Yankees, A-Rod call press conference for 11am ET Sunday

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez will hold a press conference at 11am ET tomorrow, the team has announced. A-Rod, Brian Cashman, and Joe Girardi will be in attendance. No reason for the press conference was given, so feel free to speculate. The press conference will be broadcast on YES.

The way I see it, there are four possible reasons for the press conference. Well, there are countless possible reasons, but these are the big four:

  1. A-Rod is retiring, effective immediately. Seems really unlikely.
  2. A-Rod is retiring, effective at the end of the season. Possible!
  3. The Yankees are releasing A-Rod.
  4. The Yankees and A-Rod have agreed to some sort of “mutual parting of ways” that involves a buyout.

My official guess: A-Rod will announce he is retiring at the end if the season.

The fact A-Rod, Cashman, and Girardi will be at the press conference suggest that, whatever it is, it’s amicable. I have a hard time thinking Alex would be a willing attendant if the team did decide to release him.

Whatever it is, I just hope we get to see one more gentleman’s bat flip before it’s all over.

Alex Rodriguez bat flip

What a weird, weird season in Yankeeland.

Yankees have no answer for Kluber in 5-2 loss to Indians

Source: FanGraphs
The Yankees have been alternating wins and losses since the trade deadline, and that pattern continued Saturday. They dropped the middle game to the Indians by the score of 5-2. It’s Saturday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Long Leash: I, for one, am surprised letting CC Sabathia face the middle of the lineup a third time did not work out. Mike Napoli smacked a homer in the sixth to give the Indians a 3-2 lead. It’s the fourth time in the last five starts Sabathia was left in long enough to allow extra runs without completing the inning. Like I said earlier, he’s not the same pitcher after 75 pitches or so, and at some point Joe Girardi needs to change the way he manages Sabathia’s starts. CC allowed three runs on six hits (two homers) and four walks in innings. He fanned five.
  • Two Token Runs: The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Gary Sanchez muscled a two-strike pitch into the left-center field gap, scoring Starlin Castro all the way from first. Hooray for youthful bat speed. The Yankees scored their second run on a wild pitch. It looked like a slider slipped out of Kluber’s hand and sailed way inside on Ronald Torreyes, far enough that catcher Roberto Perez couldn’t reel it in. And that was the extent of the offense.
  • The Late Innings: Only three of the final 21 Yankees to bat reached base. Two of them were Brett Gardner, who drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. He then got doubled off first base because he misread Jacoby Ellsbury‘s fly ball and went first-to-third. Yuck. The Indians tacked on insurance runs in the seventh and ninth. Dellin Betances, who hadn’t pitched since Monday and needed the work, got the last two outs of the ninth.
  • Leftovers: Gardner and Aaron Hicks each had two hits. Sanchez and Castro had the team’s other two hits. Gardner drew the only walk … the 2-3-4 hitters went a combined 0-for-12 with four strikeouts … the Yankees have allowed at least one homer in 12 straight games now, tied for their second longest streak this century. The longest? A 14-gamer back in May. New York’s pitchers have a 1.36 HR/9 in 2016, fifth worst in MLB. Their starters have a 1.49 HR/9, fourth worst.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees and Indians will play the rubber game of this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s another 1pm ET start. Hooray for that. Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Carrasco are the scheduled starters. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that one live.

Saturday Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing tonight, FOX Sports 1 is showing the Red Sox and Dodgers this afternoon, and MLB Network is showing regional games later tonight. The Olympics are on too, so that’s cool. Talk about any of that stuff right here.

Game 110: CC Sabathia’s Short Leash

One of these guys actually gets to play once every five days. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
One of these guys actually gets to play once every five days. (Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will play the middle game of their three-game series this afternoon, and on the mound are two pitchers who won the Cy Young award with Cleveland: CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber. Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in baseball while Sabathia is in the middle of a nice bounceback season (4.15 ERA and 4.20 FIP). CC hasn’t been great, but he’s been much better than I expected.

The key to Sabathia’s effectiveness is a short leash. Opponents are hitting .303/.372/.495 against CC after pitch No. 75, and we’ve seen Joe Girardi leave Sabathia in a little too long in recent starts. He allowed two runs in five innings against the Mets last time out, then gave up three runs in the sixth. He allowed two runs in six innings against the Orioles two starts before that, then allowed two more in the seventh. The start before that Sabathia allowed two runs in five innings against the Red Sox, then allowed three runs in the sixth.

