worth, Balder (subs. req’d) says the Yankees are “expected to be active” in Venezuela this year, with RHP Maximo Castillo, IF Oswaldo Cabrera, and C Andres Chaparro the likely targets.)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

4. Masahiro Tanaka has allowed three home runs in each of his last two games, and five of the six came on hanging offspeed pitches. The other came on a fastball up in the zone and on the other half (Carlos Correa is just that damn good). Here are the videos if you don’t believe me: one, two, three, four, five, six. Tanaka’s stuff has been fine — his velocity is good and his two highest swing-and-miss totals of the season have come in the last two games — but his mistakes are getting absolutely hammered. The old adage says a drop in velocity means a shoulder injury while bad location means an elbow injury, and obvious Tanaka’s elbow is already compromised, so the recent bad location isn’t encouraging. That doesn’t mean he’s hurt! It could just be two bad starts. Those do happen. But at this point everything Tanaka does is looked at through the lens of his elbow. Bad starts get magnified and good starts are just a five-day reprieve. Sucks. Needless to say, I’m hoping to see some better location tomorrow. Miss down, not up.

5. Speaking of Tanaka’s elbow, what are the chances the Yankees have another pitcher on the staff right now pitching with a partially torn elbow ligament? I think the chances are pretty high and we just don’t know about it. And by we I mean everyone — fans, the Yankees, and the player himself. Pitchers have all sorts of scary stuff going on in their arms and there are probably dozens of ’em around the league with a tiny UCL tear that is not affecting them at all. No pain, no loss of stuff, nothing. Pitchers are weird like that. They all have something going on in their arms and a lot of the time you don’t know about it until you take a real good look. Ty Hensley had his signing bonus reduced when he was drafted because the Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder even though he had no problems and was completely asymptomatic, for example. Pretty good chance someone on the staff has a small UCL tear right now and it is no problem whatsoever. Kinda scary to think about.

Offense breaks out for three runs, Yankees salvage series with 3-1 win over Angels


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees matched their run total from the previous three games combined on Wednesday night, and while that usually means a big game, this time it meant only three runs. Those three runs were enough for a 3-1 win over the Angels, salvaging the series finale for New York and halting their three-game losing streak. They went 3-4 on their seven-game road trip. Blah.

I only caught the first three innings or so on television before shifting to the radio for the rest of the night, so I didn’t actually see much of the game and can’t talk about it intelligently (which makes this no different than every other recap, I suppose). I did see Chase Headley come up with a clutch two-out single to drive in the game’s first run after Didi Gregorius singled and Stephen Drew bunted him up into scoring position. That felt like the token run of the day.

The Yankees tacked on two runs in the later innings, thankfully. Garrett Jones took the amazingly homer prone Matt Shoemaker deep for a solo home run in the sixth, then Gregorius singled in another run in the eighth. The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out that inning and got just the one run. Argh. Better than no runs, I guess. The offense did pile up a dozen hits (three by Headley and two each by Didi and Chris Young), equaling their hit total from the last three games combined.

Nathan Eovaldi had another strong start until things unraveled a bit in the sixth, though I can’t really blame him for walking Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Gotta be careful with those guys and ball four to Trout could have easily been strike three. Eovaldi allowed five singles and three walks in 5.1 scoreless frames. He has a 4.28 ERA in his last eight starts including the disaster in Miami. It’s a 2.61 ERA excluding that start, though stats don’t work like that. The disaster start counts. Either way, seven of his last eight outings have been very good.

The three-headed bullpen monster of Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances recorded the final eleven outs. The only blemish was a Trout homer off Wilson, which … whatever. Trout’s just awesome. He’s going to hit dingers. Just be happy it was a solo shot. Betances walked two in the ninth before nailing down the save. Dellin’s walked 18 batters in 39.2 innings this year after walking 24 in 90 innings last year. His location just hasn’t been there this year, though it hasn’t really mattered.

