Saturday Links: Judge, Home Run Derby, Players Weekend


This nightmare of a West Coast trip continues this afternoon with the third of four games against the Athletics. I look forward to seeing what creative way the bullpen lets a late lead slip away in this one. Anyway, here are some random bits of news and notes to check out while you wait for the game.

Judge not yet invited to Home Run Derby

In about three weeks, MLB will officially announce this year’s Home Run Derby contestants. Aaron Judge, who leads MLB with 23 homers, has not yet received an invite, he recently told Brendan Kuty. “I haven’t even thought about it. I’ll wait to the day (I’m invited), I guess,” he said. Here’s what Joe Girardi told George King about Judge and the Home Run Derby:

“From watching BP, I have a better idea. Some guys don’t have the power to all fields like Aaron Judge has,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Angels in 11 innings on Tuesday night. “When you watch his BP, there are a lot of homers going to right and lot of homers going to center. Sometimes you worry about them doing something they don’t do during the course of a game. To me it would just be a normal BP.’’

As I said a few weeks ago, I am 100% on board with Judge participating in the Home Run Derby, and it would be a great thing for MLB and the Yankees. People can’t take their eyes off this guy. He’s someone you want front and center in one of the game’s biggest events. I couldn’t be any less worried about some sort of Home Run Derby hangover effect either. You see how this guy makes adjustments? Put Judge in the Home Run Derby.

MLB will have a “Players Weekend” in August

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to hold a “Players Weekend” from August 25th to 27th in which uniform rules will be relaxed. Players will be allowed to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys, wear bright cleats, and put a personalized patch on their jersey. The jerseys will be sold afterwards with proceeds going to the league’s Youth Development Foundation.

Gimmicky? Sure. Harmless? Yep. Will the Yankees allow players to put a nickname on their back of their jersey? I mean, this was negotiated by MLB and MLBPA. I don’t think teams will be able to refuse it. Imagine Michael Pineda on the mound with a BIG MIKE jersey, or Gary Sanchez with KRAKEN. We might see it! Could be cool. The Yankees will be home to play Robinson Cano and the Mariners that weekend, by the way.

Judge has top selling MLB jersey

Speaking of jerseys, Judge now has the No. 1 selling jersey in baseball, according to Josh Kosman. A few weeks ago MLB announced Kris Bryant had the top selling jersey — followed by a whole lot of Cubs — with Judge nowhere to be found in the top 20. (Sanchez was ninth overall and the best selling AL player.) Judge has since smashed a bunch of dingers and jumped to the top of the jersey sales rankings. Pretty awesome.

Also, Kosman says the Yankees will soon start selling souvenir white wigs with Judge’s name at Yankee Stadium. Between that and The Judge’s Chambers out in right field, the team is marketing the hell out of him. As they should! Judge is everything you could want in a franchise player, right? He’s great on the field and humble off it. He represents the Yankees and MLB well. They should be slapping this guy on every billboard possible.

Yankees losing streak hits four after falling 7-6 to Athletics

(Thearon Henderson/Getty Images)
(Thearon Henderson/Getty Images)

The West Coast road trip from hell continues. The Yankees losing streak hit 4 tonight with another close loss. It is their second consecutive loss decided by one run and their third in the last four game. The formula here, again, was simple: the offense fought back to make it a game that seemed winnable, but the bullpen failed to hold on. Pretty annoying! Without two of their best bullpen arms unavailable as of late (Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman) and Dellin Betances not an option tonight, the Yankees had to rely on the other guys to hold out and, of course, they failed. The AL East lead has decreased to one (1) game after the Red Sox beat the Astros tonight. Not good again! It’s Friday night so let’s do it bullet-style.

