(Photo Credit: Flickr user pvsbond via Creative Commons license)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user pvsbond via Creative Commons license)

The four-day All-Star break is over and the Yankees go back to work tonight. They open the second half with the first of three games against the Reds, part of a ten-game second half-opening homestand. Want to get back into the playoff race? Like, for real? Then take advantage of this homestand. The scheduling gods held up their end of the bargain, now the Yankees have to do their part. Start the second half off on the right foot with a win tonight. Here is the Reds lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Carlos Beltran
  7. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. 3B Kelly Johnson
    RHP David Phelps

The weather is gorgeous in New York. Perfect night to kick off the second half. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (75)
  • CC you later: Sabathia opts for season-ending knee surgery

    Erstwhile Yankees ace CC Sabathia will miss the remainder of the 2014 season as he is set to undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee next week, the Yankees announced this afternoon. On the bright side, Sabathia isn’t undergoing microfracture surgery yet, and the team is calling this procedure a “clean up.” But with a degenerative condition in his knee, it may be a matter of when, and not if, CC needs a more serious operation. Sabathia had consulted with four doctors — Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews, Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad, and Rangers team doctor Keith Meister — before making the decision. Although the Yanks and CC hope for a Spring Training return, the team and its lefty hurler are heading into a bit of an unknown with this latest surgery as the scope could lead to a more dire diagnosis.

    For the Yankees, looking forward, this decision ultimately confirms what they had expected: They will get no more innings from Sabathia this year. With Masahiro Tanaka on the shelf indefinitely and Michael Pineda ever so slowly making his way back from shoulder inflammation, the team is thin on pitching right now and could use a lefty starter. Expect Brian Cashman to be working the phones over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, CC effectively has three years and $72 million remaining on his contract. Don’t think about it too much.
    · (51) ·

  • Yankees activate Carlos Beltran off 7-day concussion DL

    As expected, the Yankees have activated Carlos Beltran off the seven-day concussion disabled list. Bryan Mitchell was sent to Triple-A Scranton during the All-Star break to clear a roster spot. It goes without saying the Yankees need Beltran to hit and hit a lot in the second half if they want to contend. What he’s given them so far this year isn’t nearly enough. · (2) ·


RAB Live Chat

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Categories : Chats
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(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

The All-Star break is finally over and the Yankees are back at the office starting tonight. They kick off the second half-opening ten-game homestand with three games against the Reds this weekend. Needless to say, they need to start winning at home if they want to make a run at the postseason, and this homestand is the time to do it. This is their final interleague series of the season, by the way.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Reds won two of three from the Pirates before the All-Star break and they’ve won eight of their last eleven games overall. They are 54-44 with a +28 run differential, which puts them in third place in the NL Central, 1.5 games back of the first place Brewers.

With an average of 3.97 runs per game and a team 91 wRC+, Cincinnati is a bit below the league average offensively. They are really banged up right now too. 1B Joey Votto (127 wRC+) and 2B Brandon Phillips (92 wRC+) are both out long-term with quad and thumb injuries, respectively. UTIL Skip Schumaker (66 wRC+) is out with a concussion, IF Jack Hannahan has not played at all this year following shoulder surgery, and IF Ramon Santiago (91 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue. We won’t see any of them other than possibly Santiago this weekend.

Hamilton. (Andy Lyons/Getty)

Hamilton. (Andy Lyons/Getty)

With all of those injuries, rookie manager Bryan Price relies on OF Jay Bruce (97 wRC+), 3B Todd Frazier (137 wRC+), and C Devin Mesoraco (170 wRC+ in somewhat limited time) to carry his offense. Bruce is having a very down year by his standards. OF Billy Hamilton (104 wRC+) is the fastest man in baseball and he sets the tone from the leadoff spot. He’s gone 38-for-53 (72%) in stolen base chances this year and has torn the cover off the ball for a month now (161 wRC+ in the last 30 days). Keeping him off base is imperative this weekend.

