Wednesday Night Open Thread

I kinda had a feeling the Yankees would score a ton of runs against Cole Hamels this afternoon. I mean, it’s not like the offense has been struggling, the pitching was clearly to blame during those last three losses, and it just seems like these Yankees have a knack for hitting great pitchers. Hamels, Jacob deGrom, Felix Hernandez, David Price … the Yankees roughed them all up this year. That’s always fun.

Here is tonight’s open thread as the Yankees head to Houston. The Mets are playing and ESPN2 is showing the Cubs and Dodgers later. Also, the decisive Game Three of the College World Series is on as well (8pm ET on ESPN). Vanderbilt is trying to repeat as nationals champs and Virginia is trying to get revenge for losing to Vandy in last year’s finals. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Yanks send Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno to Triple-A

Pinder. (Presswire)
Pinder. (Presswire)

Following this afternoon’s win over the Phillies, the Yankees sent right-handers Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Stephen Drew will be activated off the paternity list to fill one spot. The other? That’s unclear at the moment.

Pinder, 26, has allowed three runs in 10.2 innings across multiple big league stints this year. Moreno, 27, allowed two runs in an inning today and threw a scoreless inning in his only other outing. Those two have been part of the bullpen revolving door the last few weeks.

The Yankees were carrying eight relievers and are now down to six with Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell capable of going multiple innings. (Mitchell gets to stay, interestingly.) Danny Burawa, Chris Martin, and Jose Ramirez are all on the 40-man roster but can’t be called back up yet because of the ten-day rule.

Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees may carry a six-man bullpen while using a six-man rotation these next few days, so perhaps a position player is coming up. It can’t be Ramon Flores because of the ten-day rule. Maybe Gregorio Petit? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. Intrigue!

Yankees pound Hamels in Nova’s return, take series finale 10-2 from Phillies

Just as we all expected, the Yankees lost games started by Kevin Correia and Sean O’Sullivan this series and won the game started by Cole Hamels. New York was able to avoid getting swept by the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon with a 10-2 blowout win. That’s more like it. The Yankees went 5-3 and averaged 7.5 runs per game during the eight-game homestand.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Return of SuperNova
After the first two games of this series, I would have been happy if Ivan Nova simply hadn’t gotten clobbered in his return from Tommy John surgery on Wednesday afternoon. A winnable start was the goal and he sure gave the team that. Nova held the Phillies to three hits and two walks in 6.2 scoreless innings in his first start back from elbow reconstruction. He struck out just one and got way more outs in the air (14) than on the ground (five), which is atypical for him. But, first start back, and there was definitely some rust.

Early on in the first inning Nova did get away with some mistakes — he left some fastballs middle-middle — but the Phillies couldn’t do anything with them. I guess that’s the difference between throwing 93-95 mph like Nova and 88-90 like CC Sabathia on Tuesday. Nova got much better as the game progressed and he leaned on his sinker/curveball combination (not so much his changeup) just like he did in his pre-Tommy John surgery days. He was on a 95-100 pitch limit and threw 92 pitches (51 strikes), and it did seem like he started to run out of gas near the end there.

After all that, the Yankees have to be thrilled with Nova’s return. Not just the results — they really needed a strong start after those last three games though — but how he looked. His sinker was moving and when he missed, he generally missed down below the zone after the first inning. He was able to throw his curveball for strikes and while his command was spotty — Nova didn’t hit catcher John Ryan’s Murphy glove a whole lot — his control was fine. He was around the zone. Really encouraging outing. Welcome back, Ivan.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Return of the Phillies
For the first time in the series, the Phillies actually played like the worst team in baseball. The Yankees scored their first two runs in the second inning and both scored when third baseman Andres Blanco threw the ball away trying to get the force at the plate. Chris Young singled, John Ryan Murphy walked, Didi Gregorius beat out a sac bunt attempt to load the bases with no outs, and Jose Pirela‘s grounder led to the error. Blanco’s throw scooted away from catcher Carlos Ruiz and two runners scored.

The next three runs came in the fourth inning, again because the Phillies played like the worst team in the game. Gregorius led the inning off with a sun-aided double — it was a routine infield pop-up infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis failed to catch — and Cole Hamels walked Pirela on four pitches. Unexpected! Brett Gardner slapped a single to center to score Gregorius, then Chase Headley hit a soft chopper over second base that Blanco muffed, allowing Pirela to score. It looked like Blanco was expecting the ball to hit the base, but it never did and it went for a double. Mark Teixeira followed with a legit single to right to score Headley.

