Mailbag: Second Base, Sabathia, AL East, Mets, Eovaldi

Got a dozen questions for you in the mailbag this week. Use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us any questions throughout the week.

Prado. (Presswire)
Prado. (Presswire)

Soxhata asks: Other than Ben Zobrist, what 2nd baseman could be on the radar?

Zobrist is definitely the headliner at second base. He’s been outstanding the last few weeks and is hitting .266/.360/.456 (131 wRC+) overall with a 13.2 BB% and an 8.6 K%. Zobrist is probably a multi-win upgrade over Stephen Drew even in just half a season. Looking around the league, other second base candidates could include Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, and Daniel Murphy. And Brandon Phillips too, but forget him. I’d list Martin Prado as a candidate too if he wasn’t on the DL with a shoulder injury and expected to miss several weeks. There aren’t many bad teams with decent second basemen, so the market’s limited.

Bonifacio has a -15 wRC+ (!) and has basically nothing to offer the Yankees other than speed off the bench. Ackley’s been terrible too (70 wRC+) but the Yankees have had interest in him for a while now. He hasn’t played second base regularly since 2013, however. Murphy is the opposite of Drew — an awful defender who is hitting a solid .285/.335/.420 (110 wRC+) overall. He’s a rental and I’m sure the Mets would move him at the deadline a) to get something in return because they won’t make him a qualifying offer after the season, and b) to save a few weeks of his $8M salary. I’m not sure if the two sides match up for a trade though. The Mets reportedly want to add offense, not subtract it. So yeah, after Zobrist, the second base market is really thin.

Mike H. asks: At the end of the season Ben Zobrist will be a free agent. What kind of deal can he expect given his weak offensive season so far? Would 2 years $20 million with an option for a third be sufficient?

Zobrist’s season hasn’t been weak, he just had a slow start around a knee injury in April. He turned 34 in May yet I still think his skill set — on-base ability, good defense, and versatility — will be in high demand when he becomes a free agent this offseason. I think three years is the starting point. Heck, Marco Scutaro got three years at age 37 with a similar skill set a few years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zobrist ends up with Chase Headley money (four years, $52M). Just about every team in the league would jump at two years and $20M for Zobrist this winter, including the Yankees.

Yuri asks: You’ve been advocating to move CC Sabathia to the bullpen. But, if he also performs badly as a reliever, what is left to do then?

Gosh, I don’t know what happens then. That’s one of those “we’ll deal with it when the time comes” situations. Sabathia has destroyed left-handed batters this season — they’re hitting .195/.205/.267 (.205 wOBA) with a 31.8 K% and no walks (!) against him this year — so at the very least there’s reason to think he could be a really good left-on-left matchup guy. He might even be able to handle righties better by airing it out one inning at a time in relief. I have no idea what the next step would be if Sabathia stinks in relief. Release him? Either way, we’re not going to find out because the Yankees are keeping him in the rotation.

Jack asks: Not exactly a Yankee question, but on June 29 you put up a “This Date in History” video featuring the 1947 Yankees’ 19-game win streak, and I loved it. Very well done. Does MLB do one of those every day? If so, do you know where I can find it?

Those videos are put together by YES, not MLB, so they’re Yankees-specific. As far as I know MLB doesn’t produce any sort of daily “this date in history” video. YES doesn’t have one for every single day, but they do pump out a few each month. Here’s the archive. Enjoy.

Oh Mets. (Presswire)
Oh Mets. (Presswire)

Zachariah asks: What do you make of the future of the Mets? Their starting rotation next year is looking potentially nasty, young, and affordable. If they can get a couple of bats, and the front office starts shelling out some bucks, they can make some noise for years to come.

The rotation really does look great, but man, the offense is terrible. Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda are having good years, and Murphy’s hitting whenever he’s not on the DL. That’s it. They’re playing too many Eric Campbell and Ruben Tejada types. I think they should trade one of their young arms for a young middle infielder. Go big too. Noah Syndergaard for Addison Russell. Jacob deGrom for Xander Bogaerts. Something like that.