OF Ryan Ludwick (104 wRC+), SS Zack Cozart (61 wRC+), and OF Chris Heisey (84 wRC+) are the other names in the Reds lineup you might recognize. C Brayan Pena (76 wRC+) is the backup catcher and part-time first baseman with Votto out. OF Donald Lutz (32 wRC+ in very limited time), IF Neftali Soto (-50 wRC+ in very limited time), and IF Kristopher Negron (268 wRC+ in very limited time) are up to help fill in for all the injuries. I’m guessing Bruce, Hamilton, Heisey, and Ludwick will all be the lineup thanks to the DH this weekend.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP David Phelps (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Mike Leake (vs. NYY)
Leake, 26, continues to be unspectacularly solid for the Reds, with a 3.54 ERA (3.72 FIP) in 19 starts and 127 innings this season. Across the board he has posted career best strikeout (6.87 K/9 and 18.3 K%), walk (1.91 BB/9 and 5.1 BB%), homer (0.92 HR/9 and 12.7 HR/FB%), and ground ball (54.1%) rates. Lefties (.374 wOBA) have hit him much harder than righties (.272 wOBA) this year. Leake is a true six-pitch pitcher, using three upper-80s/low-90s fastballs (four-seam, sinker, cutter) to set up his mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. He throws all six pitches at least 7% of the time and everything but the changeup at least 10% of the time. Leake and Phelps are actually pretty similar in terms of their pitching style.

Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (vs. NYY)
Simon was an All-Star this year thanks mostly to his league-leading 12 wins. The 33-year-old has a 2.70 ERA (4.34 FIP) in 18 starts and 116.2 innings after spending the the last few years as a full-time reliever. Simon doesn’t miss bats (5.79 K/9 and 16.0 K%) and isn’t especially good at keeping the ball in the park (1.08 HR/9 and 13.1 HR/FB%), but he limits walks (2.16 BB/9 and 6.0 BB%) and gets grounders (49.3%). He also has a small platoon split. Simon is an extreme fastball pitcher, using his upper-80s cutter and mid-90s two and four-seamers more than 70% of the time combined. His top secondary pitch is a mid-80s splitter, though he’ll also throw a handful of upper-70s slurves per start. There’s no mystery here. Simon will come right after hitters with hard stuff.

(Joe Robbins/Getty)

(Joe Robbins/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. NYY) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (vs. NYY)
Believe it or not, the 28-year-old Cueto was a first time All-Star this year. I figured he would have gone to at least one by now. He had some downright brilliant seasons from 2011-12. Anyway, the 28-year-old Cueto has a 2.13 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 20 starts and 143.2 innings so far this season. He is striking batters out at a career best rate (8.83 K/9 and 25.1 K%) while his walk (2.19 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%), homerun (0.75 HR/9 and 10.1 HR/FB%), and ground ball (49.7%) numbers are right in line with his career averages. His platoon split is small. Cueto throws two and four-seam fastballs in the low-to-mid-90s while mixing in plenty of upper-80s cutters as well. Both of his secondary pitches are excellent — a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider. Cueto is very, very good.

Bullpen Status
It all starts at the back-end for the Reds, who have an elite closer in LHP Aroldis Chapman (0.54 FIP). He actually tweaked his hamstring covering first base during the All-Star Game, but apparently it’s only a minor issue and he is expected to be ready for this weekend. RHP Jonathan Broxton (3.14 FIP) is setting up while LHP Manny Parra (3.98 FIP) handles the left-on-left stuff.

RHP Sam LeCure (3.85 FIP) and RHP J.J. Hoover (4.96 FIP) are Price’s primary middle innings guys while RHP Logan Ondrusek (3.46 FIP), RHP Carlos Contreras (2.66 FIP in limited time), and RHP Jumbo Diaz (5.42 FIP in limited time) handle everything else. Here is the requisite photo of the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Diaz. It’s an eight-man bullpen for the time being. Both teams have well-rested bullpens thanks to the All-Star break, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. For the latest and greatest on the Reds, I recommend Redleg Nation.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (12)

Got ten questions and nine answers for you this week. The best way to send us anything is through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. We get a ton of questions each week, so don’t take it personally if we don’t get to yours.

(Tom Lynn/Getty)

(Tom Lynn/Getty)

Vinny asks: Obviously he’d have to get his at-bats at DH at the expense of Carlos Beltran, but would you target Justin Morneau at the trade deadline? What would it take to get him?

Morneau, 33, is hitting .312/.345/.502 (119 wRC+) with 13 homers this year, his first with the Rockies. He’s actually hit better on the road (127 wRC+) than at Coors Field (109 wRC+). Morneau has big left-handed pull power and he’d fit wonderfully in Yankee Stadium, plus he’s always been a high contact hitter (10.6 K% this year). The Yankees need righty power more than lefty power at this point, but you take what you can get. The issue is Morneau’s contract — he’s signed for $6.75M next year and I’m not sure where they’d play him unless Beltran or Mark Teixeira went down with long-term injury. It took an okay big leaguer (Nate Schierholtz) and two prospects to get a year and half of Hunter Pence, which seems like a decent trade comp for Morneau. I’m just not sure where the Yankees would play him (unless Beltran has his elbow surgery).