Girardi had a short leash with Sabathia last season, or at least a shorter leash, but this year he seems to be trying to squeeze that extra inning out of him more often than not. For most of Sabathia’s career, he was up to the task. Not anymore. Girardi should be on high alert once Sabathia gets to 80 pitches or so, especially in close games. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. C Gary Sanchezday game after a night game? let’s get weird
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s hot and humid in New York today, and the forecast says there’s rain on the way a little later this afternoon. Hopefully it holds off long enough for them to play nine innings. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Update: Johnny Barbato has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton and Chasen Shreve has been called up, the Yankees announced. Barbato did not retire any of the four batters he faced with a seven-run lead last night. That’ll do it.

Saturday Links: Chapman, Beltran, Best Tools, A-Rod

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their three-game series later this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Chapman, Beltran open to re-signing with Yankees

After being traded last week, impending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran told reporters they would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “I would love to come back again,” said Chapman to Mark Feinsand while Beltran simply told Jared Diamond he would “gladly” return to the Yankees if the opportunity presents itself.

As good as he has been this year, I don’t love the idea of bringing Beltran back next season, even on a cheap-ish one-year deal to DH. There are lots of young position players in Triple-A Scranton waiting for an opportunity. Chapman’s a different story because he’s still right smack in the prime of his career, and there’s always room for another high-end reliever in the bullpen.

I feel like it’s inevitable the Yankees will sign a top reliever this offseason, and I’d prefer Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to Chapman. I just have no interest in rooting for the guy following the domestic violence stuff. You’re welcome to feel differently. Anyway, it’s no surprise Chapman and Beltran are open to coming back. Why would any impending free agent rule out the Yankees?

Baseball America’s best tools survey

One of my favorite features each season is Baseball America’s best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches about the players in their leagues, then put all the results together. Here are the Yankees at each level. The links go to each article and they’re not behind the paywall.

Chapman (best fastball) and Andrew Miller (best slider, second best reliever) both made appearances in the survey as well. Sanchez being voted as the best defensive catcher in the International League is pretty darn interesting. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s made a lot of improvement, or because it’s just a weak year for IL catchers. I choose to believe the former. Go Gary!

No plans to release A-Rod

To the surprise of no one, Brian Cashman said the Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez during a recent radio interview (via George King). If the Yankees had any plans to release A-Rod, I think they would have done so already. Here’s what Cashman said:

“It’s not an easy circumstance, but there are no plans right now to do anything but give some reps to other people and see where it takes us, and if matchups or injuries hit, you might see him back out there,’’ Cashman told ESPN Radio. “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on … There’s a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as [recently] as last year. Now, he’s being put in a position where sporadic play to try to get it going makes it more difficult. It’s fair to ask why and it’s fair to understand why it’s not a quick, rash decision, especially with September around the corner.”

Rosters expand in three weeks and five days, and I expect the Yankees to just ride this out with Rodriguez until then. They could release him in the offseason, but right now my guess is they hang on to him through the winter, then evaluate him in Spring Training. If he hits, they can give him a shot. If he stinks, they’ll cut him loose. And if he gets hurt, they’ll collect insurance on his contract.

Castro’s grand slam leads Yanks to 13-7 win over Indians

The Indians have been one of the best teams in all of baseball this season, so, naturally, the Yankees have beaten them four times in five tries. Go figure. The Yankees took Friday night’s series opener 13-7 at Yankee Stadium. That was an enjoyable game. Would watch again.

Eyes on the ball, Starlin. (Presswire)
Keep your eye on the ball, Starlin. (Presswire)

Score Early, Score Often
It had been a long time since the Yankees had a game like this, where they come out and score a bunch of runs early to take all the stress out of the game. They scored a first inning run for only the second time in their last ten games, and they scored the first two runs of the game for the first time since July 24th, the final game of the Giants series. It’s been that long since the Yankees took a 2-0 lead in a game. Gosh.

The Yankees scored their first inning run thanks largely to the suddenly retiring Mark Teixeira, who whacked a double to put runners on second and third with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury had singled earlier in the inning. Brian McCann got the run in with a ground ball for a quick 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 until the third inning, when the Yankees really broke things open against Josh Tomlin.

Ellsbury and Teixeira started the rally this time as well, as they strung together a double and an infield single. Ellsbury with a double and Teixeira with an infield single rather than the other way around? Mass hysteria. Dogs and cats, living together. The infield single was a ground ball into the shift that the second base/short right field guy had to range too far to his right to corral. Teixeira beat it out without a throw.