Ownership needs to allow GM Sandy Alderson to spend more money just so he can add better depth players. They’re never active on waivers (six claims in four and a half years under Alderson!) and they brought four players to camp on minor league contracts. That’s not enough! The pitching is great, but unless they do something drastic to improve the offense (spend money or trade some pitching) and improve organizational depth, they’re going to be stuck spinning their wheels and are at risk of wasting the primes of those great young arms. It starts with the Wilpons. A New York team should never ever ever have a bottom third payroll.

Mike asks: Going in to this year, all we heard about was how bad the AL East is. If the season ended today, both wildcards would come from the AL East. So is the AL East better than we thought? Or is the league just really mediocre? Or both?

(This was sent in a few days ago. The AL East would not have both wildcard spots as of today.)

The AL East is about what I expected — a bunch of closely matched good but flawed teams — and I think the division’s awfulness was overstated earlier this season. I’m guilty of that. There is no great team in the division and I think that maybe clouded everyone’s judgment. The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees are doing what everyone thought the Red Sox would do — score a ton of runs and pitch juuust well enough to contend — and the Rays are getting unreal work on the mound. The AL East is the only division with four .500 or better teams and the only one without a sub-.455 team. So the division lacks a great club, a clear World Series contender, but it sure looks like the most competitive division in the game. The AL East race is wide open. The last few months are going to be a blast.

Dan asks: What top 5 players do you think are most overrated and underrated?

I think we’re at the point where Brett Gardner has to be considered one of the most underrated players in baseball, right? His 142 wRC+ is tied with Andrew McCutchen (!) for seventh best among all outfielders. My guess is a lot of people don’t realize how good Gardner really is at this point. Off the top of my head, four other underrated players are A.J. Pollock, Joe Panik, Lance Lynn, and Yasmani Grandal. I also feel like Paul Goldschmidt is underrated even though he’s one of the two or three best hitters in the world right now. As for overrated … I’ll go with Phillips, Jeff Samardzija, Elvis Andrus, Chris Tillman, and Dexter Fowler. Good players! Not as good as their reputations though.

Jonathan asks: Is there a comparison between Nathan Eovaldi and Phil Hughes at the same age? Both righties with great fastballs, command, poor secondary stuff, and results that don’t live up to their talent level?

I understand why people make that comparison but I don’t think it fits well. Eovaldi throws way harder and gets a lot more grounders than Hughes ever did, for example. Here’s the side-by-side comparison of their ages 24-25 seasons (2010-11 for Hughes).

Hughes 251.0 4.66 4.35 18.1% 8.0% 34.8% 1.22 .303 .337 92.1
Eovaldi 287.1 4.42 3.49 16.5% 5.5% 46.2% 0.69 .302 .352 95.6

Hughes had a better strikeout rate and more success against lefties, otherwise everything else is advantage Eovaldi, including health. (Hughes was limited to 71.2 innings in 2011 due to shoulder fatigue.) I also think Eovaldi has taken to the splitter way better than Hughes ever took a changeup, though that split is still very much a work in progress. What are the three things you want pitchers to do? Get strikeouts, limit walks, keep the ball on the ground. Eovaldi is quite a bit better at two of the three than Hughes was at the same age. That doesn’t mean Eovaldi will ever live up his ability, I just don’t think the comparison to Hughes fits beyond both guys frustrating fans.

Correa. (Presswire)
Correa. (Presswire)

Rob from North Dakota asks: In the first inning of Sunday’s game the Astros missed a double play when both Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, shifted the left side of 2nd base, went for the ball. That got me wondering. With all the shifting going on, are double plays down?

No, actually. MLB teams are turning a double play in 11% of double play opportunities this year, meaning a runner on first with less than two outs. The league average has been right in the 10-11% range every year since 2000, so well before shifts became widespread. The Yankees have turned a double play 10% of the time this year, up from 8% last year. They were all over the map from 2000-13, falling anywhere from 8-13%. I’m guessing that’s common — the league average double play turned rate stays the same but individual teams fluctuate year to year. Teams usually don’t shift much — or at least not as extremely — in double play situations, so it makes sense the rate of double plays being turned hasn’t changed much over the years. The Astros are super aggressive though, hence Sunday’s play.

Tamir asks: If you had caught A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit what would you have asked for?