The Yankees did a really nice job against Hamels, forcing him to throw 102 pitches in five innings. He allowed those five runs on eight hits, three walks, and a hit batsman while striking out only three. The third inning was his only 1-2-3 inning. Hamels had to throw 69 of those 102 pitches from the stretch. These Yankees have a knack for hitting aces — Hamels joins David Price, Jacob deGrom, Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, and Garrett Richards as pitchers who allowed five or more runs in six or fewer innings against New York this season, among others.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
The Yankees kept piling on runs after Hamels was out of the game. One run in the sixth, another four in the seventh. Always appreciated. Bryan Mitchell retired all four men he faced and Diego Moreno allowed two runs in a messy ninth to blow the shutout. Nice of Nova and the offense to take the pressure off the bullpen.

Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Carlos Beltran, who went 0-for-5. Headley (single, double), Alex Rodriguez (two singles), Teixeira (three singles), Young (two singles), Gregorius (single, double), and Pirela (single, double) all had multiple hits. Murphy had a single and a walk. The Yankees had 14+ hits for the 12th time this year. They had 14+ hits nine times last year and eight times the year before.

The Yankees scored ten runs in this game despite not hitting a home run. They hadn’t scored more than five runs in game without a homer this season. They went 7-for-21 (.333) with runners in scoring position. When was the last time a team had 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position in a nine-inning game? I have no idea how to look that up.

Joe Girardi was ejected in the third inning for barking about a bad call on a check swing. He came out of the dugout and got his money’s worth after being tossed. Nova struck out Maikel Franco to end the inning on the next pitch. It was Girardi’s second ejection of the season.

And finally, Hamels plunked A-Rod in the thigh with two outs in the first inning and home plate ump Brian O’Nora warned both benches immediately. That seemed silly, but I guess it went back to Franco being hit by a pitch Tuesday night. Either that or umpires were told to be quick to act whenever A-Rod gets hit this year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the links to the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The homestand is over and the Yankees are now heading to Houston for a four-game series with the first place Astros. Adam Warren and ‘Stros ace Dallas Keuchel will be the pitching matchup in Thursday night’s series opener.

2015 Draft Signings: Robertson, Marks, Zehner, Bisacca

Marks. (Tennessee)
Marks. (Tennessee Athletics)

The draft signing deadline is Friday, July 17th this summer, and as far as we know the Yankees are not close to a deal with UCLA RHP James Kaprielian (1st round). He’s a Scott Boras client though, and top Boras clients tend to not sign until right before the deadline. The Yankees did sign second rounder LHP Jeff Degano earlier this week. Here are some later round draft signings.

  • California HS OF Terrance Robertson (12th) has signed based on his Twitter feed. No word on his bonus. As a reminder, anything given to player drafted after the tenth round over $100,000 counts against the draft pool. No reason to think the raw and speedy Robertson got more though.
  • Tennessee RHP Bret Marks (15th), Cal Poly OF Zach Zehner (18th), and Oral Roberts C Austin Afenir (25th), also signed. I know that because all three have played for one of the Yankees’ minor league affiliates in recent days.
  • Sam Houston State RHP Alex Bisacca (35th) has also signed according to his Instagram feed. Like Robertson and everyone else in this post, there’s no word on the bonuses for Marks, Zehner, Afenir, or Bisacca.
  • According to Baseball America, the Yankees have signed Nebraska RHP Josh Roeder (21st), Cal State LA RHP Icezak Flemming (26th), George RHP David Sosebee (28th), Delaware RHP Chad Martin (30th), and Oklahoma City RHP Dustin Cook (36th).
  • The Yankees have signed Franklin Pierce C Matt Walsh as an undrafted free agent, the school announced. He hit .366/.438/.505 with 14 doubles and four homers as a senior this spring.
  • The Yankees have also signed Arizona RHP Cody Hamlin and Missouri RHP Andrew Schwaab as undrafted free agents, reports Matt Eddy. Hamlin had a 3.94 ERA with a 61/13 K/BB in 102.2 innings this spring while Schwaab had a 6.06 ERA with a 6/4 K/BB in 16.1 innings.

Make sure you check out our 2015 Draft Pool Tracker to keep taps on the team’s bonus pool situation. Unless one or some of those guys above signed an overslot deal — no reason to think that, but it’s always possible — the Yankees have $643,900 in draft pool savings to spend. My guess is some of that will go to Kaprielian. By my unofficial count, the Yankees have now signed 30 of their 41 draft picks.

