DotF: Judge and Puello homer in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton (12-7 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 K — guessing he’ll have to wait until September for his next call-up
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-3, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — the Yankees have a day game tomorrow, and the fact Judge played tonight and 1B Tyler Austin didn’t is a pretty good indication Austin will be called up to replace Alex Rodriguez
  • DH Cesar Puello: 4-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
  • 1B Cito Culver: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — look at Cito out here hitting like a first baseman
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 8/3 GB/FB — 55 of 81 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 24 of 37 pitches were strikes (65%) … he gave up a dinger to old buddy John Ryan Murphy

[Read more…]

Game 115: Goodbye, Al

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

I still remember exactly where I was when I found out the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez. There aren’t many baseball moments I remember vividly, but that’s one of them. I was still in college and I was out at dinner with the girl I was dating at the time. We were at Applebee’s (classy!) and one of the televisions at the bar was on ESPN. The trade scrolled across the ticker. That’s how I found out A-Rod was a Yankee. (I’m pretty sure I’ve told that story before.)

Now, more than 12 eventful years and 1,500 games later, the A-Rod era is coming to an end. Alex will play his final game as a Yankee tonight — likely the final game of his career as well — after winning one World Series, two MVPs, and more regular season games than I care to count in pinstripes. This past calendar year is the first time Alex was something less than immensely productive as a Yankee.

This is a bittersweet day. A-Rod is one of my all-time favorite players and I’m sad to see him go. At the same time, he’s at the end of the line, and the Yankees are better off without him going forward. This goodbye had a chance to get really ugly. I wouldn’t call the last few days pleasant, but things have gone about as well as we could have hoped. Rodriguez is getting something of a grand send-off today.

The Yankees do indeed have a pre-game ceremony planned. They asked fans to be in their seats at 6:50pm ET, and tonight’s game is not scheduled to start until 7:35pm ET. I would be surprised if the Yankees announced they are retiring No. 13 — they haven’t even announced they’re retiring No. 2 yet — or giving Alex a plaque in Monument Park, but who knows. I’m sure it’ll be fun either way.

After the ceremony, the Yankees will play the first of three games against the Rays. A-Rod played his first ever game as a Yankee against the (Devil) Rays, you know. That was back in 2004, during that two-game trip to Japan. He went 1-for-4 with a double. That was a long, long time ago. Here is tonight’s Rays’ lineup and tonight’s Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    LHP CC Sabathia

The weather in New York positively sucks today. It is disgustingly hot and humid, and there’s some rain in the forecast pretty much all night. Hopefully it holds off for A-Rod’s final game the way it did for Derek Jeter‘s final game two years ago. The game will air on YES locally and FOX nationally. Enjoy.

8/12 to 8/14 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays


We’ve reached the final series of Alex Rodriguez‘s career. The final day, really. He will be in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Rays before being released and heading home to Miami. Bummer. A-Rod will be back as a special advisor/instructor next season, but this is still the end of a very complicated yet very entertaining era. The Yankees are 4-5 against Tampa Bay so far this season, by the way.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rays have been in absolute free fall since mid-June. They’ve lost four of their last six games and are 15-35 in their last 50 games. Tampa was 31-32 on June 15th. Now they’re 46-67 with a -44 run differential overall. Only the Twins (46-69) and Braves (43-72) have worst records this season. Of course, that didn’t stop the Rays from sweeping the Yankees at Tropicana Field two weeks ago. That was the series that reportedly pushed ownership to sell at the trade deadline.

Offense & Defense

The Rays aren’t in last place by accident. They’re averaging only 4.02 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+, and that’s no good. (The Yankees are at 4.12 and 88, respectively.) The Rays are without three not very good players due to injury: OF Oswaldo Arcia (elbow), OF Desmond Jennings (knee), and 1B Logan Morrison (back). Arcia (89 wRC+) might be back this weekend. The other two were just placed on the DL this week.