A bunch Legends Seats tickets and maybe some memorabilia, stuff like that. Asking for a big wad of cash seems kinda tacky. I’d use a few of the tickets and sell the rest, probably. Same with the memorabilia. Save some, sell the rest. I’m not a big collector and I’d rather just have the money to spend on whatever I want. Does that make me less of a fan? Oh well.

YankeeB asks: If they miss the postseason by a game or two and CC doesn’t miss a start, who takes the fall, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, both or neither?

Man that would be a disaster. Imagine if they miss the postseason by a game or two after letting Sabathia throw 170+ of these innings? I feel like reducing the role of a player of Sabathia’s caliber has come from above. Girardi can’t just make the decision and stick him in the bullpen. It has to come from Cashman or even from the ownership level. Would missing the postseason by a small margin while letting Sabathia stay in the rotation be a fireable offense? I don’t know. It would be a damn shame if things played out that way though. If I have to pick someone, I’ll say Girardi gets the axe before Cashman.

Marc asks: Steven Matz for Gardner: who says no and why?

The Mets. Gardner’s awesome and on a team friendly contract, but he’s also going to turn 32 in August, so there aren’t many (if any) peak years left there. Matz is a very good pitching prospect with a really scary injury history — he had Tommy John surgery in May 2010 and didn’t get back on a mound until June 2012 due to setbacks and complications — and I do think the Mets would trade him for that reason, but not for a veteran guy like Gardner. I could see them trading Matz for a young shortstop. Russell or someone like that. But another veteran outfielder with Granderson and Michael Cuddyer on the books? Nah. I don’t know if the Yankees would trade Gardner for Matz — the front office loves Gardner — but I’m sure they’d consider it. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t.

DotF: Ellsbury sits out rehab game again; Bird goes deep in Trenton’s blowout win

Some notes:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) did not play for High-A Tampa tonight as planned. Brian Cashman told Erik Boland everything is “all good” and they’re just bringing Ellsbury along slowly, so I guess that means more rehab and not a return to the Yankees tomorrow.
  • 3B Eric Jagielo does not need surgery for the “loose bodies” in his knee, according to Nick Peruffo. He’ll head to Tampa for rehab and the doctors think he might be able to play later this season. Hooray for getting good injury news for once.
  • The Yankees have signed OF Rico Noel and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton, reports Matt Eddy. The 26-year-old hit .242/.333/.288 in 33 games for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate this year before being released. This is a “all our outfielders are getting hurt and we need a warm body” signing.
  • 1B Kyle Roller and C Austin Romine were selected for the Triple-A International League All-Star Team, so congrats to them. Here’s the full roster.

Triple-A Scranton (14-2 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF-RF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB — sixth inning grand slam put this one out of reach
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K — he was taken out of the game in the late innings, but I assume it was to get him off his feet in the blowout
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B — just keeps mashing
  • RHP Luis Severino: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 57 of 83 pitches were strikes (69%) … over/under on the date of his MLB debut is set at August 15th … what do you think?
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 21 of 30 pitches were strikes (70%) … 41/20 K/BB in 35 minor league innings this year

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today after returning home from their seven-game road trip. While in Anaheim, Alex Rodriguez met with ex-Marine Roy McDaniel, his son Deven, and his son’s best friend Charlie after they came to the game specifically to see him. “Ever since he made his debut in Seattle two decades ago, he has been one of my favorite players,” said McDaniel to Grayson Alexander. Alex spoke to McDaniel and the two boys, and signed all sorts of stuff for them too. Fan friendly guy, that A-Rod.

This is your open thread for this Yankees baseball-less night. MLB Network is showing a bunch of regional games tonight and chances are us New Yorkers will get the Nationals and Braves. Ex-Yankees farmhand Manny Banuelos is making his big league debut against Max Scherzer. So talk about that game, A-Rod being history’s greatest monster, or anything else right here.

Heyman: First rounder RHP James Kaprielian expected to sign for $3M or so

(Don Liebig/UCALA)
(Don Liebig/UCLA)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are still negotiating with first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian, and he is expected to receive a bonus in the $3M range. Slot money for the 16th overall pick is just over $2.44M. The signing deadline is two weeks from tomorrow and I have no reason to think Kaprielian won’t sign. Special assistant Jim Hendry is reportedly leading negotiations.