  • Falling behind: As you know the Yankees have not had the finest past three games and it seemed like the things were going to get worse when Luis Severino allowed four runs in the second inning. Remember, the Yankees had a Spring Training squad lineup for this and their bullpen is very, very limited (Jonathan Holder was the 8th inning guy, for chrissakes) so Severino doing well today was pretty vital. Here is the sequence of events that happened:yankees-vs-athletics-pbp
    None of the hits were cheapies in this one. Severino’s command was off and the A’s hitters punished him accordingly. The 2016 Severino showed up only for this inning. Fortunately, this was the only inning in which he really stunk. He had an overall 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K night – it’s not the best but really not bad considering the second inning. He bounced back nicely and managed to give the bullpen less inning to work with than we had feared.
  • All Rise: The Yankees made it a game again immediately. In the top of the third, two Yankees reached on infield singles (Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder) and Aaron Judge delivered the big blow with his 23rd HR of the year. 4-3 A’s. It wasn’t hit particularly hard but still traveled beyond the right field fence for an opposite-field HR. Ho-hum. This guy is good. Judge had a 2-for-3 night with two walks, bringing his season line up to .339/.447/.713. Judge’s insane rookie season continues.
  • Getting ahead: The Yankees tied it up in the fifth inning. With one out, Torreyes hit a deep double and Mason Williams followed it up with an RBI single to make it 4-4. The bats eventually loaded the bases with Judge and Matt Holliday walks, but they did not score more in that frame. No worries, Chris Carter to the rescue. The first baseman led off the sixth inning with a solo homer to break the tie, 5-4 Yankees. The bats added on another in the top of the seventh. With one out, Judge hit a triple to the deep center and Starlin Castro drove him in with a single up the middle. Optimism!
  • Bullpen fail: A 6-4 lead would be much more secure with a regular bullpen routine of Betances – Chapman but we are talking about putting middle-leverage guys into high-leverage situations. With Severino out of the game, Girardi put in Chasen Shreve as the 7th inning guy. After striking out Matt Chapman, Shreve walked pinch-hitting Rajai Davis and allowed a single to Matt Joyce to put the runners on the corners. Chad Pinder hit a sac fly to make the score 6-5 Yankees. Things would get worse when Jonathan Holder (!) was summoned out of the bullpen as the 8th inning guy. With one out, Yonder Alonso walked and Ryon Healy hit a deep double to center to make it two runners on scoring position. The Yankee bench intentionally walk Stephen Vogt to load the bases and have Holder face the rookie Matt Chapman. After getting ahead on a 0-2 count, Holder threw a curveball that should’ve been buried on the ground but hung up just enough for Chapman to hit his first ML hit for a 2-RBI single. 7-6 A’s. Welp. That’s how the score stayed for good and Yankees lost 4 in a row.

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees still have two games left to go on this road trip. They have a 4 pm EST game tomorrow in Oakland. Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound against Jesse Hahn. Hold on tight, folks. We are not out of it yet.

Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Chapman makes rehab appearance in Trenton’s win

Got some roster moves and notes to pass along:

  • LHP Tommy Layne has accepted his outright assignment and reported to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. I guess he couldn’t find another team willing to plug him right into their MLB bullpen, so he didn’t elect free agency.
  • C Wilkin Castillo and OF Jake Cave have been moved up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. They replace C Kyle Higashioka and OF Mason Williams, who were called up to the Yankees.
  • RHP Zack Littell placed tenth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He made two starts last week and threw 13 scoreless innings with three hits and four walks. Littell struck out 16.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Buffalo)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — his hitting streak has reached 15 games
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 3 K
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K — 12 homers in 60 games this year … he hit 16 in 119 games last year
  • SS Gleyber Torres: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 17-for-43 (.395) in his last eleven games … he’s now up to .304/.404/.443 in 22 Triple-A games, which is pretty nuts for a 20-year-old kid
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 Balk, 6/2 GB/FB — 62 of 104 pitches were strikes (60%) … a few too many walk, but pretty great overall for a guy who had never pitched above High-A as recently as five weeks ago
  • LHP Tommy Layne: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 17 of 27 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — six pitches, three strikes

[Read more…]

Game 65: Make it out in one piece


Unfortunately, there are still three games to play on the road trip. It’s been a disaster. Losing games is one thing. That happens. Losing games and losing players — key players — to injury? No. No no no. Enough of that. Hopefully the Yankees can get through this game in one piece. That would be nice.

Anyway, the Yankees are trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak of the season tonight. The Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Dodgers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks. The only teams in baseball who have yet to lose four straight at some point this year. That’s a good list. I want the Yankees to stay on that list. Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Rob Refsnyder
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 1B Chris Carter
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C Austin Romine
  8. SS Ronald Torreyes
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Luis Severino

The rest of the Yankees are in Clearwater for today’s other split squad game. As for the weather, it’s clear and windy again in Oakland. Same weather as last night, basically. Tonight’s game will start at 9:35pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Adam Warren has been placed on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, the Yankees announced. Brian Cashman said it’s not serious, though Warren needs a break … Aaron Hicks (Achilles) and Gary Sanchez (abductor) are day-to-day, which is good news … Greg Bird (ankle) is going to see a specialist. His knee is fine. They shut down his rehab because of the ankle. An MRI and a CT scan came back negative … Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius are fine. Just an off-day against a tough lefty.

Roster Moves: Obviously Williams is with the Yankees now. He and Kyle Higashioka were called up. Gio Gallegos was sent down to clear a roster spot. Seems like the Yankees are just trying to get through the weekend, then they’ll get everything straightened out after the off-day Monday.

Friday Night Open Thread

Tonight’s game is the final night game of the West Coast trip. Thank goodness for that. What a disaster this trip has been. Losing games is one thing. Losing players too? Yuck. Just forfeit the rest of the series and take a long weekend back home in New York. How’s that sound?

Anyway, here is an open thread until the regular game thread comes along. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will have a regional game later on. Talk about that stuff or anything else.

2017 Draft: Yankees sign third rounder Trevor Stephan to over-slot bonus


June 20th: says Stephan signed for $797,500, not $800,000. Jim Callis says the standard contract for draftees includes $2,500 in bonuses so easily reachable that teams were counting it as part of the player’s bonus. Now they’ve stopped. The player still gets the $2,500 bonus, but it doesn’t count against the bonus pool. Huh.