How about Shreve though? He retired all five men he faced, including four righties. Righties have reached base just 15 times in 74 plate appearances against him (.203 OBP), and one of those 15 was an intentional walk. Over his last 18 appearances, Shreve has allowed two runs on six hits and five walks in 19.2 innings with 22 strikeouts. He’s retired 57 of the last 68 batters he’s faced overall. What a pickup he’s been. Shreve and Adam Warren setting up Betances and Andrew Miller is going to be a hell of a thing once Miller gets back.

Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, so check those out. The Yankees have an off-day Thursday and then open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday night. Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Archer will be the pitching matchup. Fun! Check out RAB Tickets if you wanna catch that game or any of the six games on the homestand live and in person. Last homestand before the All-Star break, you know.

DotF: Ellsbury plays six innings in center in second rehab game; Palma almost completes outfield assist cycle

OF Jake Cave, 3B Eric Jagielo, C Gary Sanchez, RHP Eric Ruth, and RHP Nick Goody have all been selected for the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game, so congrats to them. Jagielo is hurt and won’t play in the game. Sanchez won’t play because he’ll be in Cincinnati for the Futures Game. RHP Brady Lail got snubbed big time.

Also, the Yankees signed OF Joey Falcone as an undrafted free agent out of Columbia, the school announced. Falcone is 26 and a military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to school, according to Kieran Darcy. He hit .323/.399/.615 with 11 home runs in 51 games this spring and has been assigned to one of the Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley in ten innings, walk-off style)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-6, 1 R, 3 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 BB — locked in right now
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 RBI
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB — two strikeouts and eight walks in his last six games
  • C Austin Romine: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 K — 44-for-134 (.328) in his last 35 games … what a run he’s been on
  • RHP Jaron Long: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 57 of 90 pitches were strikes (63%) … he’s either very good or very bad it seems
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — seven pitches, eleven strikes

[Read more…]

Game 80: Runs, Plural

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have scored one run in each of their last three games. It’s the first time they’ve scored one run or fewer in three straight games since 2013 and only the third time they’ve done it this century. The last time they scored one run or fewer in four straight games? You have to go back to 1990. Yikes. Trying avoid tying some dubious history tonight.

Because the non-Adam Warren bullpen is well-rested and there’s an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees only need about five good innings out of Nathan Eovaldi tonight. I’m guessing Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances are all good for four or five outs to nail down a win if necessary. Of course, scoring runs would be nice. Plural. More than one. Here is the Halos’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

You’re not going to believe this, but the weather is pretty much perfect in Anaheim time. Mid-80s, sunny, no humidity … a lovely day for baseball. Tonight’s game will start at 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Andrew Miller (forearm) threw 20 pitches off a mound this afternoon with no problems. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Miller could return before the All-Star break, which is only two weeks away now … Carlos Beltran (ribcage) is day-to-day for now and will undergo tests when the team returns to New York tomorrow.

Roster Move: In case you missed it earlier, Taylor Dugas has been called up from Double-A Trenton and Esmil Rogers was again outrighted to Triple-A Scranton. Dugas is Beltran insurance for the time being.

Yanks call up Taylor Dugas, outright Esmil Rogers; Carlos Beltran day-to-day for time being

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have called up outfielder Taylor Dugas from Double-A Trenton, the team announced. Esmil Rogers has been outrighted back to Triple-A Scranton, which clears both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Dugas. The Yankees are back to a normal seven-man bullpen and a four-man bench.

Dugas was called up simply because the Yankees couldn’t call up Ramon Flores — he was sent down eight days ago and players have to wait ten days to be called back up unless someone is placed on the DL, and Carlos Beltran has not been placed on the DL after leaving last night’s game with a ribcage issue. He is day-to-day for now and will undergo tests when the team gets back to New York.

So far this season Beltran is hitting .260/.309/.430 (102 wRC+) with seven homers, which isn’t all that good for a DH masquerading as an outfielder. To be fair, Beltran has been much better of late, hitting .299/.346/.494 (132 wRC+) since May 1st. The Yankees will miss him in the lineup. No doubt. Good thing he’s only day-to-day and it isn’t something more serious.

