The All-Star break can not come soon enough for the bullpen. The Yankees jumped out to an early 9-0 lead against the Twins on Sunday afternoon, but Minnesota slowly chipped away, and before you knew it, the tying run was on base. Thankfully, New York still managed to walk away with a 9-7 win, taking three of four in Target Field. Let’s recap the nail-biter:
- Nope-lasco: The Yankees destroyed Ricky Nolasco. He faced 13 batters, put eight on base, and allowed six runs in two innings of work. One of the outs was a great jumping catch by Sam Fuld at the wall, another was an out at the plate when Mark Teixeira ran through a stop sign. The big blow was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s three-run homer in the second inning. Nolasco was fooling no one. They were all over him.
- Hiroki Why: The lead swelled to 9-0 in the third inning, but Hiroki Kuroda gave four runs back (two on a Chris Colabello homer) in the bottom half of the inning to make the came uncomfortably close-ish. He did not allow any more runs, he failed to complete six full innings of work after being staked to a nine-run lead. That really sucks, especially with the bullpen running on fumes. Kuroda allowed the four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Yuck.
- Chipped Away: The Twins managed to score seven unanswered runs between the fourth and ninth innings. Adam Warren allowed a run (infield single, single, ground out) in 1.1 innings of work, Jim Miller allowed a run (solo homer) in an inning of work, and David Robertson (single, single single) allowed a run in his inning of work. The Twins had men on the corners and the go-ahead run at the plate when Robertson got Kurt Suzuki to ground out for the final out. Like I said before, these relievers need the All-Star break in the worst way.
- Leftovers: Derek Jeter went 3-for-4 and recorded his 3,400th career hit … every starter reached base at least once except Carlos Beltran and they all had a hit except Beltran and Brett Gardner (two walks) … Jeter, Ellsbury (two), Teixeira (two), Ichiro Suzuki (three), and Kelly Johnson (two) all had multiple hits … Ichiro had the team’s only strikeout (Twins!) and Gardner had the only walks, so make it nine times in the last ten games that they’ve been held to two walks or less … despite allowing nine runs and 16 base-runners, four Twins pitchers combined to throw only 138 pitches. Four Yankees pitchers threw 166.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles beat the Red Sox, so the Yankees are still 3.5 games back of both the AL East lead and the second wildcard spot. The Bombers are now off to Cleveland for a four-game series with the Indians. Shane Greene will get the call to make a spot start necessitated by the Brandon McCarthy/Vidal Nuno trade in the series opener on Monday. Justin Masterson will be on the bump for Cleveland.
As expected, Derek Jeter has been voted in as the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team by the fans. His double play partner will be Robinson Cano. Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances will also represent the Yankees at the Midsummer Classic. The full All-Star Game rosters are right here.
Jeter will be playing in his 14th All-Star Game and starting at short for the ninth time. His performance this year doesn’t really warrant the selection, but he’s a star of the first order and fans want to see him in the All-Star Game in his final season. That’s what the All-Star Game is all about in my opinion. Tanaka and Betances are obviously very deserving of their selections. They will be the first Yankees rookie pitchers to make the game since Spec Shea in 1947. Congrats to all three guys. · (35) ·
The Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks earlier today, and he will make his first start with the team on Wednesday. McCarthy, in case you’re unfamiliar with him, reinvented himself as a pitcher in 2010 by embracing sabermetrics and PitchFX analysis. He focused on missing bats, limiting walks, and trying to keep the ball on the ground to avoid homers. I recommend this Eno Sarris post and this ESPN The Magazine piece on his career turnaround. “I didn’t want to suck at baseball anymore,” he said. Check the links out. Pretty interesting stuff.
Here is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Rays and Tigers (Price vs. Porcello), but before that the All-Star Game rosters will be announced at 7pm ET on ESPN. Yes, ESPN. Not MLB Network. My guess: Derek Jeter (starter at shortstop) and Masahiro Tanaka make it, Dellin Betances and every other Yankee do not. Remember, making it and deserving to make it are two separate things. Talk about any of that stuff and anything else right here.
The Yankees took the first two games of this four-game weekend series in Target Field before dropping yesterday’s game on a walk-off error. I can’t even get mad about that game. You could see the loss coming a mile away. The Bombers have a chance to take three of four and win the series against the Twins this afternoon though, and that’s the most important thing. I’ll take three wins out of every four games from now until the end of time. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann — his sore foot made it through batting practice fine
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 2B Brian Roberts
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
The weather report makes it sound like an uncomfortable day in Minneapolis — temperatures around 90 with a bunch of humidity. There is also some rain in the forecast later this afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms, hopefully nothing that delays the game. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.
Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment and called up Bruce Billings to help the overworked bullpen. They also traded Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy (and cash!).
The Yankees have designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, the team announced. The move clears both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Bruce Billings, who has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to help the overworked bullpen.