Kiermaier. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Kiermaier. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Skipper Kevin Cash changed up his lineup recently, albeit slightly. 2B Logan Forsythe (124 wRC+) and 3B Evan Longoria (129 wRC+) still bat first and third, respectively, but now CF Kevin Kiermaier (93 wRC+) hits second and 1B Brad Miller (119 wRC+) cleans up. Yes, Miller is a first baseman now. He’d been the shortstop up until last weekend. OF Mikie Mahtook (27 wRC+), DH Corey Dickerson (89 wRC+), and RF Steven Souza Jr. (92 wRC+) are lineup regulars as well.

The Rays added SS Matt Duffy (88 wRC+) in the Matt Moore trade with the Giants and he was activated off the DL today. He’s been out since mid-June with a heel injury. Duffy played third with the Giants but is a natural shortstop, and Tampa is moving him back to that position. C Luke Maille (19 wRC+) and C Bobby Wilson (58 wRC+) are the catchers, and IF Tim Beckham (82 wRC+) and UTIL Nick Franklin (106 wRC+) are the other bench players.

Tampa is a good club defensively and they’ll be better going forward with Duffy at short and Miller at first. Miller was a mess at short. He’s inexperienced at first, but at least he’ll do less damage there. Forsythe, Souza, and Mahtook are solid at their positions, Longoria moreso, and Kiermaier even moreso than that. The Yankees should be able to run on Maille and Wilson.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TB) vs. RHP Chris Archer (vs. NYY)
Man, what a rough year for Archer, who finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting last season. He’s had to string together four straight quality starts to get his numbers down to 4.26 ERA (3.95 FIP) in 24 starts and 143.2 innings. His strikeout (27.3%) and grounder (47.1%) numbers are very good and right in with with last year, but he’s walking more people (8.9%) and giving up way more homers (1.38 HR/9). Thanks to his very improved upper-80s changeup, the 27-year-old Archer has closed up his platoon split. He still sits in the mid-90s with his heater and his upper-80s slider is vicious. It might be the best slider in baseball, at least among right-handers. The Yankees saw Archer back in May, and he allowed four runs in eight innings.

Saturday (1:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TB) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (vs. NYY)
Andriese, 26, has moved into the rotation full-time thanks to the Moore trade. He has a 2.90 ERA (3.10 FIP) in 80.2 innings spread across ten starts and ten relief appearances this year, and he does it by limiting walks (5.6%) and homers (0.56 HR/9). His strikeout (19.4%) and grounder (46.0%) numbers are average-ish, and his platoon split has been tiny this year after being huge last year. Andriese is a low-90s fastball guy as a starter, and he also uses a mid-80s cutter. The cutter is a big pitch for him. A mid-80s changeup and low-80s curve are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees saw Andriese as a reliever late last month; he allowed one run in two innings.

Andriese. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Andriese. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Sunday (1:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY)
Odorizzi is quickly becoming one of those guys the Yankees can’t escape. He seems to start against them every time these two teams meet. So far this season the 26-year-old righty has a 3.69 ERA (4.00 FIP) in 24 starts and 136.2 innings, and his underlying numbers are a mixed bag: 22.1% strikeouts, 7.1% walks, 37.2% grounders, and 1.25 HR/9. Odorizzi’s had a reverse split throughout his career because his best pitch is a nasty mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s four-seamers. A low-80s cutter/slider is his third pitch, and he’ll also flip a few low-70s curves per start to mess with hitters. The Yankees have seen Odorizzi twice this year: two runs in seven innings in May, and 6.2 scoreless innings in July.

As for the Yankees, they need to come up with starters for Sunday and Monday thanks to Nathan Eovaldi‘s injury. Both Severino and Chad Green are lined up to start Sunday, so chances are they will start those two games in some order. I’d throw Luis Cessa into that mix too.

Bullpen Status

The Rays are carrying eight relievers these days, which many teams seem to do. That’s becoming a thing now. Here is Cash’s collection of relievers:

Closer: RHP Alex Colome (2.03 ERA/2.67 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Boxberger (3.38/5.95), LHP Xavier Cedeno (4.33/2.91)
Middle: RHP Danny Farquhar (6.28/7.74), RHP Ryan Garton (5.14/3.70), RHP Kevin Jepsen (5.12/5.12), RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3.91/4.61)
Long: RHP Dylan Floro (4.50/2.20)

Colome has had a fine season and was Tampa’s token All-Star this year. Boxberger has missed a ton of time this season with abdominal problems and is just now starting to settle in. Cedeno has left-on-left matchup guy stuff, but Cash uses him for full innings for whatever reason. Erasmo fills the Adam Warren role. I think you know what I mean.