Kaprielian is a Scott Boras client and Boras has a tendency to go right up to the deadline with his top players so he can milk every last penny out of the team’s draft pool. And would you look at that, our 2015 Draft Pool Tracker shows the Yankees have approximately $3M left to spend on draft picks before getting hit with penalties for exceeding their bonus pool. Coincidence Kaprielian is expected to sign for $3M or so? Nope.

The Yankees signed 20th rounder 1B Isiah Gilliam to an overslot $550,000 bonus earlier this week, so 31 of their 41 draft picks are locked up. New Jersey LHP Andrew Miller (34th round) and Florida HS SS Deacon Liput (39th) are their only remaining overslot candidates and both figure to head to school. That was always the case. The Yankees signed all of their non-Kaprielian picks in the top ten rounds, so here’s no draft pool wiggle room.

Kaprielian, 21, had a 2.02 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 33 walks in 106.2 innings this season. Everything you need to know about him is right here.

Massive home/road offensive split defining the season so far for the Yankees

"Alright guys, three runs, great game!" (Presswire)
“Alright guys, three runs, great game!” (Presswire)

The Yankees went 3-4 on their seven-game road trip despite scoring only 18 runs in the seven games, with half those runs coming on Saturday. They scored zero or one run in each of the four losses, though Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh deserve credit for excellent performances. They overmatched the Yankees. C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney? Eh, not so much.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees are averaging more runs per game at home (5.77) than on the road (3.77). A lot more. I ridiculous amount more. They’ve scored 36 more runs at home in nine fewer games. Geez. Easy to understand why they’re 21-14 (+38 run differential) at home and 21-23 (-16 run differential) on the road in 2015. Just about every offense is better at home — MLB average is 4.22 runs per game at home and 4.02 on the road — but the Yankees have taken it to the extreme this season. Here are the team’s raw offensive numbers:

Home 1,395 .282/.350/.496 130 8.5% 18.2% 22.5 10.3 .306
Road 1,666 .235/.302/.371 88 8.1% 19.0% 39.7 14.5 .269

The Yankees are Kris Bryant at home and Michael Cuddyer on the road. This recent road trip was an extreme example of their offensive struggles away from the Bronx but it’s not confirmation bias either — the Yankees are substantially more productive at home. They’re a much more dangerous team playing in Yankee Stadium. Their three highest run totals and six of their nine highest run totals have come in the Bronx this year, unsurprisingly.

It’s easy to understand why the Yankees are more productive at home, right? Yankee Stadium is a hitter friendly park and the Yankees have tailored their lineup for the short right field porch — Brian McCann, Garrett Jones, and Stephen Drew are all left-handed pull hitters who were brought in after everyone knew how the park played (Mark Teixeira signed before the park opened), and Carlos Beltran is way more effective batting lefty than righty. Has been for years. Brett Gardner learned how to pull the ball for power in recent years as well, and even Didi Gregorius has benefited from the short porch.

The largest home/road splits belong to McCann (195 wRC+/62 wRC+), Gardner (179/107), Drew (101/44), and Alex Rodriguez (182/113). A-Rod‘s the outlier as a right-handed hitter. The home/road splits make sense for the other guys. Rodriguez is hitting for power both at home (.256 ISO) and on the road (.201 ISO), and his walk rates are high (13.7% and 12.0%), yet he has a .393 BABIP at home (146 PA) and a .248 BABIP on the road (166 PA). The sample sizes aren’t big though, and I suspect his home production will take a step back and is road production will improve as the season progresses.

There are other factors in play here that are tough to quantify, if not outright impossible. For example: traveling sucks. The Yankees have played 44 road games this season, the second most in baseball, and their 35 home games are the third fewest. Thirty-four of their 57 games since May 1st have been on the road. Yeah, they’re pro athletes and they make gobs of money, but maybe they’re just worn out from the travel. How do you quantify a good night’s sleep? I don’t know, but the Yankees are trying.