Soriano, 38, hit a miserable .221/.244/.367 (61 wRC+) with six homers in 238 plate appearances this season. He started the year as the everyday DH and, thanks in part to Carlos Beltran‘s elbow injury, wound up as a platoon right fielder losing playing time to Ichiro Suzuki. Soriano went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and some awful defensive plays yesterday, which might have been the final straw.
The Yankees are paying $5M of Soriano’s $18M salary this year — the Cubs are paying the other $13M — and they still owe him that. They now have ten days to trade him, release him, or place him on waivers. It’s inevitable he will clear waivers and be released with that salary. Soriano was a monster after being re-acquired last year, hitting .256/.325/.525 (130 wRC+) with 17 homers in 58 games. Father Time remains undefeated, unfortunately.
Earlier this season Soriano said he will consider retirement if he has a poor year and I have to think this qualifies. Another team can sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum once he is released, so he might get another chance (Red Sox?) to show he still has something left in the tank. Soriano was as fun a player to watch as anyone when he was locked in, but the time had come to move on. He wasn’t helping at all this year.
Once the pitching staff gets settled in following the Brandon McCarthy trade, the Yankees figure to call up another position player to replace Soriano. Zoilo Almonte and Yangervis Solarte are on the 40-man roster, but Jose Pirela is an interesting non-40 man option. He has crushed Triple-A pitching this year (124 wRC+) and started playing right field about a week ago. That’s probably not a coincidence. We’ll see.
The Yankees have added some much-needed rotation help, and it came very cheap. The team announced they have acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno. Buster Olney says Arizona will pay half of the $4.1M owed to McCarthy through the end of the season. The Yankees will pay the $1M assignment bonus in his contract.
Arizona comes into today with baseball’s worst record at 36-53, and GM Kevin Towers has made it clear in recent days that they will look to deal veterans for young players in the coming weeks. The D’Backs traded lefty reliever Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana to the Angels just yesterday. I’d expect them to make more moves before the trade deadline. McCarthy is due to become a free agent after the season, so this is a pure rental for the Yankees. It seems like a salary dump for the D’Backs more than anything.
“Quality stuff. Pounds the strike zone. Lots of ground balls, which helps at our Stadium,” said Brian Cashman to Joel Sherman when asked about the deal. “[David] Huff was better than we had and McCarthy was better than what we had, so we improve when we can.”
McCarthy, who turns 31 tomorrow, has a 5.01 ERA and 3.79 FIP in 18 starts and 109.1 innings this year. Homeruns have been a big problem (1.23 HR/9 and 20.0 HR/FB%) and that doesn’t figure to change in Yankee Stadium, but his strikeout (7.63 K/9 and 20.0 K%), walk (1.64 BB/9 and 4.3 BB%) and ground ball (55.3%) rates are all solid. Clearly the Yankees are hoping his .345 BABIP and 66.7% strand rate return to his career norms (.296 and 70.5%, respectively) and he pitches closer to his FIP than ERA the rest of the season.
I wrote about McCarthy as a possible trade target just the other day. He is going to give up some homers, that’s inevitable, but the D’Backs are one the few clubs with a worse team defense (.669 defensive efficiency) than the Yankees (.682), so New York’s porous infield and all their shifts might actually be an upgrade for him. Either way, Nuno set the bar rather low (5.42 ERA and 5.15 FIP). All McCarthy has to do is chew up innings every fifth day to be an upgrade, and that’s not necessarily a guarantee given his worrisome injury history. Here’s a wrote I few days ago:
The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.
Nuno, 26, opened the season as the long man and was initially pushed into the rotation by Ivan Nova‘s elbow injury in April. He remained a starter as CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) went down with their injuries. The Yankees plucked Nuno out of an independent league a few years ago, got about a hundred replacement level innings out of him, then turned him into a half-season of McCarthy. Not bad at all.
McCarthy last started on Thursday and, according to Dan Barbarisi, he told reporters in Arizona he will start for the Yankees on Wednesday. In that case the Yankees will need someone to make Nuno’s scheduled start tomorrow. Bruce Billings, who is currently in the clubhouse after being scratched from last night’s start with Triple-A Scranton, will not make that start according to Joe Girardi. He’s there to help the bullpen. Shane Greene is scheduled to start for Triple-A tomorrow and seems like the obvious choice to make the spot start. Masahiro Tanaka can then start on Tuesday on normal rest.
I think it’s important to note that while McCarthy figures to be an upgrade over Nuno, perhaps a substantial one, this move alone won’t put the Yankees over the top. It can’t be their only move if they truly want to contend. They need help at third base and in right field, plus another reliever to ease the burden on Dellin Betances and Adam Warren would help as well. Another starter shouldn’t be off the table either. Sabathia and Pineda aren’t coming back any time soon and Chase Whitley has hit the wall and hard. The Yankees got better today, but hopefully the McCarthy trade is not the only move they make.