The Rays had an off-day yesterday even though they only had to travel from Toronto to New York. Their bullpen is relatively fresh. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

Update: Yankees place Eovaldi on DL, call up Cessa, Heller, Severino


Friday: The Yankees have placed Eovaldi on the 15-day DL with a “right elbow tendon injury,” the team announced today. A tendon injury isn’t exactly good news, but it’s better than a ligament injury. Luis Severino has been called to fill the roster spot. It’s like Severino never left.

Thursday: As expected, the Yankees made a series of roster moves this afternoon. One of them was not placing Nathan Eovaldi on the DL, however. His elbow was examined in New York today, and team doctor Dr. Ahmad “recommended Eovaldi receive further evaluation and consultation, which he will do in the coming days.” That doesn’t sound good, though the fact Eovaldi was not immediately placed on the DL could mean they didn’t find anything. Who knows.

As for the roster moves, both Luis Cessa and Ben Heller were called up while Nick Goody and Rob Refsnyder were sent down. The Yankees burned through their bullpen last night after Eovaldi’s elbow injury forced him out of action after one inning. They desperately needed fresh arms. Cessa was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s available for super long relief, if necessary.

Heller, 25, is one of the prospects who came over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade. He has a 1.60 ERA (2.73 FIP) with a 29.6% strikeout rate and a 7.4% walk rate in 45 total innings this year. That’s split between Double-A and Triple-A, Indians and Yankees. Heller has a big mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a slider. He’s a pure reliever and was expected to come up reasonably soon.

It’s safe to say Eovaldi will not make his scheduled start next Monday. The Yankees did just send Luis Severino down yesterday, but once Eovaldi is placed on the DL, they’ll be able to bring Severino right back up. The ten-day rule no longer applies. My guess is that’s exactly what will happen. Chad Green is lined up to start Sunday. He’s taking Severino’s spot and Severino is taking Eovaldi’s spot. Got it?

The Yankees had one open 40-man roster spot and that is going to Heller. Cessa was already on the 40-man, so no other move is required. Heller was going to be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, so he was going to get added to the 40-man soon anyway. He’s been mentioned as a call-up candidate since the day the Yankees acquired him.

Yankeemetrics: The Not-Farewell Tour [Aug. 9-11]


Severino stumbles again
The Yankees opened their series at Fenway Park in familiar fashion — with a loss that dropped them back to .500 (56-56). This was the 17th time they’ve been exactly even in the win-loss ledger, which easily tops all MLB teams this season.

Another thing that has become commonplace for this Yankee club is mediocre starting pitching. Luis Severino returned to the rotation hoping to build on the promising work he’d done out of the bullpen the past few weeks, but instead reverted back to the same struggling pitcher he was at the beginning of season.

He was roughed up for five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings and fell to 0-7 with a 7.78 ERA as a starter this season. The last Yankee pitcher to lose his first seven decisions of the season as a starter was Doyle Alexander in 1982.

Even worse is the fact that the Yankees still haven’t won a game started by Severino in 2016. This is the first time in more 80 years that the Yankees have lost the first eight games started by any pitcher in a season. In 1934, they lost the first eight times that Russ Van Atta took the mound as a starting pitcher.

While the Yankees’ recent youth movement has been well-documented, the Red Sox also boast an enviable cavalry of young and exciting players. The latest call-up is 22-year-old Andrew Benintendi, who had a tremendous night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs scored.

The former Arkansas Razorback star is the answer to our latest #FunFact, becoming the youngest Red Sox outfielder with at least three hits against Yankees at Fenway Park since Ted Williams in 1940.