Dugas, 25, was New York’s eighth round pick in 2012, and he’s hitting only .198/.316/.235 (67 wRC+) in 54 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. He hit .299/.399/.390 (126 wRC+) at the same two levels last year. Dugas is a left-handed hitting bat control guy with a good eye at the plate (career 13.6 BB% and 11.7 K%) and strong defense in all three outfield spots.

The Yankees are currently without Jacoby Ellsbury (knee), Slade Heathcott (quad), and Mason Williams (shoulder), though Ellsbury is currently on a minor league rehab assignment and Williams is eligible to be activated off the DL on Saturday. Gregorio Petit is still in his ten-day window like Flores and the only other healthy position player on the 40-man roster is Gary Sanchez.

Dugas got the call because he’s only needed for a few days and won’t clog up the 40-man roster. The Yankees don’t have to worry too much about sending him through waivers when they need another 40-man spot down the road. Harsh, but hey, Dugas gets access to quality health care for life now. Spending a day in the bigs comes with some great perks.

Rogers was called back up from Triple-A Scranton over the weekend because the bullpen needed a fresh arm. He didn’t get into a game and as far as I know he didn’t even warm up in the bullpen.

Angels’ front office dysfunction and possible implications for the Yankees

Dipoto vs. Scioscia. Dipoto wins. (Presswire)
Dipoto vs. Scioscia. Dipoto wins. (Presswire)

The Angels have won four straight games, including the last two against the Yankees, yet the team is mired in dysfunction at the moment. According to multiple reports, GM Jerry Dipoto either resigned or was fired yesterday following an ongoing power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. Ken Rosenthal detailed their problems earlier this week. It’s unclear what exactly happened. Dipoto is apparently out of the picture, however.

The friction between Dipoto and Scioscia has been going on for several years now. It appeared things were coming to a head back in 2013, but they were able to smooth things over, and those 98 wins last year helped keep everyone happy. This year, the Halos are falling short of expectations (41-37 with a +0 run differential) and their offense has struggled (3.87 runs per game), so the Dipoto-Scioscia feud rekindled.

I’m not surprised Dipoto lost the latest battle and the war — Scioscia is an iconic manager and it just doesn’t seem like he will lose any sort of power struggle at this point. Someone else in the front office will presumably take over as interim GM and the Halos will begin a search for a permanent GM. It’s an ugly situation with implications leading up to the trade deadline, implications that could affect the Yankees in more ways than one.

The Angels are going to replace Dipoto with a newbie GM, at least initially, and the new GM will inevitably look to impress his bosses. It’s human nature. Got a new job? Work hard to show your new bosses they hired the right person. I think the likelihood of the Halos being ultra-aggressive at the trade deadline just went up, which means more competition for the Yankees. The Angels were going to look for upgrades anyway. Not they might be looking for those upgrades with a crazy new GM willing to pay big.

Reportedly, Dipoto was seeking a veteran middle of the order bat in recent weeks, specifically in left field or at DH. (Turns out they could have used Josh Hamilton, huh?) The Yankees don’t need a player like that but they do have one to offer! At least in theory. Carlos Beltran would be a fit for that role with the Halos and it would allow the Yankees to clear an outfield spot for a younger player like Mason Williams or Ramon Flores or Aaron Judge. Win-win!

Except it won’t happen. Probably not. Beltran has a full no-trade clause and has wanted to wear pinstripes for years and years. I doubt he’d accept a trade to a team far away from home and in a worse position to contend than the Yankees. (The Yankees and Angels are both a half-game back of a wildcard spot, but the AL East is way more winnable than the AL West right now.) Still, it’s a thought that crossed my mind, and I guess there’s a chance the front office situation in Anaheim could impact things.

The Angels are also looking for pitching depth (who isn’t?) and, like Beltran, the Yankees are at the point where they’re probably better off paying CC Sabathia to pitch elsewhere, a la A.J. Burnett. Sabathia has ten-and-five no-trade protection but maybe the Yankees could sell him on the idea of moving to a bigger ballpark in a division with several other big ballparks at this point of his career. Plus Sabathia would be going home to California. (Not really though, he’s from Northern California. It’s like saying playing for the Braves is a homecoming for someone from North Carolina.)