Paul asks: Does St. Louis have any spare pieces the Yankees could deal for since they will need a catcher with Yadier Molina on the shelf for a while?

The Cardinals have a really deep farm system and lots to give up for a interim catcher, whether it be a stopgap like Frankie Cervelli or more of a long-term solution like John Ryan Murphy. Cervelli’s trade value is tiny as an injury prone out of options catcher. George Kottaras is roughly as valuable overall and he’s on waivers every other week (St. Louis actually claimed him right after the Molina injury). Murphy for someone like Randal Grichuk or Steven Piscotty would make a ton of sense for the Yankees since they could stick either player in right field immediately, but I’m guessing the Cardinals would balk, definitely on Piscotty. I get the sense the Cards will just ride this one out with what they have, maybe swing a nothing for a Cervelli type trade. Nothing more.

Jeb asks: Assuming the Yankees fold, would a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury to the Mariners be out of the question? If not, what would you guess the trade would look like?

I don’t think the Yankees would trade him, but, even if they were open to it, a deal like this would hinge entirely on Seattle’s financials and their willingness to take on that contract. This isn’t a salary dump in my opinion, Ellsbury is too good of a player to eat money to move him in a trade. The Yankees would be trading an impact two-way player, someone who is a standout center field defender and top notch leadoff man, so the return would be pretty big. I’d ask for Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, and a very good prospect as a third piece. I don’t even like Franklin all that much (Danny Espinosa without the defense!) and Walker has been battling shoulder issues all season, so that package might even be a little light. An Ellsbury trade doesn’t seem likely at all.

Danny asks: Do you know if Luis Severino has an innings limit this year? At the time of his AA promotion, he’s at 88.1 IP for the year, which is double what he pitched last year.

Severino. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Severino. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

I’m sure he does. He is only 20, after all. Severino threw 64.1 innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 and 44 official innings last year. That doesn’t include all the time he spent in Extended Spring Training, however. (He made his official season debut in late-June, so he was in ExST for a while.) I have absolutely no idea how many innings he could have thrown there, but he “real” innings total for last season might be closer to 80-90. If so, that would put him in line for 120 or so this year. So he’s got another month or so before being shut down, more or less.

Joe asks: With the lack of any impact talent from the draft and Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Rafael DePaula, Manny Banuelos and Tyler Austin regressing (although I still think Austin ends up a solid ML player) and the Eric Jagielo, Jose Campos, and Abi Avelino injuries, would you say the system is having another down year or do you like the progress of others enough to offset this? Is this a top 15 or 20 system?

Nah, I don’t think this is another down year. Williams and Austin have disappointed and Heathcott and Campos have serious injuries, sure, but the Jagielo (oblique) and Avelino (quad) injuries were just muscle strains. Nothing structural like Heathcott’s shoulder/knee. Aaron Judge and Severino have emerged as top 50-ish prospects while Jagielo, Ian Clarkin, and Gary Sanchez are having good years. Dante Bichette Jr. has rebounded well, Jake Cave has built on last year’s breakout, and guys like Jorge Mateo, Alex Palma, and Leonardo Molina all make their domestic debuts. Has it been a great year? No. But I don’t think this is a down year. If anything, it’s a normal year. Some good, some bad, lots in the middle. I think the system is in the 11-20 range among the 30 teams right now, probably closer to 13-17 if you want a tighter range.

Ryan asks: Would best case scenario for Peter O’Brien be Mark Trumbo? With offense in short supply around the league, there has to be a spot for him somewhere if he continues to hit for this kind of power.

Yeah, that sounds about right. It is worth noting that when Trumbo was O’Brien’s age, he was hitting .299/.366/.575 (133 wRC+) with 36 homers at Triple-A, with better strikeout (21.2%) and walk (9.2%) rates than O’Brien has now (24.5% and 4.6%, respectively) in Double-A. O’Brien’s right-handed power is very real — I seem to remember Keith Law rating it a 70 on the 20-80 scale recently and 70 power is no joke, but I can’t find the link — but I’m not going to lie to you, I am very skeptical about whether O’Brien will be able to tap into that power at the big league level given the holes in his swing and his general lack of plate discipline. Keep giving him chances, of course. Everyone should be thrilled if he turns into Trumbo.