I’m not sure how or if the Yankees can improve their road production. I don’t think they can force the issue and try to be something they’re not — sac bunts, hit-and-runs, those sorts of things. They don’t have many players capable of doing that stuff. This is a team of wallbangers. I’d like to think this lineup is better than a true talent 88 wRC+ offense on the road, especially once Jacoby Ellsbury returns, but this recent road trip was a reminder of how tough it can be for the Yankees to score runs when the threat of a short porch homer doesn’t always exist.

Yankeemetrics: More runs, please (June 29-July 1)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Gone fishin’
It’s rare when you can say you were beaten by one guy in a baseball game — but that wasn’t too far from the truth for the Yankees in Monday’s loss to the Angels.

Mike Trout not only drove in the game-winning run for the Angels, but his defense also saved at least three extra-base hits, which potentially could have resulted in three-or-more runs scored by the Yankees. After his 1-for-3 night with a homer, Trout raised his career OPS against the Yankees to 1.078. Since 1914, the only players with a higher OPS and at least 100 plate appearances vs. the Yankees are Ted Williams (1.103) and Babe Ruth (1.100).

CC Sabathia pitched okay (7 1/3 IP, 4 R) and took the loss, falling to 3-8 with a 5.59 ERA for the year. With roughly two weeks until the All-Star break, there is a very good chance he’ll become the first Yankee to finish the first half of the season with at least eight losses and an ERA above 5.00 since Tim Leary (4-8, 6.30 ERA) in 1991.

The Angels managed to figure out how to get Brett Gardner out — twice — but he still continued his hot streak with another three-hit night that included two doubles, giving him these ridiculous numbers in 25 June games: 38 hits, five homers, 11 doubles, two triples. He’s the first Yankee to reach each of those totals in a single calendar month since Joe DiMaggio in August 1946.

Dead bats society
This road trip has not been kind to the Yankee bats, which once again fell silent in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss. For the second time in three games, they were held to just two hits — the first time that’s happened to the (not) Bronx Bombers since June 6-7, 1990.

It is the first time the Angels have given up no more than two hits to the Yankees since May 23, 1995 when Chuck Finley threw a 15-strikeout, 2-hit shutout in California. Oh, and that also was the major-league debut of a 25-year-old pitcher named Mariano Rivera.

Mark Teixeira drove in the only run of the game with his 19th homer of the season. In the three other years he had at least that many homers before July 1, he ended up with home run totals of 39 (2011), 39 (2009) and 43 (2005).

Nasty Nate on a roll
With their 3-1 win over the Angels in the series finale, the Yankees not only avoided being swept in Anaheim for the first time since 2009, but they also escaped becoming the first Yankees team since 1926 to lose four straight games while scoring no more than one run in each game. Phew.

Despite winning just one of the three games in this series, the Yankees actually out-hit the Angels with runners in scoring position. Somehow the Angels went 0-for-23 while the Yankees barely edged them by going 4-for-21 in those situations.

We have a developing story, folks: Nathan Eovaldi is now 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last three starts after pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday night. He is the first Yankee to throw at least five shutout innings and get a win at Angel Stadium in more than a decade. The last guy to do it was Roger Clemens on July 30, 2003. Yup, Clemens and Eovaldi, that’s why we love baseball.

Thoughts following the West Coast road trip


The Yankees finally wrapped up their 20 games in 20 days stretch last night, going 8-12 in the 20 games. That’s … not very good. Could be worse, I guess. The Yankees have an off-day today before opening a pretty big three-game series with the Rays tomorrow night. Here are some scattered thoughts for the time being.

1. So how pissed is Adam Warren right now? Probably very. He said all the right things when he was demoted to the bullpen earlier this week — “I was a little frustrated at first because I want to be a starter, but I understood. They sat down and talked to me about it, explained it. I understood where they were coming from. I told them I’m not going to be unhappy in the bullpen,” said Warren to Chad Jennings — but I have to think he is very disappointed and frustrated on the inside, if not outright angry. Warren was a starter his entire life before cutting his teeth in the big leagues as a reliever like many others, then he got a chance to start, pitched very well as a starter, and still lost his rotation spot. How he could not be upset? Warren’s earning potential as a reliever is a fraction of what it would be as a starter, and not just in free agency, I mean when he goes through arbitration for the first next year. Michael Pineda missed two and a half years due to injuries and still got $2.1M in his first trip through arbitration this past offseason. David Robertson dominated as a reliever and got $1.6M his first time. Man. Warren’s a pro and he went back to the bullpen without making a stink. I have to imagine he’s really disappointed on the inside though. What more does he have to do?