Game 72: The Return of Ivan Nova

(Maddie Meyer/Getty)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

For the first time since April 19th of last season, Ivan Nova will be on the mound for the Yankees this afternoon. The real Yankees too. Not the Tampa Yankees or another minor league affiliate. His rehab from Tommy John surgery is complete and today he returns to the rotation. What to expect? Who knows. Nova was unpredictable even before having his elbow rebuilt.

The Yankees are getting Nova back today but, more importantly, they have to avoid being swept by the Phillies. The Phillies! The worst team in baseball. The worst offense in baseball has scored eleven runs in each of the first two games of the series — the Phillies went from averaging 3.10 runs per game to 3.32 runs per game thanks to the Yankees — and today they’re sending ace Cole Hamels to the mound. Good grief. Here is the Phils’ lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Jose Pirela
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a gorgeous day in New York. Nice and sunny with temperatures comfortably in the upper-70s/low-80s. Just a perfect afternoon for a ballgame. Today’s series finale will begin 1:05pm ET and you can watch live on YES locally and, depending on where you live, MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Teixeira (neck) took batting practice and felt good, so he’s back in the lineup … Andrew Miller (forearm) played catch today for the first time since being shut down. He made 25 throws and everything went well … Brendan Ryan was placed on the 15-day DL with an upper-back strain. One thing after another with that guy.

Roster Move: Jose DePaula was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Nova, the Yankees announced … Ryan to the DL cleared the 25-man roster spot.

Taking stock of the Yankees’ trade chips leading up to the deadline

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)
Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Over the last few seasons the Yankees have focused on rental players at the trade deadline while doing their long-term shopping in the offseason. That isn’t always the case — Martin Prado had two and a half years left on his contract at the time of the trade last year — but that definitely seems to be their preference. Hal Steinbrenner already confirmed rentals are the plan this summer as well.

Earlier this week we heard the Yankees have “sworn off” trading their top prospects for rentals, and that’s all well and good, but every team says that this time of year. If the Tigers offer David Price for Luis Severino, are the Yankees really going to say no to that? Probably not. Anyway, the Yankees have some needs heading into the trade deadline as always (righty reliever, second base, etc.), so let’s sort through their trade chips to see who may and may not be dealt this summer.

The Untouchables, Sorta

The Yankees rarely trade players off their big league roster at the trade deadline, and, when they do, it’s usually a Vidal Nuno or Yangervis Solarte type. Not someone who was a key part of the roster. I think Dellin Betances is the team’s best trade chip right now — best as in he’d bring the largest return by himself — but they’re not going to trade him for obvious reasons. Same with Michael Pineda and, yes, even Didi Gregorius.

Among prospects, Severino and Aaron Judge are the closest to untouchable, and I don’t think they should be completely off the table. They’re very good prospects, not elite best in baseball prospects, and the Yankees should at least be willing to listen. (I suspect they are.) Does that mean they should give them away? Of course not. The Yankees would need a difference-maker in return, likely a difference-maker they control beyond this season.

The Outfielders

Alright, now let’s get to the prospects who might actually be traded this summer. We have to start with the outfielders. The Yankees have a ton of them. You could argue too many, though I won’t. Just this season the Yankees have had Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Ramon Flores make their big league debuts. Judge was just promoted to Triple-A Scranton, where the Yankees also have Ben Gamel and Tyler Austin. Jake Cave is with Double-A Trenton.

Flores. (Mike Stobe/Getty)
Flores. (Mike Stobe/Getty)

That’s a lot of outfielders! Obviously some are more valuable than others, especially with Heathcott (quad) and Williams (shoulder) on the DL, but that’s a legitimate surplus the Yankees can use in a trade(s) at the deadline. Judge is the big prize here, though he’s supposedly untouchable. My guess is healthy Williams and Flores have the most trade value out of everyone else because teams could realistically plug them right onto their MLB roster. The Yankees are in position to trade a young outfielder or two while still having enough depth for themselves.

The “Blocked” Prospects

Prospects who don’t necessarily fit into a club’s long-term plans are prime trade bait. Gary Sanchez sure seems likely to be made available this summer assuming he returns from his bruised hand reasonably soon. (He was hit by a foul tip last week.) The Yankees value defense behind the plate very highly. They’ve made that clear. Sanchez, while improving slowly and steadily, isn’t much of a defender at all. The bat is more projection than results — 108 wRC+ in just over 800 Double-A plate appearances from 2013-15 — which isn’t uncommon for a 22-year-old.