McCann cashed the run in again, this time with a line drive double into the right-center field gap. Most players would have scored from first on that play, but not Teixeira. Not with his balky knee. The Indians followed that by intentionally walking Chase Headley, and Starlin Castro made them pay with his first career grand slam. It was an opposite field job a row or two back in right-center. Just like that, the Yankees were up 6-0 in the third.


Pineda’s One Big Mistake
The Yankees finally gave Michael Pineda some run support and they picked a good night to do it. He started the game pretty well and kept the Indians off the board until the fifth inning, when a single and a double give Cleveland runners at second and third with two outs. Rather than limit the damage, Pineda threw one of his trademark two-out, two-strike, hanging sliders. Sigh.

Light-hitting catcher Chris Gimenez — he came into the game hitting .198/.234/.267 (32 wRC+) — sent that hanging slider into the left field seats for a three-run home run. SIGH. That cut the lead to 6-3. Pineda allowed a fourth run later in the game and he wasn’t even on the mound for that one; the bullpen let an inherited runner score. He finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and one walk in six innings. Pineda struck out six. The quintessential Pineda outing, this was.

Tack On Runs
Gimenez’s three-run home run really stunk and it made it seem like the late innings would be tight. Instead, the offense went back to work. First, Gary Sanchez hammered a run-scoring double over the center fielder’s head in the fifth, then, in the sixth, Headley drove in a run with a single and Sanchez drew a bases loaded walk to give the Yankees a 9-3 lead. Indians southpaw Shawn Morimando walked four batters in that sixth inning, and it took a tremendous play by third baseman Jose Ramirez on a weakly hit Rob Refsnyder grounder to get out of the jam.

The Yankees scored two more runs in the seventh inning to stretch the lead to 11-3. Aaron Hicks socked a solo homer and Brett Gardner scored when the Indians outfield let Ellsbury’s routine fly ball drop in. They scored that a hit, but come on. It was a routine fly ball that should have been caught, but wasn’t due to miscommunication. That’s Anyway, Gardner tripled earlier in the inning to set that up. He singled in another two runs in the eighth. Tack on runs are great. The Yankees took an early big lead and they kept adding to it. We haven’t seen nearly enough of that this season.

Gary The Great
This was Sanchez’s fourth career start overall and his first start behind the plate, which is kind of a big deal. I thought his receiving was solid and he made one really nice block on a Pineda slider on the dirt. It was textbook. He dropped to his knees and kept the ball in front of him with a man on base. Perfect. Sanchez also threw not one, but two runners out. Here’s the first:

Gary Sanchez throw

Look at that throw. Just perfect. Right on the money. We’ve been hearing about Sanchez’s rocket arm for years now — MLB.com gives him a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale — and he showed it off Friday night. Twice.

Is Sanchez going to be Yadier Molina back there? Nope. But based on these nine innings, he looks like an adequate big league catcher. I didn’t notice any glaring deficiencies — he wasn’t stabbing at the ball or anything like that — and that’s good. It’s good when you don’t notice a catcher. Nice night for Gary behind dish. I’m looking forward to seeing more.

Johnny Barbato made a nice mess of things in the eighth inning by allowing all four batters he faced to reach base. Not good, Johnny. Adam Warren had to bail him out. Three runs scored in the inning to trim the lead from 11-4 to 11-7. Not the end of the world. Just annoying. Richard Bleier, Tyler Clippard, and Nick Goody all pitched as well. Five relievers in a game the Yankees scored 13 runs. Blah.

Every single starter had a hit. In fact, every starter reached base multiple times. Ellsbury led the way with four hits while Castro had two hits and two walks. The Yankees had 16 hits and drew eight walks against only four strikeouts. Those eight walks are a season high. Pretty great night for the offense. They scored in six of eight offensive innings and never once went 1-2-3.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Indians will play game two of this three-game series Saturday afternoon … hopefully. The forecast isn’t looking too great at the moment. We’ll see. CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber, a pair of former Cy Young award winners with the Indians, will be on the mound. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for either of the two games left on the homestand.

DotF: Sheffield debuts, Torres goes deep in Tampa’s win

Steve Givarz of Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d) posted a ton of Gulf Coast League scouting reports earlier today. These are guys we never hear anything about, including RHP Juan Escorcia, who was a member of the 2014-15 international haul. Check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB — 8-for-16 in his last four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — first extra-base hit since the trade
  • DH Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
  • 1B Ike Davis: 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 K — his 14-game Triple-A hitting streak is over
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB — 74 of 101 pitches were strikes (73%) … one short of tying his career high in strikeouts
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]