Mark asks: At what point do we know if Shane Greene is the real deal? I know two starts is a ridiculously small sample, but he sure would be a nice find in a bleak (to this point) season. Thanks in advance.

The stuff is the legit, right? You can see that from watching him. PitchFX says Greene has averaged 93.9 mph with his sinker and 87.8 mph with his slider, which will play anywhere. The only question is whether he will continue to command it well enough to be successful. I don’t think we can put a number on this, X starts or Y innings before knowing if he’s the real deal. Greene is going to hit a rough patch at some point, it’s inevitable, and his ability to adjust will determine if he’s the real deal. I will say that I feel far better about his chances of remaining in the rotation long-term because of the quality of his stuff than I did Chase Whitley, with all due respect. Whitley did have a nice little run there and that shouldn’t be forgotten. Greene’s stuff is more built to last.

(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

Tom asks: With Masahiro Tanaka out for a while, could they flip Brandon McCarthy prior to the deadline if they fall further back (another good start or two and I’d think they could end up with something even better than Vidal Nuno)? Is there a restriction on trading a player recently acquired? (time limit? player approval?)

Darrin asks: With the health of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda in indefinite question and Hiroki Kuroda‘s retirement coming sooner rather than later, if McCarthy pitches well would you be in favor of the Yankees signing him to a short term deal (1 year+option, 2 years) this offseason? He would cost less than some of the high dollar FA guys, although I wouldn’t mind another elite pitcher as well. Yanks need to fill several rotation spots.

Going to lump these two together. The Yankees could flip McCarthy at the deadline, there are no restrictions. The Red Sox acquired Adam LaRoche just before the 2009 trade deadline and traded him away nine days later. I don’t think they would get anything more than Nuno in return, however. There are a ton of teams looking for another starter and no one bit on McCarthy when he was with the Diamondbacks. If anything, they’d get a player similar to Nuno in return, nothing better.

As for re-signing McCarthy, that depends on how he performs in the second half, obviously. His long history of shoulder trouble is scary, so that will have to be considered. If McCarthy pitches well down the stretch and he’s open to a short-term contract, then sure, bring him back. The Yankees are going to need pitching and he’s a solid option for the middle to back of the rotation. As we’ve seen this year, there is no such thing as too much pitching. There will always been room for him. McCarthy is on a two-year, $15.5M contract right now and I wouldn’t go any higher than that after the season. Maybe even offer less since he’s two years older and not as good as he was the last time he was a free agent. Two years and $12M instead?

Austin asks: I’m glad to see that Bernie Williams is going to be honored with a plaque in Monument Park next year, but I think he deserves a larger footnote to the ‘Core Four’ discussion. From 1995 – 2002 he slashed .321/.406/.531 and averaged 5.2 bWAR. How does Bernie stack up with center fielders of his era?

I hate the Core Four (the term, not the players) because it completely ignores Bernie for no other reason than because Core Five doesn’t rhyme. It is pretty disrespectful to the guy who was the best all-around hitter on the team during the dynasty years. Anyway, Bernie’s peak was basically 1994-2002, so a strong nine years. Let’s stretch it out and call his era 1990-2005. I’m not sure where else to cut it off. Here is the center field WAR leaderboard during that period (full list):

Rk Player WAR/pos OPS+ Age G
1 Ken Griffey 79.6 146 20-35 1998
2 Kenny Lofton 64.8 108 24-38 1838
3 Jim Edmonds 56.8 137 23-35 1587
4 Andruw Jones 52.3 115 19-28 1451
5 Bernie Williams 49.8 126 22-36 1945
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/17/2014.

No, WAR isn’t perfect, but it’s fine for an exercise like this. Plus it’s easy to search. Griffey being at the top should be no surprise. It’s definitely Griffey (big gap) Lofton (moderate gap) everyone else among center fielders of the era. There’s a decent-sized gap between Bernie and the number six player, Steve Finley (43.7 WAR and 107 OPS+). You could argue that, offensively, Williams was the third best center fielder behind Junior and Edmonds. His defense lagged behind the other guys and that costs him, but I don’t see any shame in being the fifth best overall center fielder in an era with Griffey, Lofton, Edmonds, and Andruw. All five of those guys are borderline Hall of Famers at worst.