Sanchez is still only 22 but he is also in his second minor league option year, meaning he has to stick in MLB or be exposed to waivers come the 2017 season. That’s still a long way away in the grand scheme of things. Long enough for his defense to improve to the Yankees’ high standards? Probably not. It’s not impossible, just unlikely. As with Jesus Montero and Peter O’Brien before him, Sanchez seems very likely to be dealt no matter how promising his bat appears simply because it doesn’t look like he’ll be a good catcher and doesn’t really have another position.

Eric Jagielo is blocked but not really — the Yankees did just sign Chase Headley to a four-year contract, but Jagielo probably won’t stay at third base long-term anyway. He might be headed for left field or, more likely, first base. And, if that is the case, Jagielo’s future impacts Greg Bird, a true first base prospect. Mark Teixeira‘s contract will expire after next season and ideally one of these two will step into to replace him at first. It’s easy to say the Yankees should look into their crystal ball, decide whether Jagielo or Bird will be the first baseman of the future and trade the other, but that’s not realistic. Either way, Jagielo and Bird shouldn’t be off-limits in trade talks.

Stock Down

Coming into the season, I would have said prospects like Ian Clarkin, Domingo German, Ty Hensley, and Luis Torrens fit into the “candidates to be traded” group for different reasons. Maybe even Jacob Lindgren too. They’ve all since suffered significant injuries. German and Hensley both had Tommy John surgery, Torrens had shoulder surgery, and Lindgren had a bone spur taken out of his elbow this week. He might be back in September. German, Hensley, and Torrens are done for the year.

Clarkin has not pitched in an official game this year because of some kind of elbow problem. He was shut down with tendinitis in Spring Training and reportedly pitched in an Extended Spring Training game back in May, but we haven’t heard any updates since, and he hasn’t joined any of the minor league affiliates. (Extended Spring Training ended a few days ago.) It’s hard not to think the worst in a situation like this. Clarkin and these other guys are still eligible to be traded, but injured non-elite prospects usually don’t have much value. The Yankees are better off holding onto them and hoping they rebuild value with a healthy 2016.

Refsnyder. (MiLB.com)
Refsnyder. (MiLB.com)

Not As Valuable As You May Think

Like the fans of the other 29 teams, we overvalue the Yankees’ prospects. We’re not unique. Everyone does it. Rob Refsnyder? He’s slightly more valuable than Tony Renda, who New York just acquired for a reliever who had been designated for assignment. An all-hit/no-glove prospect pushing a .750 OPS at Triple-A isn’t bringing back a whole lot. Think Pete O’Brien without the power.

Jorge Mateo? He’s loaded with ability. He’s also 20 and in Low-A, so three years away from MLB, give or take. The further away a player is from MLB, the less trade value he has. Same deal with Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade. These guys absolutely have trade value. Just not as a centerpiece in a significant deal. They’re second or third pieces in a big deal, headliners in a smaller deal.

Miscellaneous depth arms fit here as well. Jose Ramirez, Tyler Webb, Branden Pinder, guys like that. They’re all interesting for different reasons and hey, they might have some MLB value for a few years, but they’re basically throw-ins. And no, lumping two or three good prospects together doesn’t equal one great prospect. Most teams already have prospects like the guys in this section in their farm system. They aren’t game-changers in trade negotiations.

Straight Cash, Homey

The Yankees’ single greatest trade chip is their payroll and their ability to absorb salary. That helped them get Prado at the trade deadline last year, for example. Or Bobby Abreu years ago. Whether Hal Steinbrenner is willing to take on substantial money to facilitate a trade is another matter. I mean, I’d hope so, especially for a rental player who won’t tie down future payroll when the team tries to get under the luxury tax threshold again. The team’s ability to take on big dollars separates them from most other clubs in trade talks. Their financial might is absolutely valuable when talking trades.

* * *

Even if the Yankees do make Severino and Judge off-limits — all indications are they will — I think they have enough mid-range prospects to acquire upgrades at the trade deadline. Not huge ones, we can forget all about Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto is Severino and Judge are off the table, but Sanchez, Jagielo, and the various outfielders will generate some interest. Finding a match will be more difficult than scratching together tradeable prospects, which was an issue for New York for several years in the mid-2000s.

Pitching staff gets roughed up again in 11-6 loss to Phillies

Man why couldn’t it just rain all night? Following an 81-minute rain delay, the lowly Phillies wrecked the Yankees for the second straight day, winning 11-6 on Tuesday night. The Yankees have now allowed 11+ runs in three straight games, all losses.They’ve dropped three straight and eight of their last 13.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Six Runs Should Be Enough
The Yankees scored six runs in 4.1 innings against Sean O’Sullivan and four of them came on solo homers. Brett Gardner, Garrett Jones, Chase Headley, and Alex Rodriguez did the honors. Those were runs two through five. The Yankees scored their first run the ol’ fashioned way — Gardner doubled, Headley moved him to third with a ground ball, and A-Rod sac flied him in. That all happened in the first inning.