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

A Yankee legend is born
The Yankees bounced back from Tuesday’s loss with an impressive and uplifting win on Wednesday night, as they stormed back from a 4-1 deficit with eight unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings en route a stunning 9-4 victory.

The outlook for a win was grim early on when starter Nathan Eovaldi was removed after pitching one inning due to elbow discomfort. Joe Girardi was then forced to churn through seven relievers to finish off the contest. The eight pitchers used was the most ever by a Yankee team in a nine-inning game before Sept. 1 (when rosters expand).

Starlin Castro capped off the Yankees’ furious seventh inning rally with a tie-breaking, bases-loaded, two-run double for a 6-4 lead. That hit upped Castro’s batting average with the bases full to .467 (7-for-15) this season, the highest mark among players with more than 10 at-bats in that situation through Wednesday’s games.

Castro wore the hero’s cape but it was Gary Sanchez who grabbed the headlines with his spectacular 4-for-5 performance at the plate.

The 23-year-old Sanchez is the youngest Yankee with a four-hit game against the Red Sox since Derek Jeter on July 2, 1996 (in the Bronx), and the youngest Yankee to have four hits in a game at Fenway Park since Don Mattingly on June 12, 1984.

But not only did Sanchez have four hits, he also crushed his first major-league home run, a mammoth shot to center field in the eighth inning. That made him the first Yankee age 23 or younger with at least four hits and a home run in a game against the Red Sox since Mickey Mantle on May 22, 1954.

A-Rod says goodbye to Fenway
For the second night in a row, the Yankees seemed doomed for another loss before staging an improbable late-inning rally, this time winning by the final score of 4-2.

Down 2-1 in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a line drive double to left field, scoring two runs. It was the first time in pinstripes that he’s delivered a go-ahead hit with the team trailing in the eighth inning or later, and is the only Yankee to do that this season.

The good version of Michael Pineda showed up in Boston as he scattered eight hits across six innings, allowing just two runs against a potent Red Sox offense. This was his 10th start versus the Red Sox as a Yankee, and the eighth time he’s given up no more than two runs. Since his first season in pinstripes in 2014, that’s the most such starts among all major-league pitchers and twice as many as any other Yankee in that span.


A-Rod’s final cuts in Yankee road grays were hardly memorable (except for the loud booing) as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. If this is the end for A-Rod, he’ll finish his career with 59 career homers against the Red Sox, the sixth-most all-time and the most among players in the Divisional Era (since 1969). The only men ahead of him are Babe Ruth (90), Lou Gehrig (70), Mickey Mantle (69), Al Kaline (62) and Harmon Killebrew (61).

The other Rodriguez in this game, the Red Sox starter Eduardo, stifled the Yankee bats as he held them to a single run on three hits in seven innings pitched. He’s made a habit of dominating the Bronx Bombers: he hasn’t surrendered more than two runs in any of his six career starts against them.

Rodriguez is the first Red Sox pitcher in the last 100 years to have six straight starts versus the Yankees with two or fewer runs allowed in each game. The last pitcher on any team to begin his career with a streak like that against the Yankees was Dave Davenport for the St. Louis Browns in 1916.

Mailbag: Refsnyder, Minors, Teixeira, Robertson, Holder

I’ve got 14 questions for you in the mailbag this week. I also have a bunch of guest post submissions sitting in my inbox that I haven’t been able to get to yet, so if you’ve sent one in, I’m not ignoring you. I’ve just been busy this week. I hope to get to them soon. If you want to send us anything, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address to use.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Justin asks: Will the Refsnyder third base experiment get revisited a little bit down the stretch?

Maybe if there’s an injury, otherwise I don’t think so. Rob Refsnyder has played one inning at third base in the big leagues, and that was during an interleague game in an NL park. He was double-switched out one inning later. Chase Headley has gotten three days off since the All-Star break and Ronald Torres was at third base all three times. If the Yankees didn’t use Refsnyder at third then, I’m not sure when they will. They don’t seem comfortable with him at the hot corner at all, and to be fair, he is still very new to the position. We might see him at third in September, but I would bet against it becoming a regular thing.