According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Cubs exchanged proposals for both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before the two were traded to the Athletics. It sounds like they were discussing them in separate deals, not one big trade. Heyman says the Yankees finished second in the bidding for Samardzija and lost out because they didn’t want to give up Dellin Betances and simply don’t have a prospect as good as Addison Russell.
With Chase Whitley crashing back to Earth and Vidal Nuno being Vidal Nuno, it’s clear the Yankees need at least one and maybe even two starters. It sounds like CC Sabathia is done for the year and who knows when or if Michael Pineda will return. Even if you think the Yankees won’t contend and have no business being buyers, they still need some kind of veteran innings eater to take some pressure off Betances and Adam Warren. Those two are already starting to show signs of being overworked and the Yankees need to scale back on their workload in the coming weeks. · (36) ·
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Buffalo)
- LF Jose Pirela: 2-5, 1 SB
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-5, 1 K — this is only the fourth time in 25 games with at least five plate appearances that he’s gone hitless
- RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — I know he can’t hit lefties, but I have a hard time believing he isn’t a better option than Alfonso Soriano at this point
- 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 BB
- 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-3, 1 2B, 1 BB — hopefully he tears it up down here and forces his way back into the MLB picture
- DH Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — second homer in 13 games since being sent down
- RHP Edgmer Escalona: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/5 GB/FB — 37 of 47 pitches were strikes (79%) … got the spot start in place of RHP Bruce Billings, who was a late scratch … safe to assume Billings is on his way to join the MLB team to give the taxed bullpen a fresh long man
- LHP Francisco Rondon: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 47 pitches were strikes (62%)
- SwP Pat Venditte: 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K — six of 13 pitches were strikes
- RHP Matt Daley: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 20 of 28 pitches were strikes (72%) … 36/7 K/BB in 25.1 innings at this level
This game was so stupidly 2014 Yankees. It had everything. No offense? Of course. Worn out bullpen? Indeed. Terrible defense? Naturally. Add it all together and you get a silly 2-1 walk-off loss in eleven innings. I can’t even be mad. I’m impressed at how low they’ve stooped. Let’s recap the team’s tenth loss in the last 14 games:
- Gift Run: The Yankees scored their only run after the umpires missed Ichiro Suzuki being thrown out at second on a stolen base. It was a bang-bang play, no doubt, but replays showed he was tagged out. Thankfully the Twins never bothered to challenge or even argue. Frankie Cervelli followed with a two-out single to left to give the Yankees a one-zip lead in the fifth. It was the first of two runs he helped drive in on the afternoon.
- Cy Phelps: David Phelps deserves so much better than a no decision. He gave the team seven innings of one-run ball when the bullpen was gassed, which is exactly what they needed. He allowed three hits — one a Josh Willingham solo homer off the facing of the second deck — and two walks while striking out three. Phelps retired eleven in a row at one point, immediately before the homer. He did his job.
- LMAOffense: The Yankees put runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, and tenth innings, but of course they didn’t get The Big Hit. (They went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position overall.) They had opportunities to score in the late innings. This wasn’t the offense disappearing for like five innings at a time, though someone named Yohan Pino held them to one run on three singles in six innings. Blah.
- Thrown Away: Cervelli literally threw this game away. Joe Girardi went to Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton for two innings each because the bullpen has been overworked — Kelley escaped a bases loaded jam in the eighth — which is about as risky as it gets. Thornton faced eight batters and six were right-handed. (He didn’t even get the two lefties out.) Chris Colabello just missed a walk-off homer in the 11th, instead settling for a leadoff double. A Willingham intentional walk and an Oswaldo Arcia hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out. Thornton got a weak grounder back to himself, started the potential 1-2-3 double play, but Cervelli threw the ball into right field to lose the game. Shoulda just held onto it, I’m not sure a perfect throw would have gotten the out. It’s their second walk-off error in the last eleven days.
- Leftovers: Alfonso Soriano missed a foul pop-up and went 0-for-4 with two feeble strikeouts at the plate. He is hitting .221/.244/.367 (61 wRC+) on the year. I defy you to find a more useless player on an active 25-man roster … Brett Gardner replaced Soriano in left to start the ninth inning but did not pinch-hit for him in the previous half-inning for whatever reason … the Yankees had no extra-base hits and the singles belonged to Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro, and Cervelli (two) … Mark Teixeira and Beltran drew the only walks, so for the eighth time in the last nine games, the Yankees drew two walks or less … the so-called Bronx Bombers have been held to one run or less 18 times this season. They did it 29 times all of last year.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees wrap up this four-game series in Target Field on Sunday afternoon, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball again Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has a 5.49 ERA, which is the highest among qualified starters by one-third of a run. You and I both know that means little with this offense.
Happy Saturday everyone. It’s a surprisingly nice day outside — I thought I remembered seeing it was supposed to rain today, but I guess not — so hopefully you’re out enjoying it. If not, use this open thread to talk about whatever you like. Have at it.