The sixth run tied the game — more on how the Phillies scored six runs in a second! — and it was charged to O’Sullivan even though he was sitting in the dugout. Headley and A-Rod hit back-to-back homers in the fifth, then Carlos Beltran ripped an opposite field double to end O’Sullivan’s day. Lefty reliever Elvis Araujo served up the game-tying double to Chris Young. Why they let the lefty pitch to Young with a base open and Didi Gregorius on deck with two outs in the inning, I’ll never understand. But they did and the Yankees took advantage. Six runs! Woo!

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

No Mas
CC Sabathia‘s can’t stay in the rotation anymore. He just can’t. Six runs in 4.2 innings against the worst offense in baseball on Tuesday night, giving him a 5.65 ERA on the season. That’s after a 5.28 ERA last year and a 4.78 ERA the year before. This is year three of this. Ivan Nova returns tomorrow, and unless Nova completely implodes coming off elbow surgery, there is no doubt Sabathia is not one of the five best starters in the organization. None.

Just about all the damage on Tuesday came in the fourth inning, when the Phillies scored five runs thanks to a two-run Cameron Rupp homer and a three-run Maikel Franco homer. Right-handed batters were hitting .327/.367/.558 (.394 wOBA) against Sabathia coming into the game and Philadelphia’s righties went 6-for-11 with two doubles, two homers, two walks, and one strikeout against him on Tuesday. He has nothing to put them away. Chuck and duck.

Barring a shoulder injury, there are two and a half years left on Sabathia’s contract at huge dollars. That’s not going away. The Yankees are stuck with it. Mike Mussina was sent to the bullpen with 5.53 ERA in 2007. A.J. Burnett was run out of town after a 5.20 ERA from 2010-11. Sabathia’s only redeeming quality is his ability to get out lefties, so send him to the bullpen and make him earn his way back to the rotation. But, instead, the Yankees will continue to talk about CC reinventing himself and he’ll be back out there in five days, actively hurting the team.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Blown Chances, Again And Again
The Yankees had more than a few opportunities to take the lead against the crummy part of Philadelphia’s bullpen. They stranded a runner at third base in the fifth, had a runner thrown out at the plate on the contact play (and still stranded runners on the corners!) in the sixth, stranded runners on the corners again in the seventh, and left a man on first in the eighth. One hit in a dozen at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Phillies were trying to give the game away in the middle innings, the Yankees didn’t capitalize, and Philadelphia made them pay in the ninth. The no-doubles defense (a.k.a. the more singles defense) allowed a leadoff double to Ben Revere — it was a single to right, but Revere’s speedy and Beltran is not, so it was a double — then Dellin Betances plunked Cesar Hernandez and gave up a rocket two-run double to Franco. That dude has destroyed the Yankees the last two games.

Betances hit another batter before giving way to Nick Rumbelow, who walked a batter to load the bases before allowing a three-run triple to to Andres Blanco in his MLB debut. For the second straight night, the worst offensive team in baseball hung eleven runs on the Yankees. The Phillies scored 22 runs in the first two games of this series after scoring 23 runs in their previous eight games. Gross. Really, really gross.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Leftovers
Betances was charged with four earned runs in the top of the ninth after allowing one earned run all season coming into this game, giving him a 1.25 ERA. He looked pretty rusty, which I guess isn’t surprising considering he hadn’t pitched in five days and says he likes regular work to keep his mechanics sharp. At least Chasen Shreve threw another perfect inning. He’s pretty awesome.

The Yankees scored six runs on 13 hits. That’s good! Gardner, Headley, A-Rod, Beltran, and Young each had two hits. (Headley’s homer was the 100th of his career.) The only starter without a hit was Jose Pirela. I mean, six runs is good. The Yankees scored six runs in this game and eight runs in the first game of the series and lost both. Can’t really blame the offense.

And finally, Yankees starters have now allowed at least six runs in three straight games for the first time since July 2008, according to James Smyth. The culprits: Sidney Ponson, Andy Pettitte, and Darrell Rasner.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, as well as the updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, because they are things that exist. This is series No. 23 for the Yankees and booth combination No. 14 for YES. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Phillies will wrap-up this three-game series on Wednesday afternoon, when Ivan Nova makes his return to the rotation following Tommy John surgery. It’ll be his first big league start since April 19th of last year. His opponent? Cole Hamels. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch the final game of the homestand live and in person.