Categories : Mailbag
Comments (86)

Some notes:

  • Joel Sherman wrote about RHP Luis Severino and how even the Yankees didn’t realize how good he was when they signed him. The “best pitching prospect in a decade” stuff is silly, but check it out anyway. Fun read.
  • VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Chad Jennings that no one will be sent down in the wake of OF Jake Cave’s promotion to Double-A Trenton. Manager Tony Franklin will simply have to squeeze everyone into the lineup.
  • The Yankees have signed LHP Rich Hill to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton, according to Jennings. Cue up the usual complaints about a minor league deal with zero impact on the MLB team.
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow was also among those promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, reports Matt Kardos. Dan Pfeiffer says RHP Manny Barreda was released to make room on the roster. He was the team’s 12th round pick in 2007 and spent parts of eight years in the system as an organizational arm. Apparently he’s already hooked on with the Brewers. Good for him.

Triple-A Scranton (9-5 loss to Charlotte)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 0-5, 1 RBI, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R, 2 K — third straight game at second after three straight in right field
  • RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K – career-high-tying 18th homer
  • 1B Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — 13-for-30 (.433) in his last nine games
  • C John Ryan Murphy: 0-4, 2 K
  • CF Antoan Richardson: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HBP, 1 CS — that snaps his string of 43 consecutive successful stolen base attempts dating back to last May
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 40 of 74 pitches were strikes (54%) … he allowed four homers
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 23 pitches were strikes (52%)
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 Balk, 2/0 GB/FB — 2/0 GB/FB — 21 of 27 pitches were strikes (78%) … 65/16 K/BB in 54 innings
  • RHP Matt Daley: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 13 of 23 pitches were strikes (57%) … 40/7 in 27.2 innings at this level

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (64)
  • Mariano Rivera to be honored at Double-A Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park

    Mariano Rivera will be honored at Arm & Hammer Park on Thursday, August 7th, before Double-A Trenton’s scheduled game against Altoona. Rivera will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and be presented with a check from the MVP Foundation on behalf of his church, Refugio de Esperanza (Refuge of Hope).

    You can read more info about the ceremony right here and purchase tickets using this link. Use the special offer code “MVP” while purchasing tickets online and $3 will be donated to the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Special thanks goes out to Eric Lipsman, the Thunder’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales & Partnerships, for the heads up and all his help and kindness over the years.
    · (3) ·

It’s the last night of the All-Star break. Everything returns to normal tomorrow, when the Reds arrive in the Bronx for three games. If you’re looking for something to read and have already checked out our Midseason Grades (catchers, infielders, outfielders, rotation, bullpen), then I recommend this Dan Barbarisi piece surveying the Yankees clubhouse. He asked the players who was the best dressed, who is most up to date on current events, who they’d let marry their daughter, stuff like that. It’s pretty fun, check it out.

Here is your open thread for the remainder of the night. There is no baseball so I’m going to leave you on your own for entertainment. I’ve got one Orange is the New Black episode left and I might try to catch up on 24 too. Exciting night at the Axisa household, as you can tell. Talk about anything and everything right here. Enjoy.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (42)
  • Forbes ranks Yankees as 4th most valuable sports franchise in the world

    Forbes published their list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world yesterday, with the Yankees coming in fourth at $2.5 billion. They trail only European soccer clubs Real Madrid ($3.44 billion), Barcelona ($3.2 billion), and Manchester United ($2.81 billion). The Dallas Cowboys are fifth at $2.3 billion and the Dodgers are sixth at $2 billion.

    “The Yankees are the most valuable non-soccer team in the world with a worth of $2.5 billion,” writes Kurt Badenhausen. “TV is driving the value of the Bronx Bombers. Fox exercised its option to increase its ownership of the Yankees’ regional sports network, YES, to 80% earlier this year (Yankees Global Enterprises, which is majority owned by the Steinbrenner family retains 20%). As part of the deal, the programming rights fee for the Yankees starts at $105 million (including the amortized value of a $400 million upfront payment) and will hit $350 million a year by 2042.”

    The Yankees were ranked as the most valuable franchise in baseball by Forbes for the 17th consecutive year back in March. Forbes estimated the team’s value at $2.3 billion in 2013, $1.85 billion in 2012, $1.7 billion in 2011, and $1.6 billion in 2010, so it’s going nowhere but up despite the mediocrity on the field for the last season and a half. I can’t imagine what the asking price would be if the Steinbrenners ever decided to sell the Yankees. Maybe $4 billion?
    · (28) ·

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