Angels owner Arte Moreno has a history of doing wacky things (the Hamilton and Albert Pujols contracts!), so it’s easy to dream about the Yankees getting a “get out of jail free” card with Beltran and Sabathia. Even if the Yankees were willing to eat money  — how about eating, say, $30M of the guaranteed $64M or so still owed to Beltran or Sabathia? — and take less than interesting prospects in return, the no-trade clauses are an obstacle. Moreno might be crazy and the new GM might want to impress — what better way is there to impress than by reeling in big names? — but file this under things that have maybe a 1% chance of happening. Maybe.

Dream about unloading Beltran and Sabathia if you want. In reality, the front office turmoil in Anaheim hurts the Yankees most at the trade deadline by adding a likely-to-be-aggressive bidder to the market. Both teams need pitching, so they’ll be in competition there, and the Angels could also go after Ben Zobrist to bolster their lineup. The Yankees could use Zobrist at second base, the Angels could use him in the outfield. There figures to be a little more competition at the trade deadline now, so the Dipoto-Scioscia feud may have made life more difficult for New York this summer.

Jagielo’s injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees

(Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)
(Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Two weeks and one day ago, third base prospect Eric Jagielo slid into home plate and jammed his knee, forcing him to miss a few days. A few days turned into a DL stint, and, as we learned yesterday, Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee, which may require surgery. He’ll undergo more tests before deciding whether to go under the knife or attempt to rehab the issue. (I’m not sure how rehabbing “loose bodies” works, but I’m no doctor.)

The 23-year-old Jagielo was hitting .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine homers in 58 games for Double-A Trenton before getting hurt. The Yankees’ first of three first round picks in 2013 has swatted 27 home runs in 150 games since the start of last season, so the production is matching the scouting reports that touted him as a left-handed power hitter. Jagielo isn’t much of a defender, he’s a bat first guy, and his bat has been delivering.

It’s unclear how long those “loose bodies” will keep Jagielo out, but I think it’s safe to say it will be several weeks if not several months regardless of whether he has surgery or goes through rehab. In fact, Double-A Trenton manager Al Pedrique told Nick Peruffo that Jagielo is “going to be out for awhile.” Hopefully he can get healthy in time to play the last few weeks of the regular season before making up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League.

Either way, surgery or no surgery, Jagielo will be out for a while, and his injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees. (Obligatory: There is no such thing as a good time for an injury.) The trade deadline is just four weeks and one day away now, and Jagielo sure looked like one of the team’s best trade chips. A power prospect producing at Double-A in an age when offense is hard to come by? There figured to be plenty of interest in Jagielo despite his lack of a clear long-term position, especially since he’s a former first round pick. That pedigree has value.

The Yankees themselves will be able to use a young power-hitter in the near future, though, unlike Aaron Judge, Jagielo’s long-term fit with the Yankees is less clear. Judge will take over as the everyday right fielder once Carlos Beltran‘s contract is up. That’s the perfect world plan. Jagielo will … maybe play first base once Mark Teixeira‘s deal expires? Chase Headley is locked in at third base through 2018, and yeah I guess the Yankees could trade him to clear the position for a prospect, but Jagielo’s probably not going to stay at the hot corner long-term anyway.

A week or two ago we heard the Yankees have “sworn off” trading top prospects for rentals, which is something every team says at the trade deadline. The definition of “top prospect” is fluid though — you and I may consider someone like Jagielo a top prospect, but the Yankees may not, and vice versa. To me, Jagielo fits in that second tier of prospects, behind Judge and Luis Severino. The kind of prospect the Yankees should be willing to trade prior to the deadline to improve the MLB roster. The right rental player, as people like to say.

Now the Yankees won’t have that option. Jagielo’s injury takes him out of the trade chip equation — technically he can still be traded while hurt, but it’s not often injured prospects get traded these days aside from the occasional high-end pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — and gives the Yankees less ammunition leading up to the deadline. The injury is unfortunate for Jagielo’s development as a player and unfortunate for his trade value. The timing is real bad for the Yankees given their obvious needs on the mound and at second base.