David asks: At what point does a player (who has been called up) lose prospect status? If Sanchez and Judge lose prospect status in 2016, how well does the Yankees’ system rank among MLB teams overall? Still Top 5? Top 15?

MLB’s rookie limits are 130 at-bats for position players and 50 innings for pitchers, and 45 days of service time outside September for all players. Once you reach one of those limits, you are no longer technically a rookie. When it comes to prospect status, most places just stick with 130 at-bats or 50 innings. Service time is too much of a hassle to track.

Based on how much he’s played the last week, Gary Sanchez should clear 130 at-bats this season. Whoever gets called up to replace Alex Rodriguez on Saturday, either Aaron Judge or Tyler Austin, figures to lose rookie eligibility as well if they do indeed play regularly. If, say, both Sanchez and Judge lose prospect status down the stretch, the Yankees would still have a top ten farm system in my opinion, if not top five. They’d still have four legit top 100 guys in the system in Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, and Justus Sheffield. Maybe James Kaprielian too.

As long as the Yankees are losing prospects for good reasons (graduated to MLB) and not bad reasons (injury, poor performance), then I couldn’t care less about the farm system dropping in the rankings. Give me the talent in the big leagues. That’s the whole point of acquiring prospects and building a strong system. To improve the MLB team.

Stephen asks: Now that Teixeira is retiring, I thought it would be a good time to compare Teixeira and Giambi’s Yankee careers. The easy answer would be to say that Tex had the better career because 1) they won a world series and 2) he could play defense…but looking at the numbers quickly, it is somewhat surprising to see Giambi seemed to have outshined Tex by more than a little bit offensively. Thoughts?

Jason Giambi has better offensive numbers for sure. I think Mark Teixeira has been the better all-around player. Here’s the side-by-side comparison of their careers in pinstripes:

Teixeira 923 3,981 .249/.344/.480 120 201 606 11.6 18.1 20.8 18.3
Giambi 897 3,693 .260/.404/.521 145 209 604 16.8 19.1 22.0 21.8

Both versions of WAR say Giambi was the more valuable player (in fewer games), though WAR doesn’t handle first base defense well. I think it sells Teixeira well short in the field, and it probably overrates Giambi a bit too. Giambi was a way better hitter than Teixeira, but he gave a ton of value back in the field. Teixeira has been comfortably above-average on both sides of the ball. Bottom line: they were both very productive in pinstripes.

Noah asks: David Robertson has been gone for a couple of years now and the no runs DMC era is over. I think many people forget how dominant Robertson was for the Yankees (especially in 2011) because of how good Betances, Miller, and Chapman have been. Where do they stand when compared to each other? Is Robertson’s 2011 still better than Betances or Millers’ 2015?

That 2011 season was Robertson’s big breakout season and the best season of his career. He’s had plenty of excellent seasons since, but that was his absolute peak. Here’s how 2011 Robertson compares to last year’s version of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller:

2011 Robertson 66.2 1.08 1.84 1.13 36.8 12.9 46.3 0.14 4.0 2.6
2015 Betances 84 1.50 2.48 1.01 39.5 12.1 47.7 0.64 3.7 2.4
2015 Miller 61.2 2.04 2.16 0.86 40.7 8.1 48.3 0.73 2.2 2.0

I don’t think you can say one of those three is clearly better than the other two. I’m not a big believer in reliever WAR — I think it drastically understates their value, especially high-leverage relievers like these three — and if I had to pick one, I think I’d go with 2015 Betances because of the sheer number of innings. He threw roughly 20 (20!) more innings than the other two guys. Either way, all three were awesome. The Yankees have had some truly remarkable relief seasons in recent years. We’ve been spoiled as fans.

Bob asks: Please tell us more about Abiatel Avelino who, considering his age, has had a pretty good year in Tampa and has held his own in Trenton so far. Is he a good prospect?

Avelino, 21, was bumped up to Double-A Trenton a week or two ago, and he’s hitting .269/.336/.379 (110 wRC+) with 22 doubles, six homers, 21 steals in 35 attempts (60%), an 8.1% walk rate, and a 16.0% strikeout rate in 105 games between High-A and Double-A this season. I’ve had him on my top 30 list a few times (including this year) and he’s basically a slap hitter with speed and good defense at short. Avelino has always been billed as a guy with great baseball instincts whose whole is greater than the sum of the parts. He’s a decent prospect who probably fits best in a utility role.