June 16th: According to Jim Callis, the Yankees have signed Arkansas RHP Trevor Stephan, their third round pick in this week’s amateur draft, to an over-slot $800,000 bonus. Slot money for the 92nd overall pick is $588,700. You can keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our Draft Pool Tracker.

Stephan, 21, had a 2.87 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 20 walks in 16 starts and 91 innings for the Razorbacks this spring. ranked him as a 87th best prospect in the draft class. Here’s a snippet of their scouting report:

He touched 97 mph in the fall and has sat at 90-95 this spring, using his deceptive crossfire delivery to create running life. He commands his fastball well to both sides of the plate … He has scrapped a soft curveball in favor of a slider/cutter that shows flashes of becoming an average pitch, and he rarely uses a changeup that’s even less advanced. His delivery and arm action may not be conducive to starting every fifth day in pro ball, where he’s likely to become a reliever who relies heavily on his fastball.

Once the signing is complete, I imagine Stephan will join Short Season Staten Island to begin his pro career. Their season begins Monday. Here is some video of Stephan in action:

In addition to the usual bonus pool saving college senior picks in rounds 8-10, the Yankees are also expected to save some cash with first round pick South Carolina RHP Clarke Schmidt, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and doesn’t have much leverage. Most of those savings figure to be funneled to second rounder California HS RHP Matt Sauer, however.

The bullpen might need more help than Aroldis Chapman

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

Later tonight, assuming the weather cooperates, Aroldis Chapman is scheduled to make a minor league rehab appearance with Double-A Trenton. He was supposed to pitch in a rehab game with High-A Tampa earlier this week, but that was rained out, meaning Chapman had to throw another simulated game to get his work in. The weather isn’t being very helpful right now.

The master plan, according to Joe Girardi and the Yankees, is to activate Chapman off the disabled list Sunday as long as his rehab game goes well. It seems kinda weird to have Chapman fly from Tampa to Oakland only to be available for one game, and then fly all the way back to New York, but whatever. When healthy, Aroldis is pretty great, and the more games he’s available, the better.

Chapman’s return will push Dellin Betances, who was been marginalized as the closer the last few weeks, back into a setup role. Thank goodness. Too many games have slipped away in the seventh and eighth innings with Betances watching from the bullpen this past week. Getting Chapman back is no doubt going to be a huge help. Will he alone be enough help though? It’s starting to look like the answer is no.

Tyler Clippard‘s recent struggles are becoming too severe to ignore. I don’t think anyone wants to see him in a high-leverage spot at this point, and given the quick hook last night, it seems like Girardi is beginning to lose confidence in him too. Adam Warren has a trap issue and is banged up. Jonathan Holder is having a nice little rookie season, though I don’t think anyone like the idea of him being the third option behind Betances and Chapman.

With Warren banged up, Chasen Shreve might be the most trustworthy reliever on the roster behind Betances at this very moment. Yikes. I like Chad Green and think he could really help in a short relief role. I said so before the season. Maybe he can be the next Warren. For now though, Green is still in the “prove himself” phase. Maybe Domingo German and his upper-90s sinker can be something? That’d be neat. That’s a lot of maybes though.

The Yankees have cycled through Gio Gallegos and Ben Heller and Ronald Herrera the last few days and, amazingly, every single one managed to be on the mound when the game-losing run scored. Tuesday it was Heller, Wednesday it was Herrera, and Thursday it was Gallegos. Not a good way to impress, dudes. Maybe we’ll see Tyler Webb or J.P. Feyereisen at some point, or heck, maybe even Chance Adams, though it’s tough to count on them to have an impact.

Given the sudden middle relief issues, specifically Clippard’s shakiness and Warren’s seemingly minor injury (if it was serious he’d be on the disabled list, right? right???), the Yankees might have to think about picking up another bullpen arm at some point. Chapman coming back will help, no doubt about that, but he alone might not be enough. Another arm to supplement Warren, Shreve, and a hopefully-fixed-at-some-point Clippard couldn’t hurt.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Yankees should go out and deal top prospects for high-end bullpen arms. The Yankees don’t need to go out and pull a reverse Andrew Miller trade here. Something similar to last year’s Clippard trade, an out-of-favor veteran for a low-end prospect. That sort of thing. The Yankees just need a little more depth, though of course it should be noted relievers are notoriously fickle, so even if you bring one or two in, there’s no guarantee they’ll perform well in the small sample of a half-a-season.

Step one right now is getting Chapman back, which will hopefully happen as soon as Sunday. Chapman in the ninth frees up Betances for those seventh and eighth inning spots, where more than one game has been lost this week. There is still more room for improvement beyond that though. Someone to lighten the load on Clippard and Warren and Shreve, because lately they’ve taken on a lot of responsibility, and it hasn’t worked out.