2. The All-Star Game rosters will be announced this weekend and my guess is the Yankees will have two All-Stars this year: Dellin Betances and Brian McCann. Betances is a shoo-in and I think McCann will beat out Russell Martin for the third catcher spot behind Salvador Perez (leading the fan voting) and Stephen Vogt. Brett Gardner absolutely deserves to be in the All-Star Game, but I think he has less than a 50/50 chance of actually getting selected. He’s just not popular enough, and it is a popularity contest. Maybe he’ll sneak in as an injury replacement or something. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller won’t make it because of their injuries, Alex Rodriguez won’t make it because other players loathe him and won’t vote him in (probably), and Mark Teixeira is stuck behind Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, Prince Fielder, and Jose Abreu at first base. Betances, McCann, maaaybe Gardner. That is my official All-Star guess. Bookmark this post for potential future mocking purposes.

3. The 2015-16 international signing period opens today — no exciting buildup this year! — and the Yankees are not connected any of the top available prospects, according to Ben Badler (subs. req’d). (Here is Badler’s free list of the top prospects, if you’re interested.) That’s not surprising. The team can not hand out bonuses worth more $300,000 during this signing period (or next signing period) thanks to the penalties stemming from last summer’s spending spree, when they bought about four years worth of talent. The Yankees have a full $2.62M bonus pool this year — $2.62M plus the six $50,000 exemptions and unlimited $7,500 exemptions each team gets — they just can’t give any one player more than $300,000. That takes them out of the running for the top talent, but New York has shown they are great at finding cheap prospects. Five dudes on my Preseason Top 30 Prospects list signed for $300,000 or less, including Luis Severino ($225,000) and Jorge Mateo ($250,000). So no big names this year, but that doesn’t mean no quality prospects. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of players the Yankees pull this year. Odds are one or two will develop into better players than one or two of the seven-figure guys they signed last year. That’s just the market. (For what it’s worth, Balder (subs. req’d) says the Yankees are “expected to be active” in Venezuela this year, with RHP Maximo Castillo, IF Oswaldo Cabrera, and C Andres Chaparro the likely targets.)


4. Masahiro Tanaka has allowed three home runs in each of his last two games, and five of the six came on hanging offspeed pitches. The other came on a fastball up in the zone and on the other half (Carlos Correa is just that damn good). Here are the videos if you don’t believe me: one, two, three, four, five, six. Tanaka’s stuff has been fine — his velocity is good and his two highest swing-and-miss totals of the season have come in the last two games — but his mistakes are getting absolutely hammered. The old adage says a drop in velocity means a shoulder injury while bad location means an elbow injury, and obvious Tanaka’s elbow is already compromised, so the recent bad location isn’t encouraging. That doesn’t mean he’s hurt! It could just be two bad starts. Those do happen. But at this point everything Tanaka does is looked at through the lens of his elbow. Bad starts get magnified and good starts are just a five-day reprieve. Sucks. Needless to say, I’m hoping to see some better location tomorrow. Miss down, not up.

5. Speaking of Tanaka’s elbow, what are the chances the Yankees have another pitcher on the staff right now pitching with a partially torn elbow ligament? I think the chances are pretty high and we just don’t know about it. And by we I mean everyone — fans, the Yankees, and the player himself. Pitchers have all sorts of scary stuff going on in their arms and there are probably dozens of ’em around the league with a tiny UCL tear that is not affecting them at all. No pain, no loss of stuff, nothing. Pitchers are weird like that. They all have something going on in their arms and a lot of the time you don’t know about it until you take a real good look. Ty Hensley had his signing bonus reduced when he was drafted because the Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder even though he had no problems and was completely asymptomatic, for example. Pretty good chance someone on the staff has a small UCL tear right now and it is no problem whatsoever. Kinda scary to think about.