Joseph asks: If the White Sox place Robertson on waivers, do you think the Yankees will claim him like they did last year? If so, Do they work out a trade, do the White Sox just assign him to the Yankees or neither?

Not including his partial rookie season in 2008, Robertson is currently having the worst year of his career, pitching to a 4.18 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 47.1 innings. He’s had some really high profile meltdowns too. For example:

Yeah, that’s bad. Robertson is owed the remainder of his $11M salary this season, plus $12M next season and another $13M the season after that. He’s not cheap by reliever standards. Robertson is worth a deeper look outside a mailbag setting because I’m not sure what exactly the problem is. Given the money owed and the fact there are some signs of decline, I’d steer clear. I don’t think the White Sox would just give Robertson away, but I wouldn’t risk a claim either.

Bryan asks: Will Gardner gain 10 and 5 rights at the end of this season? I’ve seen people say both yes and no. I’d think that if he doesn’t gain them, he would almost be a must-move for the offseason with the amount of talent we have coming up in the OF and the logjam created between him and Ellsbury. Then, if we were to trade him, what kind of package do you think he could bring back?

No on the 10-and-5 rights. It’s ten years of continuous service, and Brett Gardner wasn’t up for good until August 2008. He won’t get 10-and-5 rights until August 2018. There is no no-trade clause in Gardner’s contract, not even a partial one, but he gets a $1M bonus if traded. That’s better than nothing, I guess.

I think the Yankees are going to end up trading Gardner this offseason to help clear up their outfield logjam. I’m sure they’d prefer to trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but that’s not happening, so Gardner it is. Sucks. Gardner will be two years away from free agency after the season, and when Dexter Fowler was traded two years prior to free agency (Rockies to Astros), he fetched an MLB ready mid-range pitching prospect (Jordan Lyles) and an MLB ready platoon outfielder (Brandon Barnes). I guess that’s a good template for a Gardner trade?

Anonymous asks: RA Dickey has thrown 200+ innings in 5 straight seasons. HR rate isn’t ideal for the Bronx, but he’s a dependable innings eater. What about signing RA Dickey to a 1-2 year deal in the offseason as a back end option?

If the Yankees plan to try to contend next year, then I say no, aim higher. Dickey is 41 and he’s having his worst season since before he joined the Mets (4.61 ERA and 5.27 FIP), so I’m not sure what he offers a contending team at this point other than veteran presents. (I hear he gives good veteran presents.) If the Yankees are willing to focus on player development and aren’t so concerned with winning in 2017, Dickey could make sense as an innings guy. Someone has to pitch, right? He’s someone you can count on for 180+ innings and to start every fifth day, no questions asked.

Mark asks: Probably already asked a million times, but with ARod retiring how does his remaining contract count against next years luxury tax? Is he not essentially a $20M+ advisor? I’m sure I’m missing something obvious. Thanks for all the great work you guys do.

Nothing changes as far as the luxury tax is concerned. The Yankees will still be hit with a $27.5M luxury tax hit next season — luxury tax hits are based on the average annual value of the total contract (ten years, $275M), not actual salary ($20M in 2017) — even though A-Rod is being released after tonight’s game. When you release a player, it’s like he’s still on your roster for payroll purposes. It doesn’t matter that he’s staying on as an advisor. And if another team signs A-Rod, the Yankees can subtract the pro-rated portion of the league minimum from the $27.5M. That’s the only break they’ll get. The Yankees are fully aware of this and are willing to accept it, obviously.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Jason asks: Not sure if you’ve mentioned this before, but if the Yankees do for whatever reason decide to sign Chapman in the offseason, would they surrender a draft pick because he was traded (from them, if that matters) during the season? Would this also apply to Melancon?

Players have to spent the entire season with the same team to be eligible for the qualifying offer, so since Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon were traded at the deadline, they will not be attached to draft pick compensation. Those two plus Kenley Jansen will be the three big free agent relievers after the season. I’d prefer Jansen myself, though he’s going to cost a first round pick, and that kinda sucks. As good as he’s been, Melancon’s velocity is down and he’s not getting nearly as many grounders as in the past, so he’s probably at the bottom of my target list. I’m already preparing myself for the Yankees to re-sign Chapman. It feels inevitable at this point.

Hunter asks: What happens to Alex’s number 13 after Friday? Held for retirement, immediately back in circulation, or given the Paul O’Neill treatment?

Good question! I have no idea whatsoever. I could totally see the Yankees putting it right back in circulation — they gave out No. 46 the Spring Training after Andy Pettitte lefty for the Astros as a free agent — and I could also see them retiring it at some point. Nothing would surprise me. The Yankees still have not retired No. 2, you know. That will happen soon. If they do retire No. 13, it’ll probably be in a few years. Now watch Ronald Torreyes show up to camp wearing No. 13 next spring.

R.J. asks: Hey Mike, can you explain what are the area code games and how the players are selected to play for the teams they play for? Thanks

The Area Code Games are one of the major high school showcase events each year. They’re actually going on right now. There are eight teams that draw players from different regions of the country, and the eight teams are named after MLB franchises.

  • Chicago White Sox: Midwest
  • Cincinnati Reds: Four Corners and Hawaii
  • Kansas City Royals: Pacific Northwest
  • Milwaukee Brewers: Southern California
  • New York Yankees: Northeast
  • Oakland Athletics: Northern California
  • Texas Rangers: Texas and Louisiana
  • Washington Nationals: Southeast

The Area Code Games teams are just named after MLB franchises. There’s no affiliation. The kids aren’t Yankees prospects. They’re not coached by Yankees coaches, nothing like that. It’s just the team name. The Area Codes Games are why there are photos of Mike Trout in a Yankees hat and Bryce Harper in a Reds hat floating around the internet:


As far as I know most players are invited to the Area Code Games, especially in the traditional baseball hotbeds, but there are open tryouts as well. The games are played at Long Beach State’s Blair Field in August each year, and it gives the kids a chance to strut their stuff against other elite high school players in front of hundreds of scouts. The Area Code Games are the first big scouting event of the draft season.

Craig asks: Jonathan Holder. I confess I never heard of him (notwithstanding some passing references in RAB) until I read the Fangraphs piece on Grant Dayton of the Dodgers today.  But Holder’s numbers this year in AA and AAA are pretty mind-boggling.  In the mix for 2017?

Mind-boggling is a good way to describe Holder’s numbers: 1.86 ERA (1.49 FIP) with a 39.4% strikeout rate and a 3.4% walk rate in 53.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He was the team’s sixth round pick in 2014 — Holder was the closer at Mississippi State and Jacob Lindgren was the setup man/fireman — and the Yankees tried Holder as a starter last season. He performed well (2.52 ERA and 2.85 FIP in 118 innings), though I guess the team didn’t like what they saw, because they stuck him back in the bullpen this year.

Holder is a low-to-mid-90s fastball/curveball pitcher and I don’t think he’s a future closer or anything like that. I know the numbers are great, but trust me, there are hundreds of relievers putting up silly numbers in the minors. Holder is more of a middle reliever type, someone who rides the shuttle a la Nick Goody and Branden Pinder. One of those guys. Of course, I said the same thing about Robertson back in the day, then he jumped two grades of command overnight, so who knows.

Max asks: Given that Tex announced his retirement today; it makes me wonder. How much longer are you gonna keep this site going, Do you see it as a lifelong thing? Do you think baseball will even be here in 40 years?

I can promise you right now this won’t be a lifelong thing. RAB’s tenth anniversary is in February and I can’t see going another ten years. Ben, Joe, and I started the site when we were all in college because we wanted to write about baseball. Now we’re all in our 30s and, ugh, responsible adults. Priorities have changed. The best answer I can give is saying I’m taking it year-to-year at this point. It has nothing to do with the state of the Yankees. It’s all about me and whether I want to continue doing it.